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Rome: Total War (often abbreviated to RTW or Rome) is a critically acclaimed[1] strategy game composed of both turn-based strategy and real-time tactics, in which the player fights historical and fictitious battles set during late Roman Republic and early Roman Empire (270 BC–AD 14). The game was developed by The Creative Assembly and released for Windows on September 22, 2004.[2] It is the third game of The Creative Assembly's Total War series. A version for OS X was developed and published by Feral Interactive and released on February 5, 2010.[3] Feral Interactive also released the game for iPad on November 10, 2016,[4] and for iPhone on August 23, 2018.[5]

A remaster of the game was released on the 29th of April, 2021 titled Total War: Rome Remastered. The updated version featured new, updated graphics, 4K support, an improved camera, more markers and options during a battle, merchants from Medieval II: Total War, 16 previously unplayable factions made playable as well as all the DLC bundled in to name a few additions.


The player takes a role equivalent to the head of one the three great Roman houses at the time; the Julii, the Brutii, or the Scipii. Each of these factions has a different set of attributes and initial objectives. After a winning campaign as Romans (or using a simple mod) it is possible to play with other factions and take on a role similar to that of Hannibal, Commander-in-chief of the Carthaginian armies during the Second Punic War or the Gallic warlord Vercingetorix.

Gameplay consists of a combination of turn-based strategy and 3D computer graphics real-time tactical battles. The 3D real-time action is uniquely different from most standard RTS games in that tactical maneuvering is critical to success whereas most RTS games take no account for the direction units are facing, flanking movements, breaking of lines, etc. The high-quality 3D computer graphics|3D graphics engine is able to render over thirty thousand men on a single battlefield. The strategic and tactical modes integrate such that the landscape for the battles is the same as seen on that particular spot on the strategic map where the armies meet.

The game is similar to its predecessors, Shogun: Total War and Medieval: Total War, although there are some changes to the mechanics of siege and city fights have been added. Most notable is that players now move their units with movement points; in previous games units were moved by territory.

Armies can be built to conquer nearby provinces; to conquer a province, you must capture its settlement. Fleets at sea can also ferry troops, and blockade enemy ports, thus cutting down income from trade. While doing so, players can build certain buildings within their cities to move up through the tech tree to train more advanced units, increase a province's income, and/or keep the population happy. The ultimate goal, as in previous Total War games, is to conquer 50 provinces and capture Rome, thereby becoming Emperor.


In Rome: Total War, the player takes control of a historical faction of the era. Here is a complete list of all the playable and Non-playable factions.

African Factions[]

Carthage (Playable)
Wide array of flexible units, including elephants and phalanxes, as well as the relatively large and well-positioned city of Carthage compensate for its relatively weak starting position.
Numidia (Non-playable)
A desert faction, with mostly unarmoured units. Rarely a significant player.

Barbarian Factions[]

Britannia (Playable)
One of the most interesting barbarian factions, with head hurlers, slingers, and chariots but no archers or traditional cavalry. Very advantageous starting position on the British Isles with a foothold on the continent.
Dacia (Non-playable)
Poor unit selection, limited mostly to typical barbarian units and falxmen. Bad financial situation and starting position.
Gaul (Playable)
Powerful faction if allowed to survive the early and mid-game. Unit roster consists of mostly traditional barbarian units. The Archer Warband is arguably the strongest archer unit in the game.
Germania (Playable)
Best barbarian faction, lacking traditional barbarian troops, but many special ones. The only phalanxes in the North provide a comfortable counter to British chariots, while axemen pierce the armour of chosen swords and Roman legionaries, while the excellent Gothic Cavalry surround and destroy enemies. Screeching Women are surprisingly effective morale unit, and Night Raiders can also demoralize the enemy.
Spain (Non-playable)
Begins split, rarely expands beyond Iberia, but has an interesting mix of Carthaginian and Barbarian units.
Scythia (Non-playable)
Rarely a major player beyond the steppe, mostly a nuisance to developing empires. One of the only factions to have female units.

Eastern Factions[]

Armenia (Non-playable)
Weak starting position, but poised to be the most powerful faction in the East if allowed time to develop. Its Cataphract Archers, regular Cataphracts, Heavy Spearmen, and Armenian Legionaries will prove a challenge even for a Roman player.
Parthia (Playable)
Poor starting territories with traditional Eastern units, with a heavy focus on cavalry and limited useful infantry.
Pontus (Non-playable)
Well-positioned and with an interesting mix of Eastern and Macedonian units. Possibly the strongest Eastern(ish) faction.

