There are a lot of great unique units in this game, often covering a civ’s weakness (Frank Axemen vs Spears or Goth Huskarls vs Archers). In other cases the UU seems to be a powerful and versatile version of a generic one, (Kamayuks are spearmen that can survive archers and fight swordsmen, Mangudai are cav archers that can shred trebuchets and rams, Plumes are arbalests with speed). However, some civs don’t seem to have this synergy, and their unique units can be redundant . Would like to hear other people’s thoughts on the following.
Berbers: Camel Archers are such a fun unit, and hard counter one of the most difficult units to fight against: cavalry archers. They’re fast, and despite being cavalry are not threatened by spears. The strange thing is that Berbers also get Genitours, another mounted archer unit that has speed to counter cav archers and evade spears. It seems like there is a lot of overlap between these 2 units. Sure, Genitours can be used against foot archers better than camel archers, but that’s not really needed with Elite Skirmishers (which struggle against cav archers). Camel archers do better against a broad range of units (camels and knights in particular), but in this area they’re similar to cav archers. Historically, I believe Genitours would make more sense as a Spanish or Portuguese unit, so I’m not sure why they belong to the Berbers (who benefit from them the least).
Vietnamese: We have to love the Rattan Archer. A ranged unit with high attack and Pierce armor destroys any other archer civ. Then there is the Imperial Skirmisher, a ranged unit with high Pierce armor and decent attack for a trash unit, it also destroys any other archer civ. Either one can be used to shred spears and protect your elephants. My question is why both of these units belong to the same civ. They seem to fill a very similar role. In team games where gold is plentiful, I don’t see the Vietnamese player going for Imp Skirms. Is the intent to be for it to just help allies? I do enjoy meso or Lithuanian Imperial Skirmishers very much. In 1v1 the Imperial Skirmisher is definitely useful when gold runs low, but I can’t help feeling like this upgrade is wasted on the civ that needs it least.
Turks: This one is probably the most debatable, and could just be me not understanding when to use Janissaries. They just don’t seem like anything special for a civ that gets bonuses to hand cannoneers (25% health and instant free chemistry). The Elite Janissary has slightly more attack, but lower accuracy and no bonus damage vs infantry. Hand cannon has no upgrade cost, while Elite Janissary requires 850 food + 750 gold, and halts production while researching, and is not instant at the start of Imperial Age. The only advantage I see for Janissary is being available in Castle Age, but it’s a poor unit before Elite upgrade with 50% accuracy. It’s also hard to mass from Castles, and building multiple castles to produce them is a similar investment to going Imp (for instant HC spam from archery ranges, and access to ring archer armor). Interestingly, Turks are the civilization that would benefit most from any of the four unique units discussed above, as their Skirmishers are the worst in the game, but I don’t believe there is any historical justification for a swap (and I’m not recommending a change, just here to discuss).
Edit: On the topic of Janissaries, I think Slingers make a good comparison. Slingers are a UU unit done right IMO, they cover a civ’s weakness since Incas don’t have gunpowder (defeating infantry that threatens eagles), are available in castle age, have no unlock or upgrade cost, and can be produced from archery ranges. They also benefit from both unique techs and blacksmith upgrades, which is very nice.