Poles and Vikings - a comparison

So the deal with Vikings was always that you get the (supposedly) best eco in the game for open maps, in return for having one of the worst tech trees in terms of military options. The main way to win was always to reach Imp before opponent and kill him with Arbalest timing, if that didn’t work, you’d hope to have him weakened so that some Siege Ram/Berserk switch would clean him up. Those are, pretty much, the only 3 army compositions Vikings can do late game (Siege + Pike, Berserks + Siege + Pike, and Arbalest).

However, now we have Poles, which on closed maps, but especially on open maps, can give RECORD Imp timings with their Folwark bonus. Their economy is arguably as strong ad the Viking one, however their tech tree is also one of the best in the game. To go through what Vikings can do, Poles can generally do it also:

  • full Arbalest play → Poles and Vikings here are equivalent since last armor doesn’t rly matter and, without Thumb Ring, you’d generally skip it.

  • Skirms → Vikings win due to having last armor

  • Pikeman → Vikings win. Their Pikeman is actually not bad, having 6 more HP than a generic Halberdier and comparable bonus after Chieftains is researched (iirc you miss 6 damage overall, 4 on the bonus and 2 on the base)

  • Cav Archer → Vikings one is UNUSABLE, while Poles one is actually quite good, missing last armor and PT but having everything else. Usable in some matchups.

  • Champion → Vikings one wins due to +20% HP.

  • UU → Poles win hard

  • Stable → Poles win hard not only in that they can play full Knights in Castle age, but they have THREE flavors of Stable play, full cheap Knights in Castle age, full Cavalier in early Imp (generally this is the go-to strat that Mr. Yo and others abuse so much), and Hussar with or without Lechitic Legacy. Meanwhile Vikings not only miss Bloodlines but also lack Husbandry…

  • Siege Workshop (I don’t recall Scorpion line, but, both have SR, both have regular Onager, notably Poles get BBC which is a huge selling point) → Poles win hard

  • Monastery → another hard Poles win where Vikings miss Redemption, Sanctity and Herbal Medicine (and a few other less important ones) while Poles have all those. Meanwhile Poles get all the key ones like Fervor, Sanctity, Herbal Medicine and Redemption and miss some negligible ones like Heresy and Illumination. Vikings Monastery is one of the WORST in the game, while Poles one is nearly Lithuanians-tier.

  • Defense: slight Vikings win, Poles miss Architecture (I rarely see Castles go all the way to 7k HP in 1v1 so I’d even skip this one personally, generally even in super grinded games, you see Masonry and that’s it).


In other words, Vikings and Poles eco are comparable, but Poles get a better UU, a FAR better Stable, a better Siege Workshop, a better Cav Archer, and Vikings get only a better Skirm (one of those units that you nearly never go for in 1v1 in late games for reasons that should be apparent to veterans) and better Champion (never used unit).

Is this fair? The deal with Vikings was always, amazing eco in return for trash army. Now we got a civ with comparable (if not better) eco, but insane army options (I won’t even go into stuff like Lechitic Legacy Hussars being monsters in trash wars late game, let’s just ignore UTs for a sec).

Poles need some form of nerf, for example, losing Redemption, last Infantry armor (would be a good way to nerf Obuch incidentally, a unit that 100% needs a nerf), losing Champion, losing SR are all possibilities. Clearly they should not be overnerfed either but I feel they could lose 1-2 from this list no problem.


I’m happy with this, just because Vikings have always felt so bland to me. They don’t have a raider theme going on, and even with great eco, they just feel boring. Poles on the other hand are amazing to play, what with the actually fun bonuses, cool design, and actually good stuff. That said, a nerf to Poles is warranted. Wish Vikings got a redesign into a raider civ though.


Obuch PA reduced to 1 and the szlachta privileges UT cost raised to 700f and 500g are good ways to start with (it always blows my mind chieftains is more expensive yet a weaker UT while the Poles UT is stupid and too cheap lol).

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poles have one weakness and that’s their farming eco
It’s necessarily very vulnerable to raids.
On the other side vikings have a passive bonus vs raids in the vill speed from the eco upgrades.


disagree, Poles are equally bland. Vikings teach you a lot in terms of booming while applying soft pressure, or booming while defending. While at core they are a civ that wants to go into Archer-line long-term, they also teach you to use the units that are “bad” in your tech tree like Knights without Bloodlines/Husbandry, something you don’t see until like 1500+ elo I think? If you become good at Vikings, you understand how the real AoE is played. You know not the lore part “ViKiNgS WeRe RaiDerS in HiStoRy”, the actual AoE game.

I think what’s happening here is that we confuse “overpowered” with “fun to play”. Yes, Poles are fun to play, when you mine Stone, but also get gold, so your macro can’t slip and you can’t find yourself in a situation where you have like #### 40g and that delays your Castle Age timing.

You open MAA + towers, but can transition into Archers who later become Xbow (Bulgarians for example can’t do this as efficiently because they have no Xbow upgrade).

Then you can free boom, enjoy a good UU, very easy game plan in terms of Slazchta Privileges, the noob mind sees the tech and goes “OK, I need a Castle, I need 5 Folwark, and this is basically Goths, which I played already when I was 400 elo”.

