An appeal from the FFA community

As an avid member of the FFA(Free For All) community, I’m asking you to please consider us when updating the game and making civs. I’m not asking you to revolve the game around our community, just to stop ruining the balance within this game mode.

I’ve played this game since it came out in 1999, and as much as I love the updates the game has gotten, it has come with a serious drawback.
The new civs aren’t balanced with FFA games in mind. I’m specifically talking of any civ that gets too strong post imp recourse bonuses.

In African Kingdoms Portuguese feitoria really ruined things for this community, causing many to stop playing entirely. I don’t care how well balanced it is in 1v1 and team games. It’s not balanced in FFA, and it can’t ever be, because it gives you an eternal source of gold and stone. Do you have any idea how much that ruins a 2 hour + game? Because the average FFA game is 2 hour +.

In Rize of Rajas Malay got the eternal fishtraps. This one isn’t nearly as big of a deal, but it falls into the same position. In 2 hour + games it becomes rediculous, leaving some civs with no counter.

Now in the latest expansion, Lords of the West, the new Burgundian civ has a bonus making its farms produce gold. While this is probably perfectly balanced in 1v1 and team games, again it breaks the game in FFA.

I almost exclusively play this game FFA with the occasional Diplo match, and for years now I have seen this community slowly dying. Why? Because some of the newer civs aren’t balanced with FFA in mind. So I ask. Please don’t forget us when making content. And if you really care, please fix what is currently broken.


There is no ranked matchmaking for FFA. You use lobbies. Just agree to ban certain civs you feel are too strong. I don’t see a problem with it. And if other people don’t agree with you on those civs…maybe you’re wrong :wink:

For example the Burgundian bonus is surely not too strong, and I am very positive that’s the same for FFA. Depending on how much farms you have it’s like having 1 (~42 farmers) or 2 (~84 farmers) Relics. Yeah, it is probably good for your settings, but shouldn’t be game breaking (again: if you still think it is, just ban that civ).


Ffa is often played on 300 pop and 100 farms do happens. That’s 2.5 relics. Not insignificant, especially when there is no trade. But additianlaay being able to one time transfer food to gold is broken since often ffa are boom fests and you can then save up a ton and be gold stocked for game which is very unfair.
The one time transfer should just be removed, relic farms is enough, paper money and sultans are just embarrassed by this tech…

Malay fishtrapa should have been fishtrapa x2 food instead of infinite. Still so much food in a normal 1v1 it almost never runs out, but much more balanced for those reaaaally long games.

Feitorias can’t be balanced for ffa in its current form. Atleast I don’t see how without a complete rework which I don’t wish for.

Some of the infinite resource bonuses can be stronger in FFA, but in diplomacy every civilization has access to infinite gold in theory with trade(To some extent in FFA too if you take someone out and they have a market that you do not destroy), in most cases the gold income from trade far exceeds the trickle that you are going to get from using the infinite resource pool to generate it, Spanish normally outclass them in income from their bonus in practice, Feitorias are not useful for gold really, 20 trade units are going to produce more even on a non-ideal trade route setup, it is useful for the stone income but up to a point you can buy stone faster than they can generate it passively, for gold income it’s about the same as one relic but costs 20 pop space that could have been trade carts/cogs

I actually think it improves diplomacy games to a degree when some people pick these civilizations, it helps with lag issues due to giant numbers of trade units, but it only becomes an advantage for the person using it if all resources on the map are completely stripped bare and they cannot defend a trade route, have definitely been in diplomacy games where this situation happened

In FFA games it only becomes an advantage if they decide to turtle and wait until everyone else takes each other out while hoping they spend most of their resources to do so which imo is already a strong strategy even without infinite income - BUT this supposes that nobody thinks it worth it to attack them earlier than this

The gold bonus from Burgundian farms is weak enough that I think Slav farms could generate an equivalent amount of gold by selling the extra food they produce at minimum market price, or Celts by doing the same with wood if there are still trees on the map

Portuguese only become extremely strong when the pop cap is set to 400-500, there they can place feitorias down after reaching imp faster than anyone else can make equivalent numbers of villagers and most people cannot manage 300 villagers efficiently where they are all actually doing something constantly, but 300 pop of feitorias anyone can do

And Malay infinite fish traps have a slight tradeoff in that they produce food slower than farming does so they need more population space allocated to fishing ships than they would to farmers, and the wood costs of farms for everyone else are normally negligible after researching the full set of farming techs up to crop rotation(Which is probably only viable in long games like Diplomacy and FFA)

