Why Age of Empires 2 is not a game to learn history

Let’s brainstorm the inaccuracies in Age of Empires 2 when it comes to History of the Civs.


  • The presence of siege weaponry is anachronistic.

  • Aztec units seem to speak an unrelated Mayan language instead of classical Nahuatl.

  • Jaguar warrior were born from commoners, Eagle warrior were born from nobility, recruitability from castle and barracks should be reversed to reflect this.


  • Rathas were not used in medieval age. The design of ratha is based on Egyptian war chariot rather than Indian which should have a frame at back and umbrella overhead.

  • Bengalis have a lot of horse units while in reality they relied more on their superior infantry and only low number of mercenary horses.

  • Bengali Wonder is sized 50% of what it should be.


  • Genitour is actually an Iberian unit, who fought against the Berbers.

  • Language spoken by in game Berbers has some made up words by weird foreign pronunciation.

  • The user interface displays the coat of arms of Nasrid Dynasty of Iberian Peninsula.

  • The Hassan Tower (Wonder) was actually never completed.


  • They should get the East European Architecture shared with Teutons.


  • Historically Britons referred to Cornish and Welsh native to Britain. The proper term should be English.


  • Bulgarians speak a very similar language to Slavs. They represent turkic people in many campaigns. Would be good if they speak the extinct Bulgar Language.

  • Stirrup was not invented by Bulgarians. The oldest recorded foot supports loop is in the second century BC on Sanchi, Mathura and Bhaja Caves.




  • Unique Unit Arambai is a Manipuri unit which was often at war against the burmese although sometimes also formed part of BUrmese Cavalry.

  • Unique Tech Manipur Cavalry could have potentially come from the deadly raids the Manipuris made into Burmese lands in the 18th century when they ravaged much of the countryside, destroying villages and pagodas.


  • The Byzantine Church should be orthodox not Catholic as in the Mediterranean Architecture Set.

  • Byzantines speak Latin Language shared with Italian instead of their Greek Language.

  • Cataphract was actually more commonly used by the enemies Persians but they don’t get it.


  • Celts should be renamed to Gaels as they don’t represent the Gauls (mainland europe celts)

  • They should not have paladins if they are only representing celts of british isle not the gauls. The Gaels represented by Celts lost to English because of their lack of good horses.

  • Woad Raider is a ancient age roman era barbaric unit. Something like Gallowglass will be more approriate.


  • Despite being the inventor of gunpowder technology,they don’t get handcannoneers and bombard cannons.

  • Chinese in game speak modern mandarin instead of the more appropriate old mandarian…

  • Chu Ko Nu was actually very heavy to carry around in large numbers. It was often mounted on walls.

  • On record Chinese never really used Camels in warfare, even though they get access to camel riders because they imported Bactrian Camels from Central Asia.


  • Dravidian unique unit Thirisadai is built upon the Borobudur Ship of Javanese.

  • Dravidian civ is mostly based on Tamils yet some ruler names are of Kannadiga origin who are historical rivals of Tamils. Kannadigas had good cavalry but Dravidians in game have the least horse-mounted units outside of Mesoamerican civilizations.

  • The Dravidian theme music has a Punjabi tune midway


  • NIL


  • Ethiopians are using incorrect Sahel Architecture Style Mosque as their monastery even though they are Christians.

  • Historically they should have Elephants in their army as they did use African Elephants


  • Historically they utilized Arbalests though they lack this upgrade in game.

  • Paladins were primarily used by Franks only but this unit they are sharing with other Civs.

  • The wonder is St. Vitus Cathedral which should belong to Bohemians.

  • The throwing axe (francisca) was not used in the medieval period. It is an ancient age weapon.


  • Gothic units speak German Language shared with Teutons instead of their own Gothic Language.

  • Goths were known for light/missile cavalry which is not part of their infantry based playstyle.

  • Goths in game campaigns primarily represent their role in Italian and Iberian peninsula yet they do not get Mediterranean architecture.

  • Huskarl or Houscarl is actually an Anglo-Saxon warrior not Gothic which was primarily armed with an Axe not Sword.


  • Shrivamsha Rider model is designed after Sindhi Horseman, while the horse itself is the correct one. Gurjara Rajput Cavalries wore armour instead of going bare bodies.


  • Well this civilization is problematic no matter how you design it. Hunnic Language is unknown, no Architecture Set fits them, they are not a correct civilization for time period.


  • The female villager uses a very strong western accent and the king dialogues are garbled.

  • The Indian Civs do not get ship sails, king graphics and UI graphics.


