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Video Game / Total War: Attila

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You built an empire beyond imagining: the pinnacle of human achievement and the envy of the world. Did you think it would last? The eternal city — that glorious monument to power, culture, and learning...but the old wolf lies wounded by jackals, circled by vultures, worried to death by a thousand, tiny, faceless mouths, brought low by your own arrogance. These are the death throes of Rome. The light of civilization dims and gutters. I leave such precious time left to hide your women, for your children to cry. Even at the moment of your final defeat, you will take no comfort in oblivion — for I am coming for you. I RIDE WITH A MILLION WARRIORS! I BRING THE END OF DAYS! I AM! THE SCOURGE! OF GOD!...And I will watch your world...burn.
—' Attila the Hun', announcement trailer

Total War: Attila is a stand-alone game in the Total War saga that serves as a sequel to both Total War: Rome II and Rome: Total War's Barbarian Invasion expansion; it places the player in Late Antiquity, as the Western Roman Empire slowly dies and various Germanic tribes threaten the imperial borders, a new enemy arises from the steppes of the east, bent on destroying everything and everyone that stands in their way.

The player is able to, as with the original Barbarian Invasion, take control of one of the many barbarian tribes of the time, the mighty Sassanid Empire to the east, or The Roman Empire itself, either its prosperous Eastern half (what would be known in time as the Byzantine Empire), the dying Western half, or as the mighty Hun horde, led eventually by the titular Attila the Hun.


The game reintroduces the family tree note  and adds other features that focus on destruction and the apocalyptic nature of the time period, such as setting fire to entire cities and settlements on the battle map, ordinary people fighting side by side with your army against the invaders, diseases that will spawn more frequently and will kill both citizens and armies, and the ability to raze entire provinces, utterly destroying the city that was there. On top of all these, climate change will progressively reduce the fertility of many lands across the map.

Expansion packs

  1. The Last Roman was released on 25 June 2015, and follows the exploits of the legendary Eastern Roman Empire general, Flavius Belisarius, in reconquering the ruined remains of the Western Roman Empire. It adds several new factions to play as in a mini-campaign, including the Roman Expedition that features a unique Roman horde play-style, extensive narrative-based missions, and an entirely new campaign. Said campaign also features the bubonic plague (i.e. the Plague of Justinian, manifesting as a powerful disease in-game) which historically ended Justinian I's ambitions of re-unifying the Empire.
  2. Age of Charlemagne was released on 10 December 2015, set in an entirely different time period from the base game: the dawn of the Middle Ages. It features a huge new Campaign focused primarily in Western Europe, along with special early medieval-era units such as proto-knights and huscarls, eight new playable factions, new tech and buildings, and unique features, such as War Weariness, and story-based Kingdom Events.

This game provides examples of:

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  • 100% Adoration Rating: Generals with traits from the Favored Line note  can be considered this. Any province they govern has increased public order, any army they command has increased integrity, and they gain personal influence.
  • Accent Tropes: As in previous games, each faction has its own respective accents with variations occurring among units and agents.
    • The Norse and Germanic tribes are Guttural Growlers who speak in vague, Dutch-accented English that can just pass for a "Scandinavian" or "German" accent. The Norse and Germanic champion agent basically sounds like a more aggressive Arnold Schwarzenegger.
    • The "Eastern" factions (meaning North African, East African, Arabian, and Iranian factions) all speak with Arabian accents, despite this game taking place before the spread of Arabic as a lingua franca throughout those regions.
    • The Huns are Guttural Growlers who speak with vaguely East Asian accents.
    • Romans and the derivative factions speak in The Queen's Latin.
  • After the End: The DLC campaign pack The Last Roman, which takes place after the main game, and follows Belisarius reconquering the territories of the fallen Western Roman Empire from the Barbarian Kingdoms.
  • Age Lift: The real Emperor Honorius was 11 when the game starts, as opposed to his age of 16 in the game.
  • Alternate History: If you so choose. It's quite unavoidable if you're playing some of the more obscure factions like the Jutes, as you're basically encouraged to forge a continent-spanning empire in order to win the game.
    • You can potentially save the Roman Empire, altering the entire course of European history. It's a real challenge though.
    • The game pretty much encourages you to make your own alternate histories, such as the Saxons conquering Britannia centuries ahead of schedule, the Franks invading the territories of Soussoins before the fall of Rome, or the Kingdom of Asturias completing The Reconquista in the 800s.
    • The historical Battle of Ravenna. You play as the last remnants of the Western Roman army fighting against Odoacer's Germanic tribe. If you win, you have saved the Western Roman Empire from the person who historically destroyed it. It's even possible to kill Odoacer 17 years ahead of schedule.
  • Amazon Brigade: Some Celtic factions have units made up entirely of female warriors.
  • Ambiguous Situation: The description of the trait Dead Inside reads as follows: "Someone silence that mewling child...". The child could refer to one of the Character's victims, or it could refer to the character himself.
  • Armor-Piercing Attack: Armor-piercing damage in the game will cause that damage to hit targets immediately, without any chance of armor reducing it. The primary weapons that are your best bet against armored units are axes and javelins (which also do so much normal damage that odds are good most of its damage will not be stopped by armor anyway). Crossbows are much less common, but are practically made for going through armor. Pikes don't really do a lot of damage in general, but almost all of it is armor-piercing. All archer units have access to heavy shot which fires much slower, but does more damage and armor-piercing damage, and the fairly common Precision Shot ability for ranged units, which gives their temporary higher damage a chance to largely bypass heavy armor. Siege weapons of course will probably obliterate anyone they hit. Additionally, bonus damage based on unit type (such as spears against cavalry or elephants or heavy shot arrows against infantry) ignores armor entirely.
  • All Jews Are Ashkenazi: Averted. The only Jewish faction at the start of the game is Himyar, a Proud Warrior kingdom of Arabic Jews.
  • Aluminium Christmas Trees: Yes, the crossbow was already being used in Europe at this time.
  • Anachronism Stew: The various Germanic (and Nordic) factions have access to pikemen whose weapons resemble Macedonian sarissae and can form pike phalanxes. While there is an account of Germanic tribes using pikes, it comes from the timeframe of 'Rome II', which was a few hundred years prior to the timeframe of this game.
  • Antagonist Title: Attila will make his appearance and weight known as the game comes to an end.
  • "Arabian Nights" Days: The Emirate of Cordoba in the Age of Charlemagne is definitely this. It's a rather unusual example since they're a emirate based in Al-Andalus (i.e. any parts of Spain controlled by Muslims) as opposed to the desert-covered Arabia in fiction.
  • Arc Words: Several as the game goes on.
    • Intro: "The air was filled with smoke and blood," spoken at the beginning of each faction's intro cinematic. Similarly, at the end of each cinematic, "They made ready for war."
    • Act 1: "And behold a red horse, and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth."
    • Act 2: "And I beheld a black horse, and he that sat on him had a pair of scales in his hand..."