Not downing you just giving my view on this with detailed explanation for why I do not think these bonuses are a problem, your opinion may still differ after reading as it is subjective if you value long term staying power more or shorter term ability to outproduce opponents, at some point during a game all of these methods of infinite resource generation will become massive advantages, I just don’t see many games reaching the point that is required for it(All resources on map gone, food/wood/stone prices are all inflated to the point you can no longer afford to buy more with gold from trade) - generally even 3-4 hour diplomacy games I have played still have some resources left on the map somewhere as any game lasting this long is normally on a ludicrous sized map

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As I said, I’m saying this on behalf of the FFA community. The Diplo community is very different, and Diplo games can’t be fair to begin with. Which has its own charm, but can’t really be compared.
While you can get both the relics on the map, and use markets of downed foes, both these solutions require you to assert map control. Enemy markets can also be broken, never to be rebuilt, and relics can be stolen if you fail to defend them. All FFA players know the value of camping, especially when behind, but this is balanced by the fact that you’re forced to fight over the resources on the map. Problem civs are any civ that don’t need to do that.

We are playing Age of Empires, not farming simulator. Eternal res civs make FFA games become more like farming simulator and less like Age of Empires.

In my experience less than 1 out of 40 FFA games are played on Ludekris map size, specifically because the maps have too much resources.
The problem with banning civs is that there is always that 1 guy who want to play farming simulator, and become really hostile in the lobby, ruining the mood for everyone else. Veteran FFA players will be used to this, but newer players in the community will think you’re being unfair with “Custom Rules”. So that isn’t really an option. Perhaps if there was a way for lobby host to actively ban civs, rather than having to type it in chat, but I suspect that would come with its own problems.

I tested Portuguese for a while in FFA, and out of roughly 50 games I lost 2 of them. In comparison my win rate with generic civs in FFA is about 50%.
In both cases I fast imp into aggression, something Portuguese should be worse at but isn’t in this case as you can’t effectively hurt their eco, and they will always outlast you. In 200 pop + Feitoria is far mor effective in this game mode than it was ever intended to be.

Saying, “Just take them out early” isn’t a valid way of solving this, as FFA games are far more messy than 1v1s and team games are. This messiness is what makes them fun.

Eternal resource bonuses, and bonuses giving you long term gold/stone that you don’t have to fight for fundamentally ruins the game mode.
There are some minor tweaks I would love to see to balance FFA better, such as giving all civs a way to deal with island fortresses, as civs without basic cannon galleons have no chance in this scenario. Or to make all civs at least viable post imp.

These are however problems you can navigate around to some extent. You can’t effectively navigate around the eternal res, or late game gold/stone dilemma, which ruins the game mode.

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It’s a shame that we don’t have ranked matchmaking for FFA. I would love to see that being made actually.
Would make it far easier for newer FFA players to get into the game.


I completely second this, I do not understand why they only allow ranked matches for conquest mode with fixed teams(deathmatch is same thing just with less focus on eco), they don’t need to share elo level between these, a good FFA or Diplo player might not be a good 1v1 / 4v4 player but that doesn’t mean that a specifically FFA/Diplo rank wouldn’t work fine for match making similar skill levels, it would also increase the amount of people that play these modes, right now it is very low, I might be able to find one diplomacy game or 2-3 FFA games in a day on servers with decent ping for me

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Because a game mode where you can lose because you were unlucky enough to get focused by several enemies can’t be balanced anyway.


The game mode itself can’t but the tools (civs) given to the players involved can be made fairer. (catapult ship for example and no infinite fish traps would be just one step in that Dore tion)

Saying it can’t be helped at all is a bit intolerant to ffa player needs who are age of empires player just like you and pro players and single players and everybody else. All stakeholder with different interests in the game. Excluding one is an extremist view in my opinion that for example would be something quite outrageous for any legitimate democracy.

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FFA is fun because of the chaos, not in spite of it. People in the FFA community love the game mode because it’s unpredictable. Part of getting better in the game mode is learning to manipulate the chaos to your advantage.
The reason we’d want a ranked mode in FFA, and probably a separate one for Diplo as well(the Diplo community would probably like that), is for more awareness of the play style, as well as a way for newer players to get into the game mode.

As Sscral said earlier. You need a completely different skillset to be good in FFA and Diplo, compared to 1v1-4v4.
Balancing the game mode is very similar though, but you have to consider Post Imp much more carefully.

Instead of balancing the game around FFA, one can mod the game to disable/alter certain buildings/mechanic to make it more fairer. Feitoria can be disabled and Malay infinite fish trap can’t be built. Trade will be disabled in FFA, unique tech can be disabled etc.

One big takeaway of this whole thread is infinite resource and big comebacks ruins FFA. Then those stuff (except relic) can be disabled while the rest of the community can enjoy infinite resources and execute big comebacks for their own chaotic game.

