The "not another Arbalest civ" vs "not another extreme civ" conundrum

So by coming to these forums, it’s clear many people care about civ design, and there is a pattern among forum veterans of being displeased when the devs give them “just another Arbalest civ”. People find that a civ with FU Arbalest + a bonus on top, like Ethiopians, is boring, as we have already enough of those. Analogous considerations for “just another cav civ”, such as Burgundians.

Then, when people (admittedly it’s often different people) see a civ like Bohemians, which is neither an Arbalest nor a cav civ, but an “unconventional civ with extreme design”, people complain that they are too prone to cheesy strats.

To which I then ask: can people be pleased at all? We don’t want Arbalest/Paladin/Cav Archer civs, as there are already enough of those. But when the devs come up with something unique, such as cavalry “absorbing” arrow fire, or a chariot that is both ranged and melee, people are also unhappy that the civ is “gimmicky”, relies on 1 specific timing to autowin at minute X in the game, etc.

In the end, there are only so many facets the devs can add to the game. Either you get a “traditional civ design”, or an extreme one.

Food for thought for the people who are always unhappy no matter what the devs give you. This DLC is not “another Arbalest civ” kind of DLC but people are already unhappy about the new UUs etc.


Wait, what I’ve seen mostly is people wanting more Arbalest civs, to break up the Mayan-Briton-Ethiopian (and Vietnamese) Archer meta…

We’ve gotten so many Infantry/Cavalry civs lately we could do good with new Archer-focused civs.


there is no Mayans Britons meta, maybe in Team Games but who cares about those. The game is first and foremost a 1v1 game.

Mayans could use a nerf in 1v1 also admittedly, but the same CANNOT be said for Britons/Ethiopians.

It’s different people

You can’t make everyone happy at the same time.

This blue is too dark, no this blue is too light


This group are the ones who need to learn to use new stuff, not just Knights, Crossbows and Meta all the time.
Infact devs have nerfed many off-meta civs before (Indians, Khmer, Burmese and list goes on…) just to please this group of players…


Hey u are correct, but what I want is, chariots for everyone :D. We all should be grateful for recieving DLCs which are very good made. Look at AOE 1 DE, they still have open room but get nothing. And we already have unit who changes stands.
The things I want to see is, splitting civs like Slavs maybe and some upgrades to the old civs, like some small things or changes to bright them up. Keep in mind, without the default civs, this game would not exist.

Interesting point. Fair assessment although imo there’s a difference between unconventional and gimmicky. Like at this point I stopped complaining about flemish revolution for quosome time bit that’s what I’d still call gimmicky (or the cousttillier charge atk for that matter). These mechanics basically break with how the game works (like spawning 100 military units out of nothing) while 2nd tc in feudal, earlier eco upgrades or chemistry in castle age I’d call merely unconventional as they keep existing mechanics bit alter a bit there timing or subject it applies to (like khmer houses).

So imo this unconventional stuff is totally fine but besides that we can observes a tendency to introduce mechanics that imo do not have a place in this game (like the mentioned burgundian ones) and some of these find further implementation in the new dlc. It’s not the end of the world but I think it’s fine to complain about these.

And I think doing that is pretty different from complaining about bonuses that are somewhat different from the standard ones. The latter comprises most of bohemian bonuses for instance and as I perceive it most people didn’t complain about them being non standard but rather being op in the settings they’re used in. Which was kinda true. No matter which approach you took the civ was a bit too strong on arena.

And I guess most people agree that design wise the civ is pretty cool. Imo some of the new Indian dlc civs have also cool features but at the same time people complaining might have a point: It’s such a pain to balance all this elephant and infantry with weird bonuses stuff if that’s the only option these civs have.

What is really incomprehensible to me is why not add elephant archers and elephant rams on top of the standard units. Like you don’t need to give all these civs FU cav archers and siege ram but replacing these units entirely maybe isn’t the right approach.

