If somebody tells you there’s minotaurs in their game, there’s only one logical response, right? You say “hell yes”, throw down your spears and run off to find those damned minotaurs. Well, as it turns out, abandoning everything on a quest for horny glory isn’t actually a winning technique when it comes to A Total War Saga: Troy’s new Mythos expansion.
See, when it came to my adventures, I had one very particular goal in mind: get minotaur.
Minotaurs are cool! They’re big and bullish, and they carry huge bronze axes!
Should I have paid more attention to building up my armies and resources before I tried to find one? Possibly. (Yes. The answer is yes.) But again, when someone tells you there’s a minotaur up for grabs, you go for the minotaur.
So I started my A Total War Saga: Troy mythical campaign, recruited as many heroes as I could and decided to go traipsing through Ancient Greece to find one.
From my very first turn, the game’s narrator told me what to do — but I wasn’t impressed to note it had nothing to do with minotaurs.
Nope, the game wanted me to make alliances with my fellow Ancient Greeks. It wanted me to issue royal decrees, build new fortifications, and focus on the growth and happiness of my people. It wanted me to face off in battles against other nations and claim my spoils of war.
Was I going to listen? Absolutely not. As we’ve established, I wanted a minotaur, and I wasn’t going to stop for anything.
Really, I only have myself to blame for the failure that followed, but A Total War Saga: Troy’s new expansion promised big things.
While the series has typically been known for its dedication to historical realism, Mythos marks a turning point for the franchise. In the base game, myths like Cyclopses and Minotaurs already exist, but take the form of men in funky costumes. Ancient stories are more symbolic, and there’s no magic to speak of.
In Mythos, these warriors are actually mythical creatures that can fight alongside you. In addition to this, Mythos also gives players some additional mystic abilities, there’s a slight map overhaul, new quests, and existing military units can take the form of harpies, centaurs and other monsters.
These warrior types basically function as skins. But it’s a fun addition to the series that lends a sense of epicness to all that spear-throwing, sword-swinging action. It also makes battles much more interesting than they otherwise would be. Why go into battle with plain soldiers when you can battle with an army of rippling-muscled minotaurs?
Which brings me back to my quest.
So there I was, ignoring all the instructions I’d been given, and just chomping at the bit for a minotaur.
I recruit my heroes, I send them off on a recruitment mission and I leave my people to fend for themselves.
A couple of things happen in quick succession then.
First, I realise there are no minotaurs around. I think I just need to look further, so I send more heroes out in different directions.
Second, I destroy every alliance I’ve built so far.
It turns out traipsing through enemy territory is a massive no-no. So I’m here with a single-minded focus thinking, “Hey, I can just go for a walk wherever and I’ll stumble across a minotaur, and I can absorb them into my army.”
The game’s entire narration isn’t very helpful and doesn’t expand on any of the Mythos features off the bat, so at this stage I still think I have a shot. I don’t really know how to recruit a minotaur, but I’m convinced I can do it with sheer luck.
So I keep crossing into enemy territory and getting stuck in-between warring nations, and everybody’s getting pretty shitty with me.
The Minoans declare war on me first, and I’m thinking I can handle it, right? My army’s decently big, I have an okay flow of resources and I’m not focussing too much on civilian growth just yet.
I use my turn to walk deeper into unknown territory, hoping I’ll uncover a minotaur. Then Narykos declares war on me. Unfairly, I might add. I’m not invading their territory, I’m just using it as a shortcut.
Then it turns out everybody has a problem with what I’m doing, and they aren’t afraid to let me know. Instead of being reasonable and dealing with our issues like adults, four different nations band together and attack my home city. Four!
Of course, all my heroes are out trying to hunt down a roving minotaur to recruit to my army, so I have nobody left at home. Without any defence, I try to retreat — and fail.
I try to recruit more heroes to fight for me — and they die.
Even the nations that like me end our alliance, and my resources start plummeting.
In the end, I fail before I ever even chance upon a mythical beast.
And I played the game on easy.
But despite this failure, I did learn a very important lesson while playing A Total War Saga: Troy. Have you guessed it yet? It starts with a P and rhymes with patients.
Going into A Total War Saga: Troy, I assumed it would be packed to the gills with flying monsters, serpents and beasties of all shapes and sizes. But even after my first few hours with the game, I only ever saw plain old men.
My prized minotaurs escaped me, and even the seas were empty of monsters.
While A Total War Saga: Troy does add in a bunch of fun improvements like recruitable monsters and epic quests to claim beasts of Ancient Greek myth, these are just subtle additions to the game’s main formula.
It turns out you can’t just leap in and immediately claim the beasts. You’ll need to be patient and build your resources, practise diplomacy and defend your assets before you even get a whiff of that mythical magic in the game. (Creature units aren’t actually unlocked until later in the campaign.)
At its core, Total War: Troy is still an historical strategy game. You still need a plan and to execute it to perfection. The monsters are fun additions via the Mythos pack, and eventually they’ll come to you.
Sadly, you do have to earn their respect first.
One day, I’ll get my minotaurs. Just not today.