So as you may be aware by now, we’ll be starting off a new Medieval 2: Total War playthrough this coming Sunday, and that means we need to pick a new faction. Naturally, I have a few ideas for which faction would work best, but I’m interested in the community view as well, so let’s go over a few likely candidates.
The obvious choice, but not necessarily my preferred candidate. England has probably my favourite army in the game, with fun infantry like the billmen, and some great archers with their unique stake-laying ability, plus a really fun early game while you unify the UK. However, once the UK is taken, that leaves you with 7 provinces that should be almost entirely safe, and given you’re tucked away in North West Europe, you’re surrounded by Catholic nations with limited room to expand.
An interesting campaign, with the advantages of a fun early-game enemy in the form of the Moors, and a good challenge due to Spain’s slightly weak infantry that’s better at skirmishing than actually holding the line, so eventual war against other Catholics is very difficult. It’s also nice to have two really different fronts, with Africa to the south, and the rest of Europe over the Pyrenees. It’s also nice that Spain starts with only two territories, so you get to build the Empire from almost nothing.
A very challenging campaign – possibly the hardest in the game, in fact – with potential enemies on every side throughout the game, and thus a tricky political and diplomatic game to play. France also has a really diverse army with loads of fun units, including some interesting militia tech in the mid game. The only major downside is that France starts with 5 territories, with standing armies sufficient to convert that to 7 within a couple of turns, so you just get given a fair few towns and generals at the start, rather than getting to build it up yourself. Though you could also argue that helps gets things up to speed more quickly.
Those are the only three I’m considering (yes, the Holy Roman Empire has Roman in the title, but I don’t like their starting location and I think their army’s a bit generic, and yes, the Byzantines are the surviving Romans, but then you completely miss loads of fun mechanics like the Pope and Crusades, and yes Venice is sort-of-a-bit Roman but I don’t enjoy the North Italian factions because Militia Pavise Crossbowmen basically make the entire game way too easy).