Unique Unit: Jaguar Warrior (anti-infantry infantry)
Unique Tech: Garland Wars (+4 infantry attack)

Team Bonus: Relics +33% Gold
* Start with Eagle Warrior, not Scout Cavalry
* Villagers carry +5
* All military units created 15% faster
* Monks +5 HP for each Monastery technology.

Unique Unit: Longbowman (archer)
Unique Tech: Yeomen (+1 foot archer range; +2 tower attack)

Team Bonus: Archery Ranges 20% faster
* Town Centers cost -50% wood in Castle Age, Imperial Age*
* Foot archers +1 range Castle Age, +1 Imperial Age (for 2+ total)
* Shepherds work 25% faster

* Changed from Age of Kings. (AoK - Town Centers cost -50%)
Comments: Q) Are the Britons Infantry the best?

A) I've answered it five or six times I think. Yes, British infantry receive all infantry upgrades. To put this in perspective, there are four civs which have infantry equal to the Brits (i.e., all upgrades). Two civs which have special infantry civ advantages, but don't get all upgrades, so it's kind of a toss-up on whether they're "better". Finally, two civs have all infantry upgrades AND get special bonuses, so are clearly superior to the British. Of course the remaining four civs are inferior.

However, the bare bones description above miss an important point, which is that all other civs' infantry is inherently inferior to the British because of the British secret weapon -- kick-@$$ archers. 20 British infantry backed up by 10 British archers will handily defeat 30 of any other civs' infantry.

The English get all of the ships and ship techs except for the cannon galleon.

Q) We already know the Britons get the best infantry unit, the Champion. Do they get the best upgrades, all the upgrades?

A) The Britons get all Blacksmith research items.

 Unique Unit: Cataphract (anti-infantry cavalry)
Unique Tech: Logistica (Cataphracts cause trample damage)

Team Bonus: Monks +50% heal speed*
* Buildings +10% HPs Dark Age, +20% Feudal Age, +30% Castle Age, +40% Imperial Age
* Camels, Skirmishers, Pikemen, Halberdiers* costs -25%
* Fire ships +20% attack
* Advance to Imperial Age costs -33%

* Changed from Age of Kings. (AoK - Monks 3x heal speed, Halberdiers Expansion-only)
Comments: Q) Most people don't build monks with short ranges, they don't work against siege, people aim for them with cavalry, and suck in battle when trying to convert or heal.

A) If people don't want to build monks, so? The Byzantine healing bonus is not the reason people choose the civ. People aim for monks with cavalry because they're scared, not because monks are weak. If you fear losing monks, group them in a defensive formation such as a box, with troops surrounding them (such as paladins, or teutonic knights).

Q) So what is the range of a monks healing, and if a unit is hurt right by it, does it start to heal it?

A) Not very far, and yes, monks auto-heal injured units they see nearby. Including those guardian troops on the outside of the box formation protecting the monks.

 Unique Unit: Woad Raider (fast infantry)
Unique Tech: Furor Celtica (+50% HP Siege Workshop Units)

Team Bonus: Siege Workshops 20% faster
* Infantry move 15% faster
* Lumberjacks work 15% faster
* Siege weapons fire 20% faster
* Sheep not converted in in 1 Celt unit's LOS

Comments: Celt infantry speed bonus may not seem like much at first. But consider it means the following amazingly useful things: Celtic infantry are much harder to hit by ranged shots lacking ballistics (example: all enemy siege). Even shots with ballistics can be dodged more easily. Celtic infantry are less vulnerable to missile troops, because they spend less time charging up to the archers. Plus they can actually run down the archers. Celtic pikemen are harder to ignore by cavalry, because they are so quick the cavalry can't just dodge around them. You can run away from enemy footmen and they can't catch you. Excellent for raiding. Most civs, once they send a troop of infantry into the enemy town to cause trouble, have to write off the attack force. The Celts can actually retrieve them and use them again, later on. When other civs research Squires, their normal infantry will thereafter be as speedy as the Celt normal infantry. However, the Celts can retain their speed advantage if they go for woad raiders, fastest footmen in the game.

Celts get all siege weapons and upgrades except the dreaded bombard cannon. They are one of only four civs to get the siege onager, the only weapon in Age of Kings that can destroy trees. Plus, their siege weapons attack more quickly, which means that a Celtic ram, for instance, gets in 20 percent more blows before it's knocked out. It means that your onagers usually get one more parting shot before being KOed by enemy archers. And it means that you almost invariably win trebuchet duels. You need the siege weapons, too, because of your archery and armor weakness. Who needs archers when you have fast-firing heavy scorpions? Emphasize siege - you'll be glad you did.