  • Incan Architecture is very different from Mesoamerican Architecture. Incan Religion is Inti not Nauhatl, so the Monk model is also incorrect.




  • The Samurais were actually famed Mounted Archers rather than fighting on foot.


  • Historically Khmer were good at Navy but in game they are average.


  • The War Wagon is a non-sensical uni## It was probably inspired by Hwacha which is a very different unit.


  • Historically Lithuanians used Light while Poles used Heavy Cavalry but in game Lithuanians get Paladins while Poles do not.

  • Leiciai carry tower shield while Halberdiers do not carry any shield but Tower shield tech affects the later.

  • Hill Forts were found around the world, not unique to Lithuanians.


  • In game Magyars speak Modern Hungarian Language which is very different from the Medieval Hungarian.

  • Magyar Black Army included gunpowder units but Magyars don’t have access to Hand Cannoneers and Bombard Cannons.

  • Magyar were Roman Catholic.




  • Mangudais are actually units of the Golden Horde / ##### Horde instead of Khalkha Mongols which the civ represents.


  • War Elephants were never the main roster of Persian Armies. Finest Elephants were imported from outside but used in small numbers.

  • Persians have the least number of unique civ bonuses and unique units. They can probably use a Cataphract like cavalry Aswaran/Savaran or Cataphract Camels.

  • The civ needs to use the Lapis Lazuli Central Asian Architecture which is based on the Sassanid Style upon which the civ is based on.


  • They used the famed Winged Hussars which is actually available to many other civs as the generic hussar has wings.

  • Obuch should be renamed to Nadziaki based on the actual weapon it is carrying. It was used in small numbers by nobility never in large numbers as in most games.

  • They should have Catholic Church not Orthodox.


  • Organ Gun was not a Portuguese weapon, it was primarily used in Anglo-French war.

  • In-game they speak modern Portuguese with Brazilian Accent. Medieval Portuguese will be a dialect of Iberian Language.

  • They do not get Conquistadors even though it was used by them as well. Inversely their UI contains Carrack and their unique ship Caravel both of which was used extensively by Spaniards as well.


  • The Centurions were usually dismounted.

  • In-game Centurion helmet looks like from Early Roman Period, while Legionary helmet looks like from Late Roman Period.


  • Saracens means Muslims used by Crusaders to refer to the common enemy which is odd. Would be appropriate to rename them to something like Arabs.

  • Mamelukes did not use Bactrian Camel in Hot Desert throwing Schimitar at Enemy.




  • Slavs should be renamed to Ruthenians.

  • They use a wonder which is very anachronistic even though a more accurate wonder is available in the scenario editor.


  • Conquistadors used crossbows more often than guns.




  • Would be cool to rename them to Germans as they are representing the HRE instead of the order based on their appearances in game.

  • They do not get their UI unique to architecture set.


  • Janissary should get their hats as in Royal Janissary unit model, it was their iconic identity.


  • They speak modern Vietnamese instead of Middle Vietnamese.


  • Berserkers didn’t have horns on their helmet.

  • Might be a good idea to rename them to Scandinavians/Norse. Vikinger was a profession.


There are some inaccuracies yes, but otherwise the game is very solid. You learn a lot of about History even if it doesn’t look exactly right.

More than looking at unique units or the tech tree, the main departures are the few times campaigns take a step into alternate history. For example :

  • it’s implied William Wallace won the Battle of Falkirk, while he actually lost it and went in exile for a while afterwards
  • after the final mission of Genghis Khan, the Mongols conquer all of Europe all the way to the Atlantic. Actually, due to the death of Ogedei Khan due to alcohol poisoning, they had to put their invasion of Europe on pause for an election in Karakorum. By the time everything was settled, the Mongol Empire started to break apart and it was no longer in position to threaten Europe, allowing Poland and Hungary to recover

As the Franks start during the Invasions Period, this is correct for the period. The famous “vase of Soissons” episode features an axe. But throwing axes were much lighter than Gimli’s double axe. The design actually remained in use for a surprising time even if not used in battle (as it wouldn’t do much against metal armour). In the Americas, French settlers produced some franciscas to sell to the Natives, who appreciated the upgrade over their stone tomahawks.


The Mongols were also not necessarily that interested in controling all of Europe. The campaign pretends their eyes were mostly on Persia and the West and China was an afterthought that they reluctantly had to deal with because they didn’t pay their tribute, but historically China WAS the main goal (and they didn’t finish conquering it during the reign of Gengis Khan) and everything west of the Russian and Ukrainian steppes was more interesting to raid and loot rather than conquer, especially since the lack of vast herbal plains made it more difficult to feed large cavalry armies for an extended period of time.


