This post has an angry little one attached so might be updated infrequently throughout the day in addition to already being like two days late. Sorry :P.
Both games are turn based for the majority of the game play.
Both games have fairly extensive building options for their cities.
Both games have units and you can stack the units and the units require upkeep.
Both games have trade and little pictures on the map showing things that make the nearby city wealthy.
Both games have boats.
(be aware I only played up to Civ III).
Thats about where the similarities end. There is no researching technology in RTW... if your city is big enough and your faction can build it then you can build [x].
In RTW the cities are prebuilt... no settlers... each city is in a province and control of that province means you own the city.... otherwise you are just bandits damaging the province.
Battles in RTW -can- be run kinda like Civ where you attack and victory is determined yes or no. However even in those battles
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are slightly different as the losing side is not usually completely eliminated. In fact when I wish to completely wipe out the invading army I usually have to fight the battle manually.
AHHHHH manual battles. This, this is where the game really really shines. You see each of your world map units has a certain number of men in it(lets say 100 but it varies from unit to unit). As time goes on they lose men in battle and gain men from "retraining" at a city that can build their unit. What does this have to do with manual battle? Well simply put. Every single one of those men are modeled. Every single one of those men count. Some should count more than others(mmmm Cavalry good to the last drop).
In manual battle you control your units on a three dimensional battlefield that looks VERY similair to the world map at the point where your units ran into the enemy. If there is a river there there will be a river here. Mountains, then mountains; city, then city. Your men can hide in the trees, have to build seige weapons to break into the walls of a city(or stand harmlessly outside doing nothing), will get bunched up at bridges, have to run up the hills.
And these things matter.
Charging up hill into a row of pikes? Yeah not fun. You are tired from going up the hill and the guys on the top? They're all rested and have been watching you walk up and wear yourself out.
Moral matters. If your guys in the middle run? The guys on the left and the right are going to start worrying. "Hey bob... they ran... are we losing? Should we run? I don't know if we're going to win this...."
Your generals have hidden "aura"s to use a WoW term. Basically being near a general makes people braver. I guess the idea is that if you are near CAESAR then you are going to win right? Because CAESAR is never wrong? (My Caesars are usually never wrong. But this is because I like playing battles on medium).
Being surrounded? The unit will fight to the death(cus they know their going to die anyways)... but if they aren't...when they lose... some jerk in the back throws down his gear and runs... and then they all run like the lemmings they are...and then the wonderful sweet CAVALRY runs them down and makes little pincushins out of them, killing them to the last man(unless they are very fast and can get out of the battleground like the cheeting AI punks they might be).
Ah and if you lose? Well half the battle is knowing if you are going to win or not. If you find your self in a BAD situation... use some throw away units to distract the enemy and order your good units to run for it. City Watch? yeah they should know that their lives are worth about 1/7th of a cavalry man. Their duty is to die to let the horses get out.
Or to act as bait to draw the dumb horrible evil gauls out of the woods and into the plain. But that is a different point.
Charging all the time? Wears people out. Then they get eaten up by the rested guys.
Getting hit from behind? Or the flanks? Very demoralizing... as long as you make sure they can run, this is a moral breaker.
Oh and very important: living through battle after battle? We call these troops 'battle hardened'. Units in RTW will gain ranks... it goes something like: Bronze(1 chevron, 2 chevron, 3 chevron), Silver(1 chevron, two chevron, three chevron) and so on. More ranks means the units have more experiance... when units get a LOT of experience their captains can be adopted into the family.
OH THE FAMILY.
Yeah so in RTW your faction? It all belongs to one very noble(better than you) family. And when you start -all- of your generals except one will be sons and grandsons of the faction leader. That one that isn't? He's the faction leader. Your menfolk can be married(wives have no stats), then make babies! YAYAY! Making babies means that about 30 turns from baby = new general. Every general comes with a body guard of heavy calvary. They also have stats.
Stars = command points... meaning they boost the men around them in battle more and more. Lots of stars = this guy makes city watch into DEATH COMMANDO INFANTRY. A star? This guy is obviously Bob's son. Bob is the general who has a TON of scrolls that you stuck in your capitol city.
Scrolls = this guy is a brainiac. He does things like... Brain stuff. He makes CITIES(not armies) run better.
Green leaf things = influence. I ignore this stat but it is probably very important. It DOES matter for diplomats(who are basically units that are family but not family... kinda like upper family servants).
Each general starts with -some- stats usually. But you get stats from doing things. If you stick one of your menfolk in a city from the age of 16 to 65(when they start dying stupidly from old age) then he will skill up on scrolls. If you drag the young pup out and throw him into battle over and over and over and over again? As he wins he gets stars.
In both cases as they level up they get retinue...which are people but function like gear. Except some gear lowers your stats(the court retard will give your general -1 security). You can trade retinue so you take bad retinue and stick it on dying old men in far off outposts and then when they die it is gone. And you take good retinue and put it on young not dying guys so that you don't lose it. Retinue doesn't age. Lucky them.
Diplomats, spies, assassins are units called agents... They are part of the family but can't marry and are not on the family tree.
Daughters. You'll have them. They are like delayed menfolk. They come of age... and then you start having pop-ups. "Can sir suck-a-lot marry into your family?" "No no no no no HE HAS NO STARS WHAT ARE YOU THINKING GIRL? I OWN YOU SO NO. P.s. I also own like FIVE THOUSAND SOLDIERS so really... no. I'll have him assassinated if you don't find someone with STARS or at LEAST three-four scrolls. I don't care if they are 35 and you are 14. GIMME SOME STARS.
If someone marries in then you have another son. Tada. Oh and everyone marries for life. When their spouse dies... they don't remarry. So ha.
Maintaining your economy is JUST as important in RTW as it is in Civ. Poor nations cannot afford troops. They only exist to be turned into slave fodder to the conquering nation. Water bordering provinces can build ports. Once ports are built they start with 1 water trade route. Bigger ports have more. They auto-find nearby cities to trade with(foreign nations require trade rights) and they start trading. This is free gold and nations without water are POOR. Seriously. Darcia or Dacia or whatever its called is possibly the poorest country in the game. Rome and Britanica are rich for a reason. We call it WATERGOLD.
The game has events kinda like Civ. Cities get plague if they are overpopulated. Volcanoes can erupt. There are wonders... but they are pre-built. Capturing them does keep them and you get bonuses. Capturing rhodes = MORE WATER GOLD because of a statue there(or is it sparta... one of them).
And that's the end of my comparison. Hopefully it was fun.