So I’m a casual player. I play this on and off, so if I miss anything, be sure to point out how much of an idiot I am.
However, lately I’ve been playing around with Malta in Treaty but I’ve been really unsuccessful. It’s been quite disastrous as a matter of fact. The Maltese economy seems fine compared to other civs. I am relying on the settler wagons though. And that’s where the problems seem to start.
If you max out on villager population (with settler wagons) to max out your economy, you end up having a total of 111 population. That leaves only 89 pop for your army. If the Maltese military units didn’t require 2 population by default, it wouldn’t be that big of a deal. There is of course the archaic infantry, but if those are the units you plan on using, then you’ll run out of wood really fast, even with a factory constantly working for wood. The archaic units aren’t particularly strong either so Hospitallers and Sentinels it is. The problem is that having a maximum of 44 military units doesn’t give you much of a presence in the game at all.
You could use the commanderies to get units from other civs, but there’s a build limit to the commanderies, which makes them very inconsistent. Not to mention that they’re also the only way to train cavalry so you’re pretty much forced to have a couple in your own base and your allies’ base. That only really leaves you with a couple (usually 2-3) of commanderies to attack your opponent, which simply isn’t enough. You need more than 2-3 stables/barracks to attack your enemy in Treaty. On top of that, the only unit that doesn’t cost 2 pop from the commandery is the cassador. It’s a good skirmisher unit, but again your options for training a less pop heavy army are extremely limited.
If Maltese units were able to be trained faster, then it wouldn’t be that massive of a burden either as you would be constantly replacing the units that died but training the units takes longer than most other civs. The forts are the most reliable way of producing units, but forts also take a really long time to build. It’s time you simply don’t have in Treaty. By the time you’re half way building your fort, your army will be gone. Forts aren’t really a viable option in Treaty in my experience.
Some of the other civ bonus units are pretty gimmicky too and don’t really help the civ. The gunpowder depot doesn’t really do much. Sure, you can try and build it against enemy walls, but what’s the point really? If you want to blow it up, any other civ just brings petards or a couple of mortars. Meanwhile your hero is out there building a depot, praying for his life and hoping that your opponent is too blind to see him. The Maltese also have fixed guns, which sounds really fun. I wouldn’t know because only a madman sacrifices another 7 pop for a single canon.
So in my experience, the Maltese are a pop heavy civ with low training speed and gimmicky civ bonuses. The fact that they’re a pop heavy civ and that the training speed of military units is slow contributes to the Maltese having a very neglectable presence or impact in a Treaty game. As I said, I’m a casual player so I could have missed something.