UUs I would like to see back in the Arabia Meta

Conqs, Arambai, War Wagons, Hussite Wagons, Gbeto, Plumes

In early castle age.
Can someone explain to me why they have gone out of the meta basically completely?
I would understand if they were just less common to see, like in 1/3 of the games with these civs. But no, they are gone completely out of the meta.

Are the only agressive units allowed in early Castle Age Knights and XBows?

Collecting 650 Stone for a Castle is not worth risking. Would you rather be on the offensive or defensive?

Well before some nerfs some of the mentioned unist were actually viable.
So it’s definitely possible.
A castle also offers some map control, so it’s not that it would be useless even when your units are countered.

In case of Bengalis I actually don’t blame the cost of the Castles rather than the building time. Whilst Stables and Archery Ranges can be build before Castle Age, a Castle can only be build when you are already in Castle Age. This ofc holds back all the Cavalry UUs like Keshik, Coustillier, Leitis, Tarkan…

But a lot of ranged UUs were viable at some time - many have been nerfed until they weren’t anymore.

by the time you have a castle, it is usually no longer early castle age. the only way you can get a castle in early castle age is to ignore making extra TCs

people seem to prefer going for eco, going for a castle UU puts you on the clock.

Because you only are zombified for arabia while in other maps they are quite good UUs, and some that you mention are even unbalanced in some cases (Plumes are just too cheap and cost effective, Conqs are busted on nomad).
Want to remember you how broken Burmese was long time ago in KOTD 1, showing how completely absurd was Arambai and being the only winning condition for Burmese?

Well i was going to comment on all of the units but ill just focus on 2.

Hussite and war wagons were only ever good because people kept using suboptimal counters against them. Monks were overlooked as a counter to war wagons for a long time, probably because the chasing mechanic of monks wasnt common knowledge. Hussite wagons die to tons of stuff as well like infantry or melee cavarly.

Now why did it take so long for this to come about is because people dont like testing things. This has the advantage of being more fun but the data efficiency drops tremendously. You could literally play 100 games vs koreans and not realize monks can chase war wagons without losing conversion progress.

Well if you buff UUs to the point where you can sink 750 res (dont forget the mining camp) into getting a production building up, on a very open and aggressive map, what do you think would those UUs do on a nore closed map, where the castle investment is easier to afford? Heck, conqs are already oppressive on certain maps, nobody wants them buffed even further.


Good example on how ridiculously cheap and strong Plumes are: Go to Miguel vs Kingstone game, game 1 at like 33 mins (for some reason can’t put the video here).
I still wonder why a 65 HP archer with 6 PA and better mobility than arbalest has also the same range as arbalest?

Towers are weak. So Spanish, Koreans don’t get much advantage with their tower rushing bonus. Thus conqs, war wagons are uncommon on Arabia and land maps but they’re still the meta units on maps like Nomad or Hideout. Arambai, Plumes have become super expensive compared to voobly times. So they’re not a good option to go for directly in early castle age.
Hussite wagons, Gbetos are just bad units. Gbetos are fragile and have a huge attack animation delay (or frame delay or both). Hussite wagons are just too expensive, slow and do very little damage. They’re only useful if opponent is doing a pure boom or doing just skirms. I don’t think they were a part of the meta for their respective civs at any point.

No…you also have Mongol/Tatar steppe lancers, Shrivamsha riders, Eagle warriors, Camels with Hindustanis/Gurjaras. But for other generic civs, yes, its always knights/crossbows, maybe sometimes CA.

Was told Bohemians dominated in wandering warriors cup (or whatever the nomad tournament was called) partly due to hussite wagons.

They were picked in 4 or 5 sets, played twice, won once lost once. And that too in the later stages of the tournament where Spanish, Malians, Italians, Persians were globally banned. Not a deadly or solid unit ever.

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you also see tons of Monks, Mangonels, occasionally you see UUs after a Castle drop, occasionally you see Pikemen mixed in with Xbow…

I’d say Arabia has the most diverse unit usage of any map.

If you wonder why you see Knight OR Xbow in early Castle age… well you got some 38 vills, and a macro that is tightly balanced for either 1-2 ranges Xbow production + vills, or 1 range 1 stable + vills production. In late Feudal, you decide what unit you want to open in Castle age, since you need to purchase expensive upgrades (Bodkin, Xbow, and possibly Bloodlines and Scale Barding Armor), there is no room to immediately also drop Monastery, Siege shop etc.

As Castle Age goes on though, you see those units added all the time.