Unique Unit: Chu Ko Nu (fast-firing crossbowman)
Unique Tech: Rocketry (+2 Chu Ko Nu pierce attack, +4 scorpions)

Team Bonus: Farms +45 food
* Start +3 villagers but -150 food, -50 wood
* Technologies cost -10% Feudal Age, -15% Castle Age, -20% Imperial Age
* Town Centers support 10 population
* Demolition ships +50% HPs

Comments: Last Saturday I got my behind totally kicked by a newbie player who used chu-ko-nu to slaughter me. He built a castle in my town, so I naturally sent my mighty warriors to kill it. Lo and behold a stream of arrows issued from the castle like unto a firehose, causing my dudes to pretty much drop in their tracks. "Yow!" I thought. "Twenty dead woad raiders in 20 seconds! What the heck does he _have_ in those castles?" So I naturally pumped out some battering rams to knock down the offending obstruction. Even the mighty shower of arrows from the castles (which I'd realized held 20 enemy archers of some sort) couldn't stop a ram, after all. Well, the ram got closer, closer, and suddenly 20 chu-ko-nu popped out of the castle and started shooting at the ram. "Ha!" I thought. "That ram has 180 points of piercing armor. Those stupid chu-ko-nu will do only minimum damage." Turns out that the chu-ko-nu DID only minimum damage -- one point for *each* arrow they fire.

My wonderful rams melted like candles in a Texas summertime, and I learned the horrible truth about the chu-ko-nu -- when used in numbers, they are devastating against units that are supposedly "strong" against archers. The reason is simple -- such units typically have strong piercing armor. But Chu-ko-nu, with their bonus attacks, do so much more damage to such units that they really don't suffer from the usual handicap.

So, while chu-ko-nu may get killed by longbowmen and throwing axemen, they sure seem to do a number on skirmishers, light cavalry, siege, buildings, and boats.

Unique Unit: Throwing Axeman
(ranged infantry)
Unique Tech: Bearded Axe (+1 Throwing Axeman range)

Team Bonus: Knights +2 LOS
* Castles cost -25%
* Knights +20% HPs
* Farm upgrades free (requires Mill)

Comments: So why isn't the Frankish unique unit a knight? Cavalry are already one of the most powerful unit lines in the game. With five horse units already available to the Franks, including the awesome Paladin, it could be overkill to add a super-duper cavalry. Besides, then there would be decision making associated with playing the Franks. As it stands, a Frankish player may choose to upgrade his cavalry or his infantry (or both, if he is lucky). The throwing axmen do add a nice benefit to the cavalry, as the latter lack any ranged weapon. Axemen can take out siege weapons just on the other side of walls, or deal with pesky fire ships or scorpions that can stay just out of cavalry range.

 Unique Unit: Huskarl (anti-archer infantry)
Unique Tech: Anarchy (Create Huskarls at Barracks);
Perfusion (Barracks units created 50% faster)

Team Bonus: Barracks 20% faster
* Infantry cost -10% Feudal Age, -15% Castle Age, -25% Imperial Age
* Infantry +1 attack vs. buildings
* Villagers +5 attack vs. wild boar; Hunters carry +15 meat
* +10 population Imperial Age

 Unique Unit: Tarkan (anti-building cavalry)
Unique Tech: Atheism (+100 years Wonder/Relic victory time; -50% Spies/Treason cost)

Team Bonus: Stables 20% faster
* Don't need houses but start -100 wood
* Cavalry Archers cost -25% Castle Age, -30% Imperial Age
* Trebuchets +30% accuracy

 Unique Unit: Samurai (anti-unique unit infantry)
Unique Tech: Kataparuto (Trebuchets fire, pack/unpack faster)

Team Bonus: Galleys +50% LOS
* Fishing Ships 2X HPs; +2P armor; work rate +5% Dark Age, +10% Feudal Age, +15% Castle Age, +20% Imperial Age
* Mill, Lumber Camp, Mining Camp cost -50%
* Infantry attack 10% faster Feudal Age, 15% Castle Age, 25% Imperial Age

Comments: I will say again, the Japanese fishing bonus (which would make them unstoppable in ROR) is probably not as good as you are thinking in AOK. If anything, their cheap dropsites make them efficient hunters. They are still not an economic powerhouse like the Chinese, Franks or Persians. Samurai can beat any unique unit, although it will take many of them to fight off a Teutonic Knight or War Elephant. Samurai can still beat a Champion 1 on 1--barely. It is easy to produce more Champions than a Japanese player can produce Samurai. Archers take out Samurai like they do with most infantry.

In our original spec, we planned to have certain units have multiple attacks. For a number of reasons, none of which were because it was hard to program, this was scrapped. Two reasons for dumping it were, first, the icky interface it led to, and second, the immense annoyance a player suffered when his multi-units used the "wrong" attack. Example: you have a bunch of samurai. Suddenly you spot an enemy erecting a trebuchet nearby. Frantically, you target it with your samurai and scroll off that screen to find more soldiers to fight it. When you return, you find that the samurai are uselessly shooting arrows at the treb, which has meanwhile destroyed your castle. If they'd only rushed up with swords, they could have killed it. Quick responses are essential in RTS games, and multi-attack units tended to undercut this. So we went for simplicity.

