In addition to attributes, there are a number of helpful abilities that can only be utilised by a unit or ship during a battle. Some are enabled by the presence of an attribute, others by researching military technologies in the campaign game. When a unit or ship is selected, the abilities available to it appear at the bottom of the screen. You can mouse over each button to see what it does. Simply click on the appropriate button to activate it. After use, many abilities cannot be used again for a "cooldown" period, so it is important to use them sparingly and only at crucial moments.
The general has a huge influence on his army’s fortunes in battle, not least because the abilities at his disposal can turn the tide in their favour. You can unlock generals’ abilities and develop them in-line with skills and experience, sometimes upgrading them to become stronger or affect more units. There are three attributes that unlock different categories of general’s ability: "Warrior", which is unlocked by high zeal; "Commander", which become available when authority is high; "Strategist", which is dependent on high cunning. As a general or admiral improves each of his three attributes, he will progressively unlock further abilities.
Cavalry testudo is a defensive formation ideally used when the enemy is fielding missile units and your cavalry need to be kept close to the frontline without being picked off. Units performing cavalry testudo raise their shields and angle themselves towards their aggressor, which improves their resistance to missile attack whilst still enabling them to break into a charge if desired.
The shield screen is a static defensive formation ideally used when defending a position or to block city streets, helping reduce its weakness to flanking manoeuvres. Units with this ability raise their shields in a static defensive formation, increasing their defensive capabilities.
During his Gallic campaign, Caesar relied on the renowned loyalty and fighting skill of his crack 10th legion to rally and inspire his other troops on several occasions during difficult situations on the battlefield.
In game, Caesar can target a friendly unit once during a battle, improving their defensive capabilities and making their morale unbreakable for 30 seconds. In turn, the targeted unit has a chance of spreading these effects to other friendly units within a 30 metre radius of their position.
On several occasions Caesar’s presence close to the action inspired his troops to carry on the fight when the outcome of a battle was uncertain. Knowing this, he deliberately put himself in danger at critical moments, dismounting his horse and joining the melee. The news rippled through the frontlines, spurring his men on to victory.
In game, Caesar can use this ability once during a battle to increase his area of influence to 30 metres. As a result, friendly units within it have the cooling down time needed between use of their own abilities reduced to 60 seconds.
The Arverni leader, Vercingetorix, managed the near-impossible task of unifying many of the Gallic tribes behind his banner in order to challenge Roman hegemony in the region. As a result, his army fought bravely for the idea that a unified Gaul could defeat and drive out the invaders.
In game, Vercingetorix can use this ability once during a battle to slightly increase the morale of all friendly units within a 300 metre radius.
Despite being trapped by the Romans inside the walls of the Gallic city of Alesia, Vercingetorix kept up the pressure by constantly skirmishing with the besiegers in an effort to break out and ride for reinforcements. Eventually, this proved successful and a small contingent of cavalry escaped to rally surrounding tribes and attack the Romans from the rear.
In game, Vercingetorix can use this ability once during a battle to reduce the fatigue of all friendly units within a 300 metre radius for a period of 60 seconds.
The Suebi leader, Ariovistus, settled his people on land taken from the Sequani after he aided their victory over the neighbouring Aedui, something he believed was his right of conquest. A proud man, he believed his Germanic tribes were invincible in battle, and challenged the Romans to remove them from the territory they had appropriated.
In battle, Ariovistus can use this ability once to increase the armour piercing damage caused by all friendly units within a 30 metre radius.
After surrounding Caesar in the Doub valley, Ariovistus camped nearby, sending out small raiding parties to harass the Romans’ supply lines. Although this strategy worked for some time, eventually Caesar forced a pitched battle, during which Ariovistus’ forces counter-charged with such speed and force that the Romans did not have time to throw their pilae before being forced into melee with the Germans.
In game, Ariovistus can target a friendly unit once during a battle, increasing their speed and the force of their charge for 45 seconds. In turn, the targeted unit has a chance of spreading these effects to other friendly units within a 30 metre radius of their position.
When Caesar encountered the extremely warlike Belgae tribes of north eastern Gaul, he fell victim to a surprise attack whilst constructing a fort close to the camp of the Nervii leader, Boduognatus. Outnumbering the Romans, the Nervii force smashed into the Roman flank and successfully pushed through their battle line, almost cutting it in two.
In battle, Boduognatus can target a friendly unit once during a battle, increasing their attack capabilities and making their morale unbreakable for 60 seconds. In turn, the targeted unit has a chance of spreading these effects to other friendly units within a 30 metre radius of their position.
As the climactic Battle of Sabis came to a close, many tribes of the Belgic alliance either retired from the fray or did not commit themselves as reinforcements. Conversely, the Nervii themselves fought bravely until they were surrounded and almost all killed, causing heavy Roman casualties in the process.
In game, Boduognatus can use this ability once during a battle to increase his area of influence to 30 metres, in turn increasing the defensive capabilities of all friendly units within it and making their morale unbreakable.