How have the Chinese eco bonuses not been nerfed?

Seriously I was just crunching some numbers on this stuff and the numbers are insane. Like they dwarf most other civ eco bonuses and yet haven’t been touched significantly ever.

As a heuristic the following is approximately equivalent to their extra villagers + penalty:
+3 villagers upon researching feudal age. No start penalty. Yes it’s that good.

No matter how you look at it the extra villagers are the main problem. Assuming you are reasonably competent at a Chinese opening, you get at least +1 villagers until the alternate civ gets loom and +2 villagers afterward. This bonus persists for at least 25 minutes. If you’re an expert player who can basically start the first new villager at 25 seconds you’ll be up 2 then 3.

To show that this is unbalanced we proceed with a kind of proof by contradiction. According to the penalty, +3 villagers is “worth” -250 resources at the start. However if you integrate the resources between a regular and a Chinese civ and then discount, you require like a 14% rate per minute discount rate to make this statement true. If this were true then the Lithuanians +150 food would be worth the same as 600 food by 10 minutes, and Persians 50w/50f would be worth 200w/200f at the 10m mark. Clearly replacing these with their ‘equivalent’ at 10m would be outrageously strong bonuses which means that ~14% per minute is way too high. Thus +3 villagers must be worth more than 250.

So what discount factors are reasonable? Well a 5% rate per minute implies that 150 to start is worth ~250 after 10m. This is more than reasonable and any lower will increase our estimate so lets stick with it. At this discount rate, we can estimate a good player would get a net present value of 550 resources from those 3 extra villagers. But this implies the Chinese villagers alone even with the penalty is worth a whopping 300 resources! Yes I realize these bonuses aren’t actually equivalent and it’s just a measuring tool to compare it with others. For reference the Franks berry + farm bonus is also worth ~300 when discounted at 5%. Free lumber upgrades is worth 250. Both of these are for the cost alone (not including the extra productivity from having it earlier).

Anyway the point is that the Civ has other bonuses on top of this. Immediate 25w saved from 10pop tc, the farm team bonus and the massive tech discount once you research the expensive castle + imperial techs. Combine this with the empirical data showing that Chinese are absolutely systematically advantaged in win rates and preferentially selected by high ranked players. Its pretty hard to deny that something is unbalanced, and a bonus this large is definitely suspect. I’d like to think that I’m wrong and made a simple error because this is pretty easy to math out, so someone should have brought it up at some point in 20 years.

Just for fun discounting all the bonuses + penalty together along a rough timeline got me a present value of 600. IDK of any other civ that could come close to this kind of discounted value on their civ eco bonuses so even if I was off by 50% that would still be big. Like I’m surprised it wasn’t changed to get a free villager upon building a TC or something a long time ago.

See here to play with/check the math for +3 villagers yourself: Graphing Calculator

Chinese are currently pretty much the best civ in the game but they are notoriously difficult to play. Apart from their use in Pro tournaments their winrate isn’t amazing even at mid to high ELO levels…


Chinese got nerfed 3 times on 20 years maybe, they were start with 6 vills and -150, and then -200 then -200, -50 wood, and here is my suggestions to nerf them more:

1-Remove heavy camel upgrade from them.
2-Remove last armor upgrade for infantry.

Yes let’s severely nerf their anti cavalry capabilities. Makes perfect sense

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I don’t get what this is supposed to imply. Are you saying that a Civ which basically has a strongly increasing average win-rate with Elo is well designed? Moreover, since the problem is really just the bonus villagers + penalty, what does it say about a bonus if that bonus empirically precludes balancing the civ across all Elo ratings?

Even at mid to high Elo, the civ is still average, so it’s not like you really get penalized severely for not knowing how to use it.

It just seems to me like the villager thing has been broken from the start but no one wanted to put in any effort to fix it.

The only thing to nerf Chinese is nerfing the Chu Ko Nu
Seriously this unit is unreasonably too strong and too cheap for what it does.


other civs get to fish faster and have their own economy bonuses (that are way better than a free house), so they can catch up

the maps where china is unremarkable outnumber the maps where china is on top

also it’s a good thing for the “overpowered” civ to be one that doesn’t have extremely oppressive military units. they’re kind of similar to vikings (on land maps) in that way. what am i supposed to be scared of? chinese crossbows? chinese knights? it’s much better for that to be “overpowered” than an eagle warrior civ or a civ with super crossbows or a civ with super paladins or a civ with an uncounterable UU (conq / warwagon / janissary / etc.)

the weaker civs should receive buffs though

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Main thing is just the flexibility of the civ since transitions are easier with the tech discount, their tech tree generally is pretty open from the blacksmith. Also the villager bonus at best is a solid constant advantage till mid castle age or at worst means you can lose a vill or 2 to a raid and still be equal. The civs is fine and really these types of eco bonuses are really convenient but once you reach your imp army comp outside of UU Chinese don’t have any advantage compared to alot of civs so wouldn’t say they need nerfing its just their a strong civ compared to the rest but not unreasonable.

