Battle Strategy and Tactics
This section is for tactics and strategies to employ on the Battle Map either against another human or against the computer. Please note that the articles marked (BI) refer to the Barbarian Invasion expansion pack.
- General Battlefield Tactics and Strategic Advice
- Siege Battle Tactics
- Multiplayer Strategies and Tactics
- Faction and Map Overviews
- Other Articles Concerning Strategy and Tactics
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General Battlefield Tactics and Strategic Advice
Articles in this section concern tactics on the battle map in general, be it a Campaign Battle or Custom Battle.
So, you’re new to Rome: Total War and would like to learn a bit about strategy? Or perhaps you have been playing the game with no success? If you answered ‘yes’ to either of those questions, or if you want a good outline of very basic battle strategies, this is the guide for you. So, fear not Newbie, soon you will understand.
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.
Strategy covers everything from single man on man to nation versus nation. By subdividing it into five levels, we can understand each level separately, and learn how they interrelate with each other. In this essay, we will explore both the five levels of strategy and the nine principles of warfighting, how they relate, and how they apply to Rome: Total War, and its expansions and mods.
When I played my first few campaigns, I only attacked armies where I outnumbered at least 3:1. What this lead to be were long campaigns as I built up my military forces and essentially boring battles because there was hardly any challenge. So in my campaigns after that I decided to attempt fighting slightly larger enemies. After realising how much fun battles could be with your back up against the wall, I never turned back.
Surprises are not always fun, especially if they happen to cost you cities or armies. How can you avoid such? Well, reconnaissance can help you discover ambushes, enemey movements, and other intelligence information to keep those nasty surprises at bay. Nothing is more fun than to turn an ambush against the ambusher. Here is how.
In a battle, there are many options that can be set for your units which change their behaviour, formation or stats. In this article these different options will be outlined and I’ll also show you how to make the most of them.
The Lord AI shall quite often try to defeat you by flanking your forces. Hannibal the Conqueror reveals some guidelines and tactics to keep that from happening and to exploit it when it tries.
Unit Courses and Basic Classes
Phalanxes getting to you? Are you stuck trying to work out how to make these buggers function? Well, worry no more. The Old One gives here a class on these unwieldy units and how to make the best of them.
Rock-throwers are mysterious engines. Some people understand them immediately, while others discard the things immediately as unworthy. Professor Grayhair explains the various pieces to those willing to learn about basic artillery uses and capabilities.
The sling is a simple weapon, but incredibly difficult to master. Edorix takes you through the basics of how to use slingers on the battlefield to make up for their weaknesses.
Professor Grayhair explains the various lessons he learned about Archers, both as a commander of them and a target of them. Want to learn a few tricks about getting the most from your archers? Pop in. Class is in session.
Professor Grayhair and Centurion Hardassius discuss the fabled Legionary in all his versions, and provide tips on how to get the most out of your legionaries.
Professor Grayhair begins this session discussing the General, probably the single most-important unit in the entire game, no matter which faction you choose..
Are pachyderms driving you nuts? Can’t quite grasp how to use the beasts correctly? Professor Punic Hoplite instructs you on using these big-eared gatecrashers correctly.
Despairing as the AI uses chariots to crush your units with ease but unable to repay the favour? Edorix takes you through the finer points of chariot tactics.
The Old One walks among the battle bowsers and takes a close look at what you should know and do concerning these canine combat chompers. An amusing lesson that can help you get the most out of your melee mutts and Fighting Fifis.
Alex the Bold teaches us the strengths and weaknesses of the mighty Eastern Cataphracts and other heavy horsemen of the East in this short but concise class. Want to learn about the heaviest cavalry without a trunk? Pop by here and learn, young general,
The Old One recounts the history of warbands who fought and died for gold and coin, and how they participate in our beloved game. Much of what he wrote was probably from personal experience. . .
Advanced and / or Unit-Specific Tactics
As cavalry served thousands of armies throughout history, it can serve you just as well in Rome Total War. I’m writing this article to instruct on the use of horse cavalry as the decisive element of an army, not as the sole element of an army and not as a secondary support role in an army.
Are you new to Horse Warriors? Losing lots of horsemen in battle? Read Cavalry Operations to get a firm grip on what your cavalry can and cannot do for you.
Ambushes are lethal. Learn how to prepare them, or if caught in one, how to escape.
