Dravidians - Patches are making the civ design worse off

Elephant Archers basically cost extra in exchange for more tankiness, but not much extra damage. As a result, while going for a full army of elephant archers is extremely tanky, it’s not particularly more dangerous than an equivalent number of arbs. As such, it’s very difficult to field until very late in the game, and attempting to go directly for a critical mass of elephant archers is a great way to speedrun a GG by losing.

If you wanted to use elephant archers in the earlier parts of the game, it would be in much smaller numbers, to serve as a meatshield for other less-tanky units. For example, an army of 10 xbows can easily die to a mangonel, if micro fails. By contrast, an army of 8 xbows and 1 elephant archer(with proper upgrades, of course), can easily kill the mangonel without risking the xbows at all, and then move forward without risk.

Unfortunately, elephant archers in small numbers are extraordinarily vulnerable to monks. This is worsened by the fact their innate armor makes them an extremely good counter for ranged units, meaning if your enemy steals it, you’ve just given them the best counter to your own army.

This is multiplied by the fact that Dravidians have no other effective counter to monks, as their light cavalry are mediocre, and that’s putting it kindly.

As such, people feel like it’s suicidal to go for small numbers of early elephants. That’s the sort of thing giving them free monk conversion abilities would fix. Baiting enemy monks with valuable units would directly play into your playbook, rather than directly countering your only good strategy.

They should either make elephant units stronger or less expensive. Battle Elephants are almost completely useless.


Elephant Archers are fine, watch some Black Forest and Arena games and they are exceptionally good here.
As for Battle elephants, only the Dravidian ones are a pure meme, rest are just in an ok spot, they can at least outrun foot archers with Husbandry.

I disagree.

I think having mostly symmetric Tech Tree made this game immortal. Introducing more asymmetry to already one of if not the most asymmetric civ will result in negative. Just look at their and Bengalis play rate please. Even Gurjaras. And no, they are not picked as much because some people don’t have DOI DLC. There is no way that Romans and TMR DLC are sold more than DOI.

3 Regional Units along with 2 UUs is already a tipping point for me. I’m neglecting 1 UU as it is limited to water only. But if they add 1 more land UU or regional unit, it will be the tipping point for sure. Feel free to disagree and suggest to add more asymmetric units like other RTS.

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If this were still 2016, I would agree with you. But this is 2024, and we have a great number of civs, and if they were all symmetric, the game would become very bland very quickly.

Now, I think all civs should have the exact same fundamental gameplay, which is the way it is currently. It should stay that way, because the fundamentals being the same is what makes AoE2 what it is. Changing that would make it no longer beginner-friendly, as players would have to adjust to entirely new mechanics every single time.

The specifics of civilizations are what should change, and this is where most of the civ variety comes from. If we don’t radically change the specifics of future civs, they will be far too similar to existing ones, which will make the game stale and boring.

Adding more regional units does not fundamentally change the game; it just makes the game fresher and more interesting.

Black forest 4v4 is a niche setting. Even there you need to get pond advantage or multiple boars or appropriate civ combinations for non-Malay battle elephants and elephant archers to work. Just because you saw them a few times in some niche setting doesn’t make them balanced. How many times you saw them in Cartographers (2v2), BOA3 (3v3), 3 vill start events, 9 vill start events, Empire wars. In majority of the settings they’re not feasible.
Outrunning archers is just a tg benefit. Otherwise u don’t need Battle elephants to defend against archers and can’t go offensive because they’re slow and weak against monks. Not easy to mass because of cost. Too far from being a balanced generic unit with a clear purpose.

Even amongst the 18 civs introduced after 2016, its mostly symmetric, the asymmetry is minimal. DOI was the only DLC which introduced too much asymmetry and those civs have been the most imbalanced.


I don’t believe a strong stable is essential. None of the meo civs have a stable. Yet they are well balanced due to their good economy and military bonus combo. But Eagle warrior was still needed. Goths achieve a similar gameplay despite having knights with the help of Huskarls replacing Eagle warrior. WRT to DOI civs, camels & Ghulum combo have filled that niche role for Hindustanis and Camels & Shrivamsha have done it for Gujjaras.

With a unique tech like ‘Mahouts’ giving 30% speed boost to Elephants, it should be possible to give Dravidians a high DPS unit in castle age. Dravidians don’t get last gold mining upgrade, gold discount or food discount in castle age. So they can’t exactly do a goth spam with elephants at any stage of the game. So the unique tech can be implemented without affecting game balance. If Urumi also get the same speed boost, they can work like shock troop glass cannons and remain balanced due to their low HP.

