Civilisation concept: Sogdians

After thinking about the strange name change for the Savaran to the Sogdian Cataphract in the DoI DLC, I spontaneously thought of ideas for a potential Sogdian civ and so here it is.


Who are the Sogdians?
Sogdians are a Central Asian peoples that formed various important polities between the 6th and 11th Centuries, and were prominent during Antiquity as well. Their territory covered what is now Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan.

A lot of their activity in this time period revolved around trading, forming an intricate and essential part of the Silk Road. But they still had formidable armies.

Cavalry and Trade Civilization

Architecture set: Central Asian
Language: Sogdian
Trade Cart: Middle Eastern
Wonder: Varaksha Palace

Civ Bonuses:

  • Steppe Lancer upgrades cost -50%
  • Trade Carts affected by Cavalry armor upgrades
  • Can create Ox Carts instead of Mills, Lumber Camps or Mining Camps
  • Camel Rider-line has +1/+2 Melee Armor in Castle/Imperial Age

Team Bonus:
Trade Carts generate 1 additional Food, Wood and Stone

Unique Unit:
Bactrian Rider - Cavalry unit with a lot of HP and does bonus damage to cavalry. 85 Food 65 Gold

HP: 175, 200 (Elite)

Attack: 11, 13 (Elite) melee

Rate of Fire: 1.8

Melee Armor: 1

Pierce Armor: 2

Armor Classes: Cavalry, Camel, Unique Unit

Speed: 1.2

Line of Sight: 6

Creation Time: 18 Seconds

Unique Unit 2:


Sogdian Cataphract

Upgrade for the Elite Steppe Lancer, for 650 Food & 375 Gold (after civ bonus). Has the same stats as the scenario editor unit, but with 1 range.

Unique Building:
Ox Cart

The Ox Cart acts as a drop-off site for all resources. It can move, research all eco upgrades for the buildings it replaces and is built like a building, but is treated as a cavalry unit in terms of bonus damage and upgrades.

Cost: 100 Wood

HP: 300

Melee Armor: 0

Pierce Armor: 7

Armor Classes: Cavalry, Unique Unit

Speed: 1.0

Line of Sight: 6

Build Time: 35s

Unique Techs:
(Castle Age) - Farmland Clearance : 200 Food 200 Gold
Lumberjacks slowly generate food in addition to wood.

(Imperial Age) - Menagerie : 400 Food 200 Gold
Camel Riders and Elephant Archers are created 50% faster.

Missing Techs Tree:

Eagle Scout, Champion, Halberdier

Archery Range:
Arbalester, Cavalry Archer, Hand Cannoneer

Paladin, Battle Elephant

Siege Workshop:
Armored Elephant, Bombard Cannon


Galleon, Cannon Galleon, Heavy Demolition Ship, Shipwright

Redemption, Atonement, Heresy, Illumination

Plate Mail Armor

Siege Engineers, Bombard Tower

Mill, Lumber Camp, Mining Camp, Gold Shaft Mining, Stone Shaft Mining

Sogdians, like other Central Asian civs, are focused around cavalry, but here the Sogdians are more focused around trade and their economy being mobile.

Onto the latter; for the Age of Mythology fans reading, yes this is the Norse Ox Cart with some AoE2 tweaks. But I didn’t just throw it in only for fun, here it makes sense, as the Sogdians moved around a lot. Here the Ox Cart helps in not only requiring fewer drop-off sites to be built, as it can move up to retreating woodlines, follow vills to new mining deposits or huntables and can retreat from attacking units towards defensive fortifications.

For the trading aspect, Sogdians give all allies a small trickle of all resources while trading. This makes their trading more efficient, and players wouldn’t need to spend as much gold buying stone in the late game for example. Their trade carts are also harder to raid, due to them gaining cavalry armour upgrades.

Religiously Sogdians had a mix of Zoroastrian and Chinese beliefs, so I made their monastery a mix of both. I didn’t intend them to be a good monk civ, so this is just pure flavour, and not letting them have Heresy due to their UU and Elephant Archers.

The Bactrian Rider is their ultimate late-game unit. Think of it as the ########## of a knight and a battle elephant, with stats between both. It’s a tanky melee unit that has the usual camel anti-cav bonuses, and is something to plow into the action while ranged units stand behind. The idea initially came from just how big Bactrian Camels are.

Onto their Lancers. Sogdians get the Steppe Lancer upgrades at a reduced price, to help them access each stage easier. Not only that, they get a third stage to the line, making their Lancers much more archer resistant.

Their final civ bonus is extra melee armor on their camels, to give them a bit of an extra edge, as the Sogdians did use them a lot and they should feature in their ingame army.

For the unique techs, I will say that I have no idea what they should cost. But my first port of call was for them to be more about flexibility than outright power. To this end, I used Sogdians wide variety of animal mounts as inspiration for their Imperial Age tech, making their non-horse mounts created faster. Castle Age took longer, but I eventually landed on lumberjacks producing food, to show them clearing area for farmland.

Overall, they get a lot of options; their archery range has most of the basics, with fully upgraded faster created Elephant Archers. Their siege is fine outside the lack of BBC. They do not miss any defenses. Their stable is a highlight, with plenty of options and above average Camels, and easier access to Elite Steppe Lancers and Sogdian Cataphracts in the late game. Lastly their infantry is…not great, but is usable in a pinch.


