Landmark Balance: Why it's hurting the game and what to do about it

Here I want to collect ideas about how to rebalance Landmarks. Some I have seen on other discussion places, some are my own, and I encourage everyone to contribute.

I think a big issue right now is that there are too many cases where there is a “right” choice, and that is leading to very one-dimensional strategies, particularly with certain civs.
Many are one tricks that you know exactly how they will play before the game starts and there is only one way to play vs them. I’m sure this is not the devs intention, but something should be done about it asap or the game will become stale.

- English -

Age II: Abbey of Kings vs Council Hall

Abbey of Kings is basically a meme. Here’s some ideas to make it less useless:

  • Act as a Monastery that trains Monks in Age II
  • Allow healing in combat (why isn’t it like this already? it’s what monks do), can be toned down if necessary

It would basically be a variant of the usual “■■■■ off” landmark like Kremlin/Barbican, but with longer lasting utility and fit well historically.

Council Hall is fine honestly, the issue is with the other being useless. However, some people think English is a bit braindead in Feudal, so here’s an idea to tone it down and make rushing a bit more involved:

  • Instead of acting as an Archery Range, provide an aura to Archery Ranges placed near the Council Hall that reduces train and research time

- HRE -

Age II: Aachen Chapel vs Meinwerk Palace

Aachen Chapel is fine, but Meinwerk Palace is perhaps still too situational.

I saw a nice idea somewhere:

  • Meinwerk Palace: add Levy ability that converts peasants in a radius to a random trash infantry unit temporarily

It’s a bit unusual but I like this idea a lot because it’s a very unique flavor of the usual Feudal “■■■■ off” defensive landmarks.

Age III: Burgrave Palace vs Regnitz Cathedral

This is a complicated issue, but I think most people would agree HRE is basically defined by Regnitz Cathedral and it would still take a lot to make Bugrave anything other than a niche pick.

I think the key element that is needed is to make the relic buff a civ bonus, it could come in either of these forms:

  1. First two relics placed in a monastery generate 300% more gold
  2. Each relic generates 100% more gold than other civs

Then the landmarks will need changes to make them both appealing, so here’s some ideas:

  • Burgrave Palace: move or add some unique infantry techs here, perhaps something for Landsknecht to make it more viable
  • Burgrave Palace: provide cost reduction to infantry
  • Regnitz Cathedral: acts as monastery housing some new prelate technologies
  • Regnitz Cathedral: add new holy cavalry UU

For potential Regnitz unique techs, here’s some ideas:

  • Allows prelates to constantly inspire villagers in a wide area while holding a relic, similar to Aachen Chapel but the risk of losing your relic
  • Allows prelate to inspire while moving and while healing (very helpful for armies considering moving and healing currently block unit inspiration)
  • Allows prelate to mass bless army while holding a relic
  • Increased inspiration range and inspiration duration

Whatever the techs are, the idea should be they make it easier to use prelates to boost your economy while also making it more worthwhile to have them in your armies.

Age IV: Palace of Swabia vs Elzbach Palace

I think the answer is simple.

  • Make reduced Imperial Age cost a civ-wide bonus applicable to both landmarks

- French -

Age II: Chamber of Commerce vs School of Cavalry

Chamber of Commerce doesn’t seem to be picked very much, but it seems powerful enough and I don’t think a buff would make it much more appealing.

On the other hand School of Cavalry is a must pick in most situations. I think this is a touchy subject but here’s some ideas:

  • Reduce the civ-wide Stable production bonus and/or make it a civ bonus without landmark

This way you aren’t penalized so much by picking the other landmark.

  • Instead of acting as a Stable, provide a 10% cost reduction aura to Stables in the same way that Keeps work

Makes a Knight rush take a bit longer because you have to build a Stable, but once you get going the cost reduction is better.
With drop-off buildings only costing 25 wood for French it wouldn’t be that much of a nerf.

