Video Game / Rome: Total War

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Rome: Total War is the third game in the Total War franchise of strategy games. Starting around the time of the First Punic War, the game allows the player to take control of one of several factions vying for supremacy in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. As the title suggests, Rome is one of the big players here, and is in fact divided up between three families, the Julii, Scipii and Brutii, and the Senate. If the player controls a Roman faction, his goal is not merely to forge an empire for himself, but, when the time comes, to take on the other Roman factions in a brutal civil war. The ultimate goal is to be declared Emperor.

As with the other games in the Total War series, Rome: Total War is a mixture of Real-Time Strategy and Turn-Based Strategy. This entry introduces several changes compared to the previous games, however. For one, the units on the battle field are now depicted in full 3d, rather than the sprites used in Shogun: Total War and Medieval: Total War. The campaign map has been changed from Risk-style movement of troops between provinces to a more detailed turn-based game that allows precise positioning of armies. When two enemy armies meet, they fight a battle in real-time, with the landscape reflecting that of the campaign map.

Two expansion packs were released. Barbarian Invasion depicts the situation in the late 4th century AD: The Roman Empire has split into two halves, the Western and the Eastern Empires, and the Western Empire is in a dire state. Countless Barbarian tribes are trying to settle the lands of the dying realm, while themselves trying to avoid being swallowed up by the rapidly expanding kingdom of the Huns. It is up to the player to take control of a Barbarian tribe and carve out a kingdom of his own, or to take control of one of the halves of the old Roman Empire and try to forge a new Pax Romana.

Alexander, the second expansion, sees the player recreate the campaigns of Alexander the Great. With the help of BRIAN BLESSED.


This game provides examples of:

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  • 100% Adoration Rating: Among the many other advantages it brings (increases to command, influence, troop morale, popularity, protection from assassination...), your Faction Leader having traits that fit this trope will greatly reduce unrest and the probability of revolt across your empire. Even conquered provinces who resent being under the heel of a foreign faction are somewhat soothed by knowing that at least their conquerors have a reputation for valor, fairness, and honesty. The same is also true for any Generals you have situated as governors within the province they are governing.
  • Abnormal Ammo: The Britons can recruit Head Hurlers as a missile unit. They hurl the severed heads of fallen enemies as a form of attack. The heads themselves aren't particularly damaging, but they cause a massive drop in enemy morale.
  • Absolute Xenophobe: This (and it's inversion, xenophile) are possible personality traits for family members and generals. "Xenophobe" makes it easier for governors to root out spies and hatred of specific foreigners (ex. "Hates Carthaginians") will increase a general's command rating when fighting that type of enemy. Xenophile gives bonuses to foreign trade, but puts your governor at greater risk of assassination and makes his city an easier target for spies.
  • Action Girl:
    • Scythia can recruit two loosely historical units of female cavalry - axe armed Head-Hunting Maidens and Horse Archer Noble Women.
    • Germania can recruit "Screeching Women" units. In battle, they are little better than Peasants, but their main use is to stay behind the lines to damage enemy morale with their shrieking. As far fetched as it may sound, there is historical evidence of Germanic women accompanying the men to battle, though they'd boost the morale of their own men instead.
  • A Commander Is You: See the trope page for a full list.
  • Acrofatic: Generals can have traits implying that they are extremely fat and lazy, yet still be some of the toughest units on the battlefield.
  • Aerith and Bob: Mostly averted within factions, where the characters typically have names from the Real Life culture that faction is based one. However, an odd example occurs in instances when a General from faction is bribed into joining one of a different culture. For example, say one of the Roman factions bribes a barbarian faction General. He'll join that Roman faction as a family member and can possibly even get married. If that marriage produces a child, the child will strangely have a very Roman name, complete with surname. This leads to situations where a General with a name like Wotecorix has a child with a name like Lucius Pontius.
  • Afraid of Blood: "Hemophobic" is a possible trait for generals. Having it decreases his command rating as well as troop morale. The inversion, Bloodthirsty, gives a bonus to command rating and troop morale at lower levels, but then a severe penalty to morale at higher levels.
  • A.I. Breaker:
    • When defending a city, enemy troops will tend to congregate in the town square, which they're supposed to be defending. They will continue to stand there mindlessly under a hail of missiles from the adjacent streets, so long as none of your troops actually sets foot in the square itself.
    • Alternatively, you can run a cavalry unit into the town square, cause the enemy to chase after you, then leave the square. Repeat this until the enemy can barely walk before a full frontal onslaught. This actually works in any offensive battle where you out-power your opponent.
    • Before the first patch, a single group of town watch with a level 1 wall could easily beat any size of army that didn't have elephants or onagers. As soon as you get besieged (before they can build battering rams), sally out to meet them. Then, go out the gate opposite the army (you have a gate on each side of the town, N/S/E/W). The army will see that there is an open gate and run around the city, right by the towers. Then, go back inside. As soon as the gate closes and there is no units targetable, the army will stop where they are, regardless of whether or not they are being shot at by the towers. As only siege can target towers, they do not respond. Crank up time and watch their best units die one by one. After 15 minutes or so, the battle will end. Continue until their army is literally dead through stupidity.
  • Aloof Ally: It is difficult to actually get your allies to attack mutual enemies. Even if you get them to agree to attack a certain faction using a Diplomat, they may never actually do so.
  • Alpha Bitch: While female family members don't actually have traits of their own, their husbands can have traits implying certain things about their wife's personality or behaviors, such as "Cuckold." These typically decrease influence and the chances of having children while increasing unrest.
  • Already Done for You: This can happen when finishing off a faction. The Greeks tend to be the worst offender, since their territories are so spread out. You might have wiped them out in Sicily and Greece itself only to have their final city in Asia Minor captured by Pontus or Seleucia, which you may only find out when you get the "Faction Eliminated" message. This is especially annoying if you are attempting to eliminate them in order to unlock them as playable, since you can only unlock them if you are the one to actually deliver the killing blow.
  • Alternate History: It is a Total War game, so this is not only a possible result of playing, but highly likely. Want to overthrow Rome and establish an empire of Carthage or Greece instead? You can do it. Want to sweep in from the west and turn Parthia into the Mongols or Timurids 1000 years early? Go for it. Barbarian Invasion further allows you to reestablish the Roman Empire as either the east or the west, averting the course of history in either case.
  • Amazon Brigade:
    • Kinda-sorta-historical all-female units of Scythian cavalry.
    • There are actual Amazons located in a city called Themiskyra, well in the north. They are chariot archers but cannot be recruited and they are Rebels, so they are automatically hostile. Interestingly, the architecture of Themiskyra is Greek as opposed to barbaric.
  • Ambiguously Gay: A possible trait for Generals, which hurts popularity and fertility.
  • Anachronism Stew:
    • Compared to other games in the series, Rome caused an outcry among history buffs in its fandom. Most egregious were the Egyptians, who looked like New Kingdom Egypt, i.e. several centuries before the game was set. The developers acknowledged that the faction's appearance and unit selection were anachronistic but said it was a deliberate choice to avoid them being too similar to other factions. A number of mods have since come out to make the game much more accurate, the most notable being Europa Barbarorum.
    • It is possible for scripted events like the Marian Reforms and the Roman Civil War to take place decades, if not centuries, before they occurred in Real Life as they are scripted to occur once certain conditions are met, rather than in a specific year.
  • An Axe to Grind: Almost every barbarian faction has at least one axe-wielding unit. Typically, they are equivalent in most ways to the spear warbands, but trade the reach of spears for the extra damage of axes. The Germanic Berserkers wield massively damaging battle axes. Egypt also features some axe-wielding units in the form of their desert infantry and desert cavalry.
  • Ancient Rome: The campaign begins around the time of the first Punic War, during the rule of the Roman Republic.
  • Ancient Greece: Despite the title, the era the game is set in is still very much dominated by Greek culture, and the Successor States of Alexander the Great constitute a large portion of playable factions.
  • Annoying Arrows: Played with in different ways.
    • Arrows, and projectiles in general including javelins and slings, avert it for the most part. Projectiles can really decimate opposing forces of all kinds, especially early in the campaign when few factions have access to heavily armored units. It's not uncommon for the majority of casualties in early game, light infantry heavy battles to come at the hands of projectile units.
    • Downplayed late in the campaign, when heavy infantry with quality armor usually rules the day. Firing from the front, where units are better protected by their shields, results mostly in Scratch Damage. The best example comes from post-Marian Reform Roman legionaries. Using the testudo formation, they can march through hails of arrows unimpeded, though this is Truth in Television and thus justified. (Though even out of that formation, Roman legions tend to be tough to take down with missiles from the front.) Changing your angle, such as firing from behind or the side where heavy infantry's shields cannot protect them, still tends to be more effective than most examples of the trope.
    • Subtly played straight when it comes to casualties recovering after battles. Soldiers felled by projectile fire have a much better chance of recovering after the battle than do those felled in melee combat or trampled by cavalry.
  • Another Side, Another Story: Only the three Roman factions are playable right from the start. Any factions you defeat (as in, if one of your armies personally captures that faction's last remaining city, that faction is eliminated from the current game) become unlocked after the current play through is completed successfully in a Defeat Means Playable sense.
  • Anti-Cavalry:
    • Rome: Spears, though unlike in previous Total War titles, cavalry no longer suffer from bad terrain. In general, however, cavalry are extremely vulnerable to infantry and any cavalry unit trying to take a heavy infantry unit on from the front can expect defeat unless they use the cavalry cycle, charging in and out repeatedly to hammer the opponent. Even then, the infantry have just as good a chance of pulling through, and bear in mind we're talking sword infantry here, not phalanxes or spearmen, even short spearmen who don't get the bonus but still seem to be good at giving cavalry hell. This is justified, as infantry were the dominant feature in the Roman world (the lack of stirrups limited cavalry effectiveness), particularly heavy infantry. The exception is the cataphract, which can give anything short of a front-facing phalanx a serious beating.
    • Barbarian Invasion: The expansion pack is worth mentioning separately because cavalry are far more effective in this version, as the quality of the Roman legions decline, phalanxes become extinct and the heavy cavalry of all factions get better. Spearmen once again become the real answer to cavalry; just throwing heavy infantry at the cavalrymen no longer guarantees a good result.
  • Anything That Moves: Generals can acquire traits and ancillaries implying that he is a massive womanizer, openly and promiscuously gay, and into bestiality. These traits are not mutually exclusive.
  • Arbitrary Headcount Limit: Averted in the campaign, as you can create as many units as you want, provided you can maintain their upkeep. Played straight in battle however, as you are limited to twenty units per army stack (or about 4800 soldiers maximum if playing with max unit sizes). This is significantly smaller than most Roman-era armies would be, as their units were measured in the tens of thousands counting professional soldiers, auxiliaries, and support troops.
  • Armor Is Useless: Averted significantly. Heavily armored heavy infantry (and heavy cavalry in a few cases) are high-tiered units who are typically the very best in a faction's unit roster. They can stand up in melee combat far longer, shrug off missile fire, and stand up to cavalry charges far better than their light infantry counterparts.
  • Armor-Piercing Attack: Exists for a select few missile units, who are incredibly valuable as a result. Non-AP missile attacks against heavily armored soldiers (such as post-Marian Reform Roman Legionaries) are basically shrugged off as Scratch Damage at best. (Though changing your angle, like attacking from behind, can lead to a increase in effectiveness.) Units who wield axes also typically get an advantage over armored opponents, but in a trade-off, are less effective against cavalry.
  • Arrows on Fire: You can order your archers to set their projectiles alight, but doing so makes them burn through their ammo supply twice as fast, and the arrows take longer to reload, are much less accurate, and don't do as much damage. However, they are quite effective as breaking enemy morale, setting fire to seige equipment and buildings, and can panic elephants and chariots. You can also order your catapults and ballistae to fire flaming rounds.
  • Artifact Title: The Alexander expansion historically takes place before Rome became a major power.
  • Artificial Stupidity: Something of a recurring bugbear for the series.
    • Witness what happens when two sides use WAY too much cavalry to fight on a bridge. Most of them end up drowning themselves.
    • AI armies do not seem to take arrows very seriously. Marching your army up to your enemy's so your archers are just in range will allow you to decimate their ranks. The enemy army will simply stand and take it (unless your archers are exposed, in which case they might attempt to charge.) This is even worse when an AI army is attempting to assault a city. If you destroy a piece of their siege equipment, the unit that was operating it will stand around it (or, at best, regroup behind it) allowing your archers and towers to pick them off.
