"Clone" Civs - How to add a LOT more Civs, make people happy, and MAKE SOME $$$

(This is an updated version of a post on the subreddit)

An idea I just was how the devs can satisfy people’s desires for certain civs while keeping the development workload pretty low. And as you might’ve guessed from the title and pic above (for anyone who’s familiar with Smash Bros), it’s “clone” civs. Basically, taking the work already done on one civ, modifying it slightly, and rolling it out as a “new civ.” For those who aren’t familiar, Smash Bros did this with several characters, just modifying their looks and stats. And for Street Fighter fans, think of Ryu and Ken. More closer to home in the RTS realm, I’m aware that Red Alert 2 did the same. You had Allies and Soviets, but multiple nations within each group that had their own signature units (see pic below).


On top of that, this also solves the dilemma of creating civs that have similar identities and themes. For example, several well-known civs were famed for cavalry, but creating a whole new civ for DLC that’s “another” cav civ might annoy players. But if you were to unleash a whole bunch of new relatively low-effort civs that add some slight variation, that should hopefully satisfy a bunch of people.

So the general principles are as follows:

  • Clone civ retains base civ’s global abilities. For example, faster villagers for French, etc.
  • Clone civ differs with some unique units and landmarks where necessary
  • New assets (graphical and voice) will be required.

Now here’s the kicker. ~10 clone civs is a lot of work. But how do you make it worth it? Periodic DLC content.

  1. This gives devs the time to make them.
  2. These new civs do not offer significant gameplay changes from the base civ. Therefore, these civs should not “split” the community. If you don’t pay for them, big deal. If you do pay for them, you get a nice little extra variety! And I WOULD pay for them. This is much cooler than skins and decals that you get in other games.
  3. Balance work is also significantly less compared to a full-fledged new civ. You would still basically just have the balance of the 10 original civs and all their combinations… instead of the insane combination of 20 civs, which is ridiculous to balance.

Now here are main clone candidates for each civ.


This is a great example, and so I’ll go into more detail on this one to show what a clone civ could look like. Hungary was a cavalry-heavy military civ that was a solid European power in the middle ages. However, will we ever see the Hungarians? Unlikely! But as a CLONE civ, it’s very doable. Since they are a cavalry army, so it makes sense for them to be based on the French.

Hungarian features:

  • THE classic Hungarian unit is the Hussar, a light cavalry unit. This will be one of their new unique units replacing the horseman. In compensation, the Royal Knight is a simple early knight like Rus.
  • They will still keep the School of Cavalry landmark, but there would be a more nuanced decision between pumping Hussars vs pumping Early Knights.
  • Arbaletriers will stay but be renamed. Per review on Wikipedia, guess what else the Hungarians had? Pavise! So perfect. Hungarians also had access to a wide variety of artillery, so the College of Artillery can stay.
  • One of the landmarks should be replaced to one that gives access to the Black Army mercenaries… effectively a Wynguard Palace. Probably a replacement for the Royal Institute.
  • Regarding assets: European-style architecture would work, with maybe some subtle changes from French, HRE, or Ottoman buildings. Voicework is easy with modern Hungarian being very accessible. If all else fails, there’s always Lidakor!

Holy Roman Empire → Eastern Roman Empire

I actually imagined the Byzantines to be focused on relics, since they historically hoarded a TON of Christian relics. I really can’t stress that point enough. So that gameplay aspect can be the same. That said, I do think as a civ, the ERE does deserve to be its own. But still, they work very well as a clone civ. In fact, they can probably keep most landmarks (and even prelate), and repurpose the unique units to be more cavalry based with Cataphracts.

Rus → Poles

Basically already done in the campaign anyways. Similarly, unique units would have to change. Winged Hussars (cavalry unique unit) instead of Streltsies, etc.

English → Scots / Celts?

I’m pretty sure the Scots didn’t have longbowmen, but I know the Welsh did. Maybe it could be more generic as Celts. But if that can be kept, then you’d have another archer-based civ, and you can change around the landmarks, as the more ornate landmarks do not fit the Celts, who were way more “tribal.” Some replacements would of course be aesthetic. Like I’d imagine a Council Hall (name unchanged) that’s more like a big lodge rather than the church-like building of the English. Others would have different abilities, as this would still have to separate itself from the English.

