Medieval: Total War

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Medieval Total War.jpg

Developer: Creative Assembly
Publisher: Activision
Released: August 19, 2002
Genre: Turn-based strategy, real-time tactics
Modes: Single player, Multiplayer
Ratings: ESRB: Teen (T)
Platforms: Microsoft Windows
Media: CD-ROM
Requirements: 350 MHz, 128MB RAM, 8MB graphics card, 1.7GB disk space

The campaign map follows a chessboard style approach with graphical indicators for fortifications, agents, and armies. This example shows an Italian campaign on the last turn before the end of the game centering on the Constantinople region.

Medieval: Total War (MTW), is a computer strategy game where the player builds a dynastic empire in medieval Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East. Gameplay is both strategic and tactical, with grand strategy played out in turn-based fashion on a province-by-province level, somewhat like Risk, while military units of varying types and capabilities fight against each other in real time on a tactical map.


MTW was the second game in the Total War series from The Creative Assembly, which includes Shogun: Total War, Rome: Total War and Medieval II: Total War. MTW was followed by an expansion pack called Viking Invasion (VI). VI featured a new campaign map of the British Isles along with Scandinavia, and start the game in an earlier period of history (the main game runs from 1087 to 1453, while the British Isles campaign of the expansion runs from 793 to 1066). Players can either try to unite the people of the British Isles, or simply conduct raids on coastal settlements by taking on the role of the Viking invaders. The existing Europe-Near East campaign is also expanded with new units, and three formerly unplayable factions are made available to the player.

An indirect sequel, Medieval II: Total War was announced on January 20, 2006 and released in mid-November 2006.

Gameplay features

There are hundreds of buildings and units in the game which are all connected. Each province can construct buildings and train units. Buildings are set up in a tech tree. There is no specific technology research as such, but certain advances (most notably gunpowder) do become available over time. More economic buildings such as Trading Posts, Farms or Mines, generate more money from trade, farming or mining, while military buildings allow the training of more advanced unit types. Many unit types, such as Spanish Jinetes or Polish Retainers, are called unique units and are restricted to a single faction; other units can only be trained within a single province, but can be created by any faction holding that province. Some special unit types shared by only a few factions, such as Knights Templar, are also called 'unique', though this is not strictly true. Most of the time these units appear in the form of Orders of Knighthood (Knights Templar, Teutonic Knights, Hospitallers, Knights of Santiago) and can be recruited only in conjunction with a Crusade.

Military units consist of up to 100 men (on default unit sizes), with cavalry units usually 40 strong, and certain infantry and foot archer units 60 strong, and are grouped into armies that can fight to control provinces. Fights take place on a 3D battlefield, with full tactical control given to the player (although battles can also be automatically resolved from the campaign map, speeding up games with extremely large confrontations that sometimes result in hours of battles per turn).

Faction leaders (variously called kings, emperors, sultans, khans, khalifahs, doges, grand princes or dukes) lead elite units of their own, as do their sons and brothers. The unit type for these 'royal units' is fixed for each faction: the Catholic factions all have Royal Knights, with the exception of the Swiss, who have Swiss Armoured Pikemen; Byzantine Emperors and princes fight as Kataphraktoi; princes of Novgorod or Russia lead Boyars; and Muslim factions have Ghulam Bodyguards, or Sipahi for the Ottoman Turks. Royal units without a king or prince can also be trained normally, but are expensive and (with the exception of Boyars and Kataphraktoi) under-sized compared to other cavalry units. This game also uses the YUT feature.


