What NOT to do when suggesting Civilizations

0). The game is not perfect.

Outlines and rules discussed here are idealistic. We all know how the game often deviates from its own set of rules and contains mistakes, inaccuracies. But most importantly, poor choices. Some civilizations should debatably not exist (USA, Mexico) or are partly weirdly designed (India bending too much through the East India Company), and weird choices of flags or leaders (Napoleon, Garibaldi). But overall, the state of the game is fine, it’s just not perfect.

1). A civilization is not a nation, nor a revolt, nor a colony, nor a tribe.

Examples: Canadians, Greeks, Paraguay, whatever…

The word civilization has always been subject of confusion. The definition used for the game is not the one that is commonly used (a complex society with a series of characterizing traits, such as urbanization, agriculture, etc). The game has its own definition, and its certainly not synonym with faction, nation, or state. Most of the time, people think of a historic state and try to suggest it as a civilization. It’s wrong.

Currently in the game, we could assume that all people pertaining to a civilization were at that time identifying, or identified by foreigners, as people of an entity represented by the in-game civilization. This concept is pushed further by the idea that states encompass different people that do not recognize as being part of that civilization, but are still subsumed in the game by the civilization. These borderline elements are often represented as cards or special technologies that do not constitute the core essence of the represented civilization.

An AoE3 civilization must be a broad and symbolic representation of a group of people linked with a geographical presence that goes beyond the country itself sometimes associated to that civilization (an “umbrella”). Moreover, it must not be locked behind or beyond a political border : if the “civilization” cease to make sense outside of the border implied by its name (eg. Gran Columbia, Canada) then it’s not suitable.

Let’s take Canada for instance: what is Canada beyond its artificial borders? Nothing. “Canadian” is not even a recognized culture at that time. So beyond borders and a name, how could one justify Canada as an AoE3 civilization? Beside that, a civilization is not a tribe or a people so small that it has such little military and cultural influence that it simply can’t be a good candidate. Hawaiians and Zulus (also virtually “invisible” before the 19th century – so out the time frame), and others are typical examples of this.

2). Out of time frame civilization

Very often, people will come up with a civilization idea that is either totally out of the time frame, or doesn’t exist before the late 19th century. (In)famous examples are: most South-American post-colonial “civilization” (Chile, Grand-Columbia, etc), Zulu, Egyptians, Greeks, Canada, Australia, and the Afghans (sometimes refered as “Durrani”). Most of these ideas are not only out of the time frame, but they fail to meet most standards discussed in this post.

An AoE3 civilization must be relevant with the time frame the game currently has (roughly 1450 to 1850). Here relevance means that a civilization must have at best a historical continuity through most centuries of that time frame, or at least have a fictional historical continuity starting from that time frame (eg. Aztec, Inca).

Historical continuity means that the civilization retains its core cultural identity and presence through time, where cultural, political or identity shifts are not enough to suggest the civilization’s end. Fictional historical continuity means that the civilization didn’t persist in reality but “in the hands of the player” might perdure through time against the odds. Fictional continuity mostly applies to Native American civilization but could well be applied to potential civilization, such as, to a lesser extant, the Kazakhs.

Not following this mindset is not only disrespecting the settings of the game, but it’s also ignoring what makes the game unique, and voluntarily going against the representability power of the game. The game attempts to represent a period of time (the Early Modern Period) and the cultures associated to that period. The Early Modern Period is a construct, a model on which the game relies for existing as it is. You can deconstruct the model, but you can’t deconstruct the game while the model exists. Age of Empires 3 is game that puts as much emphasis on pistols as on bows, on swords as on guns, on conquistadors as on rifle skirmishers. In short, your civilization should be able to portray “archaic military” as well as some form of more modern military. Having a civilization that disregard all this balance is a decision that goes against the foundations on which the game stands. The game is not War of Liberties, it’s not Napoleon: Total War.

The same reasoning applies when choosing a civilization leader. The leader is the personification of the civilization, but is also the “child” of an era. Thus, a leader must represent the civilization as much as it represents the whole era (ie. 1450-1850). A leader’s characteristics oscillate between being generic with personality, internationally influent, easily identifiable, and stereotyped. Some leaders in the game are not well balanced (Napoleon, Garibaldi – the game is not perfect). For example, Napoleon fails to represent the early modern period, and totally fails to represent what the French are in the game. Why didn’t they choose Louis XIV?

3). A civilization should not be if a close civilization with a greater cultural imprint already exists.

Is there enough cultural elements that are unique and justify the suggested civilization to exist in the game? The question should be asked taking into consideration existing civilizations, but also potential ones or ones that are obviously lacking. Let’s take the example of the Uzbeks to illustrate the idea. While the Uzbeks seems like a good suggestion, they are in my opinion a trap not to fall into when suggesting a civilization. First of all, they are part of the Central Asian culture that is not represented in the game beside a few rare units. They boast an interesting and lasting culture and on top of that, they had their own sovereign state: The Khanate of Bukhara, which perfectly fits the game time frame (1501 to 1785). So what’s wrong then?

Well, first, they are between two better choices for potential civilization that don’t suffer the disadvantages carried by the suggestion of the Uzbeks. The Persians and the Kazakhs. The Uzbek features too much cultural elements that could be represented much better by a Persian civilization and a Kazakh civilization. The Persian civilization fits perfectly into the game. The Kazakh on the other hand would be the best choice at representing the lingering nomadic people and political entities of Turko-Mongol heritage, because their unique characteristics would not be better represented by any other hypothetical civilization. On top of that, their nordic presence neighoring Siberian people is an asset. So having the Uzbeks plus the Persians would be redundant. Having only the Uzbeks without the Persians would be a fault.