The point of my post is that they can’t catch up (at least on land maps). The net extra villagers will pay for the penalty in about 6-8m and from then on you have free villagers, which is really strong for the next 25m. Even on hybrid maps they still keep pace because of this.

Being outnumbered and/or counter-teched mostly. Plus the Chu Ko Nu is still very versatile in that it can be countered but it tends to inflict a lot more damage to the counter-units.

I get that the civ is about average between 1200-2000 Elo. But the problem is the villager bonus is clearly unbalanced for 2000+ level play, and these numbers give a more tangible feel to that bonus. Like it’s usually not a huge advantage in the grand scheme of the game, but it shows up in the win-rates, draft bans, etc.

This is an incredible understatement. I mean “Loom researches instantly” is an explicit bonus for the goths, yet effectively it is baked into the bonus for the Chinese. Lithuanians 150 food is instantly turned into villagers. Briton’s shepherds work 25% faster is matched by half because the first sheep is worked ~100% faster implying all 8 sheep are consumed 12.5% faster. Putting an extra villager on berries and wood will similarly afford you the frank and celt bonus through the early feudal age.

You get all of those combined in exchange for the resource deficit. There are simply an incredible amount of implicit bonuses in starting with 3 extra villagers.

I agree that the civ as a whole is probably fine with the exception of this one bonus. This one bonus just makes discussions on the civ muddled because it makes their mid-game really strong. E.g. are Chu Ko Nu too cheap or is the Chinese mid-game economy too strong?

How can you differential too cheap from an economy which is too strong mid-game? That’s one of the issues with the villager bonus as it exists.

other civs get eco bonuses that let them produce from additional TCs more quickly (either with more res = less idle time) or with faster uptimes (= earlier TCs = more vils).

the china & viking bonuses are good. the question should be how can the useless civs also get some good bonuses to compete with those.

if you nerf china, then they become weak on the settings where people are actually forced to play with play them (eg. random civ on non-arabia maps)
maybe you make 1v1 ara 1% better, but that’s not even worth it

My suggestions for the Chinese civ:

-Remove the heavy camel upgrade

-Nerf the Chu Ko Nu a bit (either increase their cost or their training time)

-Add a secondary unique unit (preferably a firelancer) to deal with siege

That sounds like a buff

This definitely isn’t true. Once you get the 50 food to produce your first villager you can produce a new one every 25s on the vast majority of maps.

Also it’s pretty obvious that nerfing this for competitive play means effectively buffing it for lower ranked players. You’d need to change when they get extra villagers (e.g. upon age-up) and reduce or the penalty. E.g. 3 free villagers upon feudal age, no start penalty. If people say “that’s OP” then they clearly don’t realize this bonus would be more or less equivalent to what they already get. This is because the penalty for the +3 villagers is paid back around 8m, which is a little before feudal starts getting researched. Now you can always tack on a small penalty in dark age like -50w -50f to compensate.

Bringing every other civ up to the level of the Chinese or vikings is simply not feasible; it would require far too many changes.

I’d like that, actually. I think it would be better if Chinese only get 2 vils, but a bit of food to work with. That would be a good solution to the Problem.

For Vikings I don’t know, I would consider making Wheelbarrow and Hand Cart cheaper and faster to research. This would also make these techs more viable to get earlier. Especially Wheelbarrow is a tech designed for Feudal, but usually gotten mid castle. Besides I don’t agree with sotls conclusion to get hand cart earlier than wheelbarrow (higher res capacity is actually bad), I think at least wheelbarrow should be viable to get in feudal or eary castle in most of the games, as it is a key eco upgrade and can be crucial if you get raided. And as you can’t predict the future it’s really hard to give a value to the 10 % movement speed. Better allow all civs to get it quite early also from an eco perspective.

Fun fact: it is possible to defeat extreme AI with standard rules as Chinese without making a single unit or tower.