In short, just give the new civs more options. Besides introducing gimmicks from what I can see there is also the tendency to make new civs one trick civs with one or two powerful units and a strong eco to back that up. I think the Indian dlc could have been a great opportunity to give us a bit more versatile civs but this didn’t really happen. In fact the rework from indians to hindustanis showcases that (less options but stronger options).

And that’s also how I think new civs can be exciting without being gimmicky. Instead of giving them units or other bonuses that get rid off established aoe2 mechanics give them unique ways of combining units. Partly this has been done with the new dlc. But imo this side of innovation should have been more of a focus.


while in general, such mechanics are powercreep on the default set of civs, EVERY GAME needs powercreep and innovation to feel fresh. You can only play Britons FC Crossbow for so long before people master it and it’s not very fun that games are decided based on who dodges 1 Mangonel shot, spams split formation better or dodges Ballistic shots better. While such elements are important to gameplay, they shouldn’t be the only determining factor in who wins a game.

Of course powercreep must feel reasonable. And I think a unit like Coustillier is like this. It’s powerful in the right circumstances but not an autowin unit you wanna tech into as early as possible and spam. Such units, like Coustillier, are needed because you can make only so many Camel Archers vs Mangudai vs Conquistador, Leitis vs Keshik, before units start feeling like a repetition of one another.

I think Bohemians have 1-2 OP things, the nerf that (I heard they received of no more cheap Monasteries) seems reasonable, but other than that you can’t nerf them too much as their tech tree is VERY small. It’s basically a Halberd + Arbalest into HC + Houfnice civ, you can’t really use anything else.

it’s just to spice things up, I reckon also Armored Elephants will be more viable in Imperial Age and the Siege push timing will be better for Indian civs than otherwise. Typically, regular Siege Ram takes a lot of time to tech into + some 50+ wood cutters, in contrast if Armored Elephant is food-heavy, you could make it off the bat.

there are only so many combinations possible before you run out of options. Take for example, you want to give “unit X has extra speed” to a certain civ:

Extra cavalry speed → Cumans
Extra infantry speed → Celts
Extra Siege speed → Mongols
Extra Elephant speed → Khmer
Extra Skirmisher speed → Lithuanians

Notice how the one missing is extra Crossbow speed which would be a fairly OP civ bonus if implemented.

Likewise for extra attack rate:

Extra cavalry attack rate → Bulgarians (locked behind tech as it’s a fairly strong bonus)
Extra infantry attack rate → Japanese

Those civs were nerfed because they were straight up too strong. Let’s give them a quick check:


  • They had arbalest. That got removed for obvious reason: one of the strongest eco in the game, arbalest and on top of that many other options. Righfully removed
  • Camels were performing too well in 1v1, especially indians camel, so they increased the damage taken by the spear line. Indians were extremely strong in both phases
  • Indians were by far the best pocket civ in team game, being more oppressive than Franks and as oppressive as Khmer at their peak. Yet another nerf deserved for the imp camel, with Indians remaining one of the strongest pockets in the game
  • In 1v1 they remained consistently the best in maps with shorefish and were still really good in 1v1 arabia, mostly played as a cav archer civ


  • when they buffed their farms, Khmer became istantly one of the best civ in any setting. In team game they were the best pocket, in 1v1 they had one of the strongest eco and an amazing tech tree, including bombards cannon. This made them amazing on open maps (busted eco + the ability of playing both cav or archers) AND on closed maps, since there they also had amazing siege options on top of everything else.
    Team game were absolutely terrible, with Khmer being paired usually with Britons and transitioning to battle eles. In 4v4 usually the team winning was the team were the Khmer side won faster.
  • they removed bombard cannons, nerded their farm and battle eles for all the reasons above


  • with Burmese i have only two thing to say:
  1. King of the Desert 1, final game of the series. In that period, Burmese were considered the strongest civ in 1v1 arabia because of their eco and how good the arambai + mangonels combo was. They had to nerf because it was so incredibly strong
  2. Double castle arambai: once again, arambai needed to ne nerfed because on closed map, especially on arena and in team game it was unbearable

Those civs were not “off-meta”. Those civs were the meta and were rightfully nerfed


Wow. I didn’t even realize he called them off meta nerfs. Thats bold.

