Making an Historically Accurate Portuguese civ Gameplay


as an undergraduate historian and Portuguese man let’s explore what made the Portuguese empire the 10th biggest empire in History and how this little nation was able to become this BIG :


so here are some topic explaining you some history of the civ :

The Portuguese were a little kingdom which came out from the reconquista. In fact it is a burgundian prince called Henri le Damoiseau which came to make the reconquista in Castille and Leon. He was count of Portugal which wasn’t a kingdom. After that his son fought his mother and proclaimed independance of Portugal.

Dark Age : During this period portugal was weak and small. Portuguese should have a bad early game. During those times portuguese soldiers were mostly Franks and German knights coming for the reconquista.

After this Monarchy became established but portugal had issues with the moors and the kingdom was poor. The kingdom was carried by many groups of elite military religious orders. Those were guys which were experimented in fighting during crusades and great battles.

Feudal Age : After the Portuguese Monarchy became established, Portugal became a point of interest for many militar orders. Those orders did the job for the portuguese crown. First the order of the templars and then the order of AVIZ. The gameplay should be oriented around elite squadrons of infantry during feudal and castle age. Those would be from the order of Aviz and order of the temple. Portugal should began to have a strong defense during feudal age.

as you can see Portugal Was a Hub for various military orders and that’s one of the reasons why this little country still exists today :

Castle Age : During those times, Portugal became stronger and its monarchy began to be ambitious. The templars which were banned from pope and france came to Portugal and Scotland. Portugal became their main Home in Tomar. Templars then changed their name to the order of Christ. The order of Christ financed the schools of sagres which were naval schools. Those schools took many naval experts from europe gathered them and improved portuguese fishing boats. The caravel was born and portuguese were able to join india from sea detroying ottoman and italian monopoly on the spice trade. Portugal became quickly extremely rich.

During those times Portugal invented the caravel a fast ship for exploration and it invented the NAU a heavy castle carrack. Portuguese began to use a lot of swivel guns and put them on their ships. Portugal became the most powerfull naval kingdom in the world until 1570. This was due to the expertise of portuguese ships and gunpowder. Portuguese Gunpowder came from German engeneers from the holy german empire.

Portuguese are early users of Mortars, Arquebuses and multibarrel firearms. The issue with portuguese was their lack of numbers that’s why they tried to compensate with higher fire rate. Portugual should have access to early gunpowder units and their naval dominance should come to show itself.

Imperial Age : in the late middle ages the portuguese were known to have the best navy in the world even the spanish Emperor Charles/Carlos V the biggest european monarch which existed in European history exclusively used the Portuguese Navy for its expeditions. Portuguese invented the Galion which its first version was called the Botafogo :


Portuguese intially had issues with their swivel guns because despite their higher fire rate they were less powefull and had less range than the turkish cannon however they invented a secret tech which allowed them to outrange and outpower the turkish cannons. They invented a bimetallic cannonball which was made of a square of iron and had a round layer of led. The canonball was forced into the canon because led is malleable. When the canon fired the led melted and the cubic canonball was propulsed with unusal high pressure. Yeah portuguese were savages… sometimes the canons blowed because of this killing many men. One venetian monk traveling with portuguese said that the portuguese could fire 6 cannonballs while turks would have only fired 1 this tech was a big game changer :

Portuguese were also the first to use silex instead of a rope fuse on arquebuses. They standardised the use 70 years before european kingdoms used it. This improved their fire rate and was reliable on seas because water could defuse your arquebuse. Thanks to the german/portuguese engeneers the portuguse became experts on Gunpoweder and many weird firearms came to the portuguese arsenal :

So how should a portuguese civ work ?

  • It should have a bad early game and it will become stronger with each age. It should be a civilisation that you must defeat before it gets to imperial Age.

  • Because Portuguese had only 1 milion inhabitant it would be fun to make a gameplay about this aspect of the civ. In fact portugal has one of the must crazy history of winning unwinnable battles with numerical disadventages. One of the biggest examples is the battle of Ajubarrota. Battle of Aljubarrota - Wikipedia
    Then portuguese would have a civ cap at 100/150 instead of 200 but have stronger units.

  • Portuguese early game should focus on defending with their unique elite military orders : Order of Aviz and Order of Christ. Portuguese would then not have access to the every regular infantry/cavalry but instead have a limited quantity of elite squadrons.

  • Mid Game portuguese should become more powerfull with their navy and emerging gunpowder. Portuguese gunpowder should have faster fire rate than usual gunpowder units. One unique military tech bimetallic cannonball : improves range and damage of swivel guns on ships and on land. Unique unit Nau and Portuguese arquebuse.

  • Late Game : Focused on gunpowder. Unique tech : Portuguese Silex : Improves firerate of gunpowder units of 15% including ships. Unique Units portuguese Galion and organ gun.

  • Portuguese should have good fishing ships and bonuses on trades. They shall have a unique building producing ressources like the actual feitoria to compensate a population limit capped at 100-150.

What are your thoughts about this kind of gameplay ?

Lastly Naus weren’t like medieval carracks here is an arrticle saying that :

"Example of “Nao” at a time when the Portuguese Caraques had nothing to do with the “naves” of the Middle Ages "

they usually had 5-8 decks which is crazy.


Portuguese civ traits for historical accuracy:
-Very few troops, they should be expensive, mostly Infantry based, and resilient.
-Villagers can be conscripted into Light Crossbowmen for a price.
-Specializes in Siege warfare, with Ballistae, Siege Towers, Bombard Cannon/Mortar, Rocket Arrows (for Ships), Swivel Guns, Wall Guns (for Walls).
-Only has Knights and Genitours for Cavalry, Knights are prohibitevly expensive.
-Gets Missionary instead of normal Monk. Missionary is weaker but moves faster.
-Has a decent Mercenary system, in which it can buy a few units from other civs, at a greater cost, but cost can be reduced with a Landmark.
-Has a focus on Crossbowmen and Handgunners.
-Caravel can attack on the move and has greater Range (which is what they historically did).
-Has Nau instead of Galleon, with substantially more Attack but less HP.
-Heavy Infantry is all from Religious Orders, so it needs Monasteries or a Religious Landmark to be trainable.
-Docks buildings can be Armed for self defence, at a cost.

On the contrary, they severely outranged Turkish Guns, which is why the Portuguese won on teh seas so often, as we would just shoot to break the masts and then leave, so the Turk Galleys could not catch up to us.

Swivel Guns were basically Sniper Cannons, they were less powerful than the Turk Cannons, but had a much greater effective Range.
Fighting Caravels was similar to fighting Mongol Horse Archers, they would attack while moving, and retreat if you got in range of them.

You must read the part about the bimetallic cannonball. Doctor Rainer PhD on portuguese military explains that PT had initally issues with their swivel guns but their new tech helped them to fix that. You ideas are not bad but not giving them a Galion when they inveted the galion would be weird xD. A least let’s give them a unique hero naval unit like the botafogo.

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I did read it, but even without it, it still had greater Range than Turk Cannon.
Turks usually overwhelmed their opponent with great numbers (hence why they stuck to easily buildable and replaceable Galleys) and a lot of firepower.
However, it did not do much good against an opponent they could not catch up to.

The issues with Swivvel Guns is that they overheated a lot, and were highly prone to exploding, which you also mentioned, but they outranged any other Naval Gun of their time, even without the lead-iron ball.

I dislike Hero units outside of campaigns.

The Nau quickly replaced the Carrack and Galleon, it is more unique, and a better choice.

Yeah why not for the Nau. Well the Nau should be like a water castle, slow but powerfull.


Actually, the Nau was faster than other ships of it’s class, but also much more fragile.
The Nau was literally a sailing Artillery division. It was packed full with Guns, and often violently detonated when taken out, due to the large amounts of gunpowder they stored.

The nau was a downsacaled, slightly modernized, bare bones Carrack, which had all it’s available space filled with weapons. It was a “pure” warship, and not very good for anything that was not offensive engagements.

It was the “glass cannon” build of the Early Modern ship classes. :smile:

No… Nau was just the “portuguese carrack” or a “great carrack”, it didn’t replace the carrack, because carracks were based on Nau, just develloped by other nations . And the portuguese galleons (the direct evolution from the innovative war caravela) replaced them, because it was a good compromise between great carracks and war caravela , it was more maneuverable, more robust and heavily armed.

It’s why galleon came to replace them at some point, even if carracks continued to be used because their interesting tonnage, and their proved efficiency for trades. It’s really an influencial modern ship which was a great step for the devellopment of all upcoming modern ships like galleons.

