It's not over. AoE4 can still become the best AoE game and keep growing. Here's how

The pushback against Jeanne D’Arc, Zhu Xi’s Legacy as civilizations is genuine (we love Jeanne guys, we really do, but maybe this is really not quite the way to do it). However, it doesn’t have to end badly. Devs are incredibly talented and can turn crisis into opportunity, as we see with the amazing Ayyubids.

The solution to AoE4’s existential crisis is in reality, simple facts, not imagination. It’s not only about naming, it’s about finding a conceptual framework and a path forward. We need to get the basic facts straight first, then propose a solution, not the other way around. Facts first, solution after.

You’ll see at the end, the easy solution involves shuffling the conceptual categorization, limiting the scope of some variants, and adjusting the future focus of dev resources, to ensure a bright future for AoE4.

Basic Definitions

Definition 1: the timeframe.
All of the Middle Ages plus the Renaissance / early Modern Age is fair game. Abbasids, Chinese, Malians already pushed the limits of the timeframe, and now Byzantines pushes it even more. The year 1700 CE is outside - it’s a different age - but the year 600 CE is within the same historical age as 750 CE (Abbasids), therefore it’s inside.

Definition 2: Civilization-Polity duality.
The inclusion of Delhi Sultanate, Abbasid “Dynasty”, HRE means polities are also considered in addition to actual civilizations, like Chinese, French etc. That’s more or less acceptable for much of the community. Hint: Ayyubids is a fully-fledged polity.

Definition 3: data sets (maps with table, advanced civs shown in color).
I’ll use purely historical world maps of polities, color-coded with ethnic background of the ruler (the king, sultan, dynasty, president, emperor) of that polity. I’ll indicate here to what civilization the polity belongs, because civilization is the most important concept for AoE, it’s so different from the ethnicity of the ruler.

Inspect the data sets yourself (Zhu Xi appears in data set 10, Ayyubids appear in data set 11, Jeanne D’Ard in data set 14):

Data Sets by Chronological Order

Data set 1: Year 560
It’s the age-old classical clash, Rome (Byzantines) x Persian (Sassanids). India and China have a huge economy but are not a unified polity. Turks defeat Mongols and have a vast civilized territory, but the population, economy and importance are much less than Persia or Rome (sorry, fans of Turks).

Major civilizations 560: Persians, Byzantines, Indians, Chinese, Turks

Data set 2: Year 600
Epic clash Persia x Rome continues, Persia advances in the Red Sea. China unifies into the powerful Sui. Turks dominate Mongols and conquer a vast - largely empty - territory, but still have much less population, economy and cultural power than Persia, Rome and China.

Major civilizations 600: Persians, Byzantines, Chinese, Indians, Turks

Data set 3: Year 620
Still Persians x Romans (Byzantines) draining their energy, weakening themselves in endless war for half a millennium. Avars pressure Byzantines from north; Persia presses the advantage, advances into strategic Anatolia, tries to attack Constantinople, but fails. Sui China collapses.

Major civilizations 620: Persians, Byzantines, Chinese, Indians, Turks

Data set 4: Year 730
Islam is born. Umayyad Caliphate becomes a vast, lightning superpower from India to Spain and France, but can’t defeat the Byzantines with a solid power center in Constantinople. China unifies into powerful Tang, Tibet is a free empire and a fascinating civilization. Mongols are still ruled by the Turks.

Major civilizations 730: Arabs (Umayyad Caliphate), Chinese, Byzantines, Indians, Turks

Data set 5: Year 800
Abbasid Caliphate, Islamic Córdoba (Spain) and Tang China are brilliant, advanced, highly tolerant civilizations. The world’s first university opens in Morocco. Tibet is vast and independent, a worthy civ too. Franks expand in Europe somewhat.

Major civilizations 800: Chinese, Arabs (Abbasid Caliphate), Byzantines, Indians

Data set 6: Year 900
Persians break the Caliphate and establish massive empires of Saffarids and Samanids at the heart of civilization. Byzantines still solid at Constantinople. Gurjara and Khmer forge powerful empires. Tang collapses in China. Tibet still free.

Major civilizations 900: Persians, Arabs (Caliphate), Byzantines, Indians, Chinese

Data set 7: Year 950
Again the Persians (Samanid and Buyid empires) lead the world in architecture, government, culture, literature; they control Baghdad, the great hub of learning and knowledge. Al-Azhar University opens in Cairo. Byzantines, Indonesians (Srivijaya) and Khmer are solid civilizations, HRE is formed.