- Chinese -

Age II: Imperial Academy vs Barbican

Imperial Academy is kind of laughable and Barbican quickly becomes a laughing stock too.
Here’s some ideas:

  • Imperial Academy: Should be able to train Imperial Official
  • Barbican of the Sun: Should be upgradeable
  • Barbican of the Sun: Trains dynasty units

Age III: Astronomical Clocktower vs Imperial Palace

Imperial Palace is kind of laughable. Clocktower siege was definitely too beefy before, but feels kind of bad after the provision nerf for many reasons. It produces slowly and is usually placed in base, so your buffed siege will take a long time to come out.
Here’s some ideas:

  • Imperial Palace: Show LOS of military units and/or enemy buildings but with increased cooldown to compensate
  • Astronomical Clocktower: Provide an aura to adjacent Siege Workshops that boosts HP of produced siege by 20% much like Rus 20% cost reduction, or unlocks Clocktower variants which cost more but have increased HP

Age IV: Spirit Way vs Great Wall Gatehouse

Yes, China is already very powerful in Imperial Age but it would be nice if the landmarks didn’t suck so much.
Here’s some ideas:

  • Spirit Way: Cost reduction aura is nerfed but applies to all units (which has the added effect of making Grenadiers a more costly to mass)
  • Spirit Way: Change from radius to a proper aura like French Keeps and Rus High Armory

- Delhi -

Age II: Tower of Victory vs Dome of the Faith

Even with the buffs (or fix to make it even work to begin with), Tower of Victory is still a bit underwhelming because Dome of the Faith is so useful.
Here’s some ideas:

  • Tower of Victory: Provide civ-wide buff (why not?)
  • Dome of the Faith: Keep the 75g cost but reduce scholar cost by 25g outside of landmark to even things out

Age III: Compound of the Defender vs House of Learning

While Compound of the Defender can be powerful it’s very situational because Honed Blades is too important to miss out on, so here’s some ideas:

  • Compound of the Defender: Provide some unique defensive technologies with similar value to
  • House of Learning: Move Honed Blades out of landmark

- Abbasid -

It’s a bit different than other civs of course which is nice, but it has the same one dimensionality issues where you always take Fresh Foodstuffs, partly because Boot Camp is pointless in the Feudal Age.
These would be good changes:

  • Add new Feudal technology that provides -50% cost to Barracks/Archery Ranges/Stables in the place of Boot Camp
  • Move Boot Camp to Imperial Age
  • Move Camel Support to Castle Age
  • Move Camel Rider Shields to Stable
  • Reduce House of Wisdom technology research times

- Mongols -

I don’t play them enough to have ideas and haven’t seen any discussion on this, so feel free to comment.

– Rus –

Age II: Kremlin vs Golden Gate

Nobody picks Kremlin when Golden Gate is so powerful and useful for the entire game, whereas the Kremlin trails off quickly. So here’s some ideas:

  • Kremlin: Make this Landmark upgradeable in some way
  • Kremlin: Add some unique defensive technologies that can have a game-lasting impact, such as a boost to walls or wooden fortresses

Either of these would allow the Kremlin to have a more lasting impact.

Age III: Abbey of the Trinity vs High Trade House

From my experience High Trade House is not too bad, but it’s very situational. For example, on King of the Hill you can easily get 250 gold a min if you put it in a corner, but on many maps it’s not worth it when you can take the other one to retrieve relics quickly.
Here’s some ideas:

  • Abbey of the Trinity: While it doesn’t really need buffs to make it more desirable to pick, the unique techs are a bit overpriced and could use a cost reduction
  • High Trade House: Provide a civ-wide buff to hunting cabins
  • High Trade House: Provide a unique tech costing food/wood that lets you “cash-in” again for each bounty you received previously

Age IV: High Armory vs Spasskaya Tower

I think it’s not too bad of a situation here, but it does lean heavily towards the siege landmark as it’s core to the identity of the civ.
Here’s some ideas (I think just one of these will be enough):

  • High Armory: Move one or two siege techs out of the landmark so Rus always get some kind of siege benefits
  • High Armory: Move the cost reduction to be civ-wide
  • Spasskaya Tower: Add some unique defensive technologies, maybe to unlock Stone Walls
  • Spasskaya Tower: Buff to be on par with other civs Age IV defensive landmarks

Abbasid keeps heal while in combat, not to mention you can build multiple of them and wherever you want. It’s dumb that a fricking English landmark is not even close to as useful as a single Abbasid tech.

