Why are Franks considered OP?

I generally agree with nerf proposals to top civs in here, however, Franks is the 1 civ of the “top tier” ones that I consider as belonging to a slightly different group. Let’s call them “A- tier”.

In my view, the Berry bonus is something that kicks in mostly in Feudal, you can use it to get a 19 pop Scout rush, but other civs like Lithuanians or Mongols can do that too and they aren’t considered OP. So clearly, it’s not just the Berry bonus that is at work here.

As for the free Farms, sure, free Horse Collar is nice to have, and I won’t deny it saves you quite a bit of wood. Other civs, like Burmese, have a similar bonus here also.

Then, there is the extra HP. Now, since you don’t have to get Bloodlines, you technically save 150f 100g. However, at high level nobody commits to mass Knights in early Castle Age just like that, because the risk is running into endless walls, Monks, and Arbalest and not having a competitive Imperial Age time. What I’m trying to say is that in Castle Age (especially early Castle age), Knights are used sparingly, mostly as a unit of 1 to try and find little damage here and there, especially if you go vs a civ that has access to Arbalest.

Thus, I think this bonus of extra HP on cavalry is relevant mostly in FEUDAL age. So you get 54 HP Scouts, who can take spear hits better and fight Villagers better. That’s sweet, but Scouts are easy-ish to wall, and even here, I don’t see the advantage that more HP Scouts have as decisive. It is very rare for me to see situations where Frankish Scout rush would find damage where something like Mongol or Khmer Scout rush wouldn’t have found any. Scouts are generally about micro and finding small bits of damage here and there, if opponent slips, generally they die vs any type of Scout.

Anyway, all of these bonuses are nice little things. The main powerspike I see that one could argue makes Franks OP is the combined Berry bonus and savings on farm tech. In theory, the meta is to get Double Bit Axe right away, and Horse Collar as you age up. However, most players actually get Horse Collar in Feudal, call it a bit of extra greed. Here, it turns out, the 75f extra you pay slows your Castle age timing by about 0:30-1:00 overall. This is a semi big deal and it’s hard to resist clicking Horse Collar and have the maturity to realize aging up faster could be crucial.

Anyway, that and faster Berries allows Franks to generally outpace the opponent to Castle age by about 1-1:30 min (all other things equal). This is what I consider their main power spike. However, you also know that it will ALWAYS be Knights + Skirms or + Scorpions and Mangonels. The units they make for their 1-TC play are very predictable, this isn’t something like Chinese that in Castle age could come at you with literally anything.

So after this long essay, my question is: are Franks, by virtue of their early Castle age power spike, in the same boat as Chinese, Mayans, Burgundians?

(just for reference,

Chinese save hundreds of resources on techs AND their permanent extra 2 vills can generate up to 1000 additional resources over a 20-min period.

Mayans Crossbows are so cheap, you can throw them away, and you cannot really go Skirms/Siege like you would vs most other Archer civs because there is always the threat of the Eagle switch. They get more food from farms, hunt, etc. their gold spots last forever and they have a SICK Imperial age composition

Burgundians, if you count how much additional wood you generate from the early techs (especially from early Bow Saw, it’s like 300+ free wood that allows you to have a very smooth Castle age, not to mention the food you spare on Wheelbarrow, farm upgrades etc., and their sick late game. Burgundians are a civ that is strong at any stage: strong in Feudal, strong in Castle age due to Cavalier, strong in Imp due to Flemish, Handcannons, Bombard Cannons, early Paladins… you name it).

In my view, Franks do not belong in the same tier as these civ. I also personally find beating Franks also far easier than beating Burgundians or Mayans.

I would like to hear other people’s thoughts on this matter.

(I should mention that I don’t care to know if Franks are OP in TGs because TGs are not balanced anyway and all about spamming the most pop-efficient gold unit combination and play with a very small subset of the actual units which I find uninteresting).

Franks aren’t OP on 1v1 but they are too strong in TGs, having a great dark age eco bonus, then free farm upgrades + free bloodlines in castle age and also some of the best paladins that can be spammed 40% faster means other paladin civs can’t even compete vs that.

Then say this to Khmer and Indians before nerfs.

wouldn’t the solution to this be just drop more Stables? That tech costs wood + gold, in theory you could use the wood to get some extra stables and have an equivalent flood just from a greater number of stables.

I could also give tons of counterexamples of units that are OP in TGs but not nerfed because 1v1s are more important. Balancing around TGs is the exception, not the rule.

Just to give a few examples, Drill SO, Celt SO, War Elephant are all units that are very OP in TGs but balanced or underwhelming in 1v1s so they are not nerfed. Celts in general is nearly bottom tier on Arabia but top tier on something like BF.

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Their bonuses have a great synergy (food => scouts then knights) and focus on the knight and castle, which are very strong by themselves.

