Civilization 5 Fall of Rome Scenario Strategy and Achievement Guide

The Fall of Rome Scenario for Civilization 5 lasts 70 turns from roughly 380 AD to 475 AD. One turn is ~1.5 years so that within a reasonable number of turns the game covers the first half of the (Great) Migration Period and the eponymous Fall of the Roman Empire. The era that followed was (with some dark centuries in between) the Viking Age. In terms of complexity, potential outcomes and just sheer opportunities, Fall of Rome is most certainly the 2nd best scenario right after Into the Renaissance. Eight playable civilizations, Eastern Rome and Western Rome teaming up, Barbarians engaging in border quarrels with one another: All these things make this scenario interesting and versatile and eventually make each Fall of Rome strategy quite unique.

Civilization 5 Fall of Rome Scenario Map

The map is not dynamic, so as usually you’ll find a map for the scenario in this separate blog post: Civilization 5 Scenario Fall of Rome Map. Also in 2020 I’ve updated this map and shared it via the Steam community: Fall of Rome scenario map

The Fall of Rome scenario comes 6 Steam Achievements. The strategies for those Steam Achievements are mostly simple, since they don’t require Deity difficulty. Also I’ll say it straight out: I do believe some of these achievements are impossible on Deity! However: There is one Steam Achievement that requires the highest level of Difficulty: “Pax Romana Aeternum”. Read about all of the achievements in this post and get an overview of the strategy guides playing all Civs on Deity. Further below you’ll also find general advice on this scenario.

Fall of Rome Steam Achievements

Et tu, Brute

Et tu, Brute Steam Achievement

Unlocked 24 Feb, 2014 @ 9:15pm

Win the Fall of Rome scenario.

Turks Shmurks!

Turks Shmurks! Steam Achievement

Unlocked 24 Feb, 2014 @ 10:22am

Capture Constantinople as any enemy power in the Fall of Rome scenario.

In my opinion this one should be called “Goths Sloths”, since it’s much easier and more likely to capture Constantinople playing the Goths.

Double KO

Double KO Steam Achievement

Unlocked 24 Feb, 2014 @ 10:22am

Capture both Rome and Constantinople in the same game in the Fall of Rome scenario.

Double KO, at least on higher levels of difficulty, is only possible playing the Goths. Neither other civilization is in striking distance of both respective capitals without messing (too much) with 3rd Barbarian parties.

Pax Romana Aeternum

Pax Romana Aeternum Steam Achievement

Unlocked 11 Mar, 2014 @ 8:46am

Win the game as Eastern or Western Rome on Deity and have all your original cities under your control in the Fall of Rome scenario.

I personally have only achieved that playing Eastern Rome. Western Rome, being under attack at land and sea by 4 other players is just too much to stomach, compared to Eastern Rome being harassed by “only” 3 AIs.

I Missed That Day in History Class

I Missed That Day in History Class Steam Achievement

Unlocked 1 Mar, 2014 @ 11:31am

Capture any Sassanid city as the Celts in the Fall of Rome scenario.

The first scenario / Steam Achievement strategy guide I wrote here. It’s been a while…

I Sunk Your Imperial Capital!

I Sunk Your Imperial Capital! Steam Achievement

Unlocked 25 Feb, 2014 @ 9:10am

Capture Rome as the Vandals using a boat in the Fall of Rome scenario.

Fall of Rome Strategy

Things you can’t control

I do believe the order of turns plays a huge role. Building one unit before the enemy builds one (or not) can be a tipping point. It can determine the outcome of a battle, but also if the battle takes place at all. Because if you’re one unit stronger, the AI might decide to turn it’s army elsewhere.

