Designed by Rutam Rane
Commandos Imperial Glory Praetorians Eidos Pyro Studios
Gaius Julius writes: "This game forces you to use the 'right' unit for the 'right' task, for example, don't use archers for melee combat." While this is partly true of many similar games, in Praetorians it is far more noticeable. Use the wrong unit and you may suffer 100% casualties for no loss by the enemy. Use the right unit and it is often possible to do the reverse.

Athos writes: "There is actually a good amount of strategy in this game. Primarily in the match-up of units and how you move around the map. If you just move your troops toward an objective they will get murdered; have a scout and know everything about where they are about to move..." Ah, scouting - more about that later; it is perhaps the most important tactic of all.
LordJohnDrinksalot: "I'm not saying tactics don't matter. They matter - I've seen enemy archers cut to pieces in melee combat without a loss to friendly Legionaries and ballistas decimate an advancing legion company - but they pale in significance to the same old Real Time Strategy 'recruit troops quicker than the enemy' tactic. This is obviously less true for the campaigns (you have to employ tactics), but very true for the skirmish battles (you have to capture villages quicker)." There are many times during the campaign when careful scouting and tactical positioning of units is the only way to win. In skirmish mode this is not true. "While I'm trying to cleverly ambush the AI [Artificial Intelligence], the AI is grabbing another village. Frankly, grabbing villages quicker than your enemy seems to be 80% of the game, and everything else is a distant second place consideration."

While some of this strategy section is applicable to both campaign and skirmish modes, it is likely to be more useful in a campaign context.
 
This section covers specific tactics applicable regardless of civilization. Different civilizations are discussed in subsequent sections.
Scouting is crucial in Praetorians. This applies to extending the effective range of units such as archers, but most importantly it prevents your troops walking into an ambush. From Athos: "You should always know what stands between you and the place where you want your troops, and what is there waiting for you. Do these through proper scouting and planning, and you'll be able to take out the ambushes before they ambush you. ... Scout as much as possible and know what you're facing, and plan how to get around it before bull rushing into anything and everything." From loki: "Although I can understand the need to have basic formations/patterns while the troops are stationary, I don't have the slightest idea why I would need complicated formations while moving. Here's why: you should always know where you are going, that's what scouts are for."

Combat in Praetorians is relatively fast once it starts, but often during the campaign there is plenty of time to prepare. One can march a 'perfect' formation into a pitch battle, but once the battle has started almost all hope of control has been lost when additional enemy troops are drawn in. By planning battles, you opt to control the battle by the terms on which you fight it, not by a 'click-fest' of orders to units that often cannot respond because they are busy fighting off an enemy that happens to have engaged them already.

Latbat writes: "The basics are to put your infantry ahead and archers behind, but this tactic isn't enough to win against a good player. You have to have your hand on the pulse of battle, and do what's the best for current situation, not to just blindly attack if the forces are equal." Mark OHearn writes: "Clearly archers are far too weak to be at the front so keep them back behind melee troops. In most missions I just hotkey my important units - special unit, healers, centurion, and scouts. Make sure you make these units auto-stay [hold] or your healers will go into the melee attacks and die."

From Random: "Tell your archers to protect your infantry and manually control the horses. Tell your chief units and priests to 'protect' the infantry too, so they'll give you the good benefits while not exposing themselves. Keep your groups under easy control by assigning group numbers, so if you tell your archers to attack something else, it's easy to make them 'protect' the infantry again after the battle." Quintus writes: "When building up formations for all out assaults, place stationary spearmen, stationary archers behind, and all the heavy infantry behind them. Any attacks from the front the Legionaries will skirmish." Cavalry can be used to charge down poorly defended units such as archers. Once other enemy units are engaged in skirmish cavalry will be able to ride through their lines.