This is for 20th November - 26th April, >1200 Elo, open maps. I think the win rate explains why a lot of people think they are OP, as for why the win rate is that hgh… ¯\(ツ)

I have a couple of thoughts though:

  1. At the Elo that the vast majority of the player base is at, knights are simply significantly easier to use effectively. Its much easier to focus on the Macro when you aren’t having to worry about micro.
  2. Franks berry bonus + extra HP gears you up very nicely to get to CA knight spam
  3. Cheap castles make it easier to defend yourself or drop your opponent sooner
  4. At the mid-lower range Elo a lot of people civ pick mayans, britains, ethopian & mongals all of which the franks have a positive win rate against

Tbh there’s only like 10 civs that have a win rate vs franks that overlap 50% or less:

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I don’t believe in naive winrates. Or rather, you can’t argue with statistics, so I am obliged to agree with the number itself, but concluding that a civ with high winrate is OP is not a logical conclusion. In some cases perhaps, people just need to L2P better. It could also be that a few civ pickers really familiar with Franks go vs people going random civ and if you play only 2-3 civs you are gonna have a deeper knowledge.

this is the main reason I see for Franks being so dominant.

I imagine if people at mid-elo “default” to 3 TC boom as Britons because… that’s how mid elo players think, see bonus, use bonus, then yes 3 TC Britons dies to 1 TC Franks all in. Part of being a mature player is recognizing when you counter 1 TC with 1 TC.

this to me is surprising. I don’t see how Franks ccan have an advantage vs civs like Saracens or Turks. Any Camel civ basically instantly shuts down Franks cavalry play at which point you must do Crossbows (which are slower) or boom (and Franks aren’t great late game).

Your graph also shows Berbers as a top 4 civ on Arabia, which to me is yet another clear sign that people don’t know how to wall properly and Monks are an underused unit in mid elo. Booming under pressure is also something your average player can’t do efficiently I figure, difference between having 1-2 min idle TC time while you are pressured and having 8+ is like 10 extra vills, which make or break your boom versus the army advantage the Knights player has.

80% of tournaments if not 95% are 1v1 tournaments because nobody takes TGs seriously and also TG tournaments are boring to watch for most people, which is why they have lower viewer numbers and lower prize pools. You wanna see strategy, decision making etc., not the game being decided by which team has more ponds on their side of BF or which team gets better RNG on Nomad. Or seeing a 300-unit spamfest condensed into 40 tiles of space and all of them being gold units.

You can call any feature civs have a “bonus”. Byzantines have 3 bonuses only in the army department, one for Skirmishers, one for Pikemen and one for Camels. See what I did there?

It’s better to think about which bonuses are relevant, and which aren’t. Franks, their “main” thing is the early Scout rush they can do with increased HP Scouts (but Scouts aren’t very good on Arabia atm), and then the early Castle age. After that, besides cheaper Castles and BBC (which other civs with good tech tree also get), they don’t have much going for them in Imperial age in 1v1s. You can argue that Farm techs and Berry bonus are 2 different bonuses, but in reality they are 1, because they accomplish the same thing, getting you to Castle Age earlier.

you are confused between actual players and twitch viewers

there are 15x as many people playing multiplayer teamgames compared to 1v1 (go look yourself. AoE2.net). the same was true on zone. the same was true on voobly.

the game is from 1999. it was made for tons of map sizes and game modes. the design was not concerned with the habits of random spectators


The graph I posted above is after removing people who use the same civ for > 40% of their games (not a complete fix but does remove a large part of the bias).

Even on > 1600 Elo level Franks have the second highest win rate just behind mayans

I think I disagree with your sentiment about the utility of win rates though, to me they can be a pretty decent indicator if something is out of alignment. I think the harder question though is what then to do about it, which win rates definitely can’t tell you.

I think I also disagree with your assertion that people “just need to learn to play against them better”, whilst this belief may hold true for the lower Elos, when it applies to ~80-90% of your player base I think its more of a fundamental design issue.


You forgot to mention cheap castles, which are extremely important in franks gameplay.

Then, franks are basically an idiotproof civ. First off civ with strong mobile options (which basically mean knights), do extremely well in low mid elo since mobility helps hiding decision making mistakes with army positioning, which 95% of players do on the ladder. Then franks basically play the game for you with dark Age food bonus, free horse collar (researching horse collar Is absolutely essential in feudal of you plan to go for knight play and most players struggle to research It due to poor BO execution) and free bloodlines.

Basically anything line up perfecly for franks in the ladder.


Franks aren’t really OP, they are just EXTREMELY easy to play. Like others have said, all of their bonuses line up perfectly. Burmese, the example you have pointed out do not have that synergy.
Franks save 650 res when hitting Castle Age, as well as getting berries faster. It doesn’t really matter that you know what’s coming, because their economy us so good in the early game that their obvious play is going to be incredibly good.

“L2P” or difficulty does play a crucial role if you look at the civs that perform well vs the bottom tier. Malay, Portuguese and especially Saracens are all pretty decent civs, they are just harder to play. Burgundians are potetntially stronger than Franks, but you still have to make decisions when to get the upgrades, and you actually have to BUY them. Franks get all of their bonuses for free, hence the “they play themselves at a certain point”.


It’s exactly that, it’s ease of play and reputation. Remember how Franks win rate used to be 52% and now it oscillates between 53 and 55? Despite the fact they were only nerfed since then? The only thing that increased alongside their winrate is people complaining about them.