The biggest difference here, I encountered playing the Huns: In one game I encountered fierce resistance by the Sassanids which I could only overcome by sneak attacking their capital. In the second game resistance was minimal and I overran them. Compare both games in this guide: Fall of Rome Spec Ops: The Huns Deity Strategy

Barbarian Wars of Brothers

I’ve learned this through various failed Deity attempts: Playing as one Barbarian civilization (Celts, Franks, Goths, Vandals), ridding oneself of neighbors does not lead to victory:

Yes, they won’t hassle you anymore after they’ve been defeated (which is possible), but you won’t score Victory Points for their cities. Once you’re finished with them, you’ll run out of time scoring VP against Rome. By that time one of three things will have happened, all depending on the Eastern theater (sorted by likelihood):

  1. Eastern Rome’s defense stays strong: You can’t catch up with the combined score of both Eastern and Western Rome.
  2. Eastern Rome falls to the Huns, who also keep the Sassanids in check and score tremendously so that you can’t catch up. Or vice versa:
  3. The Sassanids overrun Eastern Rome and defend solidly against the Huns.

So you won’t have the means to take on both Rome and neighboring Barbarians. On the contrary: While playing one Barbarian nation, all neighboring Barbarians will send armies your way, trying to conquer you. A solid defense to either side is required, but should not distract from the road to Rome (or Constantinople respectively).

Unique Units and unique weaknesses

The unique traits of each civilization hugely vary in usefulness:

The Huns have the biggest advantages. Attila’s unique trait (+movement) makes Battering Rams and Horse Archers deadly mobile in enemy territory.

While the Celts, Franks and Goths have strong melee units, the respective second units of the Vandals and both Roman empires are neglectable:

  • Trihemiolias are amazing, while Axemen are not much stronger than the units they replace.
  • Legions are great, while Ballistae pretty much suck.
  • Dromons are a blast, while Cataphracts don’t keep their promise.

Combat and Conquest

In normal games of Civilization research and technology play a much bigger role than in this scenario. This is both blessing and curse: While more and faster technological research makes warfare more versatile it also means strategy and tactics change frequently, depending on your and your opponents technological level.

The Into the Renaissance scenario is different: Both Pikemen and Crossbowmen will be the backbone of your military until the end. I always prefer Crossbowman, because they’re no melees and don’t need to move to attack. When the time comes and the economy can support loads of units, I mainly spam these. They also don’t need any resources unlike Longswordsmen or Musketmen or any mounted unit. The bigger empires (the AI!) will always have loads of those, because they’ll have resources in abundance. We have to make due with the little we have.

Fall of Rome Strategy Guides (Deity)

Being a bit addicted to the challenge of winning scenarios with all Civilizations on Deity difficulty, the Fall of Rome scenario posed quite a challenge: While it’s straight forward and easy with some civs, it’s a curse with others. Here’s my overview of Fall of Rome Deity wins and links to dedicated Fall of Rome strategy guides:

The Celts – Boudicca

Status: Not achieved on Deity

Unique Ability: Painted Rebels (Combat bonus (+50%) when fighting against a civilization with more cities. Treats forests in friendly territory as roads. Embarked units have +1 Movement and pay 1 movement point to move from sea to land.)
Unique Unit: Pictish Warrior
Unique Building: Ceilidh Hall

Playing the Celts I did neither win on Deity, nor did I manage to get the Steam Achievement “I Missed That Day in History Class” on Deity difficulty.

The Franks – Chlodio

Status: Achieved on Deity

Unique Ability: Regal Bloodline (Units ignore terrain cost when moving into any tile with Hills and move faster along rivers.)
Unique Unit: Seaxman (replaces Swordsman)
Unique Building: Mead Hall (replaces Circus)

Good fun playing the Franks on Deity. After figuring a lightweight defense against both my Celtic and Goth neighbors I marched on Rome. Read all about it in the Fall of Rome Franks Strategy Guide (Deity).

