Split the Saracens?

I’m realising this game’s fanbase, at least from what I see on the forum, is pretty conservative when it comes to add new stuff, which is consistent with having an interest in history when you think of it.


A guy suggests to create some Saracens civs and none of them have a single bonus for their horses or the light cav line.

It is exactly how dumb were the devs who designed the Saracens 22 years ago when they thought Saracens only Camels or Infantry.

Let me ask you some questions guys; have you ever read history or know anything about the history of that period or those civs? Did you ever hear about the “Arabian Horses” ? (which consider to be the best horse breed in the world).

It is just Pathetic, and no, Saracens need just a rename not a split.

IMO just give Saracens new bonuses or UTs for their light cav line and CA.


Give the Saracens more UU varieties, unlocked by tech research decisions - Mamluks, Tabadariyya axemen, Bedouin lancers/scimitar wielding horsemen, Naffatun throwers (grenadiers basically).


… Byzantines? When the Arab conquered Egypt, the country had never been independant since Cleopatra…

Well… Egyptians?
In case of Saracen split, the Egyptians would most probably be the one keeping the Mamluk as an UU, as they were used in war long before they took over with their own dynasty.

Not really? The Abbasid dynasty descended from not only the Arab Quraysh tribe, but even from Al-Abbas ibn Abd al-Muttalib, Muhammad’s uncle. Their rebellion against the Umayyads started in Persia and they received a lot of help from Persian and Arab shiites (which is logical considering the shiite wanted a caliph with blood ties to the prophet, which the Abbassids could offer contrary to the Umayyads), but they later switched to Sunni Islam and betrayed their former allies.

According to one of my teachers during the brief time when I was at the university, the term initially refered to the Adnanites specifically and so excluded even the Qahtanites from Yemen, before it was used by Medieval Christians to lump all Muslim people together including the Turks and Iranians. He also said the word’s ethymology was the same as the one for “Syria”. I can’t be sure he was entirely right, but his specialty was the history of the Medieval Middle East, so there’s that.
That being said, I agree it is a terrible name for a civ and should certainly not be used to talk about modern day people.

Yemeni and Bedouins are also my main choices in case of Saracen split (I don’t count Kurd in it, as they are not actually Arabs). Yemeni would stand for Qahtanite Arabs and especially the Himyarite Kingdom, and Bedouins (which may not be the best term but I don’t really know a better one) would represent Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf, including the Rashidun caliphate. Syrians, Iraq and Egyptians could probably stay grouped as a Levantine civ (though the Egyptians could maybe be split for the other two and Syrians and Iraqi would still be the Levantines, but I don’t really see what their respective identities would be…) which would retain most of the og Saracen civ design.

Thats true this is the major obstacle to split saracens the areas they took over are already covered by byzantines persians and berbers.

So you mean beduins could be the ethnic name for rashiduns? I’d love to have the rashidun caliphate in game but I heard people saying Muslims are not ok with stuff too close to Muhammad in videogames.
And yes the Himyarite kingdom was what I was referring as Yemenites and it was contended between Sassanids and axumites during the VI century iirc.

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Yea I agree with all that that’s why I said “kinda” and said I was “simplifying”. I basically just couldn’t be bothered typing out what you did. They definitely rode on a wave of Persian discontent to get to power but yes as you mention betrayed their original supporters once they got to power.

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It would include the Rashiduns but not be limited to it. I don’t think it would be too problematic if the Rashidun caliphs aren’t depicted directly and the time of Ali’s rule isn’t covered (as there would be no way to satisfy both the Sunni and Shia muslim while covering this period), but I may be wrong. Also, I think a Khalid ibn al-Walid campaign would be great!

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This is why I want Kurds only. Current Saracens will be untouched except the campaign.

And how can you do that if you start the time line from 1st caliph? 1st to 3rd, skip 4th and last, and then continue? How a civ may work like that?

That was never the case even back in Age of Kings given that Turks, Persians and Byzantines were also civs that represented the Middle Eastern/Western Asia. If you want more western asian Civs just add things like Georgians, Kurds, Armenians, whatever.


I can only speak for myself obviously, but for me it’s nothing to do with that. To me, Saracens are a well-designed and distinctive civ. I think there needs to be a very good reason to remove an existing civ, and I don’t the benefit of doing it in this case. It’s possible to add new middle eastern civs without removing Saracens, so why remove them?

Many AoE2 players have been playing the game for almost 24 years – of course there are some things about it they want to conserve. But despite that, I don’t actually agree. AoE2 DE is one of the least conservative remastered games I’m aware of, and yet it’s generally been very well received.

