Are you ready to step into the shoes of Marcus Tullius Septimus Dragonbornius and other Roman heroes with ridiculously complicated names? Of course not! You haven’t read this Total War Rome 2 beginner’s guide yet.
Jokes aside, the game can be a pretty complicated beast to get into.
It doesn’t hold anything back, and even in the prologue it’s quick to completely hand over the reins to the player (who may or may not be lost on what they’re supposed to do). This is not necessarily a bad thing, what with all these games coming out that hold your hand like a creepy pedophilic uncle.
Unfortunately this also means that it’s up to the player to explore and discover for themselves how to play the game, and to make the basics easier to learn, I’ve written up this guide, so enjoy.
First of all, I would recommend that you play the prologue, is it really actually does do a good job of covering the basics. To go over them again:
Unlike most RTS games you’re not supposed to use the mouse to scroll the map.
Use the WSAD keys to move it around. If you move the mouse to the sides of the screen, your camera will rotate on the battlefield instead of panning to the right or the left. This is useful to get a good angle on the action but a bit counterintuitive to seasoned RTS players.
Use the mouse wheel to get an eagle-eye view of the field.
You can survey entire armies in this way, or you can zoom down close enough to count the individual hairs on that one dead soldier’s leg. You can even press down on the mouse wheel you manually adjust the angle of the camera. Personally I prefer a slightly top-down angle so I can more easily see the different battalions.
Campaign Map, Armies and Cities
Believe or not, the lion’s share of the gameplay occurs outside of the battlefield, on the campaign map.
On this overhead view of your territories you can create and maintain armies and cities and make political and strategic decisions that alter the balance of power between the various factions.
Select one of your cities and you’ll notice there are many things you can do with it. One of the most important things you need to know is how to research technologies and construct buildings, you can do the former on the main window of the city.
You need to select the ‘Expand city’ option and select a building you want to construct. There is a separate window for technologies research, browse through the buttons on the bottom of the screen to find it.
You can raise a new army by choosing the ‘Raise Army’ button on any city. This will bring up a list of Generals you can recruit. Upon choosing one, he will appear alongside the city along with a small army.
Select him and you will see the ‘Recruit units’ button. Use it to see a list of available units you can add to that particular generals forces.
You can only have a limited number of Generals at any one time so you’ll need to use them strategically. You can move armies anywhere on the map (as long as you don’t try to park them on top of a mountain). They can even go across water with little difficulty.
Just target any body of water and as soon as your army reaches the shore they will enter boats and proceed to the target location. Another important thing to check out is the diplomacy menu which is where you can make alliances and set up trade routes with other empires.
One thing you should keep in mind are to not expand willy nilly. Make sure to consolidate your power as your empire grows in size.
Keep in mind the routes that your enemies will have to take in order to assault your cities and position your armies in such a way that you can defend the majority of your empire efficiently. Try not to leave any city unguarded, as most players and the AI will take advantage of that to retake territory.
Combat and Battle Tactics
When you’re actually in a battle, the most important thing is to be aware of your surroundings. I really love going down into cinematic view mode to so I can see the individual soldiers fighting, but then you miss the flank coming in from the left and your awesome defense gets crushed.
Most commands are the same as in other RTS games with regards to how you select and move soldiers. However, Total War: Rome 2 places a lot of importance upon vision, scouting and positioning, as well as emphasis on unit types and counters.
Vantage points and terrain are very important, as having a squad or two on high ground can give you important tactical information on enemy units and their movements. This alone will not help as terrain such as forests can conceal your units from view if you don’t make them sprint.
This brings things back to positioning. If you can use a vision advantage and terrain to conceal your units from the enemy you can surround them and send the right kind of units to overcome a numerical advantage.
Once I was defending with a weak army of 200 against a force of 400.
I knew the enemy general had to come to me, and since the battle was to take place in a city (with streets that bottleneck the opposing forces) I positioned my units in such a way so that I was able to hold the line by not allowing his units to fight me in an open area. However, I tunnel visioned on that battle and didn’t spot the few squads he had sent around through the side streets.
He used the vision block the buildings of the city provided to get around behind my forces to take away my advantage. So you can see that Vision and Positioning is greatly superior to simple numbers. This is not to say you’ll be able to take down a thousand Romans with only a dozen or so Greeks but you get the picture.
I hope this helps you understand the basics and get you started with the game.