Total War: Rome II is a game in the Total War strategy series, released on September 3rd, 2013. As a sequel to Rome: Total War, it returns to classical antiquity and the rise of the Roman Empire. The player is also able to control several other factions, such as the Carthaginians, the Arveni and the Parthians, with eight playable factions in total. Other playable factions, such as Pontus, the Greek states and the Scythians are set to be released as DLC. In total, over 100 factions appear on the campaign map, although most of these are not playable. Several other new features have been introduced compared to the previous games in the series, such as combined land and sea battles, an abstract "tactical" map for battlefields and the combination of territories on the turn-based strategy map into larger "provinces".As in the original Rome, if the player takes control of the Roman faction, than they must choose one of several patrician houses to represent - Cornelia, Julia, or Junia - each enabling their own unique perks. Campaign goals remain the same for the player, regardless of whichever family they select, how those goals are achieved depends on personal discretion. One can either labor to preserve the Republic, or declare oneself Emperor of Rome. Other factions present similar options for internal politics.In addition to the main campaign, there is also a prologue campaign set during the early years of the Roman Republic that serves as a tutorial. The player follows the rise of Gaius Fulvius Silanus during the Samnite Wars, which would lay the foundations for the rise of Rome.The first expansion pack, Caesar in Gaul, was released on the 17th of December, and follows, naturally, Gaius Julius Caesar himself during his conquest of Gaul, along with the various Gallic tribes (one led by Vercingetorix himself), the Germanic Suebi and the Belgic Nervii.
This game provides examples of:
Aluminum Christmas Trees: Some people have complained about the "magical" unit special abilities, the most common target being the flamingjavelins. The Falarica, however, was a common javelin variant that was occasionally wrapped in oil-soaked rags and ignited before thrown.
Ancient Greece: Despite the title, the era the game is set in is still very much dominated by Greek culture and Greek nations of all shapes and sizes constitute a large portion of playable factions.
Anti-Cavalry: Spear and pike infantry will utterly slaughter most cavalry if they're in square/phalanx formation and attacked from the front, and they will likely take a heavy toll even if struck from the flank. Also, extended melee combat will not go well for most cavalry unless they're fighting missile or peasant units, making the cavalry cycle tacticnote Charge, withdraw, charge again. crucial.
Artificial Brilliance: The AI has an odd bi-polar disorder and veers between this, Artificial Stupidity, and everything in between. For example, on the campaign map, enemy armies will curtail the fog of war to remain just out of view, and the AI will always lie in wait nearby weak settlements, waiting for you to abandon them. They have also been known to lure away units on the battlefield, flank and encircle properly, and in general they are a huge leap forward even from Shogun 2's AI, which in and of itself was pretty good.
Armor-Piercing Attack: All attacks deal both regular damage, which can be reduced or blocked entirely by armor, and armor piercing damage, which is always dealt regardless of how much armor is present.
Annoying Arrows: If a unit has good armor and/or shields, they can shrug off a lot of arrow fire, since those don't deal much in the way of armor piercing damage.
Ascended Meme: The military adviser's "This is a shameful display" when a unit routs references the Just a Stupid Accent adviser's comments in the same context in Shogun 2.
A Taste of Power: Downplayed. From the beginning of any campaign, starting and newly recruited Generals can have Elite Mooks that aren't available for regular recruitment until later in the game as their Bodyguards.
Awesome, but Impractical: Elephants can be useful for breaking up enemy formations, scaring the living daylights out of enemy units and can wreak a lot of havoc if left unchecked, but they go down very fast despite their size, especially when facing javelins, which are used by about 60% of the units in the game.
Badass Army: Individual armies can not only have Distinctive Appearances (different emblems, uniforms, names, etc.), but they also can develop traditions that serve as a universal buff to the entire force.
Badass Beard/Badass Moustache: Various units across the different factions have varying degrees in badass facial fair, ranging from the full bearded glory of the Suebi to the beard-styled helmets of some Hellenic and Carthaginian soldiers.
Barbarian Tribe: While numerous factions are barbarians by Greco-Roman standards and are generally tribal in structure, they're a far cry from the unwashed, uneducated hordes with little culture typically depicted by the trope.
