Given the fact that the games from the Total War franchise are extremely complicated and quite difficult, it's worth to look through the tips presented in this guide before (and during) you start your adventure with the game. Those will be most useful to the players that are new to the franchise, but even the most experienced players should find something interesting here.
War and expansion
1. Before you enter war with a faction make sure that your country is well protected and prepared for the task. You must make sure that the public order and corruption is in check, and that the borders of your country are safe. More on that can be found in the "War" chapter of this guide.
2. Don't ever fight with multiple factions at once. You might think that you have a huge advantage over all of the factions because you have numerous provinces under your control. However, you won't be able to protect all of them at all times as you won't be able to afford such a huge army. You should pick your enemies carefully.
3. If you absolutely have to fight with multiple factions, try to do so on a single frontline. It can happen that you want to declare war to a faction and its ally will join the fight. This is why you should pick your enemies carefully and try to attack those factions that either can't hope for an ally reinforcements, or at least with allies that will come from the side that you are hoping to expand, not attacking you in the back.
4. Never go to a war when your income does not allow you to. If you have a very small amount of gold in your treasure don't even think about war. During the expansion your income might suddenly go into a negative value and when your treasury will be empty the country will enter bankruptcy. More on that can be found in the "War" chapter.
5. Refrain from declaring war against factions whose settlements you won't be able to capture. If you can't capture a settlement and then the whole province, attacking an enemy has no point. The gold can be earner by using other methods and making new enemies will never pay off in the long run. Factions whose settlements can be captured by your own race can be found in the chapters about each faction.
6. Don't fight with faction that has a similar strength, or is stronger than your own. It doesn't mean that you will lose such a war, as with proper preparations you can defeat an enemy that is multiple times stronger than you. By going into such a war you will be exposed to attacks of other factions as you have to send all of your forces towards the enemy you want to fight with.
Country and province development
1. Keep the public order in provinces in check. There's nothing dangerous awaiting you unless the public order drops to -100, but you must make sure to reach the maximum, 100, as quickly as possible. This way you will have a lot easier job to keep the order in provinces in check, and the corruption will have a smaller influence.
2. Keep the corruption as low as possible. Keeping corruption on 0 is extremely difficult as there will be numerous heroes from the Vampire Counts and Chaos factions roaming your terrains, but you should try to keep it below 10%. Corruption can be decreased with Heroes, technology, Lords' abilities, as well as some buildings.
3. Capture whole provinces. Thanks to that you will be able to prevent the public order from decreasing because of fights over control of the cities. Additionally, you will be able to activate the Commandment, which will give the whole province a huge boost.
4. Construct military and high-leveled buildings in the capital of the province. The capital of a province is the one located on the left side of the province screen. It's the only settlement of the province that can be developed up to 5th level (all the others can reach up to 3rd), giving you access to all of the buildings and their upgrades. There's no point in wasting this precious space for buildings that can be constructed elsewhere.
5. Remaining settlements of the province should be used for economy buildings. The remaining settlements of a province can only be upgraded to the 3rd level, which is why they area ideal to construct economy buildings there - those that give you increased income, public order, growth, or allow you to produce goods to trade with other factions.
6. If the settlement is located on the border with a hostile faction, construct defensive buildings there. The best option is to build the second level of a wall there - thanks to that the enemies will have to use siege equipment to get through the walls and will have to defeat larger garrisons. In most cases this should be enough to prevent the enemy from attacking you in the first place.
7. Each province should have at least one building decreasing corruption. Those buildings work only in the province that they are constructed in, but they give immense boosts used to decrease the corruption of a land. A good choice for such a building is the capital of a province, where you will be able to upgrade the building to increase its effectiveness even further.
Army and combat
1. Refrain from using only the most "powerful" units in combat. Encounters with only heavy cavalry units will quickly end - with your defeat, as the enemies will have access to a number of units that can easily counter them.
2. Refrain from taking a large number of missile units with you. Aside from Dwarves where most of the ranged units are decent in melee combat, most of the missile units in the game become worthless as soon as they run out of ammunition. Your army should consist of a maximum of 20-25% missile units.
3. Refrain from taking too many artillery units with you. A case similar to the one described above. Despite the fact that raining artillery fire on the enemy might be tempting (and effective, if properly used), artillery units may quickly become ineffective when, for instance, an enemy reaches your army with his whole army. Firing at the enemy will now be connected with the possibility of firing on your own units.
4. Don't send your Lord alone into combat. Whether your Lord is an incredibly powerful combatant or not, Lord is only a single unit on the battlefield and can be easily killed when focused by enemies. When your Lord dies, the leadership (morale) of your troops will decrease severely and most battles will be lost.
5. Don't send mages into combat. Mages are extremely powerful when casting spells from afar, but they are useless when fighting in melee - even the weakest enemy units will be able to severely damage your high-leveled mages. You should keep them away from combat and use them to cast spells.
6. Pay attention to the leadership of your units. The leadership serves the purpose of the units' morale and if the bar representing it gets emptied the a unit will route from the battlefield and you will lose control over it. Additionally, routing units have negative effect on the morale of other units - in a worst case scenario your units may run away from the battlefield in a chain-lighting reaction.
7. Pay attention to the fatigue of your troops. Fatigue influences the effectiveness of a unit in combat (and in some degree the leadership - exhausted units have decreased leadership and are easier to route). Units fighting in melee will deal less damage (and take more damage from enemies), missile units will take longer to reload, and your cavalry won't be able to perform charges. If your units are exhausted, try to find them at least a few seconds of peace (when they are not moving and fighting), which will allow them to rest a bit.
8. Don't chase after routing enemies across the whole map. You won't be able to kill off the entire unit, and your own units will quickly tire and will lose their effectiveness.
9. Flank enemy units and prevent the enemy from doing that to your own. Flanking enemy units have a huge negative impact on their leadership - units that are attacked from the sides and from the back can have their morale collapsed in a matter of seconds, forcing them to run. However, your troops are also vulnerable to that - pay attention to your own flanks and when the enemy tries to surround your troops order them to get back and regroup.
10. Protect your missile and artillery units at all costs. Those units can wreck the enemy army, but they are practically helpless in melee combat, or during the charge of an enemy cavalry. If you have to move all of your troops away from them, be sure to leave at least one, two units near them in case an enemy suddenly appears.
11. Use your cavalry to flank the enemy and attack units that were left behind unprotected. Even a single cavalry unit is capable of eliminating several missile units and all the artillery of the enemy. If the enemy left those units unprotected, use this opportunity and send your fast cavalry troops to get rid of them. Even if you can't eliminate them your army will be given a short moment when those enemies can't fire at them.
1. Use the roulette option with caution. It will allow you to randomize the amount of Wind of Magic points available at the start of the battle, but it can also decrease the quantity drastically. If you start with more than 12 points there's no point in risking it.
2. Don't use more than 1-2 mages. This is the absolute maximum that you should be using in a single battle. Higher amounts won't allow you to cast spells as the Winds of Magic reserve will be empty all the time, and the mages are the weakest units in the game when they can't cast spells.
3. Refrain from wasting precious Winds of Magic points. Spells cast by mages are extremely powerful, but they can cost up to 15 points of "mana". You should think twice before casting a fireball spell when you might be in need of a protective spell in a moment.
4. If your army relies heavily on the magic, don't force an encounter when the Winds of Magic are weak. Winds of Magi and their state determine the amount of "mana" points available on the battlefield. The condition of the Winds of Magic changes after several turns which means that mages will become more powerful or grow weak, as they won't be able to use their spells often.