Ships can be built and used to control the various sea-regions. The usefulness of ships revolves around securing 'sea lanes', controlling the seas between one's own provinces and those abroad. A faction with a sea lane to a foreign port might gather intelligence on the port, land troops there, or gain income through trade. Ships can attack other ships, but all sea battles are simulated by the computer. In order to transport troops between provinces separated by an ocean a player must have control of the province from which the army will embark, have constructed a port in this province, and also control the sea lane connecting his province to the target province. As ports are normally destroyed during conquest of a province, it may be impossible to retreat after invading across the sea


Crusades can also be 'built'. Once one has been constructed, it can be targeted at a province, have more soldiers added to it, and sent forthrightly. A crusade is the only army that can peacefully cross a foreign province (but only if the faction permits it to pass, otherwise a battle will ensue). Crusades can only be launched with the permission of the Pope (usually only against non-Catholic or excommunicated Catholic provinces), and all crusades are dependent upon the continued succession of the Papacy, such that if the Pope is conquered, the crusade will automatically disband. Each crusade is also dependent on the 'Chapter House' in the province where it was created, such that if the province where the crusade was created is conquered, or the building where the crusade 'marker' was created is destroyed, the crusade will then also automatically disband. Unless the Pope has called for a crusade against a particular faction, the launching of a crusade costs money (on top of the 3000 florin creation cost, depends on the faction's aggressions against the true Catholics) in the form of a donation to the Papacy. A crusading army is limited to the most direct course to its target, meaning that the player can only usually choose between, at most, two provinces to cross every turn; also crusades cannot be disbanded until the target has been conquered, meaning that any provinces captured during the march need to be garrisoned by the player's own troops. Each faction can only have one crusade active at a time although multiple crusade 'markers' can be built and stockpiled. Muslim nations can conversely have multiple jihads active. Jihads cost nothing extra, but can only be used to retake a province previously controlled by a Muslim faction (a sort of counter-Crusade). When first initiated, a crusade or jihad begins with a randomly generated core of soldiers (which may include otherwise unbuildable units such as religious fanatics and knights of crusading orders, such as Templars or Teutonic Knights). The controlling faction can add more soldiers to it, while others may join voluntarily as it proceeds (depending on the zeal of each province) —even defecting from another faction's armies to do so. The number of new troops joining a crusade or jihad depends on the zeal of the province that the crusade or jihad is passing through; if it is higher than 50% the army will gain strength, if it is substantially lower than 50% the army might decrease in size.

Non-military units

Non-military units, collectively referred to as 'agents', can also be trained. Christian agents include political units such as emissaries, spies and assassins, religious units such as bishops, cardinals, inquisitors, and grand inquisitors, and one royal unit, the princess (who must be born, and cannot be trained). These units for the most part conduct domestic and foreign relations. Emissaries can be used to conclude alliances (by either meeting directly with the foreign ruler, meeting with one of his emissaries, or proposing a marriage between a foreign princess and a royal male) bribe foreign armies, strip political dignitaries of previously bestowed titles, and reveal specifics about foreign provinces (such as the number of military units stationed there, and the province's technological and agricultural advances). Spies can be used to reveal much more detailed information about foreign rulers, their provinces, and their subjects, such as specific strengths and weaknesses that could be utilized to a ruler's advantage. Assassins can be ordered to kill both foreign and domestic units, be they rulers, generals, princes, or other agents. Assassinating foreign rulers temporarily decreases the loyalty of that ruler's provinces, and the valour and morale of enemy military units. If the ruler has no heirs the faction is eliminated from contention (except for the Holy Roman Empire, which elects a new emperor if there are no heirs able to control the throne, and the Papacy, whose popes do not produce heirs and are always elected). Assassinating a general decreases the valour and morale of the units that were under that general's command. Assassinating a religious unit can halt the spread of that faction's faith. Assassinating political agents puts a stop to whatever service they were performing, such as seeking an alliance or spying. Ordering the assassination of one's own units can eliminate militaristic or religious trouble makers (such as cowardly generals or over-zealous inquisitors), or future heirs (whose negative or incompetent attributes may cause riots or disloyalty were they to ascend the throne). The more important and significant the assassin's target is, the less likely he is to succeed; in some cases, such as a well guarded emperor or khalifah, the assassin's likelihood of success can be listed as 0%. Bishops and cardinals increase the zeal of a province and spread the faith of their ruler. Inquisitors and grand inquisitors greatly increase the zeal of a province, and can root out heresy and religious malcontent in a province. Through marriage, princesses can forge alliances with foreign rulers or strengthen ties of loyalty between a ruler and his generals.

