or, a persistent assassin’s guide to proper territory control

This is a tale of hijinks and massive insanity that was bred out of the desire of a single inept gamer to do something rather unprecedented.

(I’m sorry the article doesn’t have that many actual screenshots and none of them are particularly high quality.)

A clash of personalities

There’s a fundamental issue why I chose a downright insane strategy of playing Assasin’s Creed: Relevations campaign.

You see, the Assassin’s Creed series is a series of games of big choices and visceral combat. That, of course, is all fine by me. It’s just that I’m primarily a stealth gamer, and while stealth is obviously a pretty major element of AC, the games aren’t all about it. In AC, there’s always the moment where subtlety goes out of the window and you just need to do shit.

So obviously, I wanted to try a little bit more patient approach with Assassin’s Creed: Revelations.

First of all, I’m frankly not great at Assassin’s Creed games. This is a pretty curious statement, because my track record so far would obviously show I’m sorta kinda passable-ish.

The thing is, they always feel too easy, no matter what I do.

And I don’t say that out of arrogance. I think the fact that the games are deceptively easy is what throws me off and actually makes me blunder much more.

In most games, I think I’m quite comfortable with having the difficulty lever there: I usually don’t need to touch it at all, but I’m happy that it’s there.

In Assassin’s Creed, there’s an ungodly rattle coming from the machinery downstairs. I panick, grasp the difficulty level throttle with all my might, and try to hold it still while I just bungle and slip downwards. Which is all pretty odd, considering it’s welded in place. There’s only one bloody difficulty level.

Safety last!

Pictured above: A device that is considered by experts to be very easy to use, much like Assassin’s Creed.
Also pictured: Not a normal situation for a human being to be in, but similar to the situation I frequently find myself in.

Actually, it kind of annoyed me that I was able to 100% Assassin’s Creed II. AC2 is my favourite game in the series so far, and I think everyone would say it’s a masterpiece of a game. But challenge just ain’t one of it’s qualities. Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood introduced optional challenges, and no achievements for their completion. (I think there’s one in the DLC. Which is silly, because I didn’t do the DLC yet but 100%’d everything else.)

I wanted challenge when I got Assassin’s Creed: Revelations. I knew everything would be bloody easy in the game, so I wanted to complete the game with as few total screw-ups as possible.

In fact, I made one of my goals that if I fail to get some of the campaign achievements for some reason, that’d be awesome.

Initial resolution

All of this solidified in the first days since I got the game.

I got Assassin’s Creed: Revelations in the release day, and was pretty psyched about it. It boasted all sorts of innovations, like a multiplayer mode that doesn’t allow people to stab you through walls and, since the dragon alert had been raised due to the release of Skyrim, it also featured air pummeling.

But this article isn’t about the multiplayer, as great as it is and as hilariously I kept failing in it and as hilariously I occasionally succeeded in it (too bad I don’t remember much of the Coffee Run of Legend®). This is about the epic, thrilling campaign mode.

Which I haven’t seen much of. Because I’ve played it patiently.

ACR: Sequence 2

Now, I probably don’t need to remind you that I really love the “buy the whole city and control it” aspect of the AC campaigns. Once I had what it took to control the city, I resolved to just bloody do it.

What the hell. Since we’ve been doing things really carefully and nothing disastrous has happened yet, let’s do this shit the crazy way.

The way the developers probably didn’t intend it.

I’m a huge fan of IT-HE Software. The guys have written some excellent “anti-walkthroughs” of various games. There’s the proper way of playing a video game, and then there’s the crazy way of playing video games.

Now, I was feeling a little bit anxious because I have absolutely no idea what the rest of the game entails. I’m doing an anti-walkthrough blindly. IT-HE guys played through the games multiple times. Perhaps some of my ideas will work? Perhaps some of them don’t work? I don’t know yet.

But I resolved that things would be air-tight. Things would be excellent. Things would certainly not be anything ordinary.

Here we go!

I looked around. I claimed the assassin dens of Constantinople. I put competent people in charge.

I haven’t heard a peep since from that direction. Other people let shit happen in the city, but not me. I just pay all the bribes and keep going.

Buy a building? Pay bribes, keep going. Recruit new assassins? Pay bribes, keep going.

There’s never been a bloody Templar alert in the game outside of the story missions and like. The city is very beautiful and very serene and nothing out of ordinary happens on the street. The Templar attacks only happen when the plot dictates it.

People insist the assassin dens are difficult to defend. I honestly wouldn’t know, because outside of the tutorialesque story bit, I’ve never had to defend the bloody dens in the first place.

ACR: We're on our way...