  • Art Shift: The Age of Charlemagne DLC has an art style influenced by early medieval illustrations in stark contrast to the base game and The Last Roman.
  • Artistic License – History: Par the course for a Total War title, it's extremely likely for events to progress in a way during the campaign that completely derails all over established history. An example to illustrate this: it is very likely for Attila the Hun to die in 445 AD. In Germano-Sarmatia. Fighting Geatish Vikings.
    • During the Alpha, Western Roman Empire is Catholic while Eastern Roman Empire is Orthodox. However, the split occurred in the 11th century. This error was corrected in the release version, as both Roman factions' religions are renamed to Latin and Greek Christians respectively.note 
    • It's dreadfully common to come across one or two Germanic tribes in western Europe who have decided to convert to Tengriism. This can be decades before Attila comes along to get the Huns' shit together also.note 
    • Attila tends to become the Hunnic faction leader around 425 AD or so, when in history he actually ruled the Huns from 434 AD till his death in 453 AD.
    • He's also scripted to die of natural causes in 445 AD. 8 years before his historical death in 453 AD. Bleda's the one who died in 445 AD, which allowed Attila to gain control of his half of the horde. If anything, after 445 AD he should be even more dangerous.
    • The various Germanic (and Nordic) factions all have access to pikemen whose weapons resemble Macedonian sarissae. While there is an account of Germanic tribes using pikes, it comes from the time-frame of 'Rome II'.
    • Sclavenians practicing Turkic Shamanism. This was rectified with the Slavic Nations Culture Pack, where they now practice Slavic Paganism.
    • At game launch, the Alans were considered a Germanic people and got several Germanic units; in real life, they were an Iranian ethnic group, not Germanic. This was corrected by free DLC; now the Alans have their own identity and unit roster.
    • The Nomadic factions tend to be very East-Asian like, something that, while plausible and relatively grounded in history, is somewhat exaggerated if you take into account that the hordes were composed of various tribes from all the over the Eurasian steppe, which means that some of them should have European or Central Asian features.
      • This is most noticeable for the Huns themselves, who were something akin to a confederation of Turkic and Mongol tribes. Ironically, it's only Attila himself who looks at all Turkic or Mongolic.note 
      • The musical theme for the Huns is based on Mongolian throat-singing. This is reasonable as we have absolutely no idea what real Hunnic music sounded like, but it's still music from a different culture over a thousand years later.
      • Overall, the Huns are characterized as proto-Mongols, which fits a historical conception that traced their origins back to the Xiongnu, a Mongolic people from which a branch (the northern Xiongnu) was expelled by the Han dynasty into the western steppes; this view however is now viewed as incomplete since there is a gap of around three hundred years between the expulsion of the Xiongnu and the arrival of the Huns, in turn meaning that the Huns couldn't have gone through the Eurasian steppe without contact and influence from other nomadic peoples.
    • The Visigothic faction religion is Germanic Paganism. Historically, they would've been Arian Christians by this point.
    • The High King of Ireland at the time of the game was Nath Í mac Fiachrach, but the faction leader for the Ebdanians is a fictional character called Voseniosnote . Also, Ireland's religious status at the start of the game is 100% Celtic Pagan, but the 5th century chronicler Prosper of Aquitaine recorded that there were Christian communities in Ireland at the time. Finally, Ebdanians isn't their name: it's the Eblani or Eblanii, with Ebdanians coming from Ebdani, which is believed to have been a simple transcription error in several copies of Ptolemy's Geography. They also weren't anywhere near the only tribe in Ireland, nor were they necessarily the most important.
      • As well, the Ebdanians have access to galloglasses, who wouldn't exist until the 13th century AD.
    • The royal families of every faction has the ability to choose the heir AND to adopt generals into the family, and when the faction leader dies, the entire realm passes to the new Faction Leader. In real life, several of the factions depicted (such as the Franks) had gavelkind inheritance (the realm and its wealth are divided among the ruler's surviving sons). The exclusion of different inheritance restrictions is likely an Anti-Frustration Features as losing 3/4 of your kingdom upon your ruler's death could very easily ruin the game.
    • The Bretons and Basques in The Last Roman expansion are Germanic(!).
    • When playing as the Sassanid Empire, the introduction video mentions that Emperor Valerian was killed by having molten gold poured down his throat. While this was indeed one account of how he died, it was only one of many accounts. The only thing certain was that he died as a Sassanid captive. Besides the molten gold account, other accounts mentioned that he could have been flayed alive or even lived in relatively good conditions.
  • Artifact Title: The Last Roman and Age of Charlemagne expansions take place well after the historic conquests of Attila the Hun in the base game.
  • "Ass" in Ambassador: If you are negotiating with a country that has poor relations with yours, then the diplomat you speak to will speak rudely to you and insult you, even if they accept your deal.
  • Asskicking Equals Authority: The quickest way for someone to gain influence is to lead an army to victory. Influence is necessary for basically every political action, meaning a successful general has a lot more political power than a successful governor.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: A majority of the faction leaders are generals who kick ass in battle.
    • Subverted with Western Roman Empire faction leader Flavius Honorius Augustus, who has the traits "Out of Favor" and "Indecisive Attacker"; you can choose to Double Subvert it if you want however.
  • An Axe to Grind: Done by almost everyone who isn't a Roman, but most well by the Nordic factions; whose Nordic Axe Warbands, Nordic Raid Leaders, and Berserkers can easily hack apart even the most difficult foes and the Jute Royal Huskarls are killing machines in another level.
  • Back from the Brink:
    • One of the historical battles is the Battle of Ravenna, which ended in real life with General Odoacer deposing the last Western Roman Emperor and wiping the Empire out in 476. You play as General Orestes, and must prevent exactly this from happening. Win the battle, and you get a message implying this trope.
    • The Kingdom of Asturias in the "Age of Charlemange" campaign. After the Visigothic and Subian Kingdoms were destroyed by Muslim invaders, a Sole Survivor Visigoth nobleman flees into the northern hills and founded the kingdom. If you play as them, you receive missions telling you to reconquer all of Spain.
  • Badass Army: Pretty much everybody in the game will have their moments.
  • Badass Bystander: Civilians during sieges will sometimes stand and fight instead of fleeing.
  • Barbarian Tribe: Most of the factions are this in some form. The Celts, Alans, Slavs, and several varieties of Germanic tribes are tribal confederations where every adult male (and some of the women) is a potential fighter, and who can migrate into fertile, civilized lands when their own homelands become infertile. The Hun hordes are even more barbaric, being so committed to nomadism that they can never settle down and exist only to plunder. And in the Desert Kingdoms, the line between "civilized" and "barbarian" factions is blurred almost to invisibility, as the chieftains of desert tribes govern and profit from wealthy merchant cities.
  • Battle Couple: Some Germanic and Celtic wives have "Shieldmaiden" and "Spearmaiden" traits that improve their husband's combat ability.
