Why Swedes was and is still the worst designed civ IMO

Disclaimer: this is only talking about design. Not balance.


Both the cause and the result of all design problems of this civ. Let’s look at how unique this unit is:

  • Higher melee and charge ability - this I would say is a nice and interesting unique trait for a unique unit, and somewhat fits the lore.
  • Ranged but no melee counter to cavalry - this is also fair enough. If you have high melee as a musketeer, you cannot also have a high melee multiplier against cavalry. One way to balance this out is a smaller melee multiplier like janissary, but a ranged counter instead is also nice.
  • Ability to gain longer range - this one somewhat complements with the ranged counter, because cavalry close in really fast and you need more shots to be an effective counter. Okay.
    ########## BUT ##########
  • Higher ROF but lower base ranged damage - now how does this conceptually synergize with the previous ones? I feel it is there for the sake of being there. It can still be the foot-dragoon with a normal ROF and slightly tweaked damage.
  • Ability to gain ranged defense - another totally out-of-place trait. They were a cavalry counter at range but cannot trade with dragoons (BTW, in the very beginning they could). Now you want to counter heavy cavalry as intended? You do worse on that because no melee defense anymore. It suddenly turns from a foot dragoon into a musketeer that can outshoot every other musketeer.
  • Just an honorable mention that in the very beginning, it also had shorter range (10) but then outrange everyone else at the maximum of 17 through the upgrades. Again, why did they even need it?

Another hidden reason behind the awkwardness of this unit is the placement of dragoons. Dragoon could soft-trade with musketeer well at range, though they do not counter each other unless in melee, because the former has high speed and ranged defense, while the latter has high base damage and high pop-wise hp. Now should you let caroleans counter dragoons (at range) as well?
No - what do you use to counter dragoons then?
Yes - it then puts dragoons in a bad position.

Don’t get me wrong. I like innovative units and new mechanics. I don’t like hybrid units. I don’t especially like hybrid regular units. Ironically if you look at the DLC civs and all the crazy natives/mercenaries added later, carolean is still one of the weirdest. See some other unique musketeers:

  • Nizam: well this is another strange hybrid unit but okay it is limited.
  • Regular: longer range, less cost effective. Simple as it is. This is how you make a unique unit.
  • Soldado: a 2-pop musketeer costing 1.5 and functioning as 1.5 musketeers (though it could also gain some really gimmicky traits through some cards but none affects its role).
  • Gascenya: lower hp, and a unique ability to boost DPS when closer to the target (they used to be op as well because they also had longer range, which was, again, unfitting to its design — why does a close-in unit need longer range?).
  • Sentinel: lest cost effective, bonus when defending, construct defense buildings, all meeting its design as a defensive unit.
  • Irish brigadier, royal musketeer and other KoTM musketeer natives: all musketeers doing musketeer things.
  • Armoured pistoleer: a meat shield with a special ability that enhances its meat shield status. Do I need to give it another long-range sniping ability? No.
    These are all units with one clear purpose. Either the normal musketeer stuff, or has a single unique purpose and all unique traits to fit that purpose. They don’t need to be good at everything.
    It makes no conceptual sense to design a melee-focused unit that ALSO has longer range and AlSO good at HR. These traits are often exclusive in most unit designs.

Edit: because someone interprets this as a criticism to new mercenaries, I have to emphasize again these are used as POSITIVE EXAMPLES.

The problem of carolean is not only its weird counters and roles, but how many unrelated traits are stuffed into it.
All the following problems stem from this design. The fact that this unit alone has already been tweaked so many times speaks for itself.

Unit roster

Swedes was the only civ that completely lacks certain unit functions, (excluding artillery here). All civs lacking musketeers have a strong melee infantry. Aztecs as a civ without cavalry on paper has all cavalry equivalents. Just to mention, the compensations some Native American civs get for the lack of artillery also cause problems more or less.
Swedes lacked a dragoon and an effective skirmisher completely, and this leads to caroleans. Caroleans were a counter-everything unit in the beginning, then a ranged musketeer but cannot counter dragoons (that’s why the crossbowman is added back) but also could be buffed to beat other musketeers with all the aforementioned unique traits.


Mercenaries were not useful before DE, not even for the “mercenary civ” (Germans), but Swedes can mass mercenaries because they have a lackluster roster. That’s fair. What they really lacked were skirmishers, ranged light cavalry and strong melee infantry (though a lot of civs can do without the last one), so they have access to jaegers, black riders and landsknechts. But why do they also keep getting super musketeers as well? Swedes spamming super mercenaries in the late game has been a thing for really long.

Now that hakka is a proper dragoon (which I’d say is a great change), all of these need to be seriously re-considered. There is no need to give them so many compensations for an incomplete unit roster any more.

BTW, when the light cavalry hakka gained a counter against all cavalry to deal with dragoons (again, the same old problem), they become OP as well.

