Time to face the facts: USA is underpowered

After having actually PLAYED the civilization many times, explored a multitude of different options, I can say that the USA, even when played highly optimally, is slightly underpowered compared to the top tier civs right now. In addition, many of the mechanics of the USA are hugely underpowered.

Let’s go over why:

  1. Weak early game eco: No settler cards is a huge price to pay for these “immigration” cards that have questionable benefits. Your options in age 1 are basically the gold trickle (which does not help an age 2 rush, given that your best unit is the wood-costing state militia), 2 settlers from the Irish immigrants (underpowered), or 3 coureurs from French immigrants, but using up your 200 wood. You have NO age 1 advantage (native/asian explorer, spanish war dog, etc.) to truly make up for this, other than your crate of books for a bit of extra starting XP. I would give up ALL immigration cards and the XP crate just to have 3 settlers in age 1.

  2. Weak mid-game eco: Barely any immediate benefit from ageing up. You have to dump a shipment into your age-up bonuses, which, by and large, do not actually give any immediate benefit in and of themselves (i.e., units). Most of them simply unlock further improvements that might benefit your economy or military 5 minutes later, but not at the moment.

  3. Below average late game eco: At least compared with the “average” European civ such as Spain or Russia. Definitely weaker than Germany, France, or India, although better than the natives with the exception of the Inca. Due to fewer late game eco cards than most European factions, although this is admittedly mitigated somewhat by several economic age-up choices. Currently with the California bug removing the settler cap, this isn’t an issue, but once that bug is fixed, USA will be closer to the likes to Spain than that of Germany.

  4. Several extraordinarily weak units: Carbine Cavalry (one of the worst unique units; closer to a Musket Rider than a Dragoon), Sharpshooter (poor stats, even without the animation “bug”), Regulars (very poor stats for its cost, I would take vanilla musketeers over it at least until age 4).

Usually, there is a way to compensate for specific weaknesses, which are meant to be part of the game. For example, Lakota compensates for its weak economy by raiding, Ottoman can compensate for its weak economy through increased flexibility to rush/FF/FI/boom, Britain compensates for its very predictable and easily-countered army through its eco, France compensates for its predictability with sheer economic and military strength, India compensates for its awkward eco through its highly flexible military, etc. etc.

The USA, on the other hand, is best characterized as a mid-late game booming civ with a powerful military IF left unchecked. State militia and gatling guns are their best units. But with a poor early game economy requiring a significant number of shipments to develop, the USA is incredibly vulnerable to raiding and disruption. The USA as its stands right now has NO way to compensate for its weak early game economy. You don’t age particularly quickly. You don’t have an “unraidable” eco like Japan, Sweden, Inca, or Dutch. Offensively, you can’t make enough state militia to commit to an all-in rush; regardless, this is extraordinarily risky as even a slightly unfavorable battle will keep your economy miles behind.

Early defense is possible and certainly the meta strat for now, but you will be out-eco’d by not only the likes of Britain, Sweden, Japan, and Dutch, but also even by second-tier eco civs such as France or Aztec. This forces you to rely solely on your State Militia and/or gatling guns to trade favorably in the very first pitched battle that occurs. You don’t have the economy to commit to making a ton of Regulars or Carbine Cavalry for anticav, but you’re going to have to make some anyway, if only to fend off raids. I emphasize that the USA is the one being raided, not the other way around - because your early game economy is weak, and you cannot take offensive risks.

The final straw is that the USA is somewhat lackluster in the post-imperial age. The economy is decent - if you trade favorably. The army is decent, but not spectacular. State militia and gatling guns remain the best units, but both are countered by the same thing: heavy cannons, horse artillery, and even falconets. Regulars, hussars, carbine cavalry, etc. are not cost effective. You can win an age 5 war against civs with a weaker imperial age army/economy - Britain, Dutch, Iroquois, etc. But you will not beat the likes of Germany, France, and India. For a civ that is decidedly on the back foot for at least the first 10 minutes of the game (and I would personally argue for the first 15-20 minutes, until your industrial age age-up cards kick in), the average-at-best imperial age is a significant disappointment.

I will also note that a few of the much-hyped unit shipments, such as Kovat’s Legion (Magyar Hussars), Washington’s Legion (grenadiers), Armand’s Legion (Dragoons) present a considerable expense to unlock and can only be trained slowly in forts, which is not a practical setup in a close battle where lots of pressure is being applied on each side.

As a final addendum, I will note that there are a HUGE number of trash tier home city cards, immigration cards, and age-up cards that are too numerous to list comprehensively. These are so bad that it would literally be better to send a resource crate for the corresponding age in almost ANY scenario. But a few select examples below:

  • Spanish, German, Russian immigrants
  • Unlocking Napoleon guns (weak and pop-inefficient leather cannon)
  • Allowing forts to slowly train units for free (literally a negative bonus)
  • Unlocking quaker guns (total waste of population space)
  • Allowing shipments to arrive faster
  • Bear Flag Revolt (joke tier revolution card for its cost; if it converted all gatling guns to maxims, then maybe)
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French Immigrants, Irish Imigrants.
You have 2 instant Settler cards, and one upgrades your Settlers, you just have to chop 100 Wood for your first House.
USA early game, is unraidable due to French Immigrants.

Hamiltonian Economics (Free upgrades and good buy factor), Chinese Immigrants (you can grab the whole Trade line for Free) can control whole map, Capitalism and Church upgrade with Double Church, Springfield Armoury (Free upgrades), Steamers can spam Docks.
USA midgame Eco is amazing.

