TL;DR: scroll to the table at the bottom>
For 25 years, Age of Empires has had an oft-criticized architecture scheme, created by nothing other than the 1997 dev team’s need to move 2 Mesopotamian civs to fill out the “Egyptian” group, and the late addition of the Rise of Rome expansion:
- “Leading role” civs are italicized.
Return of Rome will switch the placements of the Hattusa civ and Sumerians, leading to the scheme below:
- Changes are bolded. Campaign player civs are italicized.
Now, the Return of Rome can be transparently seen as a “don’t rock the boat” change, doing what’s minimally necessary for its own Sargon of Akkad campaign, where the Akkadian empire will be played by Sumerians.
It has the highly visible problem of still leaving Assyrians - arguably a better civ fit for the Akkadian empire - in the Egyptian group. And the shift of the Hattusa civ is unsatisfactory: grouping them with Egyptians is obviously justified by their conflict in the Battle of Kadesh, which doesn’t change the fact that the Hattusa power base of Anatolia was separated from Egypt by Mesopotamia, and they were more influenced by Sumerian culture.
Apparently it also leaves Macedonians, who have their own Pyrrhus of Epirus campaign in Return of Rome, in the Roman group, resulting in two “Roman-style” campaigns.
(For what it’s worth, Sargon was listed as a Sumerian leader in base AoE1, and added to the Assyrian leader list in Rise of Rome. In Ensemble’s Help file, he was mentioned in the Sumerian civ’s Decline and Fall section as the cause of the fall.)
This post posits an alternate scheme that tries to be simple and “more accurate” from a layperson’s common sense perspective, while reducing extraordinary justifications.
The above scheme has three guiding ideas:
- Allow a group to have only 2 member civs, as AoE2 had since The Conquerors;
- Break up the expansion-created Roman group, which only hangs on as a “grandfathered” feature now;
- Move Phoenicians and Carthaginians to the Egyptian group.
It has its deficiencies:
- Despite the Phoenicians’ close contact with Egypt and Carthage’s North African location, they ultimately deserve their own building set, while a Nubian civ would accompany Egyptians better;
- The Palmyran civ still has to play the combined roles of Palmyra culture, the Palmyrene empire, the Mithridatic Kingdom of Pontus, and Numidians (these are all represented by its leader list). No building set could hope to fit all that in.
With all that said, given the 17 civs and 5 building sets on hand, this seems a reasonably good arragement.