A Historical Battle is a custom battle in which the armies, maps and objectives are preset to recreate a historical battle scenario.
The Total War series allows players to attempt historical battle scenarios and take command of an army to either recreate or change the outcome of the Historical Battle in question. Traditionally, from Rome: Total War onward, the player generally takes command of the outnumbered army or the army which historically lost.
Historical Battles were introduced by the Mongol Invasion expansion pack to Shogun: Total War. They were implemented by way of Historical Campaigns in which the player could play 3 separate campaigns which were played through by way of famous battles fought in those campaigns, rather than letting the player control the campaign in the traditional Total War style. These 3 campaigns were based on those of 3 famous generals in the Sengoku Jidai era, namely:
- Toyotomi Hideyoshi
- Oda Nobunaga
- Tokugawa Ieyasu
Total War Eras Period
Later on, as the Total War series progressed and Medieval: Total War and Rome: Total War were released, historical battles became a feature available in the singleplayer menu, a tradition which has been followed in every Total War game to date. As per Total War tradition, the player generally took control of the outnumbered army or the army which historically lost.
With the release of Rome: Total War: Alexander, Historical Battles returned to their Shogun roots and once again became part of a Historical Battles campaign. The player played through famous battles in which Alexander the Great took part in order. The battles are unlocked sequentially as each previous battle is completed. The player can only play all the battles after he has completed the campaign. And unlike Rome: Total War, there is a special condition in these battles to ensure Alexander does not run away or get killed.
The Gunpowder era
During the period of which the Total War series became a Sega trademark, the games moved on to the gunpowder era of battles. Here "Historical Battles" were changed to "Scenario Battles", and the number of these reached an all-time low, with Empire: Total War having only 5 historical battles.
With the release of Napoleon: Total War, however, the significance of Scenario or Historical battles rose, and they once again became the forefront of Total War. Like its spiritual predeccessor, NTW once again had Historical Campaigns in the style of Rome Total War: Alexander. The player can play through a series of 10 historical battles, starting at Lodi in 1796 and ending at Waterloo in 1815.