First off, I like the Abbasids and they are by far my most played civ. Their aesthetics and sounds are fantastic and the concept of a booming golden age civ which picks techs for unique playstyles sounds like a flexible and fun experience.
However, in their current state that is mostly a dream. Ideally, the freedom of choice in the House of Wisdom would promote diverse strategies, but in reality it does the opposite. If you’re not picking Eco wing first you’re doing it wrong.
There are multiple reasons for this problem. First, Fresh Foodstuffs is simply the most powerful early game tech. Boot Camp and Preservation of Knowledge scale well into the lategame, but they don’t do much for you in feudal age and trade is very niche.
Second, Abbasid do not have a strong feudal push. Their unique unit gets easily countered when it can’t use its mobility and they lack an outstanding eco bonus, like the Rus wooden fortress, to compensate. This gets compounded by their generally slow start.
Third, Abbasid is a booming civ by design. The higher the age the more of your unique techs you get to unlock through the HoW. Feudal gives you 1 tech, castle 3 and imperial 5. On top you gain access to additional golden age levels.
In short: Since the Civ has to be balanced around picking the economic wing first you have to pick it which completely invalidates the HoW design.
A Possible Solution
What kind of changes would I like to see made to the wing choices more interesting?
Generally, I think a wing should promote a specific playstyle and NOT give you a generic bonus. Currently, the trade wing does a good job at that and the military wing is decent to promote an infantry heavy style. The worst offenders which simply make you stronger are the economic wing and PoK which should be removed.
You might be worried about the Abbasids eco if their main wing is gone, but there is a rather simple solution: Boost the golden age. Give it 5 tiers. 1 every 10 buildings to have it curve better throughout the game. And tie whichever generic economic bonus you want the civ to have to the golden age. Tech discount? Villager dicount? All possible. All about tweaking the numbers.
Examples for the wing redesign
What could the new wings look like?
Culture wing could be refocused on monk play. Move piety to castle age and add another monk bonus in imperial. Maybe a discount or build speed bonus. Not sure what would fit in feudal.
Culture: ??? / Piety / Monk bonus
Either split military wing into infantry and cavalry…
Infantry: Composite Bows / Boot Camp / Camel Support
Cavalry: Horsemen or CA bonus or discount? / Camel Rider Shields / Medical Centers
Or add a siege wing on top of military? The ability to build mangos and springalds in the field could be locked behind a tech, too. Maybe a bonus for rams in feudal to enable a ram push.
Siege: Cheaper or tankier rams / Mango & Springald field construction / Medical centers
This is simply brainstorming. I’d love to hear more ideas on what could be done with the wings or the civ in general. Maybe you completely disagree with my take on the economic wing - Let me know! Let’s have a discussion on how to bring more variety to the Abbasids gameplay.