Finally, remember that your troops can run (assign orders while holding down the CTRL key). They cannot run forever, since their stamina decreases. Also consider that if their stamina declines, they may not be able to use a special ability.
Heroes are only found during the campaign. They are named characters. They always have the abilities of other single units - typically Centurions, but sometimes healers or scouts. Their main advantage is a higher than average hit point total. Unfortunately they are almost always mission critical - should they die the mission will be failed. Mark OHearn writes: "In certain missions I was able to leave a hero at or near the starting position in the woods. In other missions, you need them to recruit troops, so just always keep them back from the action with a troop to protect. Hotkey them is the best way to move them around." Sometimes it is possible to use a hero to take the brunt of an enemy attack: Their above average hit point total allows them to survive while other troops do the damage. But avoid baiting Hunters with them - if unlucky, it's an instant 'game over' moment.

Commanders gain considerable bonuses at higher levels. If the commander survives long enough, these bonuses can make a significant difference to the performance of troops, both offensively and defensively. Commanders also have special abilities. From RogueImpaler: "Your troops are much more capable with their leader in the vicinity. Image your Legionaries have just thrown their pilums - now they are exhausted. With their Centurion close by they regenerate much faster." This particular trick is specific to the Roman army, because only their Centurion has the ability to provide extra energy regeneration, but it is a good example of using commanders' special abilities. From bond0bhave: "Using this way I killed 2 squads of Praetorians and one Gladiator in the campaign. I had a group of Nubian Archers, a Barbarian Chieftain and a Centurion. Use the Barbarian Chieftain to sap the stamina, and then use the Nubians to poison the gladiators. Retreat them when the enemy gets close and then attack with more poison, using the Centurion to refill stamina."

RogueImpaler continues: "The Centurion is willing to sacrifice himself in order to let his troops escape if that time has come. Troops can't get out of a rumble once they've been attacked or have attacked themselves. You can send in your Centurion at this time. He will give the troops the opportunity to break loose and run for it." This particular trick is unconfirmed.
Healers are particularly important when you cannot afford to take heavy casualties - specifically when you have no village at which to recruit replacement troops. This occurs quite frequently during the campaign. Healers will attempt to heal wounded soldiers automatically. Mark OHearn writes: "It is not unusual for them to go to the frontlines, and if your fighting troops are killed, so goes the medic. Therefore, consider putting him on hold (you can auto-hold) to keep him from doing this. After the battle, un-select the hold so he can go heal the remaining troops." Jare writes: "I would suggest using the 'protect' command, so the medics follow your lead troops without getting ahead of them. Protecting troops helps a lot when managing a large group in battle." By default healers automatically use their abilities to heal injured troops, in addition to slow healing within their area of influence. This ability appears to extend to every unit except the healer himself, so occasionally intervene and 'manually' heal your healer.
Spearmen (including Guards and Pikemen) have a special formation called 'Stationary'. Stationary spearmen are particularly effective against charging cavalry. Athos adds: "Spearmen are perfect for stopping those charges, only problem is you have to protect them from archers or they get torn apart." A common strategy is to place archers behind stationary Spearmen. This entices the cavalry to try and attack the archers, but in doing so generally forces them onto the stationary line of Spearmen (see Luring below).

RogueImpaler writes: "Use spearmen at the last moment to counter mass attack - they can be very, very deadly indeed." Rather than luring, this tactic involves advancing Spearmen forward with other troops, and just before the enemy cavalry engage in melee switching the Spearmen to stationary. ShadowFiend writes: "A nasty strategy is to place pikemen in stationary form in front of the village entrance of the enemy if you don't have enough forces to swiftly destroy the village. Everything comes out dying quickly."
Commandos Imperial Glory Praetorians Eidos Pyro Studios
Commandos Imperial Glory Praetorians Eidos Pyro Studios
The lure is a classic technique, primarily relying on the other players' units stupidity to drag them into an ambush. One unit is sent close to an enemy unit, then once the enemy unit gives chase, the friendly unit retreats back to where other friendly units are waiting to pounce. Luring only partly works in Praetorians - enemy units cannot be dragged far, and should the initial lure fail subsequent lures are progressively less likely to succeed. From Athos: "I have the archers right behind the spearmen in stationary to lure enemies onto my troops, and the Legionaries to sweep onto the attacking forces (though they don't necessarily need to, the spearmen should handle them) and to protect the flank should it be threatened... and don't forget a good ballista on the right or left to cut through the troops."

