The Crux of Balancing Persians

From all other Civilisations, Persians seem to be one of the most generic. Since a few months voices came up adressing the lack of Identity. So lets talk persian…i mean, about Persians in AoE2.

Starting with their Boni:

  1. Start the game with +50 food and + 50 wood
    This bonus alone turns Persians into an S-Tier Nomad Civ. The ability to get a fishing ship right at the start is extrem strong and gives them an advantage no other civ has. On hybrid and water maps the Bonus supports the early eco, but has arguably less impact than on Nomad. On pure Land Maps (p.e. Arabia) the only advantage is a slighlty smother Dark Age.
    2. Town Center and Docks have DOuble HP and work 10%/15%/20% faster in Feudal/Castle/Imperial Age.
    If we ignore the TC-Drop-Potential as well as the higher TC-Endurance against Siege Pushes, the main advantage of this that Town Center work faster. Besides the slightly faster uptime and wheelbarrow research time, the main advantage is that the villager production is accelerated. Should the Opponent and the Persian player have the same amount of towncenter, the Persian player can generate a villager lead without even killing enemy villagers. So with Persians a defensive playstyle is not necessarily bad. Sadly this bonus also has its downside. Even if the Persian player in the descripted situation will have more villagers, through the enhanced cost through the production speed, Knight Production can ease off, leading to a military disadvantage. Thats why playing two TCs instad of three is common. Having three TCs as Persians constantly running while making Military is nearly impossible in at least early to mid Castle Age. Nonetheless, Persians are a great civ for Booming if your opponent allows you to boom. In comparison with other Eco-bonusses this one feels quit week on land maps as it means either falling behind in military production or using only less TCs (which also doesntt use the bonus anymore).
    (Seems like theres Space for more Boni right?)

Unique Unit: War Elephant
Dependent on Map and Elo, War Elephants are (sadly) either remarkably strong or completly worthless. Not just in lower Elos but in long, drawn out Teamgames, War Elephants are an amazing late Game Unnit. It forces your Opponent into Halbs which then can be killed by allied Archer Units. Even when they die, they are the most pop-efficient Unit in the game. Nonetheless, i would recommend going Paladin first and building up trade before spamming Elephants. Mainly because they are Elephants…so… well: In most Sitations they are bad. Monks and Pikes scare them and even worse you need castles to produce them. Other than Battle Elephants, without Mahouts they are too slow to be even a little threat to Archers. Also they lack mobility, so you can maybe push the Opponents base in teamgames, but in TG`S normaly the Cav player shell be mobile and help on other places on th map. Thats why going Paladin instead is in most Situations the better and safer decision.

Castle Age UT: Kamandaran; Archer line cost is replayed by additional wood cost.
A nice Tech that supports your cavalry against Pikes/Halbs. Especially in Trash wars this UT is absolutly amazing (although in castle; skirms can still be the better choice against Archer+Piks). Trashbows in Castle Age simply cost to much. Furthermire, Kamandaran opens strategies like MaA into Archer with Camels/Knights later. It turn the Archer line not to a dead End but can be deadly against opponents who dont think Persians going for archer. I recommend this strat mainly if your Opponent want to go Camel (Camels Civs like Gurjaras, Hindustanis), because they can`t use that Camels for a while vs Crossbows in Castle Age. You couldent use your generic, persian Camels either way, if your opponent jut has better Camels.

Imperial Age UT: Mahouts; Increases War Elephant speed by 30%
Oh Boy, let the rant begin: By far maybe the worst, pointless Tech in the Game. YOu have to pay 300 Food and Gold to give your UU the ability to walk? The Devs could just adjust the Movement and there would be no need for tht Tech. Its just one extra Step if you (really) want to go for War Elephants. But, other than Logistica, Bearded Axe or Anarchy, it does not help you in any way, Map or Situation in any way. You can just walk. We will later talk about that Tech and possible Replacements.