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The civ can be split without removing the og one, just like the Indians were mostly kept as the Hindustanis even though there were some changes in this case. The way I personnally envision a possible solit, the current Saracens would be kept either as a broad Levantine civ covering Egypt and everything north of Saudi Arabia, or they would become Egyptians alone. Not only those who know and love the Egyptian civ wouldn’t be prevented from playing it, it would also save a lot of dev time.

I mean, we’ve had a thread complaining about the Lac Viet name because those two words were breaking some sacred traditions… xD


Ever since “Dynasties” of India nowdays lots of suggestions of splitting existing civs like Saracens/Vikings/Italians/Spanish appear without making any sense or making them distinct enough from each other.

DoI isn’t about dynasties hence the name since FE “ran out of DLC title names”, it’s more about ethnic groups so there’s no point of splitting more civs into more messier versions while there’s still important potential new civs that aren’t related to the current civ roster groups like Tibetans, Jurchens, Tai, Georgians, Armenians, Somails, Nubians, Kanembu, Chimu, Muisca etc…


I’ve seen people ask for Saracen and Chinese split since the African Kingdoms were announced, and call for an Italian or Teuton split aren’t new either…


No. It would be kinda pointless to split Saracens (Yemenis and Kurds could still work), but there are still some too big umbrellas in the game.

Dravidian is too big as an umbrella civ as it covers two major civs, the Kannagias and Tamils. Ingame Dravidians represent the latter according to their bonuses.

Malay covers Malays, Javanese, Chams, Moluccans and perhaps Filipinos. Malays, Javanese and Chams are especially major civs in SEA region.

Malians are another umbrella civ which covers Ghanaians (Soninke/Sosso) and Malians (Mandinkas)


The odd person here and there overreacts about something like that, and there are complaints about whatever new mechanic any new civ has. But generally, DE has been well-received, despite being very different from the original game.

To put things into perspective, the remastered version of StarCraft didn’t even add things like an idle worker button, setting gather points on resources, or queuing upgrades – supposedly because it would alter the flow of the game too much.

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Ok, I’ve read the whole thread from the beggining, since the topic of a hypothethical sarracen split is one I enjoy a lot.

Until now, @Temudhun seems to be the only one with oppinions based on actual knodwledge of the history and geography of the arab world.

I’ve write a thread about this very same topic on reddit. I’ll just copy-paste it here. Inb4: Saracens should not be split.

Regarding a hypothetical Saracen split. A small essay. How should they be divided?


For a long time, specially here on Reddit, but also on the official forums, I’ve been reading proposals for a Saracen split of the kind like “Abbasid and Egyptians”. Or “Arabians and Mamluks” and I’m like “???”

Ok, I don’t want to come up as arrogant, but after reading some of these proposals, and given that studying islamic history is one of my favourite hobbies, I believe may view on the matter can give some insight.

Well, first of all, I think we all agree that now that Berbers exist (they didn’t when they game game out), Saracens are meant to represent, first the arab people, and then the nations/states with an arab ruling class, which embrace and develop arab material culture, and are integrated into the wider islamic civilization, even if the majority of the population is not arab in ethnicity .

So, for.example, Aghlabid Tunis, Idrisid Morroco, or al-Andalus, are encompassed within the Saracens civilization, even when their population consisted mostly of berbers and ibero-romans respectively. On the other hand, the Almoravid dinasty is berber in both people and ruling class, and thus fall under the Berbers civilization, even if their culture recieved lots of influence from the arab sphere.

As a second point I want to comment on the comparison between this hypothetical split and the Indian split, and clarify some things regarding the Saracens as a single civilization.

The Saracens umbrella is nowhere as wide and unappropiate as the old Indians civ was. Yes there were numerous states that rised and falled over a wide period of time, but at all times there was an underlying concept of a single islamic civilization, with a shared arab heritage, language and material culture. So, despite covering many regions and ruling over diverse peoples, the concept of a single arab civilization is not a wild and misconcieved concept, nor for real history nor for the game.

Then, before adressing myself the matter of the split I want to mention that naming an AoE2 civilization as “Abbasids”, “Ayubbids”, “Ummayads”, etc, that is, after specific dynasties or states, is something the game have always actively tried to avoid. Civilizations should be named after ethnic, cultural or geographical identities, that way they can cover a wide variety of states belonging to a same group of people.

