My Dream Outlaw Changes

Outlaws are an incredibly underpowered unit type across the board with the exception being African outlaws and unique outlaws for US and Mexico. I don’t think all or even half of all games should see players building a tavern and training pirates but It’d be nice if there was enough incentive to experiment with them as a mechanic. Here’s what I would want to see. Note that I’m just putting ideas out there and these aren’t meant to be something taken as a whole and implemented into the game without tweaks.

General Changes

  • Every map should give access to three outlaws instead of just two. This would allow for more options and for units not present on many maps like the Wokou Monk to get a more even distribution.

  • A tech available to all civs that increases outlaw stats in the industrial age. It should possibly be weaker than the Peace Makers tech available to US and Mexico so that outlaws still wane in effectiveness as the game goes on but without being made entirely obsolete.

  • Card similar to Dance Halls but available to all native civs which can decrease the pop space of outlaws while possibly giving access to a single mercenary in the way Dance Halls enables Ronin

Unit Buffs

  1. Pirate: This unit is just entirely too much pop. It takes three houses just to support a batch of five and they are only marginally better than pikemen. Reduce to 4 pop and increase their siege from 24 to 26 so they can fill the siege role of a pike a little better.

  2. Dacoit: These are actually decently well-stated musketeers. A buff to train time of 40 seconds down from 50 might help them get used a little more. A decrease to 4 pop and a slight increase in gold cost from 90 to 95 to make it more comparable to the pistolero I think could also be good

  3. Thugee: These units have a crazy ranged attack for an age 2 unit but their price is just ludicrous. 150 gold and 6 pop. a reduction to 5 pop and 140 gold should make them a little more useable.

  4. Wokou Horsemen: These again have pretty decent stats, in terms of dps and health they compare favorably to dragoons while being available an age early. Their 70 second train time is absurd though and this could easily be reduced to 50. A reduction to 170 coin from 180 or splitting the cost between coin and food like the African outlaws could be good seeing as how the high pop already makes the unit plenty expensive.

  5. Wokou Monk: These units are actually popped reasonably and have a niche use for sniping villagers with their bonus against them. I doubt many players are even familiar with this unit seeing as how it literally only spawns on yellow river. Expanding it to more maps and boosting its speed to 4.5 to allow better kiting and vill sniping might be all this unit needs to actually be seen once in a blue moon.

  6. Wokou Pirate: This unit I’m willing to bet has the best siege of any unit in age 2 with a whopping 54 siege damage. Buff their cost from 135 to 125 and I can actually see these being somewhat useful.

  7. Wokou Ronin: Pretty cool unit. Maybe give it a 2 or 1.5 bonus against cav so it can better fill the role that most heavy-hitting melee infantry have as anticav.

  8. Desert Raider: This is the only African outlaw that needs buffed IMO. It got very heavily targeted for being a component in the game-breaking Hausa rush but now I think it’s ready to be dialed back a bit. reduce the coin cost by ten and increase the base siege to 18 (actually 36) up from 15 (actually 30) so that it can fill the role of an anti-building unit more effectively.

Weird Ideas

  • A card that allows Aztecs to train Mexican outlaws rather than generic ones from the native embassy similar to how Lakota can train American outlaws after sending the appropriate cards.

  • Make the outlaw versions of the African Vagabond and Ambushing Shogo Thrower treasure guardians and make them available on some African maps.

  • A card for Most European civs that replaces the outlaw options at the tavern with trainable outlaw versions of the AR colonial treasure guardians. These will be much stronger than normal outlaws.

  • A card for Ottomans that allows training the Corsair marksmen outlaws similar to the Hausa aging with Morroco.


A lot of discussions about Outlaws here recently… I think the issue with them is a lack of a clear role for them. What is supposed to be their role? Are they meant to be expensive replacements for your army? Units bought for a emergency? Raiders? Specialist counters? A different kind of Mercenary?

I can’t think of any situation where hiring outlaws instead of Mercenaries is worth the gold and the massive population costs. I believe that Outlaws and Mercenaries should have 2 very distinct roles.

