FAQ/Strategy Guide by PEDEG

Updated: 07/23/06 | Printable Version

Rome Total War: Alexander 
Strategy Guide first print
(for intermediate players)

by: A.H.W. aka Blood Rage

23 July 2006

Table of contents

1.0 Author's note

2.0 Alexander: Introduction

3.0 Troops
	3.1 Infantries
	3.2 Missiles
	3.3 Cavalries

4.0 Command
	4.1 Commanding a phalanx based army

5.0 Terrain

6.0 Buildings

7.0 Economy

8.0 City Happiness

9.0 How my game went
	9.1 Attacking a stone walled city during siege

10.0 Questions


11.0 Credits & Disclaimer


1.0 Author's note

This guide is for slightly experienced players. I have no 
experience playing in multiplayer. 

This is not a comprehensive guide detailing everything you 
need to know but rather elaborating more on strategies, rather 
than game bugs, info, or cheats. Please no more e-mails asking 
me about cheats beause I don't do cheats. The game here is on 
'very hard/very hard' because anything less than that is too 
easy from STW, MYW and RTW. Therefore, some mastery of basic 
commands are recommended. 

All this strategies here are exactly from my own play. 

I also assume that the readers would be familiar with the 
geography and terms of the game. 

I recommend for readers to read from start to end as some 
concepts applied later are explained in earlier paragraphs. 

2.0 Alexander: Introduction

Which war gamer buff does not know of Alexander the Great? 
So now's the chance for you to play in his sandals and kick 
some Persian butt. The campaign is designed in a linear 
fashion where there is only one plot to follow and there is 
a time limit to complete the campaign, 100 turns to hold 30 
settlements including 10 specific settlements. There's only 
a total of 32 settlements on the map including one which you 
cannot capture due to terrain blocks. 

So, is 100 turns impossible? On very hard/very hard? I did 
in 47 turns without rushing the last 22 turns. took my time 
to get an elite stack from babylon. the starting is a bit 
tough on the nerves as the persians had large stacks roaming 
about but I was very lucky too with the early ambush. Anyway, 
what I'm trying to say here is that don't panic and play it 

Oh, and this game should be seen as an extra. If you expect 
a full fledged campaign on this add-on you'll be disappointed 
with not able to play the other factions. It's basically an 
Alexanderphile fest. Not much replayability potential.

3.0 Troops

The troops available to Alexander are varied. I'll start with 
the infantry as they are the bulk of the units available. 

3.1 Infantries
Your most basic unit besides the peasants are hoplites which 
are rather decent compared to the non-phalanx infantry. Those 
who are familiar with phalanx play will have no trouble. 

The hypaspists are akin to legionary type units with throwing 
spears and a decent attack and defence but in truth, they don't 
have the staying power of the roman legions. they have some of 
the highest casualty rate among my troops even though they 
seldom fight the enemy face on. 

The phalangists are superb and takes 2 turns to train. They are 
like phalanx pikemen. They are very reliable and are battle 
winners if used correctly. 

The rest of the infantry are mercenaries but they are quite 
good. The only drawback is that they have a higher maintainance 
cost. Mercenaries hoplites are a must at the start. The Eastern 
Infantry may not fight greatly but they are cheap to garrison 
when you need to move onwards fast. 

3.2 Missiles
There's only 1 missile foot soldier available to train in cities, 
the Agravian Skirmishes which I seldom use. If I need skirmishing 
done, I'd use the Hypaspists as they have more damage rating and 
can melee. The mercenaries are better such as Cretan Archers 
(you'll get it quite late to actually make any difference), 
Rhodian Slingers, Illyrian Mercs and such skirmishers. Then again 
from the outset this campaign is heavily phalanx and cavalry 

3.3 Cavalries
The cavalry is good and reliable. The prodromoi is not much but 
have a good charge bonus. The Allied cavalry are dependable and 
lasted till the end. The Companion cavalry are simply powerful 
but hard to retrain. Fortunately you can hire Companion Cavalry 
as mercenaries. The other cavalry I like are the Steppe Cavalry 
which you can hire as mercs. There's the Dahae Horse Archers 
which are just so-so and don't make much difference to the 
overall play. You can get early merc javelin cavalry but be 
warned that they are not a match for the persian version. 

Lastly, be warned that the general units except Alexander are so 
much easier to die. Just look at their stats. I lost generals 
charging into the flank of the enemy spearmen even when the unit 
remains relatively intact as the general was the first to fall. 
So, use your generals sparingly. This includes Parmenion. 

4.0 Commands

Learn some basic hotkeys like grouping, select all and switching 
phalanx mode. 

