Civilization Idea: Polynesians (updated)

At least a year ago, I posted a concept for a Polynesians civ. Since it’s been a while since that post and I made some rather significant changes, I thought I’d post it again in my more recent style.

The Polynesians represent the various peoples of the Polynesia region during the Middle Ages, especially Tonga, Hawaii, Samoa, and Rapa Nui. They have a brand-new Oceania architecture shared with at least two other civs. Their Wonder is Ahu Tongariki, with a single moai statue. The Easter Island statues are the single most famous manmade structure in the entirety of Polynesia, so having one as their Wonder is a no-brainer.

The Polynesians are an infantry and naval civilization, similar to the Vikings and Dravidians, and like them, they have a unique naval unit. They also have fairly good Monks and decent archers.

They don’t have Eagle Warriors, but they and the other Oceania civs have a trash unit called the Tribal Sentry, which upgrades to the Tribal Warrior and then the Tribal Chieftain. It costs only 75 food (or wood, in the case of the Polynesians), but is significantly less tanky than Eagles, having less pierce armor. It’s closer in stats to Light Cavalry than it is to Knights. To compensate for this, all Oceania civs have above-average skirmishers.

Let’s talk about their civ bonuses now.

Civilization Bonuses

  • Docks work 15% faster

Of course, Polynesian societies relied heavily on boats and ships, so they would understand how to build them quickly.

  • Barracks units cost wood instead of food

This is a reference to Hawaiian warriors typically making their spears, axes, and clubs out of the wood from trees they chopped down specifically for that purpose. The Koa warrior actually took his name from the tree that he used to make his weapon.

  • Skirmishers +1 attack in Castle, +1 in Imperial

Hawaii very commonly used skirmishers as part of its warrior force.

  • Animals decay 200% more slowly

Another reference to Hawaii, this bonus references the tradition of kalua, which is roasting pork in the ground for hours.

  • Team bonus: Transport Ships move 10% faster

Polynesian societies frequently traveled to other islands and either settled them or conquered them. Often, they even spread their culture to other parts of Oceania, influencing their society permanently.

Unique Unit 1: Koa

  • This infantry unit moves a bit faster than standard swordsmen. Its special ability is to dodge one melee attack after a charge time of 20 seconds (15 for Elite). When it happens, this dodge is denoted by a dust cloud and sound identical to when a BBC projectile hits the ground occurring right in front of the Koa. Only one melee attack can be dodged per Koa at a time, and then it must recharge again.

  • The unit costs 45 food and 20 gold, which is the same as generic infantry with Supplies, which the Polynesians do not get. Notably, it is the only Polynesian infantry unit to cost food, which means that the majority of villagers can go to wood, while food production can be devoted to villagers, Koas, and skirmishers.

  • The unit has 2 base pierce armor, with 1 base melee armor. The Elite variant has armor that goes up by 1 for both. The unit is trained in 15 seconds. The Elite upgrade costs 900 wood, 300 gold.

  • The historical basis for this unit is that koas were Hawaiian warriors. They got their name from the tree that they made their weapons from. They covered themselves in body oil to make it harder for enemies to grab onto them.

Unique Unit 2: Catamaran

  • This unit is essentially a stronger War Galley, having the same fire rate and HP, but slightly higher movement speed, creation time, attack, and range. Notably, every shot it fires does blast damage in a 2-tile radius to any enemy unit it hits. It deals less damage the further away from the epicenter that the target is. This trait gives the unit a strong advantage against clumped-up units, particularly against other ships.

  • The catamaran is a double-hulled ship invented by Austronesians, the ancestors of Polynesians and many other Asian people groups. It is light and easy to propel.

Unique Techs
Body Oils: swordsmen and Koas take -5 damage from infantry units

  • Cost: 500 food, 500 wood

  • This technology makes enemy infantry units significantly less effective against the best Polynesian infantry. Combined with the Koa’s innate melee dodging mechanic, Polynesian units will be significantly harder to counter, particularly because Polynesian pikes are quite affordable.

