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Total War: ARENA - Tips for New Players

Now that you've got the game, here are some helpful tips and advice to make sure you have the best possible chance at victory in Total War: ARENA.


Perhaps you’ve downloaded Total War: ARENA and played a few games that could have gone better, or maybe you haven’t played yet and are feeling a little apprehensive of the battle ahead. Don’t worry. We’ve got several tips that can help you improve your skills in Total War: ARENA and become a master of the game.

Selecting Your Army

First, you will need to understand unit composition. Making sure you have the right units to go with your Commander is very important in Total War: ARENA. After all, you don’t want a Cavalry Master leading a bunch of Archers.

Secondly, you should try to make sure you’re using units that you’re comfortable with. Ideally, you want to take three identical units to maximise the synergy with your Commander and to make ordering them in battle easier. All units have their strengths and weaknesses. This is where you want to link up with allies on your team and work together to produce results. For example, if you’re running Cavalry, find some Infantry to be the anvil to your hammer. Working as a team to destroy the enemy is always going to be more effective than trying to do everything alone.

There are so many units to choose from, each with their own style of gameplay. It’s a good idea to find the style of play that you like the most and then find the Commander that best supports it.

Map Positioning

All the maps in Total War: ARENA have multiple terrain types with various avenues of attack, meaning that you can work your way behind enemy units for that sweet flanking bonus if you maneuver properly or get an upper hand over your enemies if you lure them into advantageous terrain. A lot of abilities have a directional component to them as well, so making sure your units are positioned correctly is an important step towards winning the battle.

Positioning is also important when it comes to big clashes. You’re probably not very likely to force the enemy to “rout”, or flee, if you’re just attacking head-on in a line, but if you can tie them to a spot and have allies attack from a different angle, they won’t want to stick around for very long. Once you rout your enemies they become very easy prey, provided that you can catch them.

If you are playing ranged units, such as Javelinmen, and want to support your allies that are already in close-quarters combat, you must be very careful not to cause too much friendly fire. Shooting from behind your allies’ back usually isn’t the best idea. In order to avoid unnecessary friendly fire, position yourself at the side of or behind your target. Be careful and stay aware of your surroundings, as this is a high-risk, high-reward tactic! By using the landscape, you can protect your flanks or sneak around the enemy by hiding in forests, within tall grasses, or behind buildings to launch a surprise attack.

Communicating with Your Team

There are several in-game tools to assist you in calling for help or planning maneuvers with your allies in Total War: ARENA. On the minimap in the bottom right of your screen, there are three icons you can click on, although it is probably easiest to use the hotkeys associated with these commands.

The first one is a ping that allows you to call attention to a location, either on the minimap or on the main battle screen, with the default hotkey bound to F2. The second is a pen that allows you to draw on either the minimap or the main screen, very handy for depicting routes of attack, with the default hotkey bound to F3. Lastly, there is a radial wheel (F4) with quick statements like “Help” and “Attack Here” which, if used in conjunction with the ping, can easily get your message across to your allies. The great thing about the radial wheel is that you can hover over a player and use the wheel to send very precise messages that will be translated into the language they are using in game.

There is always the team chat option as well, like in a lot of multiplayer games. Chat is best utilised during early planning in the deployment phase as well as at the beginning of a battle before both armies clash. Later on, you should switch to the aforementioned quick communication tools. Use these tools to communicate with your teammates and create a battle plan in Total War: Arena, and don’t forget to send a friendly “GG!” at the end!

The Best Defence is a Good Offence

The last bit of advice that should be mentioned is to make sure your team covers all flanks at all times. All too often, enemy units can sneak around your troops using open flanks to go straight to your base and start capturing it, pulling allied units away from the front lines as they rush to defend. You don’t have to always keep someone in your base, but it’s a good idea to keep track of enemy movements and follow or intercept them if they try to get to your base or, if you’re not close enough, tell your allies to do so using the communication tools we taught you about above.

Like any good game, Total War: ARENA is easy to learn and hard to master. Follow our advice and you can start practicing your victory speech as you prepare to liberate Rome from the Barbarian Hordes. With these tips in mind, download Total War: ARENA and play for free today.

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