The Roman Civil War

So you are playing a Roman, eh? Or at least thinking about it. You know the Roman Civil War is going to come, and want to be ready for it. Of course you do- all good generals want to prepare for what is most likely the biggest challenge of the entire game- Roman on Roman. The Romans have arguably the best troops, the best roads, the best infrastructure, and at the upper tiers, some killer cavalry and artillery as well. There is a reason this game is Rome: Total War- because this portrays the Rise of Rome in a historical setting, and in its heyday, none could match these fine troops for very long.

There are some tricks and tips you should know concerning this event, and therefore be able to prepare for it and win it when it comes about. This article will share some of those with you, and let you explore other options yourself as the Civil war progresses.

The number one trigger of the Civil War is your Popularity with the People. The Senate is a bunch of rich old men who act like rich old women- your popularity with them may be high or low. It does not matter what they think. All that matters in Republican Rome is your standing with the People. This popularity is gained by conquest- the more provinces you conquer, the higher your standing. The quicker you conquer, the more wreaths you get. Usually around seven or eight wreaths on the People Popularity gauge, you will receive notices that can trigger the Civil war.

One of these may be a Suicide Request from the Senate- demanding the suicide of your Faction Leader. This is most likely to come if you have a low standing with the Senate while your standing with the People is very high. You can obey this request to delay the Civil War if you wish- but remember that in doing so you are sacrificing your Faction Leader. He will fall on his sword. And the next season, the senate will again ask for the death of your new Faction Leader. Or you can tell them to stuff it, in which case the Senate will disown you, declare war on you, do the same to the other factions, and turn each Roman against the other. The Civil war is on!

Another may be a "Chance for Power" given to you from the People. A message arrives, announcing a chance for power. Seize it, and the Civil War begins. Ignore it, and nothing happens. You may see this again later, or not, depending on other triggers, yet this one gives you a chance to decline without losing a Faction Leader or starting the Civil War just yet.

Other times you might want to start the war by using assassins to knock off key personnel of the other Romans. This can be done, but requires that the assassin gets caught in the act. That is easy enough to arrange- send a Level One Assassin after the Faction Leader, and repeat until he is caught. There is a caveat with this method, though- if you do this too early, you will break the Roman Alliances without them declaring war. Then you are really in a fix. You cannot fight them, as you cannot declare war, yet you cannot march through their lands or pass their armies as you are not allies. Sometimes this leads to a bug which will leave you in this limbo- while they can attack you, since their status with you is 'At War' and your status with them is 'Neutral'.

A better way is to find a bridge they want to cross and park your army on it. They might move on, or attack to cross. If they attack, the war is on and off you go (after first destroying the army at the bridge, of course). Otherwise you may have to wait for one of the messages.

Now that you know the triggers and approximately when they will come, you can prepare your strategy. There are a few key items you will want to consider:

  • Denying other factions expansion
  • This is very important if you want to conduct a Conquer-the-World campaign, or if you want to limit the amount of Roman armies you will have to fight. Very simply, the Roman Families are programmed to go after specific targets: The Julii go for Gaul and Spain, the Brutii for the Greeks and Asia Minor, and the Scipii for North Africa.

    To hamper them, when playing one family, go for the other Families' targets first. If playing as the Julii or Scipii, take Greece before Brutus gets there. If Brutus, take Sicilia and Carthage. You can let the Julii expand as they will, however, since the areas they go to are primarily poor and with little population- even if they conquer most of the Western map, they have few cities outside Italia that can produce legions. Londinium if upgrades,and maybe Corduba. That's it.

    Once you have taken the targeted areas before your fellow Romans, they will turn elsewhere, or sit and vegetate. Brutus tends to go north against Dacia, Scythia, and eastern Germania- let him, and good riddance! Like Western Europe, it is a poor and sparsely-populated area. Scipii, if denied Sicilia and Carthage, will turn to Greece if possible, and the rest of North Africa if not. Carthage and Thapsus are great cities, but the rest of North Africa is pretty barren until you get to the Nile. Take Carthage and Thapsus, and Skippy will be stuck with provinces as poor as those of Julius and a denied Brutus. And remember, poor provinces cannot recruit upper-tier units!

  • Marian Reforms
  • It will be quite difficult to take out your legionary-equipped brethren when you are still working with velites, hastati, and principles. The Marian Reforms will come before the Civil war (at least with most players and cases), and the AI-controlled factions will lose little time churning out legionaries, urban cohorts, and praetorians. Principes are good, but legionaries are better. And once the Reforms hit, you will lose the ability to retrain those veteran principles, which means in time your principe and hastati armies will be ground down into dust.

    So know that these reforms are coming. Know what they do, and what they prevent, and build your armies accordingly.