Blade on a Stick: Various kinds of pointy sticks serve as the primary infantry and cavalry weapon for most factions, ranging from incredibly long sarissa pikes to shorter, one-handed spears like the Greek dory. They're useful against cavalry, particularly when properly braced, have superior armor penetration and more impact on the charge, but swords hit more often and do more overall damage.
Bloodier and Gorier: The Blood and Gore Pack manages to surpass its Shogun 2 counterpart, not by using more blood, but by being more realistic.
Bloodless Carnage: Played straight with the base game, but it can be Averted if the player, as in Shogun 2, owns the Blood and Gore Pack.
Boarding Party: One of the main naval tactics is to board enemy ships and engage their crews in melee combat. Particularly effective against missile and artillery ships, whose crews aren't very good in melee.
Born in the Saddle: The background story for the factions made playable with the Nomadic Tribes Culture Pack.
But Thou Must: It's entirely possible to use clever tactics to defeat the entire Samnite army in the prologue campaign without ever entering the city you're supposed to defend, but you'll eventually trigger a scripted defeat if you don't follow directions even if the Consul still holds all three victory points and no Samnites are even in the city.
The Cavalry: The Siege of Capua in the prologue campaign is broken when a Roman-Lucanian army of horsemen rides to the rescue.
The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: Whenever you lose a province to an enemy faction, they will instantly convert culture-specific building versions to their culture in just one turn, which is much faster than the player can.
Cool Boat: Naval battles include many Slave Galley types, ranging from Hellenic triremes to "barbarian" longboats. Expect many fancy figureheads, especially on command vessels.
Cool Helmet: Includes a plethora of Cool Helmets from across the ancient world. Special mention goes to the Corinthian helms of the Spartans, which include enormous◊ horsehair crests.
Cool Sword: The primary weapon for the Roman legions and the weapon of choice for most unit captains and generals. They also serve as emergency weapons for pikemen and missile units. They don't hit as hard on the charge as a spear and lack armor penetration, but they're more accurate and do a lot more damage overall.
True to life, Sparta's military options are horrendously limited: they don't get any swordsmen, elite ranged units, elite cavalry or shock cavalry. Their hoplites are the best in the game and their pikemen are decent (better than Carthage and Athens', about the same as Pontus', not nearly as good as Egypt/Seleucid/Macedon/Epirus'), but it's very easy to simply whittle them down with ranged units or surround them with units which are better in close combat.
The steppe nomad factions have three infantry units: basic spears, axes and archers. That's it. Everything else, bar their siege weapons, is a cavalry unit. To make it worse, their cavalry isn't even the best in the game, that honor goes to Parthia's cataphracts. A combination of pikes and long-ranged archers or slingers is enough to beat them most of the time.
Darker and Edgier: The overall atmosphere and tone seems to be heading for this direction in contrast to the first Rome. Compare bothintros.
Unit captains (generals too, if their bodyguards are an infantry unit) and standard bearers will fall back behind the protection of their unit when that unit is ordered into a Phalanx, Shield Wall, Square or Testudo formation, rather than always occupying the front row.
Arrows and javelins won't just stick into the ground where they fell, but protrude satisfyingly from the corpses of those they kill.
Sparta starts out with just one small settlement that isn't even walled. They are lacking in cavalry selection and have no sword infantry to speak of. However, they have some of the best spear infantry in the game.
Carthage is easily one of the hardest factions to play as in the game. Everybody hates your guts and you go up against the chief superpower of the game (Rome) very early on. However, you also have a huge, varied unit roster, lots of land (albeit indirectly controlled by your satrapys) and the best part yet, you can re-enact Hannibal Barca's march over the Alps yourself!
Everybody hates the Suebi. It seems like every faction that you come into contact with will want to kill you and everything you love. However, you can get access to berserkers and you also have the opportunity to expand without harassment early on.
Dirty Coward: After the Romans break out of the initial ambush in the Battle of Teutoburg Forest, Varus tells his Legions "You're on your own" and runs away when he sees Arminius leading a massive cavalry force. When asked about his fate later, the narrator says "No one knows. Even fewer care." In the meantime, we're shown Varus, alone, being ambushed by Germans and killed by Arminius as he begs for his life, contrasting with his real-life deathnote Upon nearing defeat, he committed suicide. Arminius then cut off his head and sent it to King Marbod of the Marcomanni tribe as a gift.
