• Total War: Rome II - Guide to Politics & the Family Tree

    Total War: Rome II - Guide to Politics & the Family Tree

    By Alwyn and Welsh Dragon

    The Causes of Secessions and Civil Wars

    New Rome II players sometimes say that rival parties keep breaking away, they don't understand why and they don't believe that they can do anything about this. So why do secessions and civil wars happen - and what can the player do to prevent them?

    In each turn when a party's loyalty is below -10, there is a chance of secession or civil war. As the rival party's loyalty drops further below -10, the percentage chance rises. If you hover the mouse pointer over the loyalty score for a rival party, you can see what has caused this. But what causes a party to gain or lose loyalty?

    1. The House of Junia is loyal, and we can see the reasons for this

    The House of Junia is fairly loyal at this stage; the number in the top right of Party Statistics (19) is their current loyalty. The other numbers indicate that they have 7% influence, govern two provinces and have 36 senators out of 500. Because the player hovered the pointer over the loyalty score, the Loyalty breakdown has appeared.

    On the Loyalty breakdown, the factors making the House of Junia loyal are shown in green. Several factors are contributing to their loyalty. One of their members has been given command of an army and won a battle (+2), this general was promoted (+1), they support Rome's expansion into new territories (+10), and they like the abundant supply of food (+5). The largest single factor is that Rome hasn't expanded much yet. Rome has a low Imperium which means that civil war is less likely (+20). Civil war will be more likely as Rome expands. The loss of this +20 loyalty bonus would be a significant problem, but it would only reduce Junia's loyalty to -1, so there would be no risk of secession or civil war if this was the only thing that reduced their loyalty. There are a couple of loyalty penalties which apply: the Hard campaign difficulty (-15) and the Republic government type (-10), but these penalties alone aren't enough to cause a risk of this party breaking away. What else, then, can reduce the loyalty of a rival party and tip the balance towards secession?

    2. Later in this Rome campaign, the leader of House Junia was killed

    When a rival party member dies in battle - in this example, the leader of the House of Junia - this causes a big penalty to loyalty (-24). This penalty will degrade over time. Rome's expansion means that, instead of a bonus to loyalty for low Imperium, there is now a small penalty (-5).

    The player's actions have also improved the loyalty of this House. Rome has changed government type from Republic to Empire (Empires have +15 to loyalty). Rome has given a provincial governor more autonomy (with a loyalty edict in a province controlled by Junia, +10 to loyalty). Junia is connected to the ruling House by marriage (Marriage +6). The player's decision to build temples in captured provinces, to reduce the public order penalty for cultural differences, has pleased Junia, as their Traditionalist trait gives +1 to loyalty for each province where your culture is dominant (+15 to loyalty at this stage of the campaign). Even though the player will face slow-onset penalties to loyalty (from expansion) and can have sudden-onset drops in loyalty (for example from the death of a party member in battle), secession and civil war can usually be avoided.

    3. The House of Papiria might break away from Rome

    Each party has three party traits. The top two are specific to the party and remain the same for as long as that party remains. The bottom one is specific to the party leader, so it change when a party leader dies if the successor has a different trait. There are examples of rival party traits on the TWC Wiki.

    The House of Papiria has -23 loyalty, which is dangerously low. One of the party's traits, Bigot (-1 to loyalty for every province in your empire where your faction's culture is not dominant) is making a small contribution to this. However, this trait alone doesn't explain why this party is close to breaking away. The other two traits of House Papiria are actually boosting their loyalty. Subversive gives you +1 loyalty for each agent action for 5 turns (with a maximum of +4), and Mercantile gives you +1 loyalty for each trade agreement (with a maximum of +8).

    The main causes of the low loyalty are the difficulty level (-15 for playing on Hard), the government type (-10 for a Republic) and the political actions taken by the player (-9 for actions such as promoting characters in the ruling party.) This screenshot is from the same Rome campaign as the previous one. Rome has expanded, so there is no longer a +20 bonus for low Imperium. Rome is not yet an Empire, so the loyalty penalty for the Republic government type still applies. This suggests that, for Rome, there can be a dangerous point in the campaign - when you have expanded enough to lose the initial bonus to loyalty, but not expanded so far that you can become an Empire. Julius Caesar and Octavian both fought civil wars at the end of Rome's period as a Republic; in a Rome campaign, you might experience a similar event at a similar stage in Rome's development.