Also, most of the units you listed fall into the “cav archer” category in terms of how they play out (Plumes and Gbeto included). Cav Archers are notoriously difficult to mass in early Castle age, you are asking for people to tech STRAIGHT into a UU variant of CA. Early Castle ecos don’t have enough resources for such transitions unless you do FC which isn’t viable on current version of Arabia (and it’s good that it is that way).

Because if you need to invest into feudal units you make an investment that is more or less useless for your UU and also will delay your castle age time. If you just make 3 scouts in feudal age you can go UU just fine but virtually any arabia games these days features archer vs archer or archer vs skirm in late feudal. Back in the days woodlines were somewhat closer to tc and and way thicker so archer play was less dominant in feudal age.

Anyways if your opponent is on archer/skirm anyways your conqs or ww will have a hard time while your investment into those feudal units doesn’t give you anything in castle age.

Another reason is that siege play is less common imo. Couple of years ago people sometimes went 1tc siege push which isn’t really a thing anymore because people learned that even if your tcs die you can expand to the sides and be fine as long as you keep vils alive and have access to stone. And siege oftentimes is a must if you play conqs ww jannis mangudai or whatnot because otherwise opponent just goes skirms.

Another factor I think is people using monks a lot more than 2 years ago. I mean nowadays you do see open map players go for 5+ monks with redemption on arabia which was kinda unthinkable when DE came out.

They were very popular on that map where both players started with tc and lots of gold in the middle because you could just go fc with using market and then spam those monks early castle age (iirc they still had those cheaper monasteries back then).

Imo nowadays arabia is pretty much the least diverse map apart from islands anymore. Drush archer or scouts and some skirms in feudal and then knights or xbow and 3 tc. Any other unit is only support unit to that unit imp.

TTL is a pretty good example here. You see so many crazy and interesting games on a variety of maps with 1 tc vs 3 tc but arabia games are usually the most boring games in those sets.

That’s precisely the problem. You see those units added in small numbers like 2 monk in knight v knight fight or a mango vs xbow. Meanwhile on other maps you see people go ham with pike siege early castle age because you have a different transition from feudal age (because that is either dominated by some light water play or skipped altogether).


Exactly that.
Arabia has basically become a pure xbow, knight and eagle feast.

I also have a theory that this development comes to a big part from the “buildorder” meta. At some point people start learning the buildorders which are ofc oriented to get to thecommon power units. So these Buildordes are not only viable for one specific civ but a bunch of civs…
This then ofc leads to people being only used to this selection of units AND they also want be rewarded for learning these general buildorders. Specialist Buildorders feel cheeky aagainst that. But in a battle of no Buildorder vs Buildorder the Buildorder will have a huge advantage.

In the aftermath this leads then to all UUs which are viable with the specialised builds to be immediately nerfed before the community has the chance to “figure out” how to deal with them. And nobody really cares about UUs that aren’t part of established builds.

On many other maps where you can more comfortably go FC there is the FC into UU build available which a lot of people then do also. At least with civs that have powerful UUs.
As it seems with the current longer feudal into race for castle age meta there is little room for going for stone. You want to use your timing as good as possible which is usually the best with Knghts and Crossbows.

Yeah the thing is there are very few maps with a nice “middle ground”. Currently it looks like (semi-) Hideout type maps have the biggest diversity of castle age strategies. But this comes at the cost of a very limited amount of viable feudal strats.

Especially Hybrid Maps have extremely limited opening diversity, as the water boom is so absurdly snowbally. And ofc with the high amount of additional investment into eco they often turn into FC builds.

IDK… imo the biggest issue there is the buildorder meta. It’s not surprising to me that there is so much hate against laming going on, as laming is often just damaging the buildorders of the opponent. And people only learning buildorders aren’t able to adapt well in the early game. If there were more/better ways to disturb enemy buildorders in a fashionable way (like with better/more effective drushes), people would possibly switch to more flexible buildorders that then allow for other units and strategies than jus XBow or Knights.
This early agression potential would mostly only influence (semi-)open land maps like arabia and less on the other maps where certain UUs already shine.

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Idk if I agree here. Arabia isn’t the most BO oriented map, if you compare it to hybrid or closed maps it’s actually way less BO oriented. So I’d tend towards the opposite conclusion (the more people use BOs the less standard their approaches become) but not sure if you can make any generalized statement about that relationship at all. In the end imo it’s rather about the current design of arabia not being suited for playing UU in castle age because of how feudal tends to play out.