Outlaws: Cheap, quick to train, very good at raiding villagers and buildings, but terrible against regular military units.
Mercenaries: Expensive, also quick to train, very effective at countering regular military units and ok at raiding.


800+ hp 1pop wokou ronin make such a good meatshield for china

that’s a good point. There are a few that fill the role of raiding units but it’s not really consistent. I think it’s maybe okay that they differ from each other in the jobs that they can do. My idea for them would more so be niche specialist units. They do their specific job well in the early game like killing vills, sieging, or being a dragoon or a skirmisher when you really need it. The downside is they require a big investment and fall off later on.

While I do think outlaws are important auxilaries I don’t think they should be better overall than regular army units.

I think it’s close to being at ideal as it is, though I agree with having 3 outlaws for europeans and asians since American civs both native and colonial and african civs have 3 outlaws by default. And I liked the idea of mexican outlaws for aztec.

I think having Industrial level stats should be exclusive to USA/Mexico and carding/polticians. Army units should eventually supersede outlaws in almost everything with a few exceptions just like the archiac units like X-Bow and Pike are obsoleted by skirmisher and halberdier, but there are exceptions to that as well.

Balancing asian outlaws needs to be done…Decoit can just be gunslinger with a different skin same for thugee for renegado (BTW why aren’t renegado rifle infantry?).

pirates are rodeleros not pikeman

I think Auxilaries as a whole need to be revisted for NatA civs. Personally I don’t like how every european civ and USA Mexico get ronin that way.

1 Like

I think outlaws are and should be a twist version of a regular unit (typically musk, skirm, goon) that can be used specially for civs that cannot fill that role naturally (maybe not in Age II at least) with their unit roster (or people that want to change flavor in their game style), so for the extra cost of only coin, more pop and being restricted to one building of production. In this way, they play a supportive unit role.

@KarlosBR96 Their main difference with Mercenaries is that Outlaws can be accessed earlier, they are not as strong originally, cost more pop originally (before dance hall/atonement card) and can be upgraded through buying their upgrade, not just cards or Age up Bonus. Besides Mercenaries are more famous for their shipments.

I think this should be conserved and expanded: 1) The way to do so is keeping outlaws for Mexico and USA as they are. 2) Add a new cav outlaw similar to a hussar 3) For non Mexico-USA outlaws, considering the restrictions that they have from production, give them the possibility with Atonement/Dance Hall card to be 1 pop musk/skirm units, 2 pop Goon/Cav archer/Cav unit. This adds different flavors to the game (assuming it’s implemented for Asian outlaws and pirates too), being viable but not overpowered.

PS: Yes it feels very weird that Wokou Ronin don’t have cav multiplier.

Outlaws like natives should act like an auxiliary, especially when the civ lacks or is particularly weak on one unit type, but should still not be better than average. Otherwise the gameplay is going to be very map-dependent (like everyone suddenly became super musk civs on African maps before the nerf). That restriction is achieved by stats and/or availability (build limit for natives and pop cost for outlaws).

However outlaws and natives (and maybe saloon mercenaries as well) have always been good entertaining aspects but do not work well in actual gameplay, because they are too situational. Only those that have constant access and can control what they get can have serious strategies around them.

So to make them more useful:
(1) Have most unit roles covered on every map (skirm, musk/hand, goon, as is the convention), so three outlaw types would be a good change.
(2) If (1) happens, there are some holes in the current design (no Indian dragoon outlaw, etc.) so some new outlaws should be added.
(3) They should not be more effective than regular units. This is very important.


I agree only if you are referring in terms of cost effectiveness and in villager seconds. With that in mind, I would not nerf their stats from their current status.

Keep in mind as well that (for must civs) they can’t scale in numbers and power as regular units spamming from two or more barracks and with better training times.

I agree fully with you on everything you’ve said. But I don’t think you should be strict about (3). At the moment USA cowboys are more effective than Carbine Cavalry which underperform compared to dragoons until you ship the buffalo soldiers card for the extra 10% range resist.

But even before then Carbine Cav can be massed more easily and cost 1 less pop with even with dance hall card.

I think the very first thing the devs can do right away is improving the unit description.

For example, the description of Pirate in the game is just a very short sentence: “A dangerous Pirate.”