Egyptian Factions[]

Egypt (Playable)
Famously over-powered, will often seize control of the entire East if left alone. Powerful archers, phalanxes, and chariots with limited useful supporting infantry.

Greek Factions[]

Greek Cities (Playable)
Begins spread out and often dogpiled on easier difficulties. Can become very powerful if allowed even a bit of time to develop. Armoured Hoplites will prove the backbone of an army that could conquer the world. Generally weak cavalry and archers, though easy access to Cretan archers offsets this.
Macedon (Non-playable)
Classic Macedonian-style pikemen and more powerful cavalry than the Greeks to the South. Macedon is often the first in contact with the Brutii, and stands ready to control Greece, one of the wealthiest areas in the game.
Seleucid Empire (Playable)
Almost always dogpiled if left alone, even when controlled by a human, the first 20 turns can be a nightmare. If successful, though, the Seleucids have the most flexible unit roster in the game. Elephants, powerful legionaries, very solid pike phalanxes, and impressive shock cavalry. Archer selection is relatively limited, but a good supply of Cretan Archers will compensate.
Thrace (Non-playable)
Poor starting position with little room for good expansion, but interesting mix of barbarian and Greek troops. If allowed to develop, Thrace is not a push-over. That being said, it rarely poses a particular challenge.

Roman Factions[]

House of Brutii (Playable)
The same unit roster as the other Romans, except with velite gladiators. Tasked with the conquest of the East. Their unit roster has no real weaknesses, especially post-Marian. Possesses some of the best religions in the game, with bonuses to health, commerce, and troop experience, several good cities for invasion right across the sea, and the best of the Roman factions for seizing world wonders, all of which are east of Italy. Arguably the most powerful of the Roman factions.
House of Julii (Playable)
The same unit roster as the other Romans, except with Samnite gladiators. Tasked with conquering the North and Western Europe, the Julii are typically in possession of many small villages and towns. The relative concentration of their major centres in Northern Italian and Southern Gaul makes them an easier target than the Brutii, but they will be far from a cakewalk either.
House of Scipii (Playable)
The same unit roster as the other Romans, except with mirmillo gladiators. Tasked with conquering Sicily and Carthage, the starting position of the Scipii is decent, although Syracuse proves a tough first nut to crack relative to the Julia at Segesta and Brutii and Apollonia. Having completed the conquest of Sicily and North Africa, a Scipii player is often confused about where to go next. Conquest in Africa beyond Carthage, Thapsus, Lepcis Magna, Cirta, and Dimmidi not necessary given the poverty of the regions.
SPQR (Non-playable)
A city-state. A very difficult campaign if accessed via mods, but otherwise a typical Roman faction.

All Factions (Except SPQR) have been unlocked in the 1.10.3 update (IOS).


Each faction starts with a set of family members composed of that faction's leader, his spouse, their children, including a faction heir, any of their spouses, and any grandchildren. Only the male members of the family are controllable, and these only once they are 16, at which point they reach adulthood and become "full" family members. They govern provinces when stationed in a city, and when fielded upon the world map command armies in the field. Male family members are added to the family by births between married family members, as well as adoption and marriage. Family members eventually die, either naturally through old age or by death in battle, assassination, or natural disasters.

In the absence of generals commanding field armies, captains are the commanders by default. Admirals fulfil a similar function for fleets. Neither are family members, but appear in the list of forces when displayed. However, if a Captain is victorious in a battle in which the odds are against him (Heroic Victory), the player may have the option of welcoming the Captain to the family. This is usually a factor of how many family members the player has. When the player has relatively few family members, the option to promote a captain appears more often.

Family members can acquire traits depending on their actions in battle or when governing a city. These can have both positive and negative effects on their command, management, and influence, which in turn affect their battlefield performance and how well a province they govern operates. Some of these traits are hereditary, and can be inherited by the children of a family member. Family members can also acquire ancillaries through the same actions. These are members of a general's retinue, but can only number up to eight. These ancillary characters can be traded between two family members if they are in the same army or city.


