Genuine Question About Why Arabia is so Popular

According to, arabia is the most played map at 56.77% while the second most played map is arena, which is only at 14.26% in ranked 1v1s. So why is Arabia so popular? To me, it seems like Arabia is extremely biased towards cavalry civs and early raiding civs. Mid to late game civs like the Portuguese Italians, and Turks seem to suffer. The map also negates any and all water bonuses, such as Malay harbors, all of the Portuguese ship bonuses, the Japanese fishing ship bonus, the Korean UT and turtle ships, etc. Do people enjoy Arabia because it’s open? Or do people really dislike water maps? I would personally prefer coastal-like maps - Open, but still viable for naval civs. I just want to understand why the vast majority of people love Arabia so much.


arabia is a map that is generally the most balanced of the original maps, not to open or closed, a good middle ground on resource availability, and without any extra gimmicks.

despite your idea that Arabia favors Cavalry maps, the best civs in the game tend to be civs with a reliance on archers, such as Britons, Mayans, Aztecs, Vikings, and Chinese. other strong civs are Malians, Khmer, Lithuanians, Franks, Ethiopians, and Celts


That’s why I like Nomad and Continental so much.

You don’t miss out on half the content.


Traditional Arabia is a highly competitive open map which is hard to defend and leads to fast and aggressive matches.

Most competitive RTS players like fast and agressive, as explained by the success of C&C and Starcraft in shaping up the genre.

Therefore, to be competitive, and get those “pro gamer” points, you have to play the fast map, which is Arabia.
This made it very popular.


It’s one of the most balanced maps with even winrates for most civ matchups. The openess of the map allows for aggression to occur in any and all of the four ages. Early-game, mid-game, and late-game civs all have opportunities to win the match. It’s a very flexible map that allows for many styles of play and so it attracts a lot of players.

Other maps are much more polarizing, either heavily favoring a few civs or have only a few viable playstyles which bars people that don’t want to play only those styles.


I disagree, it heavily favours aggressive civs with good Cavalry or Archers, which is why it was dominated by Huns in AoC.

Arabia doe the same for Infantry and defensive civs.


It was dominated by huns untill Daut and Kkab discovered how busted drush fc was with aztecs and mayans 11


Both of which they played with Archers and Eagles (pseudo-Cavalry).

Lots of strategies, open, agressive, every civ is viable expect Turks, Portuguese, Italians and Koreans.

You can’t just look at what is being done in tournaments by a few people to explain why the entire rest of the community likes playing this map. Ya’ll are looking at the final result and neglecting how it got to that point. Arabia was a battleground for innovation and we’ve seen more strategies played on arabia than any other map. Remember when the meta was full-booming into post-imperial units?


That usually depends on the current state of the game. The year before DE scouts were really popular, with the introduction of DE, archers have been the most meta approach (although we see increasing use of cavalry atm). I guess that already tells a lot about arabia. The map itself is very open to a variety of strategies in terms of which units to make or the level of aggressiveness. Basically, anything can happen on this map.

Arabia isn’t even an inherently open map, actually it depends on the respective version. Of course, it’s never a closed map but versions as the current DE arabia or green arabia (which used to be popular for a lot of intermediate players) could equally count as semi-open because sometimes you can fully wall your map with like 20 tiles of palisade and a couple of buildings.

I’d rather say that these civs just aren’t the best civs, in general. There certainly are civs with focus on later stages of the game which are really strong on arabia (e.g. Khmer, Vietnamese, Chinese, Vikings, Celts). In theory, all civs are kind of viable on arabia. If that isn’t the case, this indicates that a civ might need a buff.

Still, arabia is way more diverse than water maps. Just compare the units you can make on land with those producable on water. Also a lot of civs don’t have bonuses for water while all civs have more or less effective land bonuses. Even a great deal of hybrid maps are rather one-dimensional because the fight about fishing eco is usually of high importance. So not having water on the map rather increases variety imo. An exception to this probably is cross/four lakes which kind of is the anything goes version of a hybrid map.


