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10-11-2009, 15:11
France guides

Please review the ToC (https://forums.totalwar.org/vb/showthread.php?t=113656)before posting new strategies.

11-20-2009, 11:54
France Ver. 1.5 – Difficulty levels: Normal Campaign / Hard Battlefield.

My first guide so hopefully this helps some people.

If you are already familiar with E:TW then I’ll be teaching you to suck eggs much of the time in this guide as many strategies are very similar to other major European powers (or not…depending on how you play your games) but after playing through four campaigns with France I thought it best to present a guide for them under Version 1.5 of the game. This will concentrate mainly on the early game period which is THE most important section…get this right and your pretty much set-up to win through, get this wrong and the Ai will beat up on you and make you its bee-atch!

Starting Point:

This is basically the same as previous versions (haven’t spotted any differences) so I strongly suggest reading the well put together guide by Monk in the archives. However what can be done, should be done and happens within the early period has changed significantly enough to warrant a revised guide.

Difficulty Levels:

I have finally settled on the above difficulty levels as 1) you get a decent Campaign Ai which WILL negotiate with you within reason and 2) still have challenging battles.

VH campaigns are ok but in Empire the Ai just gets stuck in a rut and won’t negotiate about anything and is unrealistically aggressive. Also with VH battle settings you get silly things like “mobs” out shooting your two chevron line infantry, which is just silly!

Opening Moves:

You must think globally of course. This also means you have to “multitask” and concentrate on several plans at once, the key ones are gaining full use of the Louisiana protectorates, starting sea trade and securing that trade against the immediate threats. To do this though, you have to effectively “buy off” Europe as you want peace, trade and stability (sounds boring huh?).

In the previous guild, nations like Wuttenberg and Savoy declare war on you. In version 1.5 and with this difficulty level I have found Savoy doesn’t as it gets involved in wars against either its Italian neighbours or in a “tit-for-tat” naval conflict with the Barbary States. It is still true that most people around you are either unfriendly or downright hate your guts but everything can be smoothed over by the application of “incentives”. Firstly approach Wuttenberg and their neighbours Westphalia and request Trade Agreements, ensure you sweeten the deal with Research (you have only one).

In multiple games Wuttenberg have counter proposed a Military Alliance. They are Allied with Austria, who is an ally of Britain….TAKE THIS DEAL. Political links are everything in this game and in particular you want eventually to have Britain on your side as their navy is epic even from the start and the longer you keep them out of your hair the better.

You want to remain in the good books of Austria and Britain in the main and this means either supporting their main allies or just avoiding being dragged into wars that will bring you into conflict with there allies.

Sometimes both these small countries have offered me Alliance offers whilst other times only Wuttenberg has, I’ve even had one reject me for trade but the other offer a military alliance so it tends to vary. Savoy will still not talk to you so don’t bother. Your key thing at this stage is Trade…set up as many trade agreements as you can with anyone who’ll have you. The only people you’ll be at war with in this early period (by your instigation that is) are the Iroquois, Barbary States and the Pirates. You will eventually be dragged into war with United Provinces if they attack Spanish holdings and the Cherokee Nation as they hold the last province you need to secure Louisiana…something the first guide didn’t tell you. However, Spain tends to hold its own against the UP so you don’t come into conflict directly with them. I have also spotted the UP attacking Westphalia, which means you’ll be asked if you wish to support your ally (if you are at this point). I suggest you refuse this as Westphalia is small…has no overseas trade…and its allies are only half-heatedly supporting it. However, if you want a European scrap AND UP are still at war with Spain and now will be at war with Austria and/or Britain…feel free to get your army bloody.

Now at this point you have not spent a penny yet but have secured more income already!

Trade Pays:

It’s true. Trade pays for itself and there are two theatres you need to get to fast….Brazil and West Africa. Brazil is the easy one as you can start building Indiamen in French Guyana & the Windward Islands. Once you have some, send them immediately to Brazil via the trade route window nearby.

West Africa is harder as it requires Indiamen to sail all the way from Europe but this must be done. Queue an Indiaman in your Mediterranean port for this purpose, send it as soon as you can and keep doing so when funds allow as you need to secure those trade nodes! If you can’t afford or don’t want to wait for Indiamen, send brigs…they don’t generate income but they do secure trade nodes, and you may even have a chance against a small Pirate fleet if you play the naval battle.