Major civilizations 950: Persians, Arabs, Chinese, Byzantines, Indonesian (Srivijaya)

Data set 8: Year 1030
Chola is a major empire of the Indian people. China unifies into superpower Song. Mixing Persian advanced state culture and Turkish military prowess, the Ghaznavids build the first infrastructure system for the Silk Road (its ruler is Turkic, but the empire definitely belongs to Persian civilization, sorry fans of Turks). Byzantines expand yet again, from the inexpugnable Constantinople.

Major civilizations 1030: Chinese, Persians, Indians, Byzantines, Arabs, Germans, Khmer

Data set 9: Year 1071
The Battle of Manzikert between the Roman Empire (Byzantines) + Vikings vs Seljuk Turks took place in modern-day Turkey in 1071 CE and ended with Turkish victory. It was an earth-shaking battle and directly caused the Crusades, the main theme of ‘Sultans Ascend’. The Seljuk Empire was a powerful empire leveraging both Turkic warriors and Persian culture, so it belongs to both civilizations.

Major civilizations 1071: Chinese, Turks, Persians, Arabs, Germans, Indonesian (Srivijaya), Khmer

Data set 10: Year 1130
Crusaders invade the strategic Holy Land - shown in yellow on the map - and establish states in Edessa (Urfa in modern-day Turkey), Jerusalem (in modern-day Palestine / Israel), Antioch (Antakya in Turkey), and Tripoli (in Lebanon). In contrast to previous general tolerance in the Middle East, North Africa and Cordoba / Islamic Spain, they massacre much of the Muslim and Jewish civilian population - though let’s be fair, many Crusaders are against this. Zhu Xi, China’s most illustrious neo-confucianist philosopher, was born in 1130; but he did not create a “variant of China” based on the above definition of Civilization-Polity duality.

Major civilizations 1130: Chinese, Turks & Persians (Seljuks, Ghaznavids), Indians, Arabs (Fatimids), French, Germans, Indonesians (Srivijaya)

Data set 11: Year 1200
The Ayyubids, included as a variant civ in ‘Sultans Ascend’, temporarily beat back most of the Crusaders. Islamic sultan Saladin shows great tolerance and protects civilians of all religions. You can actually see the Ayyubid Sultanate in dark green on the map, in Egypt and the Holy Land, therefore it is a major polity, separate from the Abbasid Caliphate, therefore it could be a real civilization (instead of a variant) based on the original definitions. China is divided between powers Song and Jin. Persians again rise and build large empires, of Ghurids and Khwarazm.

Major civilizations 1200: Chinese, Persians, Arabs (Ayyubids), Indonesians (Srivijaya), Khmer

Data set 12: Year 1250
Mongolian and Turkic peoples ally to take over a vast territory in a bloody blitzkrieg. Most of it was sparsely populated cold, arid lands (steppe / Rus), but also highly civilized heartlands like Persia and China. Dark chapter of history, genocide was massive and widespread. The “Mongol Empire” confederation quickly broke into several independent states (see map), like the Ilkhanate with Persian culture and administration, the Yuan dynasty of China, and the Turkic-dominated Golden Horde, which subjugated the Rus. Two powers consistently beat back the Mongols: the Mamluk Sultanate (a very big candidate to AoE civ which also definitively defeated the Crusades) and the Delhi Sultanate (already in game); though Hungary, Vietnam, Indonesia and Japan also won one-off battles. Mali rises in Africa.

Major civilizations 1250: Turco-Mongols, Arabs (Mamluk Sultanate), Indo-Turkic (Delhi Sultanate), Indonesian (Srivijaya), Germans

Data set 13: Year 1350
China is unified by the Yuan Dynasty (had Mongol rulers as the in map color, but definitely part of Chinese civilization). Delhi defeats Mongols and expands their territory. Turks of Anatolia and Persians win freedom by battle against Mongol-allied Turkic overlords. Golden Horde still rules over the Rus. Mamluks are strong, rich and powerful in the metropolis Cairo, Byzantines take refuge in the Eternal City. Mali builds a rich empire in Star Wars-like Sahara scenery.

