Question about asymmetric civs and gameplay style

I’m really excited about having asymmetric civs again like we had in AOE3. However, now I’m concerned about an advantage of having symmetrical civs that I think helped the popularity of AOE2: finding the right civ for you.

When you first play AOE2, you may say ‘hey, I’m a weeb, I will choose Japan’. Then you may find out you like cavalry but Japan is bad at it, so you switch to Franks. Also the transition is very easy, you don’t have to learn nothing except the unique unit and techs. In AOE2 basically there is a Master Civ and then its tech tree is pruned and civ bonuses are added to change its gameplay. Despite everything playing the same in terms of mechanics, we have cav civs, archer civs, eco civs, defensive civs etc. The flexibility in strategy comes from having dozens of civs all being similar, but with small tweaks to adapt to your tastes.

In AOE3, in contrast, civs are way more unique. In this case, if you play a civ and then realize its basic gameplay is not your thing, you can’t easily switch to another similar because no two civs are too similar. Also,even if you want to do it, transitioning to another civ is a larger pain, since you have to learn a lot more mechanics. HOWEVER, the card system gives you room to adapt a civ to your own gameplay (or counter your opponent’s). If, for example, you like a civ but you find its economy it’s too weak for your styles, there are cards to help you. After I understood this is that I came to like the card system. In AOE2 you choose the civ that plays the game you like, in AOE3 you make the civs play the way you like.

Now, the card system was poorly implemented. In AOE3:DE they made lots of improving by reducing the number of cards, having prearranged decks, cards being more descriptive and not having to grind to unlock cards. I still haven’t played it, but I think this addresses lots of the complaints with the card system.

Back to AOE4. My concern is the following. Say I really like the English: I love the defensive structures mechanic, villagers using bows and farms giving gold. However, I like using cavalry more than archers. If the English are too focused in archers, what options do I as a player have? If the game were like AOE2, with lots of civs and very similiar, then probably I would find a civ perfect for me. If the game were like AOE3, I could focus my deck to give cavalry the central role it doesn’t naturally have for the English.

So, how could AOE4 solve this issue? Is this even an issue or am I the only one concerned about this?


I dont think that it is a big issue for a majority of players.

The idea behind the civs of age 4 seems to be that they all offer a different playstyle, yet the same basicd.

You have similar unit types for all civs, but they each focus on different specialities, similar to age 2. Howveer they also have more diverse gameplay.

So in Age 4 you probably decide to go brits first because you know their gameplay well from age 2. And they wil surely also have cav, but maybe not as much or as strong as you like, if you like cav that much.

I assume you would then switch to franks (pure assumption here) of which I also expect defensive gameplay, but with horses more than archers.

If we stay on already released civs, if you really hate that your cav is so weak in english, you will then try out mongols. Who generally stil have similar units, but a different, more mobile style. YOu have to decide then wether this mobile style is worth going for a cav civ. If it isnt, you will probably get back to english gameplay. Or try delhi sultanate becahseu elephants are technically cav aswell. But meybe they are to slow for your gamplay, so you switch back to mongols. then you realize that maybe defense is still important and that maybe you hshould try another style of gameplay. now you play chinese and begin to love the combination of chokonu and horsed units. or not.

What I mean to say is rather than picking the nation with th eunits you deem best, in age you will probably stick with the civ with the best Gameplay for you, and adapt that style. it may be a bit hareder than in age 2 to change, but I believe since the general I dea stays same, it will be much easier, espceially becasue the civ count is MUCH lower than in age 2 :slight_smile:


At first I was very skeptical of your post but after thinking it over I feel like its actually a very good point but for a different reason. replay-ability. Aoe2 has a lot of replay-ability since you technically can play all of the races like you said. Now, I play sc2 primarily for the last few years and I can tell you, I CANNOT play any other race than the one I main, which after a while gets BORING. I’ve even tried switching races several times but then id have to relearn the entire game which is a hard thing to do especially at gm level. (would take at least a month+)

Here’s a possible solution: In league of legends, (I know LOL but hear me out…) In league of legends or any other moba, there are 5 ‘roles’ with completely different styles. People just 'main one role. But in that role there are many “champions/heros” that are all similar to each other, almost interchangeable. Maybe this is why people are addicted to league, since if they are having a bad day with one champion they can just swap it for something similar the next game. something to feel like they always have an edge.