Free advanced arsenal

it took me huge efforts to accept why it is “okay” to give Japanese a free advanced arsenal, but I still cannot see the point for Swedes. They don’t lack any upgrade tech. They have really good improvement cards and some buffing their units in all strange ways than simple stats buffs.
Funny thing is this is barely noticed in most 1v1 supremacy because you mostly won’t have the resources to research advanced arsenal techs. Maybe it encourages you to stay in age 2 longer? No need. They can boom really fast. They have even better units to mass in the later ages.

And a lot others

They also have a myriad of improvements on the underused mechanics of the game (still not useful though): they got mortar that can attack units, they got a semi “melee ability” for artillery, they even got a better trample mode. Does any of these relate to the previous aspects of civ? No. No one even ever notice them.

Here I bring up the same point again: the problem is stuffing so many and somewhat non-synchronizing unique traits. This is the core design problem of not only carolean as one unit, but also the whole civ.

I still hold the conspiracy that there were no specific update plans at AOE3DE’s release. All DLCs and updates were planned because the game wasn’t a DOA like AOE1DE (and look how they treated it). So Swedes is kinda designed as “the compilation of what the game has not implemented yet”.

Things to fix

So my suggestions on reworking of the civ are:

  • Turn carolean into a more musketeer-like unit with one or two unique traits (like ranged counter cavalry and high melee, that’s enough).
  • Turn some of the improvements on arsenal, trample, mortar, etc. into universal. It has been done with mortars which is great.
  • Carefully re-visit the mercenary contracts they have.

Not talking about balance here. Balance-wise, there was a period where Swedes were weak because their start is nerfed (and nothing more). That is a cover-up of the design problem. Any civ can be made balanced or weak in 1v1 supremacy if you hit their start or eco really hard. You can balance a blend civ, an uninspired civ, or a poorly design civ, but the design problem is still there.


Have you had a closer look at the leather cannon?

I think the solution for sweden is to simply increase the cost of the units that are overperforming. The problem isn’t the unit itself, but the economy, especially the massive amounts of food.

I find leather cannon more acceptable design-wise. It’s like a super abus gun making up for the lack of skirmishers, but cannot deal with dragoons (which is a universal problem of the civ). It’s not that they have bayonets, have a multiplier against cavalry, could speed boost, or maybe could switch to artillery defense.

Also like I said, even if the civ is made balanced or weak (like they once did) with a big eco nerf, it is still a very poorly designed one to me.

There is a very fine line between something just being overtuned or poorly designed. I think Sweden is generally fine from a design perspective, it had some weird quircks like being able to create walls of bushes, but those are fixed.I think it simply needs a different approach to tuning numbers.

Nerfing unit costs is not the same as nerfing the economy (except when nerfing things that directly involve economy like vilagers, torps, manors, shrines, plantations, mills, market etc). Nerfing economy slows down the civ as a whole, including age ups, timings, upgrades etc. Nerfing unit costs is a much more targeted balance adjustment. You don’t absolutely destroy a timing but you make it less effective, for example.

Fair point. They could be made acceptable balance-wise with a few number tweaks.

What I mean is, first of all I don’t buy the “lackluster roster compensated by a multi-purpose unit or mercenaries” idea. Then it produces all these strange units and combinations.
Another thing is they have quite a few unique “improvements” wasted, such as improved trample, etc., and I have no idea why they are exclusive to Swedes.

Yeah, I don’t feel like Sweden is the worst designed civ in the game, overtuned maybe, but the design is concise and makes sense to me. It has a lot of disparate elements that coalesce into a coherent whole, a very strong whole, but at least you can immediately figure out what’s the design intention behind Sweden.

Now INCA to me is the worst designed civ.

They have a lot of vaguely defensive themed elements that don’t really seem to work together, an unit roster that also seems to have a lot of glaring holes without having Sweden’s advantage of powerful tools to compensate, and the few strengths the civ had hinged on gimmicks with little counterplay, that din’t really work well with the rest of the civ to form a coherent whole, and that they had been nerfed to oblivion to boot, leaving the civ both without identity and without purpose.

I could go on all day about all the strange design decisions that the Inca civ has that I cannot really explain to myself what they were intended to do, and I still don’t quite get what’s the intended playstyle of the civilization. What’s worse even, the Inca stole the Aztec’s identity as the civilization that plays around the unit counter system by also not having artillery nor cavalry, yet the execution here left a lot to be desired, while dimishing what was unique about the aztecs.


There should be another thread about Inca. Unfortunately I don’t explore them deep enough.
Inca also has a similar problem of incomplete unit roster. They also lack dragoons, same as Swedes. But while Swedes gets a super musketeer-dragoon hybrid, Inca gets a really bad one.
Chincha raft is another victim of the multi-purpose design philosophy like caroleans. Why give Inca a single super ship?

I’d say both DE release civs were pretty weird. They somewhat went back to normal later. US and Mexicans are much more overstuffed, but their units are actually far less strange.

BTW, too many economic houses, and Incas have the laziest one of them.


I agree, Inca is by far the worst designed civ. At least with Sweden there is a bit of a thematic reason for their weird design. Sweden was a small country that required a lot of German mercenaries to supplement their army, and they forced this arrangement by removing a few key units and giving reliable access to mercenary equivalents.