I’m sorry but you need to learn to distinguish fun that is true fun, from outright overpowered. Part of the fun is, invariably, winning, so in this sense Poles are certainly fun since it’s really easy to win as them.

not sure how this would be done, none of the standard Barracks/Stable/Archery Range units have a “raider theme”.

Vikings are also a very interesting design, they just need a slight buff, or competing economies (Burgundians, Poles…) with a better tech tree, a nerf.

I disagree, you can (and should) place the 2nd folwark 3 tiles away from the TC, at that point, it’s not much more vulnerable than the way you’d farm usually.

Also, late game, raiding is done with Hussars, by then, you should have house/stone walls, Castles and Halbs around your eco. It’s not like you can run into the Poles eco in Castle age, you always break the TC first. Running in results in taking a ton of TC fire, possibly 3-5 Knights converted and so on. I’d say Poles eco is equally raidable to standard eco, I see no difference.

Yes, and Poles get the regening vills. There is a small time window (late Castle age) where Vikings have Hand Cart, and Poles, only Wheelbarrow, but overall, I’d say the 2 compensate each other. In early Imp, it’s safe to assume both civs have Hand Cart.

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Yeah poles need a nerf if that’s what you were impling. They get double eco bonus, Crazy knight discount, broken UU, and even perfectly usable Archer line, and BBC, and Amazing hussar on top

I also agree that Vikings play a bit bland but you can’t di much for them. We saw the effect of TR on them… I would give them halberdiers (as well as aztects) but make the UT not affect spear line, to give them somthing more for the late game but no extra Power units

Also berserkergang should be a Little cheaper

I didn’t say they weren’t good, merely that they are boring to play.

No, I’m not confusing it. For me, I just love the really smooth Folwark farming, and the various unique stuff.

I didn’t say it had anything to do with winning, I just enjoy how their bonuses play, and the functionality of their UTs/bonuses. It just all feels so smooth.

I’m sorry, but you need to learn to distinguish putting words in other people’s mouths from what they actually said, because you have a habit of phrasing stuff in a manner that degrades others based on something they didn’t even say. I didn’t say anything about it being linked to their strength, because for me, it isn’t. It’s about the farming eco, using the folwark is a lot more enjoyable than free wheelbarrow, a UU with a cool mechanic, and the great combo with backline ranged units, vs a boring UU that heals, and the stone/gold thing is all fun to play around.

I would have designed them quite differently. Infantry generate res while attacking buildings, and Berserks wouldn’t heal, I’d make them change forms when below a certain HP threshold.


you just dont realize what’s going on I reckon, “smooth to play” = OP. It’s why Franks are so good until like 2.4k elo. Yes at a level where people strategize perfectly, like 2.6k, Franks fall off, but below that there is always a chance a player messes up the Wheelbarrow timing, has slightly too many on Gold and so on. Franks dont have a spectacular tech tree, but a lot of moments where your eco can be messed up (not enough res for Bloodlines, reseeding farms with Heavy Plow, hitting Castle age first) are made trivial with Franks. Where another player needs to put in effort for the same result, civs like Franks and Poles trivialize a lot of timings and little moments in the game so that you can auto-pilot and basically all that’s left is drop 2 Stables and spam that Knight hotkey.

A civ that requires less APM, less decision-making on whether to prioritize army or adding TCs, is the definition of overpowered. If you are a bad player, you can probably get away with the forgiving Poles, while winning with a cav civ with no particular bonuses, say Persians, can be harder.

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it just occurred to me, I thought Poles don’t have Thumb Ring, but it turns out they do. That makes them an Archer civ through and through, able to spam Arbalest long-term as one of the options. Their Skirms are weaker, sure, so if you go vs say Ethiopians, Vikings have an advantage here assuming it goes to late game at all.

Pikes, poles have no Halbs

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yes it was a generic term, my apologies I should have written Spearman-line.

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Now you’re implying I like Franks. I don’t. Like Vikings, they are boring. Now I won’t pretend to be a 2k player or anything, but the reasons I enjoy playing Poles aren’t necessarily linked to their ease of play.


Buddy, the point is, part of the fun is winning, that’s true of any game, I’m sorry if you decide that makes you throw around words like “you put words in my mouth”, because my intent wasn’t to insult, or belittle you, I was merely stating a simple fact, how we all as humans subconsciously like more experiences that are easy and pleasant, easiness of performing a task normally results in pleasantness, that’s where I was coming from.

Personally I hate civs like Poles, but that’s due to my background. I’ve been through hell in life (or at least, what from my perspective looked like hell), and I was educated to associate easiness of a task with dangers, or only half-truths being hidden at the finish line of the task. Regardless, I am an atypical human in this regard, but even I indulge in the easy things when I, say, go to the gym. Doing the easy exercise over the hard one is human, goes for gym and Poles alike.

Also this might not necessarily be true about you, but my post also wanted to be of a generic nature, it’s not the first time I see someone praise Poles, and on ladder they are a quite popular civ, and I am fairly sure, that’s because they are very straightforward to play: Tower rush with regening vills (and gold obtained from mining stone needed for towers can be used for MAA upgrade, conveniently), in Castle age you can micro nerd Xbow, then you can decide to either switch into Knights, or do full Arbalest (due to presence of Thumb Ring). With Poles, you aren’t really presented with a true trade-off, and most people don’t like trade-offs and like an easy path that always results in a best-case scenario.

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