Civ picking is destroying the game for many long time fans

Hello guys,

I will get straight to the point. I am sure you all know the standard procedure for queuing in AOE 2 DE. You queue, you can put preference random by hitting the random button ( red, with an question mark ) , so the system queues you with other players that also prefer random civs.

However, both in ranked team games AND in ranked 1v1s ( no experience for DM and other modes, Civ picking is the preferred method. Why is this bad for the game ?

To understand this, we need to dive into the history of AOE 2 ranked games: In voobly times, many different stages came and went away, the 1v1 hun war phase etc. I personally reentered the game around 5 years ago during the HD time. HD had many faults, but it revitalised the game, kept it alive and growing, together with the core community at voobly. For team games and 1v1s, there was a general ground rule, that could be changed if people wanted to and accepted the change, but generally speaking the rule was : PICK RANDOM CIV in the lobby.

Now, why did it come to this ground rule. This is something very new players just dont understand, and how could they… Picking Random Civ only enhances the fair play, and the general experience of the game, it makes the experience for ALL players better. Why is that ? Well for example, AOE 2 is a very diverse game, with lots of facettes, and was NEVER ment to be a one sided, stale and simple experience. Playing different civs and playing against different civs every game means you have to learn new build orders and face different strategies. You can never be sure BEFORE THE GAME what strategy you will use, because you dont know your civ yet and therefor your civ strengths.

In HD and Voobly times 5 years ago, the civs were even less balanced then now. Koreans were straight up only good at trush, and so on. You had to make due with the cards that you got dealt. Why did that make you a better player over time, than only using britons all the time, for example ? Because, like a chess player, you had to learn different openings and strategies, which is ofc better for understanding and managing your game than always playing the one and only opening and strategy that you know…

There is nothing wrong with trying to enhance your franks scout play, or your britains arc opening, and training with that civ for a long period of time.

There are many more reasons why the community back then was very outspoken about that rule, and enforced it harshly. IF you picked a civ, in most cases you would just get kicked out of the lobby.

Nowadays there are many more players, and that is good. I dont know the names of 90 percent of the players in my games, and that is good as well. I am happy for the game, the community, the developers, and the content creators.

However, the situation has become insufferable for many long time fans, that played the game long before the HUGE DE success. In a standard ranked 1v1 competitive I have a 90% chance to face a S Tier civ, and in ranked teamgames it is the same.

A standard 3v3 ranked, elo 2000 looks like this: Ethiopians franks britons vs britons franks ethiopians.

The magic is gone, the mystic energy that brought me back to the game again and again. Back then I could face a korean tower rush, a huns fc cav arc strategy, a celts maa feudal all in, UU strategies etc etc. Nowadays, in 1v1 it is wall to fc, or scout rush to fc, or arc rush to fc. Thats it. And it is the same for team games arabia.

In HD times, we would play 4v4 nomad all random, and you never knew what civ you would get. Nowadays, my favourite mode has lost all its magic. Persians, Malians or Spanish is ALWAYS present, sucking the magic right out of it.

The mindset went from: lets play on a fair and even leveled, fun stage together, to I want to win at all costs.
The asian gaming mindset took over completely ( IF I can choose, I will choose the civ that will make me win the most, because this is ranked and I want to win at all costs )

This mindset took over the community, and it has destroyed the competitive modes of DE completely for the core community, the long time fans that this whole project is built on.

If I face Franks and Ethiopians every time in ranked, the thrill is gone and the magic too. I know what strategies they will go for. I know what units they will go for. And if we are on the same skill level completely, they will win, because of their eco/civ bonuses, they will unfairly but they will win.

When commuting this you are faced with the following argument: You can choose your civ as well, and if you dont do that, you have to be the better player and you loose your right to complain, because this is competitive and we want to win.

This toxic and stupidous mindset dominates all other online competitive gaming areas EXCEPT AOE 2, at least it used to.

Why did the truest, most devoted fans of the game, the core of the core, choose the rancom concept for ranked games then? When they had nothing to proove, 20000 active players left in both voobly and HD, WHY did they choose this principle ?

