Guide to Battles in Total War: Arena
You’ve selected your commander, your units, and finally pressed PLAY. You are ready for battle! Now it’s time to test your skills on the field of battle. There is a subtle depth to Arena. Do this, get points, or do that, get dead. You can’t just click attack and forget it. Once you know what to do, the decision making comes into play. Hopefully this guide will help you make good decisions!
The first thing you’ll notice is your loading screen. Some players will have different colored borders. Players of the same colors are in a party together. You can party with up to four people in Total War: Arena.
You’ll immediately notice the map layout, and see 12 different places you can click on. This is where your units will start. Where you want to go depends on your units, and which map it is. If you’re Infantry, try and pick one of the front spots. If you’re Missiles, try and pick one of the second row spots. Cavalry can generally spawn in the back, as they are faster than most units and can make up lost ground easily. Heavy Artillery generally has certain spots on each map. Watch chat and see if someone is asking to swap with you. You’ll be able to see if they have Artillery or not. Artillery moves ridiculously slow, so it’s highly beneficial to you and your entire team to let them have priority in choosing a spawn point.
Capture Base or Kill Forces
It’s fight time! March your forces into position, being mindful of the terrain and it’s effects on your unit. As your unit moves through terrain, it will get a buff/debuff (green/red border). Mouseover that icon and it tells you exactly what the buff is. Forests play the biggest role in this regard.
Never go alone. Stay with a teammate or two, and push together so you can flank for each other, and not get swarmed. This also goes for pushing too far on one side of the map. If you push too far alone, you risk enemy units coming from behind. They could flank your, or cap your base. If you win your engagement, and your team is ahead on points, you may want to circle back to the base. Otherwise if you are losing, you may have to press onward, or cross to another part of the map. Watch chat, and look for yourself and see where your best opportunity lies. These are not hard and fast rules, just guidelines. Experience will tell you when to bend or break the rules.
Never ‘blob’ your units, that is, keeping them all piled together. One arrow volley, charge, artillery strike will do 3x the damage. Spread them out, and try and protect the unit with your Commander. When your commander dies, you will lose one of your abilities. Currently commanders die pretty quickly, but there are plans to change this in the future. Generally you can just keep them in the middle or back.
Engaging enemy models resets their capture point contribution. Your team gains points for decapping, and the enemy team loses all capture points. Always go for the enemy unit that has the most units, or has been on the cap the longest. An enemy unit that has just walked onto the cap isn’t going to have many points stored.
Staying in your base circle prevents your unit from fleeing. Even if you see no morale on your unit, you can still use it to decap.
Never try to capture an enemy base with enemy archers nearby. It’s futile, and you’ll just give the enemy team points.
Killing Enemy Forces
Skirmishers & Artillery: Don’t friendly fire! Friendly fire subtracts from your team’s score, and your own score. Also, dead ally units don’t score points either! If an ally is engaged with an enemy unit, don’t shoot at it. That goes for skirmishers and artillery.
Infantry: Don’t charge into melee if target is being shot at! Let your skirmishers do their job. Also, don’t get testy about FF without checking the score. Sometimes your teammates aren’t doing as much damage as you think. Check the score before you start raging in chat.
Cavalry: Prioritize Artillery, then Skirmishers, then flanking.
ALT serves different functions for different units. Alt+click will make ranged units do a melee attack. ALT will also toggle artillery to manual fire mode.
Horse Archers use CTRL to set a fire-while-moving target. Once targeted, you cannot stop from shooting. You must use CTRL to set another target.
Hitting H will stop everything. Moving, shooting (except Horse archers), and so on.
The Battle Plan In A Nutshell
There you have it. All the basics of a battle, from start to finish. Once you’ve learned all of this, you’re probably ready to move on to a little more advanced strategy. For now, go forth, exposed to a few less vicissitudes.