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Civilization Guide: Rome (BNW)

Civilization Guide: Rome

  1. Lordleoz

    Augustus Caesar​


    The Roman Empire was one of the most remarkable and long-lived political entities in the history of Western Civilization. Founded in the Apennines in 753 BC, the city of Rome quickly expanded and came to govern most of Italy. In 509 BC the king of Rome was overthrown and the age of the Roman Republic began. It was ruled by a combination of the senate and the people. Amid the political crisis of Late Roman Republic, Julius Caesar, who later became the dictator of Rome, began a civil war that practically overturned the Roman Republic. In 27 BC, the in-game leader, Augustus Caesar (63 BC - 14 AD), born Gaius Octavius, quelled the chaos and became the first emperor of Rome. The Roman Empire began with his long and successful reign.

    Being a wise and industrious Roman Emperor, Augustus Caesar brought a golden age for Rome, known as Pax Romana. During his long rule of 41 years, Rome regained peace and prosperity and also succeeded in several campaigns in Egypt, Spain and part of Germany.

    The Romans proved themselves to be ferocious warriors, great builders and shrewd politicians. They were great innovators and also adopted good ideas they found in other cultures. Through years of glorious conquest, Rome came to dominate all the lands of the Mediterranean, from France and Spain in the west to Syria in the east, and much of England. During their long rule, the Romans greatly shaped the Western culture, law, art, architecture, religion, language and warfare.

    Key Concepts

    • Bee Line: The act of prioritizing a tech in the course of your research, often to the detriment of other technologies.
    • Wide empire: An empire of numerous cities that are under-developed in comparison to a Tall Empire.
    • Tall empire: An empire of a small number of cities (usually 4 or under 4) that tend to be well developed.
    • REX: Rapid Early eXpansion.
    The Glory of Rome - Unique Ability
    I found Rome a city of brick and left it a city of marble. - Augustus Caesar

    +25% :c5production: towards any buildings that already exist in the :c5capital: capital

    The Roman unique ability improves the building construction speed in non-capital cities. As you will be constructing buildings throughout the game, your non-capital cities can ramp up quicker than other civilizations' cities, allowing you to gain an edge in other areas of the game earlier. With the help of 'the Glory of Rome', Rome can be both tall and wide and become a great economic power.

    "The Glory of Rome" is a long-term unique ability that can save a considerable amount of investment of time for construction in your cities over the course of the game. As an example, let's assume you are in the ancient era and you have a city with 5 :c5production: per turn. Let's also assume that you need to build a monument (40 hammers), a shrine (40 hammers), a granary (60 hammers), and a library (75 hammers) - a total of 43 turns worth of construction (a bit less assuming :c5food: growth of the city). With 'the Glory of Rome', and the appropriate buildings in your capital, you can save 9 turns (34 turns for the same buildings; fewer turns with growth). With the turns saved, you can build one more unit or building than other civilizations. As well, you will enjoy the benefit provided by each building earlier (faster granary = earlier start for :c5food: growth = earlier increase in :c5production: to be utilized for the next building).

    If Rome is captured and another city, for instance, Antium, becomes your capital, the production bonus will still exist. Other cities will gain 25% :c5production: towards buildings that exist in Antium. However, never let that happen.

    Leveraging "the Glory of Rome"

    Strategy wise, Rome's UA leads you towards founding a relatively wide empire. The more cities you have, the more benefits you can enjoy from the UA. Rome can REX through either peaceful expansion or military conquest, but the latter is recommended given Rome's early UU combo. As puppets will also utilize the UA bonus, they will be able to build defensive buildings and gold, producing buildings more quickly than non-Roman puppets. Building a large puppet empire is especially beneficial because normally, puppet cities only construct buildings, not units. Since you cannot purchase buildings in puppet cities and the building queue in puppet cities is always slower than that of your capital, you'll always be sure that you are using the UA.

