In patch v1.07, you raise fewer, larger levies from your direct vassals (we call these "Liege Levies" for lack of a better term.) These levies are now handled separately from actual Holding levies; you only get regular holding levies from your own Demesne. The opinions of vassals of vassals are thus now mostly irrelevant; you only need to worry about the opinions of your direct vassals. Another benefit is that you don't get tiny little armies all over the place when you mobilize your realm. Liege levies also fix a fundamental balancing flaw in that you can no longer just keep raising little levies from all vassals as a war drags on (due to the portion of holding levies that was reserved for the liege.) The new Liege Levies do not reinforce at home while raised.
That's it for Liege Levies. Now, the concept of Retinues should be familiar to those of you who have played Sengoku. Basically, Retinues are your household guard; your elite core of professional soldiers. At the start of the game, most rulers are not able to employ Retinues, but it becomes possible as their total manpower (based on all the levies in their realm) and average Military Organization (a new technology) level increase. Over time, the Retinues turn into proper standing armies. The downside is that, as your Retinue capacity increases, your normal levies decrease in size. However, even at max tech, levies will still account for the majority of your armies.
There are many types of Retinues available for hire - including several unique cultural variants - though they always come in 500-man regiments with a commander of your own culture. Retinues reinforce in the field, like mercenaries, and when you first hire them, they start with 1 man. Unlike armies in other games, for example Europa Universalis, Retinues only cost maintenance while they reinforce. You are of course allowed to declare war even if you have Retinues (which are always standing on the map.)
So, why did we choose to add the Retinue system to the DLC? Why should you spend $6 on Legacy of Rome rather than a Latte and a slice of cake? There are many reasons, including these:
- Retinues make arranging your flanks and balancing your armies far more tactical
- Having a dependable standing army ready is strategically preferable
- They fit nicely into the overall military system in patch v1.07 with Liege Levies, etc
- History saw levy based militaries transform gradually into more professional forces
I should mention again that the whole Retinue mechanic requires that you own the DLC; if you don't, the new Retinue tab will be grayed out in the military view and the AI will not use Retinues either. However, if the host in a multiplayer game owns the DLC, all players will be able to use Retinues.
I think that will do it for today. Next week, I plan to talk about the new Leader traits and cultural buildings. Until then!