And now I have 100% of buildings and assassin dens and such. I just scooped up the whole frigging city from under the noses of the Templars. If they want to become aware that something unsavoury is going on in the city, they have to do narrative trickery. That’s basically cheating on their part, isn’t it? Eeeeeeasy does it.

There are some downsides to this careful and meticulous and bloody crazy way of doing thinsg.

Doing things the crazy way has put a small hamper on my story progression, to put it mildly.

ACR: Sequence 3, Mission 9

But fortunately, now that I’m done with the most crucial part of the plan, the story will get rolling in proper direction too. Don’t worry.

…Oh, the crucial part?

See The Steamroller. Be The Steamroller.

This is the maddening part. You really don’t want to do this unless you, like me, have an attention span of a gnat. Actually, I have an attention span much longer than that, so that’s why it was maddening. Maddening!

If you have the Mediterranean Defence going on at full cylinders, you don’t really get a moment’s rest before you get bombed by notices about your progression in the Mediterranean Defence. Because you’re Steamrolling the Mediterranean.

Oh, you’re supposed to be doing the story, but if you’re doing the Mediterranean Steamroll, you barely have time to do anything else.

It’s really fucking distracting, is what I’m saying. By a careful estimate, I’ve really spent far, far more time in the pigeon coop menus than I’ve spent in the actual campaign, I guess.

While I was waiting for the missions to complete, I ended up waiting, getting shitload of money, buying 100% of buildings in Constantinople, de-treasuring a large part of the city, and… uh, did a bunch of other stuff, I guess.

A few attempts at achievements and challenges. Don’t recall the details but I think sometimes challenges worked and achievements didn’t.

But I didn’t have time to do real missions.

No.

Since I had no access to Arsenal or other areas, and just the majority of the Constantinople, I was kind of limited in completing some of the other challenges, like memoir pages and viewpoints and whatnot.

Also, I actually hadn’t touched ACR campaign in a long time. Actually, I dropped playing the campaign in January 14, 2012. I picked it up again in March 19, 2013.

Do note: It’s not like the campaign wasn’t fun when I played it this way. There were other reasons for me temporarily dropping the game. Like the fact that Skyrim swept me away.

My steamrolling strategy has worked pretty well since then.

General steamrolling strategy

What I do is this:

  1. Send assassins to capture a city.
  2. Install new assassin dens in the city, work on getting getting city goals done.
  3. Once there are assassin dens in the city, send assassins in them. Recruit more. Try to get balance of weapons in each city, which is bloody difficult because everyone has polehammers and shit.
  4. Have the city assassins handle all city contracts, as efficiently as possible. Try for near 100% chances of success. If a city contract needs some other weapon that’s not available, get help from Constantinople.
  5. Keep all tasks going that are at all possible to maintain city readiness.

ACR: Going on full cylinders!

ACR: Assigning folks

As a result, I get ridiculous amounts of spam from the cities saying the tasks are done. Really, turn your back and everything goes spammy.

Success rate? There were two cases where I managed to somehow lose the control of a city. The logic of this escapes me and to best of my guess there was really nothing I could do about it. The city readiness was 100% for good hours, I kept doing stuff and completing contracts in the city, and then all of sudden it went to 20% and no matter how many folks and how much iron I sent to the border, the city just wasn’t recoverable. Damn Templar sneak attacks!

But aside of that, I managed to keep control of all cities.

All the time.

ACR: Mediterranean Defense 1

So, a couple of days ago, I really had nothing better to do than to take the last cities. I had control of most of the cities by then, most of the time at 100%. I had started from Eastern end of the Mediterranean and worked my way toward Gibraltar.

ACR: Mediterranean Defense 2

The last city to be conquered was Lisbon.

This is not how it’s done

There was a brief panic in July. Everything was going at full swing. I had just managed to just get 100% of landmarks and buildings in Constantinople.

Then I accidentally sent one guy to handle a mission all by himself with less than optimal success probability. It was less than 50% if I recall.

When the contract was complete, the game started autosaving… and crashed.

When I restarted the game, it failed to load the game and crashed again.

And again.

Save game corruption. Goddamn it.

The only plausible explanation is that the ACR developers had never even considered the possibility that someone might be daft enough to send an assassin out with ridiculously low success probabilities. Or maybe they forgot to implement how a Mediterranean Defense mission could fail somehow. It just doesn’t happen.

Fortunately, going to multiplayer and getting back managed to fix the savegame, so I didn’t pull another instance of Metroid Prime 2: Echoes here. I have a real hard drive here, not some flaky memory cards from dubious sources. Total save game corruption is a bit unlikely. I hope.

And guess what? Cemşit oğly Bayram returned from the mission and reported success. He didn’t fail at the mission after all. Told you it was impossible to fail these missions!

ACR: Half-sure if this would have actually worked...

