Sage Wisdom for Newcomers: Harshest Civ Match-Ups


One thing people joining AoE3 from AoE2 might notice is that civ match-ups are much more amplified. Whereas in AoE2, most every civilization has access to many of the same units (archers, militia-line, cav archers, knights); in AoE3 there are many more unique units. In this thread, I hope to guide you on what civ match-ups will result in frustrating and clear losses (or victories).

An abbreviated explanation of each match-up is described below. The civilization on the left of the carat (<) would lose to the one on the right.

  1. Russia < France
    There are several reasons for this. However, losing to France when playing as Russia is not always a foregone conclusion. If you can successfully rush the French player before they boom up, you stand a chance at winning.
    In team games, treaty games, or games that run late, though, you will discover that Russia has no answer to French cavalry. Cavalry archers are insufficient. Although you can obtain dragoons through the Russian Church card, you can only do that once. If you think your rushing skills are up to the task, go for it. But keep an eye on your opponent’s deck–if they have Age 2 skirmishers in their deck, tread lightly knowing that the French player is unlikely to FF. On the other hand, the tell-tale sign that your opponent intends to fast-fortress are coin shipments, namely 700 & 600 coin. A player who leaves out the Age 2 skirms card but includes 700 and/or 600 coin is likely scrambling to the fortress age, and could be prone to a rush.
    If you find yourself in a game vs. France, and your initial rush was unsuccessful, build a saloon and hope/pray that black riders are available.

  2. Ottoman < France
    This match-up is problematic for reasons similar to Russia. The Ottomans are a one-trick pony. They make artillery and hand cavalry. Abus guns will suffer against French GDR at any age. Janissaries do not fare well against French skirmishers (which are a royal guard unit). Janissary/Spahi/Abus are a good mid-game combination against France, but this is only effective for a short period of time–once France has GDR, you’ll face difficulty.

  3. China < France
    This one is even worse than the other two match-ups. China cannot effectively counter French cavalry. They honestly lack anti-cav. But even worse, China does not have true rushing potential like the Russians/Ottomans, meaning you are unlikely to stymie a French player’s FF by rushing them.

  4. Aztec < Ports
    Aztec have no unit which Portugal can’t hard-counter. Let us consider a few of an Aztec player’s favorite units, and Portugal’s answer in parentheses:

  • Coyote runners (Musketeers. Portugal has the strongest true musketeer line in the game).
  • Jaguar warriors (Cassadores, some of the strongest skirmishers in the game because of their speed/microability, in addition to their attack).
  • Skull knights (See Cassadores above).
  • Eagle runner knights (See Cassadores above).
  • Arrow knights (These are odd units with obscene range and anti-building and anti-artillery attack bonuses. They are effectively mortars which can poke units. They are easily countered with hand cavalry).

In addition, Aztec units take forever to spawn. Portugal’s economy is much stronger than the Aztec economy. A Ports player can easily drain an Aztec player’s resources.

  1. Dutch < Russia
    Another one-trick pony is the Dutch. Dutch players need to reach Age 3. Although by default they have access to skirmishers in the second age, those skirmishers are cash-intensive (65 coin per unit). A Russian player, on the other hand, can spawn five units for 280 food and 93 coin. To spawn five skirmishers by contrast, it would cost a Dutch player 250 food and 325 coin. Putting this much coin into defending a Russian rush would delay a Dutch player’s FF time. The Dutch player would be forced to ship coin from the home city, or hurry to erect banks before the Russian player arrives.
    When playing against Dutch as Russia, it is best practice to stack your age two deck with unit shipments, particularly cossacks. You should make a point of raiding a Dutch player’s hunts to slow their age-up time.

I will update this thread periodically with more civ match-ups as I think of them. In the meantime, feel free to opine on my analysis below.