Agents and military commanders have various attributes indicating their skill. For agents, this is simply a rating, from zero upwards, referred to as 'rank' or 'valour'. The higher their rating, the more effective they are in their services (emissaries are more successful at bribing armies, resisting assassination, or forming alliances; assassins are more likely to kill their assigned targets; religious units resist assassination and spread their relative faith faster). Generals also have rank as their Command ability, but are also rated on Loyalty (or Influence for a faction leader), Piety, Dread and Acumen. These influence their ability to govern a province as well as command battles. A pious governor will improve the loyalty of a zealous population of the same religion, while one with great acumen will increase the income from his province. Sometimes, a unit will be trained with unusually high abilities and the name of a famous historical figure. For example, Saxo Grammaticus or Thomas à Becket appear as three-rank bishops, while commanders like Tancred de Normandie, Joan of Arc, Frederick Barbarossa, Richard the Lionheart, Saladin, Alexius I Comnenus, Robin of Locksley, Henry the Lion, Llywelyn the Great or El Cid are great generals and leaders.

On top of these ratings, it is possible to shape the personality of individual kings and generals. The progression of time, and notable actions performed by generals, often lead to them gaining certain 'traits', called Vices and Virtues, that can influence their ratings and certain other values. For example, a general who often retreats is seen as a coward, and his men will be more likely to run away themselves in the future. A general who orders the execution of captured rebels generates a reputation for bloodthirstiness and increases Dread (a good thing), but also robs his soldiers of their share of ransom money and thereby decreases their morale (a bad thing). Moving the "princess" icon onto a relative will give them the "incest" attribute, which, if revealed by a spy, will cause a significant loss in that character's Piety rating, and can cause rioting and uprising in particularly zealous provinces. Many Vices and Virtues will, however, be acquired randomly

Rebellions and Civil Wars

Rebellions occur if the loyalty of a particular province falls too low and it works in much the same way as in Shogun Total War. Province loyalty can be influenced by a number of factors such as the tax level number of troops and number of turns it would take the ruler to reach the province. If for any reason it becomes impossible for the ruler to reach a province then the loyalty will plummet. Getting your ruler trapped on an island, say, can lead to a massive general revolt. Civil Wars do not differ greatly from rebellions in effect - only in cause. If a large number of unit commanders have low loyalty then there is potentially a civil war. This will be triggered if there is a large stack commanded by a disloyal general who will lead the rebellion. During a civil war, generals with higher loyalty will remain under control of the current ruler, while those with low loyalty (usually three or lower) will join the rebellion. The player is given the choice to back the rebels and there may be something to gain by engineering a civil war if you can so replace a poor ruler. Leaders with high enough Piety can command support from the religious population of a province if that province is conquered by another faction of differing religion (an army will appear under player control).

It had been planned to allow other kingdoms who had established a prior claim to the throne by marriage to princesses to join in a civil war to claim the throne for themselves. However this was never implemented.

Command line switches

MTW can be easily modified by using command line switches. This can be done by modifying the shortcut.

Skip the following bit if you already know how to modify a shortcut: - Find the shortcut you use to run MTW. - Right-click on it and select "Properties". - You should see a tabbed popup box which somewhere on it will say "Target" with a box containing the path to the MTW exe. For example, mine says "C:\Program Files\Total War\Medieval - Total War\Medieval_TW.exe" which is the default install path. - Add a space and the capital D to the end of this text. In this case mine would say: "C:\Program Files\Total War\Medieval - Total War\Medieval_TW.exe" D - Then click OK or Apply, and run the game by the shortcut.

