Best Factions In Total War: Rome II (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).
Rome II is one of those Total War games where factions truly feel unique, and the gameplay of each one makes you wonder how the others play.
Every tie that you pick up a new faction in this game, you end up feeling like you’re having to relearn how to make your way through the campaign.
That’s a fantastic experience for those who are looking for a challenge, albeit a terrible one for those who just want to play a light-hearted campaign.
This means that Rome 2 players tend to be among the most invested in the Total War franchise. I might not be a Rome 2 expert, but I am one to play a campaign at least once a year with a different faction. Let’s take a look at some of the best ones worth trying.
Ah, yes, a Celt faction.
There’s no better way to kickstart my list than with a Celt faction.
You’ll be starting your game already at war with your neighbors, with a couple of armies to build upon, and a small territory that will soon expand to become a proper empire – provided you know how to manage your economy and expand it alongside your conquests.
The Iceni is one of the best factions to play if you enjoy choosing at which pace you’d like to expand.
They’re located in a very isolated region of the British Isles, which allows you to choose which territories to conquer and how to build your own armies, regardless of the actions of other nations in the game.
You’ll start as a very barbaric tribe that will be looking to expand to the more civilized regions of Europe, so be prepared to take the might of the Iceni into mainland Europe. And into the powerful Roman Empire.
By the time you face the Romans, hell will be ready to break loose.
Are the Marcomanni the weakest starting civilization in the game? If you’re a newcomer to Total War, your answer will probably be yes.
Now, if you’re a veteran of the game… Well, your answer will probably still be yes.
This faction is terrible. And it’s the best one to play with if you’re looking for a real challenge.
The Marcomanni have virtually no defenses at all, they have one of the worse economies in the game, and their starting armies are terrible. In fact, this is the one faction that you often target when you find it nearby.
I really recommend this one to experienced players only. This is not the civilization to start your first playthrough with. You’ve been warned.
Are you a fan of cavalry and you like a challenge? If so, you’re going to love playing with the Massagetae.
These guys are some of the worst at siege battles in the entire game (partly because their roster is basically just cavalry). And you might want to reconsider your attacking strategies if you intend to expand towards factions that have access to walls.
Not only that, but these guys are quite a small tribe that’s surrounded by a handful of other and much stronger enemies.
You will be climbing a hill from the start of the game – an ideal challenge for those who feel like the game is “too easy”.
The Odrysian might not be the best civilization in the Hellenic peninsula.
But that’s arguably one of the reasons I think it’s one of the best to select from the start of the game.
They’re very difficult to manage at first, as other Hellenic tribes will look to destroy you from the beginning.
However, should you survive and create a strong army from the start, you’ll be able to expand into other territories and get a stronger hold of what will go to become Greece in the future.
Make sure to expand as much as possible and fend off the attacks from Macedon, Sparta, and Athens. The future of your people will depend on it.
The Masaesyli is one of the best desert civilizations, which means that your main goal with these guys will be to conquer Africa first and then decide what to do later.
One of the reasons why I’m giving you this piece of advice is because they have some battle effects that only trigger in the desert, which puts you at a disadvantage against other factions from the get-go.
The Masaesyli also has one major disadvantage: the research rate for all of their tech is much lower than other nations. You’ll be playing catch-up most of the time, so good luck if you choose to use them (definitely need a strategy!)
It’s one for the experienced players only, I’d say.
9. Barcid Dynasty
In terms of factions that are not an easy ride, the Barcid Dynasty is arguably one of the most difficult ones to play with. And that’s why I’ve added it so high into my list!
These guys have no public relation bonuses, which makes diplomacy quite a difficult issue to deal with. Even at the start of the campaign.
That’s not all, though – the Barcid Dynasty has a terrible starting position which puts you on the verge of war from the start of the game.
Still not happy?
Your lands are also divided into various client states. If you’re looking for a challenge, look no further and pick the Barcid Dynasty to start a new campaign with. Anyone who’s never tried them is in for a treat.
Do I really need to tell you why playing with Sparta would be fun?
These guys have some of the strongest warriors in the game – even though their starting position is a bit of a precarious one, with a powerful Athens as its main neighbors (tip: you might want to avoid conflict with Athens too early into the campaign).
Regardless, Sparta is one of the best factions to choose if you’re looking for a blood-thirsty, combat-ridden campaign.
Forget about the principles of democracy and the well-being of your foes; the Spartan warriors will kill anything that stands in their path.
So you love playing with horse hordes, you say? If so, Armenia is the faction to choose.
They have a very powerful cavalry roster and great ranged bonuses (they have 25% additional ammunition in all of their ranged units), so it allows for fantastic rush-and-shoot gameplay that differs from the norm in this Total War title.
I had a lot of fun in my Armenia playthrough. And it truly allowed me to refine my cavalry strats.
I really suggest you give them a go whenever you have time – I’m sure you won’t regret using them, unless you’re more of a melee kind of person.
Looking to play as a faction capable of dominating the Mediterranean?
Aren’t we all.
Well you’ll need to build an army strong enough to fend off the Romans if you want to succeed with Carthage. Oh, and one more thing: your vassals are going to betray you before the mid-game!
Macedon, aka the “Phalanx spam faction”, is my favorite faction in this Total War game (albeit not the best one in the game).
If you’re a fan of melee conquests, you’re going to love playing as Macedon.
Their starting position is not too good. But there are many weak nations that you’ll be able to conquer to solidify your grasp near the peninsula.
Athens is the best Hellenistic faction to play with – provided that you’re not too keen on the Sparta challenge.
A good economy and good diplomatic relationships accompany a very solid unit roster, and one of the best starting cities in the game alongside Rome.
Now Egypt is certainly the strongest nation in Africa. And one that serves as a challenging faction to use if you’re looking to conquer the entire map.
They do have a very good starting economy and a great starting position that will allow you to choose where to go – right from the start.
Plus, who doesn’t love Egyptian aesthetics?
With powerful units and a very strong economy from the start of the campaign, I’d argue that Baktria is the best successor kingdom out of them all.
Unite the territories that Alexander The Great sought to unite, once more, and fulfill the destiny of one of the greatest conquerors of all time with a roster that comprises elephant riders, strong spearmen, amazing naval units, and many more useful enemy-killers!
Naturally, Rome is the best civilization in the game. How could I rank anything else?
Many would argue that Rome is the “tutorial” civ in this Total War. And I’m inclined to agree with them.
Yet if you’re looking for a proper challenge, you might want to set your sights on conquering the entire map if you’re going to play with Rome. Trust me: it’s a lot harder than it sounds.
But just dominating your neighbors and expanding the empire is not going to be too difficult a task to achieve. Which makes this faction great for beginners, experts, and everyone inbetween.