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My point actually wasn’t about the power of these mechanics, I just think it’s a bad design and there is a lot innovative design possibilities outside units spawns and charge atks which imo defy the mechanics (not the balance) of the game. I mean sure if the corresponding units or techs are useless like cuman mercenaries that’s certainly better than the othet way around. But as the devs showed with bohemians and also partly showed with the new dlc you can design new stuff without breaking basic game mechanics and introduci g gimmicky stuff.

Sure and these civs should have more incentive to use the elephant siege but imo they should have some ram options to not be that vulnerable to halbs. The elephant siege should be an advantage. Like they could have given capped ram to one or two civs, maybe only battering ram to another and maybe no ram at all to one with a lot of bonuses for siege elephant. But just replacing them entirely is gonna be a balance nightmare. Same with cav archer and elephant archer.

No I meant combining units. Like just make a civ with full archery range including all the techs. Yes they might play xbow in mid game but if they don’t have strong eco bonus and no bonuses for the unit but one or two for elephant archer they probably will tech into it at some point. Like give them cheaper ea or the like.

Or a civ with good camels and elephant archers. Or one with good camels and regular archers (there is only two so far) or one with a lot of siege units and/or UTs and battle elephants or elephant archers or camels. Like all the new civs have rather mediocre siege. There are still many ways for creating unique civs by giving access to units and techs. But instead the new civs hsve rather ■■■■■■ tech trees and the then they get strong eco bonuses and strong bonuses for one unit to make up for that.

Tbf double castle arambai never was a good strat outside arena tgs. In 1v1 it wasn’t a real threat if you knew how to play vs it. And arena tgs allow for a lot of cheese strats, balance shouldn’t account for this very niche setting imo (there is a reason why every serious arena tourney is 1v1 and at the same time most tg tourneys do not feature arena). That change simply killed off the unit.

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most of those civs have Bombard Cannon and good infantry, I fail to see the issue. You are not meant to spam rams as a solo unit and win anyway, you support them like you would support traditional rams.

so just old Indians/new Hindustanis?

So Byzantines, Ethiopians, Saracens…?

the combinations left aren’t many. Archer + Siege has been done, Ethiopians. Infantry + Siege is there also, Slavs, Celts. Cav + Siege is there too, Burgundians, Franks…

I think 1 of them at least has Siege Engineers + BBC, and old Hindustanis have Siege Engineers + BBC too iirc in new DLC. It doesn’t get much better than that. I don’t think anyone who has access to BBC uses Rams like ever anyway (that being said new civs all have Siege Elephant which I reckon will be like Siege Ram in terms of speed and damage).

Don’t think this is true. There hasn’t been an archer civ since Vietnamese. Burgundians weren’t another cav civ because of the castle age cavaliers, gunpowder bonus. The complain was about Flemish revolution which swings an evenly poised game many times and is quite unnatural to the game.

Personally I love the design of Bohemian and Poles. DotD was the best expansion in terms of balance, creativity, usability of civs and units. I think people’s complain is with the monk rush potential and too powerful houfnice in certain maps. I think people will be happy after this upcoming patch.

I guess its all about the balance. If some unit is too weak or too strong against generic units that’s obviously a problem. I personally felt some of the new civs are quite weak in a lot of maps and situations against most other civs but I’d be happy if these civs went through the same path that Tatars, Sicilians did and end up getting buffed and become good usable civs.

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2 of the new ones don’t have bbc. But that’s not the point. The point is that you can’t for cavalry and ram push for instance because your rams are countered by the same units as your cav. So for some of tje common use cases having elephant rams will be a disadvantage.

Well hindustanis don’t have them anymore 11 You have gujaras left but they don’t have pierce armor on them so I doubt we’ll see them make elephant archers ever.

Yeah like saracens. That’s the only civ that has bonuses for both. Byzantines are okay, Ethiopians camels are just bad. When we have over 40 civs we can have more playing one comp. I mean how many knight civs do we have?

Well you do use siege ram and bbc if you have both (or at least you use of one these at a time) it’s just most bbc don’t have siege ram. And yes hindustanis might now have good siege if that elephant actually turns out to be good (although again a cav based siege unit isn’t great for a cav based civ). But none of the civs will be a siege civ. Because of lacking units/siege engineers and UTs. Like making a civ that goes siege and elephant archers would have been cool or even siege and camels.

But instead we basically got 2 pure camel civs, one pure elephant civ (that probably will play archers until early imp as it has most techs and maybe the best eco in the game) and one pure infantry civ (that probably will go archers most of the time as they have all the techs and decent eco).

I think the reason why Burmese was too effective there was because was wayyy easier to wall, walls were more resistant and Tower rush was more effective, so you could M@A-Tower then Castle and produce Arambai (which was the reason why Spanish were also quite scary back in HD/WK), which was cheaper, had better attack and got +2 armor vs anti cav archer attack, also were fast as Knights (so Knights were useless vs them), plus being 50w meant you could still add a second TC and Siege Workshop without much drawbacks.

the idea is that no 2 civs are identical though, for example you say “we have a lot of cavalry civs” but each has a slightly different flavor to it, for example, Persians specialize in FULL Stable + booming, whereas say Burgundians doesn’t have as strong a Stable, but better gunpowder and early game eco.

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And the same goes for Archer civs too, yes? Mayans have discounted Archers + great Eco, Ethiopians have machinegunner Archers and Siege, Vietnamese have tanky Archers with a laming bonus, Britons have Archers with good booming potential too… Chinese with a strong early game bonus too.

(Wait, what do you mean that’s all of the main Archer civs? /s)

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Imho what it’s not so easy to understand Is that the variety on this game doesn’t rely on playing different units, but playing the same units hitting different timings and power spikes.

For example civs like britons, mayans, vietnamese, ethiopians, Vikings, chinese may appear extremely similar since you mainly play all these into arbalest, but in reality they all play out differently. In practice, this means that if you are in the same spot with the same units comp with, for example, ethiopians and Vikings, you might make different decisions due to how the civs strenght scale later in the game.

If you’re willing to study this, you don’t need to have crazy bonus to have basically infinite potential to Explore new things and have enough variety to play this game Forever (in the end this game Is 23 yo so longevity Is not an issues for sure).

Then, having all civs playing out with the same units has the advantage that you don’t need to spend a ton of hours before even be able to play a civ. The fact that with only 2 build orders you can play any civ except chinese, with just some slight adaptation that Is not too hard to do if you’re smart enough, is absolutely amazing and let people like me who started playing as a child and now Is in his 30s without too much time to play, to keep up and play decently even without spending too much time

On the other hand, my main criticism to Age4 Is that you have to spend too much time and energy Just to memorize build orders, different mechanics, bonuses and so on, and if you don’t have time for that you Just can’t enjoy big portions of the game and you miss a lot of opportunities. I honestly think that Age2 shouldn’t follow that route, expexially since it’s not proving that successful.

A neat feature about the Vietnamese in particular is their Cavalry Archer potential. I know when playing against the Britons, Mayans, Ethiopians, or Vikings that that choice is off the table, but with the Vietnamese, it is a valid switch, backed by the higher HP bonus. An extra option is a better bluff.

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We dont need both…

We dont need “another arbalest civ” or insert any other type of civ. We already have lots of them. Adding a “thirteen in a dozen” civ dont add anything new to the game. There is no need at all for such civ.

We also dont need “another extreme civ”. Adding gimmicks to the game to try to make civ unique is bad civ design. If you have to rely on gimmicks, then is shows me that there is no need for such kind of civ each.

Every new civ for a while is “another xxx civ” or “another extreme civ”. That shows to me we are at the point at which we dont need anymore civs. The devs should focu more on finalizing other parts of the game. Like fixing the real issue. That is what should get the priority from the devs at the moment.