    • Just in general, AI armies tend to handle sieges very poorly. Besides the aforementioned archer issue, AI armies have been known to drop their other battering rams the moment one of them breaches the wall, leading to the computer attempting to send their entire army through that one small gap, even if you have a wall of spearmen waiting on the other side. Further, if they do get their army through the wall, they tend to blindly rush toward the town square to try and capture it without bothering to reorganize their army. A single unit of halfway decent infantry blocking off one street in between the breach and the town square has been known to rout the entire opposing army. Due to the lack of reorganization, the first enemy units who come into contact with the defending unit may be weak missile troops or light infantry who are quickly routed. Heavier infantry units and cavalry, who may otherwise be able to beat the defending unit, will take a hit to their morale seeing their comrades flee, and will be more prone to routing themselves. Suddenly, an army of thousands may be in a full rout because 100 defenders held one street. The AI army won't attempt to go around on a different street or anything more creative than "throw everything we have directly at that one unit," simply because that unit is blocking the shortest path.
    • The campaign AI is suicidally overconfident. Factions with only one or two small villages will attack their much larger and much more powerful neighbors for no adequately explained reason. It is also rather poor when it comes to selecting what units to recruit and what structures to build. It gets a little repetitive when every army your enemy churns out contains nothing but the lowest level infantry unit (above Peasants...usually...) and maybe some low-end missile units.
    • It's kind of funny that the in-game tutorials will heavily stress the fact that charging a cavalry unit into an enemy spear unit head-on is a BAD idea. Because it is. Yet at some point, probably sooner rather than later, you're almost guaranteed to witness an AI opponent completely ignoring sensible advice like this, by charging cavalry units into your spearmen. Bonus points if they brainlessly charge cavalry into a phalanx unit, especially if it's light cav. It's almost insulting how ignorant the game itself is towards its own Rock-Paper-Scissors elements. Mounted units versus a wall of spearmen? Forget it, chaaarge!
    • The plethora of artificial stupidity in this game (and in the series in general) not only applies to an AI-controlled army, but to your own units' AI, when they have to maneuver around some unconventional terrain. The worst side of this usually occurs during sieges. Properly getting units to climb a wall sometimes ends up being a nightmare, even worse is trying to get them back down. The main problem is usually that a unit isn't going to get into a formation properly until ALL members of the unit have caught up. If you move a unit towards the city center but a few guys in the unit are somehow way behind and still running to catch up with the rest, it can take forever. Turned Up to Eleven when it's a phalanx unit; "sir, we can't move into phalanx mode, one of our guys isn't nearby!" Facepalming ensues.
  • Ascended Extra: A Captain (the default leader of an army when no General is present) who wins an epic battle can be adopted into the ruling family, allowing him to become a General, governor, and possibly even the eventual Faction Leader.
  • Assassin Outclassin': Characters who survive assassination attempts may gain traits like Paranoid and Careful which increase their chances of avoiding assassination in the future. The campaign AI seems to struggle with this concept, as they'll frequently send low-level assassin after low-level assassin at your best Generals, essentially making the General harder and harder to kill with every failed attempt.
  • Atop a Mountain of Corpses: Corpses persist for the duration of battles, which can lead to this, especially in a spot where two lines of evenly matched infantry come together. Units fight over the tops of the corpses with no ill effect, however.
  • Attack! Attack... Retreat! Retreat!: Units with low morale have a tendency to rout the very moment a stronger enemy unit engages them. This is particularly common with Peasant units and low-end militia units.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: No matter how incompetent a family member may otherwise be, being named as the Faction Leader automatically increases his command rating, influence, protection from assassination, and increases the size of his unit of bodyguards in battle.
  • Awesome, but Impractical:
    • War Elephants. They are an absolute juggernaut of a unit, easily busting up large units of infantry while being extremely difficult to kill, and their presence drains enemy morale quickly. However, they are extremely expensive to train and upkeep, and will devastate your own forces in the event that they run amok. Their greatest weakness is fire, and any enemy army worth their salt will have at least a few units of archers, even the most basic of which can utilize flaming arrows.
    • Chariots can chew up infantry like nothing else, weaken the morale of enemies, and are amazing at chasing down routing enemy units. However, they are expensive to train and upkeep, come in woefully small units, and are easily countered by phalanx and missile units. They, like elephants, can also be panicked and will shred your own units when they run amok.
    • Berserkers. They have a massive stamina pool, can take down a row of opponents with a single swing similar to an elephant unit's attack, and are the fastest infantry units in the game while berserking. They wreak havoc on enemy formations and a few units of them can almost single-handedly win a siege. However, they also come with numerous crippling flaws. To build them, your settlement requires a specific temple to be built which is an inferior version to one of your other temples. They count as light infantry, lack armor, and though they have a high "defensive skill" stat, that stat is ignored by missile fire so even low-end archers can turn them into Swiss cheese. Further, they're a high-tier unit in the tech tree, so you likely won't be able to get them until late in the campaign. Meanwhile, most of your opponents will be getting high-end heavy infantry with plenty of armor and high discipline (like legionaries or Spartan hoplites) as equivalent units in the tech tree. Finally, when they go berserk, you can no longer control them.
  • Ax-Crazy: There are many combinations of traits for Generals which qualify. For instance, you can have a General who is a legendary commander, completely untouched by fear, and covered in scars from battle but is also "howling at the moon" insane and prone to such fits of intense rage that he'll beat slaves to death for the most minor of reasons.
  • Back from the Brink: It is possible to recapture the glory of the Roman Empire as either the East or the West in Barbarian Invasion.
  • Badass Boast: Pre-battle speeches will often contain references to the general's past victories over this enemy or to his certainty that his men will make a mess. Many trait and ancillary descriptions include them as well, such as for the trait 'Cruelly Scarred' being "Many scars prove this man is very hard to kill".
  • Badass Family: As your faction is controlled by one clan, and your Generals are all born from or marry into it, this can easily result.
  • Badass In Charge: Depending on their personality traits, your Generals can fit this AND any number of the "Badass _____" tropes. A General with the "Intelligent" trait or who has a "Tutor" ancillary would be a Badass Bookworm. A General who also has a lot of great governing skills would be a Badass Bureaucrat. The list goes on...
  • Bag of Spilling: Any ancillaries a character has will be lost upon that character's death. However, the ancillaries can be moved to another character if they are both in the same city. (If diligent, you can pass the same ancillary on through 10 generations of your family.)
  • Barbarian Tribe: Plenty, and some of them are playable. As the title suggests, they play an especially major part in the Barbarian Invasion expansion pack.
  • Battle in the Rain: Can occur and does (mostly negatively) affect the units. For instance, projectile units suffer reduced range and accuracy, and archers cannot use flaming arrows.
  • Beauty is Bad: It is possible to have a general with such a high "Handsome" trait that Adonis himself would be jealous of the man's looks, yet at the same time have other traits that make him a psychopathic madman who must win at all costs with unquenchable Blood Lust who slaughters the populous of every city he captures and beats slaves for fun.
  • Being Good Sucks: While it is certainly possible to play the campaign in a "good" way, expect to have a much tougher time if you do. Watch as former allies gleefully stab you in the back and cities where you spared the populace upon conquest launch revolts at the earliest opportunity. There is a reason why Evil Pays Better, Violence Is the Only Option, and succeeding requires you to sometimes be Necessarily Evil.
  • The Berserker: The Germans can recruit berserkers as a unit.
  • Bestiality Is Depraved: If you have a General who is consistently out on campaign without spending time in cities, he may pick up a "Pet Sheep" ancillary with this implied in the description.
    "Being away from home and loved ones... can be a lonely life."
  • Big, Screwed-Up Family:
    • Since the personality traits of your family members can be passed on to their children, this can easily happen with negative traits. God help you if "Insane," "Ugly," "Greedy," and the like keep getting passed on.
    • Because of this, Captains adopted into the family and those who marry in often become some of your most valuable family members deep into the campaign. Unlike your family's male heirs, they do not usually come with negative traits while possessing at least a few positive traits (particularly command rating for former Captains). This makes them a good blank slate that you can build up into a great military leader or governor without having to worry about pesky negative traits.
  • Blade on a Stick: Spear units are the basic "trained" (ie, not Peasants) unit for nearly every faction in the game. They range from the various undisciplined but tenacious spear "hordes" of the Barbarian factions to the "Town Watch" glorified militia of the Western European "civilized" factions to the Militia Phalanx Pikemen of the Greek influenced factions to the "Desert Infantry" of the Persian and African factions. Some, like the Greek Phalanx Hoplites are elite units who can form an impenetrable Stone Wall of shields and spears from the front. Nearly all serve as Anti-Cavalry, even the weaker units who don't get a special bonus when fighting cavalry can still take them down with surprising effectiveness.
  • Blessed with Suck: There are numerous traits which improve a General's command rating while decreasing his management/influence ratings and adding to unrest, and vise versa. This can be unfortunate in situations where, for instance, you may need your Bloodthirsty General to govern a city in a pinch, but find that the added unrest pushes that city over the edge into rioting.
  • Blood Knight: Possible trait combinations can make a General qualify. Barbarian faction Generals justifiably seem especially prone to developing these traits.
  • Blood Lust: Several personality traits for Generals describe this. At a low degree, this trait will add to their ability to command and weaken the morale of enemy troops but at higher degrees, it can severely weaken the morale of your own troops.
  • Bodyguarding a Badass: Even the most battle-hardened Generals can have ancillaries that fit this description. (Bodyguard, Shield Bearer, Guard Dog, etc.) This also fits the General's personal unit of guards in battle.
  • Book Dumb: A trait to be avoided at all costs with any of your Generals or Agents. It is completely negative and detracts from every rating.
  • Boring, but Practical:
    • The Roman faction. Most factions have a unit or two who are better than than their Roman equivalent, but the Romans make up for it by having far fewer weaknesses than those factions. Once the Marian reforms hit and the Romans have access to powerful legionaries, there is very little in the ancient world that stop them.
    • The phalanx. It is slow moving and lacks the flash of the various other units in the game, but if its virtually indestructible from the front and is one of the best units in the game at defending cities. It has a major weakness if attacked from the rear, but just as in real life, this can be compensated for by using proper formations and support troops.
  • Born in the Saddle:
    • Parthia and Scythia in the main game. Their military revolves around their cavalry, especially horse archers.
    • The Huns and Vandals in Barbarian Invasion for much the same reason. Due to the decline of quality heavy infantry who can stand up to elite cavalry throughout the region, they become some of the toughest factions to face.
  • Bothering by the Book: Generals can acquire traits along this line. At lower levels, they actually increase his management rating and make the cities he governs more productive in terms of trade and taxes. At higher levels, they can actually become detrimental, such as causing unrest in the city because he is such a stickler for the rules.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Averted. All missile units from slingers to onagers have a finite supply of ammo and will no longer be able to used their ranged attacks when they run out.
  • Bread and Circuses: Gladiatorial Arenas and Chariot Racing Tracks can be constructed by the Roman factions. Public order can be increased by increasing the frequency of these events within a city.
  • Bribing Your Way to Victory: It is possible to bribe opposing cities and armies. This was actually highly viable in the original version of the game, but a patch made it prohibitively expensive. Any army or city cheap enough to still bribe after the patch is typically too small to be any real threat anyway, so you may as well just kill them.
  • Bring My Brown Pants: There are several traits for Generals implying that he is cowardly. All of them are negative and significantly reduce his command rating and troop morale.
  • Cain and Abel: Can happen in Barbarian Invasion if you have a disloyal family member who rebels and he has a brother who does not.
  • The Caligula: Generals can have combinations of traits which fit, and they will make him all but completely useless in any role.
  • Call That a Formation?: Thoroughly averted. Units who should be in a formation (hoplites, legionaries, etc.) are, and breaking that formation makes them much more vulnerable.
  • Came Back Strong: If a barbarian faction's last city is captured in the Barbarian Invasion expansion pack, it will turn into a horde. The faction no longer has cities but is granted several stacks including really powerful units, now able to seek revenge against those who caused their downfall. The result is that any faction which does really well and dominates other factions, taking their cities, will get punished for it, and the factions which did poorly are now handed super powerful units. As the player it is therefore often a bad idea to capture all settlements of certain factions, lest you face a horde immediately afterwards.
  • Cannon Fodder: Peasants. They have weak-to-no armor or weapons, have extremely poor morale, and are prone to routing almost immediately. However, they can be useful to simply pad an army's numbers (allowing you to build more siege equipment per turn) and can be used to garrison a newly acquired city (preventing revolt) allowing your better troops to move on sooner, since only the quantity of garrison troops matters for suppressing unrest. They can also be dissolved in a city with a very low population, allowing you to re-recruit them as better units.
