[Top 10] Rome: Total War Best Units That Are Powerful

Greek hoplites battling Roman soldiers.
Charging head on into a phalanx? This Roman general must be going for a fastest defeat medal.

Veni, vidi, vici ("I came, I saw, I conquered").

The number of soldiers that make an appearance in Rome: Total War is impressive, especially given its original release date way back in 2004. There are over 250 military units in the game, and nearly 150 of those are recruitable by players. 

Challenge your opponents to combat with legendary warriors such as the Spartans, Roman legionnaires, and more. The following units are some of the very best that you can lead into the fray of battle in Rome: Total War.

10. Arcani

The first word that comes to mind with the Arcani is “assassins.” These men were trained in the shadowy underbelly of Rome, making them excellent at ambushing enemies from tall grass or forests.

Key Details

  • Excellent morale
  • High hit points
  • Bonus when charging

Choose the Arcani if you favor guerilla warfare more than the conventional engage-and-flank tactics that are central to Rome: Total War.

9. Triarii

The Triarii were the veterans of the Ancient Roman army prior to the Marian reforms. Having survived into middle age, these soldiers knew the rigors of combat supremely well.

Key Details

  • Excellent morale
  • High defense rating
  • Effective against cavalry

Choose the Triarii if you need a dependable class of soldiers who can get the job done with minimal losses. Thanks to their short spears, the Triarii are also one of the few Roman infantry units who counter cavalry quite well.

8. Gladiators: Velite, Samnite, Mirmillo


Fighting was like breathing to gladiators, and they are one of the most iconic units that can be recruited in Rome: Total War. Depending on which Roman family you play as, you can supplement your legions with gladiators such as the Velites (Julii), Samnites (Brutii), or Mirmillones (Scipii).

Key Details

  • Extremely agile
  • Strong attack rating
  • Armor varies

Choose the Gladiators if you want a group of men whose sole purpose for living is to dole out death while entertaining tens of thousands. With neither arena nor spectators on the battlefield, they are free to focus entirely on executing their foes.

7. Praetorian Cohort

The best of the best when it came to Rome’s elite legionnaires, the Praetorian Cohort was tasked with guarding the Emperor himself. These men combined Spartan discipline with the unrivaled flexibility of the Roman war machine, making them a nearly unstoppable force in battle.

Key Details

  • Superb defense rating
  • Disarming pila (javelins)
  • Advanced formations

Choose the Praetorian Cohort if you want a unit who will fight for Roman glory until their last man falls. When the Ancient Romans were at the height of their power and unchallenged in military prowess, the Praetorians were the heart of the Empire.

6. Berserkers

Germania’s berserkers were a fearsome and merciless lot–woe to all who stood before them in their bloodlust. In battle, these berserkers were more like a pack of wolves than men, tearing into their enemies as if they were flocks of sheep.

Key Details

  • Uncontrollable when frenzied
  • Frighten enemy units
  • Bonus when fighting in woods or snow

Choose the Berserkers if you want some of the most ferocious warriors in the ancient world. Once engaged with an enemy, you can count on them to use any means necessary to achieve victory. Gouging, biting, kicking, and headbutting, they truly showed no restraint.

5. War Elephants

The ancient equivalent of the modern tank, war elephants could rip into enemy lines with ease. Towering over men and horses alike, the War Elephants of Carthage, Parthia, and the Seleucid Empire were skilled at running amok through enemy ranks, goring and trampling soldiers with terrifying effect.

Key Details

  • Frighten cavalry
  • Very high hit points
  • Cannot hide due to their size

Choose the War Elephants if you want to absolutely obliterate your opponent’s forces. But be careful as these beasts cannot judge friend from foe if they become spooked. Deploy them strategically, however, and you may never taste the bitterness of defeat.

4. Cataphracts

The Cataphracts are the toughest heavy cavalry unit in the game. In addition to lances, these men wielded maces to bludgeon their foes to death. Because of their armor, they were impervious to most missiles from archers or skirmishers; however, Cataphracts also tired more quickly than other cavalries.

Key Details

  • Devastating charge
  • Heavily armored
  • Quick to fatigue

Choose the Cataphracts if you anticipate localized fighting on the battlefield. Given their slower speed, it is best to reserve them as a shock force: shatter your enemy’s morale by breaking through their lines at the center of the action. 

3. Praetorian Cavalry

As with their infantry brothers in arms, the men who make up Praetorian Cavalry are the best that can be mustered across the Roman Empire. Armed with a lance to maximize damage during their initial charge, the Praetorians then switched to their secondary weapon once engaged, which was a longer version of the gladius sword.

Key Details

  • Powerful charge
  • Well balanced
  • Good armor

Choose the Praetorian Cavalry if you want to see the all around best heavy cavalry in action. More mobile than the Cataphracts, these Praetorians are just as formidable and can stand their own against war elephants and siege weaponry. Just the sight of a Praetorian Cavalry unit in battle gave nearby Romans encouragement, rallying them towards victory.

2. Pharaoh's Guards

One of the best phalanx units in the game, the Pharaoh’s Guards were recruited from Egyptian high society. Disciplined from years of training and ceremonial service to the Egyptian throne, these spearmen could turn the tide of battle in a moment's notice.

Key Details

  • Excellent morale
  • Strong attack
  • Bonus when charging

Choose the Pharaoh’s Guards if you want the best spears across all of North Africa. Fighting in the harsh heat and shifting sands of the desert, the Pharaoh’s Guards had been honed for battle across any terrain and against any opposing force.

1. Spartan Hoplites

The Spartans were the best soldiers in the ancient world. The men who made up the Spartan Hoplites were born for battle, trained in the art of death during their youth, and dedicated to a lifetime of military service.

Key Details

  • Excellent morale
  • Very good stamina
  • High hit points

Choose the Spartan Hoplites if you want to see the epitome of a warrior society. They knew neither fear nor fatigue, and could take down enemy infantry, cavalry, or artillery in the blink of an eye.

During the legendary Battle of Thermopylae, 300 Spartans fought for three days against an invading Persian army that was ten times larger than their own. 

Likewise in Rome: Total War, properly deployed Spartan Hoplites are capable of victory no matter their circumstances. It seems that outnumbered Spartans had a clear knack for combat.

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Blessed with a childhood during the golden age of video games, the storylines and fictional universes of games made over twenty years ago helped shaped me into the writer I am today.
Gamer Since: 1994
Top 3 Favorite Games:Mass Effect, Call of Duty, Total War: Rome II

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