Rome: Total Realism

By Hussarknight

Rome: Total Realism (often called RTR) is a total conversion for Rome: Total War. It aims to change RTW into a more historically correct game, but it doesn't change the overall feeling. Because the feeling hasn't changed much, it is very kind on newcomers to this magnificent modification.

The game takes off in 280 BC. Pyrrhus of Epirus stands on the shores of Italy, determined to defeat the Republic of Rome. Across the sea looms the naval power of Carthago, and Gauls are threatening from the north. In the east the Successor states vie for power. It is a world that is up for grabs. Lead your people to victory, from the rainy British Isles to the jungles of India and from the scorching heat of the Sahara Desert to the biting wind of the grassy plains!

One of the first things you will notice when you start RTR, is the enhanced campaign map. It now reaches as far east as India and goes far enough north to include all of Scotland and a larger part of Scandinavia.

Faction overhauls

Rome: Total War is not a game known for its historical accuracy. So in RTR, quite a few drastic changes have been made to certain factions.

The most notable of this is the uniting of the Romans into one faction. This makes them harder to play and easier to defeat. No more steamrolling straight trough Europe!

The Egyptian faction has been changed to accurately portray it as it was in 280 BC. In RTW, it had the troops used there before Alexander the Great conquered it. Now it is a Hellenistic faction, just like the Macedonians and Seleucids. The new troop roster represents this, by giving an Ptolemaïc player access to phalanx troops.

The Seleucids have also changed a lot. In original RTW, they had only a handful of provinces and would often be defeated in a short time. As the map now stretches to India, all their belongings are portrayed in the game. At the start, they own more than 30 provinces, ranging from Smyrna in western Turkey to Kapisa in the deserts in the east.

Added on top of that all, there are two entirely new factions: Bactria and the Illyrians. The Illyrians have their lands on the shores of the Adriatic, and are thus in an ideal position to attack the Romans early on. To help them with this, they have a mix of barbarian troop types with some Greek influences in the form of hoplites and peltasts. They are a people of piracy, guerrilla warfare and raids over both land and sea.

The Bactrians have a mixed troop selection. They get several types of phalangites, but they can also train horse archers and cataphracts. At the start they are still dependant on the Seleucids, but if they break free from them, they may soon be a superpower themselves.

Who stole the Urbans?

The unit roster has also received a major overhaul. Many historically inaccurate units, such as the Urban Cohort, Screeching Women and onagers, have been removed or replaced. This makes for a more realistic and also more balanced game. Most factions have only a limited selection of native troops.

This can, however, be overcome by training local units for your armies. Each area has it's own unique units that can be recruited by the ruling faction. Before any local units can be trained a series of Auxilia buildings has to be build. These buildings represent the process of bringing the province under full control of the ruling faction. As the province becomes more and more like the faction it belongs to, more and more powerful units become available to recruit. Different factions may be able to recruit different region-specific units. E.g. the Romans can get various Auxiliaries and the Greek can get access to city-specific hoplites, including the renowned Spartans.

Cavalry units are now much weaker in prolonged hand-to-hand combat: they will lose to almost all infantry. They have however, become the ultimate shock troops. Charge bonuses of more than 20 are not too uncommon at all! Cavalry is also more expensive, to represent the cost of feeding the horses and the difficulty of training them. Whereas cavalry-spamming was very well possible in RTW, cavalry units (especially heavy ones) cost much more. Elite cavalry sometimes have an upkeep of over 1000 Denarii - per turn!

The unit stats of other troops haven't stayed untouched neither. Defence and morale ratings are increased. This makes battle last longer. No more routing after five seconds of fighting! You will undoubtedly lose more men because of this. While in Vanilla this usually was a small nuisance until you captured an enemy town, the results of losing to many men in RTR are a lot worse. Because you can't retrain you men in a province that hasn't got the required level of your Auxilia buildings, you won't get new men until you send reinforcements from the homeland or send the soldiers back themselves to fill the ranks. You'd better be careful with your guys, unless you want to go down in your first war.

If you can't be satisfied by mechanical changes only, you will not be disappointed. All units have received new skins. These represent the colour of clothing in that time period better. Common soldiers will be dressed in everyday brownish colours, and only the most elite units have had their robes coloured with purple dye. The loading screens have been made anew, so you'll have something nice to look at while you wait for the game to load!

Alive and kicking

RTR is one of the most alive modifications for RTW. Version 6.0 has been released and a lot of hard work is being done on version 7.0. This version will be even better that the previous ones, with an unlimited factions concept, new artwork and lots more.

A small teaser of this has already been released. It is called The Iberian Conflict and portrays the fight between the Carthaginians and the different native Iberian tribes for control over the Iberian peninsula. It is available for download here. Installation instructions can also be found via the link above.

This mod is so popular that several people have developed or are developing custom modifications for RTR. These range from small music add-ons to larger mods with named legions.


There are two different versions of RTR. The official one is Rome: Total Realism 6.0 Gold. This one requires RTW version 1.2 to work properly. Rome:Total Realism Platinum Edition is almost exactly the same as Gold, but it uses RTW version 1.5. It also has a mod:switch version, which is very useful to save space on your hard drive. Platinum Edition can also be used with the Barbarian Invasion game engine, which offers more features like swimming and the shieldwall formation.

Both versions can be downloaded from the official website.