  • Challenging the Chief: This can occur in Barbarian Invasion when playing as the Romans if one of your Generals rebels and attacks your Faction Leader.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder:
  • The Clan: The Roman Republic is broken down into three main factions, the Julii, Brutii, and Scipii, each one based around a single influential clan.
  • Clown Car: Happens when putting armies on boats. It is possible (though extremely unwise) to put a fully-stacked army of thousands of units including cavalry, chariots, and even elephants onto a single bireme.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Implied with the "Feck" trait for Generals. At lower levels, it increases troop morale and popularity with the people. At higher levels, it severely decreases influence and popularity with the senate.
  • Color-Coded Armies: Every faction has their own color and their armies fit within the "fully color coded" version of the trope.
  • Combat Medic: Generals can pick these up as ancillaries, such as a Physician, Surgeon, Wise Woman, etc. All increase the odds of casualties healing after a battle, while they variously have other positive effects such as increasing the General's fertility and improving the sanitation of cities depending on which ones you get.
  • Comically Small Bribe: Played laughably straight in the unpatched game. The cost to bribe Captain-led enemy armies was usually far less than even the upkeep cost for that army for a single turn. A handful of Diplomats handing out bribes could decimate your opponent's armies more effectively than any military force you could send at them. It proved so game-breakingly effective that it was Nerfed in a patch to the point where bribes became too prohibitively expensive to be useful.
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: Mostly avoided, with one exception: AI factions can promote captains to family members whenever they feel like it. The player on the other hand has to wait for a "Man of the Hour" event to pop up after a battle in order to perform this action. This is especially jarring when an invading enemy army is led by a Captain one turn, and suddenly a General on the next. Not only does his command rating increase, it also adds a powerful unit of cavalry to the army in the form of the new General's bodyguards.
  • Conscription: Outright stated to be the case in the descriptions for some units, such as levies and militias. They're poorly trained with lousy equipment and have much lower morale than professional soldier units do as a result.
  • Cornered Rattlesnake: Fleeing units on the battlefield who are completely surrounded by enemy forces will enter a "fighting to the death" mode. For this reason, it is unwise to completely surround routing enemy units, lest they cause a few unnecessary casualties while fighting to their deaths.
  • Conservation of Ninjutsu: Bringing large numbers of poorly-trained, poorly-equipped, and inexperienced soldiers to a battle with the intention of crushing the enemy through sheer weight of numbers is unwise if the opposing army has higher quality and more-experienced troops. If the opposing army is able to rout just a few of your units, the rest will be more prone to fleeing even if they haven't suffered nearly the same number of casualties.
  • Cowardly Lion: Generals will use this in their pre-battle speeches.
    "There is no shame in fear. There is only shame in letting fear rule you! Try not to look scared, and you will find bravery in your heart!"
    "...any man who faces battle without concern, is a moonstruck fool. To be brave is to go forward anyway, no matter how afeared! That is why I go forward, with so many other brave men."
  • Crapsack World: The case at the start of Barbarian Invasion. It can be especially jarring if you've just completed the main game's campaign as one of "civilized" factions, where you essentially spread the "enlightenment" of that faction to at least half the game world. Depending on who you choose to play as, you can either drive the world further into "crapsack" status or rebuild the glories of Classical Antiquity.
  • Crippling Overspecialisation:
    • The "skirmish" factions, including Parthia and Scythia, qualify. They have good cavalry and missile units, making them strong when using hit-and-run tactics, but are severely lacking in quality infantry, making them weak in a head-to-head fight. The lack of quality infantry also makes capturing and defending cities a much more daunting task. As heavy infantry rules the day, just as it did historically in this time period, these factions find themselves at a significant disadvantage long term in the campaign and in multiplayer battles. Further complicating matters in the campaign for these factions is that they start with some of the most financially impoverished provinces which are separated by large tracts of land.
    • Greek Cities essentially have the exact opposite problem of the skirmish factions. They have some of the best infantry in the game available to them, but have an appalling lack of quality support troops, including cavalry and missiles. Their territories, while potentially highly profitable, are spread out around the central Mediterranean and surrounded on all sides by aggressive enemies.
    • Carthage has reasonably good infantry and cavalry, but the crippling weakness of having no archers. (Which is actually due to a bug rather than a design choice for balance purposes. Edit the game's text files (see Dummied Out below) to fix the bug and Carthage becomes more balanced.)
    • Egypt's units are very good in the desert but aren't of much value outside of that particular terrain. They become hopeless in high-money battles because of their lack of armor.
    • Britannia completely lacks archers and cavalry in the traditional sense, and their infantry are also generally mediocre barring a few exceptions. What they have are chariots and lots of them.
    • Flaming Pigs are practically useless for anything except scaring War Elephants.
  • Critical Existence Failure: Your elderly Generals can be Badass Grandpas acting as Frontline Generals right in the thick of the fighting while tripling the income of one of your cities as a governor and be rooting out spies and assassins...and then be dead of natural causes your very next turn.
  • Cruelty Is the Only Option: Peaceful occupation of a city that you've captured is actually an option, however, it very quickly becomes impractical. Even enslaving the population becomes impractical as you expand, as the enslaved population is transferred to your other governed cities, leading to increased unrest and squalor in those cities. This really only leaves you with the option of exterminating the populace of your newly captured cities in order to avoid these issues. It also gives you the best "looting" payout and reduces the unrest and squalor by the most out of the three options.
  • Crutch Character: The game will combine this with A Taste of Power at the start of the game by giving a faction a unit far stronger than what they'd be able to recruit themselves at that point in the game. For example, The Julii Romans will start with a unit of Triarii spearmen and the Greek Cities a unit of Spartan hoplites. Both units are at least two full tiers above what those factions would actually be able to recruit themselves for many in-game years. These units could almost single-handedly cut a swath through the low tier rabble the various "Rebel" faction neighbors have at that point, but any attrition suffered by the elite unit will hurt as the player will not be able to replenish the unit or recruit more for quite some time.
  • Culture Clash: One of the causes of unrest in cities. As time goes on following the capture of the city, the clash steadily decreases as the populace comes to accept the new culture.
  • The Cycle of Empires:
    • Stage 1 - Rome is here at the start of the campaign, with the Roman Factions each ready to take their first steps out of the Italian peninsula.
    • Stage 2 - Carthage starts out at the height of its ancient expanse, but is teetering on the edge of all out war with Rome.
    • Stage 3 - The Diadochi "Successor States" (Macedon, Seleucia, Egypt, some of the Greek Cities territories) of Alexander the Great are technically here. While each is still a formidable faction in their own right, they are nowhere near the level of power they would have been as a unified force under Alexander himself. Out of them, in a typical campaign, only Egypt usually recovers as the rest continue to decline by righting each other and/or falling victim to Roman expansion (which is largely what happened in real life).

    D-L 
  • Dawn of an Era: The campaign begins roughly 50 years after the death of Alexander the Great. His empire has crumbled into a handful of squabbling successor stats and the forces of the Roman Republic are about to take their first actions away from the Italian peninsula....
  • Death from Above: Early in the campaign, before most factions gain access to armored heavy infantry, raining down missile fire will be one of the most deadly attacks in your arsenal.
  • Death of the Old Gods: A major cause of unrest in Barbarian Invasion are the three clashing religions (Christianity, Paganism, and Zoroastrianism). One of the reasons the Western Roman Empire starts out in such tough straights is because so many of their territories are split between Christians and Pagans.
  • Decapitated Army: Downplayed, per series tradition. The loss of a general in combat is not necessarily an Instant-Win Condition for that battle, but it does cause a huge morale shock to the side that loses them, potentially causing them to break and flee. Sufficiently disciplined and experienced troops can fight on much longer in this situation, if not indefinitely.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance:
    • Present in quite a few traits, but especially some of the "Roman Virtue" ones. Having your Generals living a life of luxury, being deceptive and secretive, and ruling the masses with an overly authoritarian iron fist actually make you more popular with the senate, while winning many glorious battles regardless of cost and being fans of the blood-sport gladiatorial games and chariot races will make you more popular with the people.
    • Any traits or ancillaries for Generals which imply homosexuality are universally negative. Lower levels typically decrease influence and fertility, while the higher levels of the traits can devastate command rating and troop morale, not to mention dropping influence and fertility even further. For the Roman factions, these can also hurt your popularity with the Senate and the people. This one is a bit odd since homosexuality in the ancient world wasn't an inherently negative thing, with many famous Romans and Greeks known to have engaged in same-sex relationships.
  • Depraved Bisexual: A very possible combination of traits for a General. The higher level the "Depraved" traits become, the more he loses in Command Rating and Influence.
  • Developers' Foresight:
    • Fight next to a city and you'll be able to see it almost entirely on the battle map. Fight near the ocean with a fleet nearby, and you can see the ships on the edge of the map, in the background. Fight next to one of the Wonders and you'll see it in the distance. Fight a battle in Sicily, and you'll see Mt. Etna spewing smoke on the horizon. Rome is the first game in the series that introduces the concept of buildings catching fire and collapsing into piles of rubble if they're heavily damaged by siege weapons.
    • Nearly anything your Generals do can earn them a new trait or ancillary. Have a general visit or become governor to a town with an Arena? He may become a fan of the games. Leave a General between cities at the end of a turn? He might gain a trait regarding logistics. Have a General regularly fight armies of a particular faction? He may earn a trait that has him hate that particular faction and get a bonus commanding against them. Hire mercenaries often? He may get a mercenary captain in the retinue. Govern a city with a temple? He may get a priest of that temple in his retinue. This even applies to agents and naval captains.
  • Difficult but Awesome:
    • Playing as Parthia. Sure, they have huge tract of land, but most of it is simply miles upon miles of empty wilderness with cities few and far between. This means that corruption is very high and troop waypointing is tedious. They are also one of the most financially impoverished factions at the start of the game. Their forte are horse archers, which require practice to use effectively, are awful at capturing cities, and count as very weak in auto-battle. Their infantry is pitifully weak, among the weakest in the game in fact. As if that's not enough, they start out next to the unstoppable force that is Egypt. However, get to high-tier horse units, and Parthia will become the Timurids of 3rd century BCE.
    • Playing as the Greek Cities. Your starting territories are spread out and you'll almost instantly be attacked on all sides. (The Brutii Romans in western Greece, the Scipii Romans and Carthaginians in Sicily, the Macedonians in northern Greece, and possibly the Pontic and/or Seleucid factions in Asia Minor.) If you can survive however, you'll have access to some of the most awesome infantry in the game (particularly the Spartan hoplites,) and some of the most profitable territories as well.
    • The Seleucids have powerful units but start out in a very tough position. They are surrounded by enemies on all sides, most of which are entirely capable of reducing their slow phalanx units to Swiss cheese with horse archers or something similar. However, if they make it to the late game, they get perfect copies of the mighty Roman Legionnaires added to their roster.
    • Playing as the Western Roman Empire in Barbarian Invasion. They start off like their Eastern/Byzantine counterparts with a lot of territory...only of most of that to either split off in rebellion or fall to the arriving tribes, their legions aren't what they used to be and there's also the clashing dynamic between Christians and Pagans. But despite those setbacks, they're still one of the more powerful factions in-game, and should said issues be resolved can be nigh unstoppable.
  • Digitized Sprites: Units will change from 3d models to digitized sprites when they are far enough away from the camera, to improve system performance. In technical terms, this is known as "Draw Distance". Unit Cards are made with a 2D rendering of a 3D model of the represented unit. An important fact for newcomers of the modding community when creating custom units.
  • Disaster Dominoes: Battles between evenly matched forces tend to play out like this. One moment, the outcome will be uncertain, then one unit will break and flee. The units next to them will now suffer a drop in morale due to seeing a friendly unit flee as well as having their flank exposed, then they too will flee. It is possible to see a battle go from "balanced" forces to one side routing within seconds.
  • Disc One Nuke:
    • The Britons can recruit Woad Warriors once a Shrine to Andrasta has been constructed. Shrines are the most basic religious building, and can be built in any size settlement right away, no matter how small. For most other factions, units which require a religious building to construct require at least a "Temple" or equivalent. Woad Warriors are a grade above the warband rabble melee units otherwise available to the Britons, though their lack of armor makes them vulnerable to missile fire and they become outclassed once you start running into other factions with better-armored/more-disciplined infantry.