Securing your Interests:

Ports seem vulnerable in version 1.5. In particular the ones in the Mediterranean and the Windward Islands. Not from blockades but from being entered by enemy fleets! This not only cuts trade completely but damages the port.

My advice…look at each port you have and get one cheap infantry unit there as fast as you can. Every port I have will contain a militia unit by the third turn (ideal task for those Pike units). The other key to securing your interests is getting rid of Pirates completely. This is quite hard and takes as long as your North American campaign if not longer.

The Pirates have two regions – North of the Windward Islands (which you can see) and Trinidad which is just South West of the Windward Islands and off the coast of South America. I aim to control the area as fast as possible by building a Brig in both the Windward Islands and Guyana (after the Indiamen are finished) and another in North America before sailing your combined North American fleet down to the Windward Islands to patrol. This gives you a good stack of Brigs and higher class ships that have enough firepower and numbers to take on the 1 or 2 stack Pirate raiders in the area. I also make use of the fleet to constantly enter and exit the Pirate ports (which are usually undefended) and constantly build up damage to them which bleeds the Pirate nation a bit.

Your overall plan here is to invade the two Pirate provinces and thus destroy the “nation”. You can do this with the Militia troops you can train in the local area (Windwards and Guyana) OR you can wait until after you have secured Louisiana and use the Colonial Line Infantry from there shipped down for the job. It’s a choice really, invade early and you have a hard battle using sub-standard troops but against Mob units only in an open city or wait and face Mob units who are holed up in a fort. Of course the other chance is that your constant blockades have caused the Pirates enough financial damage that they don’t upgrade their city walls….its a chance you have to decide upon.

Do not completely ignore Europe though. Make sure you queue up some Line Infantry to bolster your Northern army to about a 2 third’s of a stack in size. I’ve not had to use this early game yet but you never can be too careful. Its large enough for the Ai to worry about but too small to take the offensive in Europe.

Gaining Louisiana:

Research and building is the key here. First turn, start building an Observatory in Paris. This will kick out Gentlemen at an irregular rate but more importantly boosts your research rate. Whenever you get a Gentleman put him in a school immediately…stack them so you have 2+ in each school. Research Military tech from your first turn with your aim to get Ring Bayonets and Foot Artillery as fast as you can and if you boost your rate of research with the Observatory and adding Gentlemen this shouldn’t take you that long.

Your other major building project for the first turn if you can squeeze it in is the Barracks for Quebec. To take on the Iroquois you need to ensure you have Line Infantry and that you strike the right targets, make sure you know which regions you need to complete the Louisiana mission…aim to take these only! Any more and you will over stretch your forces. Build Militia if you have the cash though as they make good Garrison troops for those captured provinces.

The Ver 1 guide advocates waiting to take on the Iroquois but I like to move as early as I can get a 2 thirds stack of mainly line infantry & cavalry support. Why? Well, this prevents the Iroquois building up any significant stacks of annoying native troops to defend themselves with! Remember you are plugging Research so when you actually get to the point you have that stack of Line Infantry they already have at least Plug Bayonets (if not Ring ones as well as square formation!) so they can deal with the early melee based forces they have. Leave it too long and they’ve also tech’d up a bit and have musket armed troops as well as nasty, high morale, melee infantry.

First though, on your first turn, move your Priest into their lands. The clash of Religion is a negative factor in keeping a population happy and as you are “blitzing” the Iroquois you need the boost to keep them from rebelling against you when you move to the next region.

Once you have that army, move in and start conquest! The Native Americans are quite hard to defeat because they WILL rush you and have a large number of basic troop types that “hide” so you can’t see them until within musket range.

Advance in close order in stages and sweep the area clean. This way you can bring maximum firepower to them and they can’t rush past you and attack your flanks or rear (the thin white line works here). Ring Bayonets are a boon as you WILL be fighting in hand-to-hand during the battle and it gives a huge boost to your infantry for this without losing firepower (as you do with plug bayonets). Don’t forget to select Melee when your men actually ARE in hand-to-hand combat otherwise they keep trying to shoot and its nowhere near as effective a tactic (and deselect it, if you have ring bayonets, once the melee is won of course).