That’s certainly an important aspect. If you play into straight UU there usually is a time window within which you’re vulnerable unless you have a very good map.

Strategic diversity in castle age usually comes at the expense of diversity in feudal age and the other way around. There isn’t really much to do about that. I mean if you can add military and still boom on 3 tcs which is the meta on arabia people rarely go all-in. However if player’s go fc it’s more likely to see the extremes (full boom or full agression) because you can’t do both at the same time. Ofc you can try to design maps that allow all approaches but usually people figure out the best way to play the map at some point and you’ll see a meta develop.

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Yeah looks like.

Has it to be like this though?

(i.e. is it for example a possibility to move some of the advantageous of being in castle age down to feudal so that it’s an option to play feudal vs castle for some time?)

No it doesnt have to be like that. If you normalize the capital investment required for castle age units to be approximately homogenous the feudal-castle transition becomes less rigid. This includes farms/mills/camps + production buildings + minimal upgrades.

That is if the cost of going from X to Y were approximately the same for all X and all Y (where X and Y are arbitrary unit compositions) then there would be no reason to favor one over the other except to choose the right army comp. While AoE2s upgrade structure and leftover feudal units places limitations on this its definitely possible to improve by changing training time, upgrade costs, production building costs, etc.

When you do the analysis on investment preferences in AoE2 youll notice that a big reason for this phenomenon is that military forms a tiny slice of expenditures until mid castle age. The vast majority of resources are spent on buildings, upgrades, villagers, and farms. This makes sense as the ability to extract lots of damage in feudal is heavily constrained compared to castle age. So theres a high sensitivity to capital costs in early castle age. Being the one with half the army size because you spend 50% more laying down farms or mining stone is deadly in castle age, much more so than feudal.

That being said UUs are balanced around being stronger than generic castle age units (well most of them at least). Having them be normally introduced later is fine. Although the fact that stone mining techs cost are messed up has always posed a problem for UUs. The bigger problem is with all of the other generic units like millitia, light cav, lancers, pikes which have high capital costs. Elephants are fubar as long as pop efficiency in late game/team games is a problem so thats a different problem.

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you would have a completely boring game.
It’s good that different strategies have different costs and requirements. this creates a risk-reward structure.
it’s also good that not every UU is the power unit of the civ. some units are (mangudai, war wagons, …), but others are support units (teutonic knights, …) or used to counter specific weakness of the civ (huskarl, cataphract, throwing axeman) they belong to.
Some units are good right out of the gate (organ guns, conqs), some need loads of upgrades (cataphracts) or need to be massed (longbowmen, ballista elephants)
this creates strategic diversity. Age of empires is a game of windows of opportunity

militia, maa, THS and champion are fine the way they are. only longswords see no play unless eagles come out
light cav see plenty of play on arena, and if people have many left over from an extended castle age
lancers also see play as an early castle age unit, to prevent pallisade wall repairs or just as a raiding unit
pikes are meant to come in a bit later so that knights have their window of opportunity. once a knight player starts adding siege their opponent can add pikes, since now the cav player can’t just run away without losing their siege weapons

It only creates a risk reward structure if you explicitly design the later units to be better cost effectively against the earlier units (within the appropriate context) and then obtain eco damage. Without this extra return on the later units you cannot justify the extra capital costs.

But we all know many generic units in AoE2 are not designed to do this in castle age. All the units I listed do not have a mechanism to claw back their extra capital costs until significantly later in the game which means opening with them is a lot of risk and little reward. CA do the risk reward well IMO if you want a baseline. Paladin upgrade as well.

So sure it could effect a risk reward structure but as the game is currently designed the generic units usually dont. The good UUs actually effect this relationship in reasonable contexts which is what makes them good. Idk why youre referencing a bunch of UUs when i explicitly stated:

The higher capital costs on the other generic units I listed dont seem to have a justification in castle age.

Light cav’s use on arena is extremely minor. Look how many light cav actually get built on average. Same thing with the most standard maa builds. Those strategies are used precisely because they, by not relying on a specific food production rate, use ‘spare’ food used gathered to achieve other ends. Their capital costs on that scale are amortized over economy growth.

However once you get into the army massing stage the food rate constraint causes you to need a lot of farms/production. Since for the units I listed this isnt offset with lower costs elsewhere it produces the dynamic we see. You can pick and choose which units youd like to see massed but Im just describing the underlying causal mechanism that brings about the observed behavior.

Similarly for any UU which underperforms in its roll the capital cost of a castle + upgrades + needed complementary units need to be taken into consideration.