What exactly is Urumi’s role?

EAs cost 150 resources each, 100 for monks. So for 2 elephant archers and a monk, you are investing 400. All this to counter a 295 resource mangonel and 100 gold monk. The current wood discount on Dravidians siege makes more sense for the situation resource wise. Instead of free atonement, free “Devotion and faith” will be a better bonus, it helps Dravidian Siege to score a hit on monks before they get converted. It also helps Dravidian monks to be resistant to conversion.
There were similar unique techs like the “Bhakti movement” suggested earlier to replace “Medical Corps”,
Bhakti movement - "Converted units revert back after 30 sec"
The tech was meant to help Dravidian late castle age play to counter specifically knight → monk+Siege push which could end the game against Dravidians before game reaches imp.
Dravidians have been designed with a poor monk tech tree, so I doubt Devs will buff their monk play.

Having access to knights itself is like an excessive civ bonus for other civs which makes Dravidians the worst civ in castle age.

Even the 25% faster firing skirms and EAs are a mismatch for the civ. But unfortunately they are going to stay. I don’t think Dravidians will be given any economy bonuses. In my opinion, a simple wood discount on buildings like 20% cheaper TCs and Docks will achieve the outcome you are looking for. However it will stack high against already available wood bonus and does not directly contribute to gamemplay. It is better if its retracted and given as Archer line upgrades are free. Its not like Dravidians are an archer civ. So Archer or skirm bonus does not make a difference. Even “Devotion and faith” free is a better alternative for Dravidian gameplay. It makes their units resistant to monks without making monk play by opponent useless.
If Infantry Line upgrades were available an age earlier, then Dravidains with their 50% cheaper upgrades could have made it work without adding any Siege wood discount bonus.
If we try to replace this ill-fitting bonus with a more thematic bonus, We can add this bonus
"Infantry and cavalry inflict +50% more bonus damage"

  • Spearman will get +15 → +22.5 bonus against cavalry.
  • Pikes will get +22 → +33 bonus against cavalry.
  • Light cav will kill sancity monks in 2 hits instead of 3.
  • Against monk+Siege, Light cav can kill monk well before 8 secs of resistance and then kill Siege as well.
  • Armoured elephant and Battle elephant too benefit from the bonus cementing Dravidian status as an elephant civ
  • It will also work like a precursor to wootz steel.

The below bonuses look more like a Infantry+Elephant and naval civ:

  • Start the game with +150 wood.
  • Fishermen and Fishing Ships carry +15.
  • Barracks technologies cost -50%.
  • Infantry and cavalry inflict +50% more bonus damage.
  • Skirmishers and Elephant Archers attack 25% faster.

This is the problem with Dravidians, their units like skirmishers and elephant archers are not useful to play meta strats. But they are forced to use them due to their bonus. Its better if they get Archer line upgrades (Cross-bow and arbelast) for free. This provides an incentive for Dravidians to go mass archers before hitting castle age and then quickly go up to imp. Dravidian elephant archers despite their 25% attack boost is good for too niche maps and end-game situations. Dravidians should not have such strong end game units compared to lets say Bengalis. Bengalis paiks should provide their EAs a 25% attack boost due to the nerf they got last patch.

I agree with you. But why did you propose a new raiding unit for Dravidians then?

I agree that DOI civs are unbalanced. But they are not completely assymetric. Indians from forgotten was quite okay. Its was OP for shore fish maps. But was okay otherwise and so are the hindustanis. In fact, Hindustanis are very beginner friendly due to villager discount and their playrate is testament to that. Gujjaras is a problem because of the mill garrison mechanic. To be fair to the devs, they did think about it before release because Gujjaras had the most wierd bonus with the berry bush popping up near TC and to help them maintain food production without hunt. The problem with Bengalis is they are a very boring, very late game civ without any power spike in the interim. Bengalis could be fixed if they get some powespike defensive bonus in feudal/castle age instead of the +2 attack against skirms:
Skirmishers and EAs +1 range
+1 range and husbandry will help evade skirms easily.
Dravidians? we know the reasons.

I do. The reason I already mentioned. Just look at their play rate.

I can see they get another 1 at most. Maybe Incas Slinger become available for all and required balance for that. I believe this game is not designed for asymmetric civs.

There are already enough asymmetry in DOI civs. No need for more. If anything, just look at all the proposals, here and reddit (I don’t follow Discord, Twitch or AoeZone). A big portion is asking for Knight which only means more symmetry.