The Vandals – Genseric

Status: Achieved on Deity

Unique Ability: Mediterranean Pirates (Naval units will “recruit” defeated ships to fight on their side.)
Unique Units: Axeman (replaces Swordsman), Trihemiolia (replaces Trireme)

Dominating the seas playing the Vandals is amazing – great feeling to rival the Romans “Mare Nostrum”, capturing their fleet and eventually sacking Rome. More in the Fall of Rome Vandals Strategy Guide (Deity)

Western Rome – Honorius

Civilization 5 Scramble for Africa Italy Guiseppe Garibaldi

Status: Not achieved on Deity

Unique Ability: Battle Enrollment (Western Roman Empire Legions will recruit defeated enemies to their side.)
Unique Units: Ballista, Legion

Played it several times, but never successfully. Not beating the Fall of Rome scenario as original (Western) Rome is a stain on my record.

Eastern Rome – Theodora

Status: Achieved on Deity

Unique Ability: Theodosian Walls (+10% Combat Strength bonus if within 2 tiles of a Fort. Great Generals spawn 50% faster and provide an additional 10% combat bonus.)
Unique Units: Cataphract, Dromon

Yay! At least beating the Fall of Rome scenario playing Eastern Rome makes up a little bit for aforementioned shame.

The Goths – Alaric I

Status: Achieved on Deity

Unique Ability: Healthy Plundering (Combat units heal completely after pillaging a non-road improvement.)
Unique Unit: Gadrauth (replaces Swordsman)
Unique Building: Hov (replaces Market)

Leading the Goths not only to raid Eastern Rome, but to actually capture Constantinople was great. Read about it in the Fall of Rome Goths Strategy Guide (Deity).

The Huns – Attila

Status: Achieved on Deity

Unique Ability: Scourge of God (Start with Attila, the Scourge of God. All units gain +2 Movement. +2 Production from Pastures.)
Unique Units: Battering Ram, Horse Archer

Playing the Huns – a walk in the park! Stroll through the ancient empires of the Sassanids and Eastern Rome and indulge in the riches both fallen empires have to offer! More in this guide on Steam: Fall of Rome Spec Ops: The Huns Deity Strategy

The Sassanids – Bahram V

Status: Not achieved on Deity

Unique Ability: Achaemenid Legacy (Golden Ages last 50% longer. During a Golden Age, units receive +1 Movement and a +10% Combat Strength bonus.)
Unique Unit: Clibanarii (replaces Horseman)
Unique Building: Satrap’s Court

The third and last unachieved Deity victory. I’ll update this page as soon as I’ve beaten it. “It” meaning “the crap out of the Huns and Byzantians”.

21 thoughts on “Civilization 5 Fall of Rome Scenario Strategy and Achievement Guide”

  1. I’ve done some digging in the game files for this scenario and wanted to share my findings here- some of which is quite enlightening regarding how certain events play out, specifically which barbarian AI excel and which fail. You can verify my explanation by viewing the script yourself- see \Sid Meier’s Civilization V\Assets\DLC\Expansion\Scenarios\FallOfRomeScenario\TurnsRemaining.lua

    So first of all, there are no scripted “reinforcement waves” or free units for the AI after turn 0. They only get the starting army, nothing else. I suspect what people observe is the AI holding enormous armies in reserve, and using them to defend when invaded, or to attack when they reach a critical mass.

    As for the starting units, for AI empire civs(both Romes and Sassanids) have a fixed amount based on the difficulty level with no randomness whatsoever.

    Barbarian AI civs also get some of their units that manner, but they get most of their starting army from semi-random bonus spawns. These bonus spawns are groups of 8 to 9 units and can be categorized in two ways- which civ will own the group, and which Rome they are encouraged to attack. This is a list of all possible spawns:

    Attacking West Rome:
    Franks: 2 groups of 9 units
    Celts: 2 groups of 9 units

    Attacking East Rome:
    Vandals: 4 groups of 8 units (one group is partially bugged)
    Goths: 4 groups of 8 units
    Huns: 2 groups of 9 units

    The way the randomness factors in is like this: (on Deity) every possible group is spawned except for two at random- one group attacking West Rome will not spawn, and one attacking East Rome will not spawn. On lower difficulties, fewer groups will spawn.