Nope.
You can have your Forts produce units for Free, get TCs producing Vills for Free, get a lot of upgrades for Free (translates into more units), have the best Fishing Economy in the game, and certain cards even boost your Factory output, while you have a replacement Factory at all times.

Carbine Cavalry can out-range Pots Dragoons, and you can get reguloar Dragoons too if you want, but no one uses them, because Carbines are in every way an upgrade.
Sharpshooters are amazing backliners to boost the amage of your already great Skirmishers. Volunteers with Long Rifles can already volley fire a lot of Infantry without taking any attacks back. The Sharpshooter is there to pile even greater hurt, on top of you already great Volunteers.
Regulars are the best Musketeer in the game, and every Euro civ would love to get them, instead of the normal Musks. They can tank forever, are easier to spam on Food (USA gets A LOT of Coin) and have better Range than all other Musks.

USA is OP, not UP.

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I also suggest, try the USA Chinese Immigrants and Saloon Rush strats. Those are absolutely tearing through 1v1 in Latin America.
Cowboys, Owlhoots and Pistoleros in Age 1, with the Dance Hall card, cannot be stopped, because they are just better than Musks, Skirms and Dragoons, specially the Age 2 variants.

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The civ is good enough. Why should every new civ be instant OP and rekt everything else ?
Looks like they took care to not remake the Swed/Inca mistake. That’s a good thing.

USA is fun to play, that’s what matter, and it is good in its way.

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I dont have the dlc so I cant comment from the playing side, but from the few games I have played against it, the US eco is a bit deceptive.

You technically get a lot of stuff for free, but almost none of them are units, its almost always stuff that can later leads to units or upgrades to make your units better.

The problem with this often times is that there isnt enough units to make these upgrades worth while and as long as you keep their units count low, they arent that threatening even with upgrades. Aoe 3 upgrades works on percentages, so a 10-15% upgrade is only worth 1 more unit when you have atleast 10 and more often then not just getting out an additional batch is worth more than the upgrade.

So just march into their base and idle their vils, you don’t even need to kill anything, just push them all into the tc and they cant do anything, they dont have that many crates so push them off hunts and with the gold only trickle they might not even age.

Also with the french immigrants, im not sure but I feel like its a bit of a double edge sword. sure it increases your settler’s HP, but it also changes their armour to range, meaning that they actually might be more vulnerable to cav raids.

Im pretty sure age 2 US would straight up lose to a musk husk composition since state militia are hard countered by cav and regulars are really expensive and their huss are pretty bad.

I think the way forward is some kind of fort FF to really take advantage of all the buffs they have with the flags.

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You are right. US military units in barrack and stable are really worse than normal EU unit. Maybe only state militia is valuable. And also, their military unit cards in Age2 is bad, they do not have 3 Hussar card, and 5 Regular card is low value one.
And then, since Sharpshooter and Carbine are so weak, they have to upgrade their age 2 unit, which cost additional resource and time. That’s why they cannot form a powerful army in early time after Fast Fotress.
OK, they have Hamiltonian, but remember: you need enough villagers to make economic techs useful. However, US do not have enough villagers to make use of them in early game.

They have a card taht literally upgrades Regulars and State Militia, in Age 3, for 400 Food, AND ships in 9 units.

Use your beggining 200 Wood to send in French Immigrants, and you have enough Vills, then ship in Irish Immigrants after you chop enough Wood for a House, and it typically will be another 4 Vills by then.

USA has a STRONG early Economy.

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Regulars have more range and more attack than euro musks. They can pretty much kite other musk units, that on age 2 is huge.

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@luciofrancosi Nobody is going musk vs USA. The USA’s best age 2 unit is the State Militia. Any decent opponent will go huss to either raid/disrupt or skirm/bow to outmass.

@JonOli12 Would you pay 200 wood to get 3.75 settlers as ANY other civ?

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Because any other civ does not have 3 CDBs + a Bank + Capitalism + Chinese Immigrants free Trade Posts + 3 Salloons, ALL in Age 1.

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So while you are sending your 1 bank as your 4th card, I’m already sending 1000 wood as my 4th card in the fortress age to build two more TCs. You will never send more than 2 age 1 cards until the imperial age when you have nothing else to send.

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You have to consider that USA musketeer is 18% more expensive than a regular musketeer. So they aren’t OP.

60f 50g(155 VS) vs 75f 25g(131 VS)

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Sure, because you will make it to Fortress over my Cowboy rush, that is like Veteran Dragoons in Age 2…

10 extra resources doesn’t really justify a unit being mega OP and hardcore

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USA is the easiest civ to FF against, or to do any commerce age rush strat against for that matter, because they are slow. I absolutely can be in fortress before your cowboys are anywhere near my base. Or, I could have 10 infantry bottling you up in your base while your cowboys are still under production.

I disagree, they aren’t mega OP, they have only 1 atk + 1 range more than a regular musketeer, that’s reasonable for a 18% bigger cost.

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Agree with every aspect of what you said. Good post, good analysis. Thanks for this.

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This is actually quite a big deal.
The higher range will allow the back lines of musketeers to get extra shots during musket battles.
And with good micro you can even kite other muskets.

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You clearly have never used the Regular before. It loses badly to Ashigarus and Sepoys even if the Regulars get off the first shot.

The Tomahawk has 14 range, is the Tomahawk OP now?

I’d rather just have a regular musketeer unit in basically every situation, that’s how bad the Regular is right now.

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It is a big deal.
Ports pay 900 Food on their Age2 Logistician, for that +1 Range, for example.

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