Because it makes sense, because its the most fun way to enjoy the game, but foremost it is the most FAIR way.

Yes sometimes you get a low tier civ, sometimes a high tier civ. But it had style nonetheless. That style is gone, replaced by efficiancy , and the overshadowing will to win at all costs.

Why do you think , do the top tier players all choose random civ in the lobbies with TheViper, MrYo, etc. (even in Membs BF lobbies) ? It IS the most fun way to enjoy the game, all long time core fans will agree with that, or most of them.

DE needs a ranked mode for players that wish to play ONLY random. This button is a VERY good thought, but it is too little to stem the tide. People should still be able to pick civ like they do right now, but people should also be able to play other players EXCLUSIVELY with random mode.

For example, a solution could be: the same button, but you get matched up ( lets say in a 3v3 ) with other players and NOONE is able to PICK civ, it is set to random and cannot be changed. I dont care waiting 10 Minutes longer, In HD with 5000 active players we had to wait 10 Minutes or more to get a full nomad lobby anyways. But it gave us so much more than these fake nomad games. Savage, DeezNuts and other players would have LAUGHED at you if you would have picked persians or spanish all the time.

Because the way it is now, is garbage. This civ picking has sucked the magic out of the game, it has made the game devoid of crazy, fun strategies. I dont want to play ranked nomad and face spanish all the time. I dont want to play arabia and face a franks or magyar scout rush all the time. I want the style, the love, and the diversity back. I want to face turks or huns or japanese and get surprised by creative, out of the box strategies.

I remember getting rushed by huskarls only in HD and I was awestruck and hooked, after many hours I learned a new, valuable strategy. I remember getting persian douched the first time.

Long gone are the times of creative plays, now is the time of the same old same old. Scouts pocket, archers flank, game after game after game. May the best Britons player win. What a sad and lifeless, grey state of an otherwise colorful game. This is NOT how the original devs wanted it to be played, I am sure.

sorry for the wall of text. I wrote so much because I loved this game and I still do. By the way, I was sometimes a toxic little ■■■■■ to other players. But the community in HD showed me so much love, so much respect, I try to be a better player nowadays, and I nearly never rent ingame.

It gives me no pleasure to write this, but if this continues, I will abondon DE after hundreds and hundreds of ours and go back to HD, and pay the price that comes with it. Yes, I thought about creating lobbies in DE but its not the same. I want my elo to change if I loose, I want ranked mode, but not like this. Not like this. And I KNOW I am not alone. I know the core feels the same.

This is not a developer problem. It is a community problem, and the community should talk about it and come to a conclusion. Because the game CAN NOT afford to loose its most important , most loyal fans. It would be just a hollow shell then. and after the success is gone, it will just be a dead shell.

If you have read this far, thank you for your time.

Please share your opinion on this topic

I wish you all the best and lots of love.

P.S.: I love the commitment, energy, work and love the community and the developers have put into AOE 2 DE. You guys are truly amazing. This is, for me, without a doubt, the best and wholesome big gaming community online at the moment right now, you guys never fail to amaze me with your awesomeness.

Take care, stay healthy and happy <3 one luv


Very well said, i’ve stopped playing the game at this point for the reasons you’ve listed. The vast majority of the player base is so obsessed with this win at all costs culture, they use the exact same build orders they’ve memorised from a youtube video, they use the same 5 civilisations with the best “horsies” which they can put in their box formation and run around your base from minute 6 (because the developers have catered so hard to these people it’s no longer possible to wall), or the best archers, it’s very tiresome. There’s a lot more nuance to this game than these people appreciate, it’s a shame they’ve ruined the experience for a lot of us

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I hardly ever write this, but: tldr.

However, i would like to present you just one of many points why civ picking isnt only good, it might even been mandatory for a healthy game:
There are soon 40 civs. Getting into aoe2 is hard enough as is, but having to learn all 40 civs At the same time is completly impossible and will make the game inaccessible to new players - but the game needs new players.


