Lost on who to play as in Total War: Pharaoh? If you're not familiar with the game's historical setting and who the major players of the conflict are, we've compiled a guide to all the factions and how to play them. We’ll also give some tips on how to play the factions within each culture, their unique features and unit types.
Currently, there are only eight playable factions in Total War: Pharaoh right now, so there's not a huge amount of choice. However, each faction has their own distinct identity and theme, and they all play very differently from one another. From ruthless raiders to fallen empires, there are many different ways to play.
For more on Total War: Pharaoh, why not check out everything we know about the game?
Who are the playable factions in the Total War: Pharaoh campaign?
Total War: Pharaoh's eight playable factions each come from three distinct different cultures. Egyptians are naturally the best represented amongst the factions, with half the playable factions being of Egyptian culture. We've got all the factions down below.
Egyptian - Ramesses, Seti, Tausret, Amenmesse
Canaanite - Bay and Irsu
Hittite - Kurunta and Suppiluliuma
Each of the different cultures has unique abilities and modifiers attached to them. Due to their geographical ties, different cultures will have specific, prevalent resources that their economies rely on.
How to play the Egyptian factions
The Egyptian factions are all experts in desert warfare. Their strongest units tend to be those that are lightly armoured, both in the melee and ranged categories. Being mobile through the desert sands and outmanoeuvring your opponents should be your predominant strategy.
Ramesses is a good starting faction for players new to the Total War franchise. He boasts a diverse army that is quite well-rounded, as well as being in close proximity to all the resources on the map. Additionally, Ramesses is based in the centre of the map, meaning that you can expand your borders in any direction you please. With a large number of neighbours, you’ll have more options to attack factions while they’re weak.
In terms of units you should focus on building, prioritise Ramesses’ Medjay units, such as the Chargers and Swordsmen. The Medjay are the pinnacle of Ramesses’ military, with high shock values in combat. At the start of the game, the weakest factions near to you are to the south and the east, so your conquests should target that direction to get yourself established.
Playing as Seti, you'll primarily find yourself building massive armies made up of cheap fodder. To combat huge swathes of your soldiers dying whenever you fight a battle, most of your unique buildings and commands will allow you to recruit a significant number of troops in a single turn.
Having such high turnover in troops, you'll have to make sure you always keep an eye on your soldier's morale and settlement happiness when playing as Seti. With the overall combat strength of your units being much weaker than your neighbours, you'll likely begin to struggle as your opponents' troop quality begins to outshine your sheer numbers.
Another faction with potential happiness and morale issues is that of Tausret. With the potential to become the economic hegemon of Egypt, playing as Tausret will get you bonuses to both resource and gold production in your settlements. This will give you more opportunities and allow for greater flexibility when trading with neighbours, whilst ensuring you have deep pockets and a hefty stockpile when war inevitably begins.
Unfortunately, the cost of having all these resources and gold comes at your population's expense. Each of your unique buildings will reduce happiness in your settlements. You'll have to micromanage your faction's happiness even more so than Seti, if you're to become the Pharaoh of Egypt.
As Amenmesse, Viceroy of Kush, your gameplay will primarily revolve around having vast amounts of gold to strengthen your claim to Egypt's throne. Your unique buildings largely prioritise gold production, which you can then spend to improve your legitimacy to the Pharaoh's throne. You also have the option to spend gold to trigger court actions.
When it comes to military units, Amenmesse's strength is in their archers and defensive infantry. The Ta-Seti Longbowmen are by far the strongest archers in the game, whilst the Nubian Spearmen are strong enough to withstand charges aimed at your archers. Steer clear of making any cavalry of your own though.
How to play the Canaanite factions
The land of Canaan is a region in turmoil. Surrounded by bigger, more bullish neighbours to the north and south, you'll either play as the scheming, patient Bay or the warring, ruthless Irsu. These two factions could not be more dissimilar.
Known as 'the Schemer', playing as Bay provides you with one of the trickier starts in Total War: Pharaoh. Your unique buildings will give you huge bonuses to happiness and resource gain, often on the condition of you having a high level of influence in Egypt's affairs. This should be no issue however, as you've got a range of commands and abilities to use that can influence and ultimately override plots from other factions.
As Bay, you'll be taking offensive engagements more frequently. Look to ambush your enemies and close them down quickly by using rapid melee infantry and missile units. If you don't take advantage of your factional sneak abilities, you'll find yourself wiped out by more competent and well-armoured forces.
In a stark contrast to Bay, Irsu is all about running around the map and causing chaos. The only raiding faction you can play as, Irsu's goal is to pillage and disrupt their neighbours, taking all of their loot as your own. You'll get an endless supply of resources provided your military stays strong, as well as higher battle loot yields.
Irsu's units are incredibly fearsome. Some of the best melee units are home to this faction and most units don heavy armour, making them something of a cheat code. However, you'll struggle to mobilise your soldiers in difficult terrain. Prepare well before you initiate combat to ensure you don't get caught in a pinch.
How to play the Hittite factions
North of the Canaanites and Egyptians, the lands of Hatti are in decline. With the Great King surrounded by mounting threats, and the warlord Kurunta lurking in the shadows ready to take his place, great change is coming to Hatti. Again, like the Canaan factions, these two factions could not be less similar.
A tyrant and usurper, playing as Kurunta will have you bringing out your dark side. Cunning and cruel, your strategy will revolve around building a strong military, whilst constructing unique buildings that hinder your neighbours offensive capabilities. You'll also be able to get your hands on better rewards from razing, and higher-tier plots early in the game.
Naturally, you'll be able to develop a pretty robust army. Kurunta has a lot of depth in their melee infantry, but lacks any missile infantry whatsoever. You'll need to get yourself some Kaskian Chariots to take ranged engagements to protect your diverse melee units. Kurunta is a prime candidate to pick if you're simply looking to wind up some friends in multiplayer.
The Great King of Hatti, Suppiluliuma, has a hard name to say aloud and an even harder start in Total War Pharaoh. Surrounded by enemies on all fronts, this is by far the most challenging start, and recommended only for experienced Total War players. Things won't get better as you hit the late game either; Suppiluliuma has no unique high-level buildings, so you'll be at a massive disadvantage compared to other factions.
There is some respite if you play as Suppiluliuma however, as your soldiers are incredibly capable at fighting on the defence, something you'll be doing a lot. Like Irsu, your units are heavily armoured, making them exceptionally hardy. You'll also be able to replenish your forces quickly using your commands, so its possible to defend against multiple aggressors at once.
Now that you’ve got an overview of all the different factions in Total War: Pharaoh and tips on how to play them, you should be more than ready to set off on your campaign to conquer Egypt. If you're looking for more guides on Total War: Pharaoh, we've got all of the game's cheat codes and the latest on the Total War: Pharaoh's system requirements.