    • Macedon's Light Lancers. Despite being classed as light cavalry, Light Lancers have a charge strength equivalent to Roman Legionary Cavalry. Legionary Cavalry is a high-tier, post-Marian Reforms, expensive, two-turns-to-recruit heavy cavalry unit. Light Lancers are comparatively cheap, only take one turn to recruit, and can be recruited right away at the start of the campaign. Though their lack of armor leaves them vulnerable to missile fire and prolonged melee combat, they can decimate everything your opponents can throw at you save for forward-facing phalanxes in the early part of the campaign. Their weaknesses eventually make them outclassed, but they continue to have their uses even late into the campaign.
  • Do Well, but Not Perfect:
    • Because AI controlled factions tend to promote Captains to Generals whenever the ruling family is down to their last few members, it is wise to avoid killing that faction's less useful Generals. Promoted Captains almost always come with a command rating of 3-4, sometimes come with other beneficial traits such as "Brave" and "Battle Scarred," and typically come with no negative traits. As such, killing your enemy's most useless leaders will typically lead to them being replaced by more competent ones.
    • In Barbarian Invasion, it is wise to avoid capturing the final territory of one of the barbarian factions. If you do, that faction will become a "horde," being gifted with several stacks of powerful units with which they can reestablish a homeland.
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: Generals can acquire traits which fit this, typically increasing movement points for armies but decreasing troop morale on the battlefield. There is also the Drillmaster ancillary, which is this trope in nutshell.
  • Dummied Out: One of the biggest drawbacks for playing as Carthage is a lack of archers. As it turns out, digging through the code reveals they were meant to have them, and they even have textures and a model. If you assign the "carthaginian archers" to Carthage in your export_descr_units.txt you can recruit them as Carthage. There are also some unused spearman models for the Barbarian factions, the only difference being a larger, less colorful shield.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: The Eastern Roman Empire in Barbarian Invasion reappears later on in Medieval II: Total War as the Byzantines.
  • Early Game Hell: When playing as one of the non-Roman factions who shares a border with the Romans. Greece? Carthage? Gaul? Be prepared for your Roman neighbors to attack within the first few turns of the campaign. Not only are they a tough and wealthy foe, being at war with them also deprives you of establishing Trade Relations with them, meaning you'll have to fight them at an economic disadvantage. And gods help you if one of your other neighbors decides to attack you early on as well... In fact, some campaign guides even advise that you pull out of your Roman border settlements just to give you a few extra turns of peace to build up your army and treasury.
  • Earned Stripes: Used to show a unit's experience level. Stripes will appear from 1-3 and then go from bronze to silver to gold to represent that unit's experience level. If that unit suffers high attrition in a battle and is retrained, the experience level will drop proportionally to the amount of new soldiers it takes on.
  • Easing into the Adventure: For the Roman factions and the more powerful factions lucky enough to be far away from Rome such as Egypt and Parthia. There are typically a few unaligned "Rebel" cities conveniently close by that you can likely capture with your starting forces alone. While a few of your neighbors may declare war on you, none are particularly threatening and there is ample opportunity for establishing Trade Relations and Alliances with other nearby factions.
  • Easy Communication: It is possible to instantly command units on opposite ends of the battlefield. There is an option that forces the camera to stay on your General and makes this more difficult, giving you the option of averting the trope.
  • Easy Level Trick: For whatever reason, AI opponents will sometimes move the bulk of their garrisoning army just outside of a city. Often, they leave just a single unit inside of the city itself. This provides an interesting opportunity should you choose to assault the city. The enemy's main force will appear as reinforcements on the very edge of the battle map while you are free to position your troops much closer to the city. Simply storm in and capture the town square from the tiny defense force. If you're quick enough, you can capture the city and win the battle by holding the town square without ever engaging in the enemy's larger force. It will still be treated as a loss by that larger force and they'll be forced to back away from your newly won city on the campaign map.
  • Easy Logistics: Played straight. You can send armies to the other side of the world and they'll be just fine from a logistics standpoint. They won't suffer any sort of attrition no matter how far they go and even if they are completely cut off by hostile enemies. The units can easily be retrained back to full strength in any city with the appropriate buildings. Need to replenish your unit of Roman legionaries in a freshly conquered Alexandria? No problem!
  • Elite Mooks: Every faction has elite units at the high end of the tech tree which generally cost a fortune to recruit and upkeep. Rome gets upgraded versions of their already powerful legionaries. The Greeks get Spartan Hoplites, the single toughest infantry unit in the game, but who can only be recruited in Sparta itself. Carthage gets Sacred Band infantry which are nearly as good as the Spartans, but can be recruited in any city with the required structures. Seleucia and Numidia get their own versions of legionaries, every bit as good as Rome's. Parthia and Armenia get Cataphract heavy cavalry who can stand up in prolonged melee like quality heavy infantry while retaining the other advantages of cavalry. Germania gets Berserkers who, while berserk, are more than a match for any other infantry unit in the game. Whenever you see these units in an enemy army, be prepared for a difficult fight.
  • Elite Tweak: As Egypt, capturing Rhodes, and with it, the Colossus of Rhodes. This will kick Egypt's already-formidable economy into overdrive. The Colossus of Rhodes increases all maritime trade by a whopping 40%, and Egypt starts in the possession of several territories with highly profitable maritime trade (and several others nearby into which it can expand). Capturing and fortifying Rhodes essentially gives Egypt license to print money for the remainder of the campaign.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: Characters with negative traits that reach high levels can acquire titles of this type. These include "the Lily Livered," "the Fat," "the Drunkard," "the Perverse," "the Idiot," etc.
  • End of an Age: The Barbarian Invasion expansion takes place at the twilight of the Roman Empire. While it's possible to fend off the hordes as either East or West (and even regain some lost glories along the way), the game makes it very clear that the Classical World has passed on.
  • Enemy Chatter: Zooming in on opposing armies will allow you to hear commands like "March!" and "Halt!" being given, as well as statements like "We're under attack!"
  • Enemy Civil War:
    • The inevitable Roman Civil War can seem like this if you play a non-Roman faction in the original campaign.
    • The Barbarian Invasion expansion features possible civil wars in the Eastern and Western Roman Empires, as well as the division of the Gothic faction into Ostrogoths and Visigoths.
  • Event Flag:
    • Once a Roman city in the Italian peninsula has built an Imperial Palace, the Marian Reforms will trigger. This will open up the extremely powerful Imperial units, including Legionnaires, for recruitment by the Roman factions, turning them from relative Jack-of-All-Stats to the meat-grinder war machines history knows and fears.
    • If a Roman city with a Gladiatorial Arena goes into revolt, it may turn into a special Gladiator Revolt instead of the usual Rebel rabble. It's largely the same, save for them having access to some better units.
    • Once one of the Roman factions reaches high enough popularity with the people, it may kick off the Roman Civil War. If you're playing as that Roman faction, the game will get much harder as you turn against your former powerful allies. If you're playing against Rome, it may be an incredible boon as your most powerful enemies will suddenly turn on each other.
  • Evil Pays Better: You can enslave the population of a captured city; it disperses the enemy population around other cities with governors; be careful, as while this relieves you of the squalor problems in addition to your unrest woes in the captured city, it can cause problems in the cities you dispatch the slaves to. Check where you have situated your governors. Or just kill most of them, which gives you even more money.
  • Exposed to the Elements: Some of the units, like most of the Egyptians and some Barbarian troops, do not look like they could survive in frigid conditions for any amount of time.
  • A Father to His Men: A General with traits that fit this trope benefits from greater troop morale in battle.
  • Fight Woosh: When two (or more) enemy armies engage on the Turn-Based campaign map, a top-down Fight Woosh zooms down to the block where the fighting takes place; after the loading screen, an exact replica of the block, but with much more details and massively upsized, will be used for the Real-Time battle.
  • Fire Keeps It Dead: Casualties in battle as a result of fire attacks, whether by arrows, siege equipment, or boiling oil, are far less likely to recover after.
  • Flavor Text: Unit and Building cards usually contain a several paragraph description detailing the unit or building in question. Except for a few notable exceptions, these descriptions are reasonably historically accurate.
  • Foe-Tossing Charge: Elephant units will plow through just about anything the game has to offer when sent on a charge. Chariots are also capable of this against anything other than a forward-facing phalanx. Cataphracts, General's bodyguards, heavy cavalry, and light cavalry are also capable of this in decreasing order of effectiveness.
  • Foreshadowing: Barbarian Invasion essentially works as a transition expansion to help players of Rome adjust to the changes that they'll see in Medieval II.
    • In terms of warfare, there is a sharp decline in the quality and availability of heavy infantry, formerly the backbone of any army worth its salt in the main game. Additionally, there are more units with an Armor-Piercing Attack who can easily counter the heavy infantry that does remain, just as there is in Medieval II. Cavalry also gets an increase in quality, availability, and variety across most factions, reflecting its rising importance in Medieval European armies.
    • In terms of the campaign, it introduces the idea of different religions (Christian, Pagan, Zoroastrian) and the concept that a faction of one religion holding a city primarily of a different religion will cause immense unrest. It also introduces the idea of factions appearing at a certain time, as well as "horde" factions who do not possess territory, but instead go around raiding settlements.
  • Fragile Speedster: Parthia is one as a faction, particularly early in the games. They're limited to weak light infantry and will be doing most of their fighting with horse archers. Horse archers are fast and can do a lot of damage if used effectively, but they're miserable at capturing cities and require serious practice/micromanagement on the battlefield lest they get run down by enemy cavalry or shot to pieces by enemy archers. They also count as being very weak in an auto-battle. However, if they're able to establish a chunk of territory and upgrade their cities, they get access to unmatched Cataphract heavy cavalry, turning them into Lightning Bruisers.
  • Friendly Fireproof: Averted. Your missile and siege weapons make no distinction between your own troops and those of the enemy when they hit. Thankfully, most units of this type will automatically stop firing if the only enemy target within range is engaged with your own troops. You can overrule this action if you so choose.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare:
    • Some of the smaller, less historically significant factions can pull this off in the campaign. It's not unheard of for Armenia to conquer Asia Minor or Numidia to bring down Carthage. Of course, you can do this too if you choose to play as one of these factions.
    • Captains, who lead armies when no General is present and are otherwise unremarkable, can be promoted to Generals and adopted into the ruling family, potentially even rising to the rank of Faction Leader. Promoted Captains almost always come with a command rating of 3-4, sometimes come with other beneficial traits such as "Brave" and "Battle Scarred," and typically have no negative traits. (Unlike those born into the ruling families, who are far more likely to develop negative traits.) Because of this, promoted Captains in enemy armies can be quite difficult as foes.
  • Frontline General: Your Generals and their bodyguards are a cavalry unit on the battlefield, and quite powerful at that. Further, their presence increases the morale of nearby units, so keeping them near the front lines is encouraged.
  • Full-Frontal Assault: The highly acclaimed Europa Barbarorum Game Mod has "Gaesatae" who fight in the nude. They're extremely effective but critically weak to arrows and javelins. Since it's a mod and doesn't face censorship, they actually are depicted in the nude.
  • Game Mod: The Rome: Total Realism, Europa Barbarorum and Roma Surrectum series of mods are ambitious and intricate projects, overhauling the game to more accurately portray Europe during the days of Ancient Rome.
  • Gang Up on the Human: Due to the still primitive nature of the diplomatic system in the series, every AI faction is scripted to attack the player's faction once certain conditions are met, no matter the player's strength or economy in relation to their own. This leads to broken alliances at the drop of a hat and weak factions attacking you despite having no chance of actually winning.
  • Garrisonable Structures: Downplayed. In city battles with stone walls or higher, the walls come with built in towers that fire projectiles at invading units if they're within range. However, you need to actually have a unit somewhat nearby for the tower to function. The unit doesn't necessarily have to be "in" the tower or even on the wall, and it can still fight on it's own otherwise, downplaying the trope.
  • General Failure: Generals who repeatedly lose battles will develop traits along this line. These traits reduce his command rating and lower troop morale, making him even more likely to lose battles. Vicious Cycle indeed.
  • General Ripper: A General who frequently has high casualties in battle, slaughters routing opposing units, battles the same enemy faction repeatedly, and who frequently presides over the "Extermination" of captured cities can develop traits in line with this trope. At lower levels, it can increase his command rating, raise his own men's morale in battle, and lower enemy morale. If it develops to higher levels, his own men will see their morale drop and he'll become almost unusable as a governor due to significantly increased unrest.
