- Angst? What Angst?: If you choose to exterminate the populace of a city you've just captured, roughly 2/3 of the population will be killed. However, the city will then be happier as a result than they would have been if you simply occupied it. This is because overcrowding is no longer an issue, and since that is one of the main sources of unhappiness, the remaining populous will be happier.
- Awesome Music: The soundtrack is full of fantastic music with pounding drums, menacing strings, and (of course) Ominous Latin Chanting which sounds like it came straight out of Gladiator.
- Demonic Spiders:
- Chariots. While they have enough weaknesses to turn them into a Glass Cannon, you typically need to specially prepare your army to take advantage of the "Glass" part and they can still deal a lot of damage thanks to the "Cannon" part. Even with an army kitted out to be as anti-chariot as possible, expect a lot of casualties in any battle where the enemy deploys a high number of chariots.
- Cataphracts. They are Lightning Bruiser units with very few counters. While they are the slowest horse cavalry units in the game, they are still much faster than any infantry and their Foe-Tossing Charge is second only to elephants in damage. Thanks to their heavy armor, they can even stand up to all but the most elite spear infantry in protracted melee combat as well. Thankfully, they are a high tier unit in the tech tree, they're very expensive, and they can only be recruited by a few factions - the normally perpetually broke Parthia and Armenia who will struggle to afford them and can only surround them with weak infantry and Horse Archers, and the Seleucid Empire, who can afford them as well as back them up with all of the might of a Hellenic power...but usually doesn't last long enough in the campaign for this to matter.
- Game-Breaking Bug: In certain instances, the "handlers" of a unit of War Dogs may all be killed or routed, but the dogs will continue to fight on. When told to attack the dogs, your units will be unable to target the dogs themselves. This can lead to a handful of dogs shredding lines upon lines of your units while you're completely unable to do anything other than try to run from them. More than a few players have edited the game's text files to remove War Dogs from unit rosters in frustration.
- God Damn Bats:
- Missile Cavalry, especially Horse Archers. They're the fastest units in the game, are programmed to fall back as soon as an enemy unit approaches, and can shoot at you as they fall back. Expect a Marathon Battle whenever you face an army employing many missile cavalry units, as even if you defeat the rest of the army, you'll spend quite a while chasing the missile cavalry units around the battlefield until you're lucky enough to box them in or they run out of ammo and decide to retreat.
- Rebel armies. They can pop up anywhere, ambush you, block the paths of your armies and agents, and cause devastation in the province they're in. Since they can pop up anywhere, even in the heart of your empire where its possible that there has been nothing but peace and prosperity for decades, you're forced to maintain garrisons of troops capable of chasing them off at all times. They're generally not very threatening, but if they happen to ambush a lone General traveling between cities or a single unit of soldiers on their way to a waypoint, they can become dangerous.
- Good Bad Bugs:
- It's possible for assassins in Rome to assassinate themselves. And yes - they absolutely can fail to do so.
- There is an apparent glitch that happens when a Phalanx unit goes into phalanx formation at the mouth of a bridge - some of the men don't stop moving but they instantly kill any approaching enemies regardless of armor and hitpoints.
- Growing the Beard: Most fans look at Rome as the point in which the Total War series, as we know it today, really established itself. It made some fairly significant changes away from the style of Shogun and Medieval and laid the foundation on which all future games would build and grow.
- Nintendo Hard: Playing the Barbarian Invasion campaign as the Western Roman Empire. You start off almost completely bankrupt, are beset on all sides by powerful enemies gunning for your territory (including the borderline Game-Breaker Huns), and merely hitting the "End Turn" button comes with the significant risk of half your territory rebelling. This one is at least historically justified, since the collapse of the Western Empire is precisely what allows for the barbarian invasion to happen. Even Total War veterans consider it one of the greatest challenges in the series.
- Padding: The game is quite slow moving. Most of your turns will be spent constructing buildings, recruiting and waypointing troops, and scanning your territory for rebels and possible invaders. Big epic battles, despite being a selling point for the game, do not tend to occur all that frequently.
- "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny: Tends to get this reaction from players who were introduced to the series by one of the later games. Rome was a critical and financial hit when it was released, and really set in motion many of the best aspects of the series that were built upon by the games that followed. However, the still-primitive diplomatic system, Suicidally Overconfident campaign AI (even on higher difficulty settings), and the easily exploited battle AI tend to turn a good number of players off who are used to the sophistication of later games in the series.
- That One Attack: Chariot charges. They're second only to elephants in how much they can disrupt your lines. They, like elephants, can be panicked with fire attacks, but they're much faster so you may only get off one volley of fire before the chariots go from out of range to your front lines. Also, the factions with access to chariots, especially Egypt, tend to recruit them in far greater numbers than factions who can recruit elephant units do.
- WTH, Costuming Department?: A common reaction when facing off against a Parthian army for the first time. Never in the history of warfare has there been a more glorious display of the colour pink.
YMMV / Rome: Total War