    An important limiter of the unique ability is the requirement to have your capital constantly ahead of the curve with respect to new buildings. You will want to either ensure that Rome is in a high :c5food:/:c5production: area (for fast :c5production: based construction) or ensure that you have plenty of :c5gold: ready to rush buy buildings in Rome. Buildings that increase :c5production:, like Workshops, Windmills, and Factories, should be especially prioritized in Rome. Generally speaking, rush buying buildings in Rome is the better plan, as that leaves your high production capital free to build wonders or units while ensuring that you are always using your UA. This also means that you should consider moving your initial settler for a turn or two so that you can find a nice capital location - if the start location isn't optimal for :c5food:/:c5production:. You may also want to move your initial settler to a coastal tile for better income from trade routes, which shall be discussed soon.

    One way to get gold that would be invested in capital is through military conquests. In the early stages of the game, you can pillage enemy tiles in order to accrue enough money for your investment in cities.

    BNW adds an interesting new concept that is incredibly useful in helping the capital Rome to increase its production. Domestic trade routes can give Rome a huge boost. As soon as another city gets a Granary and a Trade Caravan, it can send 4 :c5food: to Rome without losing anything from itself! This amount can be doubled via a Cargo Ship, if that city and Rome are both coastal. With a Workshop in the sending city, you can send :c5production: to Rome. It also means that quickly researching Metal Casting, which unlocks Workshops, is something to consider. If Rome is already ahead of other cities' building queues, production from trade routes to other cities will also be very beneficial, as the amount of production can be effectively multiplied by 1.25 due to Rome's UA.

    "The Glory of Rome" is a useful long-term unique ability and saves a considerable amount of investment in building construction in your cities.

    Legion - Unique Unit
    Veni, vidi, vici. -- Julius Caesar

    Cost: 75 :c5production: or 390 :c5gold:

    Combat: 17 :c5strength:

    Movement: 2 :c5moves:

    Requirement: Iron Working, Iron

    Replaces: Swordsman

    Speciality: Capable of building roads and forts

    Legions are versatile melee units, meaning that they can fight well in open or rough terrain, defend cities and attack enemy cities. With a much higher combat strength than the Swordsman (14 combat strength) they replace, and the later Pikeman (16 combat strength), Legions can dominate the battlefield for a long time -- until Longswordsmen come into play. With their ability to build roads and forts, you can prepare a battlefield outside of a target city without pulling workers away from improving tiles around your own cities. This will allow you to bring in reinforcements faster as well as being able to form a City Connection with that city promptly after conquering it.

    In order to utilize Legions quickly, you should consider a beeline to Iron Working, or prioritize Writing and build the Great Library right away to bulb Iron Working fast. Because Bronze Working reveals Iron on the map, it is also highly recommended to get Bronze Working before the 2nd settler (the settler after the initial one) is built (or just let the settler wait for a while until BW is researched). This allows you to identify where to settle your second city to get quick access to Iron.

    However, Legions, like Swordsmen, are pretty expensive to buy as a new unit (see the table below).

    Name :c5strength: Combat :c5moves: Movement :c5production: Cost :c5gold: Cost Ratio of :c5gold:/:c5production:
    Warrior 8 2 40 200 5
    Spearman 11 2 56 260 4.64
    Swordsman 14 2 75 390 5.2
    Legion 17 2 75 390 5.2
    Pikeman 16 2 90 370 4.11

    When you calculate the ratio of gold cost/production cost, you will find that Legions have the highest ratio for units near their combat strength. Unlike with other unit types, you can build or buy Warriors and then upgrade them to Legions (80 :c5gold:). As Warriors do not become obsolete until Metal Casting, as well as only costing 200 :c5gold: to buy, you will save 110 :c5gold: per rush bought Warrior/upgrade vs. rush buying a Legion. Given that Warriors are fairly cheap to produce in any city, you can have all of your cities building Warriors and then spend only the upgrade cost to make your Legions. This is a great way to ensure that you have a constant supply of units ready to become Legions as you expand your empire and gain more Iron.

    Examples and Screenshots of Legions
    Spoiler :

    Roman Legions bullying a city-state

    Spoiler :

    Roman Legions attacking an English Spearman

    Spoiler :

    Legion building roads.