  • Generational Saga: Depending on the faction, the Campaign typically starts you with a middle-aged faction leader, his two-to-three 18-35 year-old sons (including the Faction Heir), and perhaps a few young grandchildren who have not yet come of age. The campaign spans up to 284 years, so quite a few generations will be added over time as well.
  • "Get Back Here!" Boss:
    • Enemy Generals can be like this. Typically, they are extremely difficult to kill and, being mounted units, can quickly flee the battlefield. If they manage to break away from your army while fleeing, your only hope to run them down is with faster Light or Missile Cavalry. If they escape the battlefield, they'll regroup with any other units from their army who managed to flee and will need be fought again.
    • While not strictly a "boss" unit, fighting Missile Cavalry can have this effect. They are the fastest-moving units in the game, and the AI is pretty much scripted to run away whenever any opponent comes close. Even if you have Light Cavalry, it's unlikely that you'll be able to catch them. Fortunately they are large and lightly armored targets, so they are somewhat vulnerable to other missile units, but most Missile Cavalry units can also form a "shooting circle" to minimize their casualties to incoming fire. This would be a case of Chasing Your Tail if it wasn't for their ability to fire at you AND run away at the same time.
  • Gladiator Games: The Roman factions can build Gladiatorial Arenas and, for a price, put on games that improve Public Order in the city since it makes the citizens happier.
  • Gladiator Revolt: Cities with a Gladiatorial Arena who go into revolt may have "The Gladiator Uprising" as their rebellion. In practice, it's the same as a standard revolt with access to some better units.
  • Glass Cannon:
    • Chariots. They are a staple of the Briton and Egyptian factions and can cut huge swathes through the lines of all but the most heavily armored infantry. However, they die very quickly if charged into quality spear infantry, get bogged down in close quarters fighting, or get hit by volleys of fire from missile troops.
    • Mounted ballistae in Barbarian Invasion. They will tear apart even the toughest units with ease, but die whenever a cool breeze blows on them.
  • The Greatest History Never Told:
    • While Rome is obviously the main focus, the game is one of the few examples in media which gives a good look at the Hellenistic world outside of Greece itself.
    • Barbarian Invasion sheds some light on the very late Roman Empire/early Dark Ages era which tends to get very little play in other media.
  • Grim Up North: The northernmost areas of the map are some of the most sparsely populated, with harsh winters decreasing farming output and trade opportunities, making them financially poor as well. It is also home to the vicious barbarian factions.
  • Going Down with the Ship: This happens involuntarily to any units you have on a ship if it is sunk during a naval battle. Loading large armies or important family members onto a ship for a multi-turn voyage is extremely risky as a result. It helps if your naval force is strong enough defeat any Rebel or enemy faction ships that they may stumble across.
  • Going Native: Happens to the Roman factions in Barbarian Invasion. The Eastern military starts looking more like a Greek/Parthian force from the main game than anything Roman. The Western military takes cues from the main game's barbarian factions, with a greater emphasis on mobility with faster-moving, less disciplined light infantry as the main fighting force supplemented with a wide variety of supporting troops. Both represent Truth in Television, as the Romans by this point no longer had their world-conquering legions of professional soldiers but were instead more and more reliant mercenaries and volunteer defensive armies.
  • The Government: The purple SPQR Roman faction based in Rome at the campaign's start. If you play as a Roman faction, your family members can get positions in the leadership. It typically acts as a nuisance, and will inevitably attack you when you become too powerful.
  • Government in Exile: Barbarian Invasion features Hordes, where taking the last settlement of a faction causes several large armies to spawn and the faction to get on the move until they find a new homeland.
  • Happily Adopted: Played straight for Captains who are adopted into the ruling family after achieving a great victory. They are treated as a son and can be named Faction Heir, eventually even becoming the Faction Leader.
  • Hard-Coded Hostility: The Rebel faction is permanently hostile to every other faction for the entire duration of the campaign.
  • Harder Than Hard: The game has the standard "Easy" to "Hard" difficulty options for both Battles and the Campaign, but also has Very Hard. Downplayed in that it's hardly "impossible," but it is quite challenging. In battle on Very Hard difficulty, it is possible to see things like cavalry routing phalanxes and inexperienced militia units going toe-to-toe with your grizzled veteran professional troops.
  • Have a Gay Old Time: Certain Greek cities might be ruled by "Lesbian Rebels" note  during anarchy.
  • Hello, Sailor!: A general left aboard a ship between turns may develop homosexual traits.
  • <Hero> Must Survive:
    • Generally averted with Generals. There is no instant-lose condition if your General falls in battle. However, your General's death will severely lower the morale of your troops, making them much more prone to routing. Unless you have a high-moral army of seasoned veterans, losing your General will make winning the battle much harder.
    • Played straight in the Alexander expansion with Alexander himself, who must survive in the campaign and historical battles.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity: It seems that as a Roman faction, the more the People loves you, the more bitter the Senate become toward you. Considering that crushing the Senate and ruling Rome by force is a winning condition, this is not necessarily a bad thing. Historically, this is pretty much how the pattern went with Populari reformists, some of which were part of the Senate. Their fate was to be stabbed to death in increasingly creative ways by the senators. The example that mostly overcame this pattern was Gaius Julius Caesar.
  • Hired Guns: Mercenaries can be hired by any General unit traveling between cities. The types of mercenaries available varies depending on the region. For instance, mercenary hoplites can be recruited in Hellenistic regions, barbarian band mercenaries in northern and western Europe, and even elephant mercenaries in North Africa and the Middle East.
  • Hit-and-Run Tactics: A specialty of the "skirmish" factions, but downright required when playing as Parthia. Fragile Speedster horse archers are the backbone of the Parthian army, with only very weak light infantry available in a game where heavy infantry rules the day. Until you're able to afford the extremely powerful but cripplingly expensive Cataphract heavy cavalry, your only chance is to harass the enemy armies with your horse archers to thin their numbers, weaken their morale, and tire them out so that your infantry stands a chance against them.
  • Hordes from the East: One of the biggest threats to both halves of the Roman world in Barbarian Invasion is the Huns, who have recently come out in full force from the eastern steppes. On top of that, they tend to uproot any faction that stands in their path of conquest, so the Romans may also have to deal with hordes of Goths, Vandals, Sarmatians, etc., all looking for a new homeland within the empire's borders.
  • Horse Archer: A staple of the eastern/steppe factions. They can also be recruited as mercenaries by other factions in those regions. They can be devastating if used effectively, though this requires series practice and micromanagement as they are Fragile Speedsters who need to use Hit-and-Run Tactics to survive.
  • Horse of a Different Color:
    • Camel units (Dromedaries) are available to a few of the eastern factions, as well as the Numidians. They can also be recruited as mercenaries in those regions. While slower than standard horse cavalry, they get bonuses when fighting in desert areas and make horse units more prone to fleeing, as horses dislike the smell of camels.
    • Elephant units as well, as noted under War Elephants.
  • Hunk: Traits that imply attractiveness can increase a General's influence and popularity.
  • Improvised Weapon: The Peasant units of some factions use pitchforks as their primary weapon.
  • Inadequate Inheritor: When your Faction Leader dies, your Faction Heir is promoted to the position and the game automatically selects a new Faction Heir. It is usually the eldest son of your new Faction Leader, or sometimes his younger brother. Thankfully, you have the ability to manually change your Faction Heir if you deem the one the game selects for you to be inadequate, at the cost of giving the old one the "Disinherited" trait which hurts his influence.
  • Instant Death Radius: Amusingly, due to how the physics engine treats chariot impacts versus spears, all chariots in the game will drop dead instantly the moment they touch the spears of an intact phalanx.
  • Instant Militia: Most factions can recruit Town Watch, Militia Hoplites, or equivalent who fill this role. They're dirt cheap to recruit and have minimal-to-no upkeep costs (if garrisoned in a few cases), so you can use them keep your towns safe while your main fighting force moves on. They're essentially just Peasant units given better equipment and training, useful for padding defensive forces in a pinch and dealing with low-end Rebel units who pop up.
  • Instant-Win Condition: When capturing an enemy settlement, you can win the battle either by destroying/routing all of their forces (as it is for non-city battles as well) or by holding the settlement's "Town Square" for a certain amount of time. If you manage to do the latter, you win the battle even if the enemy has non-routing forces remaining. (However, those remaining forces will appear outside of your newly captured city on the Campaign Map if enough remain, so you'll still have to deal with them.)
  • Insult to Rocks: Used in the description text for the "Deranged" trait:
    "There are those who say that this man gibbers like a deranged rock ape. The rock apes will take offense at this slur.
  • In the Blood: The traits of your family members can be passed on to their children. This holds true for both positive and negative traits, so it can be a blessing or a curse. Less frequently, complete opposite traits will be passed on, such as your Brave, Generous, and Pious General having a son who is Cowardly, a Harsh Ruler, and Sacrilegious.
  • Involuntary Battle to the Death: Routing units who are completely surrounded will enter a "fighting to the death" mode. As such, it is best not to completely surround routing units so that you don't suffer unnecessary casualties.
  • Irony: The narrator for Parthia's intro boasts about how wealth flows through their land when in fact Parthia is so poor that it's one of the few factions in the game that you can easily go bankrupt with.
    Gold will buy a thousand warriors. And a thousand warriors... why, they are the start of an empire!
  • Jack-of-All-Stats: Militarily, the Roman factions before the Marian Reforms. Virtually every faction has at least a unit or two better than the Roman equivalent, but none have as complete of roster as the Romans do. They can easily put together a balanced force of infantry, cavalry, and missile units while opposing factions who may be better in one of those areas will be weaker, if not completely deficient, in the other two. Overall, however, they avert it because they can quickly establish the best economy in the game which allows them to crank out more and better troops faster than the other factions.
  • Javelin Thrower: The most basic missile unit for most factions, when it isn't slingers. They have worse range and less ammo than slingers, but can arc their fire over friendly troop lines and typically do more damage. Both are inferior to archers, however.
  • The Juggernaut: The Roman factions following the Marian Reforms. Already possessing the most robust economy in the game, the reforms upgrade Rome's Jack-of-All-Stats volunteer armies into the known-world-conquering juggernaut professional legions that were nearly unmatched in the ancient world.
  • Kavorka Man: Generals can have such a high "Ugly" trait that children will shriek in terror when they come near, but can still have a faithful wife, prolific fertility, and be a known womanizer.
  • Keystone Army: The barbarian factions suffer from a lack of discipline which not only makes several of their units charge the enemy without orders but also makes them very susceptible to mass routing when they lose their general in battle. In contrast to this are the civilized factions who can fight for a bit longer, if not indefinitely, without their general if their units have high experience and morale.
  • Leeroy Jenkins: The Berserker units available to the barbarian factions may charge without orders and can enter a frenzy mode, during which they cannot be controlled. They'll just start attacking any and all nearby enemies once frenzied. Other units, primarily barbarian but not always, as is the case for some of the Roman gladiator units, may also charge without orders but do not enter the "frenzy" mode.
  • Lightning Bruiser:
    • Cataphracts. While they are the slowest horse cavalry unit, they're still much faster than any infantry. Their Foe-Tossing Charge is second only to elephants in the game and their heavy armor allows them to go toe to toe with with all but the most elite spear infantry in a protracted melee battle. The only things keeping them from reaching game breaker status is their massive recruitment and upkeep expenses, as well as being extremely high in the tech tree, so they won't show up until very late in the campaign.
    • Clibinarii in Barbarian Invasion. They're essentially Cataphracts on steroids, trading some additional speed and charge strength for even heavier armor and an Armor-Piercing Attack.
  • Losing the Team Spirit: As is standard for the series, troop morale is a huge factor in battle. Outnumbering the enemy, having their flanks protected, and having a General nearby are some of the many factors which increase troop morale. However, losing your General or having nearby friendly units flee will badly demoralize your army. (Losing a standard in battle as one of the Roman factions can actually demoralize your entire faction.)
  • Lost Roman Legion: The Battle of Teutoburg Forest (where the idea the trope is based on first came about) is included in the game as a "Historical Battle" you can play and try to win.
  • Luck-Based Mission: Agent actions and naval battles can only be resolved automatically, leaving you with no ability to influence the outcome. You are merely given the probability of success as you hope the Random Number God is on your side.
  • Luckily, My Shield Will Protect Me: As is Truth in Television, shields are the only form of defense for many units, especially light infantry and for missile units who have one. Even then, they tend to only protect against attacks from the front. Higher quality shields can reduce incoming missile fire to Scratch Damage, if not completely nullify it, but again, only if its from the front.

    M-Z 
  • Magikarp Power: Several factions fit this.