Dramatic Irony: In the "Find A Way" trailer, the Roman senators speculate about how Hannibal will strike at them. The very last suggestion, that Hannibal will march on Rome from the north, is met with derision and sarcasm-loaded lines like "over the Alps, perhaps!" and "I suppose he will bring with him an army of elephants!" while he's doing exactly that.
Encyclopedia Exposita: The game comes equipped with its own internal reference guide - called (duh) the Encyclopedia - which lists unit descriptions, potential strategies and tactics, campaign footnotes, historical factoids, etc.
From Nobody to Nightmare: Silanus from the prologue campaign goes from commanding a small garrison to controlling the entire Roman war machine. The final cutscene implies he's planning on conquering the rest of the Italian peninsula.
Groin Attack: One of the battle animations involves a soldier kicking his enemy in the crotch.
Horse Archer: A recruitable unit and the specialty of the (Royal) Scythians.
Hired Guns: Depending on the region they're in, armies can hire anything from hoplites to horse archers to war elephants. They're recruited instantly, unlike regular troops, but cost a lot more to maintain and are subject to varying availability. Notably, this is the only way to recruit new units in enemy-held territory. Rome can obtain most of them as cheaper and readily available auxiliaries if they have an Auxiliary Camp in the right region.
Historical Villain Upgrade: Varus gets this in Teutoburg Forest, being both an incompetent and naive dunderhead who trusts Arminius and a coward who abandons most of his army and tries to flee by himself. He might have been incompetent and naively trusting of Arminius in real life, but he historically stayed with his army and committed suicide when it became obvious how it would end.
Human Sacrifice: Played with. While the Carthaginian faction bio states that many people believe they carry out human sacrifices in their temples, it neither denies nor asserts whether this is actually true.
Instant-Win Condition: Victory Points replace the old central plaza from previous Total War games during sieges. Capturing the flag causes the defender's point total (ranging from 50 to 100, depending on the situation) to begin dropping, and the attacker wins after it reaches zero. There's typically only one, unless the battle is in a provincial capital, which has three.
Javelin Thrower: Javelins are one of the three missile types, and tend to deal decent damage and have higher armor penetration, at the cost of having the shortest range. In addition, many sword/axe infantry units can throw a volley of javelins while charging an enemy unit.
Legacy Army: Even if your Badass Army is wiped out, a new force can be raised up with the old army's banner. They may not have the experience, but they still retain the original traditions that buffed their predecessors.
Lightning Bruiser: Cataphracts, available to the Eastern kingdoms, the Seleucid Empire, Baktria and the Massagetae. An organised charge from a single unit of cataphracts can flatten an unbraced infantry unit, and they just don't die!
Loads and Loads of Characters: More than a hundred factions appear on the game and there are regional differences that makes them even more unique.
Luckily My Shield Will Protect Me: Not just the primary form of defence for most units, often a unit's only form of defence. As in the first Rome, field battles generally involve two clashing lines of shield-bearing infantry, the winner more often than not decided by flanking manoeuvres that bypass the shield-walls defences.
Madness Mantra: At the beginning of the Teutoburg Forest historical battle, we hear Emperor Augustus uttering his famous line "Varus, Quinctilius Varus, give me back my legions!", as he is claimed by Suetonius to have often muttered in the months and years following the annihilation of the Roman Legions in the forests of Germania.
Mighty Glacier: True to life, hoplite and pikemen phalanxes are incredibly durable, more than capable of fending off more powerful enemies when on the defensive. Pike phalanxes are more vulnerable to flanking and aren't as heavily armoured, but the nigh-impassable killing zone created by their twenty-foot-long pikes means that they can keep enemies out of melee range and blunt frontal charges with impunity. They are also more mobile than hoplites, capable of sprinting and charging while in a phalanx.
Naval Blockade: Settlements can be blockaded by fleets of any size, cutting off trade through that settlement and increasing unit recruitment time in that region. It also causes attrition to the blockading fleet.
Obvious Beta: A criticism among some fans and reviewers, citing Executive Meddling on Sega's part to have the game released earlier than originally intended. That said, patches are already moving the game into the right direction, making significant tweaks and improvements on the gameplay.
Praetorian Guard: A General's bodyguards, especially if they're the faction leader. Also, the Trope Namers are present as Rome's strongest units. Comes in infantry and cavalry flavors, as well as a household item that increases Cunning.