    Ballista - Unique Unit

    Cost: 75 :c5production: or 390 :c5gold:

    Combat Strength: 8 :c5strength:

    Ranged Strength: 10 :c5rangedstrength:

    Range: 2

    Movement: 2 :c5moves:

    Requirement: Mathematics

    Replaces: Catapult


    The first promotion for your Ballista is where you'll make your choice: accuracy I or barrage I, depending on the terrain. Next, since Ballistas are almost as strong as Chariot Archers and Composite Bowmen, they can be used to attack units as well as cities. This means that they can be quickly promoted with accuracy II or barrage II, and then accuracy III or barrage III. With these three upgrades, Ballistas will do a good job in any circumstances. Moreover, these three promotions unlock the strong Logistics and Range promotions. However, most Ballistas should still be promoted with Volley, which provides +50% ranged strength against fortified units and cities. They become more specialized in attacking cities, which is their primary job, and will be even more effective than siege I Legions.

    Examples and Screenshots of Ballista
    Spoiler :

    Ballista firing at Spearman.

    Synergy between Legion and Ballista

    Rome's best bet to conquer their way into an empire is to utilize both of their unique units at the same time. Away from cities, Legions are adequate to crush your enemy with minor ranged support from the Ballistas. A good strategy is to choose your own battleground, setting Ballistas on hills and putting the Legions in front of them. Use the range of the Ballistas to soften up the enemy units, then finish them off with the Legions (flanking support is best). You can also utilize Zone of Control to use Legions to protect the Ballista, like this:
    Spoiler :

    Looks like the 2 Roman Ballista are vulnerable to the attack from the English Warrior, but its way is blocked by the selected Roman Legion, while the Ballista can still fire freely at the Warrior.

    Besieging Cities

    When you can finally move into the area of an enemy city, the roles of the Legion and the Ballistas flip. You will want to use the Legions to kill or push enemy units away from the enemy city. Once that job is complete, position your Ballistas near the city to maximize the number of ranged attacks you can perform on the next turn. At this point, fortify wounded Legions to have the AI attack them instead of your Ballistas.

    You can also pillage tiles to add 25 HP to your units. If your Ballistas do get attacked, they can pillage the tile that they are on and still attack on the same turn. As long as you have 2-3 Ballistas prepared for the first round of attacks, you shouldn't need more than 2 rounds to take a city (including Legions to finish off the city). According to my experience, tougher cities, like a walled one on a hill, will require at least 3 Ballistas and strong Legion support to take down.

    Rome Specific Strategies

    Rome's ability to warmonger in the early stages of the game will require you to emphasize maintaining your empire's happiness if you go that route. The unhappiness penalties for too many cities, or population, will slow the development of your empire. Fortunately, there are enough policies and beliefs that will help you deal with the happiness problem. Although you can last in a protracted war state, do not choose too many policies and beliefs which favor war, as Legions and Ballistas are already be able to carry you through by themselves. More generally though, due to its UA, you do not have to play Rome solely as a warmongering civilization, like the Huns or Mongolia. Economy, production and happiness should not be neglected and they are relatively easy for Rome to get.

    In order to continue leveraging the Glory of Rome throughout the game, you should choose policies, beliefs and city locations to increase the base :c5production: in every city because they could be added up with the +25% bonus. As later game buildings tend to favour production over rush buying (due to cost ratio), you should focus on the production buildings (Windmill, Factory, Hydro Plant, etc.) earlier than you would for another civilization. These buildings will be built faster and therefore provide more production earlier.

    About Social Policies

    Rome can benefit from any social policy tree, but the two most useful policy trees for Rome are Liberty and Commerce.