    • Parthia starts out with some of the most financially poor starting cities in the game which are separated by huge tracts of empty wilderness, making troop waypointing tedious and leading to high corruption. They have pitiful infantry and their best units, their horse archers, require serious practice and micromanagement to use effectively but even then are terrible at capturing cities. However, when powered up enough, they can become the ancient equivalent of the Timurids.
    • The Greeks and Carthaginians start out with scattered territories and enemies all around them. In fact, it's not uncommon for them to be the first two major factions to be eliminated. However, if they survive, the Greeks get some of the best infantry and most profitable provinces in the game, while the Carthaginians also get some very powerful units (including Armoured War Elephants).
    • As mentioned above, the Seleucids have good units (including the overpowered phalanx in several varieties) but have numerous enemies on all sides. If they survive until the late game, they get Silver-Shield Legionnaires, who are every bit as good as Rome's.
  • The Magnificent: Generals with high level traits can pick up epithets in this vein, both in positive and negative fashions. Positive ones include "the Great," "the Conqueror," "the Just," "the Fearless," etc. Negative ones include "the Butcher," "the Wrathful," "the Mean," etc. Spies and Assassins can also earn these.
  • Marathon Level: Any battle where the enemy army contains missile cavalry or elephants can become this. Missile cavalry are the fastest units in the game, are programmed to fall back when your forces draw near, and can fire at you while falling back. Even if you completely annihilate the rest of the enemy's army, expect to be chasing their missile cavalry around the map until they run out of ammo. Elephant units are extremely difficult to kill and generally take down quite a few of your troops in the process, so most players deal with them by getting them to run amok. However, running amok does not count as fleeing, so even if you eliminate the rest of the enemy's army, you'll still need to either kill the elephants (who are perfectly capable of trampling your troops even while frenzied) or wait until they finally cross the map boundary to end the battle.
  • McNinja: Roman factions can recruit Arcani, a secret society of fanatics who worship Jupiter. Armed with twin gladii, they wear intimidating masks, black shrouds and well-crafted armour. They can hide practically anywhere in the wilderness, they have exceptional stamina, fighting ability, speed and morale. To round it all off, they operate with less than half the number of a more conventional unit type, perhaps invoking the law of Conservation of Ninjutsu. Their role is to flank and ambush the enemy, and perform the least capably in a straight-up fight against superior numbers.
  • Mighty Glacier:
    • Heavy infantry, especially legionaries or hoplites. They tend to be some of the slowest units on the battlefield, but are also some of the toughest, being heavily armored and able to dish out as much damage as they can take.
    • The phalanx formation. While incredibly slow and difficult to maneuver, they are able to steamroll just about any other form of infantry. Defeating them requires either slick maneuvering or another stronger phalanx, which is largely Truth in Television.
  • Military Mashup Machine: If you want sick, look at the incendiary pigs; the pigs are pointed at enemy units (preferably elephants) and then set on fire! Stand well back.
  • A Million Is a Statistic: The trope is almost used by name in the description for the "Conqueror" trait for Generals.
    "If you kill a man you're a murderer. Kill many of them and you're a hero!"
  • Million Mook March: The faction intro videos end showing a massive army of that faction in this fashion.
  • Money for Nothing:
    • Played straight for the Roman factions. Once you've established a chunk of territory and set up trade relations with your neighbors, money tends to become a non-issue thanks to a snowballing economy effect. You almost have to actively try to go bankrupt by wasting money and intentionally failing to reinvest.
    • Downplayed for most non-Roman, non-barbarian factions. While not as easy to pull off as it is for the Romans, it isn't too difficult to end up with overflowing coffers while still upgrading your cities and bolstering your armies.
  • Morale Mechanic: As is standard for the series. Once a unit's morale falls below a certain level, they will rout and flee the battlefield. Units made up of professional and/or veteran soldiers have naturally higher morale than militia or peasant units. Having a General with troop morale increasing traits, having the General near the troops on the battlefield, out-numbering the enemy forces, out flanking the enemy forces, etc. will all contribute to higher morale for your troops. Conversely, having your General die, seeing friendly units routing, being outflanked, being attacked with fire or non-horse animals, etc. can all cause your units to cross the Morale Event Horizon and flee themselves.
  • Multi-Melee Master: Hoplite and phalanx troops will drop their spears and draw swords when in close combat, though they kill most effectively with spears in the phalanx formation.
  • Multiple Endings: After finishing a Short Campaign (Capture 15 settlements and destroy/outlive one or two specific factions), you can continue your campaign as an Imperial Campaign (capture 50 settlements including Rome). Both give an identical cut-scene with different text below. The game's text files also have text for conquering everything.Here is an example. It's from the Rome: Total Realism mod, but it's the same message and video you'd get as the House of Julii.
  • Naval Blockade: You can use your navies to blockade enemy ports, depriving them of trade income and sea travel.
  • Necessarily Evil: Even the largest cities will inevitably succumb to overpopulation and squalor which will put their public order and income into the negative. The only ways to alleviate and slow the onset of overpopulation and squalor is to set the tax rate at maximum and to slaughter the populace of a conquered city. It also helps to not upgrade your farms as well.
  • Nepharious Pharaoh: The Faction Leader of the Egyptian faction is referred to as Pharaoh. Being the leader of the strongest and richest non-Roman faction in the game, he can come across this way when you're at war with Egypt.
  • Noble Savage: The Barbarian intro in the main game has shades of this:
    "Before my grandfather's grandfather was born, this was our land. These are our good places. Our gods live here, in the trees and rivers, they watch over us. We are happy, he happy, we hunt, we love, we have families, homes, and good life."
  • No Fair Cheating: If you frequently use cheat codes, your Faction Leader may acquire the epithet "the Editor."
  • Non Standard Game Over: In Alexander, you'll get one if Alexander himself ever routs from a battle.
  • Not the Intended Use: While the campaign is intended to emulate Real Life historical rivalries and areas of conflict, you are perfectly free (and even encouraged in some cases) to avoid that. For instance, rather than immediately getting drawn into a difficult war with the powerful, expansionist, and rich Roman factions as Carthage, you can bail out of your territories in Sicily, Sardinia, and Africa to instead focus on conquering the Iberian peninsula (where you have one starting territory to expand from) and establishing the heart of your empire there, far away from Roman expansion. The same can also be done as Greece, pulling your forces and instead focusing on Asia Minor (where you likewise have a starting territory to expand from). Several campaign guides actively encourage this, as you'll buy yourself 30-50 in game years in areas with far weaker opponents before Rome is on your doorstep.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat:
    • Your Generals can obtain traits to this effect. At lower levels, they give bonuses to management and city income. At high levels, they can actually come to have the opposite effect, as well as increasing unrest and harming your cities productivity.
    • The Senate tends to act as this when playing as a Roman faction. They try to dictate the direction of your faction's expansion by demanding that you take certain settlements or blockade certain ports. This can be especially annoying if your busy on one end of your empire and the Senate suddenly demands that you take action against a neutral faction on the other side. If you fail too many Senate missions, they may impose financial penalties on you and reduce your chances of having family members elected to Senate positions.
  • Ominous Latin Chanting: Unsurprisingly, some of the songs on the sound track include this.
  • One-Hit Kill: Direct hits from siege equipment will kill any unit in the game in one shot. This even includes Generals, who are notoriously difficult to kill with ranged attacks of any other kind.
  • One-Woman Wail: Included in the song that plays if you lose or draw in a battle. The track is fittingly titled "Lost Souls."
  • Only in It for the Money: Mercenary units can be hired by Generals anywhere outside of cities on the campaign map and generally have lower morale than your own recruited units. Justified in that it makes sense that they'd be less willing to give their lives defending a homeland that isn't theirs or while trying to expand a foreign empire.
  • Only Six Faces: Played straight for character portraits. While there are quite a few more than "six," you will start to see repeats as you get deeper into the campaign and your family expands.
  • Onrushing Army: When attacked by an AI army, they will usually fight the ensuing battle in this fashion. They will put their infantry into a big line at the front of their army, and crash it into your army.
  • Overrated And Underleveled: Carthage. Historically, Carthage at their height dominated the western Mediterranean and was an equal of the Roman Republic militarily and economically. The three Punic Wars fought between the two nations were the largest wars that had ever taken place at the time and lasted over a century. Carthaginian forces under Hannibal threatened the heart of Rome in a way no other outside force would for hundreds of years after. In-game, however, Carthage is significantly inferior to the Roman forces in just about every way. Only Carthage's highest-tier units like the Sacred Band heavy infantry beat out their Roman equivalents, and it's rather rare for Carthage to last long enough in the campaign to recruit them in significant numbers. Carthage is also lacking archer units of any sort (though this appears to be due to a bug, as they exist in the game files which can be easily modded to add them into the game). Essentially, if you're hoping to rewrite history by leading Carthage to victory over Rome, be prepared for a much tougher task than you might expect.
  • Palette Swap: Units who can be recruited by multiple factions will look exactly the same save for the faction's primary color being swapped out.
  • Paper Tiger: Several factions may qualify, but Gaul seems to get hit with it the worst when you're playing against them. They start with a lot of territory and can be very intimidating when fully-stacked armies are sent your way. However, once you get into battle with them, you realize their armies are made up mostly of low-tier, poorly armored, and undisciplined spear and sword war bands who may charge without orders and have the tendency to rout at the drop of a hat the second they realize they aren't utterly overwhelming your forces and/or they lose their General. Finally, despite having a lot of territory, they are mostly financially poor, which makes building up their economy to support their military rather challenging.
  • Pelts of the Barbarian: Surprisingly uncommon throughout the barbarian factions, with the Germanic Berserkers one of the only units to actually wear pelts. However, some Roman units wear them, such as the standard bearer for units of Principes among others.
  • Perpetual Poverty:
    • The barbarian factions tend to suffer from this. Their starting territories and those they can expand into early on are quite poor and sparsely populated, making it difficult to create a robust economy. They can also only build territories up to the "minor city" level, preventing them from accessing higher tier economic structures.
    • Armenia and Parthia have some extremely poor starting territories and will typically be in competition with one another for nearby Rebel settlements to expand into. Unlike the barbarians, these factions can build larger cities and will become quite powerful with access to plenty of Money for Nothing if they are able to get to that level before going bankrupt.
  • Power Up Letdown: Increases in certain traits and certain ancillaries can actually be detrimental to your Generals, both in combat and as governors. For instance, the Bloodthirsty trait is beneficial to a General's command rating and troop morale at lower levels, but if it advances to higher levels, morale will be severely harmed due to your troops' disgust with the General's fondness for bloodshed. Some ancillaries are completely detrimental, such as the Drunken Uncle, Spinster Aunt, Pet Sheep, and Pet Idiot. Luckily, with ancillaries, you can move them between characters if they are in the same city or army. So if one of your good Generals picks up a negative ancillary, you can salvage him by moving the ancillary to another less important General.
  • Praetorian Guard: As a Roman faction, you can build a unit of actual Praetorian Guards. Needless to say, they are extremely powerful, if costly. In addition, all generals have a small unit of personal bodyguards.
  • Properly Paranoid: The "Paranoid" line of traits increases a General's ability to root out spies and avoid assassination, but lowers many of his other skills.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: The barbarian factions. Their units tend to have naturally higher morale, lower discipline, and their Generals are more likely to acquire Blood Knight-type traits.
  • Punic Wars: The campaign begins right around the time of the Real Life first Punic War.
  • Puppet State: An option that can be established through diplomacy is to turn an enemy into a Vassal. AI opponents almost never accept if you offer it to them, yet they will attempt to offer it to you even if your empire is much larger, richer, and more powerful.
  • Purple Is Powerful: Purple is the color of the SPQR Senate Faction. Despite having Rome as their only territory, they seem to hemorrhage powerful units and their Generals' command ratings usually grow like weeds despite them never leaving Rome's province and never actually fighting anyone. They're also technically in charge of the other three Roman factions who, combined, make for by far the most powerful force in the game.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: Absolutely possible to do, particularly when invading enemy territory. While your army might win the battle, it can come away too weakened to actually capture any cities or take on the enemy's other armies. Inversely, this is a good strategy if you find your own army hopelessly outmatched. (For example, if a formerly neutral faction launches an attack on one of your cities and reinforcements are too far away to get there in time to help.) Use any strategy you can to make sure your opponent's inevitable victory becomes a Pyrrhic Victory, thus slowing down their invasion of your territory. Also, the included historical Battle of Asculum is actually the real life battle that created this very term and can thus be considered the Trope Namer.
