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Rome: Total War features three playable Roman families, the Scipii, the Brutii, and the Julii. Unlike later games though, it doesn't explain the differences between them. One of them is obvious: Each faction has a different starting position, making it easier to focus on conquering a particular part of the world that is closest to them.

What are the other differences? Unique units or bonuses? Special events (spoiler tags please)? Maybe even some commentary on the different "expected target" territories: While it's obvious that the Julii are meant to go for western Europe, it's not so obvious what differences in native units or positioning or enemy difficulty or xxx this implies, in comparison to going for, say, Africa, the natural target of one of the other two families.

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

The 3 main differences are:

  1. temples
  2. unique units
  3. starting position

Julii

1. Temples

  • Ceres (Happiness and Population Growth)
  • Bacchus (Public Order x2)
  • Jupiter (Happiness and Law)

2. Unique Units

  • Samnite Gladiators (Attack: 14, Defense: 14, Charge Bonus: 3, Cost: 720, Excellent morale, May charge without orders, Very good stamina, Can sap, Elite unit)

  • Arcani (Attack: 12, Defense: 15, Cost: 900, Can hide anywhere, Good morale, Very good stamina, Fast moving)

3. Starting Position

You start in Northern Italy, and your primary rival from here is the Gauls.

A few things you should be aware of when taking this route: there are a lot of Gauls (you'll have to face huge armies), their city structures are limited to low tier buildings (meaning you'll have to do a lot of building to make a good city), and they are poor (meaning the rewards may not equal all the money and effort you spent conquering them).

My advice here: take Medolanium and Patavium (I think that's what they are called), the 2 Gaul cities North of your starting position - both of which are good cities - and defend the mountain pass against the inevitable retribution form the Gauls. Then turn your attention to the more profitable regions (namely the regions that your Roman brothers are targeting).


Scipii

1. Temples

  • Vulcan (Happiness and Weapon Upgrades)
  • Saturn (Happiness and Law)
  • Neptune (Happiness and units)

2. Unique Units

  • Mirmillo Gladiators (Melee Attack: 12, Defense: 14, Charge Bonus: 3, Cost: 700)

  • Corvus Quinquireme (Slightly more powerful than a regular quinquireme. Available when you build an Awesome Temple to Neptune in your capital.

  • Deceres (The most powerful battleship available to any nation. They become available once you build a Pantheon to Neptune.)

3. Starting Position

You start in Western Italy and on the island of Sicily. Your primary rival from here will be Carthage.

In the beginning your goals should be to conquer Sicily, and take Carthage. This will put you at odds with both the Greeks and Carthage. Sicily will give you a solid base (just make sure you get rid of that Greek Diplomat - bribe him if you need to - you don't want any foreign units left). And Carthage is the stepping stone for a fairly profitable and population rich (slavery anyone?) area.


Brutii

1. Temples

  • Mars (Happiness and Experience Bonus - from the 2nd tier up)
  • Mercury (Happiness and Tradeable Goods)
  • Juno (Happiness and Health)

2. Unique Units

  • Velite Gladiators (Attack: 12, Defense: 14, Charge Bonus: 3, Cost: 720)

3. Starting Position

You start in Eastern Italy. Your primary rivals from here will be Greek and Macedon.

By far my favourite faction. They get access to the very profitable Greek peninsula (all those ports and resources basically let you print money - especially when partnered up with a temple of mercury) - once they unseat the Greeks and Macedonians that is. They have a hard fight in front of them - Greek phalanxes and Macedonian lancers will require a deal of skill on the battlefield, but the reward is the best of the 3 factions.

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Exactly what I was looking for! I thought that only one of the three temples varies between factions; I guess I was wrong. I also thought that the Julii have it nice because their conquest targets are reachable by land: I guess I was wrong on that point as well :) – Fadeway Sep 1 '12 at 18:35
    
The Gauls are reachable by land, but that makes it slower to get to there, not faster - especially if those provinces don't have roads already. – ChargingPun Sep 4 '12 at 1:52

It's worth noting that the Scipii and Brutii get Arcanii as well (from temples of Saturn and Mars), they aren't unique. Nor are the Scipii ships, technically- the other Roman factions can build them if they manage to capture a city with a sufficiently large temple to Neptune already in place...

While I'm on the subject of religion, it's worth spreading a little-known fact: Law reduces the corruption penalty to income as well as increasing public order (making temples that provide Law lucrative sources of income for rich cities distant from your capital...)

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