  • Belief Makes You Stupid: Researching religious technologies as a Roman Faction results in the disabling of legacy technologies. In other words, researching Canonical Law prevents you from ever again constructing a Library.
  • The Berserker: Any unit with the Berserk trait - Norse, Vandal and Celtic varieties exist in Exactly What It Says on the Tin examples, though there are other units with the trait and not the exact name. They fight with axes, shields and are Walking Shirtless Scenes, aside from the Vandals who use swords and actually are wearing shirts. Those with the Frenzy and Killing Spree abilities may also qualify, if to a lesser extent, though the Frenzy ability becomes downright common in the later tiers of Norse units. Contrary to most expectations, the best Berserkers come not from any Norse faction, but the Germanic Langobards' actually-armored Godansmen and Godan's Chosen.
    • In The Last Roman, only the Vandals contain playable ones - though the Langobards exist as an enemy faction and still have their signature melee units with the Berserk trait. In the Age of Charlemagne, only the Danes keep the berserkers - this time with swords, armor, and wearing a wolf hide over their helmets.
    • Additionally, there is a berserker line of traits that barbarian generals can earn. It starts with "Shieldbiter", then "Axe-Friend", and ends with, of course, "Berserker"...
    ''This man: if you see him coming, run. Just run. Fast!
  • Big Bad: Given that his name is in the game’s very title, and the fact that he poses the single biggest threat in the game, Attila is rather obviously this on a character standpoint. For the same latter reason, the Huns are this on a faction standpoint.
    • Big Bad Duumvirate: Though, on the latter standpoint, there’s also the White Huns to consider. While lacking any particularly special characters, they make up for it by having what is arguably a more dangerous roster of units, with Xionite Spears and Spet Xyon Archers being standouts.
  • Bloodless Carnage: Can be Averted if you own the Blood and Fire DLC. Trust us, it's messy.
  • Blood Lust: The entire Germanic race seems to be possessed of it. Even their horses seem to have a taste for the stuff.
    "I'll cut out your heart and EAT it in front of you!!!"
    • Attila too.
    "I remember as a boy that I had few loves in this world. My father had once presented me with a new born lamb, and when I had come to cherish it above all things, my father made me it slit its throat. It made me strong. You are all lambs, sent forth to the slaughter to appease me. But I am not appeased."
  • Blood Knight: Every damn faction in the game. More so than any other Total War title to date, and why not? This was basically the Blood Knight's zenith 'til the dawn of the Viking Age.
    • Hell, sometimes the faction leaders will openly insult you for daring to suggest the very notion of peace!
    "What? PEACE?! Be thankful I do not rip out your peace loving tongue for daring to speak such words!"
    "Our warriors grow restless! Slitting your throats will be an end to their boredom!"
    • note 
  • Blood-Splattered Warrior: In addition to in-game soldiers becoming this in pretty much any melee with the Blood & Burning DLC, there's a line of traits for champions improving their ability for skirmishing, assaulting and guerrilla activity titled after this trope: "Dirty Blade", "Blood-Soaked" and "Gore-Drenched". The last one's flavor text imply they've gone all-out Ax-Crazy with a love for There Is No Kill Like Overkill.
    "For the love of the gods! He's already really dead!"
  • Born in the Saddle:
    • The Hunnic factions are the archetype, so much so that they can never adopt a settled lifestyle, instead keeping their entire civilization (or what passes for one) on the move at all times. They favor horse units and especially Horse Archers (though they do have foot soldiers available).
    • The Alans are the finest horsemen in the world, and that includes the Huns. The broken and scattered children of Sarmatia, the Alans likewise do have foot soldiers, but they receive a special bonus to horse units, and also have some of the statistically most powerful horsemen in the game. While Cataphracts are more iconically associated with the Romans and Persians, the Alans' Sarmatian Cataphracts are superior to the original Persian model, and some are even archers as well. The patch to their unit roster emphasized this; now they have no dedicated spear infantry or foot archers at all, but a lot of cavalry choices.
  • Butt-Monkey: If any faction is going to get beat up on in the trailers, it's the Romans, particularly the West. Justified, as in this time period the Western Roman Empire was falling apart and its armies were a shadow of their former self. Not to mention the Sassanids were giving the ERE a hard time as well.
  • Call-Back: The rebel factions that appear in the Roman Empire bear icons that are similar to the most prominent faction of that region in Rome II.
  • Call-Forward: The main menu of the game is similar to the one in Medieval II: Total War and its expansions.
  • Cavalry Betrayal: The Tanukhids have it in their backstory that they used to be foedati to the Roman Empire, and that they revolted when the Roman Empire tried forcing them to abandon their faith.
  • Cavalry Refusal: The Lakhmids and the Vandals all have it in their backstory that the Roman Empire promised them help in a war against enemies but never fulfilled this promise.
  • Clever Crows: The raven is a barbarian symbol for cunning.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Your priests can be one, as indicated by a line of traits. Fortunately for their owners, this is only beneficial to their ability to betray as well as compromising command or security - there are no penalties that make them likely to turn out to be a Fake Defector or anything.
  • Crapsack World: The 4th and 5th centuries were not pleasant times to live in, and it shows in these games. The sacking of cities, the execution of POWs, and the execution of entire settlements are all acts that happen with regular occurrence.
    • In the Eastern and Western Roman Empires, immigrants are flooding in to escape from the hordes outside the gate (the West ALWAYS has immigration), famines and food shortages occur every other winter if you fail to build enough farms (which you probably won't be able to afford to), plagues will ravage your cities if you don't build enough sanitation buildings to combat the squalor (which you absolutely won't be able to afford to), the military is beleaguered by barbarian hordes, and civil wars are inevitable. This is most visible during battles that take place in Roman cities: there are ruins around the cities, amphitheaters and theaters are abandoned (the former taken over by squatters, the latter overgrown with grass and shrubs), and the residential buildings appear dilapidated. If you are defending a Roman city with only the local garrison, then God help you; the best you can hope for is a Pyrrhic Victory in which half your army dies defending a choke-point, but the more likely outcome is a Last Stand in which the barbarians burn neighborhoods to the ground, kill any civilians unable to hide in the buildings, slaughter the people, loots their corpses, and move on.
    • The Migration Factions are forced to find new lands fast, because if they don't, they will be exterminated by the cooling climate and merciless Huns. Whether player controlled or AI controlled, a Migration Horde that doesn't succeed in finding new lands usually ends up getting wiped out in a nasty defeat.
    • The Huns are having the time of their lives. They're stronger than any of the migrating hordes and far stronger than the splinters of Rome, and can freely rampage across Europe, leaving fire and death in their wake. But Huns can't build a settled kingdom; they can only destroy.
  • Cruelty Is the Only Option: The Tutorial has you playing as the Visigoths during their split with the Ostrogoths. After capturing an Ostrogoth Settlement, you are forced to sack it. Unlike in the rest of the game, merely occupying the settlement is not an option.
  • The Cycle of Empires: The Western Roman Empire at the start of the game is in the Decay Phase.