On performing the lure itself, Loki writes: "Archer-cavalry is the right unit for this, because you can attack the defending cavalry from a long range and force them to chase you. As you are about as fast as them, you can retreat behind your pikemen and let the enemy cavalry crash into your impaling polearms." Egyptian Parthian Cavalry is the ultimate unit to use to lure enemies, since it can both fire and ride at the same time. If cavalry are not available Centurions may be used effectively. They can also generally sustain more damage before suffering loses, although sustained luring is still likely to require a healer to be available. Avoid luring with low-hit point troops, since they tend to die in the attempt.
From Mark OHearn: "Towers are an interesting aspect of the game. They provide your weak archers with a 10,000-point defence bonus, making it almost impossible for a small group of melee troops to successfully overcome." Andrex Aurelius writes: "If you put archers in they cause a lot of damage to approaching troops but they die quickly once the tower is destroyed. If you put weak troops like Auxiliary Infantry in then you have a cheap rock dropping defence, which is useless against archers and siege weapons, but good against other units attacking the base of the tower. Also, if you have Auxiliary Infantry in towers they are very useful for putting out fires during an attack but they have to be covered by other units." Ranged troops will also drop rocks from towers if the enemy gets close enough. Towers can be repaired conventionally by assigning infantry to repair them, much like damaged fortress gates and seige engines. From plastikman: "The best units to put in the towers are the Nubian Archers, if you can spare the unit cost. They have the longest range of all the archers in the game and the height of the tower can provide a little boost too. If you want to be really evil, set them to poison arrows before you place them in the tower."

Mark OHearn continues: "Beware, however, that you do not build towers near your village and then not occupy them immediately. There's nothing quite like watching your opponent build a tower next to his village and then sneaking your own archers into it and start attacking. Depending on the map, a forest nearby might make the tower an easy attack by archers unless you also occupy the said forest with melee units."

From Latbat: "Those towers with archers in them you can knock down with rams easily. ... I usually use two rams, because they destroy a tower quicker and with all archers in it. But it can take some time before you can get to those towers if facing strong opposition on ground, so I'm considering using catapults more, set on flaming stones of course." Nitroace30 notes: "Catapults are very effective against towers. Defend them with spearman/pikeman and they will work very well." Archers can also be used to set towers on fire. Normally once the towers become 50% damaged the occupants will spill out onto the ground and melee ensues. Rams have the advantage of eliminating the defending units along with the tower.

Significant tower building comes with its own problems. Mark OHearn again: "Firstly, it will limit how many troops you can send into battle. Secondly, if you do need to empty troops from their towers, the enemy will have the opportunity to sneak into your village and take over these towers." Instead consider building towers only on regularly contended or particularly strategic parts of the map.
Many war machines and siege engines are highly effective outside of a strict siege environment. War machines require careful use because there is a high risk of damaging your own troops. The combination of slow reload-time and apparent unwillingness to fire until enemy units come close can be in part off-set by setting them to 'Aggressive' mode.

As mentioned above, rams are effective against Towers. Chronoshift notes that they are also effective at destroying village garrisons. Of course their main purpose is destroying the gates to fortresses (see below).

Athos writes: "Ballistas are incredible useful when it comes to defense. You know those annoying turtles, and how arrows can't really pick them apart? Ballistas slice right through them. Perfect for disrupting those advancing troops as it can kill 7-10 troops at once. Or more." The main disadvantage with Ballistas is a tendency to murder ones own troops. Positioning of the Ballista is clearly important, with many favouring higher ground or a position on the flank of an army. Ballistas are generally better than Catapults when used against close formations of troops, however they need much closer supervision or better tactical placement than Catapults if friendly fire is to be avoided.

