Best Factions in Medieval II: Total War (All Ranked)This post may contain affiliate links. If you buy something we may get a small commission at no extra cost to you. (Learn more).
I will always stand by what I’ve always said: Medieval II is still the best Total War game ever made.
I’m sure that I’m not just saying this because of a weird case of nostalgia, either. This game marked a “before and after” era on the Total War games, which has shaped them to become what they are today. And kept us eagerly awaiting the inevitable release of Medieval III, which quite frankly, is long overdue.
I do hope our wait doesn’t become a case of Half-Life 3… I trust CA to never let us down like that.
But if we’re going back to play this classic then you may want some faction ideas for your next playthrough. So let’s list out and rank all the Medieval II: Total War factions, to help you get a good grasp of what they offer and where to start a new campaign.
There’s been enough time for you to master the game if you’re a veteran but, if you’re new to Medieval II, you’re going to love what you’re about to read.
Friendly Disclaimer For Newer Players: Factions here don’t have the same level of diversity that they do in newer games.
You can pick up a new faction and still make it a useful one, without caring too much about their buffs or disadvantages, for the sheer fact that these factions didn’t have as many differences as they do in the newer games (particularly post Empire).
But let’s look into some of the differences, or at least some of the unique features that they all offer.
Are you looking to play with the hordes that come from the east in Medieval II?
Have you decided to start off here instead of in Attila: TW?
If the answer to both questions is yes, then your search is over. The Timurids allow you to play a cool and aggressive horde-style playstyle that will have you ravaging Europe, while expanding a barbaric Empire all across the realm of man.
Get ready to make some cavalry and get good at managing armies on a budget – your economy will mainly depend on raids!
Playing with Portugal is hard – there’s no other way around it.
Not only are the damn Moors trying to take the entire Iberian Peninsula, but the Spanish themselves are highly likely going to attack you sooner rather than later.
As such, you might need to attack first and take Iberia in the name of the Portuguese if you wish to stand a chance at survival.
If you happen to conquer it all, though, you’ll be set to become one of the strongest nations in the game. Even before the mid-game comes around.
The ambitious Milan faction has some very tough objectives, one of which is destroying the Holy Roman Empire if you opt to play a long campaign.
In short, Milan will have you retake Italy and make it truly yours. And kill off anything that resembles the once-mighty Roman Empire, which will help you become the true dominative Italian faction in the game.
They don’t really have any strong units other than the standard ones in the game (unfortunately) so you might need some military smarts if you really want to conquer the world as the Milanese.
Are you “hungry” for power?
Putting my mediocre pun aside, Hungary is quite a fun faction to play with if you’re going for a challenging domination of Europe.
You might be starting off surrounded by some of the strongest factions in the game, but winning a campaign with Hungary can end up being one of the most satisfying experiences that you can undergo in the world of Medieval II.
Fight your way through endless hordes of enemies and expand your empire towards any direction you want – if you’re a good enough general, that is!
Playing with Denmark is, quite frankly, not as challenging as a newcomer might think.
All you really need to do is clear out the rebel settlements that surround Denmark from the moment you start the game, and you’ll be good to go.
Once you’ve controlled all rebel settlements, you’ll have a strong economy. And you’ll be at a very good place geographically speaking.
Once you’re there, it’s up to you to decide where you want to expand.
Will you move directly towards England? Or will you expand into mainland Europe first? Possibilities are endless when playing with the Danes.
10. Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire is legendary. But we all know how things ended for them.
But with you at the helm, they might be able to hold off external invasions and fight off everything that surrounds them (trust me, there’s a lot of danger at the borders of the Byzantine Empire).
Your main goal when playing these guys will be to make a fortress out of your homeland. Which, being as spread out as it is, will be quite challenging to defend.
Solidifying your economy will be the first step that you’ll need to take in order to make yourself a contender for world domination.
Archers and cavalry will be your go-to units if you’re looking to quickly conquer the entire world with Egyptians.
Alas, you might want to start off by capturing Africa before moving onwards to the north, though.
Egypt has a few units that make them stand out. But you’ll find that the best way to kill your enemies will be by combining the might of your archers, with the extreme prowess of your cavalry, with the ability of your archers to pick off any remnants from your rushes.
Yes, playing Egypt is as fun as this short write-up sounds.
The starting position of the Turks, as well as their economy, isn’t really anything out of this world.