  • This technology references the aforementioned body oils that Koas would cover themselves with to make enemy warriors have a difficult time grabbing on to them.

Crab Claw Sail: ships +25% HP

  • Cost: 800 food, 400 gold

  • This technology makes Polynesian warships among the best in the game, especially because of a unique ship and faster production. Other than Cannon Galleon, all navy units and techs are available. With this technology, they are significantly hardier than they would be normally, and can even beat Portuguese ships, as their HP bonus is much higher.

  • The crab claw sail was an Austronesian invention that spread to Madagascar, Southeast Asia, Oceania, and even, potentially, the Middle East. It significantly improves the performance of sailing ships, and is even favored in sport sailing to this day. Polynesian crab claw sails have a very distinctive shape and look like the pincers of crabs, which gave the sail its name. With the highly effective crab claw sails, Austronesians were able to easily settle many places in the Pacific, and their Polynesian descendants retained this advantage.

Tech Tree

Missing Units: Eagle line, Elephant Archer, Cavalry Archer, Hand Cannoneer, all cavalry, Siege Ram, Bombard Cannon, Cannon Galleon.

Missing Techs: Supplies, Parthian Tactics, Stable, Redemption, Illumination, Sappers, cavalry armor, Ring Archer Armor, Architecture, Keep, Bombard Tower, Siege Engineers, Arrowslits, Gold Shaft Mining.


Polynesians is the equivalent of having Indogermans. It’s a bad idea.

It’s really not. There are only two distinct cultural groupings of Polynesia according to Wikipedia: East Polynesia and West Polynesia. The reason why I had to make a Polynesians umbrella is because some things simply wouldn’t exist otherwise, due to the lack of convenient information. For example, if it was the Tongans, I’d have to rework everything; I wouldn’t have civ bonuses, a unique unit, or a Wonder. If I made this civ concept only the Hawaiians, I, once again, wouldn’t have a Wonder, but at least everything else would be intact.

What I can try to do is have this concept remain intact, but give it a name that reflects East Polynesia. If you have a suggestion, I’d like to hear it. Then, I can make a Tongans civ that represents West Polynesia, but I’d have to do it from scratch.

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I think it’s fine as is Apocalypso, I really wouldn’t try to subdivide the group overmuch. As you said, no matter which culture you choose within the Polynesian umbrella, there will be certain things missing that every other civ in game already has; you’ll just have to get a bit creative to fix that issue, a la Cumans, Huns, etc.

If you’re trying to go for a few dominant civs for a Polynesia split though, iirc I think the only real influential choices here would be the Tonga (specifically, the Tui Tonga Empire), Hawaiians, and Maori. You do have other groups, like the Samoans, the Micronesians, the Papuans, and the Melanesians, but most of these fell under the Tui Tongan Empire’s influence during it’s height, so I would look to the Tongans for their coverage instead. Yes, it’s still an umbrella civ, but one that represents them in a more believable way. At least, as believable as oral history can be…

The civ concept as you have it, should you choose to close the umbrella, best represents the Hawaiians imo. If you were to adapt the concept to specifically them, you’d really not have to change all that much honestly.

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Who would the campaign focus be?

It would be more of a Grand Dukes- or Hautevilles-type campaign, going through the founding, rise, and fall of the Tu’i Tonga Empire.

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Yeah, that pretty much was my original intent when I came up with the concept years ago. If I were to come up with a completely new Polynesians civ from scratch nowadays, I would probably put more of an emphasis on Tonga.

Actually, the Micronesians had their own empire and a later dynasty on Pohnpei, so they’d be a separate civ.