    If you select your faction symbol (at the bottom, in the middle of the screen) and select the Politics tab, you'll see an overview of the rival party or parties.

    4. The politics screen warns the player when a secession or civil war is likely.

    Later in this campaign, the loyalty of House Papiria has dropped to -33. As you can see from the top left hand corner of the screenshot, there is a 45% chance that House Papiria will break away each turn. By checking your politics screen occasionally, you can see when you're facing a risk of a rival party breaking away.

    If a rival party breaks away, the new faction will have the provinces it controlled when it was part of your empire.

    5. A secession begins, as House Papiria has broken away from the Roman Republic.

    In this campaign, the player's lands in Italia, Magna Graecia, Corsica and Sardinia are now separated from the northern provinces by the break-away faction which holds Provincia, Cisalpina and the Roman-held part of Pannonia.

    On the campaign map, there is a useful filter which shows which provinces are controlled by which party. You can see this by selecting the map button (next to the End Turn button in the bottom right hand side of the screen) and then selecting the left-hand button of the six small buttons. For example, here's what the campaign map looked like after the secession had been defeated in the Rome campaign.

    6. The small button in the bottom right (highlighted in yellow, the left hand one of a row of six buttons) selects the filter to display the provinces controlled by rival parties, as shown here.

    This means that players can not only plan ahead for a secession or civil war, we can also see in advance the territory that our new enemy will hold. However, the player can be surprised. The province(s) controlled by a party can and do change during a campaign. You can still plan ahead, but you need to plan for the possibility of changes as you get bigger, smaller, or influence levels change. Also, the player could get unlucky and have a secession earlier than expected, when the chance is just 4% per turn, or the rival party might not break away for several turns even though the chance is over 40% per turn - it depends on the dice roll.

    This map also shows what happens after a secession or civil war. The secession by the House of Papiria was defeated, and their provinces are now controlled by the ruling House of Cornelius. The remaining rival parties, Julia and Junia, had significantly higher loyalty after the secession was defeated (like other temporary buffs and debuffs, this diminished over time). After a while a new rival party, the House of Fabia, emerged; their members control Rome's provinces of Africa, Hercynia and Sarmatia. The fact that a new party emerges doesn't mean that there is no value in defeating a rival party in a secession or civil war. The traits of the new House are likely to be different from the old one, and even if the new House's traits mean that they too are in danger of breaking away, Rome had a period of relative stability because of the defeat of the previous secession.

    The Currencies of Politics

    One step towards reducing the risk of secessions and civil wars is to understand the currencies of politics and the opportunities they offer to manage the loyalty of rival parties. Troy was the first Total War game with a multi-resource economy, and yet in a sense, Rome II has multiple currencies. If you treat a currency as an amount of something that you can trade for something else that you want, then coins (the game's money), gravitas, loyalty and influence could all be seen as currencies.

    7. Sending a member of a rival party on a diplomatic mission temporarily improves their party's loyalty

    Players are used to trading the in-game money for things we want, such as recruiting units and upgrading buildings. We can exchange money for loyalty by sending a rival party member on a diplomatic mission. At this point in a Hard campaign as Rome, this has become expensive - it cost 3115 coins and provided a temporary +5 loyalty bonus. The price varies during a campaign; this seems to be what's meant by the Political Action Costs modifier listed under Imperium level, as well as on some techs and possibly elsewhere. The larger your Imperium, the greater the price of politics, from a mere "+4% political action costs" at Imperium Level I, to a whopping "+192% political action costs" at Imperium Level VIII. Tech such as Astronomy (Rome - Philosophy Tree - Tier 2) can help with this, as it provides a "-20% political action costs" modifier.

    8. A rare outcome of a diplomatic mission - the other faction gives the player a settlement

    Normally, a diplomatic mission leads to a temporary faction buff or debuff depending on the outome of the mission, such as a bonus or penalty to trade income (rarely, it causes the faction which receives the diplomatic mission to give the player a settlement).

    The individual bonuses to unit statistics from experience chevrons, better armour and weapons, research and army traditions are small individually, but they can add up to a decisive advantage. In a similar way, a +5 bonus to loyalty isn't a lot, but when combined with other actions to improve loyalty, it can add up to achieve security for your empire.

