Romans: The Basics
The Travian manual has this to say of Romans: "The Roman empire is the easiest for newcomers to Travian." This is only halfway true. Romans have some of the strongest units and most advanced buildings, but they are also prime targets for early game farming because they get off to a slow start. What Romans really excel at is the mid and late game. While their troops are more expensive than the Teutons, if you can survive the troubled server start without taking too many hits, your troops can be a force to be reckoned with. While Romans require a little bit more strategy than the defensive Gauls or the highly aggressive Teutons, with good choices and careful growth they can become very powerful.
Romans also have the most powerful walls, making them excellent defenders, and some of the best offensive troops and defensive troops overall. If you play intelligently, a Roman can survive as a hardcore PvP raider, or a more defensive builder, or any combination of the two.
Roman Troops: Expensive and Powerful
There are significant advantages and disadvantages to Roman troops. A Teuton’s starting unit, the maceman, costs half as a much as a leigonnaire to train, and moves faster and can carry more resources. This allows them to build much larger armies much quicker, at least in the beginning of the server. However, a legionnaire is significantly better at attacking and defending than a maceman and while macemen will be absolutely destroyed by cavalry, legionnaires can stand up much better to raiding cavalry. This means that while you need to be more careful with your legionnaires, an army of them will be useful for more than just raiding, and for much longer.
This is the case with most Roman troops. Prateorians are expensive, but fantastic at defense, and imperians are some of the best attackers per wheat in the game, With the new horse watering pool, Equites Imperatoris and Equites Ceasaris are even more efficient and powerful than before. Your armies will be more expensive and slower than your Teuton and Gaul neighbors, but they will also be much more powerful.
Playing as a Roman
Unlike the ruthless Teutons, Roman players will not be able to survive entirely on raiding unless they are extremely active, lucky, or both. While it is a good idea to focus on building a military infrastructure and raiding the people around you for resources, it is also smart to build up your fields while you do so that if something goes badly you will have backup resources. Send your legionnaires out in groups of 3-5 and focus on hitting small population Romans and Teutons. Anyone with less than a pop of 9 will have no forces to oppose you, but don’t be afraid to hit larger people once you have more troops – legionnaires can kill macemen and rats with ease. You will grow slower than your Teuton neighbors, but if you stay active and avoid being raided with good cranny use and defenses, you will begin to match and surpass those opponents as the server wears on. Continue growing with a combination of fields and raiding, and soon your superior infrastructure and troops will make you a force to be reckoned with.
If you start the server late, or are extremely careful with crannies and defensive troops, you can also get by with just building fields and defenses – this strategy is slower, but requires less constant attention and can take you to the top over time.
Romans in the Endgame
Once the Natars appear and the race for the World Wonder begins, Romans become even more valuable. Roman praetorians are the best unit in the game for defending against infantry and their walls are the best in the game, so you may be called upon to defend or even build a WW. A Roman army, started soon enough and composed of Imperians and Equites Ceasaris, may be powerful enough to break even end-game defensive armies, and is important to any alliance. The Roman trade office also allows Roman players to send resources more efficiently, which makes the upkeep of a large 20+ city empire easier, and allows them to pump resources into a World Wonder village quickly. Even a Roman who is only somewhat active will have a useful role in the endgame
Romans: Overall Balance
Romans are indeed very good for beginners, but they are also good for players of all experience levels and availabilities. The strong Roman economy and military allows for a great variation of strategies, and is very good for defensive play in the mid and late game. Romans do require some attention, because you will always be a target for other raiders, especially Teutons, until you show off just how powerful you are. Unless you are very good with crannies and resources or you have bought enough gold to use the NPC merchant frequently, you will want to be on at least two or three times a day. But, as powerful and efficient as they are, Romans can be very effective in the hands of any player.