At least tell me which type of this unit is.


Yeah to be more accurate I’d change it to “average” regular units. Carbine cavalry is below average.

Sorry for reviving a thread, but I wanted to share some thoughts on outlaws and it was this or making a too-similar thread. Plus, I thought there was some interesting ideas I could respond to.

First, I think outlaws (at least as originally envisioned) is as auxiliary units that offered a stronger alternatives but for a high pop cost. Compared with mercs, which occupy a similar niche, they’re more early-game focused, not only in that they’re generally available sooner but they trade coin cost for pop cost, which is much cheaper in the early game than the mid-late game.

At the moment, I’d say Outlaws are probably used even less frequently than natives. While I wouldn’t expect to see them all that often, they still seem quite weak. Not that I want to buff them to be on par with normal units, although some may already be there with some investment. DE has already done a lot to buff them compared with TAD, and that’s before considering the African Outlaws

One of the Outlaw’s distinguishing features from mercenaries is they’re tied to the map, so most civs will have to adapt their strategy based on the map when using outlaws. I say “most” but these days it feels closer to half. USA and Mexico each have their unique spins on the North American outlaws at all times, and the African civs have the African outlaws constantly enabled. All have their own synergies well established, and at this point they might as well not even be worth considering for the rest of this discussion. Suffice it to say outlaws for these 4 civs are fine as they are.

Then there’s the TWC civs, and they’re a whole basket of weird. They are set to train the regular 3 North American outlaws from their Native Embassy, which is fine I suppose, however they’re locked to age 3. This kinda defeats the point of them as an early game alternative, especially since nobody is gonna Fast Fortress for outlaws no matter how much of a fanatic they are. These civs also have no way to lower the pop cost of outlaws, which limits usability ceiling in the long term. This really leaves Lakota as the only viable civ of the 4 who could go for outlaws, and tbh they’re probably the culprit as to why the outlaws are locked to age 3. It seems both the original and new devs agree, since Lakota has had several outlaw shipments since TWC, and DE has updated several to ship USA outlaws and upgrade the Lakota’s own to match. However, I wanted to bring up the cards Outlaw Band and Bandit Gang, which most outlaw enthusiasts probably have never sent. These cards say they send “random outlaws from every region” and boy do they ever. Not only can it send all of the normal outlaws, but also the more obscure ones like Corsair Marksmen or various revolutionary outlaws. Basically anything with the “Outlaw” tag. However, it can also send various converted treasure guardians, but for some reason not all of the human ones. I’ve mainly seen South American, Asian, and African guardians, although that may just be bad luck. Once they arrive, they for some reason are now able to march in formation but maintain their debuffs vs villagers and buildings. They’re also booted by the Wild West tech, but don’t receive the full effect. Just very bizarre and I have no idea if any of this is intended or not but it’s hilarious.

And with that, onto the main course. I think it makes the most sense to just respond where I have something to add rather than retread ground.

I think this is a solid idea to spread more outlaws around, especially Asian maps which have the highest number of outlaws to choose from. I think USA was intended to stand out as having 3 outlaws, but of course that hasn’t panned out since more and more civs got the same. So I don’t see a problem necessarily with upping the number of outlaws.

However, I don’t think all maps need 3 outlaws. Worth noting a few maps (Florida, Caribbean, Hispaniola) have just one outlaw: the Pirate. Moreover, I think some maps might be a stretch to fill up to 3 outlaws. Maybe it’d be better left as something special for a few maps.

This is probably unpopular, but a potential alternative to a 3 outlaw system that adds variety is to let outlaws be somewhat random. Of course, it would keep to the proper region theme, and the pool would vary from map to map. The idea is you’d have access randomly to 2 outlaws from a pool of 2-4.

Tangentially related to this, but I think there are some maps near where regions border each other where there’s potential to create unique outlaw sets and shake up the options. For example, on African maps on the Mediterranean or Atlantic, you could add the Pirate (Tripolitania, Pepper Coast); East African maps on the Indian Ocean could see Marathan Dacoit or Thugees, or maybe even Wokou Pirates (Horn, Swahili Coast, Arabia); and on Fertile Crescent maybe you could get one of the Desert Outlaws. These accommodations would obviously be easier in a 3 Outlaw or random-pool system, but I think it’d be possible even as it is now with 2 outlaws.