They have a pretty standard starting position that will allow you to choose any type of expansion that you’d prefer.
What really makes the Turks appealing to me is their majestic selection of units.
They have a couple of unique troops that make them stand out, and you’ll find your armies filled with the amazing Sipahis and Naffatun as they burst through enemy territory. And they’ll come charging with all the high and might that you’d expect from one of the strongest military nations in the game.
Russia, in terms of difficult factions, is arguably the most entertaining one to play.
They start off in the middle of nowhere with a single settlement, surrounded by barbarians, and with basically no contact with other civilizations.
Your main objective with Russia will be to amass a force of cavalry so big that it will virtually not matter that you’re stranded away from the rest.
You’ll be able to conquer the northernmost part of Europe quite easily, which will allow you to solidify an economy that will later help you to move onwards towards the rest of the world!
I’ll be completely honest with you: I’m half-Spanish, so I don’t really care too much for using the Moors to (probably) kill my ancestors.
They’re a fun faction to play with, though. And it does prove to be quite challenging to push your way through Spain and towards Europe, which makes them an interesting selection if you want a bit of a challenge in your next session.
You might first want to conquer Africa, though.
Push through the South, amass a strong enough army, and create a powerful economy. You’ll be well on your way to becoming the strongest faction in the game.
Well, time for more honesty: Venice is not the easiest faction to play with if you’re just starting out as a Medieval II player.
However, it’s an extremely fun campaign if you want to go for the short one instead of the long one.
All you really need to do is hold 15 provinces and get rid of the darn Milan and Byzantine factions, which will give you full control of Italy.
Venice starts in a very challenging position, though. You’ll have to fight your way through the lands of your neighbors, and you’ll be starting off with only a couple of territories!
Medieval France, in terms of territory, dominated basically what we know today as “Modern France”.
You’ll feel at home on the map, so there’s really not much to complain about if you’re looking for familiarity.
However, in terms of units, Medieval France was all about cavalry.
If you’re one to create armies that will push through the flanks of your enemies and make them bleed with the speed of a horse and the power of a spear, then you’re going to love the French.
Their infantry isn’t too shabby, either.
Ah, the famous battles between Spain and the Moors. I think there’s no better faction to play as if you truly want to retake control of the land that once belonged to you (but was unrightfully stolen).
Maybe those are just my Spanish roots speaking. But I honestly have a lot of fun playing with Spain.
Conquer Cordoba, kill the Moors, rebuild your economy, and start amassing an army that will(sooner rather than later) control the entirety of Europe.
Change the course of history and the entire Americas will belong to you. No one else will be left to set sail if you kill them all, right?
2. Holy Roman Empire
I mean, if you’re really looking for the most well-rounded faction in terms of economy, territories, units, and power, I think there’s no better faction to choose than the Holy Roman Empire.
You’ll be starting off the campaign with a grand 6 territories, giving you a huge chunk of Europe to deal with, and to truly rebuild the Roman Empire of old (even with their historical differences – I know).
You’ll also start in the middle of the damn map, which means that you get to choose where you want to expand towards. I’d even go as far as to say that an HRE playthrough is the best one for the sheer fact that every single time feels different.
So then wat’s the issue with the HRE, and why isn’t it at the top of my list, you ask?
There’s a simple reason: the Pope despises you from the beginning.
Not only that, but you’ll also have to deal with most of your enemies being Catholic. Which means you’ll be fighting a crusade almost as soon as the game starts (depending on how expansionist you decide to play).
If you don’t mind killing a catholic or three, then you’ll certainly enjoy using the HRE.
England was the first faction that I ever picked in this game when I first set myself on a quest to finish the campaign.
It’s safe to say that it’s still my favorite one. And it’s also safe to say that I’m not just saying this because of nostalgia, either.
I was pleasantly surprised to see that online, many people share the opinion of England being the best faction if you’re going for a full military conquest.
I mean really, if you want to fight the papal forces and endure a couple of crusades as you set yourself on a quest for total European domination, you’re going to want to pick the English.
These guys are lethal in so many ways that you’ll struggle to decide which units to produce.
Cannons, English warriors, and early access to muskets (if you develop gunpowder before others) will help you on your quest to conquer the Old World. And maybe even help you conquer the entire world if you’ve gotten your hands on one of those cool “full world map” mods that I really, really recommend you check out.