The expansion moves the action on 350 years to a time when the Roman Empire is in deep trouble, beset by enemies inside and out, and possibly even dying. The year is 363 AD, and the Roman Empire has split into two parts ruled from the cities of Rome (for the Western Empire) and Constantinople (for the Eastern Empire). If this weren’t bad enough, barbarian tribes have been massing on the Imperial frontiers in Europe for many years. In the East the Empire faces a renewed threat from the Persian Empire, under new vigorous rulers, the Sassanids. This is an exciting and turbulent period of Roman history: the Fall of Rome itself and the collapse of the Western Roman Empire, the slaughter of Emperor Valens and a complete Roman army at Adrianople in 378, the arrival in Europe of the terrifying Huns, the political in-fighting that saw Rome’s best generals hounded as traitors, and the final humiliation of the last Emperor of the West being forced to retire in 476 AD as a barbarian took his throne. Romulus Augustulus simply wasn’t enough of a threat to be worth killing.Eastern Roman Empire - the rich part of the Roman World, and now reverting to a more ‘Greek’ and Eastern outlook than strictly Roman. Their heavy cavalry is frightening indeed.
BI starts just after the last Emperor of a unified Rome has died. His successors in Rome and Constantinople are now uneasy allies and rivals for power. The ‘barbarians’ are massing along the borders, and in some cases are living inside what used to be Roman territory. There are many, many challenges for a Roman to face - and some may be almost unbeatable!
Fortunately, you don’t necessarily have to play as the Romans! BI includes 10 brand new playable factions, (and some more that you’ll get the chance to meet during the game). Each of these factions has its own strategic options and a selection of exclusive units for their armies. The Franks, for example, have warriors armed with the fearsome francisca throwing axe, while the Huns and Sarmatians are peerless cavalrymen and the Sassanids are the only nation to still use elephants in battle.
Western Roman Empire - under the rule of a strong Emperor there is the chance that Rome could become the centre of the world once again. The Legions may have changed, but they are still potentially powerful!
Huns - When Roman envoys finally met Attila the Hun they were horrified - the Huns were a new breed of warrior who live in the saddle and could ride and fight all day!
Goths - An ancient people from the Baltic, the Goths struck fear into their enemies thanks to their habit of sacrificing captives to Tyz, the war god. They may now be nominally Christian, but they haven’t forgotten all their old ways!
Vandals - Their name is still a byword for wanton destruction! Driven from their ancestral lands, the Vandals carved their way across Gaul and Spain, eventually marching through North Africa to settle around Carthage.
Saxons - Unlike the other German tribes, the Saxons didn’t look southwards to expand. They look seawards, and westwards towards the rich province of Britannia, creating the idea of ‘England’ in the process.
Franks - The ‘Free Men’ are a Germanic tribe of fierce warriors, famed for their steadfast infantry and their utterly dangerous throwing axes. They managed to conquer all of Gaul and give the land its modern name: France.
Allemanni - Although held off by the Romans over many centuries, the Germanic Allemanni people are now on the rise again. They crossed the frozen River Rhine in 366 and now are a threat to the good order of many Roman provinces.
Sarmatians - A fierce warrior people from the steppes, the ‘Syrmatae’ rule the lands to the north of the Black Sea. Their women-folk are supposedly as savage as the men, but as horsemen they are almost without equal - which is why they can be found as mercenaries in Roman armies.
Sassanid Empire - The Persian Empire has waxed and waned over the centuries, but in the Sassanid dynasty its rulers are vigorous and strong. At loggerheads with the Eastern Roman Empire over the Sassanids’ persecution of Christians, they are a power to be reckoned with in the East.
Barbarian Hordes - A barbarian faction can flee en masse from an attacker and take its entire people in search of a new homeland. When a faction loses its last settlement the entire population can move as a series of horde armies. If - and when - the faction manage to conquer a new homeland region, the people can again settle and begin life anew. While a faction is ‘on the road’ it can’t recruit new units other than mercenaries, but it doesn’t pay any upkeep on its armies. Hordes are a ‘get out of jail’ card for some factions facing defeat - or they may just get hacked to pieces as they run!
New Units - New factions means new units! In fact, almost every unit in BI is new. This means that there are plenty of new tactical tricks to discover, strengths to play up, and weaknesses to exploit! Every faction in the game has a ‘signature’ unit that is unique to them, such as the axe-throwing Francisca Heerbann of the Franks to the ultra-heavy Sassanid Clibinarii cavalry. Even apparently familiar units have been revised.
New Special Abilities - Some units in the game have new special abilities. The Shield Wall allows barbarian elites to ‘lock’ themselves into a defensive stance and withstand frontal attacks. The Schiltron is a defensive ‘hedgehog’ formation for spear-armed troops - great for withstanding cavalry, but very vulnerable to missile fire. Swimming allows light troops to cross rivers and flank defenders who think they are safe at one end of a bridge or ford!
A modified technology tree - allows barbarians to build and expand larger settlements. It also includes new buildings to reflect the changed importance given to religion at this time in history.
A new campaign map - Europe and the Empire have changed after 350 years of Roman rule since the end of the main Rome: Total War campaign. The new map reflects the shifts in population and wealth that have gone on.
Religion - is now an important factor. Christianity has become the dominant religion of the Empire, but it’s your choice whether or not to revert to paganism in the hope that this will bring victory. Barbarian factions can convert, opening up new parts of the technology tree in the process.
Generals - can now be recruited as well as adopted into the family. There are also new vices and virtues as well as ancillary characters for generals’ retinues.
Rebellions - can now flare up into full-fledged civil wars. Your generals can decide that they would make better kings or emperors than the current rulers and take matters into their own hands!
And goodbye to the Senate! That old favourite enemy of Rome: Total War players everywhere is now a toothless talking shop with no power over the fate of the Empire. Instead: worry about the Huns!