Once you can add foot cannon…well you can just sweep the floor with them as you march up in good order, plant cannon and grape shot them to heaven.

The only really difficult bits with the mission are pausing to allow order to be restored and the Cherokee nation. You have an alliance with them so breaking it has a significant impact on your global status so you have two main choices.

Continue the blitz and take that hit or waiting until things are taken out of your hands.

1) Blitz – I still recommend. Break the alliance long before you invade as this seems to spread the status hit a bit. Again the main reason to blitz is the nasty troops they will build up if you don’t the other is that it may become a race!
2) Waiting – this allows you to build up relations with Britain so that when you get hit with the status penalty, it doesn’t effect your relationship with them too much. However, in one game, Britain declared war on the Cherokee before me…which meant I had to race to my target province and capture it before they did..and more importantly before I was ready.

Often the Huron will randomly declare war on you. Mainly I ignore them and in two games they haven’t even appeared on my map with any troops or done anything. If you are able to recruit Line Infantry in Quebec, ensure your assets are secured with a few companies and just carry on.


These are a significant boost to population growth. Not only does this marginally increase tax income but, more importantly, makes towns grow to a point where you can build on them. Consider this…the more schools you have the more tech branches you can research.

If you have excess income (and keeping your European armies on the small side helps) build farms. They’re cheap but it’s not the financial boost your building them for remember…it’s the growth in population they give.

Tradable Goods:

From the 2nd or 3rd turn onwards, look at your Spice and Fur traders. Plan to upgrade them if you can but by the 4th turn or so you’ll be looking to upgrade your Artillery facilities in Paris and Quebec so balance the costs each turn.

By the 4th/5th turn you will be receiving income from the Brazilian and West African trade nodes so income ought to be in the 8k area, use the cash wisely on buildings mainly…upgrading military buildings to the 2nd level in Paris and Quebec first, tradable goods second. The only army you need to ensure is maintained to a fighting level is the one in North America and once you have foot artillery these can enter the mix and give you a HUGE advantage over the Native Americans.

Often the Pirates will stop your trade from West Africa by attacking and destroying your Indiamen. You can sail your main fleet down there but I find its not worth it as the blocks of ships the Pirates have are actually a match for me when it comes to Naval battles…if your good at naval battles then by all means go for it! My main aim for my European fleets usually is to combine them and ensure the vital trade route to Southern France is kept clear of blockades. These are usually from the Barbary States…which your at war with already and consist of 1 or 2 light galleys so easy autocalc wins, if Morocco blockades you can go to war to clear it as Spain is normally at war with them and being “different” the Europeans don’t like them anyway so you suffer no status hits.

Using this large fleet to kill off the small Barbary ones also means your Admiral gains experience which you can use later.

Quite early on a war breaks out between Sweden, Norway, Russia and Poland-Lith. Unfortunately, Sweden is a major trader with you so watch for when this happens as it will SIGNIFICANTLY affect your trade income to the extent that the turn after this happened my profit fell from 9k to less than 2k per turn!

This trade agreement must be broken! Sorry Sweden but you can’t keep your shipping route clear….however, closing this down often opens up two routes – Britain and the UP’s.

If you’ve kept your nose clean up until this point you can “buy” trade agreements with both if you throw enough Technology in with the deal. It will not quite replace the Swedish income as yet but as Britain grows…oh my! Your income explodes!! The British navy is also significant and aggressive so they keep their trade lanes nice and clear too…meaning you don’t have to be dragged into any wars you don’t want by attacking pirating shipping from neutral or even friendly nations who happen to be at war with Britain. Besides, being a long term trade partner (I believe) adds to the feeling of good will your trying to build with the large European hitters.

And Finally:

Trade. In Empire you CANNOT exist on the income from tax on what your provinces produce alone..you must trade and you must keep those trade routes open! Buildings and Ships cost quite a bit to build and you really do need in excess of 10k profit each turn to keep up the pressure on the competition. The Ai still spams research so you have to also.