I’ve to be honest, I didn`t read everyhting. But I catch your point and I agree with you.
I would like to see implemented a civ pool, lets say, 15 civs updated with the map pool. Then you have a lets say 5 bans, this way you have a random pick between 10 civs.


despite this i didnt end up reading this entire, very long post.

here are my three cents:
-for people getting into the game, specializing in one civ is a good way to learn the game
-there is the random civ option available to you, you can always play random civ
-there is even the option in ranked games to have both players agree to pick random civ

i also understand why the random civ isn’t enforced on the ladder, because nobody wants to play aztecs against italians on islands or some other completely one-sided matchup

so here is the main question:
what is your solution? do you want to force everyone to play random civ just so you are happy? the game has more players than ever (i think) so i dont believe this is bad for the game or the community

lastly there is still the option to create lobby games where you agree that everyone has to go for random civ


The post is a bit too long, would like to have a tldr as well

But I doubt you can make a conclusion with the current community - besides the old “magic” argument, what are the other arguments that convinces the civ-pickers (which seems to be the majority right now) that random is more fun?

Like if chess is solved (by human), every professional / competitive player will just choose one opening anyway, like the classic tic-tac-toe.

I am fine with both civ-pickers and random-pickers, I am not too sure.


Picking Random Civ makes the game more RNG-oriented. If your enemy gets a civ that is a counter to yours, you already start an uphill battle through no fault of your own.

You can always try playing as many civs as possible to see your style, or focus on 1-3 civs and become better and better at it. The difference is that in Random Civs you have no control over this.

And new players would suffer the most from Random Civs as they don’t know the Tech Tree. Essentially, you have to learn all 39 tech tree to guarantee you have a game where you fully know your civ, which is impossible for a new player.

In chess, it is optimal for players to see has many openings as possible and then pick 1-3 openings they feel most comfortable with and stick to that, depending on their playstyle. It is no recommended to play random openings everytime and does not make you a better player.

There will always be a meta. Imagine asking to play random heroes in Dota 2.

On the contrary, allowing you to pick your civ makes the game more fair, less RNG dependent.

If you face Franks and Ethiopians and are on the same skill level completely but they will win because of their eco/civ bonuses, what stops your team from picking Franks and Ethiopians as well or a counter?

At least here, you are responsable for your choice of civ. If you would play Random Civs 3vs3 and the enemy team would have counters to your team, on the same skill level completely but they will win, but through no fault of your own.

It’s not about the balance, it’s about the magic. You like the magic of Random Civs. Which is understandable, and why you have an option for it. But it doesn’t mean it should be the default for all players.

There’s a reason it’s called ranked, it’s supposed to be about efficiancy. What you are essentially asking for is a more RNG-based fun over efficiency yet competitive game, those things contradict each other.

I agree you have more fun with random civs, but I think that in general and especially for new players the default should be pick your civ. It’s great that you have the option for random civs on ranked. But I don’t think the ranked modes should be split, further dividing the playerbase.

Thank you for your imput, I appreciate the thought.


For me civs picking is totally fine but players should have the right to ban x civs that they don’t want to see. If the opponent or you pick a civ which has been banned by the other you or your opponent get a random civ instead. With a system like that it becomes risky to pick a meta civ. And it could break the boring poket/flank meta in TG. And players that like play only one no meta op civ can continue enjoying the game.


Well done calling out racism everywhere where it’s not.

The East Asians have a different culture when it comes to gaming, they are much more competitive.

I can see the “not all” reply from a mile away. Yes, not all, but on average they are the most competitive when it comes to video games.

It’s not even a bad thing so wtf.

When facts become ‘offensive’ or ‘racist’ we know we have degenerated as a society.


I fully agree with you. The game was fun when it was purely random civ and random map.

I liked the HD ranking system for lobbies.

I thought ranked was about skill?

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For me the voluntary random option works well enough. I play 1v1 at around 1300 elo and at least 60% of the matchups end up random.