    Another way to exchange money for loyalty is to use the Secure Loyalty button, bribing a rival party to remain loyal. You can find the Secure Loyalty button on the Politics screen - it's visible at the bottom of screenshot 4.

    9. A member of your ruling party can Entice a member of a rival party into joining your ruling party's House.

    Gravitas is a currency that our characters accumulate over time. Characters acquire a little each turn (more if they have higher rank) and they can spend this on political intrigues. For example, the Entice intrigue costs 30 gravitas and enables your ruling party to recruit a member of a rival party. Recruiting a member of a rival party to join your ruling House will increase your influence and (if they're a commander) you have another general or admiral who will stay loyal if there's a secession or civil war. This won't increase the rival party loyalty - here, the player is buying higher influence at the cost of gravitas and loyalty.

    Loyalty is the current reliability of each of your rival parties. We might not see this as a currency, however when we carry out political intrigues such as promoting members of our ruling party, this will reduce the loyalty of rival parties temporarily - in a sense, we spend loyalty to buy influence for our ruling party.

    Influence is the percentage of your faction's Senate or ruling group of nobles who belong to a party. It's used to determine which provinces in your empire are ruled by your ruling party; the other provinces are ruled by rival parties. Rule by rival parties doesn't affect your control of those provinces during normal play - you still upgrade settlements, recruit agents and units in the normal way - unless the rival party breaks away. When we promote a rival party member, this increases their party's loyalty. Higher-ranking characters generate more gravitas per turn, and more gravitas means more influence. This means that, when we promote rival party members, in a sense we are trading a little influence in exchange for loyalty. High influence provides faction-wide bonuses (for example, faster research, more income and public order) so ideally the player will want high influence. However, if we maximise influence and ignore party loyalty, we're more likely to have to deal with secessions and civil wars - so it's up to the player to decide how to strike a balance.

    There are situations which affect how these currencies are traded. For example, in the first 20 turns of the game, for a number of turns after a secessions begins, and throughout a civil war, the player is protected from rival parties breaking away. Political intrigues cost the loyalty of rival parties, but this cost normally only lasts a few turns. This means that the player can take political actions safely in the first few turns - they still cost money, but the cost on loyalty will have faded before the protection ends. A pop-up warning appears a few turns before your faction's protection from secession and civil war ends, and you get another notification when the protection expires.


    We've seen that a secession or a civil war doesn't have to be a surprise and it's something which the player can avoid or predict and prepare for. Your faction is safe from these events at the start of the main campaign, giving you the opportunity to increase your ruling party's influence and expand your ruling family without worrying about a secession or civil war. We've also seen how the player has tools for managing the loyalty of rival parties, such as political marriages, promotions and Secure Loyalty. But those are only some of the options the player has at your disposal, and in our next article we'll be taking a closer look at the tools available and how to use them to your advantage, to keep other parties loyal or drive them to secede.

    If you found this article interesting, you might like to read some of the Eagle Standard's previous articles. A full list of these can be found here.
    Comments 2 Comments
    1. Dismounted Feudal Knight's Avatar
      Dismounted Feudal Knight -
      Solid work along with the wiki article, thank you.
    1. kesa82's Avatar
      kesa82 -
      The guide didn't tell me anything I didn't already know , as the family tree and politics is one of my favorite aspects of the game. I spend A LOT of time in the family tree / politics menus .

      BUT I wanted to PRAISE this guide anyway.

      I really like the emphasis on WHAT is what , WHAT to do , and HOW to do it.

      Such an emphasis makes for a boring read. --- But the point of a how - to guide is not to entertain , but to instruct.

      Ideally a How - to guide is supposed to help someone who does NOT KNOW what they are doing.

      That is why they are reading the guide.

      Kudos to you then for putting together a How - To guide that actually tells you how to.

      --- Also , thanks for linking to it often on Steam.

      I monitor the Steam comments for this game regularly , and politics / the family tree seems to be one of the , maybe the most , little understood aspects of the game.

      A shame . I don't own every Total War title , but I own most , and Rome Total War 2 has the most immersive , involved , and complex political / family tree mechanic .