The danger here…as France…is that your “clammer for reform” can go through the roof. You can delay this by not researching Social tree skills but there will come a point where you have to do this and then your population will become discontented.

IF you have traded well you will have built up a significant “nest egg” of cash in the bank to see you through revolution.

The general hints about revolution still remain consistent so check out the general Empire guides here and on the .com forums.

Personally I like to go “historical” and aim for a nice republican revolution but when I want it. Everyone will hate you but by this stage (and with your bank balance) it won’t matter that much…you have the money and the technology to smash your enemies in Europe if you have to! The fleets to protect your trade routes and best the British as well.

Move your core armies out of the Paris region. Empty Paris of forces and hike the tax up. Once Paris revolts, you get a nice large militia based army to re-enter Paris (if you choose the Republican side like I do) and make France a republic!

Of course the other option is to nearly immediately hike up taxes again but for the Middle Classes and move to a Constitutional Monarchy, which to my mind is the games best type of government (no bias there huh?).

Personally I “like” to keep as a Republic as France but where you take them is up to you.

11-24-2009, 10:06
Turns: 10-20.

The above guide takes you, more or less, to turn 10 and a little beyond depending on your income in the game and how you handle the battles.

The next early period section is pretty critical as you’ve “blitzed” the Iroquois and started hammering the Pirates home regions too. This means you’re quite stretched in the Americas so its important you know how to deal with the next 10 turns.

Completing your Mission:

If you haven’t already, its critical you complete your mission and get to the last region required for Louisiana to join you formally. Remember I mentioned the British also attack the Cherokee’s? We’ll its true and although they never have beaten me to my target its always seemed they’ve got close. Unfortunately the region is quite a march away! Fortunately though, as a human general and coming this early, the battle is pretty easy with the Cherokee’s only fielding 3-4 trained units plus their “mob” units. Be careful of hidden companies of men and you should be ok.

Mission complete! Yay….where did all Louisiana’s troops and ships go? Yes, one oddity and REAL annoyance is that troops outside Louisiana itself and all the ships the protectorate had…disappear…thought you’d get a nice troop bonus? Think again, what you do get is one company of exceptional line infantry (Ex-patriate scots) which you can’t train another of…and one or two other companies of men in Louisiana..and land. Unfortunately, with version 1.5 the income from the lands isn’t that great.

Is the Louisiana mission ultimately worth it? I’m unsure. I’ve tried leaving Louisiana longer in the hope it builds more but it doesn’t but it IS very annoying to have a Protectorate “waiting” for you to complete a mission.

Pirates. Raid their port in Trinidad each turn…go in and out of the port at least SEVEN times. Notice that each time you go in and out the black cloud of smoke gets bigger and bigger? That means you’re doing more and more expensive damage. Fortunately the Pirate port in Windward Islands is within easy reach…no land bridge but use a spare ship to move your prepared forces (you’ve been building troops haven’t you?) into the port and you don’t have to raid that anymore, plus, you now have direct land access to the city there.
I found that by constantly raiding Trinidad and occupying the Windwards port meant that the Pirates didn’t have the funds…even by turn 20+…to build walls on either city. Using this I used militia to take the Windwards and three companies from Louisiana sailed down to take Trinidad. With the quality of infantry from Louisiana..it wasn’t much of a fight.

Pirates FINISHED! Unfortunately, now all that damage YOU did to the ports…erm..you now have to repair. I recommend changing the ports to trading ports however.

I now advise you to take half the fleet you have there and send them to trade theatres (even West Africa) to secure any unexploited trade nodes. Leave 3 ships in the American theatre for now, you’ll build on this later anyway. If you have managed to “spam” Indiamen into the trade areas then you can spread them about once these war-ships arrive.

You have stabilised your South American theatre. You need to be aware of North America again.

Newfoundland is vulnerable to Inuit invasion..and they will (varies when but around turn 15-18)…but its via a land bridge which can be blocked easily and cheaply by a single ship. Build it in Newfoundland, sail it North and block them. It is far cheaper to do this, otherwise you’ll have to move troops from Canada and you don’t want to do this as….