Delhi → Tamils

Tamils, which were represented by the Chola and Pandya dynasties, were the dominant power in the southern Indian subcontinent. Also called Dravidians, you may be familiar with them from the recent AoE2 DLC. Instead of Muslim theme, you’d have a Hindu theme. This would also fix a complaint from Indians who did not want to be represented by the “foreign” Delhi Sultanate. This would remain a sacred site-centric civ that gets free tech and also uses elephants. Maybe the two types of elephants can be split between both of these civs, since most people don’t use war elephants. Otherwise, the latest AoE2 DLC can be a good source of how to handle these two Indian civs.

Abbasids → Fatimids

The Fatimids were actually the more dominant caliphate during the timeline of AoE4, so this makes a lot of sense. This could be another House of Wisdom-based civ but with different choice upgrades. Perhaps a wing or two could be changed. For example, maybe a Science/Engineering Wing that improves defensive upgrades?

Mongols → Cumans

Cumans were very, very similar in style to the Mongols, so this could work. Theoretically you could also have Tatars, but they’re even closer to the Mongols (in fact the campaign interchanges the two). The Khan would replaced by a generic scout, but they’d get another unique unit in return. The biggest challenge for this civ (or any Mongol clones) is language.

Chinese → None

Chinese system way too unique to copy. Also too much work.

Ottomans → Seljuks

Would definitely have to change the Janissary and Bombard, but can keep the Sipahi. This would be more focused on cavalry than artillery, but many features can stay the same. There are plenty of unique Seljuk military units to choose from, for example the Akinci.

Malians → Vikings!?

Hear me out here. Complete reskin (just think of Captain Falcon and Ganondorf in Smash Bros), but kinda keep the mechanics. Stealth berserkers replacing stealth musofadi warriors? Hell yeah brudda, Vikings also used spear throwing, iirc, so they can have their version of the Donso. Obviously they were NOT about gold, so that would be the part that actually changes for this civ. Maybe some kind of super wood generation instead of gold… because they need the wood to make ships.

Finally, this also allows for an Aztec + Maya pairing in the future, with either being the “11th unique civ,” and the other being DLC = more money for developers.

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Sounds like aoe2 level civ design. That’ll be a nope for me.


Eh, I don’t really see a benefit to this. We want unique civs.


This is a horrible idea. Don’t encourage low effort designs.


I really think you all are missing the point about limitations in what the devs can feasibly do. At best they can make 2 civs per year, most likely, since each is unique from the other.

Do you honestly expect to be able to play a lot of civs like those I mentioned? It’s realistically not gonna happen, so you can have your dreams of having 10 new civs, or what I’m offering is hopefully the same rate of new unique civs, but a chance to also add some more variability and a good way to make money on top of it.

I am well aware we are on pace for maybe 2 civs per year and maybe only this dlc. Still I see no benefit from reskinning the same civs.


I already outlined the benefits. Significantly easier work for devs, and relatively good value for the work that gets put in, depending on pricing, and more frequent updates to keep excitement up. And again, I’m not saying to replace the flow of new civs. We can get civs like Aztecs/Maya (as mentioned), Japanese, etc.

Also, this is why I put so many references to other games as above. Like Smash Bros, Street Fighter, etc. There IS a difference in civs. They’re not just straight up reskins. They play slightly different. And those differences mean a lot in an RTS game… just look at AoE2. You sound as if “AoE2 level deisgn” is a purely bad thing. It has its pros and cons. Pros being a lot more civs available but retaining familiarity. What I’m saying is addition by AoE3/4 depth and multiplication by AoE2 depth.

EDIT: And I really need to hammer this point home. The game is part of A BUSINESS. You need to find ways of making money, and also maintain hype. I think it’s a win-win solution.

This being the AoE4 forum, I’m not gonna mince words: disadvantageous idea.

Even if I were a Pole, I’d rather have no Poland than be a cheap Rus knockoff. Tamil is too different from Delhi Sultanate, so is the real (Eastern) Roman Empire from HRE.

Seljuks are already represented in AoE4 starting from Oct 25, see the topic on Ottoman landmarks.

If people like this “skin-only” civ paradigm, they can just go play AoE2. Or make a mod! They’re free to do that.

But please don’t ruin what AoE4 is fighting to become - and finally beginning to succeed from Oct 25: a new paradigm.


I understand your position. This idea has been around this franchise for decades. It’s simply a matter of preference, and I’m simply saying overall I’d rather have fewer, unique civs without adding fluff. It’s totally reasonable for others to disagree with me.


I honestly don’t think you understand the idea at all.