    Which groups are chosen to spawn will likely have major implications for the direction of the game. For example, if you are playing as East Rome, you really do NOT want the Huns to keep both of their spawns. It makes defending Trebizond an RNG reload hell. This also explains how easy it is to defend Seleucia using Holysword’s tactics on that save file- because the Vandal group that would normally attack it DIDN’T SPAWN! The group that goes after Alexandria in that save is supposed to attack Caesarea, but I think the AI gets intimidated by its walls and hills. The least desirable group to lose as East Rome would be the Vandal group by Cyrene. It is partially bugged- each vandal group is supposed to spawn 3 Axeman and 5 Trihemiolias, but the Axemen in this group are not properly embarked and thus don’t spawn, nerfing this group by accident.

    As the Sassanids, you want the Huns to lose a spawn so you can focus on killing East Rome as soon as possible. It’s devastating if the Goths lose a spawn, as they will likely not make progress in the Balkans, leading to East Rome losing almost no cities and being able to focus its entire military might on your armies. The vandals losing a spawn is fine, as they usually don’t accomplish much in the East anyway.

    As Western Rome, it’s hard to say which is preferable. As for Celts vs Franks losing a spawn, the Franks are the stronger of the two but are easily held back by chokepoints. Once they take Trier and Casta, their larger army doesn’t have anywhere to go, so I think I slightly prefer the Celts losing a spawn, unless your strategy is to hold Casta. The Huns and Sassanids are the biggest score threats, but if you weaken one, you strengthen the other, so I’m not sure if the Huns losing a group helps. The Goths losing a group would make it easier to defend your partner’s cities in the Balkans, and the sooner that’s dealt with the sooner you can send those armies further east to the real threats. You definitely don’t want the Vandals to lose a spawn though, since they don’t accomplish much even against non-deity boosted East Rome.

    When playing as a barbarian yourself, you probably want your barbarian neighbor to lose a spawn, so they have less units and are less likely to attack you.

    Playing as the Romes, you can somewhat discern which groups didn’t spawn by checking your borders. The Franks might be missing some units by Trier or Casta, if not then the Celts lost some. If there are spaces by the ER/Goth border on the Danube, then the Goths lost a group. The Vandals can be hard to tell as half of their groups are out of vision. If you don’t see 3 Hun units by Trebizond, then they lost a group.

    Anyways, for anyone still trying this challenge, I hope this helps.

    1. Wow! That’s some in-depth analysis and super helpful for people attempting this. Some might consider this cheating, but since “replaying games until THIS random factor is in your favor” is only slightly less cumbersome than “heavy reload spam”, it makes sense. I’ll link to your comment from Holyswords guide 🙂

  2. Hey. I’ve been using your rather excellent deity guides to smash out the Civ 5 scenario achievements after ignoring them for about a decade.
    But I’ve noticed here the Pax Romana Aeternum, or specifically the Western Rome Deity guide, is missing. I’m hoping its just a broken link.

  3. I don’t think it is possible to beat this scenario on Deity as the Sassanids. And by beat, I mean that the Sassanids alone have more points than both the Eastern + Western Romans combined and any barbarians. Last night I had a very successful game where I took 14 Byzantine cities including Constantinople with 7 turns remaining, did not lose a single city to the Huns, and was still not even half of the score of the combined Roman empires. On top of this, Theodora lost three western cities to the Goths / Vandals and Western Rome only had 4 cities to end the game (so the AI barbarians had a pretty good run). How else would you be able to beat this scenario? You mentioned that you beat it in 2013 but didn’t write a guide

    1. Woah, it might be true. I just checked my blog overview spreadsheet: With the Sassanids I indeed only won on Emperor difficulty, not on Deity. That makes them one of the two civilizations/scenarios I did not beat on Deity (together with Western Rome). I’m tempted to try again though, because I’m still fairly sure if Western Rome is possible, so is beating it with the Sassanids.