To translate this to an rts would be a bit extreme, CnC Generals-2 tried this method, though they never launched the game. Generals-2 had 3 factions (USA,GLA,China) just like in the original generals game. But each faction had 3 “generals” to chose from, each with a different style and bonuses, yet they were still using mostly the same units and buildings as their faction.

On the less extreme end. Maybe the civs can just have some extra pre-game perks you can chose before the game starts, just some food for thought.

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I do see that point.

with the 40 or so age 2 civs of course there are endless possibilities for matchups in PvP (although admittedly, and of course, there is such thing as Meta civs. Plus there are more game modes.

With the 8 civs in age4, the possiblities are of course MUCH lower.
this however also will probably lead to the fact that there wont bethatmuch difference in the metagame (at least thats my hope) - 8 civs can be balanced more easily and each fit their own game style.

However I think that the fact we have 8 civs with really diverse gameplay will lead to less “boring” gameplay within each matchup.

Lets see age 2 pvp. I would say there is like 5 viable strats, and many of the civs most of the time choose specific ones. Then if you know your opponents strat (which you might or might not have seen coming because of their civ) you can counter.
Possible strats for the beginning would be 1feudal rush (or maybe even Drush nowadays), 2fast castle into any comp (knight rush, monk/onager combo, knights and monks, or maybe even arbs),3 fast imp ( I think mostly seen in empire wars and generally with portuguese) 4 Tower rush 5 Scout rush.edit: 6 vil ruish, forgot that one. related to tower rush though)
ven if we split these fast castle comps, we are (interestingly) also at around 8 general possible strats for an age 2 PvP game.
And within the civs most units are the same, so only your Final game plan (if it includes special units) may change depending on your civ.
And as said, your civ mostly dictates your strat or at least rules out some.

So while yes, the units are more diverse and other civs faster to learn in age 2, there are basically around 8 possible gameplay strats for the game.
So I would assume the general matchup stays around as interesting as it was in age 2.
to not get bored, age 2 also had special modes, WHich we dont know anything about yet (but I assume there will be some in age 4)
then of cours ethe map pool and differences in each random map (even of the same type) also is quite important here. SC2 had NO random maps, so once youve seen them all you know them all (which makes it easier to find good strats, but more boring to explore etc)

Now if or if not age 4 will get boring if you focus on one civ will depend on one more thing - how well designed are each civs special traits?

-Easiest one to not get boring would from our current knowledge be chinese (if the dynasties are balanced properly). because each game, you could choose any one dynasty, and maybe stick to it or change it in later ages. So the chinese offer diverse gameplay, With varying options where to go.

-The mongols I would assume rely heavily on cavalry in all games BUT the random map is what will make their gameplay interesting. because of the nomadic gameplay, they have to utilizie the map as it comes. which may or may not get boring depending on how random “random” is, and how much of a game plan perfectionist you are (a type of ppl, probably those who love roguelikes, will love to see each map, scout it and try to find the ideal strat each time, hile other player types may find it boring to always be on the edge and moving around)

-Delhi sultanate focuses on reasearch. With what we saw so far from the trailer, it seems like each unit can get around 5 upgrades. So here the main gameplan would probably change depending on which units research you focus on - similar to the castle rush into unit x strat I guess.
They also have 2 types of elephants, but you can choose to train none, both or either type mainly. maybe the omposition will change depending on matchups. Do you need war elephants agains mongols who are mobile and will “delete” their camp for you?

-The english. They clearly focus on archers, and from what the devs stated, its now a difference if you use arbalests or longbows, more so than previously. WHich is maybe where the strats differ here. do you go for longbowmen, classic archers/arbs, or both?
And while the english do have a FOCUS on defense, noone forces you to play that way.You could play safe (archers on walls, longbows maybe, and towers). But maybe you will simply amass your archers, no walls needed, support them with some cav, and go in?
Oh also they have villagers with arrows. Seems like they might be well suited for good old vil rushes maybe)