Played straight with Pontus and Macedon, which were secondary factions in the original game (though they could be unlocked with some editing skill). The (Royal) Scythians have also been promoted from the first game as a DLC faction in the Nomadic Tribes Culture Pack, as well as the Roxolani, who featured in the Barbarian Invasion expansion.
Zigzagged with the Greek States; Athens, Sparta, and Epirus have become independent factions with the Greek States Culture Pack, as with Syracuse with Hannibal at the Gates, though the other cities from the Rome: Total War faction (Rhodes and Pergamon) have not.
Initially inverted with the Seleucid Empire prior to being announced as eventual free-DLC.
Various mods can make all factions playable in the main campaign.
Rain of Arrows: Arrows are one of the three missile types, distinguished by dealing the highest overall damage and having excellent range, at the cost of armor penetration.
Ramming Always Works: All ships can ram opponents, with the ship's size relative to its target and speed on impact determining how much damage it does. Big ships going fast enough can obliterate most lesser ships with just one ramming attack.
The Remnant: Taking a faction's last city won't get rid of their armies and fleets, though they'll suffer attrition since that faction no longer has any income to support their upkeep costs.
Silanus makes several in the Prologue campaign during certain battles and in the final cutscene.
As with most of the previous Total War games, generals will make these at the start of the battle. However, they're pretty easy to miss, since they're delivered during the battle rather than in a pre-battle cutscene.
Furthermore, the speeches are really only 'rousing' about half the time. The rest of the time, they're usually insulting their enemies or talking about how awesome it is to beat them up and take their stuff.
Run or Die: The Battle of the Teutoburg Forest has the Romans surrounded and heavily outnumbered by the Germans, requiring them to constantly keep pushing forwards to escape.
Greek Heroes (their Champion Agent) sometimes say "This is madness!" if ordered to do something after all their action points are expended. The achievement for completing a campaign as Sparta is also appropriately called 'This is Sparta!' as well.
When a Roman general or senator dies, the event card will say he was a man of Rome, ending with "Honour Him!"
The developers took great care about the historical accuracy of the factions, as well as making regional differences between the various barbarian tribes such as the Germanic Suebi, who are distinct from the Gallic Averni or the Britannic Iceni.
Roman Generals will, at the approximate time periods in which they became famous, become available for recruitment to lead your armies. You may well have Gaius Marius himself leading the legions of Rome on the Cisalpine front in 102BC. Although it's kind of weird when an agent defects and you have Herodotus as an Iceni-supporting druid.
If you fight a battle in the city of Rome itself, instead of fighting in a generic city map, the map will be a surprisingly accurate rendition of what ancient Rome looked like, with landmarks such as the Colosseum and the Circus Maximus in the right places.
Greek units occasionally shout in Greek (when given an order, they reply with "Kudos!" meaning "glory"), and refer to officers by their Greek titles ("strategos", "taxiarchos").
Sound-Only Death: The ending cutscene for the Battle of Teutoberg Forest cuts to black just as Varus is killed.
Stance System: Armies and navies on the overworld map can select from one of 4 stances, each with its own bonuses and penalties.
Suffer The Slings: Slings are one of the three missile types, and are characterized by having the longest range and highest rate of fire, at the cost of raw damage.
Tactical Rock-Paper-Scissors: As in Shogun 2, the agents tend to be more effective against one agent type and less effective against the other. Typically, Spies (High Cunning, low Authority) are strong against Champions (High Zeal, low Cunning), who are strong against Dignitaries (High Authority, low Zeal), who are strong against Spies. This can change depending on how the agent was developed.
Tagline: Quo usque pro Roma ibis? ("How far will you go for Rome"?)
War Is Hell: Invoked by the creators, and a logical end to the ever increasing realism of the battle engine; actively reinforced now with the Blood and Gore Pack.
Warrior Monk: The Iceni have access to Druidic Nobles. They're very effective melee combatants - almost as good as the top-tier Heroic Nobles - and can buff the morale of nearby friendly units, but have poor armour and come in the same unit size as Berzerkers (roughly half that of standard infantry).
You Bastard: A possible interpretation of the game's Tagline: How far will you go for Rome?
Zerg Rush: An endless swarm of Germans will be constantly attacking you from all directions throughout the Battle of Teutoberg Forest, forcing you to Run or Die.