This is one of my oldest brainstorms and I haven’t altered it much, so bear with me as it may be a little rough.
The Kazakhs can represent the nomadic Kazakh people during the Middle Ages, as well as the various states that were present in Kazakhstan during the Middle Ages, including ones settled by Gokturks, Kipchaks, Tatars, Khazars, and others. There is a great deal of cultural overlap with the in-game Cumans, Tatars, Turks, Persians, Mongols, and potentially Hindustanis, providing a lot of campaign potential.
The Kazakhs in-game would be greatly focused on Steppe Lancers, reflecting how they were a nomadic horse-oriented people and seemed to mainly use cavalry wielding spears or lances. They would have the Central Asian architecture, shared with the Cumans and Tatars, as a nod to the architecture of the Muslim invaders in the region. The Kazakh Wonder is the Mausoleum of Aisha Bibi, a small but visually striking tomb dedicated to a noblewoman who died only an hour before she was due to meet her lover.
Now that I’ve provided some cultural background, let’s get down into the in-game bonuses themselves.
- Steppe Lancers +1 pierce armor in Castle, +2 in Imperial Age (for +3 total)
- Can create two Trade Carts instantly and for free after building the first Market
- Houses built 200% faster
- Cavalry and cavalry archers affected by Arson
Team bonus: Cavalry archers +2 attack vs buildings
Unique Unit: Batyr (anti-fortification cavalry that slightly heals after each kill)
Unique Technologies: Kolbasy (all Knights currently created become Batyrs), Royal Armor (Steppe Lancers and Batyrs +20 HP)
Tech Tree Notes:
Kazakh infantry is decent. It is fully upgraded and none of the unit upgrades are missing, but it isn’t particularly special, since there are no bonuses for it of any kind.
The archers fare a bit better. While they’re missing the Arbalester, they do have Heavy Cavalry Archers with Parthian Tactics and Hand Cannoneers with all the upgrades. The Cavalry Archers even get a bit of extra damage against buildings. They’re quite serviceable.
The cavalry is a bit more situational. They’re missing the Hussar and even the Cavalier, and they only get up to Chain Barding Armor, though they do have Blast Furnace at least. Naturally, they have all the way to Heavy Camel. The Elite Steppe Lancers are quite tanky in terms of pierce armor and HP, since Bloodlines and Royal Armor stack for a combined total of 120 HP, comparable to a Knight with Bloodlines and a Cavalier without Bloodlines, and they have a total of 4 pierce armor in the Imperial Age. However, their unupgradable Knights are among the worst in the game, since they max out at only +2/+2 armor. It is best to use them for a standard Knight rush, then try to mass as many Steppe Lancers as possible, then research Kolbasy to suddenly gain extra attack against buildings, which can then be used to siege Castles with similar power to Battering Rams.
The siege is a bit strange. Since they lack anything beyond the Battering Ram, it is best to use Batyrs for dedicated fortification smashing, and use Battering Rams or regular cavalry for any other kind of building. They also lack Siege Onagers, though that is less of an issue, as they can use Bombard Cannons to take out any opposing onagers. However, they lack Siege Engineers.
The Monastery is pretty good. Although they miss both Heresy and Faith, as well as Block Printing, they have all the other techs. Monks can be used on the offensive, but other units themselves don’t have good conversion defense.
In terms of defenses, they are quite lacking. Although they have Fortified Wall and Arrowslits, they don’t have Architecture, Keep, or Bombard Tower. Even though they lack Treadmill Crane, Houses are built in half the time they usually are, so they can be used as a quick improvised wall.
In terms of economy, they don’t have Crop Rotation, Gold Shaft Mining, Stone Shaft Mining, or Guilds, but in team games, they do have the ability to immediately start making a profit with trade once they invest in a Market. In addition, the super speed House building allows them to minimize time wasted from being housed, causing everything to run just that more efficiently.
At the Dock, they lack Fast Fire Ship, Elite Cannon Galleon, Shipwright, or any kind of ship bonus, so it’s passable, but not great.
In conclusion, the best game plan for the Kazakhs is open with archers or scouts in the Feudal Age, then transition to either a Knight rush or Steppe Lancer rush in the Castle Age, as they continue to work towards dropping Castles and training Batyrs. Adding in some Cavalry Archers is not a bad idea. In the late game, forgoing Battering Rams altogether and using Batyrs combined with Steppe Lancers to tear down buildings is the best move.
In terms of defensive strategies, since they lack Architecture, quickly adding layers of Houses either in place of or behind Fortified Walls is a wise move. Bombard Cannons also can defend against enemy onagers, since their own onagers are lacking.
Stats and Costs:
HP: 75, 85 (Elite)
Attack: 10, 12 (Elite)
Attack Bonuses: +10, +12 (Elite) vs Stone fortification, +12, +14 (Elite) vs Castle, +15, +17 (Elite) vs Wall and gate
Rate of Fire: 2.5
Armor: 2/1, 3/2 (Elite)
Cost: 75 food, 50 gold
Training Time: 15 seconds
Elite Upgrade Cost: 1200 food, 950 gold
Kolbasy Cost: 450 food, 325 gold
Kolbasy Research Time: 25 seconds
Royal Armor Cost: 900 food, 400 gold
Royal Armor Research Time: 65 seconds
As I alluded to earlier, the Steppe Lancer armor bonus is meant to evoke the Kazakhs’ extensive usage of lance cavalry, and since they lived on the steppes, it makes sense to improve that unit.
The Trade Cart bonus represents the extensive trade network of the Kazakhs. Since they get two Trade Carts instantaneously and for free, this can help them get trade with allies off the ground more easily.
The House construction speed bonus references how the Kazakh people were nomadic for nearly their entire history, including during the Middle Ages, and how they remain nomadic to this day. It’s no Huns bonus, but it’s pretty close.
Both the cavalry/cavalry archer Arson bonus and the team bonus further increasing cavalry archer vs buildings generally references how Kazakh cavalry supposedly raided and destroyed fortresses, which is not an easy task.
The Kazakh unique unit, the Batyr, references Kazakh noble cavalry, as batyr is the term for “brave warrior.” The Batyr’s secondary gimmick of having an attack bonus against fortifications was originally completely contrived, but there seems to be some evidence that a few Batyrs were lauded for destroying fortresses. The primary gimmick of life-stealing is also arbitrary, but could represent Batyrs gaining some morale back after defeating an enemy.
A Kolbasy was a leader among the Batyrs in Kazakh society. This increases Steppe Lancer and Batyr attack bonus vs buildings, since Batyrs in the game have an attack bonus against fortifications specifically, and this is an extension of that.
Royal Armor is a reference to specific royal armor worn by Kazakh noble cavalry. The HP bonus is arbitrary, but improves the survivability of Steppe Lancers and Batyrs just like armor would, so it makes sense. Since Kazakh cavalry was primarily made up of lancers, those units are affected.