  • Damn You, Muscle Memory!: Players of Rome II were caught by surprise when they couldn't attach agents to their armies note , or found out that every province has to be self-sufficient in food.
    • Players of Age of Charlemagne were definitely not expecting fisheries in this campaign to not provide monetary income.
  • Darker and Edgier: Not only when compared to Barbarian Invasion; this is also the darkest and most realistic of all the Total War series:
    • The weather of the world will render many areas barren as time goes by, forcing many of the factions (or even you) to flee or face starvation. On a related note, every province now has to be self-sufficient in food, forcing players to devote buildings to food production in every province.
    • Fire is a much more powerful and dreadful tool, as it can destroy entire cities and make them uninhabitable.
    • The destruction of a city has an impact on the morale of the armies defending it and, for the first time, civilians are shown to either stand their ground or escape the destruction, which, if a settlement is too damaged, will happen anyway, as people won't live in a warzone.
    • You will have to raze cities at times, given the logistical and tactical difficulty in properly maintaining them, and rebuilding the infrastructure of a province from scratch comes at a high cost in both money and manpower.
    • Armies and navies now have integrity, that is, the general morale during the campaigns. If depleted, the army will commit mutiny and suffer attrition.
    • Power is now better held in the middle ground; too much power and your people will hate you, too little and there will be endless civil wars.
    • As your empire grows, you will be faced with corruption and mismanagement inside of your provinces which will sap your general income, thus making the prospect and profit of simple expansion even less desirable. note 
    • As the game progresses, you will have to face the Hunnic horde, and unlike previous installments, you will have to deal with the collateral damage of their expansion (population fleeing and migrating to better lands).
    • Age of Charlemagne introduces War Weariness: The people's morale will be determined by how much you wage war, as they much prefer that their king engage in fewer wars and end them as soon as possible.
  • Dangerous Deserter: There is one mercenary unit found in desert regions called "Desert Legionary Defectors" which can be hired by Rome's enemies. Subverted in that they can also be hired by Roman generals.
  • Darkness Equals Death: Generals with one of the three Fear of the Dark Traits note  believe this, and as such are worse commanders during night battles.
  • Dark Age Europe: The Last Roman takes place in the mid 6th century after the Barbarian Kingdoms had successfully conquered the Western Roman Empire.
  • Dawn of an Era: Age of Charlemagne is set at the very beginning of the medieval era and the Carolingian Renaissance.
    • The main campaign itself presents Christianity spreading out among Europe with a cutscene of a Germanic warrior praying at a makeshift shrine of stones with a cross made of sticks upon it as the player goes into the final chapter of the campaign.
  • Death of the Old Gods: All of the campaigns in this game involve the rise of Christianity and the decline of pagan faiths.
    • In the main campaign, Greco-Roman Paganism has been usurped by Christianity as the religion of the Roman Empire, and it is very slowly but surely losing its following. Likewise, most of the Germanic tribes almost always abandon Germanic Paganism and adopt Christianity sooner or later. Celtic Paganism is likewise under threat in Britain, though with the Celtic kingdoms' corner position and Roman Britain on the verge of collapse, it has a much better chance of survival. Though this can be averted (The Romans can convert cities to Greco-Roman Paganism with Theaters, while the Germanic and Celtic tribes can conquer lands and build temples).
      • Ironically, many players prefer to go native as the Western Roman Empire and convert to another religion when they get the opportunity since the Latin Christian churches they initially use incur a taxing maintenance cost.
    • In The Last Roman, Greco-Roman Paganism is almost finished off and Germanic Paganism is not even present (all the Germanic tribes present had converted to Christianity by this point). And you can't even convert as Theaters no longer convert people to Greco-Roman Paganism.
    • In Age of Charlemagne, Greco-Roman Paganism and Celtic Paganism have both been completely eradicated. Germanic Paganism (now just called "paganism") is on the decline as Charlemagne's empire invades Saxony and forces them to accept Christianity.
  • Decapitated Army: Even on the harder difficulties, losing your general or killing the enemy general can lead to major routing.
  • Difficult, but Awesome: Surviving as the Western Roman Empire after players brought stability to their provinces. Their armies have great morale and discipline, not to mention having an alliance with the Eastern Roman Empire. The problem is that at gamestart, the Empire has crippling income problems and faces massive internal revolts - and to be honest, it's often better to let the rebels win for a while, because that means you have fewer provinces to defend and less corruption sapping your income.
  • The Dreaded: The Huns as a whole and Attila especially are given this treatment in-game, rampaging across the map and leaving fire and death in their wake. The Biblical apocalyptic motifs in the trailers and cutscenes don't hurt.

  • Easy Logistics: Played with. Your armies will replenish over time in friendly territory, but the units will regain strength faster if they are garrisoned in a settlement and replenish even faster if said settlement can train that unit. On the other hand, razed provinces can be deathly grounds for armies, regular and horde alike, and is best avoided. Unlike in Rome II, Food is calculated at the provincial level; every province has to be self-sufficient.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: After a fashion.
    • The Norse peoples are not only playable but are also depicted as increasingly resembling the infamous Vikings of later centuries. It's not for nothing the DLC pack to play their factions is titled "Viking Forefathers".
    • The Eastern Roman Empire's socioeconomic transitions and unique units foreshadow its appearance in older Total War games as the Byzantine Empire. And by The Last Roman DLC, it's well underway.
    • The Magyars and the Sclavenians, ancestors to the Hungarians and the Slavs respectively are minor factions in the game.
    • Some of the factions in Age of Charlemagne were given traits and/or icons that foreshadow their appearance in the Low Middle Ages such as Barcelona or Bavaria.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: While difficult, it is possible for someone playing as the Western Roman Empire to drive the Barbarians out of the land, restore public order, and rebuild the crumbling Empire.
  • End of an Age: A common thematic across the different campaigns is the closing of a time to open another.
    • The main campaign focuses on the fall of Rome and the violent closing of Classical Antiquity that gave way to the Late Antiquity. An ice age is driving the Barbarian Tribes south across Rome's borders in search of more fertile lands, while the Huns pillage and burn everything in sight. Rome is losing its advanced construction technology, its roads, its waterworks and its old Greco-Roman pagan religion, and the entire empire is reorganizing itself around the Church, sowing the seeds that will give way to the feudal system that will dominate Europe in the coming centuries.
    • The Last Roman features the final shrine of the Roman Empire, with Belisarius, the titular last classical Roman commander.
    • The Age of Charlemagne campaign acts as the closing chapter of Late Antiquity and with it, the start of the Middle Ages.
  • Equal-Opportunity Evil: The Huns are the Scourge of God and exist solely to destroy, but their army was recruited from everywhere from the western edges of China to the eastern fringe of Europe. The White Huns one-up them; they combine steppe cavalrymen with Indian soldiers from the Hindu Kush, and even Indian elephants (previously a Persian monopoly).