Fine. All that said, let’s talk about how can we split the Saracens. My understanding of the medieval arab world makes me arrive to the following sub-groups of arab peoples that developed over the centuries and share, as I said before, a same heritage, cultural and ethnic ###################
-Syrians: For the arabs of the Levant and Palestine.

-Iraqis: For the arabs of Mesopotamia.

-Arabians/Bedouins: The original desert dwelling arabs from the Arabian Peninsula (except Yemen) and the Syrian desert.

-Yemenis: Arabs and related peoples from the mountanius region of Yemen.

-Egyptians: The group that most evolved along its history, but nevertheless centered on the Nile, sharing a geographic identity.

-Maghrebis: Arabs from North Africa, from Tunis to Morroco. Ruling over a majority Berber population.

-Andalusians: Arabs of al-Andalus, in Iberia.

Now, I’m not saying all of these must be added to the game as civilizations. Not at all. This is just an insight on how the medieval arab world can be understood in sub-groups.

If we want to split the Saracens, then all of these groups must be covered, or at least somewhat represented by the new civilizations. Otherwise we’re covering less peoples and states than before the split. That said let’s try to come up with some considerations to try to arrive to a reasonable number of civs to add.

First, Syrians and Iraqis can be grouped under a same civilization, this grouping relying on their shared mostly urban and cosmopolitan character and the fact that the region served as center of the mighty early caliphates. This civ would be called “Mashriqis”, in lack of a better term.

Then, yemenis are a pretty disctint arab group from bedouins, despite of geographical sharing the península with the nomad Bedouins. They were more of a mountain people than a desert one, and the landscape of Yemen is way more green and friendly to agricultural practices, with all that implies for the local culture. But despite of all of this, in terms of military conflicts, Yemen was for more of its history its own thing. Yemenis were fully integrated into the wider arab community, of course, but always doing their thing and paying homage to the big empire of the time. Never extending beyond their frontiers nor constantly resisting an invader force. Because of that, we can make the concession of making yemenis to be part of the Bedouins civ, despite not quite being Bedouins themselves. PD: Look up for the history of Yemen. It’s really intresting.

And that’s as far as I can get. Any other simplification would either be an unnappropiate grouping, or a direct omission of an arab sub-group.

All I wrote above leads to the following conclusion: If we want to split the Saracens “umbrella” into more civs to properly represent the richness and diversity of the medieval arab world, then we need at least 5 civilizations: Mashriqis, Egyptians, Bedouins, Maghrebis and Andalusians. None of these should be left aside. None of these should be grouped with another.

Now, in terms of (broadly speaking) what states would each one of these civilizations represent, we have:

Mashriqis: The caliphates centered on Iraq and Syria: Abbasid and Ummayads and the succesor states of the region, like the Hamdanids. Exercising power from urban centers.

Bedouins: The Rashidun Caliphate, Yemenis, and tribal Bedouin dynasties of mostly nomadic character: Uqaylids, Qarmatians, Numayrids, etc. Imamate of Oman as well.

Egyptians: Tulunids and Ikshidids. Mid to late Fatimids. Ayubbids and Mamluks.

Maghrebis: Idrisids, Aghlabids, Rustamids, Sicily, early Fatimids, and a long list of North African states.

Andalusians: Emirate and later Caliphate of Cordoba. First,
and some Second and Third Taifas Kingdoms. Emirate of Granada.

That would be my go to list.

All that said, as a enthusiast of arab culture and history, being the middle east my favourite region on the world, I say Saracens do not need to be split. Saracens is the best achieved umbrella (Yes, umbrellas civs sometimes are good). In a handful of bonuses they achieve to encompass the main characteristics of the arab civilization and represent the arab world as a whole without leving any particular group as unfit for the civ.

I’m not saying they must not be split. Just that they’re not a prioritiy by any means, given the amount of cultures and states still unrepresented in the game. Furthermore, we’re at 43 civs now, who knows how far are we going to get in terms of adding more and more civs? Adding 4 new civs for dividing a historically well designed civilization does not feel like the priority. Saracens can be split maybe after the 60th civ or so (I hope we never get to that point).

If anything they should be renamed to Arabs. Since this is the culture that Saracens represent. (inb4. Kurds are better represented by Persians). Saracens is an exonym used by europeans to refer to muslims and often arabs muslims specifically.

That was it. It was supposed to be a simple three paragraphs text. Things went out of control. Thanks for reading!

Tldr: Saracens should not be split, imo. But if they do, they should be into, at least, 5 civs: Mashriqis, Bedouins, Egyptians, Maghrebis and Andalusians.


