It’s a different Topic since, it’s after the previous buff Aztecs received.
I will first explain what I think Aztecs are with their current Game Design, what they’re great at, and what they’re weak at.
Aztecs are seen as a “Aggressive, Rush & All-in” civilization, just like Spanish, Ottomans, or the original other native civilizations.
That was on purpose at the release of “The War Chiefs”, but since Asian Dynasty, since DE, the meta has shifted, and I think they’re getting out of touch, and the original design needs to change.
Aztecs usually commit at one thing, and if it works, fine they win, but if that doesn’t, they lose. And it’s not that much seen in pro plays since, Aztecs are predictables. Being able to All-In when the options are limited isn’t very great. Being able to All-In, but having something close to 50/50 of winning is not great either.
Aztecs are greats at :
- All-in rushes : low pop cost units, easy to mass, strong shipments
- Early-pressure : related as well to shipments, and where having early “skirm” unit is strong in age2
- Delayed Age2 Pressure : same as above, still strong.
Aztecs are weak at :
- Age2 Booming : they need 10wp in order to boom, and if they commit to that, they can’t pressure. Don’t get me wrong there, they’re strong at booming in treaty, but in 1v1 or TG, if there is early pressure, you can’t afford doing that. It’s more of a Age3 strength, or further away.
- Water Booming : same as above, but on water, even if they got buffed this way, they can’t commit to both, unlike all other europeans/asians civs.
- Aggressive Fast Fortress : Aztecs don’t have access to canon, or a unit equivalent to Canons. SkullKnights could be seen there, but they’re not avaiable until age4. And they’re HeavyInfantry, which means they take bonus damage from Skirms & Canons. There is no reasons to do a FF or semi-FF with them.
- Passive Fast Fortress : again if you go to a “boom” option with Aztecs, due to non access to Canons, you might have a lot of ecos, but with no real strength behind. Europeans & Asians civs outclass all unit composition Aztecs could have.
- Fast Industrial : this is cost heavy, and with SkullKnights ’ power spike, completed with Macehuatlins, give them a real strong pressure. But with the current meta, it’s almost impossible to commit to that, it’s too weak if you get rushed, if you get anticipated, at least at higher elo.
Now why would I go for Aztecs if I can do better with other Europeans/Asians civilizations ?
How to solve those problems, if they are ?
1 - Give them more options :
- New Techs : new techs would make them also less predictable.
- Rework Big Buttons : most of their big buttons are a meme at this state, and pretty unusable. It would be better if it was something like any other Native Civs, including buff, effects, or even something new.
- Rework Shipments : shipments were set back from TWC, and almost never touched. Puma’s Temple shipment for example could totally fit in age2 for 500golds, but with 6 pumas delivered instead of 12.
- New Building : I think Aztecs need a new building, a Temple where you could train SkullKnights, Warrior Priest, and where you could research those new Techs. They were very religious, and that doesn’t really reflect in the game. It would make sense to do a FF or semi-FF if the temple comes to reality, and would make them way more flexible after an “all-in” strategy. It would also brings equivalent to the Incas’ Stronghold & the Incas’ Kallankas.
- Rework Age-up Tribal Concil : they’re so underwhelming and feel not that great to use. In game-design, I see often the “double line” used to solve this problem : adding two facts when you research something, if that one line is not strong enough. Usually it gives way more satisfaction to the player .
2 - Coyote, master piece in the Aztec’s army, need buff, but not many :
- One less shipment : they require too many shipment, just moving one of the actual shipment to a tech would be a great buff
- Through a tech, make them unsnarable, like chimus : they can all in and they’re great at it, but they fade out in lategame, making them weaker and weaker to use as the game goes on. They also cost wood so it makes them even harder to use in lategame, when wood is key.
3 - Arrow Knight : a unit that isn’t that great :
- Buff/Rework their shipment Temple : currently them having 25% more damage isn’t a big deal, this is why the card is almost never seen. They’re great at sieging, they’re not that great vs Canons, and their damage is low enough to not be a threat to normal unit.
Buff/Rework the unit : so far nothing really justify their 2pop cost. Either make it 1 with slight stats change (siege damage), as suggested @LukasL993331, or justify their 2 pop cost.
If the Balance Team wants the unit to be usable against other units & not only building/canons ? => give them AoE, i.e. through a fire field & dot when an arrow lands after a tech, or just poison damage which has been proven great against Canons & Cavalry.
4 - Jaguar Prowl Knight :
- Stealth speed malus : 50% slow speed is too strong for a their based speed, this is why unless in very specific situations (aka a bait, anticipating an army by camping an area ?), I don’t see reasons to use this ability. Maybe adding a tech that reduce the speed by 20% only would be great ?
5 - SkullKnights :
- Remove or justify Heavy Infantry tag : Aztecs have already too much Heavy Infantry, and for being an “Elite” unit, I think it make the unit very niche to use. Either remove it or increase their stats to justify that unit to be classified as Heavy Infantry.
- Diversify its accessibility : their available in age4 and yet I don’t see the dance that usable. If you go for their production, that means you can’t attack with War Dance, or can’t produce with Fertility Dance. This is why I insist with a new building to produce them !
If you’re curious about how could be seen that Temple, I made a “fan” mod here, or if you’re just curious about the balance details here.
I’ve “imagined” a new “Choice Technology” that could be a nice touch to Age of Mythology with the deity choices at each age, and maybe could fit in Age of Empires 3 ?
Early has already been fixed by giving them one of the strongest Treasure Hunt civilization, and they have 1 or 2 more shipment than most of other civs.
But I think there is still more to see with the Aztecs, and probably the 2 other original Native Civilization. They were designed to have “strong early” but “weak lategame”, wich they don’t really fit anymore, due to the meta.
Proof is, Incas haven’t been designed this way, and they’re way better than those 3. Incas are fine in all the way, since they have a building variety, card variety, Tribal Council variety, Untis Variety, etc etc.
So I hope the balance/design team will take again a look at the Aztecs <3.