  • Evil Is Deathly Cold: Part of the apocalypse in the game. It's not just armies that you have to fear, it's also the changing climate that's dropping temperatures across Europe, forcing the tribes to migrate to the remaining warmer areas or risk starvation.
  • Fighting for a Homeland: Certain factions will, if their last city is captured, pack up everything and migrate elsewhere to carve out a new home.
  • Final Solution: One thing you can do to a captured enemy city is raze it. This completely destroys the city, leaving the entire region depopulated as presumably everyone within either dies violently, starves, freezes to death, or migrates. The General leading the army that commits this horrible crime receives no repercussions - not even a negative trait.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: Commanders with one of the traits in the Out Of Favor chain note  fit this category. They lose influence every turn, armies they command have reduced integrity, and any province they govern have reduced public order.
  • Generic Doomsday Villain: Attila's a badass villain, no doubt and the game magnificently plays up his aura of menace and dread, but the guy's still pretty much portrayed as inhumanly evil. His end goal is presented more or less as wanting to destroy the world just to watch it burn, with no exploration of any other motivation or driving goal. His time as a Roman hostage is also glossed over. Nevertheless, a lot of this may be due to the fact that the game narrative device seems to be of a historian recounting past events and thus presenting Attila as a monster. In the game itself, you can talk to the guy and he's pretty honorable so long as you're on his good side.
    Attila: They said I was savage. That I was bloodthirsty. Men of words, they give name to those who fill history's pages with the oblivion of Man. [...] I fear no judgement. Open your books, "learned man" and write in blood: I am Attila! I am the scourge of God! By what name will they know you?
  • Going Native:
    • The Eastern Roman Empire gradually undergoes this as differences emerge from its Western counterpart, foreshadowing its Byzantine fate. By The Last Roman, it's gotten to the point wherein unit upgrades for Belisarius' expedition shift from Latin to Greek, such as with Skutatoi infantry.
    • An in-game mechanic in which factions can convert religions if their territory contains a 35% following of that faith. Most often seen when Germanic-Pagan factions invade Roman Lands, settle in them, then convert to Christianity.
  • Götterdämmerung: The end of the Western Roman Empire, which culminated in the sack of Rome itself by the Goths. The only chance - a slim chance - of subverting this trope is if you play as The Roman Empire.
  • Guide Dang It!: The game does not tell you at all that trade resources provide small global bonuses to your faction when acquired.
  • Handicapped Badass: The traits for generals and governors being sickly, or losing some vital body part are rough, but enough ranks could potentially let them get past that. The "Blind" trait however, will remove five points from every stat and guarantee that the best general can only be of middling capabilities after being afflicted by it.
  • Happily Adopted: In the game, you are allowed to adopt characters as your sons.
    • In The Last Roman Campaign, Belisarius's wife sends him an event at one point, asking him to adopt a boy named Theodosius. Accepting grants you a son with TWO special combat abilities. Ultimately a subversion though, as Theodosius ends up sleeping with your wife.
  • Hegemonic Empire: Unlike the Romans, the Sassanid Empire consists of its central core provinces and several puppet kingdoms as opposed to one contiguous empire.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: one possible event in your court is for a stonemason to offer his services to you. In truth, he is an assassin and if you accept he tries to kill your faction leader and one of your governors, generals, or other statesmen jumps in front of the blade to save your life at the cost of his own.
  • Hold the Line: In the Main Campaign, the army of the Roman Empire is greatly overstretched. The result is that very often, the only people defending a Roman city or town during an attack will be the local garrison. However, these outnumbered and beleaguered units CAN still successfully defend by taking advantage of choke-points.
    • The Limitari Border-guards actually invoke this trope: they are meant to pin invaders down long enough for one of the main armies to finish them off.
    • Generals with the Confident Defender traits note  and Gate Keeper traits note  excel in this sort of combat.
  • The Horde / Hordes from the East:
    • The Huns, and to a minor extent the Great Migrators (Visigoths, Ostrogoths, Vandals and Alans). They all start without a capital city and are always on the move till they decide to conquer one and make it their own. The Huns however are the only faction that can never settle down, thus having to be always a horde.
    • The White Huns are a group of these on the Sassanid Persian frontier.
  • Horny Vikings: The Norse factions have traits and units that foreshadow their transformation into the medieval Vikings. By the Age of Charlemagne campaign, the Kingdom of the Danes faction have fully become it.
  • Horse Archer: The Huns have this as a hat. It's one of the many reasons why facing them in an open field is a terrible idea unless you have clear numeric superiority and most of your army is comprised of Germanic or Nordic Spear Masters.
    • The Sassanids have a special rarely-seen variant of this trope in a unit - Horse Crossbowmen.
  • Horsemen of the Apocalypse: As part of the apocalyptic theme of the game.
  • Historical Villain Upgrade: There are sadly a few examples.
    • Attila The Hun in The Main Campaign is portrayed as an Omnicidal Maniac bent on destroying the world just to watch it burn. While most historians today agree he was something of a monster, this game leaves out the few good things about him and greatly oversimplifies his motivations. No Freudian Excuse for Attila!
    • Emperor Justinian in The Last Roman campaign is portrayed as a spoilt brat holding Belisarius back from the greatness he deserves. In truth, Justinian was a genius in his own right and counted Belisarius among not only his best allies but also his closest friends.
  • Hunk: Characters with the trait "Good Looking". They have a small increase in authority and an increased chance of having children.
  • Javelin Thrower: Javelinmen are the great equalizer in Total War: Attila - only the heaviest units in the game can hope to survive the most basic javelin skirmisher infantry unit tossing all of their ammunition into a shield-uncovered side, and even they will probably lose at least third of their men in short order. While they have the shortest range out of ranged weaponry and the least amount of possible volleys, their damage is significant and their fire-rate nearly as good. Javelins may be used by melee infantry and cavalry as well as skirmisher cavalry, though dedicated skirmisher infantry units carry the most ammunition.
    • Many Roman melee infantry, however, actually hurl plumbata darts instead of true javelins.
  • Kill It with Fire: Fire takes a more important position, as you can now set cities ablaze. As more of a city is ruined, the defenders' morale drops.
  • Lack of Empathy: There is a 'callous' line of traits for champions. It goes "Pitiless", "Heartless" and last, "Dead Inside". It is completely beneficial to their abilities to first raid settlements, sabotage buildings, and lastly, assault characters.
  • Last of His Kind: Flavius Belisarius in The Last Roman DLC campaign is described as the last of the classical Roman commanders.
  • Lightning Bruiser: Particularly good Heavy Cavalry is this, of course, but in a faction-wide example, one thing that makes the Huns (and by extension, the White Huns) so terrifying and so hard to fight isn't just that they're strong and able to frighten your units, but also that they're fast. Their cavalry is among the speediest in the game (none of their cavalry units have speed stats below 80) as well as being among the most hard-hitting, with standout examples at the top of their tech trees include the Nokkors, the First Wave Lancers, and Devil Archers.
