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When in an enemy region, you may loot the region to the ground if you so wish. Looting is not without its risks. Too much looting by an enemy force will cause the people to take arms and attempt to forcibly eject the marauding bands out of their homes, which will result in a battle which may turn the tide of battle if an enemy makes a move on the same turn. It will also incur a significant drop in sympathy toward your realm, and word may spread to other regions, creating a ripple effect. For this reason, many realms will punish troop leaders who loot when not ordered to.
Looting serves two purposes: One, it is a way to gain you some gold from the enemy, by taking it from their tax collectors and peasants. Two, it does damage to the enemy infrastructure and morale. Especially repeated looting will do a lot to make the peasants unhappy, and in turn unsatisfied with their government that couldn't protect them.
Aside from setting the amount of time you want to put into looting, you can also choose which "style" you want to employ:
- spread out equally
- Is simply a "no preferences" choice. Your men will go out and hit whatever gets in their way.
- steal tax gold
- Using this option, you can concentrate on the wealthy and the tax collectors. You will do much less damage to the region (i.e. it will remain good for further looting), but gain more gold. There will, of course, be some collateral damage.
- burn food stores
- Want to starve the enemy? This lets you go straight for the food stores and burn down the grain. It will do much damage to the food stores and a bit to the fields and agriculture infrastructure, but will yield you very few gold coins.
- steal from the warehouses
- Not only does this help starve the enemy, it adds food to your caravan, as well. Only available to those with caravans.
- kill, rape and burn
- This is the option for evil empires. You are going straight for the population, killing as many innocents as possible. This will of course have an impact on the production, morale and other region statistics.
- pillage and maraud
- If lasting damage is your main concern, choose this option. Your men will still steal some gold, but they will rather burn then rob, and do a lot of damage to the region's production and morale. Don't do this if you want to take control of this region, as the local people are guaranteed to learn to hate you very quickly.
- loot an isolated village
- Has looting been disallowed by your over-zealous ruler, or do you just not want to draw attention to yourself? Find a small village largely isolated from the rest of the region, and hit that instead, killing all witnesses.
You will gain much less in loot, essentially the equivalent of looting a small badlands region, no matter what kind of region you are actually in. On the other hand, it will usually not be spotted at all, and even if someone notices troops looting, your name will likely be unknown.
- damage military infrastructure
- The looting option you choose if you want to conquer. This will damage paraphernalia production, recruitment centers and what gold you can take from the barracks. This looting option does minimal damage to morale or sympathy.