Rome in Multiplayer- 2016

by KimJongLi


Rome, considered by many as the most successful empire to ever grace the Earth and the birthplace of many brilliant generals, including Julius Caesar and Scipio Africaanus. In a game with ‘Rome’ in its title, you would expect Rome: Total War to do it justice- and it surely delivers.

Rome is unquestionably one of the best, if not the best faction in the game. Across any denarii level, you can expect Rome to have appropriate units to suit your budget and get you closer to that victory.

Before continuing on, I would recommend reading my Total Noob Guide Here: /rtw/strategy/battle/TotalNoobGuide/

A Bit About Rome, as a Multiplayer Faction:

Rome is a strong faction, and is the rightful default choice for newer players who are trying to rack up a few wins. It is easy to use due to its diverse and cost effective unit roster and can easily outpace opponents in multiple areas at the same time.

Advantages of Rome:

Rome’s greatest strength is its diverse unit roster. No matter the denarii limit or opposing faction, Rome will have something great for the situation. In low denarii games, the regular archers, triarii, hastati, archer auxilia, cheap peasants and the plethora of heavy and light cavalry choice makes it easy to create a reasonably strong army. Image 1.1 compares the Roman unit roster to the Macedonian roster, showcasing the sheer number of different options available to Rome. This variety makes Rome the easiest faction to pilot, as players will often find themselves out-valuing their opponents quite easily. However, as with all multiplayer battles, the roster isn’t everything.

1.1 The Roman unit roster (Top) vs the Macedonian unit roster (Bottom)

Surprise Yourself With:

– Cavalry Auxilia: Very good light cavalry for low denarii games, great against horse archers.
– Legionary Cavalry: Circumvents CWB (Clan War Belt)’s “max 6 same” rule when used in conjunction with Praetorian cav. Solid heavy cavalry.
– Peasants: The cheapest unit in the game=the best fodder in the game. Costs 20 denarii less than eastern peasants! (That’s an attack upgrade for an archer!)

Disadvantages of Rome:

Rome’s biggest drawback is its lack of pikes/the phalanx formation. This means enemy cavalry, especially chariots, are very effective against Roman infantry, and sometimes even charging triarii, the elite spearmen of Rome, from the front will cause them to rout rather quickly. Boxing is thus very ineffective, making Rome weaker in the event it finds itself without cavalry or archers. That said, the addition of decent pikes to Rome would make it grossly overpowered, and you have to draw the line somewhere.

Another disadvantage of picking Rome is the fact that it is overplayed. It is very likely that your opponent has more experience facing Rome than any other faction, so they will know what to bring and how to counter the Roman units.

Don’t be Deceived by:

– Roman General/Armoured General: General units are generally bad in multiplayer 😀
– Light Auxilia: They’re more expensive Velites, which are already bad.
– Gladiators: They all suck. Impractical and not worth the slot.
– Arcani: Overpriced and impractical, nuff said.

How Rome is Often Played:

In Low Denarii Games (10k-20k):

Contrary to popular belief, Rome is an excellent skirmish faction, its praetorian cavalry is powerful, fast and has high stamina, cavalry auxilia are excellent light cav, archer auxilia and regular archers allow it to compete with Macedon and Greece in the archer war, and its peasants at only 100 denarii apiece make great fodder. For skirmishing, as with any other faction, 6 g/g (gold defence/attack upgraded) heavy cavalry (praetorian cavalry in this case) units and at least 6 g/g archers is almost mandatory, legionary cavalry is great for this as well, circumventing CWB’s ‘max 6 same’ rule. Image 1.2 is my favorite Roman army at 15k, displaying these essential attributes. You cannot protect your archers without cavalry as Rome, so this is even more important than for pike factions. The game-plan is fairly straightforward- shoot em up, charge them down.

1.2 A cavalry heavy Roman skirmish army at 15k adhering to CWB rules

Surprisingly, at low denarii levels, Rome is not very good at playing the defensive game. Its lack of pikes makes it very difficult to ward off cavalry effectively or box. Spamming urbans or legionaries is actually very poor against heavy cavalry and is a death sentence in many cases.

However, if the map is not flat, consider bringing a decent sized force of gold/gold urbans and/or archers. Taking hills is of paramount importance, and you will not be able to force your opponent off a hill by charging uphill with cavalry. Superior infantry or missiles is the only reliable way to do this, and if you do not get the terrain advantage early on, you will have a hard time catching up.

In Medium Denarii Games (25k-40k):

Mid-High Denarii games begin shifting the focus from Rome’s cavalry to their elite infantry, the Urban cohorts. Cavalry is still very useful and important, but more denarii means less archers, as most units have better upgrades, archers become less effective and thus, more focus is placed on the infantry fighting force, in turn making it harder for cavalry to succeed without help from infantry. Still, I will place emphasis on the “at least 4 g/g cavalry (10k-40k)” rule and insist that this be adhered to in games at this denarii level. Image 1.3 is a standard Roman army at 31K, a favorite for many 31K rules players, including myself.

1.3 A standard 31K 14/6 split Roman army

With the emphasis on infantry, learning how to use pila and its mechanics is very important. You definitely do not want to be using it on peasants or a testudo. You definitely do want it to hit tight formation, expensive units. Effective use of pila can make the infantry engagement much more favorable and potentially win you the game if it becomes a close affair. Testudos are great for baiting out enemy missiles and pila, as javelin units set to fire at will seem to favour throwing into testudos instead of tight formation units. Testudos are also great for playing the fatigue game and pushing through pikes.

As Rome, your infantry is second only to the Greek Spartans in high denarii levels. Be aggressive with your infantry and put pressure on your opponent, put effort into positioning them and getting a good engagement. If it is Rome vs Rome, then both players have their work cut out for them. Against Greece (always a tough matchup in high denarii games), pila and mobility are the only things you have going for you. Catch out isolated units with your cavalry whenever you can, as Greece has no cavalry to counter with, use your superior mobility to your advantage and control the game. Greece is the only faction in high denarii games that you will often find yourself trying to finish the fight quickly, as the fight becomes harder for you as it drags on, as the spartans don’t get fatigued as quickly while fighting in guard mode.

In High denarii games (>50k):

As much as people moan and groan about it: Spam g/g urbans and put chevrons on as many as you can. Bring a few heavy cavalry units at most. If your opponent is Greece or Rome, play the fatigue game with testudos and pila micromanagement. If not, play aggressively with your pila and win. A few legionary first cohorts is good here. Not particularly fun or interesting, but hey, it works.


I hope you found this useful or helpful in some way. Who knows? Maybe I’ll see you on the grassy flats someday…