Rome: the best civ?

Ita Bear

Dec 8, 2020
Hello folks,
I've just won my first game on the third-from-highest difficulty (name escapes me at the moment!) as Rome, and I am really impressed at how well they play. They are by far my most played civ in Old World and I wouldn't hesitate to say they are a contender for the absolute best civ in the game, alongside maybe Greece. Their bonuses make for very fluid and forgiving gameplay. Old World is, at its core, a war game, and Rome are extremely well suited for that but they can also excel in other areas, too.

In terms of city families, you can play either correctly or incorrectly. Playing correctly means picking the Champions, the Landowners and the Statesmen. Playing incorrectly means switching any of these three for the Patrons. The Patrons are a fine family and help to address one of Rome's main weaknesses (namely, acquiring culture) but the other three just outclass them in every way in my experience. Champions is self-explanatory; you need a military family to succeed and these are your only choice. Their military bonus on top of Rome's built-in training bonus means their family seat can pump out units like you wouldn't believe. Landowners pay you for building farms and gaining growth which can be exploited with ruthless specialist spam. This gets your science rolling. At lower levels I could maybe understand why someone would want to play Patrons instead of Statesmen, but on higher levels where orders are at a premium, the order bonus per city is just too good to give away. Those extra orders move your units and build your improvements.

Romulus is actually a bit of a red-herring. I had more success making him governor than a general, at least initially, because the loss of power as a Tactician isn't worth the paralyzing effect. I want those tribal sites cleared immediately and fighting with Romulus gives the site more time to spawn reinforcements. Once backup arrives in the form of more warriors/militia, Romulus can excel as a general. I also struggled to gain culture as they don't have any culture related bonuses. I learnt here the importance of the Divination technology for Rome. Not only does it give some excellent temples (put the war one in your Champions city and the growth temple in your Landowners city!), it lets you found your paganism, they spread your borders and, crucially, let you get acolytes. Each acolyte gives you +2 science, for +8 total, alongside the rural specialists you are spamming in your Landowners city. You can really run away with science as Rome.

Funnily enough, I didn't research Trapping until turn 80 or so. There wasn't any need - I had no camps nearby, I wasn't hurting for training that barracks could replace and Rome's archery units receive no benefits and are quite underwhelming. Warriors, spears, hastati and legionaries won the day. Focus on getting the four laws needed for your first unique unit. Hastati sweep aside any tribal units and the Champions family produce excellent generals to give them some meaty bonuses. Legionaries are essentially an 'I win' button. Exploit them.

If you're looking at jumping up a difficulty level, I highly recommend Rome. They're flexible, forgiving and fun. Which civ do you think is best?
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