Major civilizations 1350: Chinese, Indo-Turkic (Delhi), Arabs (Mamluks), Mongols, Persians, Turks, Hungary, Mali

Data set 14: Year 1400
Ming expels the Yuan and unifies China under a native superpower dynasty. Ruthless Turkic conqueror Timur carves an empire, declares himself the “Sword of Islam” and “Emperor of Persia” (the Timurid dynasty, which definitely belongs to Persian civilization). Persian art and architecture flourish on the Silk Road. Ottomans expand in the Balkans, Mamluks still undefeated. Majapahit is a big empire in Indonesia, so is Vijayanagara in India. Japan is unified. Rus begin to fight back against Turkic Golden Horde, Mongols are left with essentially desert territory. In 1429, a girl named Jeanne D’Arc rallies the French resistance against England in the Battle of Orleans, a local conflict in West Europe. But in truth, the event had very limited impact in world history.

Major civilizations 1400: Chinese, Persians, Indonesia (Majapahit), Turks, Indians

Data set 15: Year 1500
Persia is (again) a major world power, the Safavid dynasty, allies with and “saves” Europe by timely invading the rising Ottoman Empire just when the latter was speeding up its conquest of Europe: the Ottoman-Safavid Wars start. Ottomans had invented the modern gun (matchlock musket) in Edirne, Turkey in 1465. Persian culture dominates in India, and would give birth to universal marvels like Taj Mahal, mausoleum of Homayun and Badshahi mosque. Inca is a vast, distant, isolated, mysterious empire. Mamluks still undefeated. Portugal + Spain explore the oceans, Columbus discovers the New World by luck. Majapahit empire has thousands of islands in Indonesia.

Major civilizations: Turks, Persians, Chinese, Mamluks, Portuguese, Indonesia (Majapahit), Inca, Japanese

Data set 16: Year 1530
The Ottoman Empire achieves superpower status with new guns and soldiers, conquering the undefeated Mamluks and fighting simultaneous wars against Persia, European alliances, Russia, Italian states, and Portugal on the oceans. (Safavid) Persia is the biggest rival of the Ottomans, preventing them to focus on European wars and historically helping Europe. Ming China isolates itself. Inca is still a huge empire in the faraway south.

Major civilizations 1530: Turks, Persians, Chinese, Portuguese, Spanish, Indonesia (Majapahit), Inca, Japanese

Data set 17: Year 1600
As AoE4 nears its end, the Ottoman Empire is the world’s strongest power, housing so many peoples and religions, but is stalled to stalemate by wars on all sides against mighty foes: Persia, Russia, the great European alliance of Habsburgs, and Portugal on the Indian Ocean.
The discovery of the New World changed history forever; some European nations would in the future massacre and enslave many millions of native peoples, reap astronomical profits, and attain supremacy for centuries.

Major civilizations 1600: Turks (Ottomans), Chinese, Persians, Indo-Turkic (Mughals), Russians, Spanish, Portuguese, French, English, Japanese

Conclusion and Solution

  1. As seen from Data Set 11, and comparatively from all other Data Sets and the original definitions, we conclude the categorization of the Ayyubids should be changed from “variant civ” to “civilization” asap, to join the other 10 civilizations in the game as it has verified full qualification for it (yes it shares architecture with Abbasids, and that’s no problem at all). This way we’ll be getting 3 actual civilizations on Nov 14, Byzantines, Japanese, and Ayyubids.

  2. As we can see from Data Sets 10 and 14, and comparatively from all data sets and original definitions, we conclude that Jeanne D’Arc, Zhu Xi’s Legacy, Order of the Dragon (and all other future variant civs that do not conform to the basic principle of Civilization-Polity Duality to validate its historical status as civilization), should have its availability limited to a toggleable “Variant Mode”, both in single player vs AI and also in multiplayer. We conclude they can’t be forced in together with real civilizations. If this happens, the reaction will be strong.

  3. Based on the original Definitions, all the Data Sets and the history of AoE4 time, we can easily conclude that future dev resources should be focused on high-value, conspicuous missing civilizations, first and above all the Persians, but also Inca, Majapahit, Cholas (Indians), Mamluks, Spain, Vikings.


The national territory in the map is not correct, at least the map of the Tang Dynasty is completely wrong. The Tang Dynasty had over 10 million square kilometers of territory, with the farthest reaching Central Asia.

Srivijaya empire no longer exist after 1025. There is no record of Srivijaya after 1030 AD (Tanjore inscription). The Chinese still recorded Sanfoqi after 1030, but this term does not refer to Srivijaya, in fact the term Sanfoqi was still used even to the 17th century. What the Chinese recorded as Sanfoqi from 1030 AD until the 13th century is Jambi, that is, the Malayu kingdom.