“Tamil is too different from Delhi Sultunate” - Did you not see my idea for Malians being Vikings? It’s not about how close they were, it’s about the underlying game mechanics. Religious, elephant-bearing civ fits Tamils just fine. I explained my point about ERE in the main post. They had the relics. They were religious. Those mechanisms should’ve belonged to the ERE, not HRE. So now they can be in both.

"If people like this “skin-only” civ paradigm, they can just go play AoE2. Or make a mod! They’re free to do that.

But please don’t ruin what AoE4 is fighting to become - and finally beginning to succeed."

And how many times do I have to say OVER AND OVER again now. These are not civs you’re going to get normally. You’re not going to get Poland or Hungary. These are BONUS. And the devs should and will continue to make unique civs. I’m not sure you speak for Poles, but there will be a bunch of Poles that will happy to have their civ just be playable, even if only slightly different than another.

I believe you are suggesting the devs slightly modify existing civs to release a whole bunch of relatively low effort civs. Seems fairly straightforward.

I don’t want to play the existing civs in this game once, let alone twice. Again, that’s my preference.I do not pretend to speak for others.


Sorry, I should’ve been clearer. You understand quite well. I was responding to MansaMusa3.

Edit: I’ll also add that I understand that the fluff can be overwhelming, and I agree that is a potential con. However, I also think the ability to add new civs gets exponentially more difficult. Not only is it harder to add more unique advantages without overlap, you also create a large number of matchups with each new civ. For new players getting in the game, it can get very overwhelming, which is in part why I haven’t been able to pick up AoE3 again despite wanting to (too much complexity). In contrast, adding numbers but retaining familiarity drops the learning curve significantly, which is one of the benefits on the user side.

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Believe it or not, I do. And I do see the theoretical likelihood of business benefits as you do. But the drawbacks overwhelm the grossly overestimated benefits.

AoE4 will only succeed if it becomes a new PARADIGM, breaking free from the shackles of AoE2, not only a new game title.

English, French civ designs almost killed AoE4.

But starting from October 25, and hopefully in the following months and years, AoE4 will increasingly become what it should truly be. A new paradigm in which one memorable, revolutionary civ with personality is worth more than ten reskin copycat civs.

Gradually, many people will start to make the jump from AoE2 to AoE4. The old paradigm will cede plenty of space to new one, despite all the 50 civs.

People want something new. Civs with soul, and extreme gameplay variability.

You see, every human civ on planet Earth had at least a religion. Even if folk religion.

You know business logic, but this community wants something different. Some people here really are passionate and do know history. I reiterate: Poles would rather not have Poland than be a Rus knockoff.

Who told you AoE4 will not get Poland or Hungary civs? I do believe it’s a possibility, especially Hungary, the PLC could be too. Take a look at the Rise and Fall topic here on forum.


That’s highly unlikely, and also a bit toxic towards the AoE2 community to be honest. There’s no reason to assume that AoE2 has to die for AoE4 to succeed, nor that everyone will transition, or that people can only play 1 game. I play both AoE2 and AoE4. I like the unique mechanics of AoE4, but prefer AoE2 in pretty much every other way.


I cringed at almost all the clone comparisons you made. And before you go saying: “Oh we’d change this and this and this”….

You do realize that game design and graphic design and sound design departments are completely different? So your idea is… what, that while an incredible amount of work would be done on new skins, units, architecture, music, and voices to transform the Malians into the Vikings, the game design department would twiddle their thumbs?


Not really? Graphics and sound work is linear. Each civ is similar to prior. In fact, graphics can further shortcut things by keeping most of the generic units the same as base.

Game design is nonlinear. Like I mentioned in my post edit above, each successive unique civ added adds a significant strain on balance because of all the combinations (in addition to the strain on users who have to account for all these new matchups). So even though the work is much less by making it a clone, it’s still nontrivial.

You are so going to push people away if you’re just reskinning and changing a few civs. Better to have no new civs than civs that are all style and no new real substance.


You do realize that is basically how civs are in AoE2 and most Sid Meier’s Civilization games, right? And people get very excited for those.

And you’re an AoE2 player too. I’m honestly really confused right now by the contradictions.

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I’m an AoE2 player, yes. But the thing I like most about AoE4 is the mechanics. And reskinning civs doesn’t introduce new mechanics. It’s also like the AoE2 DLCs recently, they’ve added a lot of new stuff. I don’t see why AoE4 should need to cut back on work, just because it’s how other games were done.


You’re right, I deployed a couple of mistaken words. I’ve edited the post to reflect my real nuanced thoughts. Thank you.