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- Strong militaristic faction with an emphasis on cavalry, and elite infantry, with some degree of adaptibility.
- Excellent medium cavalry component
- Stealthy unique cavalry
- Weak economic bonuses
- Limited technological potential
- Very sensitive to Policy changes
The first thing that one notices regarding the Celtiberians is its army. Yup, that's right. Their army. For while they may pack the same units as other barbarian factions (with spear and skirmisher levy units), the differences soon begin the moment you start teching up from simple levies to more professional units.
Like the Iranic and Arab factions, the Celtiberians feature armies consisting of ranged cavalry along with light infantry, yet it can be argued however that the Celtiberians are more into the use of infantry. And LOTS of them. For one, the vast number of skirmisher units that you will find in the Celtiberian muster is IMMENSE, ranging from simple Neitotoi all the way to the crafty Caetranann and the mighty Scutanann, which are poweful enough to be used against cavalry. Couple that with a great deal of skirmisher cavalry, as well as cheaper buildings that allow to save on Timber, and you have a mighty force that is highly specialised in punishing factions dependent on melee units, particularly heavy infantry and cavalry. It does not help many enemies that many Celtiberian infantry units are in effect melee units with a ranged attack. Think of units such as the Ambakaro as being in essence a Roman cohors evocati that can attack at range as opposed to having to march into melee range.
Of these, the Iberian Caetranann line is of interest, because it consists primarily of units which are stealthed when not moving, being the Caetranann and the Epones Caetranann (which is essentially the same unit, albeit on horseback). This means that once the Celtiberians can research the 3rd level of Military research at the Civic Centre, they are able to put in coordinated stealth raids on their opponents using the Caetranann class to distract and harass the foe, in anticipation of an even larger expedition. This is backed up by the aforementioned ability to save on timber costs for buildings, since the savings on Timber can then be ploughed back into unit production. Tougher buildings which tend to throw out more projectiles at enemies foolish enough to attack you can be used as formidable strongpoints for your army to fall back on and resupply, as well as to help mount a heroic defence whereso needed. With regards to offensive strategies, Celtiberian unique cavalry units are all STEALTHED when not moving.
If more punitive action is required, then the Celtiberians can count on having more units and mercenaries — the only issue however is that the Celtiberians don't really have much in the way of economic bonuses or technologies — they can't research the higher levels of Fortification, Supply, Woodworking or Healthcare, making them somewhat weaker especially with regards to offensive strategy — you need good supply to extend your expeditions and you need healthcare if your troops have to abort the expedition and retreat. The fact that the Celtiberians also have a massive number of mercenaries to choose from doesn't help much since the mercenaries are highly dependent on Policy research, and cost lots of Wealth to be recruited, meaning that to a certain extent you can have some nasty tradeoffs. For instance, if you are trying to help a friendly player in a wonder race (ie research Despotism, then build a Palace to boost your Wonder Points) you run the risk of cutting a vast number of cheaper and more useful units as per defence. because you won't be able to recruit the much cheaper but less effective Gallic mercenary units. Additionally, because the Celtiberians are dependent on the use of javelins and slings, any faction with far-reaching archers can easily own them in the early stages of any game. Some of the best factions you can bring to bear against the Celtiberians would be the Greek or Eastern factions owing to their effective melee infantry, which can be backed up with all manner of archer units. Light infantry such as Akontistai or Skirmisher Levy can be used to draw the fire from Celtiberian elite units, which in turn can be countered using archers. And while their light cavalry are powerful, they can be countered with a mix of heavy cavalry and archer cavalry which again thanks to their weapons will always outrange Celtiberian javelin cavalry.
However, a hobbled economy with limited technology need not always be a problem for the Celtiberians, especially if they are able to obtain good allies. Alliances are necessary especially with regards to battles against factions with good defence (like the Numidians, Macedonians and Romans) or substantial booming capability (like the Sabaeans, Pontics or Bosporans). and almost any faction can make a good ally, but some are better than others. The vast reach of the Numidians as well as their access to greater Food capacity and war elephants can be used to complement the lighter Spanish armies, while other factions that specialise in producing wealth, particularly the Lusitanians and the Sabaeans should also be courted, since their near-magical ability to create Wealth out of nowhere can help greatly in recruitment and resupply. On sea maps, the Carthaginian and Sabaean flair for naval warfare also make them potential partners — the various infantry units of the Celtiberians can be used to complement the armies of your partners even as they raise warships to defend the waters. Thus, as a Celtiberian player, you are well advised to be as aggressive and vigorous in your diplomatic efforts as much as your rushing efforts.