Who could be the hero of an AoE II Romans campaign?

So with Return of Rome, it seems we are getting three new AoE I campaigns, and unfortunately not the old AoE I campaigns. Moreover, it seems the new AoE II Roman civilisation represents the late Western Empire. I saw devs mentionning the date of 395, which makes a lot of sense as it is the final split between Western and Eastern. It also makes sense, as the AoE II time window is basically 12 centuries (5th to 16th, from Alaric 410 to Point Noryang 1598).

In this context, who would impersonate the late Western Roman Empire the best, and be the best subject matter for the AoE II Roman civilisation? Sure, we could probably have Julius Caesar, Augustus, or even Trojan in AoE II, but a 5th century general, attempting at saving the Empire feels more appropriate?

I feel there are two main contenders: general Flavius Aetius, who repelled Attila the Hun at the Catalaunian plains battle, and emperor Majorian (emperor 457 - 461) who was the last to really try, and almost succeed, to reunite the Empire. In both cases, I can see the narrative as follows: a young general, learnt the know and naviguate through the maze of 5th century Western politics and system of foedi alliances, and rose to commandership. In the middle of the campaign, they though excruciatingly difficult, large-scale battles, requiring diplomacy to keep all Barbarian and Roman allies together. At last, in the final scenario, after taking measures to ########## the Empire, they are betrayed and murdered/executed, leaving the Epire to its doom…

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I proposed a Roman campaign like The Grand Dukes called “The Last Romans” with Aetius, Majorian and Aegidius for 40 years (425-463)…you would have 2 missions with Aetius (Arles and Catalaunian Plains), 2 with Majorian (Garigliano and Arelate) and the last one with Aegidius (Orleans)…

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I Copy and paste from another topic…

Really for Romans campaign in aoe2 there are so many options:

Constantine, the one who built the later Roman empire completing Diocletian’s reforms, many battles against barbarians and rivals (massentius and licinius), rise of Constantinople, Christianity etc …

Julian, last pagan emperor, defeated the alemanni in Gaul and was acclaimed by the army, his campaign against the Sassanids however was a mistake… Very dramatic character, kinda “how the mighty have fallen” like

Theodosius, both father and son, the first saved Britain from barbarians one last time and the son had to fight Magnus maximus, usurper in the same Britain of his father, and later unified the empire for one last time by defeating arbogast and eugenius

Stilicho, half vandal general, starts from Theodosius reign and defended Rome from being sacked before its time defeating goths, vandals, Alans etc. Betrayed and killed by emperor honorius thus condemning Rome against Alaric.

Aetius, Roman general and rival of Attila, would be the best choice to tell the Huns campaign from the other side, but not only that, he fought Boniface at the beginning of his career and other battles, followed the same fare of stilicho, murdered by jealous valentinian III

Ricimer, suebian patrician that was puppeteer of many of the last western emperors, could be a “bad guy” kind of campaign where you have to kill even the poor majorian but in the end being victim of a similar fate, still he defended successfully Italy from vandals and many other invasions

Majorian, last great western emperor, managed to reconquer Gaul, Spain and was ready to retake Africa before being murdered by ricimer, tragic guy, for sure would be a great pick, was friend of aegidius, the guy that would later create the kingdom of Soissons

For early eastern empire if you consider it:

Justinian, there already are custom campaigns about him, there’s variety since you can fight against Persians, the Nika rebellion, then against vandals in Africa the next scenario, then in Italy against goths, franks and alemanni, even in Spain… Both belisarius and narses could be protagonists

Maurice, again war against Sassanids, the Lombards in Italy and finally against Avars and Slavs invasion in the Balkans, important and underrated emperor, wanted to divide again eastern and western empires but followed a tragic end, killed by a centurion named phocas who would become emperor after the army’s rebellion

Heraclius, last Latin Augustus and First greek Basileus of Constantinople, could start from his father, an Armenian who became exarch of Carthage and then dethrone phocas the usurper in Constantinople, but the main focus of the campaign should be him resisting Avars and Persians sieging the city and then counterattack and reconquer all provinces lost to Sassanids from Egypt to Armenia, truly impressive accomplishment… Was the last Roman persian war, after that Muslims came but I’m not sure if to include this since after that every scenario would be about losing until heraclius death

After them it’s Byzantine history I’d say.

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In my opinion it doesn’t make much historical sense to have Romans in aoe2 and make them start in 395. The cultural and militar roots of late Romans take place at least with Diocletian and Constantine (even before but let’s ignore that), starting with Theodosius is like starting with the disintegration already in act which it’s not ideal for any civ to represent. Would be like putting the Dutch starting from 1581 instead of Frisians or Hollanders.
Also you just do not have civs (no goths ## ##### nor apt buildings nor apt units nor religion ### ########### in aoe1 to represent the IV century Roman empire, it’s easier to put it in aoe2, it was more medieval than classical by that point anyway. Aoe1 starts in stone age and ends with classical antiquity (for now) which is by the crysis of the third century (small stretch onward) leaving late antiquity better represented in aoe2 even if could be better for sure.

