The following are alternative strategies to those presented on the other walkthroughs of the wiki.
In Anno 1404, war comes often as a necessity. It requires preparation, strategy and precision. It can only be truly started once the patricians are unlocked, enhanced when nobles and emissaries finally dispose their technology. It has to be played on two grounds- soil and sea. But it also requires an enormous effort on the resource supplies and economy, one must be ready at all times to send twice the amount of troops neccessary to control an island.
Economic siege strategy
This strategy is the cheapest and sometimes the deadliest strategy you may be forced to use. The basic principle is to never let the enemy communicate between his own islands and others. One must have a consequent amount of war boats to establish a hegemony in the seas. One must make sure every shore of the enemy's populated islands (both the occidental and oriental if possible) are covered by at least one of your ships, this will automatically prevent your enemy from rebuilding a port and block any incoming resources. He will also be unable to send troops or boats out of his islands. This will cause quickly massive riots in his populated islands that will start burning his cities to the ground and hopefully undermine his economy. The key to this technique is to leave as many buildings intact so that he starts losing his fortune as fast as possible. He will then quit the region out of bankruptcy. This strategy is more effective once in late-game, as the player is more dependent on his other islands, but is harder to establish because of the possible enemy fleet. Also, one must use his fleet to take down any enemy war ships travelling at see.
This is a general strategy that one can apply anytime in the game. It will be subdivided in few steps. One should not apply this strategy if his economy is too unstable, and must be ready to pause the advance of his population.
Note that with this strategy, it is possible to destroy enemies much more advanced than you. But it is advisable to first strike the strongest enemy and as early in the game as possible to avoid having to battle for hours.
Judgement and preparation
One must first of all, before declaring war, consider two things. The quality of his own economy, and the defense of the enemy.
- First of all, see your military points (in the menu of the dungeon) obtained through having a big population. If you have 50 points available for ground troop only, then you are ready. If not, you will have limited armies, 20 points being the minimal amount of points to effectively control an island at patrician advancement. Keep 20 military point available for step 2.
- Then one must have at least 50 000 gold in bank and a positive income (preferably more than 500 to sustain the cost of war). If not, then resort to the strategy explained above.
- Then one must have at least two weapon supply chains that include 1 iron mine, 1 coal supply (mine or forester), 1 foundry and 1 weaponsmith. But also make sure that these weapons are sent to the island where your dungeon is (and oriental fort if available). Same with the rope supply chains, 2 chains including 1 hemp farm and 1 rope yard, that will be for the exclusive use of shipyards. If one has both nobles and emissaries, then 2 canon supply chains of 2 lumberjacks each, 1 coal supply, 1 iron mine, 1 foundry and one canon foundry. These canons have to be sent to your oriental fort and oriental shipyard islands, in order to build canon positions which greatly help in destroying enemy buildings. Last but not least, 2 siege weapon chains of 2 lumberjacks each, 2 hemp farms each, 2 rope yards each and of 1 siege weapon factory each. These have to be sent to your dungeon island and your oriental fort island to be able to produce trebuchets and miner positions. One must have at least 4 unused fishermen huts, 4 quarries, 4 lumberjacks, 4 tool supply chains, 2 glass supply chains and 2 trade boats to go to step 2.
- Also one must consider diplomacy, if one has an ally or two, then one should consider spending less in defense (see defensive strategy). But if the enemy has an ally or two, then consider doubling or tripling your war fleet to take care of one enemy at the time and take down the other's fleets and war boats, also to protect your own trade ships.
The following are the minimal expectations to successfully defeat the enemy
- If the enemy hasn't yet got a dungeon, a basic army of 2 large military camps and 2 small military camps will generally do.
- If the enemy has built a dungeon, more preparation is required. If he has in addition to that less than 10 turrets and gates, then an army of 5 large military camps and 2 small military camps is required.
- If the enemy is at noble advancement and has noble turrets and gates, (more than 10), one must have 2 miner positions, 6 large military camps, 2 small military camps, 3 trebuchets and if an oriental fort is available (more than advisable) 2 miner positions and 2 canon positions instead of the 3 trebuchets. Assassin camps are also useful, but are also optional as not systematically available.
Note that it is vital not to send not enough troops, but also not too many to make the costs as low as possible.
This is the first step of the the operation, it takes more or less 30 minutes. If the enemy is not defeated until then, go to step 2.
One must primarily target the enemy's populated occidental island (main island) to make the war as swift as possible, having so many troops at the time is extremely costly. One must first send his fleet to take down the enemy port. once done, keep your fleet close to your island and take down any war boat in approach, before it touches ground and establishes a castle. This will allow you to not spend a dime on defense as no enemy will be able to touch your islands. Avoid destroying enemy ships unless they directly attack you, as the enemy can quickly rebuild them.
On the ground offense, first send one of your small military camps (not any other camp to reduce the costs), on the most isolated shore of your enemy's island. Click on your boat and click on the castle button to place a castle, note that it will remain a castle until you decide to turn it into a depot, but we will come to that later in step 2.
Then, send all of your troops through the castle and settle them near it, preferably putting the large military camps the furthest and long range camps the nearest to it.
Then send your troops to capture the market buildings nearest to the castle. Simply send a troop so that the building is within the military area of the camp. It will not work if the market building is protected by an army or a military building. Destroy it first and then capture the market building. You will have 50% chance to capture it after 3 minutes, otherwise it will be destroyed. Once approximately 3 buildings will be captured, the enemy will start to send troops, but even hard AI's rarely send them grouped. Simply destroy them with large military camps and long range camps as they come. Try not to engage the remaining small military camp in battle, as it will be useful afterwards. Note that if you have assassins, never send them first on a strike or in support as it will get destroyed within 5-20 seconds. Send them right after one of your armies arrived at the target to maximize your firepower.
Note that making your armies travel through enemy controlled zones will make them take enormous damage, same as leaving the armies in troop mode without moving. Try to avoid these situations. Also leave a damaged camp to repair itself for a minute or more to have some manpower left for the rest of the siege.
Now I suppose that 50% of the island is under your control and that the city remains. Firstly attack the gates and the turrets of the city with your large military camps. Right after use your long range troops if you have any to make these battles shorter. Alternatively breach the walls with your miner positions if you have any. Once you've gotten that far, destroy every other turret or gate and leave the dungeon intact for the end. Capture the enemy marketplaces to capture the towns of the enemy, but note that it will not be possible in a dense city, go to step 2 if you're in this case.
If possible, send all of what you have (at least 2 large military camps and 1 small military camp) for the dungeon. Note that it will be captured once destroyed.
Everytime a camp is destroyed, replace it with a new one if possible.
If during the first 30 minutes of your strike, the enemy dungeon has not fallen, click on the castle and turn it into a depot. Send to it wood, tools, stone, glass, weapons and fish. The first five resources will be used to build military buildings and the fish will keep the captured houses alive in peasant stage. This will increase your military points and income to make the siege sustainable.
Firstly build a dungeon on the new island (destroy the one on your island if neccessary). This will allow you to replace faster you own troops to make the siege easier. Then build turrets near to the enemy houses to make your way through the town so that one of your camps can capture the marketplace.
This strategy can nearly surely assure you victory, as the enemy won't be able to strike you back effectively. However, the siege might last for a lot of time, so prepare a consequent amount of resources and make sure your economy holds.
If all of the above is completed, you are ready for conquest. Don't forget to destroy your camps after you've finished (select the camp and press the delete button on your keyboard).