Do you have more info on this? Sources?

The entire look of William Wallace is taken straight from the movie Braveheart, released a few years before AOK and who notably forgot the bridge at the Battle of Stirling Bridge (how ???). In any case, the worst AOE2 does when it comes to historical accuracy, is what you can find in 90% of historical movies.

Many others changes are merely for balance reasons (some complaint the Franks are currently too strong now, imagine if they also had top-tier arbalesters…).


btw, how is this about historical accuracy?

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Sorry wrote this over on discord along other points, forgot to edit this point out. Edited.

You’re welcome, it was just a bit surprising :smile:

Guys help me expand this list.

You didn’t have anything historically inaccurate about the Cumans listed, but I’m surprised you didn’t go with their architecture being completely wrong (though understandable).

Missionaries and caravels should both be regional units (if the goal was historicity over balance, obviously)

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On the other hand, the civ definitely represents the Welsh as well, and given their focus on longbows, excluding the Welsh seems like a bad idea. I think ‘English and Welsh’ would be the most accurate name, but some people wouldn’t like having a three-word name, plus in campaigns they’re actually ‘English or Welsh’, depending on context. Using the word ‘Briton’ to refer to any native or inhabitant of Great Britain actually dates back at least to the 1540s, which is within the AoE2 timeline, although not really within the scope of the Britons’ civ design.

My comments for Britons would be:

  • British crossbows and arbalests didn’t have a longer range than anyone else’s. (In fact, I’m not sure they really used arbalests.)
  • The wonder is pointing in the wrong direction – its west front is pointing south-east. Its roof should be made of lead rather than copper, and the spires should not have slates on them. (Actually there are lots of other details wrong with it, but I think these are the most significant.)
  • The Imperial Age architecture (Town Centre, Market, University) is at best anachronistic (although actually just quite inaccurate).

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: ‘Vikings’ is by far the most common term for these people in British English. Etymology is not the same as meaning.


Really? I had no idea. Can you elaborate?

They most likely used them, until Longshanks decided to focus heavily on bows (to the point of making archery the only legal sport). That would mean upgrading xbows no further than crossbowmen so no arbalester, but for balance reasons that would leave the Britons quite naked without a castle.

The slate roofs are more typical of France, and as Franks and Britons have the same style, the Britons got that too.


Is there such a thing, without either being hopelessly bland or hyper-focused on a particular area or short time period? Point taken that there are many inaccuracies, some of which are unnecessary (e.g. not needed for balance or gameplay in the way that Chinese lacking gunpowder, or Aztecs having trebuchets, are). But I don’t think anyone fires up the game with the intent or belief that they’ll be “learning history” in any great depth. It’s more about having fun gameplay that’s vaguely historically inspired, and presenting civs/campaigns in a way that may lead people to develop an interest in the historical bases of such, and then go off to do their own research.

Of course there’s something to be said for looking for low-hanging fruit that could be improved without hurting gameplay - linguistics and naming are pretty high on the list, and perhaps some architectural regroupings or even graphical changes - but the latter are obviously much higher effort. Going too deep in search of historical inaccuracies (beyond reasonable action items) seems like a trivial undertaking though. Like critiquing the physics or science of a Marvel movie. You would be “right” to do so, but I don’t see the appeal of such an exercise.


This is a falsehood that I see repeatedly just because SotL mentions it on his videos. It does make sense for Berbers (Amazighs if you use their actual name) to have Genitours, you only have to look up the origin of the word. “Genitour” comes from the Spanish word “Jinete”, which comes from the term “Zenata” that was a confederation of Amazigh tribes from Morocco famous for their horse riding skills. The Muslims through their invasions in Iberia introduced new equestrian warfare styles that Europeans adopted over the years, specially in the Iberian peninsula, including javelin throwing on horseback. Berbers are the most adequate civ to have Genitours in fact (a source to back up my claim).


In the Spanish version of the game the unit is actually called “Escaramuzador Zenete” (Zenata Skirmisher)

That or making the longbow an alternate upgrade for the archer, but I don’t see any other possible UU for the Britons so it doesn’t really sound like a good idea.

That being said, it would make sense to have the unit be available to Portuguese and Spanish without needing to be allied with Berbers. It could be a regional unit replacing the cavalry archer.

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Exactly. I know Spanish, so I was aware of this, which is appreciated of however made the translation.

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