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Total War: Pharaoh Legitimacy guide - how to become Pharaoh

In Total War: Pharaoh Legitimacy is the #1 mechanic to master on your way to domination - here's how it works, how to get it, and how to rule.

Total War Pharaoh Legitimacy guide - how to become Pharaoh - author screenshot from an in-game video showing the incumbent Pharaoh, Merneptah, on his throne and in his regalia

Planning to increase your Total War: Pharaoh Legitimacy in the face of numerous opponents? If you want to win, you’ll have to – this mechanic is your stepping stone to claiming the throne, realising your destiny to become Pharaoh. It’s a long road ahead, so we’ve compiled this full guide on how Legitimacy works, how to get more of it, and ultimately how to become Pharaoh of all Egypt.

This guide covers the entirety of the Total War: Pharaoh Legitimacy mechanic – your main path to becoming Pharaoh of Egypt or the Great King of the Hittites. We talk about various factors that affect this value, as well as what you can do to make the campaign more manageable.

If you’ve not yet taken a trip back to the Bronze Age Collapse, best take a look at our Total War: Pharaoh review to get our full opinions on the latest Total War game. For now, though, here’s exactly how to rule Egypt, starting from the beginning.

How to increase your Legitimacy in Total War: Pharaoh

There are several ways to increase your Legitimacy in Total War: Pharaoh, including the following:

  • Winning battles – Achieving victory in battles grants additional Legitimacy points.
  • Capturing Sacred Lands – Each Sacred Land you control also adds to this value.
  • Building Monuments – Each Monument you construct also grants Legitimacy points.
  • Capturing Landmarks – Controlling special buildings provides a fixed amount of Legitimacy.
  • Unlocking character bonuses – There are certain perks and items that increase Legitimacy.
  • Completing court plots – You’ll need to engage in the intrigue metagame to further your ambitions.

Conversely, Legitimacy does decay over time, at one point per turn by default. Certain actions made against you by AI leaders will also knock points off your Legitimacy total, too.

To be clear, while certain factors in the Legitimacy game are fairly self-explanatory, there are others we’ll need to discuss in detail.

Total War Pharaoh Legitimacy guide - how to become Pharaoh - author screenshot showing the Power of the Crown dialog open, showing the different leaders' crowns available and the list of potential Legitimacy sources from which the player can climb to become Pharaoh of Egypt

How do you become a Pretender and a Pharaoh during the civil war?

The race to become Pharaoh of Egypt or Great King of the Hittites heavily involves one key in-game statistic: Legitimacy. You can see this in the Power of the Crown panel, and it usually becomes available around turn 12.

Shortly thereafter, a civil war should trigger. This is due to the Legitimacy scores of some leaders already hitting a certain threshold – i.e. above, equal to, or slightly lower than that of the ruling Pharaoh. Merneptah is going down, and everyone with sufficient Legitimacy is in the running to replace him.

From there, other leaders can throw in their lot to join the civil war as soon as they meet the minimum Legitimacy threshold, becoming a Pretender to the throne. You’ll all vie for control, racing to amass as much Legitimacy as possible before the civil war burns itself out – an initially set amount of turns, which gets longer the more Pretenders there are (even if they join the race at the last minute).

Once the full number of turns has finally elapsed, the war ends, and the leader with the highest Legitimacy is declared the Pharaoh.

Total War Pharaoh Legitimacy guide - how to become Pharaoh - author screenshot showing the campaign map, with the player building an Egyptian Monument as an outpost to one of their settlements, also showing a dialog explaining how this contributes to the Total War Pharaoh Legitimacy stat

How to construct Monuments, Landmarks, and buildings that add Legitimacy

Landmarks and Monuments help increase your Total War: Pharaoh Legitimacy value. Here’s a quick summary:

  • Landmarks – These are structures that can only exist in specific settlements. For instance, Mennefer has the Grand Temple of Ptah and Royal War Academy, which grant +2 and +3 Legitimacy, respectively.
  • Buildings – Take note of build options available in certain settlements. For instance, the Palace of Correspondence in the Administrative branch adds +2 Legitimacy. Tier 2 deity temples, meanwhile, give +1 Legitimacy. Likewise, some stone-producing regions let you construct an Obelisk, which grants +2 Legitimacy.
  • Monuments – The option that gives by far the biggest boost is the Monument, which you can see in the Outpost tab, not the Settlements tab. Each province can only have one Monument-type outpost, and it grants +8 Legitimacy. Make sure you have a lot of these across your empire to gain a huge boost.