The solution is obvious and it’s something I have been pushing for every time I’ve seen this discussion.

We should replace civ picking with “civ type” picking. So Franks players would pick “Cavalry Civ” option and they would random Franks, Magyars, Lithiuanians, Poles etc. Ethiopian players would pick “Archer Civ” and would random Britons, Ethiopians, Vietnamese, Mayans etc. - Then you’d have “Cav Archer Civ”, “Elephant Civ”, “Infantry Civ”, “Siege Civ”, “Monk Civ”, “Naval Civ” and maybe even “Tower Civ”, “Economic / Boom Civ” or “Late Game Civ” / “Early Aggression Civ” in addition to the Random, Full Random and Mirror options we have already.

This would mean cavalry players who like doing their typical one-dimensional castle age knights strategy can still do so without worrying about randoming a meso civ with no stable and archer players wouldn’t have to worry about randoming Spanish or Bulgarians. Obviously some civs like Chinese and Byzantines would be in more than one civ category. But you get the idea.

To solve the issue, you really need to think about solutions which both sides are ok with. Currently a ton of the player base in unhappy with civ picking, that much is clear. But removing civ picking does not solve the problem, it just moves the problem to the civ pickers’ side, who make up a very large proportion of the player base and will be very unhappy with complete random civs every game.

I also think civ banning would get too complex since matchmaking is already difficult enough as it is. Because then you’d have players banning multiple civs and players having to pick multiple backup civs in case their opponent bans their no.1 and no. 2 picks. It would just get really messy. Random Civ Type is a far cleaner and more elegant solution.


If we want to overcomplicate it, I think that it might be interesting to implement a draft format. Each player bans 1-3 civs, then picks 1-3 civs, and both players know what got banned/drafted. Then, out of their 3 civ pool, each player selects 1 civ to play, which the opponent doesn’t know. That way, there is an element of randomness, you can ban civs you don’t like, but there shouldn’t be too much banned. I’m not sure if I would let 1 civ be picked by both players or not.


i kinda like this idea but it has some issues:
eg i like flexible civs: huns, magyar, etc where i can realistically go archers or cav, depending on map, enemy’s civ and scouting, so i think this should be added as a category as well.

you think so? this could make for an interesting poll. I think the ?-option we have atm suffices. in my ranked games i get about 60% random civ games on arabia, less on other maps

I am not sure how to solve this though, maybe give preferential matching to people who have random civ enabled, but im not sure if this works with the current matchmaking

There actually IS an easy solution. Just pick random. And then assume 80% of your opponents do the same. Unless you play several hours each day, this assumption will correlate well enough with observable data.

Its really about your mindset.


I personally believe in picking civ, ticking the random box, and objectively avoiding any of the top Arabia civs on Arabia. I don’t mind about picking top civs on other maps, because I don’t ban anything, or star anything, yet I don’t always know how to play other things, and I like to mess around with stuff.

There are 2 things I disagree with.

  1. Random civ does not necessarily lead to fair games, you can easily end up in a civ win scenario, like Goths vs Mayans on Arena, or any number of poor water civs on Islands. Sure on average the win rates will even out, but individual games can end up decided by luck instead of skill (picking a civ for the map, and guessing at your opponent’s pick is step 1 of the strategy).

I don’t really need to prove this, it’s established fact that civ pick is more fair. This is why every major tournament allows players to choose their civ for each game. I can’t imagine anything high-stakes being left to random civs, it just reduces the effect of skill on outcome.

  1. You assume that players that choose their civ always play the same one. I don’t believe this is true, many players will cycle through various ones as they learn different strategies, or use certain civs for different maps. Others may play nearly all civs, but avoid a few that do not suit their playstyle.

I really don’t get why players want to decide what civ their opponent plays. Just go random yourself or pick a civ you think is fun and strong, and let the opponent make this choice themself. It makes no difference to me if my opponent is playing Franks after selecting random or playing Franks because they chose Franks.


It takes skill to win with bad ‘luck’.

Tl dr

You can’t say how I should enjoy the game :rofl: