Civs that are or have become low tier

EDIt: I just noticed that Viper made a video about the same topic 5 days ago. I haven’t watched this video as of this writing yet though I wouldn’t be surprised to see some of my items overlap with his (and others not).

In the endless pursuit of perfect balancing, it is inevitable that as some civs rise others slowly fall behind due to lack of buffs for several patches in a row. If once civs like Burmese and Sicilians were considered among the worst, after last patch I think the list looks different.

This post is meant to highlight struggling civs atm, including some that are perhaps surprising. All of what I write here is my opinion and I mostly judge by Arabia 1v1 or simple hybrid maps like Nomad or Four Lakes (but mostly really Arabia). The list is also unordered and meant to mostly spark discussion and not provide an undeniable ranking of worst to least worst civ.

  1. Celts. Perhaps this is a shocker, and even though they have the best earlt game eco bonus, I rank them bottom 10, maybe bottom 5 atm.
    Reasoning: wood is a nice resource but one that you use indirectly for booming (eg you must first make farms). While the wood bonus is a strong bonus, its effect is less immediate than, say, Slavs eco bonus that allows you to go Castle Age sooner. This bonus allows you to have 1-2 woodchoppers less in Feudal and drop buildings faster in Castle Age.
    Their military bonus is nothing special, after counting Squires, Celts are overall only 5% faster than normal and considering that infantry isn’t the best in this game, it’s a cool combat bonus but not enough. Most importantly, their Castle Age sucks because you lack both Bloodlines and Thumb Ring and as such there is no easy unit to mass. You can do a Pike/Siege push, but generally to do that you must be ahead either in Castle Age timing or military. In Imp they get a bit better after you get Elite Woad Raider (must be elite to be good as the default variant is really lackluster) but nothing spectacular. Yes Hoang rush is strong with them but really it’s their only power strat and the reason is that Siege is easy to deal with in mid/late Castle Age, it’s only early Castle age that faster firerate is scary and relevant (eg to eat TC).

  2. Byzantines: again perhaps surprising, and though their combat bonus of cheaper counter units is really solid, they just feel like they have no offensive go-to option. All power units that you would like to do furthermore lack some options. Paladin lacks Bloodlines, Bombard Cannon lacks Siege Engineers, Champion lacks Blast Furnace etc. It can be a rly solid counter to some high tier civs in the right circumstances but more often than not you are stuck playing counter units with no eco bonus. With Byzantines, it can feel you are often stuck in a game of always reacting which can be detrimental as you never can truly capitalize on your counter units having dealt damage to what they are countering, unless you did something overwhelmingly good.

  3. Turks: even though their Light Cav flood is absolutely insane in early Castle Age and they shine on Arena, it’s another civ without eco bonus and with a very predictable opening that lacks options. Basically always you will see some Scouts into Light Cav/Knights or rarely Crossbow. Not being able to make Skirms especially kinda kills the civ on open maps. They are really good in Imp, but all other things equal, don’t have the means to get there with either units or some eco bonus.

  4. Spanish: this civ has now been bad for so long now that I hope everyone understands why it’s bad. In short: no eco bonus, no possibility to go Crossbows in Castle Age which basically forces you either into booming or Knight play. Their Imp is fairly good but again, no means to get there. Getting Conquistadors out with FC or regular builds is hit or miss and can backfire, Conquistador is all about mass and hitting early timing and vs the stronger civs this is generally hard to achieve.

  5. Saracens: in short, their eco bonus sucks and Camel as a main unit is not really a thing. +10 HP is also really mediocre of a bonus for a unit that is really only used vs Knight line and sometimes CA. They can play FU Crossbow/Arbalest, sure, but if you wanna go that route compare them to Japanese, which is also a lower tier civ (but not horrible) and you realize their Arbalest-based army composition is even worse than Japanese because at least Japanese can boom a bit better with cheaper eco buildings. They do have a wide tech tree at least with SO and Siege Engineers, FU Hussar and so on so for what it’s worth, they are probably at the bottom of the list of worst civs, ranking-wise, but they are still not a great civ.

  6. Italians: although they are rly good on water maps, on land they are probably bottom 5. No real eco bonus, awkward unit compositions and even though they have a wide tech tree, you are stuck playing fully generic stuff most of the time. Their UU is too niche to be relevant and their Market-related UT feels random and useless. Maybe if they had a UT where they can produce Genoese Crossbowman from Archery Range much like the Tarkan UT, I could remove them from this list. Really feels like a civ with no eco bonuses and no power at an age or stage in the game.

  7. Goths: they basically have same start of Mayans where they get +1 permanent Vill advantage at around ~20 pop (whenever opponent does Loom and u don’t have to). It’s nice but other than that you are stuck playing fully generic units with no eco bonus. I guess at least in Castle Age they gave FU Knights and in Imp they have a solid (but not unbeatable) flood of units, but the civ is too predictable and exploitable on top of lacking an eco bonus.

I might add 2-3 later. Just to be honest, I was tempted to put Teutons on this list also, but ended up not doing it because imo their farm bonus is good enough to offset their awkward Castle Age a bit. Though I definitely rate them bottom 10 on Arabia also.

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There are no low tiers civs, just low tier players.

Spanish with the latest buff to the conquistador are slowly reintegrating to the scene of dominating castle age units.

Italians are the most underrated civs, they are quite powerful on land/water well they have more options for land actually, they are good at everything honestly.

Turks are now more disgusting in arena.

Byzantines well the players around this forums where asking for town patrol for free despite it wouldn’t change anything 11 and before that they were asking for cheaper logistica and elite upgrades, and well the devs delivered but as you can see, when people does suggestion without enough understanding of the real impact in game, those things happen, i wonder why the devs followed their petitions despite they should have known better the results.

I don’t understand your problem with goths, they were for like 6 months a very toxic civ and they are still above all civs when it comes to pure mass units at lower costs, they are no weak at all, you just have to play them different, their tec tree is good enough.

Saracens have been buffed here and there, they had to reduce their bonus cause they were dominating team games, the civ was supposed to not have any eco bonuses as they were a heavy weight civ, but with the nerf to the mamelukes well they aren’t as good as vikings or ethiopians at going full arbs and their economy isn’t that good to compete with the indians mass producing camels, the civ is still a quite powerful civ but they aren’t the best at anything, honestly i was fine with the old civ design, i mean if you managed to get elite mame and SO the civ was the best at the field and it also has the most powerful galleons in game, that was somewhat balanced.

Celts are fine, their nasty drush was as disgusting as the goth endless spam militia rush in dark age.

Honestly we don’t have weak civs, we just have a lot of OP civs and mediocre civs compared to them, the main problem is and will always be; keep adding units, civs, eco and civ bonuses above the previous designs.


if you survive that long. You have to have a good wallable map, accessible stone to stand a chance. And then Conqs are only good until Elite Skirms show up. Once you can take down Conqs in 1 or even 2 volleys, there’s not much Spanish can quickly do to make things work out.

Yo… Celts are super strong. I don’t think they need any kind of buffs. There’s practically no way to stop a 1 TC Celts all in on the current Arabia. (As in, you can still win, but you cant prevent the strong push from coming in)

Byzantines just need a very minor/passive buff. They don’t need late-game buffs. Any late-game buff is like wearing a hat on a hat. They have great late-game. Their problem is that it’s very easy to kill them in Feudal. They just need either a small survivability buff, or maybe a buff that can turn them into a trush civ.

Turks are fine. The extra PA on the Scout line means archer openings against the civ are garbage. Getting the free light cav upgrade means any scouts that are kept alive are going to be really valuable for sniping monks, siege, or raiding. And of course still very good against archers.

I think Goths just need an extremely minor change to their +10 pop space buff. Just make at least 5 pop available for free in Dark Age. Gives a little bit more flexibility to the start of your game and won’t be super OP.

Missing civs that badly need a major rework/buff: