Recommendations on Portuguese

Hi there, I’m a new player, trying to learn the game at around 1100 elo. Recently, I have been trying civs that I consider gimmicky or subpar, such as Malay, Portuguese or Cumans. Portuguese is one that struck me because I like their history, starting music, how the units talk and in general the unit compositions you can make.

While Portuguese are an amazing Water map civ, I mostly play them on Land maps.

They are a civ with no particular economic bonuses and no clear opening strategy. As I am a bit tired of playing Archers → Crossbows, I am trying to do Fast Castle builds (or semi-fast) and try to mass their unique unit, the Organ Gun. This is the unit that until Imperial Age struck me as being able to give a consistent power spike. The main problem is that on top of requiring an early Castle, which is often a hard investment to justify in early Castle Age, they also need 80 wood a piece. Combine this with your early/mid-Castle Age economy, and it’s easy to see that it’s really hard to mass them. In Imperial Age, to mass Organ Guns from 2 castles, I typically need some 40+ woodcutters. This is with a working economy (if the unit composition of choice is Halb/Organ Gun/some siege unit, then I found out that some 40 farmers typically do the trick of both getting you to Imp relatively fast and getting out adequate Halberdiers numbers). In general, let’s say I want to get an early Castle drop (defensive or offensive), what is a good number of Organ Guns to be confident pushing with? What unit should I pair it with in early Castle age? (ideally, Halberdiers in late game, but in early/mid-Castle Age, Pike + Organ Gun combo is extremely Wood-intensive). Are Organ Guns a meme unit in the end that I shouldn’t bother with?

I am fairly unhappy with the civ and with my successes with it. I feel that until Imp, the civ really plays very generically with no single bonus you can take advantage of. The best I could come up with is the Gold discount on Archer line, which is not a very good bonus because you don’t need that many Gold miners to get 2 range Archers anyway. I think in late Imp, Portuguese can be very strong, with mass Organ Guns, Arquebus, Bombard Cannon and FU Halberdier, they can also play Cavalier and have a full Archery Range, decent Siege and full University. Still, before that, it seems there is nothing that one can take advantage of that could make you win vs the likes of Burgundians, Chinese, Mongols and other crazy powerhouse civs that get a big spike in Castle Age.

Any tips on how to play Portuguese “non-generically” (i.e., not go for some Knight/Crossbow play in Castle Age)? I used to think that the Organ Gun was only a semi-meme unit, because I’ve seen The Viper use it successfully in high elo games, but now I realize that the Wood cost is what creates the bottleneck.

I am of course open to hearing about other strategies (Fast Imp into BBC or so), would rather not do some Knight+Skirm/Crossbow+Mangonel push though because then I might as well pick Ethiopians or Franks or something. I don’t mind playing “generic strats” per se, but I would like to have a meaning behind my decisions, e.g. if I’m Burgundians, I open Scouts because I can potentially get an economy/villager lead and I get cheap Cavalier upgrade - at the same time, being aggressive allows me to boom rather well and Burgundians have good booming bonuses, so good aggression makes it easier to defend and outboom the opponent. Or if I’m Mayans, I just wanna always go Archers because over time the savings on them are significant I am looking for something similar for Portuguese, a unit comp to create a long-term strategy, ideally starting in Feudal/Castle, because if I don’t do something before Imp when Portuguese get their desired army comp, I might not get to Imp at all.

Hah, that’s quite funny that you want to transition away from archers as Portuguese, because going Archers is probably the best play you can do with them in a typical Arabia map. It’s just that the gold saving on military units is your main eco bonus (until the extremely late game potential of Feitoria), and Archers are the fastest way you can make good use of your eco bonus.The faster research can also potentially help a bit by getting you fletching/bracer earlier than your opponent, but its very situational.

I’m not one who frequently plays Portuguese though, so take my words with a grain of salt, but I’d probably go with Archers and if, for some reason the game goes imp, you have Arquebus bombard cannons to take care of any onagers.

As for ‘non-generic’ strategies, if you play team games, portuguese fast imp into feitoria, bombard cannons and hand cannons is an option, but it might take a bit of practice to pull off.