In the reverse direction, there are currently a few maps with imo a questionable outlaw selection. Why do Pirates spawn in Dakota? I’m not sure how the got there. And Dacoit made quite a trek themselves to reach Kamchatka. These would be pretty simple fixes, and ones most players wouldn’t notice, but they’d probably be better for the maps theming. They’re probably leftovers from some earlier map revision, it’s just strange they’re still there.

I don’t recall if this was true at the time, but certainly by now this is outdated. When you research Wild West or its equivalent techs it not only reduces outlaw train time and give them a veteran upgrade (20% hp and dmg), but it will shadow tech them when you reach Industrial (25%) and Imperial age (50%). I didn’t typo, for some reason indus only gives 25% not the usual 30%. If anything, outlaws are so costly to use I’d think the devs would’ve thrown them a bone and let the age 4 tech give 35%. But I guess they thought it’d be too much. Currently, all the USA and Mexico tech Peacemakers gives is a 10% stat increase to outlaws, basically a Royal Guard bonus. A bit low for 400w 400c, but it’s a win for every other civ, plus USA and Mexico outlaws will continue to shadow tech even without Peacemakers, it’s just a extra bonus.

I thought I’d mention here the European Imperial Politician the Mercenary Contractor. The description says it greatly improves the stats of Mercenaries and Outlaws. Mercenaries get a 35% stat increase and Outlaws get… Nothing! Nothing at all. I can’t remember if this had an effect on Outlaws when DE released and perhaps they removed it in favor of the shadow tech, or if it never affected them to begin with. I think the fix here is pretty simple: if the devs didn’t intend for this age up to buff outlaws, then they should just change the text to omit outlaws and avoid any confusion. Or if it is meant to buff outlaws, then that needs to be implemented.

In a similar vein, I think you could change Germany’s card Improved Mercenaries to also give a 20% stat buff to Outlaws. That’d be an interesting way to distinguish it from Sweden’s merc buff, which while coming an age later gives a better stat increase and unlocks several mercs at regular military buildings. Or is that idea too similar to the Hausa nat/outlaw/merc card?

This seems a reasonable idea, my main hang up is I can’t think of a good merc to give them. It’d have to be some manner or European merc, maybe tailored to the civ like the Asian version of Dance Halls/Theaters? It may be better to think of some alternative effect than a merc.

Also, just to clarify how Dance Halls etc work: it reduces the pop of all outlaws by 2 with a floor of 1 pop space. So Desert Warriors and Archers only get -1 pop since they start at 2. This might be counter-intuitive, but this card is much better for low pop mercs than high pop ones. In particular, 3 pop outlaws (Monks, Ronin) can mass in much greater numbers, since their “build limit” essentially tripled.

I pretty much agree with all of this. The 4 pop also brings it in line with the Wokou Pirate, so I think it’s fair. And if you keep the stats the same, I don’t see a need for a cost increase to counter balance, since the Wokou Pirate’s siege is much higher anyway.

But the low siege never really bothered me. Maybe it’s the sword, but the Pirate always struck me as more similar to the Rodelero than the Pikeman. That’s why I was surprised that it’s only 5 speed when I took a closer look at it. I don’t mind a small bump to the siege, but maybe to better emphasize the idea of a blend between the 2 units you could see an increase of speed to 5.5, and perhaps either an increase to melee damage from 12 to 13 or an extra 5% melee resist. Although, its base hp is already noticeably higher than either the pike or rod.

I basically agree with this, but I wanted to use this to bring up the fact that basically all of the Outlaws that use firearms have a noticeably slow firing animation. Maybe this was a deliberate balancing tool, but it makes the Pistol- and Rifle-men feel really sluggish to micro. It doesn’t help that the skirm outlaws are all slower than their musk counterparts, so they feel even worse. I don’t think they need to fire instantly like regular units, but even a little buff would greatly improve their feel.

It’s also weird to me the Thugee has the regular 2x bonus vs Heavy Infantry, but the Renegado and its variants have 1.75x bonus

I was pleasantly surprised by this unit as well. They compared pretty favorably stat wise with the Crossbow, with higher hp, range, and bonus vs HI, in exchange for 3 less damage. Do note they have no bonus vs Ranged Cavalry, which I’m mixed on. While it does hurt their long-term viability a lot, it almost seems a fair exchange for their vil bonus. The large bonus vs vils also means even a small group of 3-5 monks can deal heavy damage raiding, which means you don’t need to invest much for them to be an effective unit. Increasing their speed to 4.5 would make them feel much nicer to use too, but comparing it with the rifle outlaws I somehow doubt that change would go thru. Also, since they’re archers, be thankful you can’t combine them with Carib for even more anti-vil damage, outside of Unknown ofc.

And on the topic of maps, luckily Wokou Monks are found on 1 map currently on the ladder: Central Plain.

tbh I don’t think the Wokou Ronin really needs changes. I kinda like the identity it has as a unit with no bonuses that nonetheless counters units based on raw power alone. I will admit, it doesn’t really live up to the tooltip description as being an anti-cav unit, maybe that’s just the assumption with sword units. Maybe a slight bonus of 1.25x-1.5x vs cav would be okay. But if you really wanted to get spicy, you could give it 1 radius of splash damage. But all of that would be icing, I think the Ronin is fine for what it is already.

idk if the Desert Raider needs a buff, but I do know it needs to be added to maps pronto. It’s totally bizarre to me only Hausa and Ethiopia have access to it, leaving all of Africa a slew of Desert Warrior/Desert Archer maps. I’ve already said you could do some mixing and matching with various outlaws on several African maps, but the Desert Raider could be thrown in as well. Maybe add it to particularly sandy maps (Arabia, Dunes, Saharan Routes) since, y’know, it’s a camel.

Also, if it’s made more widely available you’d finally see some synergy with Indians. If you didn’t know, there’s a hidden Camel tag in the game. India’s card Camel Attack in fact buffs all camels in the game, not just Sowar and Zamburak but Berber Camels and Gatling Camels too. Would be interesting to see Desert Raiders take advantage of it.

I guess the counterargument to adding them is once you send Dance Halls etc the Raider becomes a 1 pop monster. Would that be too much? I mean, the Wokou Ronin also becomes 1 pop with Dance Halls after all…

These could be interesting additions, especially the Shogo Thrower. I could see that easily being an outlaw variant of the Dervish or Tomahawk, dealing melee damage at range. Although, since all of Africa was planned at once I doubt that’ll come to pass.

But as long as we’re talking about impossible additions, one idea I had for a “new” Outlaw is an outlaw Blowgunner. That could be a good way to distinguish South American maps from North American. But you’d have to do a good job riding the line between the current Outlaw Blowgunner treasure guardian and the Carib Blowgunner to come out with something unique. Poison damage seems to be “in” now, maybe you could slap some onto this unit?

I don’t really like this idea tbh. Leaving aside the visual design issues dragging the end of the game’s timeline ever closer to the 20th century, this would just add needless bloat to civs.

Plus, their names have always struck me as comically over-the-top evil. Like, treasure guardians have always been portrayed as nefarious characters, but whose bright idea was it to literally call one of them “Colonial Oppressor” c’mon. At least have the grace to call them “Colonial Deserter” or something.

This seems pretty reasonable to me. The unit is already in the game, might as well make some more use of it. Barring Morocco’s addition as the next full civ, Otto seems like the next best place to receive them. If you’re gonna lock their training to a card, might wanna give a little extra. Maybe: “age II - 500c ships 10 Corsair Marksmen and unlocks them at the Barracks and Saloon” or is letting them train from the rax too much? Can’t ruin the Janissary only building after all :wink:

Another interesting option would be to simply allow the Corsair Marksman to be trainable on Tripolitania. Would really make the map standout.

Also, what a fall from grace compared with the African beta eh? I remember when these guys had 5.5 speed and 2x bonus vs vils. The 4.5 speed is here to say and tbh that’s fine, but 1.25x vs vils could be bumped to 1.5x and they wouldn’t be broken imo.