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Oral tradition isn’t such a bad history source. Taken from General History of Africa I: Methodology and African Prehistory:[{"num"%3A986%2C"gen"%3A0}%2C{"name"%3A"XYZ"}%2Cnull%2Cnull%2C0]

Call them Tongans and a second civ from that region. They’ll anyway need a new set @Apocalypso4826

If you’d have a specific Rapa Nui focus in your Polynesia design, you could go for Hotu Matua also @Eldee

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Did some digging. If I did rename the Polynesians to the Hawaiians, I could give them Pi’ilanihale Heiau as their Wonder. It’s the largest temple in Hawaii (and even the entirety of Polynesia), and is within the AoE2 time period, beginning construction starting in the 13th century.

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If I wanted to make a Rapa Nui civ, I could call it the Oparoans, as Oparo is an old name for the main island of Rapa Nui. But, I’m not really sure that Rapa Nui is important enough to be in the game.

Enough about the specifics, though. I’m hoping to get some feedback on the actual civ concept itself.

As you wish:

Overall, the design seems okay. I’m not wild about the logic of some things though; some bonuses are better given without explanation (e.g. the Khmer house bonus) than with an unsatisfying one. For example, barracks units costing wood instead of food is a strong bonus, but the explanation is strange given that “gold” is generally understood as the monetary cost of training soldiers and a stand-in for the metals or metal analogues used to create weapons/armor. Subbing the food cost (which represents “Supplies”/raising & feeding the army) out for wood seems strange. IMO subbing the gold cost of infantry for wood (possibly double wood?) would make more sense and would seem more fitting for the Polynesians’ lack of mining/metallurgy (although obviously that would be harder to balance and should probably locked behind a UT).

I’d just make it “animals don’t decay,” which I don’t think is that strong.

I don’t like the mechanic personally, but I could see something like this being added someday. But the implementation seems quite weak. With that recharge time representing 7-10 attacks for most melee units, most of them will probably die before a single recharge cycle, so for most purposes, this probably approximates to having ~+10 HP when fighting enemy melee units. Which is ~okay, but not the kind of bonus I think is good enough to define a UU. I just don’t see this influencing the outcome of a battle nearly as much as any of the other charge gimmicks.

Maybe I’m being too critical here, but I just think this is silly. Yeah, there are are some odd things in the game, but the idea that oiling your (mostly naked) body is going to protect you in any way from swords or spears is quite the stretch. This practice may have been effective in intra-Polynesian warfare that emphasized close and sometimes literal hand-to-hand combat/grappling, etc, but wouldn’t have helped at all in most other matchups. And things like that I think are interesting historical tidbits, but not a solid basis for a bonus that’s supposed to be relevant in inter-civ matchups. I think a UT referring to the Haka, Pas, or even their exceptional skill as sappers would be more credible.

Also, I don’t like that this gives more HP when you yourself explain that it improves sailing/speed. Not a fan of effects that are so disconnected from their inspirations (the only common element is that both have to do with ships). If you really wanted to keep this, I’d just have it give ships 15% more speed and smaller hitboxes or something (so they can stack closely and engage more quickly like longboats). Posssssibly even a dodge mechanic for ships to represent their high maneuverability, although I like this more from a logical aesthetic than a gameplay standpoint, and it seems superfluous given their other strengths and dodging UU.

Not crazy about the Catamaran bearing so much resemblance to the Caravel either. Instead, I’d propose it be more like a weaker, cheaper Dromon. I’m biased of course, because I suggested such a thing in my Polynesians civ concept, but given how important the naval aspect is to their identity, I definitely think they should have a Cannon Galleon substitute.

I hope I don’t come across as too negative, I’m just kind of particular about some things. And I grant making a Polynesian civ concept that’s balanced and compelling, yet historically inspired, is difficult - I’ve never seen one that got more than a lukewarm reception, and most get less than that. The bonuses I haven’t mentioned yet seem pretty good - faster docks, skirm bonus and the TB. Infantry one is probably fine as well, I just find it more sensible without explanation.

I understand this point. I think the bonus is fine as-is, but I guess the justification for it is pretty shaky.

That’s actually what it was in the previous revision, but I felt that it might make laming too strong or give them too much of an advantage on maps like Yucatan.