Team Bonus: Knights have +2 attack against archers.
Even if this does not sound like a lot, in practice this Bonus allows your Knights to kill Archers on hit earlier (4 → 3, as long as your damage upgrade is on the same level as the Archers def upgrade). This can impact in early/mid castle Age Crossbow-Knight fights. A nice and simple Bonus that can also help your other Pocket player. Which means only in a 4vs4.

To sum up Persians current Identity: Persians are a classical Knights Civilisation with one of the most open Tech trees. Camels, Archers and even Halb+Ram-Pushes are possible and potential options. They are one of the best Nomad Civs, thrive in Thrash Wars and like Situations in which they can boom.

The Problem when is comes to Balancing:
They feel generic. The Knights are generic. The Camels are generic. Everything is generic. At no Point in the Game you think “oh man, thats why i play Persians”. Having slightly better TC`s isnt an identity. Trashbows arent an identity. The ability to ###### isnt an identity.

So whats the Kurx? Why is Balancing Persians so hard?
Case 1: We give them an early game eco or military Bonus
→ Sounds good, but would make them to an op Nomad Civ where they are already strong. That would feel to much of bonussed to play against. A fishing Ship start + “x” is quit heavy.
Case 2: We buff their Elephants
→ Sounds right, right? I mean since Age of Kings, Elephants were their signature unit, so making some usable sounds good. However, we have to keep in mind that this could make them even stronger on closed Maps and especially on lower elo`s way too strong. I think that for long Teamgames they quit quite well the way they are now.
Case 3: We give them a Bonus on any of their Trash Units (Archer, Skirms , Halbs or Hussars)
→ If not the UU then we target other units, maybe some buff to archer? Or Halbs? Or Hussars? Well in all of these cases it would also incease their trash war potential which is already high. Adding strength to FU Halb, FU Hussars and Trashbows does not seems like the right way.

Before i ask for your Idead i want to present some of my Ideas which make them feel i little bit more…“Persian”:

  1. Change Mahouts to → War Elephants make more Damage against buildings (like Seege Elephans)
    Without making them stronger on the Battlefield directly, this way you dont need to add Rams, BBC or Trebs and can use use Elephants as Rams. Quit nice to push an opponent in Teamgames. Also you could use them in in 1vs1 as a Ram substitute, which unlike Siege Elephants can fight back. Of course the Base movement speed would need to be fixed. (I would really like this change :))
  2. Replaces the University witht he House of Wisdom
    You can research Techs in there like normal. The difference is that for each relic stationed there all Techs cost X% less (maybe 10% ?). Like Lithianians you would need to seek for wisdom to make it easier to make full use of your full techtree. The catch is that while the relics are in there, they dont create Gold, so the player needs to choose if they shell go to the monestary or the University.
    Alternativ: Building the House of Wisdom would reduce all Tech Cost by 20%. This could also be a teambonus then. So if you build it, all Allys have to spent less Resources ifor Techs. The Knights-Archer-Damage Bonus wiuld become a regular Bonus inly for the Persian player.
    The Benefit here is that is is a second Eco Bonus, that does not effect Nomad because it only hits on Castle and beyond, but not their Trash-War-potential. Also the House of Wisdom was an important Libary in the History of Persia and the HIstory of Science so adding it into the game would be awesome.

Last sentences:
So what do you since? Do you agree with my arguments? What do you think about my prented Balance Changes? Please let me know.

LG Wald


Start replacing Mahouts with Aswaran: Knight line regenerate 20 HP/min, costs 700f 550g. And the speed boost included by default for war elephant.

Second, reduce the massive cost of elite upgrade to 1200f 1000g to start, is already very hard to deploy anyway.


To add to the TC bonus:

Persians are one of the civs designed to be very flexible but dont have a bonus to aid being flexible. Because of the way villagers take time to pay back paying for and getting 10% more villagers by mid castle age sounds better than it is.

After all the reason things like 1 TC all-ins can work is they exploit deviation from a dynamically efficient trajectory (basically exploiting someone having too much economy and too little military). So its not like having a faster TC is some free bonus unlike say Chinese tech discount. It carries real risks with it and needs to be treated as such. This is amplified because if you want to use Cavalry flexibility (esp knights) you’re competing for food which means you face a opportunity cost induced by your boni no matter what you choose. I.e. they dont synergize.