Kamboja (Cambodia) was a suzerainty of Java until 802, when Jayavarman II declared independence from Java. The categorization of Chenla and Water Chenla is Sinocentric, it was written from Chinese observation and may not be true:

Late in the 8th century AD, it faced war from Javanese pirates that ultimately took over the Mekong Delta and then later took over the entire Chenla Empire. However author Michael Vickery asserts that these categories of Water and Land Chenla created by the Chinese are misleading and meaningless because the best evidence shows that until 802 AD, there was no single, great state in the land of ancient Cambodia, but a number of smaller ones.

Borders can change each year with military campaigns, but long term tend to more or less stay the same, for the major settled civilizations. Nomadic is another story.

In an all-of-history video like this one, 1 year in time corresponds to 1 second of video. So perhaps that year did not capture the Tang expeditions into Central Asia.

Yes, let’s say that 1600, no longer 1700 is where AoE 4 definitively ends and AoE 3 begins… that the Chinese arrive in 1644 is because of the Ming and the Malians in 1670 is directly anachronistic because by 1599 the Mali Empire began to collapse after being defeated by the Moroccans in Jenné…in 1645 they entered into civil war and by 1670, the Bamana Empire conquered them…(but that would already be in the period of AoE 3)…

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There is a game called europa universalis 4,open that game and pick any nation at any timeline you want to add to age of empires its so easy

A little modern…In any case it would be better to put nations from CK3…

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Yes, I’ll get ahead of you xd…

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Not sure I would use the formable Kingdoms map as your choice since many of those didn’t really come to be, but yes.

It is the standard map of the game…before starting the game, but yes, in part of Europe it only lacks the Iberian Peninsula, Italy, Hungary and Poland…

There it is, but I think they will go more for empires per se…

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Right, it’s just the empire/kingdom map is their way of splitting up the world into formable nations. Many of the nations in the kingdom/empire maps never existed as a unified entity

Yes, but remember that AoE 4 is going to focus more on Empires to make them more unique… put 20-25 empires in the entire game (not counting the variant civs)

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Right, but they would focus on empires that actually existed. The CK3 empire map is full of fictional and theoretical empires.

Yes, a map like this can be…

Tang dynasty Territory changed quite a bit. 唐朝领土在中亚维持的时间较短后战败丢失西域大块领土。唐朝后期也丢失了外蒙。平均下来,总体上来说实际控制唐朝疆域远远比不过清朝还有今天的中国

Nah, there are only currently 10 civs in the game and instead of picking some of the countless options they have available to make new civs they are recycling ones that already exist to save money, it is over. Honestly, these people should all be fired.

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The Tang Dynasty lost its territories in Central Asia and the West not due to defeat or a short period of time, but because of a major internal turmoil, which forced the Tang Dynasty to dispatch troops from Central Asia and the West to quell the internal turmoil, resulting in the Tang Dynasty’s increasingly weak control over Central Asia and the West. The Tang Dynasty’s defeat of the northern territories occupied by the Turks was due to a lack of economic value and neglect of management, resulting in weak control. The Tang Dynasty was an agricultural nation, and the northern grasslands were not their living environment. They even felt that the northern grasslands were a wilderness, devoid of value except to prevent the resurgence of nomadic tribes from threatening the border areas.

Hi @VenialFoil55155 , are you Indonesian?

It would be to the benefit of the community, devs, and AoE4 itself, if any Indonesian or fans of Indonesian history in the community would step up and provide more insight into this topic.

Indonesia is a great nation; Srivijaya and especially Majapahit empires are major, huge candidates to join AoE4, at a par with Incas, Mamluks, Cholas (but still far behind the Persians in priority).

What is the degree of civilizational continuity between Srivijaya and the Majapahit? Or even better, what 100% local, authentic name should we call “Indonesians”? Bahasa?

I consider “Indonesia” a “fake” word, a later term from Europe.

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It’s a really well done. I’m sure no one from Jeanne’s fan club would ever do anything like this. They are not able to write the same long text, they may not even be able to read it, if they can read at all :laughing:
This shows the difference between real fans of the Age of Empires and people for whom anything can be called a civilization, just to have fun. The real love for the game is expressed in how much you are willing to pay attention to a disturbing problem.

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Looks good, but some of these civ candidates are not worthy of it really (I’m sure you know it). They might even look big on a map but that’s the problem with simple territorial maps: the value of 1 km2 of territory varies enormously depending on so many factors of each location.

Territory area is insanely overrated