After almost a year of on and off research I was final able to look into the possibilities and likelihood for North American civilizations in Age of Empires II.
I already make a civ concept about the Mississippians but it is no fun to be a civ in isolation (looking at you Incas!)
So I looked into the possibilities of adding the Iroquois and the Algonquian.
While my Iroquois design get mostly it inspiration from the Haudenosaunee, I chose to use the name Iroquois instead because the culture group and language is larger than the Haudenosaunee confederacy. For example the Cherokee are also part of the Iroquois language and De Soto traveled through their territory.
Again I am saying to add the Iroquois and the Algonquian in the Age of Empires II frame is slightly awkward but I think I have found some arguments that it might work.
Personal I am not that interested in the nitty gritty of the tech tree or units stats, so I did not made one. If you read the bonuses you can image what you think would be balance.
The videos of the experimental archaeology from MalcolmPL helped a lot to understand the practical stuff about things like his videos about recreating Iroquois armor
Or how modern axe would deal with wooden armour.
I would recommend everybody who has a spare moment to watch a handful of videos from MalcolmPL, he got interesting insights about Native Americans.
He make me convinced that the native have a place ingame (and were definitely not as “primitive” as some people claimed.)
Especially if you take disease and gunpowder out of the picture.
Disease don’t play a role in Age of Empires and gunpowder is only a late stage option.
One on one I think, against a medieval Eurasia soldier they are not helpless.
In a game were you can play with Koreans against the Celts in Arabia, I would not mind to see a tomahawk warrior fighting an elephant.
Also I recommend to everybody watch this video:
It is about the Haudenosaunee internal politics, I did not find a lot of opportunities to reflect it in game but it help to understand the Haudenosaunee view of themselves and the world around them.
With that out of the way, let have a look how they could look in game:
First of all, Skraelings Celts out of the Vinlandsaga will change to the Algonquian.
The Algonquian will use the same architecture, that I would call Woodland architecture.
For the Algonquian Wonder I recommend something like the “Healing Chamber”
I almost scraped my Algonquian civ design because I could not find a fitting Wonder until I stumble upon the lectures of NEARA videos and learned about dolmens, cairns, petroform, stone sweat loges and solar alignment.
In this lecture I learned about the Healing Chamber.
It is maybe not as impressive as a cathedral but still more effort than the ruins that the Huns left behind as a Wonder.
If the Wonder became a collage of dolmens, cairns and petroform with the Healing Chamber as center piece would be quite awesome. Especially if the construction animation show that the rock was deliberately split (I don’t know if that deliberately happened).
Problem with the Healing Chamber Wonder is that the location is not publicly made know to avoid unwanted attention. Putting in a popular videogame might give it unwanted attention….
Here is another lecture about solar alignments. The “Sunset Boulevard” could be an alternative center piece for the Wonder.
Last note on architecture, I would prefer to have unique Mississippian and Woodland set. But if the devs want to save money they could make one set where the Feudal Age set is more Woodland and the Castle age is more Mississippian. I will not like it but understand that they might do it.
Things I would encourage to be shared between the three civ are the walls and sails of the ships.
Shared between the Iroquois and the Algonquian is the scout unit. Unlike the other American civs they will not have access to the Eagle Warrior.
We have already civ with the scout unit from the Stable and the Barrack, but not yet from the Archery Range.
Let me introduce you to the Prowler!
Prowler Scout > Prowler Archer > Elite Prowler Archer
It is a weaker version of the Maya Plumed Archer, in the Castle Age it will have a similar role like a Cavalry Archer.
I imagine that the Scout Prowler does not yet have a bow but throw javelins and has a minimal range. The main reason for this is to make defending against very early aggression less annoying but also there is some historic present for it.
A shared unit shared between every North American civ (Also my Mississippians design), is at the Siege Workshop.
The Mantlet, a ranged anti-Archer and anti-Siege, Siege unit.
Imagine Throwing Axeman and Huskarl combined. It throws tomahawks with a range of 3 and has high pierce armour. It has bonus damage against Archers and a small bonus against Siege and Buildings.
Same as the Ram and Hussite Wagon, the Mantlet has the ability to protect units behind them by halving the damage dealt by enemy projectiles passing through the Mantlet.
It could replace the Ram line or the Scorpion line, however I think it is best to place it at the same spot where the Bombard Cannon is in the Siege Workshop. That means that it will not have an Elite/Heavy version.
More a Meme/ Easter Egg unit
Like the Meso civ can make the Knight like Xolotl Warrior, if they can get their hands on a Stable. The North American civs can make a Light Calvary like unit called Kanya Horseman. If they can manage to gain a Stable.
Even if it is a “hidden” unit that you will not see often in regular play, there are two potential moment to see them in the campaigns. In the last De Soto campaign scenario when they need to play as the Mississippians instead of Spain, they will have the Stable unlocked and able to make the native horseman.
The other option is in the last Algonquian scenario against the Vikings, there could be a secondary objective to steal Vikings horses.
As I had mentioned in my Mississippian design: Personal I think the Mesoamerican Trade Carts can be used again but if you want something unique, you can have the historical accurate dog drawn Travois instead.
The dogs could pull about it own weight on the Travois.
With a new continent we need also add a few new animals.
We already got Deer, Turkeys, Goose, Bear and Wolves ingame.
Fun fact! The in-game Deer is already an American deer! The model is base of the Virginia deer
The new animal are of course the Bison. Other animals that could be added are the Mountain lion, Catfish and Swan. Moose, elk caribou are also good possibilities.
Seals like a fishtype in the water or a deertype on the land could also work. If the seal as a deer would be introduced, a walrus like a boar would also be an opportunity, even if the walrus live too far north to be relevant most of the time.
Scenario only objects like Huron and Thule unit or an igloo house would be cool to have.
I was playing with the idea to have fruit and nut trees. A tree with 75 wood and 25 food. Forage Villagers first collect the food. If all food is collected then Lumberjacks can cut the trees. Double clicking the Fruit Tree will cut the tree straight away without collecting the food.
Fruit and nut trees played an important part in the horticultural lifestyle of Native Americans.