    • Liberty: The best social policy tree opening for building a wide empire. The combination with "the Glory of Rome" allows for both major expansion and development of your empire. Given that you want to emphasize production early in your cities, taking the free worker at Citizenship (before taking Republic) allows you to focus on early buildings (Monument, Shrine, Granary) in Rome, which means that future cities will gain the UA benefit right away. Collective Rule also facilitates a quick start, eliminating the need to build or buy your second Settler, and providing a Settler production boost. Once you start rapidly expanding, Meritocracy :)c5happy: happiness) and Representation (free :c5goldenage: golden age and reduced cost for future policies) will allow you to grow your cities as well as gain another production boost right as you are constructing all of the basic buildings in your new empire. Combined with Republic and the Glory of Rome, your cities will be gaining a +50% :c5production: boost during golden ages. Finally, the free Great Person is a nice early boost. Typically you should choose a Great Engineer and rush a wonder or use it for a Manufactory near Rome. This will allow Rome to finish buildings earlier as well as gain a nice boost to Wonder construction. Sometimes, you can also locate the Manufactory tile between Rome and another city, allowing the second city to make occasional use of the Manufactory, effectively increasing the Manufactory's value by 25% from the Glory of Rome.

    • Commerce: A strong economy is the basis for continued success, especially for a wide empire like Rome. While Commerce has a number of beneficial policies in it to boost your empire (depending on the map type), Trade Unions, Mercantilism and Protectionism are especially helpful for a wide Roman empire. Having less :c5gold: cost (and therefore raising your GPT income) as well as gaining more :c5happy: from the luxuries you posses allows you to continue growing and maintaining a large empire. Moreover, the finisher of the Commerce branch is excellent because it provides +1 :c5gold: for every trading post. This could be a huge financial boost as a warmongering Rome tends to gain a number of puppet cities - which usually work trading posts instead of farms.
    Other policy trees can be of use to you depending on your situation. Rationalism drives a Science Victory and has nice policies for a wide tech civ. Tradition has free buildings that help build up an early economy and possesses quite a few bonuses for the capital. Since must of the utility of Rome's UA depends on having a strong capital, Tradition can be a strong alternative to Liberty, depending on map conditions.

    • Ideologies: For ideologies in the late game, if you run a specialist economy, and most cities already have a good amount of population, Freedom is an obvious choice. In most cases, however, Order should suit Rome best. Basically, Order is good for wide empires and expedites science victories since it has policies boosting science and spaceship production. Policies such as Socialist Realism, Academy of Sciences and Young Pioneers provide really high :c5happy: happiness bonuses with required buildings. With Rome's ability to construct buildings faster, these happiness points should be easy to get. Also, Five-year Plan and Party Leadership increase base yields in every city, and Five-year Plan is especially helpful because of its considerable base :c5production: production boost, which can be multiplied by 1.25 due to Rome's UA. Moreover, Iron Curtain increases the yields from domestic trade routes, which, as mentioned in "The Glory of Rome" section, can help you utilize the UA better. Finally, it has "Spaceflight Pioneers", which allows you to finish spaceship parts with Great Engineers. With Rome's strong economic ability, science victory should be its main focus.
    About Religion

    Similar to the majority of civilizations, Rome does not have a direct special faith ability to found a religion. What Rome does have is the Glory of Rome and a penchant for a wide empire. The Roman UA will help to build shrines and temples earlier (even if you do not open the Piety social policy tree), which leads to more faith produced sooner. As faith is not adjusted or limited by number of cities, the more shrines and temples you have, the sooner you can gain a religion. So Rome can indirectly get to a religion a little faster than other civs who do not have a faith boosting UB or UA.

    I. Pantheon Belief

    It is, not surprisingly, best to pick the beliefs that improve the kind of resources that are abundant around your starting location. However, the following beliefs will help if you do not have enough resources that can enjoy the benefits from pantheon beliefs.

    • Messenger of Gods: +2 :c5science: in every city that is connected with a City Connection. Roman Legions are capable of building roads and Rome tends to REX, so it's not difficult to form City Connections. Since it's a Pantheon Belief that comes very early, the science bonus it provides can be significant. If you are not struggling with unhappiness or slow population growth, it is definitely a good choice.

    • Goddess of Love: +1 :c5happy: from cities with 6+ population. It's never bad to have extra happiness and a per city happiness boost early in the game can help offset (when combined with Meritocracy) most of the unhappiness/city expansion costs. Although only your capital is likely to benefit from it immediately, through the process of the game the benefit from this belief will become more significant (Order opener equivalent).
    II. Founder Belief

    Since gold from river tiles is eliminated in BNW, Rome is very likely to run negative gold per turn in the early game (with the maintenance brought by an early army). As a result, religious beliefs that give gold should be very helpful.

