Comments and suggestions on civilizations

The main flaw of AoE II civilizations design (including add-ons) was that while some areas of the world were rather well represented in their diversity (Europe and Asia mostly), other areas were packed into huge ‘catch-all’ civilizations making no sense such as “Saracens”, “Turks” or “Slavs”.
Not only is it unfair, but it also harms the gameplay, deprivating it from the diversity of the medieval age. Imagine that Franks, Britons, Teutons, Spaniards, Italians, etc. were all packed into one single civilization named “Europeans”, “Latins” or even better “Ifranji” (the name medieval Arabs gave to Western Europeans). It would have been a shame, right? Well, that is precisely what was done to medieval Arabs, Turks and Eastern Europeans.
In order to be fairer, “Saracens”, who regrouped all medieval Arab-speaking cultures, should have been divided into (for example): Andalusians, Egyptians, Syrians, Iraqis, Yemenis and Beduins. “Slavs” into Poles, Russians, Bohemians, etc. and so forth.

That’s why I am rather satisfied with the 4 civilizations of AoE IV disclosed so far:

  • more precise than in AoE II: English instead of “Britons”, Delhi instead of “Indians”, which leaves room for the other cultures of these areas (Hindus, Welsh, Scots, etc.)
  • no nonsensic catch-all civs

Despite all the nostalgia, moving away from the original broken and unfair civilizations design of AoE II is a good thing, I hope the devs will stay on this path.

Defining a civilization is actually tricky, many parameters of the culture that you want to include as a civ have to be considered: its historical, political, demographic and cultural importance, its timeframe, specificities, of course its playability, etc.
It’s all the more tricky as the timeframe of AoE IV is very long (about 1000 years), many changes occurred within it. What would be the Normans in the Dark Age, given that they appeared in the 10th century? And what would they be in the Imperial Age, having politically disappeared in the 13th century? Imagination is often needed to fill these gaps.
Ethnonyms should be preferre to stay within the AoE spirit, for example “French/Franks” instead of “France”, “Catalans” instead of “Catalonia”, etc. (that’s why I’m unsure about the “Delhi Sultanate” name although this civ is a great choice from the devs).
National names make particularly little sense in some parts of the world such as Africa - there were no Moroccans, Malians or Algerians whatsoever but tribal confederations such as Zenata, Mandika, Masmuda & cie.
Dynastic names have to be banned at all cost, the scope of such names being usually merely political and thus making little sense in AoE (Almohads, Ayyubids, Capetians, Lancasters, etc.).
Finally, when all the requirements have been met, it’s time to define the civilization’s gameplay, aesthetics, language, technology, etc. (the most pleasant part of the work imo).

Here is a list of the possible civilizations I made some time ago, using my medievalist historian expertise. Most AoE II civs have been split into several more precise ones, following the path of the latest AoE II add-ons.
All the 4 disclosed civs are present in it, I hope it will also be the case of the 4 undisclosed ones. Then, step by step, add-ons could add some or most of the remaining ones, filling the gaps.

Western Europe:

  • Burgundians
  • French/Franks
  • Normans
  • Dutch (historical Low-Countries cultures, including Flemings)
  • Saxons (north of modern-day Germany)
  • Rhenish (Austrasia, etc.)
  • Alamans (Alsace, etc.)
  • Bavarians (Austrians included)
  • Swiss
  • Lombards

British Isles:

  • English
  • Britons (Welsh + Bretons)
  • Scots
  • Irish

Northern Europe:

  • Norwegians
  • Danes
  • Swedes
  • Balts (Lithuanians, etc.)
  • Finnics (Finns, Estonians, etc.)

Southern Europe:

  • Occitans (south of France)
  • Vascones (Basques + Gascons)
  • Catalans/Aragonese
  • Castilians
  • Portuguese
  • Italians (city-states such as Venise, Genoa, etc.)
  • Sicilians (including Southern Italians)
  • Greeks/Byzantines

Eastern Europe:

  • Poles/Polans
  • Bohemians
  • Russians
  • Kiev Russians (Ukraine)
  • Southern Slavs (no idea about which name to give them, politically delicate)
  • Hungarians
  • Vlachs (eastern Latins such as Romanians, etc.)
  • Bulgarians

Islamic West:

  • Andalusians (Arabs from Spain)
  • Zenata (most of Almohads, Merinids, Zianids, etc.)
  • Sanhaja (Almoravids, Tuaregs, etc.)
  • Masmuda ? (another Berber tribal confederation but a bit less important - early Almohads and Hafsids mostly)
  • Sephardim ? (Jews from Spain and North Africa)

Middle East:

  • Egyptians (Fatimids, Mamluks…)
  • Syrians (Ayyubids, Mamluks…)
  • Iraqis (Abbasids…)
  • Beduins
  • Yemenis
  • Armenians
  • Georgians
  • Kurds
  • Persians
  • Oghuz (turkish group including Seljuks, Ottomans…)

from here it’s less complete and relevant as it’s outside of my area of expertise

Subsaharan Africa:

  • Mandika (Mali, etc.)
  • Kanembu
  • Nubians
  • Ethiopians
  • Swahili
  • Shona (Great Zimbabwe, etc.)

Central Asia:

  • Khwarezmians
  • Khorasani
  • Kaptchaks (Cumans, etc.)
  • Khazars (partly Jewish)
  • Pechenegs
  • Kyrgyz
  • Khitans
  • Uyghurs

Indian subcontinent:

  • Muslim Indians (Delhi - didn’t find a proper name yet)
  • Hindus (there may be another name)

East Asia:

  • Chinese
  • Mongols
  • Tibetans
  • Koreans
  • Japanese
  • Jürchen

Southeast Asia:

  • Bai (Yunnan kingdoms)
  • Vietnamese/Kinh
  • Malays
  • Khmers
  • Bamar


  • Algonquins
  • Anasazis/Puebloans
  • Nahuas (Toltecs, Aztecs…)
  • Mayas
  • Incas

I’m aware that many of these choices are problematic. Let’s discuss it.


You should include Byzantine Empire for Eastern Europe

They are included within Southern Europe. They could also be named Greeks btw.

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