Then theres the villager saturation problem where once you’re at the cap the bonus is pretty useless. So you kind of only have a risky economic bonus for the middle third of a long game.

An easy synergy is reducing the food cost of cavalry units by like 10%/15% in castle age/imp. It helps maintain the bonus from the villagers without breaking the bank or sacrificing military. Make it not apply to the scout cav line if desired, adjust as needed. Regarding Nomad, it would be better if Nomad gave everone enough starting wood for a dock rather than worrying about individual civ boni affecting balance on one game mode. Maps should be balanced conditional on civs, not the other way around.

Regarding war elephants:

Too many players think “Imperial age means I need imperial upgrades”. One of the good things about mahouts being separate from the elite upgrade is that it makes the normal war elephant much more useful in imp without needing to drop a massive amount on the elite upgrade. Especially vs certain civs like Berbers who have no halbs and weak monks knowing this optimization can help.

Mahouts could probably be eliminated and replaced with something else if desired. Extra building damage is nice since war elephants dont have the greatest anti building DPS for their price, especially if someone has architecture researched.

I really like the idea of giving the War Elephant increased siege damage with Mahouts, both because it gives you a special “Persians-only” tactic, and because it makes War Elephants cool again. In ye olden days, War Elephants were a cool UU because they were the only elephant unit! But now, between BEs and SEs and EAs and all manner of eles (UU and otherwise), the WEs are now just more expensive, slower, more situational units. Letting War Elephants be a combination of BE and SE makes them a cool, scary unique unit again - all without necessarily making them harder in army vs. army fights!


How help more damage vs buildings on an unit that’s already good taking down buildings?
Is just a waste of buff, and that doesn’t even help in the area war eles need help.

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Bingo. This is often a problem when trying to balance things. Making something that’s struggling better at what it already does often will not solve the problem. If anything it can make it worse by costing more and still having the same issues.

I think making War Elephants viable is the way to go, to make Persians exciting. I mean, Vikings have Berserkers, Longboats and an invisible TC-based eco bonus, and that’s enough to make Vikings exciting. (OK that’s not entirely fair, Viking infantry is pretty interesting too, with extra hp and Chieftains)

A recipe that I think will work for WE:

  • Move Kamandaran to Imperial age, and making Mamouts a 200 gold 100 food Castle age tech that protects WE from monks.
  • Give the Mamouts speed boost by default
  • Remove pike & halb bonus damage vs elephants
  • If necessary, improve the WE stats
  • Make WE cost 2 pop space

If you want to make it “interesting”, perhaps let Persians make their UU from TCs. That would feel unique, would tie in with the TC bonus, and would allow you to make WE to scare your opponent without having to commit to a whole castle.

As the OP said, WE are already really strong in some situations. It’ll only be possible to make then as viable as Viking Berserkers if they’re made less pop efficient by increasing the pop cost.

In addition, I think the 50 wood 50 food starting resources is poor design. 5% faster TCs in dark age would be much more elegant, and would allow you to tweak their dark age without making them OP on hybrid maps.
We were so close to replacing the 50/50 resource bonus with the 5% TC bonus :frowning:

I think we can replace Mahouts with another UT that will make War Elephant immune to Monk. I know it might cause balance issue but you know there is no way that a well trained Elephant can understand / listen to a Monk.

On the typical closed maps, people gotta pick Persian + Spanish + Siege Civ if they want to play late game. Persian can use elephant to fight elephant. Spanish got buffed Monk and enough gold to spam them due to the trade bonus. Massed Siege Onager or Khmer Scorpions are pretty good against War Elephants too. Not to mention War elephant also got countered or semi-countered by many other UU such as Mameluke and Mangudai.

The two population suggestion should never be added for elephants for it will make them awful. That’s a massive nerf. Leave elephant population alone please.

War elephants would need double hit points to be useful if they cost two population.