WIth Inca they just made an Aztec clone that initially was straight up better, but ended up getting nerfed to be way worse. Just like the Aztecs, they’re entirely restricted to the stone age. But the Inca took much longer to subjugate and quickly adopted European technology like cavalry, steel armour, and artillery. There’s no reason they shouldn’t have a full roster of modern units like Manco Horsemen, Bolas Riders, and Light Cannons.

There are just so many of their features that are just dumb or have no thematic basis as an Inca bonus.

  • Priestess can convert
  • Houses generate food
  • Military units can garrison
  • Poison archers
  • A single type of ship that can do everything
  • Stealth buildings
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These enhance my belief that 3DE was probably envisioned as a “finish once and for all” job, which only got follow-ups because it did well. They stuffed so many strange and unrelated features into the two new civs.

I’m not that pessimistic. The launch of DE was kind of a disaster with tons of legacy bugs and exploits still in the game (such as cav boxes) and a bunch of new ones like completely wiping your computer. And all the PC police nonsense on top of that. The fact that it got past that indicates there was a decent level of support for it.


These mechanics were there to get AoE2 players to try 3DE.

They even said it in an interview. That AoE2 players might like Inca, because one wololo and they are enchanted.

Doubtful, Ethiopia existed long before KOTM with the historical battle, they clearly had a plan for DE, not an off-shot.

Inca isn’t any less of a good design that the other natives. Their design idea is to be a cockroach civ based around fortifications and map control.

I think Sweden would be better if the carolean got a 10% price increase. If this turns out to be too much, we can revert some of the historic nerfs on the carolean.

Well then where is my Morocco civ.

Gimmeeee. :laughing:


It synergises very well, its basically a kiting incentive. You have higher range then normal muskets so you can keep your distance, you are also slightly faster so you have advantage in moving and firing. The lower ROF also means you always fire first after the first volley.

The range armour change is basically for you to have a fighting chance against skirms lategame since skirms are the only unit that Swedes truly lack and probably are not allowed to ever have. it also combos well with the higher movement speed and the lower ROF since like ashi you can move forward and fire to get closer to the skirm and also fire before they can to minimise their DPS

By the lategame your range mass is such that melee armour is basically not needed vs cav so ur real enemy is how to counter skirms

There was a reason that early swedes were basically unbeatable when svea lifeguard came in

If anything carolean is the most upgrade synergistic unit in the game.

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The difference is that Inca was (rightly) nerfed to be bottom tier, while Sweden is by FAR the strongest civ hands down according to the latest statsitical data we now have available for 1100+ ELO. If you are going to have a civ with a bunch of weird features, it should be nerfed into the bottom tier, like Inca. (Note that I do play Inca myself and like that it is bottom tier). Personally I strongly dislike buildings that generate resources without any map control such as Japan and Sweden and the China wonders, however they seem to have nerfed these features so they are manageable in civs like Dutch and Inca. So it can be done, but such civs had better be lower tier to make up for the fact that eco is just way way too easy compared to the standard non-trickle civs. When you combine this ‘lazy mans’ super easy eco in the way of torps, with a ‘do it all’ unit like the Caroleans, the civ is just too easy to win with. Don’t give both easy features, give either easy eco or an easy do it all unit, don’t give both to one civ.

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I think Caros need less base DMG or a slower fire rate, but a slightly larger cav multiplier. IMO This unit should LOSE to other musks/regular units but shred cav, this would tempt the swede player to use leather cannons/artillery/jaeger more(I think as originally intended) to deal anti infantry damage. But instead there’s literally no need to make any other unit than caros.

EDIT: idk, hitting swedens workhorse could make the civ trash tier, if the caroleans get hit they might need compensation buffs but I think the civ would be so much more interesting if the caroleans weren’t just anti everything, and the swede player has to fill the gaps with arty/cav/mercenaries. I remember being really excited about sweden because it seemed like a civ where you kind of build your unit roster out of mercenary cards.

Just easy, It should be:

  • Caros counter HCav at range

  • Hakkas counter LCav at melee, without range attack

  • LCanons act as skirms

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Dev design problem has been talked since beginning, after years passed obviously dev is not going to “fix” them, these are just something out of game concept in the game. However I think the balance for these civs except latest DLC are much better than before.

What I don’t think is right way that dev tried to put scenario unit/building for DLC such as fixed gun. This kind of stuffs always ruin the balance.

Let us be honest if your civ ain’t British or germans there is a good possibility if your civ being badly designed and/or having too many historical mistakes .
Anyway the musketeer type unit is worst unit in the game, design wise. Being a meat shield and counter to cav shouldn’t be a thing if u ain’t a pikeman just as an example. Otto is also a braindead civ.

People often don’t consider that since Carolinians are the 90% composition of swede armies they benefit easily from the arsenal and combat improvement cards. Other civs have three categories of units to improve depending on the strategy. Swedes only need to improve one giving them a very linear unit upgrade track.