The Persians are not only the Persians of Iran. They are, they should, as we have seen previously, be a representation of a certain extent of the Persian world, that was vast and beyond the borders of the Safavid Empire (Caucasus, Mesopotamia, South-Central Asia, etc). While both the Kazakhs and the Persians would succeed at representing some sort of cultural sphere (something that was particularly well done with Hausa and Ethiopia), an “Uzbeks” civilization would fail that necessary endeavour. On top of that (and it’s not of primary importance), the Uzbeks don’t seem to have influenced beyond their relatively small geographical area, but were instead the receptacle of foreign influences. The Kazakhs on the other hand influenced Russians, Polish-Lithuanians, and represent the never ending Chinese struggle against Central Asia.

Other examples of “what not to do” for similar reasons would be Koreans, Afghans and Danes.

4). So what are good potential civilizations?

Beside the ones I’ve already mentioned here because I of my strong attachment to them, there are few potential civilizations that could be suitable candidate.

  • The Polish-Lithuanians
  • The Moroccans
  • The Siamese

Gatekeeping: the thread.


As op mentioned the taboo word “Poland”, it is more likely Gatekeepers: Civil War.


These are things you made up, and you left out what is arguably the biggest factor: Are they going to be fun and offer something unique to the game? That’s why I want the Polynesians, because it’s a completely different theme than any of the other native civs and opens up possibilities for new maps and subcivs.


posting so i can keep track of what is bound to be a very interesting and civil thread


Maltese, a civ which is an order of knights.


North Sentinel Island civ or bust.


There just wont be anymore DLC´s

Fuck all that, let’s add the Byzantines :moyai:


Add the Vatican plz. Pope explorer


This is more arbitrary than the civs already in the game which is really saying something.

By your criteria there should be no Lakota, Hauds, Aztec, Mexico, USA, Malta, Italy, Portugal, or Dutch.

Your timeframe isn’t even accurate to what the game represents. Anything before 1492 is pretty tenuous considering the game’s original setting was Europeans in the new world. There are also a lot of concrete references to at least the mid 1880s if not right up to 1899.

There’s no fictional historical continuity of the early civs. Aztecs don’t progress past their stone age state they were in before their defeat in 1521. Inca also have a very archaic depiction despite resisting the Spanish until 1783.

Why civs like Hawaiians don’t fit is also a not clear. They had a warrior culture long before first contact, and Polynesians had wide ranging contact within Polynesia and likely some interchange with the new world. Once they came into contact with Europeans they rapidly innovated, and could therefore contend with the European civs in the late game.

Your claim that Napoleon and Garibaldi are bad picks for leaders is simply insane. Napoleon is arguably the most influential person of his age and still fits in your arbitrary timeline. If he doesn’t fit, no one does.

That being said, I wouldn’t mind also having one or two alternate leaders for each civ. Even if the only difference is dialogue and maybe AI behavior.

Again, this is completely arbitrary. There no good reason to prefer Kazakhs over Uzbeks other than your personal preference. Uzbeks being complimentary with Persians is actually a huge point in their favour. Additionally, there’s 3rd option that you completely ignore. The Oirats (most significant example being the Dzungars) were a major player in the region and more of a direct successor to the Mongols. They were the ones contending with China far more than the limited Qing incursions against the Kazakhs. There are other Oirat khanates like the Kalmyks who traveled further west and clashed with the Russians and Ottomans.

This is by far the dumbest criteria. By this logic there should be no Portugal because they’re too close to Spain (even being ruled by them for 60 years). Having neighbouring civs is actually a benefit. It allows shared units (making them easier to learn and switch between) and it’s fodder for campaigns and scenarios since there would be tons of historical interactions.


Didn’t read instructions, created a new civ:

South Sudan
It’s a little out of the timeframe, being independent from 2011 though.


how is napoleon a weird leader? he’s by far the most famous person of the entire era.

you say a whole lot without saying anything.

civilisation in AOE3s context more or less refers to a nation or supernational identity such as german, british, french etc. there is no reason to pretend otherwise.

you are describing a nation.

i dont think anyone realistically is expecting, or even actually want, Canada but you could make a point for quebec to be its own national identity.

i am not sure what you are saying here, are you arguing for or against Zulu etc.?

1450 seems a bit early, id say the civs are roughly 1492-1876.

now obviously it is entirely up to people themselves what they think the period is, and i must admit i myself am against adding civilisations you mentioned under this rule, i also think post colonial nations do not belong in the game and that to a large extend they are covered by revolutions.

so this point i can broadly agree with personally, but i also understand why some view it differently esp. after they added Mexico and the USA.

the problem here is that it is entirely a subjective opinion, esp the way you apply it.

so far you have not given a single reason why these factions cant be added, not 1 single argument.

i am going to be very direct and ask how you will add these civs, do you honestly imagine looking at Italians and Ethiopia that Poland would be a solo civ? they clearly wouldn’t, but you have already said the only reasonable partner is a “what not to do civ”, again without actually arguing for it.

what makes moroccans actually interesting to add? you havn’t really given any reasons for your choices and it seems to me mostly like you just took popular suggestions.


Funnily enough, by the convoluted reasoning he uses to justify Aztecs, South Sudan actually fits since it was independent until 1518.


This thread is not going to see the light of tomorrow.

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Byzantines could not be added.
They felt down on Constantinople!

But why not - our Gate Keeper Lord 'O Civs is just telling the lowly plebs the rules for civ suggestions which were not apparent for us simple folk.

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Of course they felt Constantinople, they lived there.

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So it’s over…? :worried:
We need new UI and features, like the whole map screenshot feature then.

That’s not dlcs, that’s patches :smiley: