The Byzantines - Chilly's AOEIV Civilization Concept

Below is a concept graphic I created for the Byzantine faction, most of the ideas here are my own, but I also took inspiration from past threads on the AOEIV forums, including Mithrik’s Byzantine Empire concept. The image of the flag comes from the user “Seicing” from the AOE4 official forums. Shoutout to their efforts!

Some notes before diving in:

  • The Ottomans are already in the game, why include the Byzantines? The Byzantines are a classic AOEII civ, with a lot of impact on the era and the other civilizations in the game. It has a unique identity and aesthetic that stands out from the current roster. And Cataphracts, Varangian guards, and Greek Fire are fan favorite units - we just gotta have them!
  • The core mechanic of the Byzantines is their “Aquaduct” which provides Influence bonuses for buildings built near it. The idea of the Aquaduct is that it’s the winding heart of your empire. It builds in long chains like walls, thereby providing a unique base-building challenge as you decide where you want to expand your base to. Since it boosts both military production and resource gathering, I imagine you’d see lines of Byzantine buildings all arranged close to the Aquaduct. Late game, my hope is that a Byzantine city will look unique and majestic, with Aquaducts acting as floating rivers that stretch across your base.
  • The Byzantines are also designed around Age II Relic capture, similar in vibe to Delhi’s Sacred Sites. While Age II Relics sound overpowered, they are balanced by the fact that they can only have 1-2 Patriarchs by Age II, and their “Mountain Monastery” must be built in an isolated location, leaving it vulnerable to attack.
  • The Wonder would of course be the The Hagia Sophia.
  • Note - this is a revised 2nd edition of my previous Byzantine concept graphic.
  • As always, super interested in hearing any and all thoughts positive or negative!


Looks good and pretty professional.

What about the Colosseum as a land mark that builds gladiators or is that before the time period

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This is pretty dank, definitaly would love to try them out, the Aqueduct idea is a nice touch. You forgot the navy part though :<

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this is really well made i like it

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I appreciate the effort you have put into this. I like some of your ideas.

Can’t wait for this civ to come to Age of Empires IV.

I beg the devs, if they ever plan to create a Byzantine civ, to give them an actual historical banner that we know that they used instead of fictitious fan made flags.

The most iconic options are the Palaeologean tetragrammatic cross of 4 Bs:

Or the double headed eagle, over a red rather than bright purple background, alongside the dynastic monogram:



I’m not a fan of water being in the game. The fact that some maps have water and other maps don’t means that civilizations have to be designed to work independently of water, but at the same time also have to be designed with water in mind.

I know Relic is going to change up water soon so I don’t want to touch it for now until they figure their shit out.

Pesronally, as a player, I hope they just remove water altogether, keep it in custom maps so people can mess around with it but it’s just too much effort and unfun to play.

I’m the opposite, I hope they remove as much landmaps as possible and stick to hybrid / water maps.

Hardly any game touches water, let alone medival period.

TBH, I do not see why people struggle so much with watermaps.

Now balance is one thing, and relic needs to get their stuff togheter most definatly. But water is far more playable now than it used to be in its current state.

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Water means more to manage, which means more multi-tasking and more effort, which means higher learning curve, which means less accessibility. Less and less players will play as a result. Plus water and land do not interact with each other very much. The game and the setting simply does not lend well to including water.

That being said, if they do decide to stick with water, then yeah, I agree, every map should be a hybrid water/land map, and every civ can then be designed around water/land.

I must say… i really like the flamethrower, i really want it.

Also i would like some sort of fire ship, which replaces the demo ship.

One thing I’d like to see is removing transport ships. If you build a dock, you can simply bring your land units to the edge of water, click a “Transport button” and all your selected units automatically appear in a ship or ships. Then you can sail them where you want to go, unload them, and the ships disappear.

This would alleviate all the annoying micro you have to do when moving land units between land masses, and significantly reduce the friction involved right now.

i don’t think less players will play as a result.
Water has been a integral part of the game since the beginning of the AoE series. And it haven’t really discouraged the playerbase.
I mean an example is AOE2, it has far more water units and maps than AOE4 have, nor is the water balance on that map the “greatest” either, but certainly miles ahead what AOE4 had on release.

But is it really any more to manage than whats already there?

I personally find water even less to manage, especialyl in AOE4 as there is less unit types and all you have to do is to throw vills at wood and gold and fishing ships pretty much manage themselves (especially rus ones)

It feels more like running a trade-based econ if anything.

I personally like water maps because it gives you more options, people simply can’t just “turtle” themselves in, and you have to think a little ahead on how to balance your navy vs army.

And because water is so open, you usually always have the option to manouver around your opponent.

The transport ship part is a bit finnicky I agree, but there are simple tricks to it. such as ctrl-grouping your army, and click them directly onto the land, once you ship hit the shore.
So managing transport is but a small issue once you know how the garrison functions works in this game. applies to Rams, towers, castles etc, you can click on the unit garrisoned and click on the ground outside the unit and they will immidietly ungarrison and move to select location, A-move also works.

But I do agree there should be better interraction between Land and ground, especially when it comes to defences.
Perosnally think Keeps and Towers should been able to build into the shore-line same way as Docks do and have bonus range against navy, about the same range as docks.

But in return make cannon ships have bonus range against buildings.

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Roman armies from the Late Antiquity to Early Middle ages are perhaps one of the most powerful and most diverse of its era, but also very much reliant on its commanders ability to use them. So their military units would be micro intensive and also have multiple abilities.

  1. Cataphracs: Knight replacement. Very heavy cavalry equipped with a bow and a lance , has a special “Wedge” formation ability, but also a lot slower than a regular knight and very expensive to field.
  • “Wedge Formation”, slows your Cataphracts down to a crawl before unleashing a devastating
    charge to their intended targets with area of effect damage, very effective against infantry but also make your Cataphracts take another extra damage from spearman after the charge ended.
  1. Hunnic Tactics (Stable Upgrade): Light Cavalry gains a bow but also increased in cost, Cataphracts range attack also increased.
  2. Skutatoi (Spearman Upgrade): Spearman unit line would be equipped with shields, gains “Te tsudo” and “Shield Wall” ability
  • “Te tsudo” Spearman would raise their shields above their heads, severely decrease incoming missile attack, but won’t be able to move
  • Shield Wall: Spearman would raise their shields in front of them to resist enemy calvalry charges also slows them down.
  1. Verutum (Man at Arms upgrade): Man at Arms gains a charging ability to throw javelin before charging on the enemy.
  2. Magister Militum as scout unit
    The Byzantine Empire Speculation - #6 by Alexios732
    This is just my take on your unit lists feel free to comment on it.
    Sources: Elite and Levy Units of the Eastern Roman Army, by Kings & Generals; Strategikon - Army Manual of the Eastern Roman Empire, by Kings & Generals; East Roman army - Wikipedia; Byzantine army - Wikipedia

I thought about giving Cataphracts a bow, but some things to consider:

  • What does the bow actually give the cataphracts?
  • Can they shoot while riding?
  • Do they have to switch stances?
    Wedge formation seems interesting. I think historically speaking that formation is under debate, but it seems like something like that ability could be a fun mechanic.

Regarding horse archers for the byzantines in general:
Originally I gave the Byzantines horse archers, but then in retrospect I took them away. A lot of factions in the game should have Horse archers but don’t. I think the reason being is that while they were historically accurate, they heavily define the faction playstyle, and they will also skew the overall game playstyle.
I think AOE4 Horse archers are supposed to be a niche, “oh shit” type unit, reserved to only a small number of factions. With that perspective in mind, I don’t think Horse archers are core to the Byzantine identity I’m going for, so I cut them out.
The vibe I’m going for is a boomy turtle civ. Slow but powerful. They have a wide-reaching, expansive economy, that they want to keep well defended, but will have a hard time defending every front at once because their units can’t move fast enough to be everywhere at once (and also don’t stand well just on their own).
I think that fits with the popular personality of the Byzantines.