Buff the Persians in some other way but leave elephants alone. Maybe change their castle unique tech to something else and automatically add speed to elephantm

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Stop it was the 2 pop = 2x HP thing already. There’s more than 1 way to buff an elephant in exchange. Cost is a big one.


War elephants are awful at taking out buildings for their price. This has been calculated and posted multiple times, basically every time someone talks about war elephants this comes up.

Elite war elephants are no better at killing buildings (with architecture) than Paladins for the cost. They’re only like 30% the DPS of champions for the cost. And compared to rams they’re a joke. Regular war elephants in imp are basically a joke vs buildings because they do 34% less dps than the elite. Even against building without masonry they’re only 40% as effective as champions. For a different comparison, Elite war elephants would need +40 building attack to have 90% the effectiveness of champions. The unit’s cost matters.

Given the speed of the unit one of only 2 ways War Elephants can pressure the enemy is by killing things slower than them. The vast majority of things slower than elephants are buildings as very few units are slow enough to catch in a reasonable time-frame.

If say 6 regular war elephants were (with an anti-building upgrade) actually strong against buildings (say 70% as strong as champions or +35 building damage) suddenly “I’ll just kite the elephants” is not nearly as viable an option and it changes the dynamics a lot.

I see two ways to improve War Elephants:

  1. Make them siege weapon similar to Armored Elephant but more mobile and with better melee attack. Increase building damage and deny conversion from distance (like ram).
  2. Make them antiinfantry unit like cataphract. Without bonus damage resistance but with bonus damage against infantry to kill halbs faster than halbs kill them. Stats can be balanced to allow camels and knights be effective against them. Expensive unit that cost effective against trash but not effective against gold units.

Also Mahouts is extremely boring tech and should never exists. Movement speed should be here without unique tech. If it’s too much just reduce health for regular WE .

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How about buffing the Persians in other ways but leave the elephants. Better stables and other units? Even more economy buffs?

Elephants should never be relied on for being the bulk of your army. You should only be able to mix a few in with your paladins to give a bit more oomph to taking buildings down.


Well, it is complicated. As you say, Persians players have to “choose” how the uses their bonus. I want to point out that there is nothing mid to wrong with not using every bonus at 100%, just there is nothing wrong with a unit that is not your best civ unit (eg franks xbow, celts knights, …).

I agree that Persians have a “weak early feudal age” eco, as they only get 50f/50w whereas most civ just get a stronger bonus. Persian can nonetheless use these resources to rush earlier than most civs. Persian early feudal eco is only better than koreans/turcs (if no archers), bulgarians (if no maa), magyars (if no scout), byzantines, berbers, goths, spanish, sicilians. It is similar to Vietnanese and Huns (-100w and +33w/opponent house). For the villager production speed they are similar to Malays, Persians are argubly better as they got early resources and a better knight option (armor+BL), while the 2 feudal villagers come in later. So you cannot say Persian early feudal age eco is bad withot saying Malays is worse.

If you hold on without TC idle time, Persians go to castle age 15s earlier than most civs and with 2 more vils and an excess of ~ 160f/50w (including the invested starting 50f/50w) and one farm expiring in 3 minutes. So you are still slightly behind other civs with “regular bonus”, but you continue outscaling.
(ps: 160f/50w = -100f from free vils +50f + 50w - 60w from farm + ~60w from second free vil +130f from first free vil as farmer + ~4 minutes of earlier farming from all non free vils spawning earlier)

The problem with buffing Persian eco is that it would become as OP as China if you dont nerf another part of their eco. Persia has the hard job of outscaling all civs without bloodline (until we stop making vils), so they should start slowly. They are currently probably head at around 25 minutes.

They are already top tier on nomad/hybrid maps, thanks to the safe fish.

I disagree, I dont think Persians xbows are that good in trash wars, as they lose to skirms and hussars. They only got +1 damage and 2x attack speed compared to skirms, while having one less range and dying horribly to them (contrary to arbalests). I would take a Fu eskirm any day over them, let alone a great skirm (aztecs, byzantines, koreans, vietnamese, britons, mayans).