  • Race Lift: In Barbarian Invasion, the character portraits of any faction in the "Nomad" category portray men who look very Asiatic. This includes the historically Germanic Goths and Vandals.
  • Rain of Arrows: Because the game generally averts Annoying Arrows, volleys of fire from archer units can be some of the most devastating attacks in the game. Only forward-facing heavy infantry really have a chance of coming out of one of these unscathed.
  • Rags to Royalty: It is possible for the Captain of an army consisting of lower-class forces like militia and peasants to win an epic battle and be invited to join the ruling family. From there, he can be made Faction Heir and become the Faction Leader. If that faction is one of the Roman ones and they've captured Rome itself during the civil war, this makes him Emperor of Rome.
  • Real Men Wear Pink: The primary color of the Parthian faction is bright pink. Don't underestimate them though, as they have some of the best cavalry in the game and can prove to be a very tough opponent.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Quite a few combinations of traits can turn your Generals into one. However, as with most traits, this may eventually lead to drawbacks at higher trait levels. For example, being a "Kind," "Generous," and "Trusting" ruler will give you large bonuses to public order and popularity with the people. However, at higher levels, they also lead to a drop in law and order, a penalty to tax income, and an increased susceptibility to spies and assassins, respectively.
  • Reassigned to Antarctica: One option for dealing with particularly useless family members if you don't want to go the full Uriah Gambit route to have them killed. Simply send them to far reaches of your territory and have them build a fort. They will no longer be embezzling your money or driving up unrest as a governor, or demoralizing your armies as a commander. They can simply sit and act as unit of heavy cavalry guarding the frontier.
  • Rebel Leader: Various Rebel armies may spawn in your lands between turns. Usually they are just low-level rabble led by a Captain, but sometimes they spawn with a General (complete with his tough bodyguard unit).
  • Redshirt Army:
    • Several factions not only have this trope as a possible tactic, but rely and thrive on it. A good example are the Barbarian factions that use cheap infantry units en masse to overwhelm enemy armies. The player can also do this with armies of cheap militia or even peasants regardless of faction. In fact, recruiting and using a bunch of cheap units to Zerg Rush opponents is quite effective early in the game when you're facing mostly weak "Rebel" faction armies, little better than brigands, who cannot replenish their losses at all.
    • Late in the campaign, once you've established a large territory and built up your economy, this trope can cross over with We Have Reserves. So what that you've lost 75% of your army in a "Close Victory?" You can replace your losses from your vast, robust empire within a couple of turns while your crippled opponents can not. This actually has some historical justification for Rome, who could use their vast population and production capacity to replace losses far faster than their enemies, as examples like King Pyrrhus and Hannibal of Carthage found out the hard way.
  • Ridiculously Fast Construction: Inverted. Even the simplest buildings take at least a full turn to construct, and there is no way to have your workforce work on multiple projects at once. Since each turn represents 6 months, this means it takes at least that long to construct something as simple as a wooden palisade around a small village, something that historically could be done in just a few days, even though your workforce is focused solely on that project. This means that it can take decades for a "Huge" (24,000+ person) city to build every structure it is capable of.
  • Risking The King: Possibly justified when sending your Faction Leader into battle. Regardless of his other traits, simply being the Faction Leader gives him boosts to command rating and increases the size of his bodyguard unit of powerful cavalry in battle, so he may actually be the best choice for leading an army. Carries huge risk though should he die, especially if you don't have many other of-age family members since you lose if your Faction Leader dies and has no heir.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: While the Julii intro has touches of it, that pales in comparison to the Scipii intro.
    Scipii Narrator: "Our dead lie in many graves, put there by Carthaginian Swords and a few Greek ones. Even Roman blades have taken Scipii lives; that we do not forget or forgive. So, now our time has come. The spirits of the dead cry out for blood! I will lead my family in this undertaking, the Gods will grant us vengeance!"
  • The Roman Republic: The campaign takes place during the height of the Republic, and winning as one of the Roman factions means defeating the other forces of Rome and establishing an empire.
  • Royally Screwed Up: Your family members can easily acquire traits indicating that this is the case, with various forms of implied incest included.
  • Rule of Cool: The reason for some of the historical anachronisms within the factions. The developers even stated that they knew the Egyptians of this era were a Hellenistic culture with forces similar to that of the other Macedonian successor states, but since they already had several of those, they went with the "Old Kingdom" Bronze Age look for something different.
  • Salt the Earth: In the course of your imperial campaign, it's likely that you will come into the possession of cities that don't make strategic sense to hold, usually due to them being the fringes of your territory where corruption and unrest are the highest, requiring massive economic resources to upgrade, and/or requiring massive troop resources to defend. So once you've captured it, you can exterminate the populace, demolish all of the buildings, and even send in a plague-infected character to drive the population even further down. Then abandon it and allow it to rebel. It can provide a good buffer against enemy forces who, even if they capture it, won't get much use of out it. The official website even recommends this strategy.
  • Save Scumming: Unfortunately required to level up your agents. Even if one is trained in a city with beneficial relevant upgrades, comes with a high "natural skill" trait, and picks up a useful ancillary, he will still have less than a 50% shot at assassinating or infiltrating even the easiest targets. The best thing to do is save and just keep trying until he succeeds in his mission. After enough successful missions, his skills will increase so that this becomes less necessary. This is also true for naval battles, since they can only be resolved automatically.
  • Scary Impractical Armor: Generally averted, as most unit armor is reasonably historically accurate and thus, practical. In fact, the most impractical "armor" belongs to the units who wear none at all, as is the case for many barbarian units and several Egyptian units.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: In the unpatched version of the game, one could use a team of diplomats and all of the Money for Nothing to deal more damage to their enemies via bribes than any military force ever could. Simply bribe all but the enemy's largest armies and cause them to disband (or join your side, if the units were eligible). A patch would Nerf this strategy, however, by making it prohibitively expensive to bribe even the smallest enemy armies.
  • Scripted Event:
    • The main campaign has the Marian Reforms, which will occur once a Roman faction has built an Imperial Palace in the Italian peninsula.
    • Barbarian Invasion gives us the emergence of rebel factions if a settlement belonging to either the Roman (Western Empire), the Roman (Eastern Empire), or the Goth faction goes into revolt. If the Western Empire loses control of Britannia, the Romano-British emerge, and at a certain year the Slavs come into the game.
  • Sedgwick Speech: The general will always give a speech at the beginning of a battle. In the case of the Roman factions, these can be quite lengthy and varied, and occasionally quite bizarre. One general's speech mentions he has no idea why they are even there, but his mother said he should at least put in an appearance, which is oddly appropriate to how Roman generals were often appointed.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Sliding Scale of Turn Realism: Has the "Round by Round" variety, with each turn representing six months.
  • Space-Filling Empire:
    • Downplayed in general, in that independent regions do exist, but are all controlled by the "Rebel" faction. Each city/region controlled by the Rebel faction was independent of all the other Rebel regions, they are incapable of expanding, incapable of engaging in diplomacy, and are the main targets of the actual factions at the start of the game so they generally have no territory left after the first two dozen turns or so.
    • Played straight by groups which share cultural resemblance to one another. They were merged into one "empire" in several cases, including the Greek Cities.
    • Inverted by the Romans ironically enough. Instead of one unified empire, it was split into three houses with agendas in somewhat different areas of the map. This was done to make it easier for Rome to expand in the areas (Gaul, North Africa, Greece) they did historically during the time period the game is set, as well as to make the "Roman Civil War" event actually work.
  • Spiked Wheels: Scythed chariots are available to a few factions, most notably Egypt. They can cut right through all but the densest enemy formations, cutting them to pieces in the process.
  • Starter Villain:
    • The Rebels, combining this with Warm-Up Boss, for everyone. Every playable faction starts with at least one nearby Rebel-controlled city meant to be your first target. This allows you to expand your territory and get a feel for the mechanics of sacking a city without actually having to declare war on another faction. Additionally, the Rebel armies which randomly spawn allow for open field battle practice and provide an opportunity to get your troops some experience and your Generals some command stars.
    • Every playable faction has another nearby faction designed to be their initial antagonist. Once you've captured any nearby Rebel settlements, you'll likely need to go through this faction in order to expand further. Even if you don't attack them, expect them to attack you, even if it doesn't make sense for them to actually do so. Examples include Carthage and the Scipii Romans, Gaul and the Julii Romans, the Greek Cities and Brutii Romans, Seleucia and Egypt, and Parthia and Armenia.
  • Starting Units: Several factions start with a unit or two they will not be able to recruit more of until they upgrade their cities, which can take dozens of turns. The biggest example are the Spartan Hoplites the Greek Cities start with. The Spartans are a top-tier unit that won't show up again for a long, long time and even then can only be recruited in limited numbers in one city. Perhaps justified by them being the best infantry unit in the game.
  • Storming the Castle: When laying siege to a city, once you've constructed siege equipment (or have had a Spy open the enemy gates), you may choose to storm the city. The defenders understandably have a number of advantages which can make capturing the city a time consuming process with high potential for heavy casualties.
  • Stupidity Is the Only Option: So you've handed an enemy faction crushing defeat after crushing defeat and reduced their formerly expansive empire down to just two rural villages...yet they STILL refuse your offer of a ceasefire, forcing you to wipe them out. And even in the rare event they DO accept it, expect them to break it within a few turns.
  • Suffer the Slings: Slingers are the basic missile unit for several factions, and are generally cheaper and available at lower tech tiers than archers. However, they cannot arc their fire over friendly troops like archers and peltasts can, are much worse against armored opponents than either, cannot use flaming projectiles like archers, and have inferior range to even the most basic of archer units. However, mercenary Rhodian and Balearic Slingers are improved versions of the basic slingers with better damage and accuracy, and can rival basic archers in terms of range.
  • Suicidal Overconfidence:
    • The campaign AI takes this Up to Eleven. Factions with no chance of even winning a single battle against you will declare war on your continent-expanding empire and will refuse even the most reasonable ceasefire treaties.
    • The battle AI tends to be better about this, but is still susceptible. General units controlled by the AI are notorious for their overzealous charges; many a battles the AI opponent will get their generals killed early in the battle as they foolishly use him to charge into the brunt of your army, even if they consist of phalanxes. Now this overconfidence is sometimes warranted, since general units tend to be a very powerful unit with high morale, making it possible to rout entire stacks with a general unit. Sometimes the overconfidence in their general unit can win the AI battles this way; they get rewarded for recklessly throwing their general into the fray, routing your units. As one of the loading screen quotes puts it: "Fortune favours the bold"...
  • Supporting Leader: Can occur if your Faction Leader isn't particularly active in actually leading armies into battle. Your other Generals can be busy expanding your empire while your Faction Leader hangs back and uses his influence to keep the rest of the empire in check by reducing unrest, suppressing rebellion and, if playing as Rome, keeping the Senate off your back (possibly even by getting elected to positions within the Senate).
  • Suspiciously Small Army: A standard unit size is usually between 40-60 men, and if you set unit sizes to "Huge" prior to starting the campaign, you can get up to about 240 men per unit. Even then, a full stack army cannot exceed 4800 men. In Real Life, armies in the ancient world could have tens of thousands of soldiers in single battles. Largely an Acceptable Break from Reality, since actually depicting tens of thousands of soldiers on a battlefield would be far too much for most computers to render.
  • Symbology Research Failure: The symbol on the Macedon faction emblem is the Greek letter "L", Lambda. Their units carry shields painted with a Lambda as well. It was indeed used as such in Ancient times, but only by the Spartans - the "L" stood for Lakedaimonia, the homeland of the Spartans. Even the acclaimed Rome: Total Realism Game Mod which strives for historical realism falls for this one, as they show Athenians carrying "L" shields. Athenians, or for that matter Thebans, Argives, Megarians, and citizens of nearly a thousand other states would not be caught dead carrying their mortal enemy's emblem on their shields... (For their part, most other Greek states did not have consistent shield designs, the design being generally personal to the bearer, although often inherited father-to-son. In most states, hoplites paid for their own arms and armor, including the shield; Sparta's consistent design is because Spartans were armed at the expense of the state.)
  • Tactical Rock-Paper-Scissors: Downplayed in regards to the types of weapons used by infantry. Spears (and pikes) are extremely effective against cavalry. Even spear units who don't have a specific bonus when fighting cavalry typically still deal more damage to them than those with other weapon types. Swords, meanwhile, tend to be extremely effective against spear units in protracted melee combat. Sword units fare less well, however, against cavalry. Finally, axes tend to hack opposing spear and sword units up with ease, but really struggle against cavalry. Downplayed in that other factors can influence this, such as unit experience, unit discipline, and quality of armor and weapons. For example, Axe Warband may shred a unit of spear-wielding Militia Hoplites, but they'll barely put a scratch on a unit of Spartan Hoplites despite the weapon type advantage.