..the Iroquois will strike back (or try to). You have not finished them as you’ve left one region right next to Upper Canada. They will try to take your nearest settlements if you look open to an invasion, again by a bridge over the river so ensure you block them in. You don’t need many companies and I found 5-6 companies of Line Infantry, Dragoons or other cavalry is enough to repel them. Even 7-8 companies of militia would do.

Little note about Trade:

This period gets tight on money. However, I have noticed that even by turn 20 the Ai has not exploited all the trade nodes…you have ships spare now so you can and this will help.

Succession War!:

About turn 20+ your King will die. This prompts the scripted “Succession War” where Austria declare war on you, you can’t escape this but if you’ve followed this guide as much as possible it’ll be less painful.

Who will Austria drag into the war? They’re allied with Britain! However, if you’ve been consistently nice to the Brits and given them gifts when you can…they will not join Austria, in fact mostly you only get Austria and Bavaria declaring on you if you’ve looked after your neighbours from turn one and you have a nice allied buffer in Wuttenberg or even Westphalia between you and both these nations. Suffice to say that to get to you Austria has to go through them…and they are pretty tough by this stage for the Ai to crack.

Don’t let your allies hang though as this is the perfect opportunity to get some European combat experience. The 15 company stack you’ve held in France can now take the offensive. If you can afford it, add the latest artillery you can to the stack and or infantry units like Grenadiers and march East. You have military access through your allies and I normally choose to raid towns in Bavaria and West Austrian territories as well as destroy any armies I come across.

Its fun.

Trade however, isn’t fun and suffers as Austria was a major person for you via land trade. Unfortunately you can’t replace them with Sweden as they need spare port space…so choose whomever you can get, larger the nation the better.

American Indians become an issue:

During this period and because you now have Louisiana the Native Americans to the West of Louisiana declare war on you. These WILL invade but only a small raiding army of 6-7 companies. However, you need to get troops to Louisiana quickly otherwise you’ll start building damage.

By all means train in Louisiana itself but money may be tight or non-existent for this depending on how many trade routes you’ve opened up by this point. However, you can sail, in two turns, the troops from the Windwards and Trinidad back to Louisiana and if you do this BEFORE war is declared and they cross the border, you’re ready for them.

Remember this comes on top of the Iroquois and Inuit’s trying to recover some pride. If you’ve been ready and handled those two your only real test is getting troops into Louisiana in time.


With all the research going on and the 3-4 schools you may have built. Your Population are starting to get restless in this period. You should be able to recruit Dragoons in Canada (you researched “Carbines” didn’t you?) and these provide a good boost to order, however you just have to add militia to your cities in Europe as you can’t recruit Dragoons (and never will I believe) in Europe.

You can sail some over from America but it’s not a solution you are likely to be able to provide just now.

Keep an eye on unrest and strikes. You don’t want a revolution just yet!

Note that I mentioned that in your war with Austria you’re just raiding and destroying armies in the field. NOT assaulting cities. You honestly can’t afford to hold and run any extra cities at this time…the plan is to try and force the enemy back to the negotiation table by crushing their armies.

You can siege a city if you wish if a substantial army is hiding there but otherwise content yourself with wanton destruction! The troops you have in that army are all you are likely to be able to provide for now…wasting them assaulting a fort is too costly.

End of the 2nd section of this guide.

11-27-2009, 13:32
What I've found effective is to capture North Africa and then use Tunisia and Morocco to build Dragoons, roughly 1-2 turns to bring them to Paris. If you capture Morocco, Algiers and Tunisia you get decent amount of cash from each, I converted all ports into fisheries and exempted taxes to make cities grow so I could build churches (10 religious unrest otherwise). Sure this might cause slight rise in administration cost but it effectively decimates Barbary states and makes you the king of Mediterranean (if you destroy Savoy and Genoa).

01-04-2010, 19:32
The main drawback in capturing Northern African provinces is that they seem to be pretty hard to control, still financially they can be worth the effort but I tend to leave Africa (and India) until the final stages of my campaigns and concentrate on the Americas.