    • Church Property: +2 :c5gold: for each city following this religion. Church Property can help you maintain and build an army in the early game. Also, with early gold, you can rush buy buildings in Rome so that other cities could enjoy the UA earlier. Church Property is a good choice when you have neighbours that will be assimilated into your empire.

    • Tithe: +1 :c5gold: per four followers of your religion. If you could manage to spread your religion to the world, then this founder belief will provide you with more gold than Church Property. You don't need to have the majority religion in all cities, so you can always gain gold from followers in other cities.

    • Initiation Rites: +100 :c5gold: when each city first converts to this religion. By getting gold early, you could rush buy buildings in Rome, thus utilize the UA better.
    III. Follower Belief (2 Choices)

    • Building Beliefs: These beliefs enable you to use :c5faith: to buy either a Cathedral, a Pagoda, a Mosque, or a Monastery. Pagodas are best among the four faith purchased building types as they provide the most happiness, which is usually needed by Rome. Large puppet empires usually gather a lot of faith so the ability to convert it to :c5happy: and :c5culture: per city is great for an ever expanding Rome. However, if Pagoda is already picked by another civilization, buying Mosques can still be good. Remember to faith buy these buildings early as the costs will rise per era.

    • Religious Center: +2 :c5happy: from temples in cities with at least 5 followers. If you are spending a lot of faith purchasing missionaries to spread your religion quickly, then taking Religious Centers allows you to gain the happiness without slowing your religious spread.

    • Asceticism: +1 :c5happy: from shrines in cities with at least 3 followers. In most cases it is better than Religious Center, especially if most of your cities are puppets because they will automatically build shrines, not temples. With Asceticism, you will see how Roman Stoicism shines upon your empire.
    IV. Enhancer Belief

    • Religious Texts: Religion spreads 25% faster (50% with Printing Press). This is the best option for the natural spread of religion, and has synergy with most Founder Beliefs. If you have chosen a faith purchased building as a belief, then this Enhancer belief will remove some of the need to buy Missionaries and Inquisitors.

    • Holy Order: Reduce the cost of Missionaries and Inquisitors by 30%. By reducing the cost of Missionaries, you can boost your Founder belief output quickly. If you are constantly conquering a lot of cities the 30% reduction in cost for Inquisitors allows you to convert those cities sooner.
    About Wonders

    • The Great Library: While not on the tech path towards Iron Working, the Great Library can be utilized (usually Emperor and below) to get the relatively high cost technology, Iron Working, more quickly. Also, Science Victory is one of the best victory conditions for Rome.

    • The Pyramids: Rome is likely to expand fast, so increasing the number and efficiency of workers is always nice. Combined with Liberty, Rome can have tile improvements completed very quickly (50%), which allows them to utilize a higher hammer base for their UA earlier.

    • Machu Picchu: This is a medieval era wonder that focuses on :c5gold: from :c5trade: City Connections. Rome tends to have more cities, and Roman Legions can build roads to their new cities instead of waiting for the workers to catch up. Given the higher costs of maintaining an army as well as building costs, more gold from the trade routes you're creating helps you a lot. For more information about City Connections (which prior to BNW were known as trade routes), check this article How do Trade Routes work?.

    • Notre Dame: The fast expansion of Rome can be hard limited by Global Happiness, so Notre Dame's 10 :c5happy: boost is great for Rome.

    • The Forbidden Palace: The reduced :c5angry: from :c5citizen: population in non-occupied cities is a huge bonus for Rome because Wide empires have more population than Tall empires, therefore you gain more from the wonder when going wide. However, there will be no need to go for this wonder if Patronage in the game does not seem like worthy enough to adopt.

    You can play Rome like the real Romans: conquer and build. Legion and Ballista, two powerful contemporary UUs, will help you gain much land early on. A strong early game will allow you to dominate your opponents. Combined with "the Glory of Rome," a strong long-term economic UA, Rome means to conquer, develop conquered cities, and conquer more.

    Happy Civing!