Tackling Terrain, Conditioning for Climate

By Cheesewiz

In Rome:Total War, terrain and weather are more important than in virtually any other game I've played. Unfortunately, many people seem to not take complete advantage of the very ground they are walking on, and pay dearly for it. Therefore, I hope this guide can both help them and improve the strategy of those who already have a grasp on the subject. This will require being able to recognize opportunities when they appear and exploit them to their fullest.

Part One: Hills aren't just for Hillmen!

Most people realize this, but don't take it to the extent that they need to. Simply put, hills are your best friend. At any possible opportunity you should get to the high ground. Obviously, missile units(archers, skirmishers) benefit considerably from any elevation, so never hesitate to move them, even at the beginning of the fight. One thing you might not realize is that missile cavalry is actually even better to have on a hill. Besides the ranged bonus from being elevated, these guys are often used for a charge once the ammo has been expended, so it's only logical to have them on the hill for that. A powerful cavalry unit charging downhill can crush almost anything, so always place your units at elevation. Period. It's really simply, always place your units at elevation. Its benefits will be thee-fold. First, you will have better range and attack; secondly, the enemy will be tired if they try to charge at you; and finally, you will faster if you need to escape quickly.

The Julii on a hill

Part Two: Into The Woods

The Woods are without a doubt the most complex of the terrains to get used to. There are more factors involved than just the elevation that occurs with hills. This holds true especially for barbarian factions who's units actually get combat bonuses in the midst of a wooden area. Normally on an open field a warband would be crushed by a civilized infantry division; yet, in the woods that warband stands an excellent chance of victory.

Another advantage, or possibly a disadvantage is that archers are less effective in the woods. There isn't any numerical attack reduction, their missiles just tend to hit the trees due to the high trajectory they use. However, as strange as it may seem, most skirmishers actually get a bonus by being in the woods, although their missiles can occasionally impact trees as well. One other interesting point, is that in the woods the trees can break up formations, making them less effective and more vulnerable to attack, especially from the flanks. This adds to the bonus of the barbarians, since they usually don't use a formation.

One additional key is that units can hide in the forest. This is of extreme importance. Always appear to be weak. How better than to hide half of your force in the woods where the enemy cannot see them? Then, as soon as they walk right up on them, boom! Ambuscade! This is tremendously powerful if your enemy tries to attack you early, he could be quickly overwhelmed and crushed. Some units hide better than others, so keep that in mind. Also, remember that units who are already frightening, will be even more intimidating for enemy troops when they suddenly appear. Although this isn't mentioned in the game, I believe that it's only logical to assume so, and it wouldn't be the first time that a unit attribute wasn't explained thoroughly in RTW.

The Woods also give you an ability to sneak around the map. I usually use this to pick off archers or take out an onanger division. Simply hide a unit or two of cavalry, then once battle starts move them quickly though the woods on a very wide flank. Although the aren't actually 'hiding', it will still be very tough for your opponent to see, especially if he isn't expecting it. This could let you quickly kill off a critical unit and speed onwards your path to victory!

Cretan Archers using their combat bonus

Part Three: Don't Dessert the Desert!

The desert is something that may or may not be very relevant in a game. In fact, during most games it won't be. However, when it is, one must be mindful of its effects and realize that their men will tire very quickly. Therefore, walk your men across the battlefield, until they are needed to fight. Also realize that troops from factions such as Egypt and Numidia have units that get a bonus in the desert. Be careful when facing them. One final word on deserts, often times some units can hide in the deserts when in what would appear to be very visible rock formations, although this seems illogical, it is truth, and should be thought of as such.


Part Four: Weather or Not

The day night cycle and the seasonal cycle are critical to the war effort. Troops fighting in the day or fighting in the summer will tire much more quickly than troops fighting in the evening, morning, or winter. In addition, during the winter, snow is likely to be a factor. In which case the barbarians would have another major advantage due to the terrain. Therefore, in the summer walk your troops as much as possible, and, even in the winter, walk them during the day, although the effect is more relevant in the summer. Of course, other important events in the game are rain and snow. In the rain and snow archers become less effective, which is very logical. Also, you are less likely to set siege equipment aflame. So, when it's raining or snowing, flaming missiles are not really worth it, and your missiles are already inaccurate enough from the precipitation.

The Julii fighting in miserable weather

Night Raiders have a combat bonus in snow

Part Five: Final Thoughts

None of the occurrences I've described can really be affected by your actions, unless your the host of course. So, therefore, you must be able to cope with them as best as possible whenever they occur, be that suddenly or with anticipation. That means you need to be alert, and also be ready to capitalize on the terrain, climate, and weather conditions. So, the next time your conquering Rome, or dealing death in the desert, look around you first, then attack.

Look behind you!