Don’t get me wrong, I’d most definitely want almost if not all civs get 2 UUs. And most of the cases, it would be like W.Hussar or Legionary. Longbowman instead of Xbowman for Britons, Gallowglass instead of Champion for Celts, Crusader Knight instead of Knight for Sicilians and/or Teutons, a different upgrade than Paladin for Euro-Asian trio are already on my list. As well as regional technologies like Camelry and Mahouts. But 2-3 Regional units and 2 UUs is my limit, if not already crossed my limit.

No. I think the no Knight identity, regardless of how historically inaccurate it is, should stay. Dravidians design is awful because their elephants are awful. Well, elephants are awful to begin with but similar bad stable, Infantry+Naval civ Malay has such an wonderful bonus that turned the awful elephants into viable units. And Dravidians need just that type of treatment.

Several points.

  1. It only takes one elephant archer to solo a mangonel. Even the slightest amount of micro allows it to win 1v1. So in reality, it’s 250 vs 295.
  2. They’re not going to only make one mangonel. They’re going to make multiple, because they’ve already invested in the siege workshop. The elephant archers counter all of them.
  3. You haven’t accounted for the cost of the siege workshop in your calculation. That costs another 200 wood, meaning now it’s 250 vs 495.
  4. If they want their monk to have any use, they need to research atonement too. That costs 350g, so now it’s 250 vs 845.

In any case, Bengalis already have conversion resistance, and it doesn’t really help.

I’d sooner replace the Woad Raider. It doesn’t belong in this game.

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That’s somewhat like Bohemian pikes which is fine but not a solution as the civ will still die to knight-skirm or knight-siege-monk.
I’d actually do something like units take -25% damage from enemy military units except siege. Won’t affect vill fight, siege fight but rest of units will be harder to kill, especially crossbows and pikes against knights and monks against light cav. Vills will become like Incas’ ones and be harder to kill.
And then I’d replace medical corps with a tech that makes Elephant archers move faster and cannot be converted within the range of a castle.

Too powerful for water. They’d build the dock in under 2 mins and get 2 fishing ships right away. Will potentially lead to approx 1.5 min advantage over other naval civs even 2+ mins on Migration.

My version would be:

  • Get 150 wood per age.
  • Fishing ships, fishermen and hunters (or shepherds, either one) drop-off 15% more food.
  • Barracks and barrack techs cost -50%
  • Units receive 25% less damage from enemy military units except siege.

(Some different name for the new tech) - Elephant archers move 25% faster and can’t be converted within the range of the players castle.

Wootz steel cost reduced to 500 food, 350 gold.

(The gimmick wood discount on siege, skirm rof removed. Elephant archer’s overhyped bonus removed for Black forest 4v4 and such niche settings.)

This way they’ll get extra and faster food from animals, click up fast, save on barracks, have a better early feudal than now. And their units will be harder to kill, so they should get a considerable advantage in feudal that they can carry forward to castle age. However, in castle age they’ll get lesser wood than now and no more siege discount forcing a forward siege push play.

I was considering just the 3 new ones. OG Indians weren’t OP for shore fish settings ever since that bonus was brought down to 10%. They were good like pre-lancer Mongols but not OP since they still struggled vs meso civs and some civs with camels and strong archers.
Gurjara mill mechanic was a problem in TG in the past, but its now in a good spot since it became logarithmic. The problem wrt balance comes with their units, costs and mechanics. I believe 20 gold and 1.75 ROF for Shrivamshas along with 40% or 50% extra bonus damage from Camels, plus the OG chakram and cheap Kshatriyas were overpowered but nerfing all the 6 main bonuses plus the economy, kinda made them weak. At this point either the mill bonus should be adjusted to become 28/min for 8 sheep, or any one of the nerfs they received should be reverted back.

######## ### # ##### other discussion topic. That civ either needs to get +4 armor on halbs and bombard canons to become an S tier closed map civ. Or should get +3 cav archer class armor for melee rathas, default generic benefits for light cav to become an open map civ. The elephant benefits can be nerfed for niche settings if needed.
Anyways as you can see the buff/nerf needed and how to play these civs is quite different and non-trivial due to the asymmetry.

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You have not answered the question.

It helps Dravidian monks after ‘Atonement’ against monk rush in castle age. Dravidians can make the odd elephant archer against siege or cavalry with monk support and do ‘atonement’ when opponent makes monks. Opponent can also make skirms against EAs during which ‘atonment’ is not needed. But monks can still help against cavalry. This in why ‘devotion’ is better as a free tech than atonement because it applies to all units and bengalis only get consersion resistance for elephants. All said devs won’t give free monk techs to dravidians. I still prefer tweak to their light cav tech tree.