I disagree. By virtue of their pop, cost, and training building restrictions, outlaws really are always going to be outclassed in terms of mass and cost efficiency by normal units. I don’t see why Outlaws can’t be given matching stats so the can at least nominally compete rather than being definitionally obsolete, especially when Natives and Mercenaries are allowed to keep pace.

That’s kinda just a holdover from TWC I think. While I like the flavor of Ronin being this special unlockable unit, maybe it would be better for each civ to have their own mercenary tied to Dance Halls/Tavern, like Asian civs. It could be a good way to demonstrate historical alliances, or be a way to fill holes in tech trees. If you were to make that change tho, Ronin would have to enter regular circulation at the Saloon, and do you really wanna deal with Hausa Ronin?

That’s really all my thoughts on Outlaws. Like I said, I get not seeing them often outside of meme builds, but it would be nice to see some get a nudge in a positive direction so seeing them as helpful units might be more common.


They’re only good for most civs early game but the pop cost is too much when early on you don’t have much wood for houses. Just by that fact alone they’ll never be used, but they’re also slower tio train, quite expensive being all gold and for many civs they have just 1 saloon.


thank you for dredging this thread back up and for the feedback. I had an idea a while ago that possibly an “Advanced Tavern” card that adds to the build limit and allows them to support population could be interesting as well. Oh and for the native mercenaries I think I’d want the cannoneer for Aztec and then Zouave, Fusilier, and Highlander are the other mercs I can see being in the new world but I’m not sure which would make the most sense where based on flavor and game balance. I know I don’t want Inca to have fusiliers with all their ways of speeding up infantry but the thought of them with fire dance is also terrifying.

1 Like

I think 1 pop Desert Raiders would be too good. They have the same base ranged hp as a hussar and do the same damage in melee while bypassing musket melee resist and doing more siege. Maybe the Dance Halls card could make an exception to them and only reduce them to 2 pop. I have to say I would really like to see them in maps since I think they would be a very usable outlaw for multiple civs.


One secret little feature about the desert raider is they counter Eso Riders better than just about anything. They’re one of the few units that do siege damage without a negative multiplier to cav.


This is gonna be so pointlessly obscure tech, but here goes: I thought about it some more and realized Wild West is giving its full effect. It’s just that converted guardians get a large stat debuff applied when they switch player control. So, kinda like Russian Infantry, you only see the increase of hp noted once it increases beyond the base value.

Like I said, this will basically never impact a real game. The only way you’ll see this is if you send Outlaw Band or Bandit Gang, in which case you’re gonna wanna get Wild West anyway for the Outlaws, or if for whatever reason you still have a decent mass of converted guardians saved up (like 8+) when you hit age 3 and wanted to buff them slightly.

I did the most basic of Google searches, and Wokou Pirates would make no sense near Africa, I retract that suggestion. Comparatively, Marathan Dacoit and Thugees make more sense, but still a stretch. Both still appear on Fertile Crescent and the Dacoit in particular has spread pretty far, not just to Kamchatka but also Malaysia and Indonesia. If we’re abstracting the Dacoit to stand in for an Indian pirate, then I still think you could get away with adding them to Arabia and Horn, maybe even Swahili Coast (since I’m pretty sure it’s meant to represent Zanzibar).

This is key.

Outlaws got balanced in pop for USA and Mexico that can produce them from multiple buildings, however, the reality is that other civs can only produce them from 1, so the pop buff that you used to get from Dance Hall/Atonement from that one patch buff should come back. No problem on having a 1 pop musk type outlaw for eg if you can only produce them from one building either way…

Completely agree that this is outlaws place in the game.

To add to this, consider expanding some upgrade cards to apply yo mercs and outlaws, specially for Asian civs. More importantly, let us not forget that Asian civs still do not have options to get imperial mercenaries

1 Like

They have their own version of Wild West that should shadowtech Outlaws just the same. If it doesn’t, I’d make a bug report about that.

If you’re talking about the age 5 Mercenary Contractor, it doesn’t work for Outlaws, even tho the text says it should.

I mean literally mercenaries, not outlaws. The wild west shadowtech works fine last time I checked

1 Like