The problem with the Saracens is that there are not enough UUs. Give them a infantry UU - Tabadarriya axemen or Naffatun grenade throwers. Give them more of a flavour and a unique castle/monastery and Arab imam skin for the monk.

How exactly do Saracens cover all these groups, mind explaining? My knowledge of this region (and many others, really) is superficial and I’m curious.

By the way, I agree with your post. I also think that it’s better not to fix what isn’t broken; in this case, just changing their name to Arabs would be enough.

Oh, one more thing: if we get to have regional units for all civs, which one do you think would fit best with Saracens and who would it be shared with?

Sure, I really enjoy talking about these topics.

For the sake of a proper explanation let’s rewind to the very first begginings of the franchise.
The name “Civilization” to classify factions made complete sense in the context of AoE 1. Cultures that arise from simple agrarian tribes and became regional powers in the early years of human history. Fit perfectly.
The consistency broke with Rise of Rome when “Macedonian”, (which are cmpletely fine as part of the game civ roster), which are more of a national group, or “Palmyrian”, a roman warring state, were added. Carthaginian could be argued to face the same categoriztion issue. They wanted to add new factions that were technically not civilizations, but the naming convention for factions could not be modified. “Screw it”, the said. The concept of civilization was lost. From now on, it just meant “faction”.
AoE2 kept the same legacy and called its factions the same way, but the entities they now represented didn’t fit to the meaning of “civilization” quite well. Anything, from ethnolinguistic groups, like Celts, to national identities, like Byzantines, or even (later with AoC) a confederation of nomadic and semi-nomadic riders that existed as a cohesive entity for barely a couple of decades. Any group, whatever its nature, could be called a civilization and be included in the game.

With that in mind, let’s set ourselves in 2001. You’ve just bought the game and start reading trough the civilization list. You take a look at “The Saracens”. What is a Saracen?
The wikipedia entry of Saracen (which didn’t exist in 2001), says:

“A term used in the early centuries, both in Greek and Latin writings, to refer to the people who lived in and near what was designated by the Romans as Arabia Petraea and Arabia Deserta.
The term’s meaning evolved during its history of usage. During the Early Middle Ages, the term came to be associated with the tribes of Arabia.”

Great, Saracens are arabs, right?
But later on the same page:

“The Roman Catholic Church and European Christian leaders used the term during the Middle Ages to refer to Muslims—usually Arabs, Turks, and Iranians.
By the 12th century, “Saracen” had become synonymous with “Muslim” in Medieval Latin literature.”

So, are Saracens arabs? Or muslims? But Turks and Persians are already in the game. We said any group could qualify for a civilization, so, the Saracens civ represent non-turk, non-iranian Muslims of the Middle Ages… Like Berbers! That could be it. Almoravids, who are berbers, are represented by Saracens in the El Cid campaign. It makes sense.
But then African Kingdoms brought us the real Berbers.
That means now Saracens cover non-iraninan, non turk, and nor-berber muslims. Well, that’s basically the Arabs. Other iranian groups, like the Kurds, are better represented by Persians, and aside of them no other muslim group is much worth of representation on AoE2.

Well, first off, he was ethnically Kurd, although the Ayyubid State was arab in nature, but the important thing is, why should we limit ourselves to understand Saracens as one specific region and culture just because it is what the campaign shows us? I wouldn’t claim that Celts represent only the Kingdom of Scotland either. Let’s keep the idea that Saracens are the Arabs.

But now the problem arise of trying to classify specific states as Arab states. And to define “Arab” in the context of the islamic middle east is not so easy. People form all ethnic and religious backgrounds coexisted in the “Arab World”: Arameans, Jews, Armenians, Copts, Yazidis, Zoroastrians, Daylamis, Berbers, Turks and Iranians. Where do we put the line of what is and what is not Arab, and thus Sarecen?

Well, from my previous post:

Saracens are meant to represent, first the arab people, and then the nations/states with an arab ruling class, which embrace and develop arab material culture, and are integrated into the wider islamic civilization, even if the majority of the population is not arab in ethnicity.

All that said, the easiest answer to your question can be found in the history section of the game, at the entry for the Saracens:

" The name Saracen applied originally to nomadic desert peoples from the area stretching from modern Syria to Saudi Arabia. In broader usage the name applied to all Arabs of the Middle Ages."

And it start to summarize in a few words the whole history of the medieval arabs. It’s pretty clear, but still, I wanted to write about all that I did.

If your question actually was “why are all those groups arabs?”, then this is the answer:

Anyway I hope you find my reply useful.