Available switches:

D debug mode, runs in a smaller screen
C self run mode, just let the AI fight itself (mostly the same is -ian)
-old_rebels uses a different way of generating rebellions
-green_generals newly created replacement is non-experienced
-loyalty:X set the suto tax to maintain X loyalty
-bbc appaerant allow the host to pause MP games
-strictserver you may also need to have this off for pause



MTW divides the strategic map among a large number of factions. There are three types of factions: major playable factions (any one of which the player chooses to control), major unplayable factions, and minor factions. Major factions, listed below, can control several provinces, have hereditary rulers, and generally act in an organized manner. They have a faction flag and distinctive color. Minor factions control a single province, usually raise only low-quality troops, and rarely act with any kind of coordination. They represent minor states or kingdoms (such as Scotland, Navarre, or Portugal), the side in a civil war not holding the throne, and rebels and bandits. The initial extent of each major faction's territory depends on the starting period of the game—Early (1087), High (1205) or Late (1321), reflecting the historical state of these factions over time. A fan-made mod called MTW: Super Mod adds 27 factions, along with making all previously unplayable factions available, and makes it so some provinces and factions are playable only during certain periods. The mod also includes new provinces (such as Iceland).


The Almohads (faction colour orange) are the Berbers of Iberia and North Africa, one of the three Muslim major factions in Medieval. They have strong units early, and have access to Berber Camels and Almohad Urban Militia, which are useful in combating horse cavalry. They represent the Berbers and Moor sultanates of real history


The Byzantines (faction colour purple) are the major Orthodox faction. Events in Byzantine history are also used to divide the periods covered in the game: the historical sack of Constantinople by the Venetians during the Fourth Crusade marks the start of the High period in 1205, and the fall of the same city to the Ottoman Turks in 1453 marks the end of the game.

The Byzantines have a greater number of unique units available to them than any other faction except the Turks. Several of these unique units, such as Kataphraktoi, Trebizond Archers, and Varangian Guard, give this faction a significant advantage early on, but as time advances to the High and Late periods these units become increasingly outdated, with some units becoming unavailable.


The Danes (faction colour white) are a Catholic faction. They are well suited for an early trading strategy (thanks to their unique Viking longboat units), while aided in battle by their unique Viking infantry units. They cannot launch crusades.


The Egyptians (faction colour dark yellow) are a Muslim faction, representing the Fatimid and successive dynasties in Egypt and other Near Eastern provinces that number among the wealthiest and most profitable lands on the MTW map. Egypt can marshal some unique Mamluk and other desert-dwelling units, giving them an advantage when fighting in the Middle East and North Africa.


The English (faction colour red) are a Catholic faction with good provinces and two unique unit types (longbowmen and billmen), as well as sharing hobilars (early light cavalry) with the French, giving a small image of medieval English army. The game begins in 1087, marking the death of England's Norman king William the Conqueror.Their special crusade unit are the Knights Templar which they share with the French.


The French (faction colour blue) are a Catholic faction. All their unit types are shared with at least one other faction, however several French provinces have rich farmland and give a bonus to particular unit types trained there, such as Chivalric Knights and crossbowmen.


The Germans (faction colour black), who represent the Holy Roman Empire, are a large Catholic faction. They have access to some unique and special units, including the supremely heavy Gothic knights (which they share with the Italians). Unlike the other faction leaders, the Holy Roman Emperor is elected, which can be useful — usually the death of an heir-less leader spells disaster, but the Germans simply elect a new one. However, local lords have little loyalty to the Emperor, so civil war is more likely. Their special crusade unit are the Teutonic Knights.


The Italians (faction colour dark green) are a Catholic faction representing the city states of northern Italy, such as Venice and Genoa. They have access to Gothic Knights (which they share with the Holy Roman Empire), as well as early access to high quality Italian spearmen. Their special crusade unit are the Knights Hospitalier.