The basic idea of the battles is to use phalanx to hold and 
cavalry to crush. So I suggest you get the hang of controlling a 
phalanx line offensively. It's so easy to defend using phalanx... 
or so i thought. In this campaign it's actually easier to attack 
with the phalanx than to wait for the enemy to rush into you. The 
AI tends to aim for my flanks with projectiles and followed up by 
cavalry. If my troops break they always break from one flank. But 
when I go on the offensive even when I am the defender, I manage 
to go straight head on and do not give them much time to 
reorganise to pick on my flanks. 

The cavalry are designed for rushing behind the enemy lines and 
hitting them from behind like the 'hammer and anvil' strategy. 
Honestly, this seldom happen for me. I have used the hammer and 
anvil strategy in RTW and RTW:BI but here the AI seldom ever gave 
me the chance as they use their superior cavalry numbers to 
harass my flanks trying down my cavalry or my cavalry needed to 
cut down enemy projectiles who are committing murder on my troops. 
Anyway, it doesn't matter as the phalanx are just too powerful 
and all infantry try just fall away if left alone. 

There are many ways to control phalanx. Here's my long description 
of my technique of controlling a phalanx based army.

4.1 Commanding a phalanx based army

When you start the battle, first set up your phalanx unit formation. 
What the computer normally do is to line your phalanx up in a line 
for you with about 4-5 men deep even for units with less men. That 
makes things easier for you. If you wanna select all your phalanx 
and set them up yourself, it's ok too but you got to make sure the 
depth is equal in all units as your unit numbers may vary due to
casualties. If you need to place certain phalanx units in certain 
positions, do it first. For example if you have hoplites and 
phalangists in your army and you wanna place all the hoplites in 
the center, then at the start you select all your hoplites, group 
them and right click them somewhere back but DO NOT change their 
direction. Then manually select each phalangists and right click 
them beside the hoplites, again do not change their directions so 
that they all face the same way. Tweak to your heart's content and 
follow the same steps. 

Now just select all your phalanx units and group them. Place that 
group anywhere you want on the map (hopefully facing the enemy) by 
simply select the group and hold down right click to set the 
heading. By grouping them you will not be able to change their 
formation as you place them in any direction you want which is a 
good thing as it's a hassle to reset the formation. Also switch them 
to standard formation as you'll most likely need to move them about 
first if you are the attacker. Then manually select the other units 
to set them up around your phalanx. I usually place missle units 
behind the phalanx and the cavalry behind the phalanx at the sides. 
Do not place your cavalry beyond the side of your phalanx or it will 
just attract enemy to them and also make the group movement control 
awkward. This is how it should look like:

cavalry                     cavalry
cavalry       general       cavalry

Do notice that the cavalry in the flanks do not cross the flanks 
of the phalanx. This makes groupcontrol so much easier because the 
game take the top left corner of your group as the reference point 
for group maneuvres. So, if you have a nice square end, the reference 
point will be the top left phalanx soldier. But if you have units 
further left to your top most soldier, then you will have an 
'invisible' reference point as the game intersects the uppermost and 
leftmost soldier lines to give you your reference point. Like this 
case where the (`) becomes the reference point:

`    ++++++++phalanx+++++++++
cavalry                     cavalry

Why is this reference point important? Well, let me ask you... if you 
can't see your reference point, how will you be able to finely control 
the direction of your units quickly? This is all important for phalanx 
as any unwanted change of direction can be dangerous.

Now once the formation is set, select all units by pressing 'ctrl-a' 
and group them all by pressing 'g'. Then you can start the battle. 
Move your army forwards by holding down right click at the location 
you want to place the all important reference point. 

When you are attacking, the enemy tend to remain stationery until you 
get close, so you can take your time advancing. Just command your 
troops using the group command and you can advance them as the pre-
setup formation all the way until you face the enemy. Take precaution 
to minimise sudden direction changes as you advance. For example if 
the enemy set up their lines at 1 o'clock direction, make multiple 
small angle changes to your army as you advance so that you will end 
up facing them head on without ever noticing much of a direction 

As you walk the group over towards the enemy, take notice when the 
enemy archers start moving towards you. This means that you are 
entering their archer range. Now run the group forwards to close the 
gap (lessen losses to archers) to mid-distance from the enemy. Your 
cavalry will end up ahead unless you order them to go back to walking 
speed like half way to the mid-distance. Once your troops arrive in 
mid-distance without engaging in melee, run them forwards again to 
the half distance to the enemy again (to bring you total of 3/4 
distance from the enemy archer range. Once you arrive at this second 
point, you can start to go into phalanx formation. 