It doesn’t have to be balanced to be ranked in FFA, the random element applies to everyone equally so those of higher skill will climb in rank despite still being affected by random losses like getting dogpiled during some games, you must remember that there is a pretty much equal chance of this situation happening to any player that joins a game, some players will still win more often than others even though they can lose matches in ways that are out of their control

In diplomacy one of the skills being measured is how well you can deceive and convince others to help you so I do not see that situation as being a problem for rank there either, if you’re better at getting people to help you take out stronger opponents and deciding when to backstab teammates before they backstab you, you’re better at diplomacy(with last man standing rules anyway, I don’t think ranked would work well in diplomacy with allied victory enabled) - even if you cannot necessarily beat someone of a lower rank than you if you went against them in a 1v1 that does not mean they are better than you at diplomacy, however the party system would 100% need to be disabled for both of these modes because it would encourage cheating by some people to artificially inflate their rank and ruin games for other people by teaming up from the beginning in both modes

We have to deal with it, I personally don’t feel like there is a problem with the civilizations in FFA and take this from a 95% FFA player and I also cast FFA, the thing with the new civs is that they will be OP until next patch, and if there are new civs comming they will be OP as well for 1 season, don’t worry too much about it. It will get fixed, also I suggested a FFA Ladder, please, share if you agree with me: Suggestion: FFA Ladder

Glhf man, FFA FTW!

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Making an FFA balance mod is a decent suggestion. I’ve experimented with this using the scenario editor a few times though, and it usually ends up with people ragequiting once they realise the statement, “You can’t benefit from eternal res.” holds true regarding their feitoria.

I have enough experience in modding to add or remove existing effects, but making new bonuses as compensation to the nerfed civs would fall outside my current skillset.

Comebacks in FFA isn’t a problem though. Just eternal res, and easy access to gold/stone late game.

This doesn’t fix the overall problem I was trying to address though. Even though the game has risen, the FFA community have been declining ever since the African Kingdoms update.
If this keeps on going it’s unlikely that there will be a sizable FFA community left, as most move on to other games in search of what AOE2 used to give them.

Currently with the state of the game’s lobby and quick play, it’s not the right time to add more modes. Most players are only playing ranked games. Look how at my favorite mode Battle Royale where no one is playing and Empire Wars, do people even play using the quick play? Adding other modes will simply further mess up the matchmaking.

Priority is to rework the lobby and quick play system before adding any of this custom modes. I for one welcome all different types of game modes but at the current state as I’ve said it’s not the right time.

People do not use quick play for the same reason less people use custom lobbies, except it is even worse with quick play - you get matched with people that are either 100x worse than you or 100x better than you at playing the game, except in quick play you can’t just hover over the lobby and look at their 1v1 elo if they have any, if I get someone 400 elo less than me I would have more fun stomping the AI on easy mode, if I get someone 400 elo higher than me it feels like I might as well walk my vils into their TC at the start of the game

Quick play should be removed from the game completely and the modes currently in it moved to ranked matchmaking with their own ranking scores to fix the exact problem you just said exists

That’s a whole new topic on the removal/rework of quick play, if you’re the product manager it won’t be simple removing a “whole product” released in an anniversary patch. I’m all for new game modes such as FFA and Diplo but when adding another mode with the current state of the abysmal lobby, the priority is improving the lobby.

I think biggest priority should be to balance the game mode, with ranked FFA as a secondary boon, so I’m inclined to agree with you.

I’m rather tiered of hearing people say “You should have just attacked them earlier”, concerning a chaotic game mode made to go late game. So I’m tempted to make a secondary account and a youtube channel to showcase how broken Feitoria are in FFA. Showcasing all matches and win history while exclusively playing Portugese, because that stuff is broken.

You said FFA players don’t mind getting main focused, so why not main focus a Portuguese player?

Oh, it happens. It just can’t ever happen reliably, as you have 8 players with different experience levels in different game modes.
The problem is that every single time Portuguese are not focused instantly they win 100% of the time, and when they are focused instantly they still win most of the time if they choose to reboom.

I say this both from the perspective of playing as and against the Portuguese in FFA. The civ is broken, and any veteran FFA player I have played with over any period of time would attest to that. Out of the original FFA community I started playing with I’m the only one still pulling people back to the game, all except one of them refusing to play unless Portuguese specifically are banned.

The increase in win rate I experienced when playing Portugese to test it for myself is just stupid.
Such a balance problem should never have been allowed to survive the initial balance patches, but as FFA and Diplo balance have been given the back seat in favour of 1v1-4v4 ever since they started updating the game again, we instead see the community dying.

There are barely any FFA/Diplo lobbies left, and this is the reason for that.
This is pretty much a last hurrah on my end to see if anyone cares enough to balance the game mode. Because in order to save the playstyle it must be balanced, like it used to be.