Mastering Battles

This part of the Rome: Total War wiki concerns itself exclusively with the battle side of play and how to get the most out of commanding your troops. The two halves of the game are linked on many levels. The campaign game determines where a battle takes place and the units present; results in the battle game affect the campaign. Generals can earn traits as a result of their behavior in battle. Cities can be won and lost, and a brilliant victory in the field can mean the conquest of new lands!

The Battle Deployment Scroll

When you have an army selected on the campaign map, right-click on a non-allied army or settlement to attack. This brings up the Battle Deployment Scroll:

• The strength comparison bar in the centre of the scroll gives you the overall battle odds. Move the cursor over the crossed swords to see the exact odds.

• Reinforcements are also listed (and taken into account in the odds calculation). These are drawn from armies that are adjacent to the site of the battle or siege.

• The crossed swords icon allows you to take control of your units on the battlefield. What happens after you click this button is what’s covered in this part of the wiki!

• The computer and gears icon allows you to have the game work out the battle result. Autoresolving a battle is speedy, but casualties may be heavy and you can’t protect valuable generals.

• The white flag icon allows you to cancel the battle. When you do this, your army will withdraw some distance to a safe location.

Attackers and Defenders

In every campaign battle, there’s an attacking army and a defending army. During sieges, the besieging army is usually the attacker. The only exception to this is when the defenders sally out or a relief force attacks the besiegers. In this case, the besieging army is the defender. Attacking and defending armies use different victory conditions and deployment rules.


Generally, in a field battle you need to drive the enemy from the battlefield to win. You can press the ESC key and select Exit Battle at any time to end a battle.

    • Victory may require killing many enemy troops, although a crisis of morale (the death of a general) will make the enemy flee the battle.
    • As an attacker, there may be a time limit. If you haven’t defeated the enemy before the timer expires, you lose the battle.
    • As a defender, the timer works in your favour. Remain on the field until time runs out and the attacker is automatically defeated.
    • During a siege assault, victory is determined by control of the central square or plaza in the settlement. The attackers must take this plaza before the timer expires.
    • During a battle, you can press F1 to see information about the battle, including the victory conditions.

How to Deploy Your Troops

At the start of the battle, you may be given a chance to deploy your troops.

• As an attacker, your army always deploys on a section of the battlefield that matches the line of its approach on the campaign map. March onto a battlefield from the north, and that’s where your forces will deploy.

• As a defender, you’ll deploy in a complementary area of the battlefield.

• Reinforcements always appear on the edge of the battlefield that matches their position on the campaign map. It can be very worthwhile to position armies on the campaign map on the flanks or in the rear of an enemy before you attack.

Reading the Ground

When a battle begins, you’ll see a camera flyby of the battlefield to give you an idea of how the land lies. The deployment areas for your troops and the enemy will be shown outlined in the faction colours.

The General’s Speech Before Battle

Your general will give a rousing speech to his men. It’s worth listening to the speech because the general may include one or two useful hints about the state of the battlefield, the enemy and any tactical ruses that might work.

Waiting Before a Battle

If you’re the attacker, you can wait before starting the battle. If the weather isn’t right, just click the Wait button. There’s a chance the weather won’t change, but you can’t postpone a fight forever waiting for the perfect day:

    • Battles fought in bad weather—rain, snow, sandstorms and so forth—will be more tiring for your troops and for the enemy.
    • Wet weather is likely to have a negative impact on bow-armed units (bows and bowstrings do not like damp conditions).
    • Mist, fog and sandstorms can make it difficult to find the enemy.

As the defender, you have to fight with the weather your attacker has decided is good enough—for his purposes!

An ambush gives you no chance of choosing the weather for the battle.

Changing Your Deployment

The game places your units on the field in a sensible formation, but it may not be exactly what you want. Click on Start Deployment to rearrange your battle lines:

    • You are never forced to change deployment.
    • You cannot re-deploy your army if you’re ambushed—and your army will be in a marching column, not drawn up for battle!
    • Units must be positioned within the boundaries of your deployment zone. This is the area on the map bordered by your faction colour. 
    • You can select multiple units for deployment.
         ■ CTRL and left-click on the units (on the battlefield) or unit cards (in the Control Panel) you want to select.
         ■ CTRL and double-click on a unit card (in the Control Panel) to select all units of the same type in your army.
         ■ Left-click and drag on the battlefield to create a box around the units you want. All units within the box will be selected.
    • Deploy multiple units by right-clicking on the ground you want them to occupy. You can right-click and drag the units out into a line.

When you’re happy with your deployments, click on Start Battle.

Battle Advice

As soon as the battle begins, your military advisor appears with an opinion about enemy tactics for the upcoming fight. You’ll find this information useful in formulating your own plans.

How to Use the Battlefield Control Panel

The battlefield control panel is divided into three main sections:

• On the left are the mini-map, game speed controls and army strength ratio bar.

• In the centre are the unit cards, each of which represents one of your units on the battlefield.

• On the right are the controls for individual units, groups of units and the army as a whole.

The View Onto the Battlefield

All your units on the battlefield carry a banner in your faction colour and symbol for easy identification.

    • Click on the large banner to select the unit—this can be quite useful in the middle of tense hand-to-hand fighting.
    • Some units also carry smaller flags showing your faction colour and symbol. These show a combination of a unit’s experience and upgrades to weaponry and armor. The more small flags a unit carries, the more fearsome it will be in combat!
    • General’s bodyguard units carry square banners that are quite different from other units. It’s always possible to see at a glance where a general can be found.
    • Any captain leading an army is similarly shown by the square banner carried by his unit. However, because he’s a captain and not a general, he won’t be personally leading a bodyguard unit and could be part of any kind of unit, even humble peasants!
    • Terrain has exactly the effects you would expect in real life: units can hide in wooded terrain, marching through river fords slows your troops, marching in snow makes men tired and so on.
    • Out-of-bounds on the map is marked by a red line that’s visible when the camera is close to the battlefield’s edge. Units cannot be ordered beyond this line, but they will go there when routing or withdrawing.

■ The Mini-Map

The mini-map gives you a view directly down onto the battlefield. Terrain on the battlefield is taken from the campaign map location. You’ll see distant mountains, the sea and even volcanoes beyond the battlefield.

    • The mini-map is always oriented with north at the top.
    • The arrowheads in faction colours show the position and facing of units on the battlefield.
    • Selected units are always highlighted on the mini-map. • The two blue lines show the current view onto the battlefield.
    • The shadowed area at the edge of the mini-map is out of bounds during a battle. Units may only enter this part of the map if they’re withdrawing from battle or running away like frightened bunnies (or “routing,” to use the technical term).
    • The plus and minus icons allow you to zoom in and out of the mini-map, changing the map scale.