It has more of an impact in situations where the Koa faces off against a unit with a powerful up-front attack. For example, it completely expends the charge attack of the Coustillier and Urumi Swordsman, while taking absolutely no damage, which is obviously a huge advantage. Maybe it can apply to two attacks before recharging, or the recharge can be significantly faster.

Perhaps I can replace it with the Hawaiian martial arts Kapu Kuialua and maybe make infantry attack faster or something.

Well, the effects for Drill, Furor Celtica, Torsion Engines, and Arquebus are completely wrong. At least this one improves ship HP, which makes sailing over long periods easier, just like the crab claw sail did. While it’s a stretch, it’s not as bad of a one as it seems.

Actually, I originally gave the Melanesians a unique Drua ship, but I might make that a regional unit for the Oceania civs. The Catamaran is kinda meant to be a better-performing Galley that is especially good against clumped-up units in a more practical way than with the Caravel.

I think it’s fine. Mongols, Goths, or Britons will still have a much greater advantage on Yucatan, as well as generally better land bonuses.

Understood, but anti-charge unit unit is a very small niche, especially when there are more accessible counters for both of those units (monks/pikes and archers). It ends up almost as a more niche version of the Samurai that only performs particularly well vs 2 UUs, and probably has a negligible effect in other matchups. So yeah, I’d definitely lower the recharge time.

Sure, especially if you’re determined to have Hawaiians as the core of the civ (if not, I think the Haka is a good inspiration and could have a lot of possible effects).

Eh, apart from Furor Celtica, I think the others are at least half-tolerable approximations, but perhaps that’s partially the bias of familiarity. “Celts” are a whole other can of worms, and IMO it’s best if any new civs are not designed after their pattern. Either way, I would look for ways to lead with the best possible translations of historical matter into civ bonuses before leaning on existing incongruities, which could be used to justify many new designs that I’d consider suboptimal. But I think I’ve said enough about this for the purposes of this hypothetical civ concept. Its your party anyway.

I see. I can change it then.

Yes, I understand. I can significantly reduce the charge time then, maybe 8 seconds for normal and 6 seconds for Elite.

I already created a Maori civ, and I think I used that as a tech, so I want to keep that design space open in case I want to separate it from the Polynesians in the future. Maybe I can make Body Oils give swordsmen and Tribal Warriors a weaker version of the Koa’s dodge bar. Or I can replace it entirely with a tech called Kahunas, that causes Monks to heal and rejuvenate faith 200% faster (the Polynesians are already missing Illumination). This would have to be an Imperial Age tech, which would mean Crab Claw Sail would have to move to the Castle Age.

A fair point, I’d say. I’ll have to think of a potential new effect for Crab Claw Sail that might make more sense. I still think extra HP is a reasonable abstraction, but others would obviously disagree.

Don’t feel like you have to limit yourself just because it’s a hypothetical civ. My creativity and adaptability thrive on feedback.

What’s really funny is that one of my previous revisions had free infantry armor techs and faster firing skirmishers. For obvious reasons, they had to be changed.

It’s really interesting how two of the four (or five) bonuses that this one civ had ended up being used by two other naval civs. Guess I think like the devs a lot. This kind of thing keeps happening, so maybe I’m channeling that dev energy and thinking like them.

After considering the feedback of @SirWiedreich, I’ve thought about a new functionality for the Catamaran. It can essentially be a hybrid warship and transport, having an attack of its own similar to the War Galley, but if ranged units are inside, they contribute extra projectiles, arrows in this case, similar to a tower. Catamarans would be able to transport 10 units in total.

I don’t know if the Maori also belong to Polynesia, but they had a weapon called Toki-Pou-Tangata, which they also used as tool for working with wood. Having a UU, that can repair Siege sounds very interesting.

I have an Avars civ bonus with that very concept, but thanks for the suggestion.

I’m thinking of replacing Body Oils with a tech called Moai. It would increase Relic gold income by 50%.

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