Games like civilization don’t stop giving Nau to portuguese because caravela is a generic unit.
But Nau design looks common, because widespread as carrack in all europe…

Caravela feels way more unique to portuguese, and it’s aesthetically way cooler.
I hope they will give them the “caravela de armada” instead. (square-rigged caravel).
Which is debated to be the main step instead of carracks/nau which given the design of upcoming galleon…

Mh i think you should check this one :

Naus were heavy castle carracks having way more decks than the average carrack. The average carracks were just copies made by the europeans. Naus had 4-5 decks which was way more than the aveage 2 deck carrack. Naus had forts and turrets too. Its no wonder why Burgundians asked portuguese to make some ships for them during their expeditions against the turks.

this doesn’t look like your average carrack at all :

that’s the reason americans and portuguese are still making research about them they don’t know exactly how they looked like even if they were close to carracks they aren’t. They wouldn’t spend milions of dollars making researchs on Nau if they were like your average european carrack… The hull was way more resistant and their speed was better than the average carrack. Moreover it could load way more guns and artillery than any medieval boat. It was like the f-22 of the middle ages.

As i explained before they are litteraly water castles.

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The way I see it, a Portuguese civ should be based on coastal expansion and fortification, with a decent feudal age, militarily bland castle age and a big power spike in the imperial age:
In age 2 you can build a fishing village, which is a town centre/dock hybrid that trickles fishing boats for free (up to a certain number) and can train villagers. Units can garrison in it but it can’t fire arrows. It should grant good line of sight into the water.
In age 3 you can build a feitoria like S Jorge da Mina, a building that has to be built close the shore that boosts nearby villagers’ and trade units’ work rate, that works as a trade building like a market and a dock and that defends. You don’t get a strong base killing potential in this age, in fact, weaker than most other civs.
In age 4 you get access to breech-loading swivel guns (that ought to have a penetrating attack that’s strong against walls, less so than other buildings and a small blast radius due to its small calibre size) and caravels overloaded with guns that can also bombard the shore.

Your crossbowmen have +25% bonus fire rate to reflect the defensive muncipal crossbow regiments without making them too strong of an offensive tool.

So in a water game, portuguese take control of the shore but their navy only gets strong once they reach age 4 and get naus/caravels. As a Portuguese player you have to expand and defend and then take advantage of that power spike in the imperial age.

I think access to Templar units should depend on the age up building you choose - if you build the Templar monastery+castle of Tomar when aging up to the feudal age, you get a fortified building that can create Templar knights - a heavy cavalry unit that fights with a sword and shield that has good combat stats but is slower than other cavalry and doesn’t have a charge attack. So, useful in melees but rather useless vs light cavalry and horse archers.

Edit: also, these knights would get a slight stat boost when aging up to the castle age but not be upgradeable from then on, meaning that the portuguese wouldn’t have a strong heavy cavalry option in the mid to late game

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I am waiting sources on that. Because I find nothing about these “f-22 of the middle ages”,
the video seems to speak about the efficiency for travelling of the nau … than I never denied.
I just said than it seems wrong to say than Nau “replaced carracks and galleons”.
When carracks were cheap copy of the nau, so happened after the nau. And galleons came later because inspired by nau/war caravela/carracks innovations and were present in every european navy because way more polyvalent. It was my only point : the temporality.

I remember than one of these famous “castle nau” , the Mt Sinai something …was just impressive, but when was needed in battle, was sinked… because not enough maneuverable and heavy.

Atleast, there are enough portuguese books which cover the efficiency in battle of the caravela di armada. Anyway portuguese could have both. Nau as castle boat, Caravela (di armada) as quick boat. Would be a shame to not show the speed of the portuguese navy. And again visually, caravela looks way more unique, when the nau looks like a bigger carrack but don’t scream portuguese for the casual audience. Like an English would just see an Henry VIII imperial carrack

And carracks could be the generic ship for everyone for imperial age

Galleon would be a bit weird in the time-frame of aoe4, feels a bit like a late unit because tied to the imagery of age of discovery, age of piratery, and collonization…

You should check what PhD Rainer Daehnhardt has to say about Naus he comes from a noble German Family and he is one of the greatest military experts of the late middle ages. He has a living museum of portuguese firearms of middle ages. In fact he owns more than 20’000 historical pieces. Even the portuguese government uses his help…

The Nau Santa Catarina do Monte Sinai was a Nau which was heavily charged with spices and goods in fact portuguese put so much merchandise inside it that it became dangerous to maneuver after a tempest the hull was damaged and it was to dangerous to maneuver. Then the captain surrendered without a fight because the hull was too damaged fight maneuvers would make it sink anyways, Pirates took it and burnt it if i remember. What caused this failure was the overload of merchandises. Potuguese were greedy with their indian monopoly on spices.