Yeah! the bohemian bonus is very underwhelming. Its better if Dravidian vills got woots steel as a civ bonus or barracks technologies except unit-line upgrades applied to vills as well.

If that were viable, Bengalis could do it, but they don’t really do so. Better to be more direct.

In any case, conversion resistance really barely makes a difference with elephants. They’re just too dang slow.

That’s the least favorite bonus for me. Devs had no idea what they were doing when designing Dravidians and just slapped a bonus 1 year later without any thought. That’s how I look into this civ design.

Yeah a defensive bonus or doubling down the infantry identity, that should have been the focus. But we’re stuck with elephant and siege.

Why? Why? Just why? What is wrong with a new traditional unit?

Is that also true for Dravidians though? I don’t think so. They have +50% more DPS against units with 0+2 PA in Castle Age.

That’s due to their high cost, weakness against skirmisher and lack of speed. Damage is totally fine.

Even there, I think the principle still holds. EA costs 150, Xbow costs 70, against a knight the xbow does 1.5 DPS, the EA does 2.5, so the xbow is costing 47 resources per DPS while the EA is costing 60 res per dps. Add the range difference and it gets even worse.

EA is a tank, not a DPS. Dravidians come closer than anyone else to changing that, but not quite all the way there.

Which leads back to my earlier point; going for mass EA early on is suicide. The only really effective way to use them is as tanks to soak damage and take out siege, but that leaves them too vulnerable to monks.

Hence, Atonement.

Being balanced and being flexible are not the same. For flexibility you need either a diverse tech tree like Saracens or a very good eco like Khmer. Or some unit discount bonus like Byzantines. For Dravidians to be flexible, they need a better answer to Knight+mangonel and knight+skirms. And I don’t really see how that can be addressed without a good stable.

Countering melee units. And protect Armored Elephants. A glass canon very similar to Shotel but lack speed which is again the problem. Also with wood discount on siege units, there is basically no reason for making Armored Elephants as Dravidians. Also units can’t garrison inside Elephants.

We were discussing a ghulam style remake to replace urumis. Most people want a “unique” ability and still address the civ’s weakness. For a civ that has slow moving units, I felt this is probably the right kind of unique ability from their uu that can keep their civ’s units slow moving and yet usable. It can take out siege, skirms, but cant fight knights or other common gold units as a solo military. But if they take a few hits, the opponent units will become slow and die to Dravidian infantry.

What? I did? I probably proposed one back in June 2021. I think I asked to change Urumi into a raiding unit but that will replace the current Urumi. Although right now I think just changing Medical Corps to a more useful Elephant tech or Infantry tech will be fine.

I personally finds it greatly helps. Although I’m not sure if opponent is afraid of Bengalis monk and under commit to monk.

And what exactly the counter for this? Tbh, I find this combo is very difficult for a lot of civs. You need either Camel Rider + Redemption monk or Knight of your own + monk (Redemption is not as necessary for this one as Knight can kill skirms and siege way faster than Camel). Even the mighty Aztecs are not good any more against full Knight+Skirms.

If you just ignore the toughness of EA, then surely you’re right. But EA are not supposed to be used same as archers. Archers need to avoid taking damage at all costs. EA are not like that. They need to take damage to utilize the additional HP and armor. Throw equal resource of Dravidians EA vs Xbow against Knight in an open filed and see the result. Try 9 EA = 10 Knight = 21 Xbow.

Very true.

Or your own cheaper siege?

I thought most players are conservative, even more than me. Maybe you are only seeing the 20 active people of this forum who are mostly in favor of asymmetry and gimmick. Just try Reddit. 95% are even more conservative than me.

Four options to counter this gameplay without giving Camels or Knights to Dravidians:

  1. Stronger land economy to age up faster. While knights and monks are great, if crossbow civ is much better in early game they can deal a lot of damage with fast ballistics and delay the knight push by a lot.
  2. Military units being cheaper or stronger. Supplies impacting all food costing military, barrack techs affecting stable units or foot units being somehow more tanky.
  3. Buff the possibility of longswords play either through direct changes or by indirectly nerfing Knights, CA, crossbow plays.
  4. Unique building for stronger economy or defense against cavalry and monks.

The problem is, 33% less wood doesn’t directly translate into a numbers advantage in the early game. You are still going to be doing it basically 1v1, except they can snipe yours with Cavalry and you cannot. Not to mention, if they can get Redemption, then you are completely hard countered. Going for elephants and Siege into a civilization with Redemption is basically straight suicide.

The biggest problem with dravidians is that they double up on so many of their bonuses, and not in a good way, since it leaves them with basically no counter to some things.

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