Some things i noticed:

this might be easily exploited If you place markets right next to eachother, i think that’s why spanish and bengalis got a percantage Bonus.

When you combine cavalry and camel armor class your bactrian Rider will take Bonus damage for both of these classes 32 against cav, 26 against camel and 6normal melee attack= 64damage per Hit from a regular Halberdier (bs upgrades and melee armor cancel each other)

Even though it can move and has a lot of HP maybe it is at some points in the game still too weak against spear line.

Im not a big scenario editor guy, what stats does a sogdian cataphract have?

Seems quite umderpowered. The ox cart is a pretty good early eco saving for berries and hunt, but I think its not enough to carry the civ when its their best bonus, the only thing that may make them viable is the insane stats of the castle UU but I think its probably not enough

Also the castle age UT seems like it would make for a great early eco bonus for other civ, kinda feels like a waste here

Seem like a better version of Bengalis. Is it always fixed 1 per trade cart trip?

A bit too cheap on gold cost. Should have been 75. Although speed and creation speed are on the weaker side. So maybe won’t be too OP. How much bonus damage they have against cavalry though?

Ultra broken.

Too gimmicky. Just let be it a building and then try to balance.

Gurjaras TB.

Was about to say that.

AOE wiki to save the day.


I wonder how the AoM Ox Cart would work in Age of Empires. Will it also be built at the Town Center? I feel like that restriction would create a large drawback as you sacrifice a villager being built at the same time. And that’s compounded by the idea that it’d be a Cavalry class ‘building’, so therefore being very vulnerable to Spearmen-line units even if it retains the HP of a Lumber Camp/Mill/Mining Camp.

Perhaps if the idea is that you train it at the Town Center and it falls over quite quickly to anything with bonus damage, the civ should also start the game with one Ox Cart already trained.

However, if the intention is that villagers ‘build’ Ox Carts, I suppose it’ll be a little strange (if impossible by AoE2 mechanics) to see buildings not adhere to the tiles in the game.

Perhaps a workaround, albeit clunky, is that villagers can build a separate building (that replaces the Camps/Mill) that can train Ox Carts, or maybe Ox Carts can be trained from Houses?

Personally I don’t mind the Ox Cart mechanic in AoE2, but implementing it in the game could pose problems. I don’t see it as gimmicky as some of the post-DE civ bonuses are. Perhaps the unit should also carry over some form of mechanic from the Trebuchet, in that it needs to unpack and pack and villagers can only drop off when it’s unpacked. :person_shrugging:


Why do you feel like that?

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As far as I know, Bactrian camels are not actually suitable as mounts for cavalry who charge because they are pretty slower than dromedary camels. Their advantages over dromedary camels are their higher carrying capacity and better ability to withstand extreme environments. Therefore, if there is to be a Bactrian camel unit in the game, then I guess it should be a trade cart type unit, which may move more slower but carries more gold.

As others have pointed out, this can be abused.

Oh please no.

Sogdian Cataphracts are mounted Huskarls, while Steppe Lancers on the other hand should rightfully be weaker against ranged units.
Maybe give Steppe Lancers +1/+2 to pierce armor, and introduce Imperial Steppe Lancers to match the half price bonus of the Elite Steppe Lancers upgrade, but definitely not so they can turn into Sogdian Cataphracts that are completely different from their original roles.

Sogdian Cataphracts can become trainable UUs in Stables from the Imperial Age. Given their superior power, I would make them unlockable through a UT maybe named ‘Lamellar armor’.

I wouldn’t consider a thing that moves to be a ‘building’. Things that move are ‘units’.
‘Building’ units by units has no precedent in AoE2. If you don’t want to be so unconventional, you could make the Carts slightly more expensive than 100 wood and make them trainable as a unit in the Houses.

Is there any reference for these UTs?
Also, why did and how could the steppe peoples of Central Asia use elephant units?

The Eastern Iranians represented by the Sogdians played a very critical role in the spread of Buddhism to East Asia. The population of East Asia allowed Buddhism to be considered one of the three major religions in the world nowaday. It would be a great pity to have only mediocre monks.

Several reasons. I’ll mention them in order from least gimmicky most gimmicky.

  1. An ox costing wood.
  2. Assuming villagers will build an ox. That will be very weird as it is an unit, not really a building.
  3. An unit that is also considered an unit.
  4. An unit used as a building.

I have a somewhat radical idea for this civ. Giving that the Sogdians were very much into commerce and trade (in fact it was them who were the major traders on the Silk Road and not the Chinese), I feel that this civ could be the only civ without any unique unit of its own but instead it could train the unique units of allied civs in their Castle or maybe buy them at their Market, at a slightly higher price of course. Not sure if this is balanced or not.

And when it’s a 1 vs 1 game without allied players, they’ll train the UU of another random civ.

Curious: what happens when you get a UU that would not actually help them in 1v1 randomly?

There could also be stuff like you get arambai boosted by full armor tech and +4/6 is way better than Burmese.

That’s why I say it’s just a radical idea and probably not balanced at all. But I really do hope that the mercenary mechanic (Native Hut / Saloon) mechanic of AoE 3 could somehow be implemented in a AoE 2 civ in the future.