In order to make the Abbey of Kings a viable option, it needs to do something like healing while under the Network of Castles influence (but not while in combat or it’d be too OP). Or keep the same area of effect but also slowly repair buildings.

1 Like

Let’s face it, the whole concept of having to choose between 2 exclusive options where choosing one will lock you out of the other one for the reminder of the game is a bad one.
It is unbalancable in principle and will always create situations where one choice is generaly more useful, and the fact that you cannot ever get the benefits of the other one exponentiates the reason to go for the “safer” one.
In an ideal case, all benefits a civ can get should be obtainable throughout the match, for a price. That actually creates a reactive and rewarding gameplay that is easier to balance. Exclusive choices are not the way.

I understand why designers implement exclusive choices. It creates the attractive illusion of choosing your playstyle. But that can only ever work for singleplayer games with strictly scripted AI/difficulty, where there is a static difficulty bar that you have to overcome. But once you have a competitive environment between people, theoretically there will always be one best way to play every single situation, eliminating the possibility for playstyles, therefore making one choice always the “right” one.

Now, making all the bonuses non exclusive will not cancel the fact that for every given situation there is a best response. But it removes the exponentionality of making the safer variant the better one, cause you can always get the other bonuses later should the need arise.

I think the exclusive choices were done the best way in age3, where it was mostly crates with different resources, at least for the lower ages. But even there from what I know one of the choices would get picked most of the time, further illustrating the above mentioned principle.

But to end on a positive note, this system is sure here to stay for aoe4, so let’s hope the devs will find a way to make it better balanced.


I agree that the ‘second’ landmarks are generally weak and more of a curiosity choice than an actual strategic choice (until a pro player finds a secret combination and makes it meta or someone uploads a cheesy strategy to youtube).

I doubt that the devs will have the time to devote to adding new features you mentioned, but a buff to the second landmark (or fixing bugs with the second landmark) would be more feasible.

There was a suggestion in a thread once that I thought was interesting, which was to adjust the cost of landmarks to equalise the % of players choosing them. You would keep the most popular one at the full cost, but each balance patch could nudge the cost of the less popular one downwards until it’s picked as often as the full cost option.

Counterpoint: no it isn’t.

Like everything in the game, it can be balanced. However, the problem is balance takes a long time to take shape, which contributes to one being more useful than the other. But that doesn’t mean it’s unsolvable and therefore bad.

This is like suggesting that because there is competitive MP in Age IV (or any game), any choice is illusion because there will generally always be a singular best choice. Because balance where multiple playstyles are always viable is a difficult plateau to reach. This is why a metagame develops in the first place (for any game like this). Because some choices are superior to others. Because some build orders are.

At the end of the day, it’s about maximising choice. Which is why choices are important, and should be balanced. But choices are rarely, if ever, bad in of themselves. Removing that choice completely removes the decision making - ironically, it becomes just another part of perfecting a build order. Having to choose, permanently, is what makes it interesting, because you have to think about the game as a whole and how it might play out, vs. just building them both every game as soon as you have the resources to.

AOE3 has 25 card slots that you’re rarely going to fully utilize. That is the main difference from landmarks: you rarely run out of choices. In face of rushes you may switch to military otherwise you may boom. You do not “miss” an option entirely either. You can pick up your age 1 eco card in age 3 if you didn’t send it in face of pressure.
There are cards you don’t include in your deck of course but that’s decided before the game. Not to mention a deck that is 100% military or 100% eco is typically a bad one. So you usually have the flexibility mid-game besides executing the meta.

The landmark system is better compared to minor gods in AOM.

Thank you for your effort of writing all of this down. I have written down a similar thread like yours, way back in the stress test when I compared other Landmarks to all the terrible Chinese Landmarks and since then the balance sadly hasn’t improved much.

Of course its difficult to create Landmarks which are both viable but the devs have shown that some of them are different yet both are being used. See Age III Landmark for Delhi or Rus.

But for some reason when it comes to Chinese the devs constantly nerf the civ or refuse to treat it like other civs in the case of Landmarks. Even after buffs the Chinese Landmarks are still bad. The Clocktower was the only saving grace and this has been nerfed to the ground in an effort to make siege less dominating.

These are both great ideas. Especially training of Dynasty units. This isn’t too strong at all. I could see this being added and it would make the Landmark a lot more interesting.