As i Told you Carlos V used portuguese ships because they had more decks and were able to carry more pieces of artillery and canons. The botafogo or spitfire was the f-22 of the ships of middle ages. Its name was the spitfire. It was the personnal ship of the emperor charles/carlos V the biggest eurpean monarch to have ever lived in the middle ages. Portuguese had 2 main ships as flagships the Nau St catarina of Monte sinai and the botafogo. Both were considered the best military ships of their eras. Many historians agree with this. According to Dr.Rainer Daehnhardt Portuguese were the first to introduce mortars and heavy artillery on boats. In fact during middle age most of the europeans ships and galleys would capsize because of use of heavy artillery. According to him again Portuguese learnt to make use of the turkish fortresses canonball ricoched and to angle their cannnons to make ricochets each time they fired on ships.

Until Netherland and England came to the game Portuguese were untuchable in the seas. The only worthy opponents of the portuguese fleet were the turks.

Portuguese would never had the possibility to gather this many lands in Asia and in strategic places for trades, merchandise taxation and traveling if they didn’t have superior military tech… remember they were only 1 million …


From official sources, most of the known civs cover the first half of the XVI century, this is the time when galleons appeared. They could appear as an 4th age unit/upgrade for some civs.

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They should, actually. Galleons with Cannon and Arquebuses, are a necessity in this game. In AoE2 with never get more than the Handgonne, and the Galleons have Ballista bolts, which is super strange.

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Ah, it’s true than aoe 4 timeframe goes further. Nice, I don’t like naval gameplay in these games, but I like the models of ships units. So Galleon as last generic naval unit ? it looks fine to me ?

Generic pool of european navy : Hulk / Cog → Carrack → Galleon ? Eventually the standard caravel like “La Pinta” could be generic too ?
And another line of generic navy with the Galley ships (byzantine / venetians / ottomans stuffs)

As I said DivinePunisher, I am all up for the “castle” Nau unit. btw, do you know if there is a more specific name for these singular type of nau ? Because like I said, for someone with only know the average nau (how it is often represented in games, like civilization), it could be misleading and just look like a portuguese great carrack, instead of something more unique like you described.

But I would really like to see them having the square-rigged caravel too, to go fast and crush enemy navy with manoeuvrability :stuck_out_tongue:

Well we could have a Castle age cravel fast ship like a scout for killing fish and chips. And in imperial the military Nau/ Portuguese Galion.

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The Nau is just called precisely that, the Nau.
It literally means “Ship”, because the common word for ship in portuguese, is “barco” (barque).

“Nau em Castelo” (literally Ship in Castle) was the name of the biggest line of Naus, that had more firing decks than the others. It could even be the name of the upgrade.
Naus naturally were smaller, and had more firepower than the imitation Carrack.

this isn’t really true Naus which were made for battle usually had more gross tonnage than merchandise Nau however escort ships could have less tonnelage than merchand ships. 6-8 decks plus this article states that carracks had nothing to do with portuguese Naus :

"Example of “Nao” at a time when the Portuguese Caraques had nothing to do with the “naves” of the Middle Ages, "


From the same site you linked. Naus are literally classified as Carracks.
They are, indeed, the ancestors of the Carrack.

" Portuguese Nao Flor de la Mar

Example of “Nao” at a time when the Portuguese Caraques had nothing to do with the “naves” of the Middle Ages, this ship was with the “Trinidad”, one of the most powerful units of its time. The illustration is an interpretation of the engraving of “Roteiro de Malacca”.

An example among others of the know-how of the Portuguese at the time when they founded their empire. In order to defend their convoys or “Mudes”, they put on line of buildings able to defend it against any intrusion adverse.

The Flor de la Mar was perhaps a “nao”, a nave in Portuguese, because the classic lateral reinforcements or porticos are absent from these flanks, which pleads for a traditional construction of the South, on board. The engraving from which these illustrations are derived comes from the Roteiro de Malacca. It seemed to argue in the direction of a ship with six or seven decks, which was considerable.

The relative dispersal of the artillery typical of this period is also noted. The galleons of the sixteenth century will distribute them more effectively. As a result, the building was to measure 60 meters overall, for a height at the waterline at the handrail of the last bridge of the 20-meter aft deck.

Its width, like any round ship of the time, at the ratio of 3/1, should be 20 meters at the waterline, the tops being much finer according to the “pear shape” of its section. With 36 pieces of main artillery, not counting the mangonels and stones that could be adapted to the windows, it was a unit of first strike, considered as the most powerful of its time."


I take the opportunity to share the square-rigged caravel, now than I know how to upload images on this forum. I really like its design.