The Polish (faction colour maroon) are a Catholic faction. They cannot launch crusades. Polish Retainers are on a par with Feudal Knights, and have much lower building requirements, but they are unavailable in the Early era if the game has been patched to v1.1 or later.


The Orthodox Russians (faction colour light blue) only become available in the High and Late periods, developing from the non-playable people of Novgorod in the Early game. This represents the historical decline of the Kievan Rus', centred on Novgorod, after the fall of Constantinople to the Fourth Crusade (which marks the start of the High period), and the rise to dominance of the Russian people of the north and northeast of that realm. Their royal unit, the Boyars, are one of only two royal units in the game that are mounted and armed with both bows and swords.


The Castilian Spanish (faction colour bright yellow) are a Catholic faction. They have access to high quality cavalry units, such as javelin-armed jinetes and lancers, which are among the most powerful assault cavalry in the game. The Spanish are also the faction who launches the most crusades. Their special crusade unit are the Knights of Santiago. The Spanish also have good siege weapons.


The Turks (faction colour light green) are a Muslim faction representing the Seljuk and Ottoman Turks. Even in the early period, despite facing a supreme Byzantine Empire, they have a fine selection of cavalry which are useful for classic Turkish warfare. They become very powerful later in the game, as they gain access to high quality Janissary and Ottoman units. They are also, along with the Russians, one of the two factions to have bow armed royal bodyguard units, the Sipahi of the Porte, although these only become available in the Late age.

Unplayable Factions

  • The Aragonese begin with a single province and their faction colour is light pink; their units are identical to those of the Spanish. This faction becomes playable in Viking Invasion. They are a Catholic nation who are able to 'crusade'. In the late period, they also own Sicily.
  • The Golden Horde appear abruptly from the east, usually disrupting all eastern factions. They come with powerful forces, comprised largely of unique units. Their faction colour is gold.
  • The Hungarians start in the boundaries of Greater Hungary. Their faction colour is light red. This faction becomes playable in Viking Invasion. They are a Catholic faction but are unable to crusade, like the Danes and the Poles.
  • The people of Novgorod are essentially the unplayable Early period predecessors of the Russians. Differences between the two are otherwise minimal. Their faction colour is that of the Russians — light blue.
  • The Papacy is a Catholic faction. Its political power extends far beyond its territories to all Catholic factions. Excommunication is a constant threat to any Catholic ruler who is too aggressive to fellow Catholic factions, and an immediate reality to any who invade Papal territory. For a Catholic ruler, excommunication goes beyond bearing a bad label, as the loyalty of the population of zealous Catholic provinces towards their excommunicated ruler significantly decreases, causing uprisings and rebellions in provinces that are not occupied by large standing armies or governed by strong and favourable leaders. New Crusades cannot be launched, and existing Crusading armies dismantle and their military might is disbanded. Defeating the Pope means that a faction can establish a puppet ruler, but the true Pope will make many repeated attempts to assemble an army and regain his sovereignty, unless his former lands are kept under watch by large standing armies. On the other hand, maintaining a peaceful foreign policy with the Pope and Catholic factions, as well as waging war on non-Catholic factions or Catholic factions that have fallen out of favour with the Pope, can often result in monetary rewards for "services rendered to the Church." The Papal faction colour is cream, and their armies are made up of only the units common to all Catholic factions.
  • The Norman Sicilians have the basic Catholic unit roster, and are a crusading faction recruiting Knights Templar. Like the Italians, the Sicilians often employ their naval and seafaring advantage when expanding into other territories. Their faction colour is dark grey. This faction becomes playable in Viking Invasion.
  • The Swiss emerge in the Late period if Switzerland is not held firmly and loyally by a major faction. Their royal unit, Swiss armoured pikemen, is arguably the strongest infantry unit in the game. Their faction colour is grey.
  • The Burgundians occasionally emerge in the later period of the game and occupy the province of Burgundy. Military aggression outside of Burgundy is rare for this faction, and any role they play in Late period political events is minor compared to the other unplayable factions. They are a light blue colour and are led by a Duke; their army's units are identical to those of the French.

