Overview & Diplomacy
Rome: Total War is one of the more complex strategy games out there, and despite its decent manual you might be finding yourself in need of guidance. You might be tempted to buy the Prima strategy guide, but we suggest you take a long, hard look at it before shelling out the cash. Instead, we offer here a condensed overview of the game and answers to some of the most popular questions we’ve received.
For starters, we’ll cover the campaigns. Initially the player can only choose from among the three Roman factions, the Julii, the Brutii and the Scipii. After the completion of a successful long campaign, all playable factions are unlocked. Factions can also be unlocked individually if the player beats them during a campaign.
Much of the international diplomacy AI is hard-coded. Perhaps hard-coded is too strong a term, but factions are clearly guided towards war with specific nations. We’ve provided a list of the factions and their typical enemies below. Note that this includes both nations that attack them and that they attack. Often, one nation’s AI is not looking for war with another, but the other side is. Such is typically the case with Greece and Pontus – the Greeks don’t want war but the Pontics do. We’ll provide a comprehensive list later in the faction starting tips, but are warning you now so you’re aware of this during your diplomacy options and planning stages.
Something to be aware of during campaigns is that the “hard-coded” AI is very, very stubborn. Once war is started, it is difficult to stop. While obviously not as competent as a decent player, the AI is highly aggressive and effective at mobilizing forces for the immediate war. Often its long-term planning strategies suffer from the population depletion and poor state of finances, but in the opening stages of a conflict the AI is remarkably capable of prosecuting war, especially if it started it. This is especially true when unit sizes are set to large or huge (under graphics options -> advanced). Since the player is unwilling to gut his future by depopulating cities and the AI is unable to recognize that armies are twice as large as what it’s used to dealing with, the player plays even more timidly while the AI comes on with reckless abandon. In such a case, do not be afraid to mortgage your future in order to ensure survival now.
Other cases where the AI is stubborn include deals for territory, maps and in becoming protectorate. As always, it’s best to negotiate from a position of strength. It does not suffice to simply have huge armies “somewhere” and a vast fortune as well as territories. Hostile negotiations are best done with a show of force. Several large armies near the cities of your target are a must if suggesting a Protectorate or demanding maps or tribute.
Alliances are more effective than they were in Medieval or Shogun, but are still best treated as more stable peace treaties. It’s not unheard of to have an alliance last a whole game, but this does not occur often and certainly not when either of the partners is a particular enemy of the other. The advantages of an alliance include a more peaceful border and, should an allied army be directly next to an enemy you’re attacking, the allies will help. Otherwise, your allies are not likely to actively help in battle, and are always hesitant about giving military access.
A one-sided alliance with military access basically describes a Protectorate. This over-rated state of diplomatic affairs acts as a very stable alliance, where the weaker partner permits his protector’s armies to march through his land. However, the protected state is hardly any more helpful in war, and as often as not, by the time you pound them to the point where they would submit to a Protectorate treaty, you might as well conquer them. This is the most difficult of all treaties to obtain and requires an overwhelming display of force. Incidentally, the Senate will break any Protectorates a Roman player tries to establish on other Roman factions, even if the Senate faction has no more provinces left.