    2. I have won as the Sassanids on deity by completely destroying Eastern Rome(which removes their points from Team Rome), although it’s as hard as winning as Western Rome without abusing RNG to capture units. The key points are: building culture infrastructure asap in order to achieve 3 Golden Ages and 4 social policies; getting the Huns out of the picture early by stealing any cities they capture, then fortifying the Caucasus mountains to prevent a counterattack; building markets then Satrap Courts in the midgame to keep unhappiness from spiraling out of control; pushing westward hard so that you have sufficient time to take the cities in Greece before time runs out(on my winning game I took Constantinople on turn 51). With that strategy, I was able to capture the only four remaining E. Rome cities on the last turn.

      Like playing as Western Rome, some luck is also involved. If any barbarian(the Franks probably) achieves significantly over 7000 points by taking W. Rome cities, then winning is impossible. The Goths also need to take some cities in the Balkans(but not too many, or they will block your access to Greece), and the Vandals need to take Mistra early so the E. Roman presence in the Aegean isn’t overwhelming.

    3. That is an impressive feat! And smart too. I have to admit to having been at the end of my wits: While it is possible to have a higher score than ONE of the Romes — I agree that it is impossible to have a score higher than BOTH of them. Wiping out Eastern Rome is a smart way to deal with that. I will give this more prominence and write about it (and try it myself at least a few times before!) in the new Fall of Rome Sassanids Deity article (work in progress 🙂 )

    4. Glad to hear you’re still making new guides! They’ve been a tremendous help in beating these scenarios, even when I decide to take a different approach.

      Btw, I just reviewed my winning save file and remembered that it might be a little easier than I thought- I refused to fully raze any Eastern Roman cities, which made happiness more difficult to manage(I was doing a bit of RP there, as a competing empire the Sassanids should be governing cities, not destroying them). But if primary goal is to win, then you don’t need to hold onto low-output cities like Palmyra that just add unhappiness without contributing anything.

      That fact makes me confident that total victory as the Sassanids is repeatable and even consistent, except for a few unlucky events such as the Franks going out of control.

  4. Is it possible to win as west rome on diety? I have tried before to no avail but you are a lot better at ciV than I am lol

    1. It is possible. I haven’t achieved this, but a selected few people have. There’s a guide here, but following it needs an attention to detail I can’t afford (and I would almost NOT consider it “playing” anymore). Check it out here. Good luck! 🙂

  5. Hello, do you have written guide for Pax Romana Aeternum achievement?

    1. Hey there! Unfortunately for Pax Romana Aeternum I haven’t gotten a guide. That is because I only started taking detailed notes AFTER I had this. Crazy achievement.
      Fortunately my Steam friend Holysword has written the single best guide for that, I have ever seen: Pax Romana Aeternum – The “Flawless Victory, Fatality!” Guide. Drop by and leave him a Steam award 😉

  6. Hey Kalle, been following your guides since 2018.
    I’ve recently just managed to win as Persia on Deity. It wasn’t nearly as tough as I was expected once I figured out how to deal with the Huns. Once you’ve taken a sufficient number of Byzantine cities, you’ll catch up to Theodora who will be your only competitor in score. I even managed to take Constantinople at turn 65, sealing the victory further.

    In my first couple attempts, I didn’t emphasize the northern defense against the Huns enough and got overrun by horse archers and horsemen. The rams then surrounded and took my cities. In my third playthrough, I sent my great general north, in case I needed the citadel once the Huns attacked and I sent both couple comp bows and swordsmen to guard both Anium and Artaxata. Note that the Huns may attack Artaxata if they see Anium is too well defended. You need to keep a defense stationed in Anium and Artaxata at all times, or the Huns will surround your cities very quickly with bonus movement. Build a fort or two if necessary. The Huns attacked me as usual around turn 11, but this time I was prepared and fended off the assault.