There are three types of agents that can be used by factions: spies, diplomats, and assassins. Like family members, agents can acquire traits and specific ancillaries, which can be traded, but only with other agents of the same type. They can independently cross into other territories (allied, neutral or hostile) without triggering a transgression message that happens when an army attempts to do the same. They can also be attached to an army, at which point they travel with them until detached to operate independently. Spies can be used to gather intelligence on field armies, infiltrate foreign cities and serve in a counter-espionage role in the players own cities. All missions carry a risk to the spy. Diplomats can negotiate with other factions, offering deals such as alliances and trade rights. They may also attempt to bribe enemy armies and agents. Assassins are used in Rome: Total War to assassinate enemy characters, as well as sabotaging buildings in enemy settlements. These missions carry a risk of death towards the agent.


On the campaign map, generals can hire mercenaries for an amount of denarii when there are mercenaries available in a territory, which are already trained and can be put to immediate use. Mercenaries vary depending on where they are recruited from, often being accustomed to the local terrain and tactics. There are disadvantages of using mercenaries, including high recruitment costs and mercenaries take part of the looting from a settlement instead of going to the player. Mercenaries also cannot be retrained to regain their strength, only to upgrade their armour and weapons.

Historical battles[]

Rome: Total War was the first Total War game to introduce single player 'historical battles'. These are recreations of famous battles during the time period, reproduced in Rome: Total War. They are single player battles that have set factions, unit compositions and maps to replicate the real life battle conditions. Factions not represented in game (such as Epirus) have the closest faction possible to them, so they can have units as close to their own as possible. The historical battles became a staple of the historical Total War games, appearing in every historical title after this. The battle list is as follows:

  • Battle of Asculum: Taking place in 279 BC during the Pyrrhic War, a Roman Republic army commanded by Publius Mus was defeated by an army commanded by Pyrrhus of Epirus. While Epirus won, it was a somewhat costly victory, helping to give rise to the words 'Pyrrhic Victory'.
  • Battle of Carrhae: One of the worst military defeats the Romans ever suffered, the Battle of Carrhae was a part of Marcus Licinius Crassus' ill-fated war with Parthia in 53 BC. Crassus's legions famously were destroyed by the Parthian horse archers and Crassus himself was killed by molten gold being poured down his throat.
  • Battle of Cynoscephalae: Fought during the Second Macedonian War in 197 BC, a large Roman army commanded by Titus Quinctius Flamininus defeated the forces of Philip V of Macedon. The battle was the second and final battle of the war and showed the dominance of the Roman Legion over the Greek Phalanx, ushering in the end of the Phalanx type of fighting that had dominated the Hellenic world for over 500 years.
  • Battle of Lake Trasimene: Another of the worst Roman defeats, taking place during the Second Punic War in 217 BC. A Roman army commanded by Gaius Flaminius was massacred by a well placed Carthaginian ambush in Italia by Hannibal Barca. It is one of several crushing military defeats suffered by the Roman Republic at the hands of Hannibal during this war.
  • Battle of Raphia: This is one of the few battles that does not feature the Romans! This battle, fought in 217 (the same year as Lake Trasimene!) during the Fourth Syrian War, saw two Successor Kingdoms to Alexander the Great's Empire fighting for dominance over the Near East. The Egyptian army of Ptolemy IV managed to defeat a Seleucid army commanded by Antiochus III. It's known for being one of the largest battles in the ancient world, with over 65,000 troops on either side.
  • Battle of Telamon: Back to the Romans, this battle took place during the Roman-Gallic Wars (not the Gallic Wars Caesar fought, these happened earlier) in 225 BC. A Roman force commanded by the two Consuls of the Roman Republic defeated a large Gallic army in Italia, ending their attempts to siege and ultimately sack Rome while allowing the Romans to submit their control over northern Italia.
  • Battle of Teutoburg Forest: The most well known and most lamented of the Roman defeats, this is the only battle to take place during the Roman Empire period, happening in 9 AD. Three legions, 'commanded' by Publius Quinctilius Varus were ambushed by his supposed ally of Arminius, who led the Roman forces into a forest where German tribes were waiting to ambush them. It was a crushing, humiliating defeat that ended any Roman attempts to cross over the Rhine for ever. The aftermath is known for Roman Emperor Augustus, upon hearing of the massacre, bang his head repeatedly on a wall crying "Quintilius Varus, give me back my legions!" Also perhaps less well known is that after legions 17, 18 and 19 (XVII, XVIII & XVX) were destroyed and their eagle standards captured, the Romans never made legions with those numbers again.
  • Battle of the River Trebia: Another Roman defeat and another battle during the Second Punic War. It was the second overall battle and first major battle of the conflict, taking place in 218 BC, shortly after Hannibal Barca crossed the Alps famously with his elephants. A Roman army commanded by Tiberius Sempronius Longus gave battle at the River Trebia, where Hannibal managed to outflank the Romans, ending in defeat for the Romans, setting the stage for what would be many Roman defeats in Italia during the first half of the war.
  • Siege of Gergovia: The first of two historical siege battles, this one took place during the Gallic Wars (Caesar's one, not the ones that happened earlier) when Julius Caesar besieged and ultimately failed to take the town of Gergovia in 52 BC.
  • Siege of Sparta: The final historical battle and the other historical siege battle. This one took place in 272 BC during Pyrrhus' invasion of the Peloponnese, when King Pyrrhus of Epirus invaded the Greek city states after his defeat by the Romans. After defeating Macedon (who he declared war on), he agreed to assist a Spartan prince to ascend to the Spartan throne. He sailed his army to Sparta and besieged it, but despite his superior numbers, he was unable to crack the city (a feat since the city had no walls!) and with assistance from Macedonian troops, the Spartans pushed his back, raising the siege.


