Byzantines vs Italians

Hi everyone, I need some advice.
How do you fight Italians as Byzantines in the imperial age?
Once some Genoese Crossbowmen are out I feel any cav you can throw at them is doomed, even more since you lack Blast Furnace AND bloodlines. Cataphracts have nice resistance but they still get 5 damage from arbs and Genoese Xbows, plus they die to regular FU cavaliers. They have cheap bombards for your onagers, better militia line, cheaper HC, FU cavalier against poor cavalier.
In the end I won by spamming skirms, halbs and siege rams, my only gold units were the rams and I made a s**tload of them. It felt rather miserable but honestly I didn’t think I could use better units, basic scorps would have died horribly to cannons.
Any other army composition ideas?

No. Just spamming trash and siege is probably your best bet in that matchup if it isn’t possible to stop Italians reaching that point.


You win by doing exactly what you did. :smiley: GG!

You can also make some trebs with all the gold saved, don’t forget about them!


Byz have BBC too… Going pure trash should save enough gold for train them


I won’t lie, I was so busy constantly pulling skirms back and forth to avoid hussars that I totally forgot to build trebs :man_facepalming:

I made some at some point, but I sucked at protecting them so in the end I went for rams only because they’re more noob friendly :rofl: but you’re definitely right, I need to get better at microing cannons.


rams are good. they are so tanky againts archers, they will help you in battlefield.


In addition to what was said above, arb also are a good pick to get some oumph into your compositon. They might be slightly worse than Italian arbs, but some are needed to take out bombards/hussar. Also they are great for whenever you manage to reach to enemy eco.

So basicially, a ball of arbs, protected my skirm/halb, with siege to push. Wall of as much as possible as your cav is inferior, and try to get some raids in yourself. As in every matchup, byz are really strong once gold is running dry.

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Byzantines is a REACTIVE civ. Even in Imperial age, your goal is REACTING and making counter units.

Enemy makes Hussar? You make cheap Camels

Enemy spamming Arbs? You make Skirms

Enemy goes Cavalier? You go full Halb (you need A LOT of Barracks to beat Cavalier/Paladin spam to instantly re-produce because lacking Blast Furnace makes you require more hits vs Cavalier/Paladin spam, so careful about your wood count because we are talking about 15+ Barracks, otherwise 70 Paladins beat 70 Halbs and after that his reinforcements are more pop efficient than yours)

In general, you should have a small army of say 30 Arbalest + 2-3 Trebs BBC to push one position at a time. The rest of your army population should be counter units depending on what enemy is making. Often your army will be 5-6 units, say, 10 Camels, 30 Arbalest, 20 Skirms, 15 Halbs, 2 Bombard Cannons and 2 Trebs. You see opponent decided to raid with Hussar? You click Stables hotkey and queue more Camels. He sees that Hussar raids don’t work and tries to go full Halberd? You queue Skirms/Arbalest.

Byzantines is a lot about grinding with cheaper units until opponent runs out of gold. Then hopefully you have leftover gold to make a push with Arbalest Halb BBC which is the “default” Byzantine comp. It’s a REACTIVE civ. Having majority of Relics helps greatly in long games as Byzantines.

Cataphracts btw are also a counter unit, it’s not a generic power unit you crash into anything and win like Paladins or Arbalest or Cav archer. They die hard to archer-line, knight-line and to a degree even to halberdier play. You should NOT tech into Cataphracts in your average game, it’s incredibly expensive and often backfires. They are useful vs infantry civs mostly, notably Goths, all Meso, Malians etc. Italians are not an infantry civ so you shouldn’t be making Cataphracts.

More generally, there are aggressive and reactive civs in this game. An example of an aggressive civ is Huns or Mongols, here, you spam some gold unit in Castle age to gain an advantage and opponent makes counter units and is normally the defender vs these civs. Typically such civs have a more limited tech tree and are bad once gold runs out. Byzantines, however, have some moments in the game when they can be the aggressor too (before gold runs out). Your “main” power spike is the one deriving from cheaper Imp. At the same time, being the defender, having cheaper counter units is quite convenient because you can boom better while making a good army. You see mass Knights, you go Camel, you see Crossbow play you go full Skirms. It’s convenient Byzantines have full Monastery in Castle Age because Redemption allows you to counter Mangonel play too, and in fact Monastery is another very underrated part of Byzantines tech tree and while you don’t get discounts here you should be using it in your average game. Defending well in Castle Age, booming and using the cheaper Imp cost to reach Imp sooner than the opponent to destroy him with Arbalest + Treb push is the 1 window Byzantines have to play “aggressively”.


Well yeah in 1v1 fights they die to Cavaliers but you most likely will fight in larger groups in Imp and the bigger the mass the better the Cataphracts will perform. 20v20 should be an easy win for them. I feel like mass Skirms, Cataphracs and maybe some Halbs perform well against Italians.