The rest of the chart quite supports that: unless you’re somehow fine with believing that Saracens or Bohemians are unironically worse than Burmese or that Aztecs are only a midtier civ on open maps, you can’t just take the chart at face value for actual balance.


Except having such synergy between bonuses is what makes them soo frustating to play against in TGs where all their weaknesses are easily covered by other players, and pickrates prove that.

Teamgames are limited likely because of the difficulty of scheduling matches betweeen so many players from different parts of the world. Also having just finished watching rage forest, your analysis of teamgames is very reductive. There was plenty of decision making and strategy and while yes the lakes mattered, they were nowhere near game deciding.

You’re probably right, I don’t play a whole lot of team games.
What I find curious though is that people complain about Franks in team games or civ picking in general, when the meta is so established that you always face the same units every game period. Of course the knight civ and the archer civ will be used every time, because they are simply the best in that facet.

Is fine to have strong civs in TGs but Franks and Britons are simply too powerful to the point other paladin/archer civs aren’t viable. If we have such line with Lithuanian Paladins with 22 attack then nerf then too the 40% fast creating 192 HP paladins.

Indeed, and when you create a civ without knights, you need some very strong counters (at least on paper) to the meta plays: Hindustanis and Gurjaras are perfect example of that, because basically either you play knights/archers, or you should be more than suited to counter them.
If you fail, you slip to the bottom.

there are literally 5 units that are usable in TGs, plus however many UUs are good. Siege Onager, Paladin, Cav Archer, Halberds, any type of Elephant unit.

You have the same 3 strats over and over. Flank Italians going for Fast Imp into Trade Cast spam + Genoese and Celts cutting with SO.

Don’t confuse someone like MembTV trying to create hype with the gamemode being actually interesting (or balanced), of course he will create hype, it’s his job.

TGs are played with a very small subset of gold units.

I agree in general with this analysis, but what resources do they save? 250 of Bloodlines, 150 of Horse Collare, that’s 400, then what?

There is something I call “youtube player” on ladder, someone who civ picks and plays a strat he saw on Hera’s channel or something. Being a youtube player really isn’t hard, and there aren’t any hard choices to be made with Burgundian techs. You can get 2x Bit Axe at around 14 pop if you force drop food, then as soon as you hit Feudal you get Bow Saw (with attention on what opponent is doing, as Burgundians in Feudal you nearly always wanna defend initially so open Skirms or something like that makes sense most of the time). The farm upgrades, you get them before dropping 1st farm. Ideally, you get Heavy Plow in Feudal also in which case you are set up very nicely for the rest of the game, but that might be pushing your luck a bit, I wouldn’t do this every game, only in favorable matchups.

Then from Castle age, your civ explodes: Cavalier, 5 TC into Flemish, Handcannoneer with extra damage, early Paladin… along with a very nice tech tree whose only flaw is arguably lacking last Archer armor on Skirms and Arbalest.

Like, I totally disagree Burgundians are hard to play at all. In fact Burgundians are one of the civs I see suffer 2-3 Feudal vills kills and still win games.

Idk what the opening in >2k games is for Franks, if it’s Scouts, I can see 54 HP Scouts trading better vs someone opening Archers, so yeah that’s an advantage (like I said, vs Vills, I don’t see extra HP on Scouts as a super big deal).

I think we agree that overall “Franks win more often than not” (this is an undeniable fact). I would personally take >2k for reference to balance civs, but whatever, let’s say 1.6k is a good benchmark also.

Now, it’s useful to ask, WHY and WHEN do Franks win the game on an average Arabia map. And to me, this is 2 windows: 19 pop Scouts allows you to pick off a vill maybe (in 2.2k games as far as I know, Scouts opening is dead because people are so good at scouting it and quickwalling). And then there is the Castle age all-in. Knights all-in is something that I would say is very risky in high elo, I’ve seen it go well, and I’ve seen it backfire immensely, overall though, I would say it’s on the defender to crumble under Mangonel/Knight etc. pressure, not on the attacker to do damage. With perfect quickwalling and Monk micro, in theory Knight all-in would never be viable while Crossbow spam would still be viable.

Overall, I don’t deny Franks are a good civ, my thread is though, are they AS GOOD AS Mayans, and other civs? In my opinion, no. They have 1 window to do damage, as opposed to Mayans and their 3+.

I speculate that quickwalling might be one of the key differentiators as to why knights are so much more dominant at lower Elos. Quickwalling allows people to defend eco rapidly in response to a raid protecting from melee which pretty much most players (I’m guessing) <1500 can’t reliably do. This in combination with people’s lack of ability to micro and macro (as required for archers) is probs why we see Mayans and Britain’s going from being average to top tier as Elo increases and why knight civs dominate lower Elos.

I strongly believe balance needs to be considered across all Elos. People play the game for fun and it’s important to ensure nothing is too dominant at any point. Considering how’s large the <1400 player base is i would argue Frank’s + knight spam more generally isn’t in a great place, though I struggle to see a way to adjust it that doesn’t screw up the higher Elos given that archers are more dominant there…

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