From loki: "While catapults are not very effective, they can be devastating when used to defend an elevated position. Four catapults on barrage can wipe marching troops when combined with archers." Multiple Catapults can indeed be highly effective when defending a position against infantry attack, particularly when they have a range advantage over the attacking troops. Although Catapults have a numerical range advantage, they need to be able to use that range by setting them to 'Aggressive' mode and having some form of scout or nearby tower coverage. AI players very rarely use scouts. Consequently, AI units often cannot see any further than their normal units are capable of seeing. AI controlled infantry have a tendency to retreat slightly once they have come under heavy barrage attack from enemies they cannot see. This can result in the AI units making several false advances, each one of which damages them. From chronoshift: "You can easily burn down garrisons/towers/villages from far away distances if you can setup a few catapults on hills just outside of main bases. You may need to send a hawk in for your catapults to fire."
Officially fortresses only exist in the campaign. Consequently, the majority of strategies for dealing with sieges can be found in the walkthrough.

Consider the following when defending a fortress:
- Move fast. This is one aspect of the game you cannot take at your own pace.

- Hold the gate(s). Repair them whenever possible using infantry. Generally once the gates have been destroyed, long term defense of a fortress becomes impossible unless the enemy is very weak.

- Place ranged troops on the walls, particularly in the fortified towers where they are better defended. Switch these troops to 'Aggressive' mode so they fire at enemies sooner. Use special ranged troops if available (Slingers are great against siege engines).

- Keep support units such as commanders and healers close to the walls, but not on them.

- Use cavalry sparingly to ride out against dangerous, but poorly defended threats, such as siege engines and ladders.

- Use heavy infantry to counter any enemy that climb the walls. Ideally the enemy should not get this close.

- Use stationary Spearmen to guard the gate, to give a final line of defense in case the gate should be destroyed.

- Use Catapults to fire over the walls (again, set on 'Aggressive').

- Use your barracks to replace loses.

When attacking a fortress, many more options are available. From loki: "Attack the fortress from both sides at the same time, which is, I gather, one of the most useful tactics against _any_ computer."

Generally computer based fortresses' defenses are predictable. First lure out any enemy cavalry, conventionally done by starting to attack wall defenders with a Catapult. Cavalry are normally lured into a stationary Spearman ambush.

The next threat are defenders on the walls. For Roman players, Dramaticus writes: "Use turtle formation to divert defenders while you roll up your siege items." Enemy archers generally fire on the nearest target, at least until an alternative target starts to hurt them. Since Legionaries are almost immune to arrow fire, they make excellent decoys. With a healer behind them they can survive several minutes of attack. Dramaticus continues: "You can load up to a couple of troops into siege towers before you roll them up to walls. The risk is that the tower may burn down before the offload, but the advantage is immediate deployment, rather than having your troops catch up with the tower and then attacking."

Rather than assaulting the walls with siege engines and troops, consider either ramming the fortress gate with a Battering Ram, or using Catapults to bombard the defenders on the walls. BadGuysAlwaysWin writes: "To eliminate archers on walls, use 2-3 catapults for maximum result. Set 2 to 'spread' and 1 to 'normal' (neither fireball nor spread). Now, march forward with 2-4 legions in turtle formation. Bring up your catapults and get rid of the archers one group at a time." Catapults normally have a range advantage over archers, so with careful use of scouts catapults can be very effective at range. However, walls give a range advantage to archers manning those walls, so it is not possible to completely eliminate the chance of enemy archers setting your Catapults on fire. If they do so Catapults can always be retreated and infantry set to work repairing them immediately. Rams are the most effective way to break down gates, but Catapults can also be used. BadGuysAlwaysWin continues: "Set 1 [Catapult] to 'fireball' and 2 to 'normal'. With no archers on the walls, it's very simple. Set pikemen in stationary in front, Legionaries on flanks, destroy the door, then advance."
Mark OHearn writes: "Often you need to repair broken bridges. Instead of doing so and attacking the enemy on the other side, I now build a tower or two, and more importantly, some siege weapons and lure my enemies towards the bridge. You need scouts and a way to start the battle - usually siege with hawk can do this. Since the bridge is not built there is no melee combat, and usually they cannot engage in range attack (or at least not effectively)." Also remember that bridges make good ambush spots when built.
 
Written by timski
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