  • Building armies of legions
  • As just stated, your foes will be quickly churning out the new troopies. What will you do? You must do the same- start pumping out legionaries. But what you do with these new troops is up to you. Your foes will send them out against the barbarians and conquer them much easier. And you? One idea is to assemble these into first-class armies. Use your principles and hastati in the outback against the barbarians- they are good enough to handle those. If you cannot produce legionaries in the boondocks, you might be able to produce early legionaries from the larger barbarian cities. Use these units to revigorate pre-Marian armies. The early legionaries come from a tier-three barracks, and are almost as good as true legionaries.

    Another idea is to bring the older units back, disband them into the population, and recruit from them legionaries, then send them back to the front. Or you could begin merging the pre-Marian armies to replace their losses like that, while you build new armies. Or you can simply disband them in place. What you choose will depend on your situation- if you are strapped for cash, disband. If you have money but not much, merge and replace. If you have money but not manpower (this happens on HUGE scale), disband and recruit. And if your realm has no worries at all, simply produce and produce.

    When building legions, do not forget your auxiliaries! A good stack will contain eight to twelve legionary cohorts, two to four heavy cavalry, two to six archers, one or two wall-breaking artillery (onagers are good for this), and some spearmen to counter enemy cavalry. The exact mix will depend on you and your fighting style, but the backbone will be the legionary cohorts.

  • Spies and assassins
  • Around six wreaths of People Popularity, you might want to begin working with spies and assassins. Typically your most experienced creatures will be out in the front with the armies, seeking enemy forces and slaying their chieftains. You will want to bring these experienced beasts back to your homeland, and replace them with new ones. The experienced ones will find a host of diplomats and lesser captain-led armies upon whom to practice (bandits are great for this). This grants you highly experienced spies and assassins when the Civil war starts, and since you have them in your homeland, they are readily available to open the gates of the cities you wish to attack and to remove excess General Bodyguards (by removing the excess generals) for the enemy order of battle. A ten-eyed Assassin who could slay a god does you no good if he is in Upper Slobonia when you need him in Capua.

    There are many, many strategies for dealing with your former allies once the Civil war breaks out. Some are good, some are crap. Among the more challenging are to defeat the other Romans on the periphery of your realm and fight your way in to Rome. You will face constant full-stack armies of good troops, with the situation getting tougher and tougher the nearer to Italia you come.

    One of the key items for a secure strategy is blitzing Italia as soon as possible. In your preparation, think about having a lot of full-stack armies with siege equipment and/or spies within quick striking distance of your foes in Italia. When the civil war starts, strike like lightning and seize from them their Italian cities.

    This has two main advantages. The first is that it removes from your enemies their home cities, which are usually fully built-up and expanded, and adds them to your realm. They lose their best barracks, their finest stables, and a good portion of their trade income- all of which now comes to you. You can retrain your forces immediately, while they cannot. Secondly, these cities are usually lightly defended at the start of the Civil war, as until then they consider you an ally. Their attention is on conquest of new territory, and the home cities, being well and truly safe from attack, are mere production centers for troops.

    Taking Rome itself can be a bitch. The Senatorial army is strong, and numerous with lots of generals. Yet taking Rome is not as daunting as you might think. Spies can identify the army hiding in the woods to the north, and assassins can be sent to eliminate those pesky secondary generals. There is a ford directly to the west of Rome- park on it and you will be forcing the Senate to fight on your terms. Sometimes you can wipe out the garrison of Rome at the same time- making the taking of the city afterward easy. Send in the spy, and you might not even have to siege the place.

    Greece and Asia Minor, Corduba, Thapsus and, Carthage are probably the only places outside of Italia the enemy can retrain legionaries, unless on has conquered the Levant and the Nile. The Julii are particularly screwed in an Italian Blitz- their armies in Western Europe will have legionaries, but no barbarian city with a legionary barracks. Taking Italia is crucial to a quick and secure defeat of your Roman opponents.

    After taking Italia, consider Greece. It is a short boat-trip away, and the cities there will undoubtedly have good recruiting. Not to mention that Greece is probably the richest region on the map. Having both Greece and Italia is almost a guarantee of success. If you are the world's worst battlefield general, you can still win having these two- simply grind down the enemy. You can now afford the losses- they cannot. You can retrain your top troops- they cannot, and must recruit the less-able auxilia and early legionaries.

    If not Greece, then consider Sicily, then Carthage and Thapsus. Same effect, without the wealth. Skippy in Africa will be hamstrung. Or caught between an Egyptian Rock and your realm's hard place. Either he dies on Egyptian arrows, ground under by Egyptian chariots, or he dies on your pila and gladii. Either way, Africa and thereafter the world will be yours.