I also disagree that they tech tree is open. No bracers, bad monks, no champions, no siege engineer, makes them not that open. For me at least Portuguese, Magyars, Italians, byzantines, saracens, khmer, vietnamese, chinese, britons, tatars, lituanians, sicilians, Poles, are all more open.

For me faster TC+Paladins is their identity, just like for me free Wheelbarrow and Hand cart is Vikings identity (and not berzerkers), cheap cavalry is Berber identity, cheap trash is Byzantine identity (and not cataphracts or cheap imperrial). If Persians had regenerating knights, I don’t see how it would more be their identity than faster TCs.
I like faster TC with early resources because it feels like a good middle ground between aggression and booming, you have to choose whether you play defensive and boom with the early resources, or if you neglect faster TC and use early resources to rush. It is like a weaker version of Cumans 2nd TC, but requires much less investment, as Cumans need to fully commit into 2nd TC and Persian can only slowly gain advantage while still having enough resources to make military.

I am not into a buff to Perians because I think they are fine. Their win rates and pick rates in every settings have never been bad.

Agree, it would be OP

I think it would not help them on RM open maps (where I think people complain about Perisans being weak).

I think that most UU are not signature units. In AOK, people were way worse than now, so nearly every UU was signature unit. For me Mangudais, war wagons, huskalrs, Janissaries, Conquistadores, gulam, houfnice, shirvamsha raiders, longboats, and maybe rattans archers and/or berzerkers and/or Boyars feel like signature unique unit. So like 25% of the civs.

If the change is only in imperial, it would not help them on RM open maps (where I think people complain about Perisans being weak). Persians have middle of the pack trash I think, maybe a little above average.

I would be interested into knowing how you play Persians and how you would like to play them ?

  • More wanting to rush ? Maybe you would be interested into Persians gainsing 50w/50f per age but nerfing the faster working TC ? Like +5% TC working rate from Dark age to imperial age ?
  • More wanting to play defensive ? Maybe you would like a buff to the TC working rate while droping the starting +50f/+50w ? Like +20% TC working rate from feudal age but excluding age up (and maybe techs) and not for techs/age up ? Then they would get 4 free villagers in feudal but need
  • Not into Nomad/Hybrid maps ? Then maybe reinserting the 5% dark age speed but droping either the starting 50f or 50w ?

If you want to do both, you will need something similar to the current setting…

I’ll choose middle ground of both. Bring back +5% but doesn’t apply to age advancing in any age.

I think the best way to balance Persian is to remove the 50w while restoring the 5% in DA

I joined this thread late, and I will add my 2 cents: the main problems with Persians (not assuming here maps like Nomad where they are top tier due to the extra fishing ship) are articulated in 2 moments:

  1. their tech tree is good enough, but not amazing. It is wide on one hand, but can feel restrictive at times (no Bracer for Skirm play, no Arbalest for early Imp power spike, no Champion to counter some infantry civ flood, no Siege Engineers to have a truly good Bombard Cannon…)

  2. their eco bonus is the opposite of flexible. Take Lithuanians and their eco bonus as an example: it is a good bonus because it’s flexible. You can do 17 pop Scouts, but you can also do early FC on Arena, or you can just do some regular 21 pop build and use those extra resources to get eco upgrades. Or take Teutons bonus: you always want to make farms, so those saving translate to more production buildings, etc.

Persians, in contrast, give this dilemma: 1 TC is more like 1.3 TC, and you don’t always want more vills if you are going all in. 3 TC is more like 4 TC, but you will almost always get pressured if you instantly go 3 TC, so draining food faster actually removes resources from something like Pikeman upgrade etc. Overall, this bonus is negligible if you are on 1 TC and takes too long to kick in if you are on 3 TC. You also can’t use it in a creative way, such as early uptimes or gain more resources or some early eco upgrade.

Overall, these 2 points make Persians low tier imo.

What? In Castle age it is 15% faster. So 3 TC is 3.45 TC, almost half extra TC.

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thought it’s 30% my bad.