Now, to attack, use your group command (reference point again) to 
carefully place your units to end up just enough for their pikes to 
touch the enemy line. Remember that you must only go straight ahead 
and therefore the group command must be aligned to your current facing. 
Any major changes in direction so close to the enemy lines will be 

Once your pikes touch the enemy line, they will engage. Now you just 
sit back until the enemy rout or pull back. Then advance again in the 
same manner.

Often the enemy will charge your pikes when you are close to them 
(about the distance of 10 to 15 men deep of phalanx) and this is also 
a good thing as all you need to do is absorb the charge.

What about your cavalry and missile units?

You should order your missile units to stop advancing (backspace) with 
the group and disengage them from the group by selecting them and 
pressing 'g' as soon as they get slightly into firing range, which I 
usually take it as able to hit the enemy archers/slingers for my 
archers or to hit the enemy front line for skirmishers. That way when 
you further advance your phalanx it won't pull your archers forwards.

As for cavalry, once you pull the cavalry from the group to deal with 
other problems, disengage them from the group so that they won't all 
trot back into the original formation when you command your phalanx 

I sometimes do not disengage units from the group if I intended them 
to return to the original formation. This happens when I am fighting a 
small army but they have a large reinforcement coming directly behind 
their small army.

Lastly do not ever disengage your phalanx units out of the group unless 
you intend them to break formation. This can occur when one wing needs 
extra help. 

It all may sound complicated but with practice it will become second 
nature and I don't have to consciously think about it when I play. 

5.0 Terrain

Take note of the terrain. There are so many locations you can take 
advantage of. There's plenty of bridges and forests in Asia Minor. 
There'll be plenty of uphill fighting further to the East. I was 
lucky enough to ambush Mennom of Rhodes in the end of the first turn 
and opened up an easy route towards Helicarnassus. 

6.0 Buildings

The buildings in this campaign are secondary. No need to get worked up 
about building up a city. If you need tech, just capture a city that 
already has tech like Babylon. In time you will have plenty of leftover 
cash to build anything you want. 

7.0 Economy

You main source of income will always be from massacres. Alexander 
started off as the great and ended up the butcher. Only after you 
control the Meditteranean cities will you make positive income easily. 
Don't bother building unit training buildings much in the West, in 
fact raze them if you need cash. Just build up ports and marketplaces 
to boost income. 

8.0 City Happiness

Just massacre and use peasant garrisons. Don't worry too much about 
happiness buildings. You are Alexander, not some pansy people loving 
hippie! Did not face any riots. 

Don't forget to move the capital Eastwards to reduce distance to 
capital unhappiness.


9.0 How my game went

From the start I'm always an aggresive player. I attack first always. 
I hired as many mercs as you can for Parmenion. Then I set him to 
ambush at the river crossing.Alexander headed East towards Byzantium 
and kill the big Thracian stack there forcing them to retreat into 
the city. I then left a small detachment to siege Byzantium while the 
main Alexander stack aim towards my ships. Spend as much of the 
starting cash as you can, even queue build because you will 
definitely lose cash with all the mercs. 

I was lucky at the end of my first turn as Parmenion ambushed Mennom 
of Rhodes and killed most of his troops. He managed to escape though 
and hid in Helicarnassus. By the second move, I siege Helicarnassus 
and Alexander was following behind. I captured Helicarnassus the 
next turn. I only used 3 siege towers and some crafty maneuvering to 
easily win with minimal losses. Phalanx just makes city capturing 
easy-peasy. I let the troops at Byzantium wait the siege out as it's 
a small stack I left behind of mostly hoplites, skirmishers and 

Pella was sieged by the silly Illyrians and I easily defended the 
city from 1500 troops with 5 hoplites, 1 general, 2 skirmishers and 
1 hypaspists. I just place all my units in the city center with the 
hoplites placed with one diagonal line from one corner of the city 
square to another. All the other troops are behind them. 3 wall 
breaches which 5 hoplites will never be able to contain. 

From there I had 2 strong stacks to advance straight to Issus. I 
largely ignored the 2 northern coastal cities at first as I did not 
want to get sidetracked from capturing Issus which is a major 
enough a city to retrain my units. 