I was recently wondering to myself what is the Roman Legionary class infantry’s strength. Is it their impressive armor ratings – No, factions like Carthage and Greece have infantry with similar ratings that get torn apart. Is it only because of the fact that they can be invulnerable to missiles in a pinch – no, they get tired to death while in the testudo formation. Could it be because they use their missile attack for melee – well yea, I guess that’s a large part of it. But then I realized. This can’t be the only thing that makes Legionary infantry as amazing as it is. Then I looked to the root. It’s the pila.
just found a rather effective means of deploying phalangites and hoplites. Now I can’t say this is entirely ‘new’, but I’ve yet to see a topic on it. The way I stumbled across this is simply by playing as Greece.
Ok here goes, didn’t really know how to do this but I’ve had a go at showing some of my favorite tactics. I did all of these as the Romans/Julii so I’m not sure how well they would work with other factions. The first two are best used in defense, and the third in attack. I’ve also taken it for granted that your infantry will be high class, e.g. legionary infantry or better.
This amazing new strategy allows Barbarians to finally get the upper hand on Romans and Greeks. For it to succeed, you will need the following:
- One Brain
- A barbarian nation with good foot archers and heavy infantry and a fairly good cavalry.
- An enemy of AI VH difficulty.
Alexander III (often referred to as Alexander the Great) is probably the most well recognizable figure of the Ancient World. His conquests of the Near East, Egypt, Greece Proper, Iran, and the western most portion of India left a long lasting effect on the world, but that’s for another topic. I’m going to teach you how to utilize Alexander’s tactics to effectively defeat your opponents using the armies of Macedon, Seleucid, and to a lesser extent the Greek Cities.
We all talk about it, but has anyone really examined these two oft-scorned units to look at them in depth? Awesome Easgle has, and you can read his report here.
Operational Strategies and Tactics
One of the most influential new features of Barbarian Invasion is the hordes. Hordes are factions that don’t have any settlements, but are one the move, searching for new homelands. They have very large armies, so they are dangerous foes. This guide will teach you the basics of defending your empire against the Huns, Vandals and other hordes.
In BI, it is possible to make very effective legions true to history. First, we will examine the historical legions. A standard legion had ten Cohorts with varying numbers of auxiliary missile and support troops, and two Alae of cavalry on each flank of the legion. The ten legions were organized into two rows. The first Cohort would be placed in the position of honor at the front right of the legion. With the best legionary troops on the right flank, it wasn’t unlikely to see the Ala of cavalry on the right side being constituted of fewer men that the Ala on the left (one such example was the fatal Adrianople, though that detail had nothing to do with the outcome of the battle).
While you do get many old-fashioned barbarian units, the Celts can field deadly line-ups, but with the Celts in particular, your faction is going to be as good as your game. This is very much not a rookie-friendly faction, and indeed, the Celts aren’t a friendly faction to anyone who isn’t quite experienced in the way this game works, though even an experienced player who has “seen it all” is going to get a couple of nasty – and occasionally pleasant – surprises.
The barbarian faction Dacia has one of the most balanced unit rosters in the game. Archers, heavy infantry, shock infantry, light and medium cavalry with onagers, ballistas, all play a part in their armies, and the fact that they have no unique units is sadly used to judge this faction, often overlooked, as a whole. One of my more interesting, innovative campaigns was with Dacia. Here I will give you a detailed guide to the uses and faults of their key units. They may not be unique, but the way they work together truly is.
I find the Gauls are often underrated. In campaign, they tend to be squashed early on between the Britons, Julii, Germans and Spain, the only unit they have which is not shared with some other faction is the Forester Warband… overall, they can be a pretty hard faction to use.
Historically, the most successful armies have been composed of many different troop types. This article explains how you can take advantage of that mix in RTW.
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Siege Battle Tactics
Articles in this section refer to both specific strategies for siege battles and the theory of taking or defending a settlement.
Some argue that the reason that the Peloponnesian War was so costly and indecisive was because of the exhaustive methods with which siege warfare was conducted. When in the campaign, you don’t want to find yourself in a situation where you take so long waiting to starve cities that the enemy can easily raise an army to break the siege before you can, yourself, take the city, or get another army deep into enemy territory to support the besieging army, especially near the middle of the campaign before you’re really big, but you have plenty of enemies. This point in the campaign is critical. No one expects to actually lose here, and it’s important that you’re decisive if you want to win, so I’m here to offer my strategies for besieging and assaulting a city.