Comments on latest update:

Ai is more aggressive but sometimes suicidally so, and might not wait to gather sufficient forces to actually challenge you well in battles. That said, it seems that the Ai is more aggressive against itself also so you do get some oddities occurring like the Dutch being wiped out by Westphalia or Austria marching an unsupported army to seize Westphalia's capital city when they've marched through several other countries to get there :inquisitive:

Other items that have happened to me since the latest minor update is USA emerging as a faction before 1730...odd but perhaps not unheard of and might be linked to weakening Britain in North America.

01-05-2010, 10:23
Nice guide with really helpful additions. :2thumbsup:

In my last campaign with France i gave "French Guyana" in Turn 2 to Portugal ... meant war between UP and Spain / Portugal from Turn 3 on. So UP was very busy from that ... :dizzy2: Both Trade notes who are occupied by the Portugese right from the start went free for my ships, 'cause the portugese ones were sunk or damaged and driven away by UP ships.

I declared war on the Pueblo and they conquered nearly the Louisiana protectorates, but the indians in the west declared war on them ... and the Hurons assisted. I gave Newfoundland to GB and got Ruperts in exchange, gave this province to the Inuit. They were now also involved in the great indian war ... :dizzy2:
Allied with the Hurons i conquered the Huron main territory, got the Louisiana territories back and finished in the end what the french never achieved in real history: The lands from Arcadia to Louisiana in french hands. :yes: The Iros were never a challenge, they declared war on the 13 colonies (and conquered New England, Maine and New York) and as a result from an uprising in New England ... the USA were born and from that on my loyal ally.

In Europe i went straight on to Savoy, got Württemberg and Rhineland as my ally / protecorate, occupied the rebellious flanders (they went mad after 2 or 3 UP invasions ...) and got Prussia as ally in the war with Austria / GB. This meant constant war in Europe for the rest of the campaign and was a really big mistake ... :smash: Lost thousands of good soldiers in campaigns in bavaria and northern italy, but it was fun.

In the end i missed the objectives (played on "Prestige" until 1799) but the campaign was my best ever. Never changed my absolute government, my try with "nation and alliance building" in america and europe ended up in constant wars between the main powers. Russia conquered most of the ottomans and persia, Finland and Norway.
I'll definitely play as france again ... maybe after N:TW. :2thumbsup:

01-07-2010, 21:43
Thanks *bows*.

Native Americans as Foes -

This is a word of warning for players as France fighting in North America. The Natives appear weak but approach each battle with caution!

Honestly, foes such as Britain are far easier to deal with as they will fighting (obligingly) in a similar fashion to you and can be blasted to a pulp over a long bombardment from your cannon.

The natives won't permit this, even the mobs fight hand to hand well and swam your small companies en-mass and unless your troops have some experience (and bayonets!) with them they're likely to break and run.

Militia - don't field them if you can avoid it against Native Americans, they will run away.

Line Infantry - your best bet for effective combat. Draw up a tight line of infantry and advance in stages, so that you don't loose cohesion.

Cannon - using several units is very helpful. Later you WILL face Natives with cannon but luckily not too many units so make sure you pound the natives from a distance and use grape-shot as soon as you can.

Hidden Natives - LOTS of Native troops "hide". This is VERY annoying and potentially dangerous as you march past them only to be attacked from the rear! This is why I advance in a tight line, in an orderly fashion over the battlefield... I sweep the battlefield clean slowly and effectively.

Try not to leave large gaps between companies of men as being swamped and overlapped by the natives has a major effect on morale.

02-22-2010, 14:00
I have had success by concentrating my efforts on the Carribean in the early game. Removing the pirate nation is top priority because Indiamen are basically worthless until Pirates are eliminated. Holland is a natural enemy, so I grab Dutch Guianna ASAP and Curacao shortly after beating the Pirates. That's a lot of sugar and spice right there, and easy to protect. Since Holland is an enemy anyway, I provoke them by trading small parts of Canada to Spain for Flanders. You can defend Paris and Brussels with a strong army in Amsterdam, also blocking Dutch trade. When Britain attacks, trade it Upper Canada for peace (it makes little money, and becomes a hostage that you can get back if Britain double-crosses you). This process should take until 1710 or so.

In 1710-1720, build the universities, trade routes, and infrastructure/buidlings to make France thrive.

By 1720 or so, France should be ready to clear out the Indians and regain Louisiana.