And no, I never once managed to fail on these missions. Failing to secure adequate amount of blades to start the mission to begin with? Now that’s another tale…

We almost forgot this guy…

While the rest of the Mediterranean is usually easy to conquer and defend, it’s really difficult to defend Bursa. Because there’s one mission that refuses to end and as such there’s often only 3 mission possibilities to choose from.

ACR: This guy is gone.

Yes.

I sent this guy on a mission as part of the Mediterranean Defense tutorial.

I can just imagine the conversation that follows when he comes back.

“Hey guys, I’m back from Bursa. Did anything important happen while I was gone?”

“Oh, nothing. Just that we refurnished every building in Constantinople. Except the ones we couldn’t get to. And we took every Assassin den in Constantinople, each one now controlled by a seasoned master assassin. Oh, you’re the last one to be promoted, but only because it took you so long to get back. And we captured every major city in the Mediterranean, drove out the templars and mostly rebuilt all of those cities.”

“Damn! Well, the negotiations can be really tricky. You just know you’ll end up in a harrowing place when you hear that you need to negotiate with a so-called ‘little prince’. You can never predict what kids will do, is what I’m saying. The negotiation would have ended long ago without all those bloody ice cream breaks.”

Starting to see a pattern here

I had a small problem with my brotherhood of assassins. Most of them seemed to favour polehammers/poleaxes. I was starting to feel that the whole war effort was getting a little bit Luzerned. …Whatever that means, practically speaking.

Of course, it’s not really a problem if you want to, say, provide water…

ACR: Mission: Provide water

…I suppose the practical plan is just to go and smash water barrels, and people will drink that stuff. Of you need to go to feed the childrens, just go and smash some food crates.

Assassinate a minstrel?

ACR: Mission: Assassinate a minstrel

The guy reportedly strangles people with lute strings. That’s evil. We need to stop that. Hammer. Lute. Lute. Hammer. … Axes. Lute. Lute. Axes. You just know what’s the plan here, don’t you?

Sink templar ships? Well, a hammer with a long pole sure helps if you’re aiming below waterline.

Testing a poison? Now that needs poison blade or sword or…

ACR: Mission: Test a poison

…to hell with it. POISON HAMMER, THE BRINGER OF ENDLESS NIGHT. (I’m disappointed if that’s not a name of a goth metal band.)

What about attending a concert?

ACR: Mission: Attend a concert

…The night’s program is a series concertos by famed renaissance composers, arranged for *ahem* strings and mallet percussion.

Damn, that’s a lot of hammers! Oh well, at least all of these proper smashings allude to other famous assassins.

Oblivion: Home is where...

And thus ends the steamrollery

So in the beginning of this month, I was starting to get a little bit bored because the city is basically done. And so are the other cities.

I decided to go for it. The one last push. One and half cities remained.

I took Madrid.

I built assassin dens for the city.

Everything was cool. Everything was set for the one last push.

ACR: The reclamation starts

Imperial North’s master Yaser kızı Yeşim and a somewhat seasoned veteran Augusto Fornari were sent for a mission.

I couldn’t believe we were finally going for the last push. Damn.

ACR: Lisbon will be ours!

There’s an achievement for controlling all cities, right? …Hooboy, come to think of it, I had totally forgotten what this achievement was called. Hope it’s something appropriate…

ACR: Go me!

…Oops, sorry. I’m sure there’s an armchair in there somewhere. *ahem* The flowers are here just for the sake of celebrations. Pay no attention to them.

ACR: Armchair general

(Update: forgot this while submitting the article)

City control at the end of this particular run:

Alexandria, Algiers, Damascus, Genoa, Madrid, Marseille, Tripoli, Tunis 100%
Jerusalem, Rhodes 91%
Bursa 84%
Athens 75%
Lisbon 25%

Conclusion?

Finally, I can focus on other things. At least a little bit.

There’s probably a few more bits to do in the campaign that require my undivided moronity. I think I’ll go for rather peculiar sorts of challenges next. And, of course, since the campaign isn’t yet done, I think I need to see if the rest of the campaign inspires me to engage in further stuff.

*sigh* I’m very sorry that this isn’t exactly the most hilarious of anti-walkthroughs. I just ask people to try playing the game this way. It’s just something that’s better experienced rather than just done.

Dedication

This glorious victory is dedicated to Mr. Jonathan Teatime, the second-greatest Assassin in literature, second only to the Patrician, Havelock Vetinari. For those who don’t know, Mr. Teatime basically attempted to murder naught less than the very Celebration itself, by means that shall forever be hallowed. I, being but a pale shadow of that greatness, merely attempted to murder a Videogame. These are both noble ideals worthy of a truly legendary murder.