If playing Germania then there is a really good way of defending barbarian towns no matter how much they outnumber you. I have regularly defeated Roman armies 4-5 times the size of mine.
The venerable and ancient graybearded warlord Terikel recounts for us various tactics and tips for assaulting walled cities, with the special emphasis of getting the other fool to die for his homeland, while your men conquer the city with much less of their own blood shed.
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Multiplayer Strategies and Tactics
Articles in this section refer to specific strategies for set open field battles and how to use them to greatest effect in order to annihilate the enemy army or armies.
KimJongLi presents a Newbie’s Guide to online Multiplayer Battles, and how best to win those battles. He goes in depth in pointing out good tips, then expanding them with wise counsel and easy explanations that can help turn the greenest of recruits into a seasoned general.
Our prolific strategist KimJongLi presents a guide to using Rome in online Multiplayer Battles, and how best to get the most out of the Roman factions- what works, what doesn’t, and what to avoid.
KimJongLi gives us a modernized view on fighting as Macedon in online Multiplayer Battles, what to bring to and how best to win those battles. A lot has happened in the Multiplayer world since the original guides were published here, and KimJongli expertly sums them up. A must-read for the next champion wannabee.
This guide was written to help people new to Rome: Total War play Multiplayer. It is divided into 3 parts. Part 1 will guide the player in getting started playing online. Part 2 gives tips on playing the game. Part 3 describes the common technical problems encountered with the Multiplayer game and their solutions.
Ever since its release, several key strategies have emerged to guide gamers on their path to victory. Players quickly learn to flank, use archers to their maximum advantage, and to master the art of the phalanx. So I felt it best to create a basic strategy that combines some of the best advantages from lessons learned on the battlefield. After considering all of this I made the Maceonian V-Phalanx. Although rather simple in concept, it allows you to be very flexable, while still packing a tremendous force when necessary.
One of very first strategies that came to be in the online world of Rome: Total War was using the screeching women with the spear warband phalanx. I’ve always been a fan of the phalanx, as obvious by any strategy I come up with, so I designed a nifty little plan of using a box of spear warband surrounding a group of Screeching Women.
Alright, so here you are. You’ve played a couple campaigns of Rome : Total War. Maybe you’ve played more then a couple. You’ve got the basics down pat and you even have a few slick moves up your sleeve. You’ve decided to enter the Rome multiplayer arena. This is the guide for you. It’s designed to give an edge to players who have already gotten past the basics and is looking for ways to sharpen their edge.
This strategy is a really specific one that gets the job done when it comes down to it. It’s meant for fighting armies with low archer numbers, so you probably don’t want to go against Egypt, Scythia, or Parthia with it, though it also works well against Armenia for some reason. It’s at its best performance at 20K-25K denarii, and large unit settings.
Ignoramus shows us a Carthaginian strategy of his for a 15k Denarii budget.
WARNING: This strategy is extremely historically inaccurate and many people will probably call it cheating. However, it is fun and good at relieving stress, so I like using it.
The Crazy Person shows us how to use the Roman legions.
The Crazy Person leads us through how to use post-Marius legions.
One of the common results from strategy in Rome: Total War is chaos. Often, gamers will find themselves loosing their planning ability as soon as the first arrows are released in battle. A true sign of a good player is being able to keep cool when your opponent gets red hot. Maintaining formation, sticking to the plan, and minimizing losses are usually the keys to keeping sanity during a fight. However, as we all have come to find out, often times that is impossible to do for the duration of the battle. The true key is to keep your control longer than your enemy, and to do it in style. With that in mind this strategy was developed. Mayhem must be your force to control.
As RTW gamers have gotten more experience they have branched away from the Roman factions and have found many decent multiplayer strategies with other factions. I have noticed that the tactics section is lacking in the Roman area (except for the historical legions which work quite well) and some simpler strategies. This strategy is a combination of the post Marius legion style and some creative thinking.
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Faction and Map Overviews
Articles in this section are overviews of the factions and maps available in Multiplayer and Custom Battles and how to use them to your best advantage.
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Other Articles Concerning Strategy and Tactics
This article was posted on April Fools’ Day in 2005.
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