Great, informative posts SamePorpoise303! I agree with your take and suggestions. There are a lot of options when it comes to a campaign; unfortunately the late Roman period is often overlooked by people.

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That’s true… a lot of chronological mess

I also quite like the idea of a Ricimer campaign. Would cast a broader net than a Majorian one alone (~17 years as opposed to ~11, although Majorian would take up the majority of the campaign, so to speak), and his role as barbarian puppetmaster to a bunch of emperors, as he could never aspire to be emperor himself, would make for an interesting storyline.

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The idea of a general idea around the fall of the (western) Empire is not a bad idea, but it goes against the continuity of one story.

Then for the eastern Empire, it is a bit difficult to say, but I guess Justinian, etc. would also be represented by the Byzantines?

Deciding of when to cut between the Antiquity and Middle Ages is difficult, but I am actually happy with the usual 476 datation, as the West was not quite Feudal yet, but there was no temporal authority to put it all together anymore. Moreover, the ‘Dark Ages’ start with the dissolution of central authority, the demographic and economic crisis, and the progressive forbiddening of a lot of different ways of thinking. Not going to only make friends with speaking of ‘Dark Ages’, but this was rooted in the 3rd century crisis, but only became impossible to revert in the 4th centrury.

I like-ish the idea of Ricimer: on the one hand, presenting the point of vue of a Barbarian puppetmaster sounds interesting and different, but on the other one, Aetius or Majorian make for a compelling story of wanting to save the Empire at all costs. I am unsure we can quite say the same for Ricimer, who was first serving his own interests.

PS: Apologies at being so slow to answer!

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Indeed I’d put the beginning of aoe2 timeframe with Constantine even if yes the crysis of the third century could arguably be included (but palmyrans are in aoe1 so…), Specially now that Romans are in game and it would make little sense having added them just for aetius and majorian (whose armies were more barbarian than Roman already).

I think Aetius is the best choice. It definitely has to be close to the dark ages…Since we have the huns, I think that’s the time frame to pursue.

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You can make your player to train norse warriors if you want.

Anyways, Majorian story is one of the most compeling of the late Western Empire, I would say. Even more than Aetius.

An Empire raging against the dying of the light, not going gently into the good night. Refusing to die, showing the world once again what it was capable of. And then, just like that, it’s spark gone. Killed in treason, for the quest of power. Not even a glorious death in battle, just greed

For the Romans : The Last Romans : Aetius, Majorian, Aegidius and Syagrius. Ending with the fall of the last roman area to the Franks, after Rome has fallen.

For the Byzantines, Heraclius would be the best choice, a fight to the death againt Persia ending with the beginning of the muslim conquests.

A Belisarius campaign could mix the Romans and the Byzantines, depending on where the campaign happens (Belisarius using the Romans in the West after having taken Africa).

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Idk Heraclius is arguably more Romans than byzantines (I mean the current byz civ, greek fire was invented under Constantine IV for example which is later) or at least a mix. A Byzantine campaign in aoe2 imho should depict proper byzantines for how they’re presented in game, from Leo III on… From komnenos to basil II you still have lot of choice.

Aetius is the safest bet being somehow already present in Attila. Stilicho would have been in the same position if the Alaric campaign didn’t decide to ignore him lol.

Majorian and ricimer would still be very cool for sure. Yes ricimer was technically not Roman but the army he was leading was it (similar to Saladin and Saracens) and he did in fact, despite being ill intentioned, defended Italy from many invasions, Alans, vandals, burgundii etc. Both him and majorian would not fall short of scenarios for sure. With ricimer you could even depict the third and final sack of Rome in 472 (even odoacer was there), shortly after which he died, leaving the lead of the empire to the Burgundian gundobad, for what was worth at that point.

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The Romans are supposed to be the Western Empire while the Byzantines are the Eastern Empire. Maybe you could start the first mission as the Romans as Heraclius started in Africa to revolt against Phocas, but once in control of Constantinople it’s the Byzantines. Yes greek fire wasn’t invented yet but almost every civ have access to fire ships instead of being a byzantine UU, and the main sea mission would be the defensive siege of Constantinople, making greek fire premature by one century.

Yeah but then what about later and more proper byzantines? When Heraclius was emperor not even themata were a thing yet and some legions still existed in the Levant before the Arabs came. You’ve got centuries not covered just to cover something which is in the middle and is dubious. But the same would be for Justinian, still Romans to me… Anyway I’m ok with everything that can replace Bari ahah.

I think Majorian or Ricimer are the best options, if you like a hopefull campaign you can choose Majorian, if you want a darker one you can choose Ricimer.

But you cannot have a campaign of the very late Roman Empire without the Vandals… no matter wich “hero” you want, they are just to important to the fall of western empire

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Half of the campaigns shouldn’t have trebuch3ts, yet here we are

Technically only the counterweight trebuchet was invented in the 11th century, traction trebuchets (which should be how the mangonel looks like) are older.

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Mangonels are the old trebuchets. They didn’t evolve into onagers and actually superseded them in the west.

Also, Majorian is cool