Regarding Spearmen - the upgrade I went with was Menavlion, because it makes spears better at doing the spear job. If I gave them shields, shield walls, it would allow spears to be more versatile, and cover their weaknesses, which in my last statement you can see goes against my design philosophy with this faction. For the Byzantines, you shouldn’t get to produce a 1-unit-kills-all type.

Man at arms throwing javelins - same thing. Giving more versatility to each unit goes against the design philosophy of this civ.

Regarding Magister Militum: The Khan makes a lot of sense for the Mongols because they are a very mobile faction. As a scout, the khan helps make early raids easier for the Mongols, which fits their identity.
To me, it doesn’t make sense to give the Byzantines a hero scout, because the identity I’m going for does not have them mobile. The auras I gave them are focused around their walls, which makes them very immobile. Their playstyle should orient around expanding outwards, capturing relics, and then building an amazing economy and then defending it.

You make some good points.

I think AOEII is an unfair comparison to make. Most AOEII players are old and coming for the nostalgia. They’re willing to deal with water because that’s what they played growing up.

I’m a huge nerd for this game, and I’m not even down to manage water on top of everything else. If water is really important then I hope they:

  1. Fix transport ships
  2. More unique boat mechanics
  3. Allow more land/water interactions
  4. Simplify land mechanics. Ie. no more hunting deer/boar.
  5. Every map should be a water map.

gladiator fights where generally not accepted in christian world view, and the byzantines where eastern orthodox. by the time of AOE4 games in roman arenas where almost exclusively races, actual bloodsports like what we had seen around Cæsars time were outlawed.

Looking good but can you please the screen say “Byzantines” instead of “The Byzantine Empire”? Byzantines is much better name to use because of how more simple of a naming convention it is. Also, the Aristocracy unique tech should be on the screen, and years should say “500 - 1453 CE”.

Sure, “Byzantines” over “Byzantine Empire” is fine.

What is the Aristocracy unique tech?

For years, I did a shorter timeframe (I think my start date is the coronation of Empress Irene) just because that seems to be what the game does for the other empires. They don’t actually use the full lifespan of the empire in question, they pick some arbitrary start date - it’s basically to say, this faction represents this civilization specifically within this time window. For this reason you won’t see any references to Justinian or Belisarius, but you would see references to Basil II for instance.

How the Aristocracy unique tech could work is that it’s either an economic technology or a military technology. Now it would be a good idea to see the Senate mechanic added to this civ and as well as a unique dock unit, the Dromon (it doesn’t replace any of the common dock units BTW) and that ship can be given the flamethrower if the Greek Fire technology is researched. Also, the Byzantine flag can use the red background instead of the Purple because the Byzantines might get added alongside the Persians and the purple color on a flag is something to be saved for the Persians.

Including the Byzantines in the game would offer a unique and diverse addition to the current roster of civilizations in the game. The Byzantines have a rich history and a distinct identity that sets them apart from other civilizations, and their inclusion would add depth and variety to the game.

The Aqueduct mechanic you proposed is an interesting idea, and it would provide players with a new challenge for base-building. It would also create a distinctive look and feel for Byzantine cities, which could enhance the immersion of the game.

The Age II Relic capture mechanic is a clever way to balance the potential power of Age II Relics, and it adds another layer of strategy to the gameplay. The vulnerability of the Mountain Monastery adds an element of risk-reward to the gameplay, as players will have to weigh the potential benefits of capturing a relic against the risk of losing their Monastery.

Including the Hagia Sophia as the Wonder for the Byzantines is a fitting and thematically appropriate choice, and it would add to the historical and cultural richness of the game.

Overall, I think the Byzantine civilization concept you proposed is well thought out and could be a great addition to the game.