  • Losing the Team Spirit: A new mechanic for sieges exists in Attila - a city can be wrecked by fire or siege weapons during an attack on it (or even before it as the attacking army sieges the settlement over the course of some seasons), and as its state worsens, the defenders will lose morale.
  • The Low Middle Ages:
    • The Last Roman focuses on the Eastern Roman Empire's attempts to retake the fallen territories of the Western Roman Empire from the Barbarian Kingdoms.
    • Age of Charlemagne is set in this period with medieval feudalism in full swing and the rise of Charlemagne's kingdom.

  • Magikarp Power: The Christian religions. At first glance, it seems nigh insane to stick with the religion, considering the major upkeep costs of their religious buildings, but these costs can be dealt with as your faction's economy improves, and their lack of a food cost will pay off later as the world's climate worsens and would otherwise highly restrict you from many building combinations without the food for them. Their major religious buildings and Sees also have a lot of religious osmosis bonuses, making the Christian religions uniquely capable of converting and actually holding onto a lot of conquered territory later in the game while the other factions note  are stuck playing survival strategy as is usual for Attila. Granted, all of these benefits will still later compete with the significant -10 morale penalty that will be inflicted on your troops while they're fighting the Huns...
  • Mighty Glacier: Herculiani Seniores from the Western Romans are heavily armored and slow-moving, and can also shred most other units in melee combat (even the feared Huns), making them one of the best infantry units in the game, albeit very expensive and at the end of the tech tree.
    • Heavy Infantry in general fit this trope well (as with other Total War games), but for a rare Cavalry example, take the Alani Heavy Cataphracts or Sarmatian Cataphract Lancers, two units from the Alans. VERY slow (they both have a measly Speed Stat of 45, compared to most cavalry units having speed stats in the range of 60-100), but well armored and able to hold their ground against even the best of the Hunnic Cavalry, as well as even heavy infantry.
  • Moveset Clone: Both the Viking Forefathers and Slavic Nations factions are this. Literally, the only difference between each of the three factions in both of those culture packs is two unique units, one of which is an Elite Mook version of the other. Otherwise, each faction within those culture packs has the exact same selection of units.
  • Muscles Are Meaningful: Characters with the Healthy line of traits note  are implied to be very muscular and robust. This decreases their chance of being hurt by agents and increases their lifespan.
  • Nerf: Compared to Rome II, agents are now harder to recruit and they become harder to train note 
    • Age of Charlemagne nerfed fisheries so that they only produce food.
  • Nintendo Hard:
    • There's a reason why "survival strategy" is highly emphasized when playing as the Western Roman Empire. It's the first faction in the series to get the difficulty rating of legendary.
    • Playing as the Eastern Roman Empire is relatively easier compared to its Western counterpart, given its better stability, technology and economy. By relatively, it means defending against both the Sassanid Empire to the east and keeping the various barbarian factions from reaching Constantinople.
  • Nothing Is the Same Anymore:
    • Even if you manage to get the Western Roman Empire back on its feet, the civic technologies actually encourages you to decentralize the state and has various trappings of conceptual feudalism.
    • The Eastern Roman Empire meanwhile is directed such that it gradually develops its own Byzantine identity. One that while still Roman, is more evidently embracing Greek and Eastern Christian influences.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: When you defeat an enemy army and execute hundreds of enemy soldiers taken prisoner, one turn after said army finished razing or sacking one of your cities.
  • Pointy-Haired Boss: Governors with the Inefficient Administrator Traits note  have this. It reduces their authority as governor and decreases the amount of taxes acquired in the province where they are governor.
  • Poisoned Weapons: Poisoned arrows were introduced with the Slavic Nations Culture Pack. All three Slavic factions have access to Poison Archers, but the Anteans have access to specialty Poison Archers with even more potent poisons. Should a unit be struck be the arrows, the results are devastating. The unit will literally start having its numbers drop like flies in seconds at a rate bordering on Game-Breaker territory. Those results are with the regular poisoned arrows, let alone the unique Antean poisons.
  • Promoted to Playable: From Barbarian Invasion: Played straight with the Ostrogoths, zigzagged with the Sarmatians (there is no longer a "Sarmatian" faction, as it has been turned into more accurate tribal confederations, of which the Alans (who were represented by Rebels in BI) are playable, though all the others are (as of yet) unplayable), inverted with the Alemanni (initially) and an exaggerated example with the White Huns who were only present on some of the leftover game files. With DLC taken into consideration, played straight with the Norsemen (represented by the Saxons in BI (they're now divided into the Geats, Danes, and Jutes), Celts (now represented by the Ebdanians, Picts, and Caledonians), Burgundii, and Lombardi.
    • Inverted in a different case with the Roxolani and Armenia, who were playable in Total War: Rome II but aren't playable here (yet).
    • The Empire of Sand DLC makes the Aksum, Himyar, and Lahkmids who are mere side factions to playable ones.
  • Proud Merchant Race:
    • The Aksumites' kingdom is built on their dominance of the silk and spice routes, and their faction bonuses relate to commerce and to hiring mercenaries.
    • The Eastern Romans fall into this due to the nature of their government. Unlike the West, they have an efficient and powerful monarchy that provides both effective tariff collection and a measure of stability in these dark times, which in turn provides incentives for commercial growth. The Empire even generates interest on its treasury.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: Everybody. But the Norse, Huns and Germanics are the most intense about it. Hell, even the Sassanids and Romans get on this; if you weren't a badass warrior during this period of history, you were a corpse.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: Aside from the usual "won but took excessive casualties in the process" also present in previous games, it's possible to successfully take or defend a city, only to realize that many, if not all, of the buildings have burned down during the siege, thus making the ravaged city a resource and time-consuming liability.
  • Pyromaniac: Champions' can have a line of (entirely beneficial) traits improving their ability to sabotage. The ultimate one is named "Pyrophiliac" with the flavor text "Flames are pretty."
  • Rags to Riches: Generals with the traits Poor Background, Freed Slave, or Novus Homo can be considered this. They were born into the lowest rung of your society, but by the time you recruit them, they have risen to be a trusted agent, general, or governor.
  • Rape, Pillage, and Burn: Some of the barbarian factions such as the Jutes and Saxons thrive on pillaging. Burning cities can also have an effect on an empire's economy.
  • Rated M for Manly: Probably the single manliest strategy game ever created that doesn't have the Warhammer 40,000 label attached to it. And even then, it's more of an equal partnership at the top.
    • The Germanic and Norse Hero agent straddles the line between this and Testosterone Poisoning in his hyper-masculinity. The fact that they're one man armies who can reliably inflict massive losses on enemy warbands and are very good at killing enemy generals (including their bodyguards) doesn't help matters.
      • This makes a great deal of sense though when you take into account the enormous importance of heroism (in the original meaning of the word, badass, rather than someone who does moral things) to the Germanic and Norse cultures. They've also got chest-length beards and Barbarian Longhair.
