Aside from hills, and difficulty of walling (which screws over some civs hard, but let’s admit for a sec that we want aggressive civs to be meta on Arabia). Aside from hills, it’s impossible to get wood because forest distribution is so random. If your 2 “compulsory” close woods are 1 wood and 1 lake-wood, you are basically playing with 1 wood only. Gl winning, at 20-23 min mark the 1st wood runs dry and without anything to protect the next forest you take, if you don’t have army lead you lose.
Extremely boring and cancerous iteration of Arabia.
people were complaining that even on an open map like Arabia, strategies like Drush → FC or 3 Scouts or 3 Archers for map presence and do Feudal upgrades and again rush Castle Age were too easy strats. It was not quite like Arena, but something very close to it. I remember 1 year ago, old iterations of Arabia would have up to 4 forests within 10-15 tiles from the TC, making walling fairly trivial (basically it was like current Runestones but with bigger hills ONLY in the middle). The iteration after introduced hills in “wrong spots”, and basically while Feudal was fun, Imperial Age was very monotonous because whoever captured the key hills would always have the advantage in Treb wars (and hills were always placed in such a way that capturing them would control a lot of the map and of the opponent’s base, for example 20 tiles in front of starting enemy TC.
The problem is that you can’t really prevent people from walling early in Dark Age, even if it costs 150-200 resources in terms of lost mining time, people WILL full wall because 200 resources is nothing if you don’t have to watch every angle and can do only a few counter units and rush Castle Age. At the same time, Palisade Walls can’t become more expensive (2w is already a lot for how weak it is, it dies fast to even 3 Feudal Men at Arms) or weaker (they do their job basically in Feudal of delaying IF you have a villager nearby and melt in Castle Age to any Castle Age unit.
The solution to this conundrum, however, was not to fill the map with hills (that makes walling harder, yes, but for all the wrong reasons!), but encourage Feudal play in some other way. I am not sure how but take a map like Kawasan or Acclivity or that map with the unbuildable terrain that we saw in last Red Bull Wololo a ton (Magyars Chinese etc. were meta on that map). Put some unbuildable tiles, put resources far away, make gold 5-10 tiles farther and always in front. There are solutions that don’t involve making walling hard because clicking on hill tiles is hard. And TC on woodline is a must, the whole point of TC is defending farms and defending woodline, if you can’t place TC on woodline, might as well ALWAYS play 1 TC since the whole point of a TC is unharassed wood access.
In fact, I am very close to banning current Arabia, I play at ~1400 elo and I like open maps but my favorite is Runestones. On Runestones, I feel the game is balanced. Sometimes the Archer player wins and sometimes the Cavalry player wins. It depends on a lot of factors and the games that I lose I recognize what I could have done to win both as the Archer and as the Cavalry player. In the last few days, I played maybe 15 Arabia games and I don’t remember an Archer player winning vs a Cavalry civilization, and in general booming on 2-3 TCs is literally NEVER worth it, I haven’t seen this strat be effective yet, you can do 1 TC into army and THEN if you had a good fight, add TCs (which is counterintuitive because it’s you winning more, typically the booming player is the defender and the aggressive player is the one with fewer TCs). I advise picking a cavalry/camel civ and play 1 TC only, spamming farms in the back of your base and going full Scouts into Knights/Camels is the strongest strat by far (you do camels vs cavalry civs only clearly).
In fact I don’t think you can win with any other strat even, forget pike siege, monks collecting relics, Skirm defense, Monk defense, or full boom, just send all to gold, 20-25 farmers and spam create Knight button.