    Started with granaries in most of my cities (tons of wheat in Persia), followed by monuments. Artaxata doesn’t need to grow beyond pop 4, so you can work the salt, sheep and mines as soon as it reaches that. I then spammed swordsmen in most cities, and built the market/satrap’s court in a few. I also built the amphiteatre in both the capital and Singhara since those cities will have lots of food, and working the artist slot is necessary for the golden age. You should expect to generate 1-2 great artists, and use them in the final turns of the game (and after you have the policy that extends golden ages), when you will have the most units to benefit from the golden age.

    For social policies, I went with the happiness policy, followed by both the gold policies. As I did not build a barracks in any of my cities, I had no use for the policy that gave production for each barracks. Happiness is critical, because you ideally don’t want to raze captured cities, as control of them contribute to your points per turn. I recommend to puppet every city, and once it is no longer in revolt, you can choose to annex it if you need the extra hammers (make sure to build or purchase a courthouse if you annex). Eventually I ended up building the satrap’s court and colosseum in every city.

    For military, the clibanari is a very useful unit as it can “Attack,Pillage,Attack” when it is next to a enemy city. I recommend building many of these as well as swordsmen (spearmen when you run out of iron, or need to defend against the Huns) and catapults. I did not build a single composite bow. I took Melitene very early (around turn 10), and then went south for Edessa. Then I took Palmyra, Damascus and Antioch, in that order. The two starting catapults were enough to do all this (the clibanari and swordsmen tanked very well). I don’t recommend taking certain coastal cities like Seleukia and Caesaria, since the Dromons will do a lot of damage and there aren’t very many angles to hit them with catapults. Your units should never enter the water, or the Dromons will shred them. Amastya, Iconium and Dorylaeum fell very quickly. Had a lot of workers at this point (many of them stolen with clibanari), and proceeded west through Melitene building roads throughout most of the Turkish interior. I recommend taking all the coastal cities by the Black sea, and avoiding the Mediterranean cities on the southern coast. I recaptured Trapezunt and Theodosopolis from the Huns, by now I had more points than Theodora. For fun, I pushed onward to Constantinople, popped a great general in her borders and built roads around that citadel. Popped my great artist for a golden age, and rammed all my units at his capital. The clibanari and catapults were too much to handle for Theodora, despite the fact that she had Dromons everywhere pelting my army. Overall, it was an easier victory than some of the other campaigns in Scramble for Africa.

  7. Definitely. I mistook the achievement date for the last update (reading fast I guess). What difficulty level did you get the history class achievement on? Also, a tip in case you haven’t tried since it’s not your first priority when going for achievements: capturing Caput Vada is absurdly difficult. I only brought navy, but I doubt army would have helped since the shores were lined with Axemen etc. pretty much the whole time (despite me killing like 2 per turn). I have thought in the past that eliminating the Vandals might be the only strategy that could really do the job when playing Western Rome, but after this like 8 turn siege, I’m not so sure : )

    1. I just realized after all this time that the page wasn’t refreshing : ( That’s impressive that your friend did it. Did he win too? Maybe I’ll try it sometime……

  8. Nice record! Civilization 5 is probably my favorite online game, but I definitely don’t go for achievements like you do. I think I did win with the Celts on Deity though; the secret is just to stack the bonuses up and never stop pushing. Right now I’m doing an emperor game as Eastern Rome in which I pretty much beat everyone on my side in the first half and spent the second reconquering Western Roman lands (because I’m nice : ). I’m on turn 70 now, but I don’t know how long you can extend it. I’d like to finish, but thanks to the Celts etc. it would take awhile. I have almost destroyed the Vandals though, so that makes me happy. Want to bet you never read this (lol)?

    1. Wanna bet, I’m reading this super fast? What have I won? 😀
      Seriously: Good stuff! Man I love this scenario – challenging and slightly different with each civ.

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