I think in general the devs should make this bonus HP be a flat increase and different for each siege unit. That would make it more fair for bombards. NoB need more HP to start with.

Chinese have a huge issue with NoB in that they are completely useless unless you build them from the Clocktower because they only have 200 HP. That means they are destroyed in 2 shots from a springald. Meanwhile Mangonels take 3 shots to destroy from a Springald. Oh and NoB have less range than Mangonels aswell. Thats terrible balance.

I have suggested the exact same in stress test already. Still waiting for it to get implemented.

The great Wall Gatehouse is an absolute joke, its easily the worst Landmark in the game. We are still waiting for buffs and have suggested multiple ideas.


Yes this is probably best, it’s easier to balance.

I was thinking something like Network of Castles buff for units near wall segments would be fitting. It could be an armor boost instead of attack speed to make it different, and last for a little bit even when outside the buff range. Then it would truly be a formidable defensive landmark where Spirit Way would be the offensive option with unit cost reduction.

Mongols the Steppe redoubt just needs a massive nerf, probably to 15-20% extra gold. 50% is insane I remember seeing someone compare the stats and it’s better than fully upgraded imperial age miners. Also I think the Kremlin is actually pretty good in 1v1, but yeah some upgrade potential would make it better for team games, maybe even a tech to increase the influence bonus or something could be cool.


Yes, this is an important issue that needs to be addressed fast before the game expands into new content. The inviability of some landmarks gives the game less variety and makes it feel more repetitive. You’re always force to take the same route and it gets boring fast.

I feel like some civs are in a good place in that aspect: Rus, French and Abbasid all have very balanced landmarks imo.


You’re absolutely right, Council Hall is absolutely fine, Abbey is just incredibly bad. IMO Abbey of Kings needs a complete rework though. Like make it an eco landmark, melee infantry landmark or defensive idc. The current concept just doesn’t work.


Dome of Faith

IMO Dome of Faith shouldn’t be in the game as it is now. Delhi NEEDS scholars early for their strategy and the limiting factor early on is always gold, so the Dome of Faith will always be incredibly powerful and the other landmark will always be hard to justify.


  1. Make it so it trains scholars faster but for the same amout of resources.
  2. Make it so it increases the speed of monastery tech research and/or changes their age requirements. I don’t think age 2 sacred site strategy would be a problem if you didn’t have the discounted scholars.

Compound Defender

This looks like a landmark that could have been a tech. Either way if they don’t want to rework this one I’d suggest swapping places with the Tower of Victory. The stone walls would be way more useful in age 2 and the Tower of Victory bonus would make more sense in age 3 imo. Maybe buff it a little to compensate for the age change, like “heals nearby units” or “increases elephants movement speed”.

Hisar Academy

Also really bad landmark. Offering infinite food doesn’t make sense when farms exist. This doesn’t help Delhi in the late game at all when gold and wood will be the real problem.

Suggestion: make it so instead of 600 food/min when maxed out it gives 250 of each resource/min when maxed out. I don’t think that would be enough to make Delhi top tier imperial civ but it’s a good start.


I’m not gonna comment on that one because we’re already talking about it in the HRE suggestions thread and I think this civ needs a lot of changes beyond the landmarks.


This one is really tricky because of the dynasties you’re allowed to and many times you want to build both. That said I believe the Imperial Palace is way too weak and for me it’s the real drawback of going for the Yuan Dynasty. Not to mention that it’s up against the undisputed best Chinese landmark which makes it look comparatively worse.

Imperial Palace

This one probably needs total rework. The concept just does not work for an Age 3 landmark. The fact that it only gives vision when the hability isn’t active just makes it a really fat outpost. My suggestion initial thought would be to make it an eco landmark but I can see other concepts being good as well.

Great suggestions.

This is a tough one because Ming Dynasty and Chinese Imperial is already incredibly powerful with the Grenadier and the buffed up bombards. I think the Gatehouse is a cool landmark for wonder victory but that also makes it very niche. We need to see some nerfs in other aspects of the civ to even start thinking about buffing their imperial.

I don’t have specific suggestions. But I think for every civ and every age each landmark should be a valid option and the decision should be hard. Like this there are more gameplay options for each civ.