by Jeremy Richman
If you haven’t handled naval campaigns where your nearest opponent is 4-5 turns of sailing & marching away, they take a LOT of planning and even MORE patience, which means if you plan to have a military presence, you should start the logistical work now. So I thought I’d put in a few tips here as I’m very experienced with them, my two cents, then do whatever YOU want!
A typical distance naval campaign takes 2-5 turns of recruiting and logistical arrangements of forces at home, then 3-7 turns of sailing & marching to get to the destination. And you want to make very sure that you can land your troops AND sail your ships homeward for the next campaign!! Newbies often simply arrive and march off, leaving their ships on the ground and useless. Experienced players always plan to bring them home right away.
Let’s look first at the Big Picture. Say you are in Forlinden planning to attack into the south: Harad, Umbar or perhaps whatever kingdom rules in the Gondor area. Depending on how many troops you have so far, you might be 6-7 turns from arriving anywhere, taking into account both the preparation plus the sailing (& possibly marching) to attack.
So you first calculate how many transports you have to work with, including however many you plan to build on the turn you will set out. One of those transports will be reserved for taking the rest of the ships home in order to let you send a second wave of troops. So the total number of troops you will invade with is the remaining number of transports, times 250 for infantry or 150 for cavalry. If you plan a mixed invasion force of both infantry and cavalry, make sure you do that math right!
Suppose you will have 21 transports and you are only recruiting Heavy Infantry (HI). Taking 1 transport away (which can carry 100 Men-at-Arms, say), that gives you 20 transports which can carry 5000 HI. Let’s assume your starting point is a city at, say, 0408. And that you don’t have the SNA that lets you travel open seas safely. And let’s also say that you want to invade at 2632 and you want minimize your sailing time. Of course, if you have infinite food, you can simply sail there with one big navy and one 1-transport navy and arrive in four turns; but that means 10,000 food. If you have it, great! No need to read further!
The rest of this article is about how to get there in four turns with very little food.
The first thing to do is to work out how to recruit those 5000 ASAP, by splitting off recruiting armies to commanders who march out to outlying cities, major towns or towns. But you also have to plan what happens when they all come together, so that you have
So the plan is to sail out with four navies: Navy 1 has 100 MA and, say, 1001 food. Navy 1 doesn’t really need any warships. Navy 2 has 4500HI and enough food so that it can sail out, fed, which depends on how many troops you are leaving behind in the pc. If the only troops there are 5000HI and 100MA, and it is a city, then 100 food will be enough. Navy 2 should have the majority of your warships, probably all of them, with the rest split between Navy 3 and Navy 4 if you so choose. Navy 3 has 250 HI and enough food so that it can sail out, fed, PLUS 101 food Navy 4 has 250HI and enough food so that it can sail out, fed, plus 601 food
On the turn they sail out, they sail to 1117. On the next turn, Navy 3 transfers 150 troops to Navy 2, and transfers command to navy 2. This will put Navy 2 in possession of 1 food at the time it sails out so that it can sail out fed. (You may wish to read up on “The Sandwich Game” article in Mouth of Sauron.) Navy 4 still has 601 food. From 1117, they sail to 1228, which is in the coastal waters so it is not possible to transfer troops or command. Navy 2 is out of food but Navy 4 has 351 food. From 1228, they sail to 1726. Navy 2 still has no food but Navy 4 has 101 food. The next turn, Navy 4, transfers 150HI to Navy 2, and transfers command to Navy 2. Navy 2 can now sail out fed, with 1 food, along with Navy 1 which still has plenty of food, and they can sail to their destination at 2632. Four turns of movement for 5000HI on less than 1000 food! Plus the food for the transport navy, another 1000.
What you do when you land depends on whether there are enemy forces present. If there is an undefended popcenter, then the commander of Navy 2 simply captures and marches forward, while the commander of Navy 1 uses the order to pick up all the ships, which were automatically anchored (including warships), and starts the homeward journey, four turns to return. If there is no enemy popcenter there, then one of the commanders in Navy 2 can simply transfer all the ships to Navy 1 which sails homeward, while the commander of Navy 2 marches inland.
However, if there is an enemy army at 2632, you don’t want to risk having the Navy 1 commander be challenged and killed, so you may be stuck there refusing challenge and picking up the ships which are anchored during battle, and then sailing off next turn. So you may want to plan ahead to have Navy 1 have a subcommander as well, so that both the commander and subcommander can try to pick up the ships and sail off, so that you don’t risk enemy agents coming in on that turn and potentially destroying your ships by assassinating Navy commander 1.
Depending on how much opposition you face in the area, you may want to plan the logistics for the next invasion. Because this requires at least 4 navy commanders, and possibly 5, if you don’t have 4 more besides the ones you sailed down, you might want to send one or two homeward. By the time you arrive, you can have recruited another 5000HI and send them down almost right away!
Lastly, of course if there turns out to be an enemy NAVY at 2632, then you are in for a navy battle, and you hope you brought enough warships to win it!