Okay, this will be an unranked game. Since it has to be done in a custom lobby setting. But let’s assume it’s fairly standard game settings, nothing crazy, You start in the dark age, but you can’t go past the castle age. The Imperial Age is not an option. Maps: 1v1 Arabia, or a team game of 4v4 black forest.
I think the overall best civ in this setting would in fact be the Persians. Kamandaran has no drawbacks at all in this setting. You may in fact, have the best archers in the entire game. Your archers cost no gold, and full blacksmith upgrades. In team games (where you have trade or whatever) your War Elephants act like siege units overall.
Missing bracer does not matter since nobody can get it anyway. You have nothing missing in the blacksmith. Full infantry, both militia, and spearman-line. Full stable. (standard units), full archery range.
just go for a feudal all in civ followed by a castle age push right?
i agree with persians (mostly becuz they’re my go-to civ )
Burgundians might actually be a contender as well, with extra economy upgrades and cavalier. Franks for the cheap castles sounds pretty good too, given that castles are basically the ultimate castle age “unit”.
If you do a game where you both start and end in castle age (as I imagined when I saw the title) cheap Berber knights could be a super strong option. The Mongol hunt bonus could also mean a very strong start. Lots of castle age units in your early game eco is never fun.
Malian have all the castle age techs, Franks and Incas can spam more castles, Cumans make castle pushing slightly less grindy, and Lith have the best knights. I don’t think Persians would be that good, sure you won’t notice the missing techs, but you can’t get to paladins either, and war eles+xbow must be the slowest army ever. Burgundians shouldn’t be that much better than usual either, since you cant get to paladins and memish rev, so once the effects of your super boom wears off your military is outclassed by Lithuanians.