  • Tactical Withdrawal: A perfectly viable tactic that you will almost certainly find yourself employing at least a few times during the campaign. The AI will use this as well, particularly when your force has an overwhelming advantage against them. They'll start with their forces as close to the edge of the map as they can get and will typically retreat almost immediately.
  • Take Over the World: The goal of the Imperial Campaign is to take over 50 provinces and Rome itself. It's actually possible to conquer every territory on the map, essentially taking over the "known world" of ancient Rome.
  • Tattered Flag: The "Faction Eliminated" screen shows the tattered flag of that faction above a battlefield.
  • Technology Marches On: In-Universe for the Roman factions once the Marian Reforms take place. Any of the pre-reform units you have can continue to be used, but they cannot be retrained, so any losses they suffer are gone for good. You'll need to construct new armies out of the post-reform units in order to continue.
  • Thriving Ghost Town: Played with in different facets of the game.
    • When cities are viewed on the battle map, you can see thousands of civilians milling about, averting it.
    • During city siege battles, the civilians are nowhere to be found however, even in massive cities like Rome, playing it straight.
    • Played straight in that, while city sizes are at least above the threshold of sustainability (unlike most examples), they're still ridiculously small for the cities in question. The practical upper limit for a city's population is ~36,000, whereas in Real Life, one of Rome's many advantages was its effectively infinite manpower compared to its rivals (the city itself having had a population of roughly one million).
  • Timed Mission:
    • In the Imperial Campaign, you have 284 years (or 568 turns) to capture 50 regions and Rome itself. This is far, far more than you'll ever reasonably need.
    • When playing as a Roman faction, the Senate will assign you timed missions. They typically consist of requests that you capture certain enemy cities or blockade certain enemy ports within a certain number of turns. Success will yield gratitude from the Senate, as well as financial and military rewards. Repeated failures may result in the Senate imposing penalties instead.
    • The battles themselves have a default time limit and can end in a draw if the time limit is reached. This function can be turned off, however.
  • To Win Without Fighting: The game offers several ways in which this is possible.
    • In the unpatched version of the game, one can pull this off using Diplomats to bribe enemy armies. Units who aren't eligible to join your faction will simply disperse. A patch would Nerf this, however, making it too expensive to be practical.
    • It is possible by using Spies and Assassins to negatively impact the order of an enemy city to the point where it goes into full blown revolt. This is useful if you don't want to declare war on the faction that owns the city, but really want to capture the city. Since it will belong to the Rebels if it goes into full revolt, you can capture it from them instead.
    • If you maintain a siege longer than the besieged city can hold out, it will automatically become yours. However, the AI almost always sallies out to attack no matter how weak their garrison is before it reaches that point.
  • Tyrant Takes the Helm: This can happen to a faction if the Reasonable Authority Figure Faction Leader dies and is replaced by a bloodthirsty, psychopathic, authoritarian heir.
  • Units Not to Scale:
    • Averted on the battle map, where units are all reasonably relatively sized compared to one another. Cities and other structures are also reasonably to scale compared to the units.
    • Played straight on the campaign map where, for example, full stack 20-unit army (containing potentially thousands of individual soldiers) will all fit on a single, small ship.
  • Uriah Gambit: Inevitably, as your faction's royal family grows, certain members will come along who have several detrimental traits and zero redeeming qualities. Rather than allowing them to hang around, spawning equally useless future generations, lowering the morale of your army as generals, and/or draining your resources as governors, you can simply send them off into battle by themselves to die. Then, in the off chance they actually win, they become better generals and are good, at least, on the front-lines. If they win enough battles they'll also get bonuses to Influence because they are great conquerors.
  • Vestigial Empire: The Western Roman Empire in Barbarian Invasion. Immediately at the start of the campaign, they are an overextended mess rife with unrest and are almost completely bankrupt. Their military forces are spread extremely thin and are nowhere near the quality of their legionary ancestors. Every turn, most of their provinces are at risk of going into revolt, and even if they don't, they are the target of nearly every neighboring faction right off the bat including the Huns, who may very well be the toughest faction in the game, just as they were in real life during this time period. Choosing this faction is an uphill battle, considering the WRE is destined to get its butt kicked during the Barbarian Invasion campaign, since the decline of the empire is what'll give room for the game's barbarian factions to expand at all. The downfall of the empire is what's supposed to set the game in motion. All this reflects history fairly well, since the WRE was a vestigial empire during this time period. Considering these things, it does make it all the more satisfying when you can turn the tables around and win the campaign as the WRE, defying both the campaign's natural course and the course of history. The Eastern Roman Empire technically qualifies as well, but they are in significantly better shape than their Western counterparts, with much more stable provinces, fewer enemies, and stronger military forces.
  • Victory Pose: If you completely eliminate an enemy army, your units will celebrate for a few seconds before the "end battle" screen appears.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential:
  • Video Game Historical Revisionism: In a series known for its good research and realistic tone, Rome is probably the most fanciful entry. This is the reason why several realism mods were made, such as the appropriately titled Rome: Total Realism and Europa Barbarorum, both of which many fans swear by.
    • The depiction of Egypt is the worst offender in the game. At the time the game takes place, Egypt was dominated by heavy Macedonian/Greek influence and had armies similar to that used by the other Diadokhoi (Seleucid Empire, Macedonian Kingdom, etcetera). For reasons ranging from "it looks cooler" to "we don't want to make an Egypt: Total War", the game developers made the Egypt faction look like they came straight out of "The Ten Commandments" or "The Mummy Returns", complete with Pharaohs wearing makeup, chariots and soldiers wearing headdresses and armor made of gold and outdated bronze. Describing the Egypt faction in Rome: Total War as "Hollywood History" would be an understatement. At the game's release, Egypt's depiction was a heavy point of criticism by reviewers, and rightfully so, since portraying Ptolemaic Egypt as Old Kingdom-style pharaoh dudes is downright insulting, and didn't sit well with those containing even an ounce of historical knowledge and/or common sense. It's especially disappointing because Rome: Total War as a whole is applauded as being a well put together simulator of historical battles, to the point it was even used for History Channel documentaries.
    • The splitting of the nation of Rome into three separate Roman nations, seemingly ruled by family lines ("The House of Julii", "The House of Brutii (sic, Bruti)", "The House of Scipii (sic, Scipiones)"), note  though this is forgivable, as it is done to characterize the Roman Civil wars (although the expansion pack Barbarian Invasion had a much better and more realistic way of dealing with that, with Scripted Events.)
    • The Greek Cities being one unified faction rather than numerous independent city states. Justified, however, as game engine limitations would make it exceedingly difficult to accurately represent dozens Greek states.
    • The barbarian factions being a stereotypical Barbarian Horde with incorrect unit rosters and battle tactics. For example, the real life Germans were light infantry fighters who usually wielded spears. Here, they are all shirtless howling brutes who fight with giant axes and pike phalanxes. The berserkers quite literally stand a good foot or so taller than the other units in the game. And the Britons certainly wouldn't have hurled severed heads at enemies. (Though there is some historical evidence of them taking and preserving the heads of fallen enemies as souvenirs.)
    • Urban Cohorts and Arcani were not elite troops. The former was simply the name given to a city's police force and firefighters, being closer to Town Watch than Preatorian Cohorts. The latter are based on Roman agents in Britain during the later years of the empire who ended up being disloyal to the emperor, so they were disbanded. It's safe to say that they didn't dress like ninja's.
    • Most Roman crosses had no top bars, and resembled a 'T'; the bar on the Christian cross was added to post the "King of the Jews" sign.
    • In the vanilla version of Barbarian Invasion, any faction that fell under the "Nomad" category had Hellenic voices, for some reason. It can be truly jarring to hear a Gothic warlord refer to you as "strategos"! Thankfully, patches were released to rectify this.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: It is entirely possible for your Generals to have traits that fit the trope. While their effects may cancel out, the traits themselves aren't mutually exclusive. Thus, it's entirely possible to have a General who is psychopathic, mad, with extreme blood lust, tortures his own citizens, and beats slaves to death in fits of violent rage, but is also beloved and considered a legendary conquering hero for his contributions to your empire, with a title like "the Magnificent" to match.
  • War Elephants: Available to a select few factions (Carthage, Seleucia, Parthia in the campaign, as well as Numidia in multi-player,) and available as mercenaries in certain regions. They are some of the most powerful (and expensive) units the game. Their presence alone severely demoralizes opposing armies, they're very difficult to kill, and they can demolish even the densest formations with a charge. The more advanced types even carry archers on their backs for more destructive potential. Unfortunately, in addition to their aforementioned expense, they have a weakness to fire which sends them "running amok." In this state, they cannot be controlled and will gladly trample your own soldiers, making them an Awesome, but Impractical addition to your armies.
  • War Is Glorious: Very much presented as the case by the game, much as it would have actually been in Ancient Rome. Winning many battles and conquering many territories not only gives your General traits making him a better commander and increasing troop morale, it also makes him more popular with the people and increases his influence.
  • Warrior Poet: Generals can have combinations of traits, including outright "Poetic Skill," that make them fit.
  • Weaponized Animal: Flaming Pigs are a unit you can recruit. Rather than actually fighting the opponent, they are instead coated with oil, pointed at the enemy, and set ablaze. They can break up enemy formations and have a good effect at lowering the moral of the opposing forces, but their greatest use is for scaring War Elephants which causes them to run amok.
  • We Cannot Go on Without You:
    • If a faction's leader dies without an heir, that faction is eliminated. Any remaining cities will become Rebel cities. AI factions will almost always use their ability to promote a Captain to General when reduced to their final family member to avoid elimination this way.
    • If Alexander in the Alexander expansion dies at any time, you lose, no matter how well your Macedonian forces may have been doing otherwise.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: The Intros for several factions use elements of this. The Brutii talks about how they know what is best for Rome, the Julii talk about how they need to secure the Roman Frontier and keep away unwashed barbarians, the Egyptians talk about bringing everyone under the Pharaoh's love, the Greeks talk about recreating Alexander's Empire and bringing order to the world, the barbarians talk about the need to defend their way of life.
  • With This Herring:
    • Selucia is an example from the base game. You start out as a rump state, with a tiny military and underdeveloped cities that can't even recruit decent levies. You share borders with no fewer than four empires, including Parthia (which can effectively counter every early unit Selucia can field) and Egypt (arguably the strongest of the Successor kingdoms, and certainly the richest). All of these empires will immediately declare war on you, resulting in an average of two sieges per turn for most of the early game. Due to all these factors, Selucia tends to be the first faction to be completely eliminated in the main campaign. Sometimes it doesn't even last ten turns.
    • Choosing to try and restore the Western Roman Empire in the Barbarian Invasion expansion hands you a massive empire right from the start - one which is on the verge of complete and utter destruction, with horribly overpopulated, rebellion-ripe cities that are divided from within by religious unrest and ruled over by incompetent, cowardly and disloyal governors. Your bank account is going to quickly go deeply into the red, and simply pressing the 'end turn' button carries a large risk of half your empire immediately turning traitor. In addition to your internal problems, you are beset on all sides by rampaging barbarians quite happy to take advantage of Rome's weakened state. Pulling the empire back from the brink is widely regarded as one of the greatest challenges in the entire franchise.
  • Word Salad Lyrics: The lyrics to the "map view" music are just a disconnected series of Latin nouns. Which is, admittedly, characteristic of some Roman poetry.
  • Young and In Charge: It is possible for a family member as young as 16 to become the Faction Leader.
  • Zerg Rush:
    • A possible tactic for any faction, but several factions specialize in it. Most notable are the various barbarian factions, particularly in the main game. (Most become a little more specialized with access to more elite units in Barbarian Invasion.) Their main strategy tends to be overwhelming opponents with large numbers of cheap but undisciplined spear and sword "warband" units. Late in the campaign, these factions gain access to higher quality units, but those units are mostly inferior to their tech-tree equivalents from the more "civilized" factions. They do tend to remain cheaper and more plentiful though, effectively upgrading the "Zerg" in your Zerg Rush.
    • At the beginning of the campaign, this is a recommended strategy to use against the various "Rebel" cities. Nearly all factions start with a few of these on their borders, and since they cannot replenish their units in any way, overwhelming them with waves of cheap units is a good way to deal with them.


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