Do you think there’s a way to fix the water meta to make it just as/more interesting than Arabia? You’re right, maps like coastal have a biased advantage towards water civs and a race for the fish. Would making fishing only slightly better than farming make things better, or reduce the importance of fishing in some way? I know it sounds drastic, but would adding new naval units help? I think it would be awesome if a map like coastal had the same balance as Arabia, with any civ being able to hold its own against all others.

Currently, it seems like calls for balance changes consist of buffing the naval-like civs (Portuguese, Koreans, Italians, etc.) so they are more balanced on Arabia or other land maps. I think if hybrid maps were more balanced towards nearly every civ, we would get more variety in civ picks, and add more overall variety to the game.


I agree that civs should be rebalanced that they are more even on water/hybrid maps, from a pure gameplay perspective it makes sense. I don’t think it will ever happen though.

Coastal will never be similar to Arabia but maps where there isn’t much water like Bay or Cross already play a bit like they’re Arabia with a twist. If a map has too much water (just mass, not the fish), it won’t play like Arabia since there is so much terrain where units can walk and where you can expand.

Hybrid maps also often have the problem that the random factor in the terrain is low because if part of the map is water you really want to make sure the land part of the map the players get is somehow equal and that it is easy to expand on the land part so not many hills.

Then there is also the problem that even if there isn’t much fish, the water will still be dominating in the early game. But hybrid maps aren’t in that bad of a spot, they we’re part of the major RM tournaments this year and the way the played out was good. The biggest problem for hybrid maps are that there are a few civs that are just very good at them (especially japanese) and with 1-3 hybrid maps in a tournament map pool + civ picking we will always see players sparing these civs for these maps.

Not sure but I don’t think so. Firstly, you probably should consider water units have a working system of counters. If you add new units you might disrupt that. I don’t even know what kind of water unit could be added, here. Since all water units are made from the same production building (the dock) it would be kind of weird to add more units to that one, imo. I guess it’s just the way water play is designed and I don’t think it would be desirable to redesign the way playing on water works. Although the amount of units and strategies you can go for on water is rather restricted, it actually works pretty coherently.

The thing about fish isn’t only the working rate but also the fact that you are able to get additional eco units in feudal age so that you can put your vils on wood and gold. If you nerf fishing to the point where it’s viable to go for farms as an alternative, you’d probably remove the specifics of water play.

Sounds nice in theory but how do you want to implement that? Usually you wanna have a bonus towards wood or fishing, here. These are more or less taken. So making more civs viable on hybrid maps could result in making them less distinctive in other settings. Very complex topic. So I guess your’re right and we just need more creative maps because balacing the civs themselves won’t really work, idk.

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Reads like a genuine effort to tell the majority of aoe players they’re wrong to prefer their favorite map.

Yeah, it really sounds like that’s what I was saying. I really was just meaning to start a discussion on how to make water civs more viable with more hybrid maps. I don’t mean to tell anyone they’re wrong for liking Arabia. Sorry it kinda came across that way.

This. Some Truth here.


Honestly a big reason is because in the original aoe days, there were a lot of bad maps, really options were closed map black forest, unique arena or open map arabia. Arabia is more fun for a lot of people and generally more entertaining to watch in tournaments. There’s a lot more good maps nowadays. Also water maps can be hit or miss. Imo 4 lakes or cross from hidden cup is a great map. Problem with water maps is some civs have really big water bonuses and fishing is super strong. Imo just tone those down a tad to make the maps more entertaining.


Water maps are boring imo, imagine if the game only had villagers (that can’t build), trade carts, 1 type of melee unit, 1 type of ranged unit, some really strong petards and bombard cannons, oh and only 3 civs have actual unique units
That’s basically water maps

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I play arabia and my games tend to be 2 hrs+ long - no wonder some people rage quit 11

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