A demo of the game was released on August 23, 2004, and is freely available for downloading. It features a playable version of the Battle of the River Trebia, with the player taking the role of Hannibal.

Prior to its release, a preliminary but completely workable version of the game engine was used in two series of TV programs: Decisive Battles by the History Channel where it was used to recreate famous historical battles,[6] and Time Commanders by BBC Two, where teams of novice non-gamers commanded ancient armies to replay key battles of antiquity. The game engine was fine-tuned specifically for these television shows by military historians for maximum historical accuracy.

The original music soundtrack for the game was composed by Jeff van Dyck, who received a BAFTA (British Academy) Interactive Awards nomination for his work. His wife Angela van Dyck features in some of the vocals; Angela also wrote the lyrics for the song "Divinitus", the lyrics of which are in Latin. The game's most notable collaboration between Jeff and Angela is "Forever", which plays while the game's credits are rolling. "Forever" was originally meant to be the game's main menu song.

Reviews and awards[]

Rome: Total War has been critically acclaimed by many reviewers and is generally regarded as one of the best strategy games of 2004, winning numerous awards and high scores from gaming websites and magazines alike. The review aggregator Game Rankings shows an average of 91.7% from 65 major critic reviews, with 48 reviews in the 90%s.[7]

  • PC Gamer (UK): All time 5th best PC game "95%"
  • IGN: Editor's Choice Award, 4th Best PC Game of all Time.[8]
  • PC Gamer (US): Editor's Choice, Best Strategy Game of 2004
  • GameSpot: Editor's Choice, Strategy Game of 2004
  • Adrenaline Vault: Seal of Excellence
  • GameSpy: Editor's Choice
  • E3 2003 Game Critics Awards: Best Strategy Game
  • X-Play: 5 out of 5
  • PC Powerplay: 95%


Rome Total War: Barbarian Invasion[]

Main article: Rome: Total War: Barbarian Invasion

Barbarian Invasion was the first expansion pack for Rome: Total War. It was released on September 27, 2005. It allowed the player to take part in the fall of the Roman Empire and the events which came after it. There were also a good deal of new features added in the game such as generals' loyalty, religion, hordes and the "Sack" option for conquered cities. It was also commended for the fact that it did not have any unlockable factions; all the playable factions were available from the start. Other enhancements included improved AI.

Rome: Total War: Alexander[]

Main article: Rome: Total War: Alexander

The Alexander expansion puts the player in the role of Alexander the Great and replays his conquests and battles.


  • A TV series called Time Commanders aired on BBC Two featured people recreating famous historical battles using a modified version of Rome: Total War. The show ran for 2 seasons from 2003 to 2005.
  • The 2004 American documentary series Decisive Battles used a pre-release version of Rome: Total War to represent the battles.


Video Gallery[]

External links[]

The Total War series
Shogun (The Mongol Invasion) Medieval (Viking Invasion) Rome (Barbarian Invasion Alexander Remastered) Spartan Medieval II (Kingdoms) Empire Napoleon Total War: Shogun 2 (Fall of the Samurai) Total War: Rome II Total War: Attila Total War: Warhammer Total War: Arena Total War: Warhammer II Total War Saga: Thrones of Britannia Total War: Three Kingdoms Total War Saga: Troy Total War: Warhammer III