      "I AM THE DESTROYER OF MEN!!!" note 
  • Real Men Love Jesus: The Christian factions fit this. In this World of Badass, they show that the followers of the new faith are capable of surviving and thriving. Subverted by the observation that players who play as the Roman empires have a better chance of surviving and thriving if they merely pay lip service to the religion, or convert to another religion. note 
  • Revenge: Characters with the Vendetta and Blood Feud traits are in the process of exacting this. It improves their zeal and makes political actions cheaper for them.
  • The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized: The Tanukhids and their revolt against the Eastern Roman Empire falls squarely into this. They have to sack enemy cities for food before settling down, and the first mission Queen Mavia gives you involves razing five Roman settlements. The final revolution mission even gives you the option to absorb your allies, stripping them of their independence and forcing them to convert to your religion. If they are unhappy too long, they might revolt against your rule.
  • Rugged Scar: Commanders with the "Distinguishing Scar" trait have one of these. It increases their authority and their chance of having children.
  • Salt the Earth: Razing undefendable provinces to deny their benefits to the enemy is a valid strategy, as they will have to invest far more resources and time into rebuilding it than if they captured it relatively intact. You also get some extra money for doing so. However, the razed province will permanently lose a fertility point, which, with the climate decline, will make untouched provinces far more worthy.
  • Savage Wolves: A very common motif for Norsemen, Germanics and Huns, as the wolf was an extremely important social and religious symbol for all three cultures.
  • Shown Their Work:
    • Unlike Barbarian Invasion, the cities are smaller and more heavily fortified than in the earlier period covered by Rome and Rome II, which was a consequence of the Diocletian reforms and the continuous militarization of the Empire.
    • For the Geats, the declared heir at the beginning of the game, just before Attila shows up, is Gizur, who lead the Geats against the Huns according to the Hervarar Saga. His son is Heidrek, but since Gizur has no wife it's clear that he's adopted, which is how it was in the Saga.
    • Another one for the Geats: there is a character by the name of Gautrek whose wife is deceased and thus suffers from the Heartbroken trait as a result. This is a reference to Gautrek's saga, where historically Gautrek fell into a depression due to the death of his wife. This probably also doubles as Genius Bonus, given how few people would recognise it. Bonus points if you remarry him to a character with the Shieldmaiden trait.
    • One of the main bonus objectives for the opening chapter of the game while playing as the Geats is to sack Rugion and Gothicscandza, which are located right where many historians believe is one of the candidates for the land known as Reidgotaland, the land which the Geatish king Dag supposedly pillaged in vengeance for the death of his sparrow.
    • If you look closely at that picture of Attila, you'll notice his face is pretty heavily scarred, a reference to Jordane's description of the Hunnic people where he claimed that Hunnic mothers would ritualistically scar their children's cheeks, thus explaining the scarred look of the Hun.note 
    • Another example is the very aspect of the cities in the Western Roman Empire: if you look carefully, the church is always the central building. This is because with the decline on the civil and urban service, the administration of the cities fell upon the bishops, who were at the time elected by the inhabitants of the cities.
    • In contrast with Barbarian Invasion, armies no longer have anachronical helmets or armour, such as the Romans, Saxons or Norse, but rather the equipment that was available by the time period, such as the Attican Helmet, which was outdated by the Late Antiquity.
  • Shout-Out: There are so many damn ones in this game, many of them to other barbarian themed fiction, that it's not even funny.
    • One of the unit responses after ordering a Barbarian/Norse army to raid is "We shall hear the lamentation of their women!"
      • There's another one in the flavour text for the Inexorable Warband perk — "Crush your enemies and see them driven before you!"
      • Yet another one! What's a possible name for a Barbarian Kingdoms or Norsemen warband? The Children of Doom. Hell, you can even get a screwy looking snake-and-sun standard!
      • It can't be coincidence that one of the banner options for a Barbarian/Norse army looks suspiciously like the Wheel of Pain amulet?
      • Your Barbarian or Norsemen army can also be called "The Trees of Woe". Crucifying your enemies has never been so badass.
    • Your commander's misshapen? He is not an animal! He is a man!
    • A commander with the Fearless Warrior perk moves for NO man.
    • The final army perk for the Barbarians is Furor Barbaricus, which is an actual Graeco-Latin term which basically translates to "fury of the barbarian", but is probably also a reference to the Heidevolk song, Furor Teutonicus. Which is about the same thing.
    • One of the traits in the Hunnic general trees has this delightful flavour text: "For I beheld him, as he fell from heaven LIKE LIGHTNING!"
    • The Irresolute trait has the flavor text "Yes. No. Maybe. I don't know!", which is most of the opening verse for They Might Be Giants' "Boss of Me" song, which was used as the theme song for Malcolm in the Middle.
    • A common refrain from Roman units upon selection is "Heaven can wait!", which is possibly referencing some song or another with that title.
    • The Ruse Skill for Heroes says "Look over there! A three-headed monkey!"
    • The descriptions for buildings in the fur production tree contain lyrics from "Hungry Like the Wolf" by Duran Duran.
      • Namely, the descriptions for the tier 1 and tier 2 buildings are "In touch with the ground. On the hunt." and "Stalked in the forest, too close to hide."
    • There's an ancillary called the Heroic Germanic Warrior. What's the flavour text for it? "If it bleeds, we can kill it!". That's right, you can get Arnold (or one of his ancestors) to aid you in this game.
    • A possible name for a Barbarian Kingdoms/Norsemen warband is The Brothers of Metal. Needless to say, such an army is clearly destined to be the single most badass fighting force in all history.
    • Once again, one of the generic names for Celtic armies is The Rolling Menhirs (Menhirs are standing stones that were religiously significant to ancient Celtic peoples).
    • The text for the last trait of a Germanic/Norse general is this: "This man became legend, legend became myth."
    • One of the possible names for a Germanic/Norse warband is one to Warcraft of all things — the Frost Wolves.
    • The description for the Dreaded Reavers tradition says "We are your salvation through destruction.", a take on Harbinger from Mass Effect 2's "That which you know as Reapers are your salvation through destruction." line
    • A possible Hunnic warband can be named "The Steppe Wolves", which may or may not be a reference to Steppenwolf.
    • Description for the Exclucatores (javelinmen): "These men have a particular set of skills. They will find you, and they will kill you."
    • One achievement asks you to embezzle 10,000 credits, and is labelled as 'Resting In My Account'.
    • Stock comments of the Sassanid spies include: "All men must serve" and "A man has many faces".
    • The Roman Military tech, Language of Comradeship, reads By all that you hold dear on this good earth, I bid you stand!
    • The description for the 'Cavalry Commander' trait reads "Half a league, half a league, half a league onwards!"
    • In The Last Roman campaign, the Roman Expedition starts with two armies. They are called The Watchmen and The Brave Companions.
    • The first line of the description for the Tanukhids Mavia's Chosen unit is "Her name is a killing word".
    • The marketing for the Celts Culture Pack features female archers for the Caledonians, a reference to Brave. One of the archers shown in the promotional photos even bears a striking resemblance to Merida (due to having the same hairstyle and hair color).
