Rome Total War: Overview - The Strategic Map

The Strategic Map

The mechanics of the singleplayer game consists of two distinct phases. One is the Strategic, where game play is turn-based and the player is presented with a map of the Ancient Mediterranean world called the Strategic Map or Strat Map. This is where city building, economics, troop recruitment, diplomacy, and army deployments take place.

Previous Total War games had a Strategic Map divided into territories, and armies could only move from one territory to another much like in the game Risk. However, there was no movement to specific places within the territories. If you tried to move into a territory occupied by an enemy army a battle automatically ensued. On the other hand Rome Total War allows units to be moved anywhere on the map, regardless of provincial boundaries. This allows the player to pick and choose the kind of ground they fight upon, such as river-crossings, mountain slopes, forests, etc... It also means that the player does not have to fight simply by crossing into the territory of another faction.

Units may only attack enemies when they move adjacent to them on the Strategic Map. Battles are then resolved in one of two ways. One allows the computer to automatically determine the winner, the other allows the player to fight it out themself in real-time play. This takes the player to the second phase of the game. That of tactical battles fought on the Battle Map.

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The goal of the singleplayer game is to conquer a set number of territories. How many depends on the type of campaign the player selects. A Long Campaign requires the conquest of 50 territories and the city of Rome. A Short Campaign requires only 15 territories, but the player must also destroy or outlast one or two specific neighbors/rivals. For example The Greek Cities must destroy or outlast Macedon and Thrace.

The player does this by maneuvering armies on the Strategic Map in order to attack and take enemy territories. The player must also defend against enemy factions trying to do the same to them of course. The player may also recruit special agents to assist. The Strategic Map is divided into 103 territories, each of which contains a city which is its capital. Whichever faction controls this city also controls the province it is situated within.

While the player must defend themself against enemy factions, they must also always be on the look out for rebels appearing within their own territory as well. These outlaw armies will block trade, devastate the land, and attack the player's nearby units. Sometimes if public order within cities dips too low they will also rebel as well.

These cities are where the player may raise troops and special agents. In order to do so the player must first construct buildings where said troops and agents can be recruited. The player may construct other buildings as well, such as temples, markets, ports, sewers, mines, and more. These buildings do things such as increase the trade revenues of a settlement, help maintain public order, preserve health, etc...

Cities grow in tiers based upon the number of denizens within. Every time a city grows to a higher tier, better versions of each building type can be constructed there. These in turn grant better troops or higher bonuses in whatever aspect of the game they affect.

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The armies recruitable by the player will vary according to both the faction they are playing and what level of buildings they possess in their cities. For example, the Roman factions can recruit units such as Hastati, Principes, Velites, et al. On the other hand the Greek Cities can recruit varying types of Hoplites, the Parthians can recruit Cataphracts, and more. This varied unit roster brings a different feel of gameplay for every faction, making each unique.

In addition to the units each faction may recruit in their barrack facilities, they may also hire mercenaries. The type and availability of which varies by region. For example Mercenary Cretan Archers may be hired in many parts of Greece, but not in say Gaul.

As well as ground forces, the player also commands fleets. These can ferry troops across seas, blockade enemy ports (resulting in a loss of income for the enemy faction), and of course destroy enemy fleets.

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