All of these factions can be made playable by editing the game's data files, but this is not endorsed by the game developers and can have adverse effects if done improperly. In particular, the Papacy is heavily scripted, leading to crashes if it is not computer-controlled. Despite this editing data files is fairly popular due to the new options it provides.

Expansion pack factions

These factions are playable with the Viking Invasion Expansion Pack. They exist only on an enlarged map of the British Isles and western Scandinavia set in the 8th Century.

  • The Vikings start in Jutland and Norway and have special units, especially naval units, which can travel far and fast. Unlike all of the other factions (which are uniformly Christian), they are pagans and receive extra cash rewards for destroying buildings in a province. They can be converted to Christianity by the other factions, which can reduce their potency. The game has been designed, in order to boost historical accuracy, that Vikings have exceptionally powerful ships and raiding bonuses and the fact that they will quickly go bankrupt if no raids are made. Their faction colour is white.
  • Mercia is an Angle faction, and starts in the English midlands. This faction's colour is light blue.
  • Northumbria is an Angle faction based in northern England. These are usually the first target of the Viking raids, especially in Beornice. This faction's colour is yellow.
  • Wessex is a Saxon faction based in western England. This faction's colour is red.
  • The Welsh are a Brythonic faction divided between Wales proper and Cerniu (Cornwall). Their colour is green.
  • The Irish are Gaelic faction situated in Ireland. Their colour is light green.
  • The Scots are a Gaelic faction, and control Ulster in northern Ireland and the western coast of Scotland (Dalriada). Their colour is dark blue.
  • The Picts are a Celtic faction inhabiting the most of Scotland and control quite a few provinces, though they are in general unprofitable. Their colour is brown.


The multiplayer aspect of Medieval: Total War is still active. With the release of Medieval 2: Total War, the future is uncertain. The community is divided between non-expansion Medieval: Total War (MTW) and Viking Invasion Expansion Pack (VI). VI players cannot join MTW games and vice versa. The two do share the main lobby however. The game survives mainly on the network of clans in place. However since then, many players have stayed in MTW. Some players never bothered to buy the expansion pack when it was released and others prefer MTW because of the differences between it and VI (see below).

The multiplayer aspect of the game is real time battle only. The campaign cannot be played multiplayer.

Other mods

There are other mods available for Medieval: Total War. For example, the NTW mods, or the Napoleonic Total War, is available for the Viking Invasion expansion pack and allows players to fight in conditions similar to those of 19th Century battles. It can be found at [1]. Others include Hellenic Total War, which allows players to fight battles in ancient Greece, which can be found at [2], and Pike and Musket Total War, which can be found at [3], which allows players to fight in the Renaissance period. PMTW has many unique features for MTW, such as the ability to build colony buildings that give access to special titles and special colonial troops.

Another prolific mod is MTW:XL ([4]) which adds many new and previously unplayable factions (e.g. the Burgundians) and many more new units, for example the Norman Knight. There are also several stat changes and minor bug fixes. The mod is somewhat unbalanced however since a lot of the new factions can't expand or defend because of being surrounded by nations with larger amounts of land.

The newest mod is Age of Warlords ([5]), which for the first time adds the North Atlantic and North America to the game in a Medieval setting, and offers many new playable factions, including the Eskimo and Algonquin Tribes, as well as hundreds of new units, the Cathar heresy, and many other significant new features.

Differences between MTW and VI

The major difference between MTW and VI is a bug (termed "swipe" by players) that was fixed in the expansion pack.Template:Fact This bug allows players to give their cavalry unlimited charging bonus if utilized.


The original music soundtrack for the game was composed by Jeff van Dyck, who also wrote the music for the other games in the Total War franchise.

See also


External links