    • In the Age of Charlemange campaign, characters can take the 'Motivator' skill. It's description reads "I believe in you. Don't believe in you, believe in ME who believes in you".
  • Shrouded in Myth: Many historical figures considered at least partially mythological are here tearing shit up as full blooded characters — such as the badass semi-mythical demigod Geatish king Dag (who even at 68 can beat down Danes, Burgundians and Rugians without breaking a sweat), the legendary Saxon warrior brothers Hengest and Horsa, Gizur the Geatish warlord who fought the Huns; Faramund the Merovingian, also present as the starting Frankish ruler and portrayed as duel wielding axes; and many, many more...
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: When you are playing as the Lakhmids, there is one event where the King of the Sassanid Empire insults your people. One of the options is to swallow your pride; the other is to tell him exactly where he can shove his superiority complex. From there, you get two more options; apologize or double down. This trope is deconstructed in that picking it and doubling down ends in the Sassanid King drunkenly trying to attack you, getting killed by your bodyguards, and the Sassanid Empire declaring war on you. Reconstructed if you have the military strength to win that war and dismantle your former oppressors.
  • Signs of the End Times: The game itself possesses an apocalyptic motif as it goes on.
  • Sole Survivor: The "Age of Charlemange" Campaign provides two of these. First is the Emirate of Cordoba founded by the Umyyad Prince Abd al-Rahman, who fled Damascus after the Abbasids murdered his entire family. Also in Iberia, we have The Kingdom of Asturias, founded by the Visigothic Nobleman Pelagius after Muslims invaded the Visigothic and Suebian Kingdoms.
  • The Starscream: Belisarius in The Last Roman DLC can opt to stop following Emperor Justinian's orders and proclaim himself the true Emperor of Rome.
  • Storyboarding the Apocalypse: The trailers have as their underlying thematic the four horsemen of the apocalypse.
    • Conquest: Eastern Roman Empire
    • War: Sassanid Empire
    • Famine: Visigoths
    • Death: Huns
  • Suicidal Pacifism: All three levels of the pacifist trait note  are entirely negative. A general who has this trait reduces the integrity of his army and decreases public order across your entire faction. Justified in that this is a Crapsack World full of enemies who clamoring to Rape, Pillage, and Burn your lands, and refusing to fight against them is downright selfish.
  • Survival Horror: Has elements of the genre, aptly named Survival Strategy by the devs.
  • Technology Marches On: In-Universe, the new unit tier mechanic works likes this. As you advance in the military tech tree, many of your units will be able to be replaced with superior counterparts of themselves. The catch is that you will need to have the minimal infrastructure to support your army, or you will be left with a dead end in your game.
  • The Teetotaler: There is a line of traits for characters based around this. The first, "Sober" clearly has them be one, improving Authority and Cunning by one. "Abstemious" makes them practice abstinence in pretty much everything and give them two to Cunning and one to Zeal. "Painfully Teetotal" gives plus two to Zeal...and a penalty of one to Authority, because they're apparently a bit of an annoying Soapbox Sadie about their teetotalism.
  • Terror Hero: Champions can have a line of 'cruel' traits which implies they have a reputation built around this. "Daunting", "Intimidating" and "Terrifying" will improve their chances of stopping a target with trapping, converting them with oppressing, and reduce recruitment capacity with guerrilla activity.
    "A raise of an eyebrow is enough to turn men's bowels to water."
  • Time Skip:
    • The Last Roman DLC campaign pack moves the timeframe to the early Dark Ages, during the days of Belisarius and Emperor Justinian's reign.
    • The Age of Charlemagne meanwhile fast-forwards a few centuries further to the actual dawn of the Middle Ages.
  • Turbulent Priest: Priests can inspire your armies, demoralize enemy armies, incite rebellions, and commit outright murder.
  • Unexpectedly Realistic Gameplay: The game shows the after-effects of war and how taxing attacking cities can be. Razing or rebuilding cities can greatly affect your empire's economy and the morale of your citizens and armies. Things will not be as easy as putting things back together like game board pieces.
    • Even further highlighted in The Age of Charlemagne with the inclusion of "War Weariness" as a game mechanic. Which makes fighting multiple wars on many fronts for a prolonged period of time a guaranteed way of harming your own people.* Uriah Gambit: As in most Total War games, sending a detrimental general on vacation in enemy territory with no backup is a great way to be rid of him. Emperor Honorius of the Western Roman Empire is a particularly popular candidate for this.
  • Vestigial Empire: The game is set during the last years of the Western Roman Empire. It starts with a massive territory and ranks number 1 on the power list. However, most of its cities suffer from terrible public order, poor hygiene, alien religion and its armies are sparsely located in remote provinces. However, it is in an alliance with the Eastern Roman Empire which rank number 2 in the power list and start with more technology than barbarian factions.
  • Villainous Incest: Downplayed. While incest never occurs in-game, the results of it are represented by character traits note . Being inbred makes a general or agent less effective overall.
  • Villain Protagonist:
    • The Hunnic factions since they do tons of pillaging, plundering and the razing of entire cities and towns or outright subjugation of other nations. Unlike other playable factions, you can't even peacefully occupy the major settlement of a province. note 
    • This can happen with other factions if the player chooses to burn down or sack enemy provinces.
  • War Is Hell: The most notorious example of the series, with the new destruction and razing mechanics. You can actually go around slaughtering civillians on the battle map, and the game shows in horrifying detail what sieges do to cities, add in the Blood and Fire DLC amount of gore splashing in every direction.
  • Warrior Poet: The Norse and Germanic faction leaders speak in kennings, which makes them sound like this. Of course, this is really done just to make their badass-boasts sound cooler. For instance, war is referred to as "sword-bite" and "shield-crash".
  • We Have Reserves: Averted beyond a certain point. The maximum number of units any side can commit in one battle is 40, spread over two armies. Any extra armies or units are only useful as physical obstacles.
  • Welcome Back, Traitor: In African and Middle Eastern provinces, there is one mercenary unit called "Mercenary Desert Legion Defectors" ... both the Eastern and Western Roman Empires can hire these bands of deserters to fight in their army. Justified in that some generals would be willing to overlook past desertions in exchange for extra soldiers.
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: Queen Mavia of the Tanukhids fits this trope. When you play as that faction, Queen Mavia's first mission briefing states that you strike her as being "semi-competent" and that she didn't want to hand control of her army to you. If you complete all the missions, she admits on the last one that she thought you'd have died before this point. Bear in mind that the Tanukhids faction leader, the person she's presumably giving these briefings to, is her adopted son Tubbakarib.
  • What If?: In The Last Roman, the Roman Expedition has the option of breaking away from the Roman Empire, and Belisarius proclaiming himself the Emperor of Rome.
  • World of Ham: Just look at all the quotes on this page! Boisterous barbarians proclaiming their manly love of war and bloodshed, while Attila announces to everyone that the world will burn.