So I think that the un-boringness fctor of age 4 will be finding your favourite way to play with the civ that fits your general gameplay style best or you like the most. or maybe with each civ.
Since the 8 civs are vastly different, each of them will probably at least 3 to 4 viable strategies - which will therefore be what makes the game as interesting as age2 :slight_smile:

Also on a viewers not (but also players) thats probably also why ambushes are possible now. As daut states here Daut’s Thoughts On Aoe4 - YouTube these ambushes are what engage the viewers of matches, they are what makes them interesting to watch.
But i think they will also play a role in your gameplay choices. You could depending on the map type go for “Wood control” leaving lets say 20 Archers in each forest to hold them, and play guerilla like - or take all of them together in a big group, overwhelming the enemy with all their might :smiley:

However this all depends on how well the civs are designed to be played the way you want to within their special gameplay. As my post shows, I am optimistic about the possible strats we may use, and that they are diverse enough to not get boring, and I hope the balance will be good so that not only 1 strat of each civ leads to victory (I know from developing, it will be that way at first, but It seems age teams do know how to balance, most of the time :D)
So I cant wait for the beta to try out all these different strats ^^

tldr: strats within civs will be interesting(if balanced well), random maps are also a factor, plus new mechanics like wall mounting and ambushing will lead to more diverse gameplay than the 8 main strats which can be found in age 2 PvP


But this is pretty much what AOE2 does, the roles are cav civ, archer civ, siege + infantry civ, with different flavours of pressure, so feudal pressure, or a strong castle age.

I mean These are my Main aoe2 civs atm Magyars, Bulgarians, Teutons, and lithuanians.
from these civs you can kinda tell I really like cav, and strong cav archers are nice, But sometimes you just want that bombard cannon for mobile siege and strong infantry… (sure it’s not super obvious but kinda makes sense?

Company of heroes 2 does this

a very good option but there is something more likely imo…

I disagree that less civs that are more diverse are easier to ballance, AOE2 de has really really good balance, but when I look to AOE3 and Company of Heroes2 or really most other assymetric strategy games, ballance often is not as good, or flexible as aoe2, Where one ballance change may fix something but seriously impact something else.

Imo this is a bad thing because it makes the game predictable, I don’t want to really know what a civ will play because every other option is just worse if that makes sense? And alternate strategies are automatically a meme…

Forward defense will seem very likely, I expect the english to play like a AOE2 bulgarian, English hybrid, archers but also decent heavy cav.

What I personally hope and think si the best solution is that all aoe4 civs get the Asian Dynasties Age up mechani mixed with the original Euro civs. You build a landmark and maybe choose a special associated bonus like a civ or unique tech from Aoe2. The british in company of heroes have this where they have a specialisation in each age, and there are plenty of bonuses here.

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I doubt the Landmarks will Work Like this for all civs AS they did somewhat Highlight thats how IT Works specifically for Chinese.

However i personally think if they do it that way, IT will BE with hre.

Regarding Balance- i still believe less nations will BE easier to Balance. Even If more diverse. (Maybe I am Just too focused on balancing in Super Smash Bros though)

And yes, your General gameplay will BE shown by the civ Played, but less so than in age 2 i assume.
And you will probably be able to Play very differently within each of the 8 civs.

But at least about that WE will see in Beta. Balancing usually Shows ITs flaws once Games are live, mostly

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I think that ballancing is way way more complicated in an assymetric game, and that causes it to take way way longer which can be an issue. I mean simple scenario.

Mongol raiders are really really strong, and the English are to weak even with their villagers and archers to defend, so you make say English archers a tiny bit better to defend. Well now the Russians that also rely on raiding suffer because the English defenses are too strong, but maybe they do fine vs Mongols because of a special unit/ building they have.

I really hope though that all civs have landmarks because i mean well they all do… I mean the great wall of china is that go to landmark, but almost all euro civs built networks of fortresses to defend against raiders…

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Yes, the bulidings will BE there (Seen in the Preview) but Not with These specilizations within civs :wink:

Yeah but the Base civ Contingent needs more Detailed Changes in Balance. But yes you Seen right. However 8 should still be easy

Why not, I mean in quite simple terms you can pick a building per age up and each building ahs two unique techs. Would make perfect sense to me.

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Sure, that will probably be the Case. I thought you meant Like with Chinese, they specialize a Lot more though