Total War Pharaoh Legitimacy guide - how to become Pharaoh - author screenshot showing the Egyptian Court dialog, with various court positions filled, and plot options open to the player to increase their Legitimacy

How to use court plots and intrigue mechanics to increase Legitimacy

The Total War: Pharaoh Legitimacy mechanic also comes into play in the context of the Royal Court, a system which becomes available early in the game, as soon as you choose your Royal Tradition (i.e. Egyptian or Hittite).

The court gives you the option to gain political titles (which boost your Legitimacy) and undertake plots and intrigue (which let you steal Legitimacy from rivals, but can also cause you to lose Legitimacy if things don’t go your way).

In the case of the Egyptian Court, the High Priest of Amun, Vizier, and Treasurer positions all add +14 Legitimacy to whoever is the minister. Meanwhile, the First Commander and Viceroy of Kush positions gain +7 Legitimacy. Lastly, there’s the Pharaoh, which automatically gains +20 Legitimacy.

As far as plots and intrigue go, the best idea is to use the Discredit plot, which allows you to steal a certain amount of Legitimacy from another official.

For instance, if Taurset or Seti are leading the pack and they also hold Court positions, then you might want to target them. From there, you can increase plot power through the following means:

  1. Go to the Plots tab and select the Discredit option. Then, click on the Undermine option below.
  2. Select another minister and choose Perform Intrigue: Conspire, then pick the Discredit option.

When going down this road, bear in mind that you’ll first need to gain a bit of Regard, a resource specifically used in conjunction with the Court mechanics. It’s obtained by way of the Assist, Gossip, or Blackmail actions.

Additionally, there’s risk here: if your plot fails, you’ll lose a certain amount of Legitimacy, depending on how many officials are aware of your devious plans.

Total War Pharaoh Legitimacy guide - how to become Pharaoh - author screenshot showing the player's character sheet dialog, including their titles, crowns, competencies, stats, and more.

Which Pharaoh crowns to equip to increase Legitimacy

Hats are great, but crowns are even better. There are a few Pharaoh Crown options in terms of equipment if you want more Legitimacy in your campaign:

  • Hedjet: +5 Legitimacy; +4 Influence (leader’s province); +5 influence (adjacent owned provinces); available to a Pretender or Pharaoh who owns the city of Waset.
  • Deshret: +10 Civilization Points; +5 Legitimacy; +3 Happiness (leader’s province); +1 Happiness (adjacent owned provinces); removes benefits for horde-type invaders; available to a Pretender or Pharaoh who owns the city of Mennefer.
  • Pschent: +10 Legitimacy; +10 diplomatic relations with all factions; improves effects of all Court positions; available only to a Pharaoh who owns either Waset or Mennefer.

That’s it: that’s everything you need to know about the Total War: Pharaoh Legitimacy mechanic, as well as how to become the Pharaoh of Egypt or the Great King of the Hittites. Once the civil war has ended and you’re at the top of the list in the Power of the Crown panel, you’ll unlock Royal Powers, which grant terrific boons.

However, you can’t rest on your laurels just yet, because the civil war isn’t over for good – it’s just on a cooldown. If another leader catches up to your tally, they can choose to declare themselves as a Pretender, kickstarting yet another conflict – so even after after you’ve become Pharaoh, it’s important to keep a close eye on your Legitimacy score, and those of your rivals. Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown!

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If you’re already knee deep in the sands of Total War: Pharaoh as a lover of the series, you might enjoy our broader lists of the best Total War games of all, the best grand strategy games available, or (if the real time battles are your favorite bit) the best RTS games ever. Alternatively, take a trip to the tabletop with the best historical board games, or our favorite strategy board games of all time.