I left Parmenion to guard the bridge close to Issus while Alexander 
went south into Egypt. On hindsight, I should have sent Permenion 
south rather than Alexander as I didn't expect Egypt to be so lightly 
defended. Helicarnassus trained up phalangists and I created a third 
stack of mostly merc hoplites to capture the northern coastal cities. 
The persians held a surprise for me when Darius appeared with the 
most powerful Persian stack I faced in the campaign. After capturing 
the first city, my third stack headed towards the second city only to 
come across a full stack of 1800 troops compared to my low tech 1100 
mostly merc hoplites troops. So I retreated onto a bridge to the west 
of the city and they attacked me there resulting in a famous battle 
site. I lost quite a sizeable amount like 400 troops due to their 
long range archers firing from across the river. Then after that 
stack was gone I sieged the city only to break off the siege when 
Darius full stack came. I hired more mercs and sent as many troops 
from Parmenion as possible and my third stack laid in ambush south 
west of the city... to fail an ambush and had to fight conventionally. 
Nevertheless, my 1200 troops managed to defeat Darius' 1800 troops to 
gain another famous battle site. Killed the Persian king too. My 
losses was big too like half my troops of mostly merc hoplites with a 
few phalangists, thessalian cavalry and allied cavalry. 

Once Darius is gone, the Persian never did mount a serious challenge. 
So Alexander rushed back up ignoring Petra which would be captured 
later by a weaker fourth stack. By then too, I manage to pull the 
troops from Byzantium to Pella to make an army to capture the 
Illyrians first then the Scythians on the mainland. I hired all the 
Steppe Cavalry along the way as they are really cool. 

After capturing Babylon it's just a uni-direction march towards 
Bactria. Cash started flowing in after securing the Mediterranean and 
Black Sea ports. I had so much cash that I decided to kill the 
Persian navy by creating my trireme fleet which I later disbanded 
after sinking the Persian navy. It's just a formality to complete the 
game after Babylon. The Dahae are crappy. They have large numbers like 
7 stacks but they are easily beaten with phalanx. The largest battle 
was 1 Alexander stack 1800 troops against 3000 2 and a half Dahae 
stacks and still won with less than 300 casualties killing 2717. 

I attack during sieges in all the cities that Alexander and Parmenion 
sieged and everything else east of Babylon. Other less important 
cities I wait the siege out as I use smaller stacks to siege them 
like Petra, Byzantium and the Scythian cities. Attacking during siege 
is surprisingly easy due to the idiocy of the AI, even when I am 
outnumbered 700 to 1200! 

Let me just tell you how...

9.1 Attacking a stone walled city during siege

Don't be put off by stone walls. The longer your unit sit outside, 
you'll be vulnerable to reinforcements. So get them indoors to the 
pleasure houses of Persia. Only takes one turn to build all the siege 
equipment you need that is... 1 siege tower. You can use ladders too 
but I'm a siege tower die-hard. 

Once you start the battle, don't bother making fancy formations or 
placing your siege equipment at fancy locations. just start right 
away. the advantage you'll have is that there is no time limit. So 
take all the time to get as much advantage as possible. 

What I did was to move my siege engines away from the starting 
location and away from the wall defenders. The defenders tend to 
position at the walls facing your starting location and will not 
move away (stupid AI). So, I get onto the walls from other directions 
and capture all the wall defences along the way except the ones close 
to the wall defenders. So, I usually capture 3 out of 4 gates. That 
way I can stream in easily unchallenged. Once I get my hoplites in, I 
set perimeter lines to block roads and advance the rest of my phalanx 
towards the city center. When the defenders challenge my advance they 
will only face pikes. So easy it's brainless! I don't even use 
cavalry in the city. Phalanx are all you need. 


10.0 Questions

Hopefully things are straightforward enough. Oh, and please don't ask 
me about cheats or mods as I don't use them. 


11.0 Credits & Disclaimer

This game is just so-so by itself but quite nice as an add-on and 
nothing more. Definitely not a must have. Can't wait till Medieval 
Total War 2 comes out. I spent so many hours on MTW in the past. 

Thanks to GameFAQs for all the other games where I'm too lazy to 
figure things out myself. 

Thanks to Sun Tzu who brought us that strategies that can be 
formally learned. 

No lifeforms were hurt or killed during this production. 

Recommended reading: Romance of the Three Kingdoms. 

This is an original work. In no way whatsoever have I posted up any 
contribution from anyone as I said above I detail how I've played 
the game myself. I do not claim to have discovered any strategies that 
I apply here. I can be found in the Gamefaqs board mostly to pick up 
new ideas to explore and also answer questions to get a feel of what 
other gamers find difficult with the game. Most of the basic strats 
are based on previous experience with Shogun Total War, Medieval Total 
War and the wonderful translated illustrated abridged version of Sun 
Tzu's Art of War by Asiapac (my first strategy guide for all the 
strategy games played so far). If any similarities are found, please 
e-mail me at ahwongso@hotmail.com. 

E-mail me if there is any further queries.

Therefore this is my work and any reproduction besides for personal 
playing use will require permission from myself. It may not be 
publicly displayed or distributed without prior permission. 


A H Wongso
July 23 2006