Unique Unit: War Wagon (cavalry archer); Turtle Ship (armored war ship)
Unique Tech: Shinkichon (+2 range Mangonels, onagers)

Team Bonus: Mangonels, onagers +1 range
* Villagers +2 LOS
* Stone Miners work 20% faster
* Tower upgrades free (Bombard Tower requires Chemistry)
* Tower range +1 Castle Age, +1 Imperial Age (for +2 total)

Unique Unit: Plumed Archer (strong archer)
Unique Tech: El Dorado (+40 Eagle Warrior HP)

Team Bonus: Walls cost -50%
* Start with +1 villager, Eagle Warrior (not Scout Cavalry), -50 food
* Resources last 20% longer
* Archery Range units cost -10% Feudal Age, -20% Castle Age, -30% Imperial Age

Unique Unit: Mangudai (anti-siege cavalry archer)
Unique Tech: Drill (Siege Workshop units move 50% faster)

Team Bonus: Scout Cavalry, Light Cavalry, Hussar +2 LOS
* Cavalry archers fire 20% faster
* Light Cavalry, Hussar 30% HPs
* Hunters work 50% faster

Comments: I have been getting either several people or one person several times (I'm too tired to figure out which one) urging the concept of a mounted Mongol skirmisher. Looky here, son, the ONE unit that the Mongols have the very LEAST need of in the whole wide universe is a skirmisher. I mean, get real. A skirmisher's goal in life is to protect your poor hapless troops against those mean nasty enemy archers. If there's any civ in the game who DOESN'T need any defense from archers, it's the Mongols! Their _enemies_ are the guys who need mounted skirmishers!

If the Mongol UU was a mounted skirmisher I don't think I would ever build a castle as a Mongol player at all, unless I was absolutely desperate for trebuchets or the Conscription technology. Instead of this, the Mongol UU has been carefully thought out and is a useful and welcome addition to their other civ benefits. While it's possible that after a while a Mongol player might decide to produce his UU at the expense of ordinary horse archers, this is hardly the end of the world, and this kind of effect is seen with a few other civs as well -- English are unlikely to build arbalests; Teutons rarely train champions; and Turks don't research hand-cannoneer very often.

Unique Unit: War Elephant
Unique Tech: Mahouts (+30% War Elephant speed)

Team Bonus: knights +2 attack vs. archers
* Start with 50+ wood, food
* Town Center, Dock 2X HPs; work rate +10% Feudal Age, +15% Castle Age, +20% Imperial Age

Comments: Persia is actually a pretty poor rush civ. I know--I tried it yesterday. The problem is that Persia is a very cavalry-oriented civ and cav are easy to counter with spearmen or camels. All units are easy to counter with the right counter-units, but Persia is not very adept at switiching to archers or infantry. To make matters worse, cavalry are expensive, build slowly and are poor against buildings. They are awesome in large numbers in the late game, but I would rather rush with infantry, who can knock down buildings, or archers, who can shoot up villagers. Persians are good at booming for obvious reasons.

Persians are a lot of fun in the first few minutes of the game because their extra resources give them a great deal of versatility. You can afford to explore a bit more before laying down that first mill or lumber camp or switch to a fishing ship strategy earlier. Fishing ships are not quite as effective as they were in ROR, due to their cost and build time, but a Persian player can offset this bonus a bit. The superior town center and dock have no effect in the first age, but do let you quickly ramp up to your full villager or fishing ship component in later ages. You can also recover from an attack quickly, provided you haven't blown all your resources on elephants.

(On Unique Units @ GS Showcase:) This is one of those areas where fun wins out over historical accuracy. When we were first coming up with unique units for all the different civilizations, a lot of the units we came up with were fairly indistinguishable. A unique unit needs to be truly unique; not only should it look like nothing else, but it should play like nothing else in the game. Unique units are not the same as superunits, like the paladin and arbalest. The Briton longbowman grants an ability to his civilization, in this case absurd range, that no other civilization can match. Up until the point where we gave the Persians the elephant, there was no expensive but extremely powerful unit in the game except for the Teutonic knight. While it is true that Persia did not use war elephants much past the time period of the AOK Dark Age, once you see an army of elephants stride boldly into an enemy town, it is pretty easy to forgive the anachronism. Elephants elicit fear like few other units.

The Persian town center bonus means that all production and research performed at the town center is done more quickly. For instance, it takes something like 140 seconds to research the Castle Age. A Feudal-Age Persian TC gets a 10% bonus, so it would only take a Persian 126 seconds to research the Castle Age. (These numbers sound real precise, but I don't actually remember how long the castle age takes exactly.) Or if it took 20 seconds to train a villager, a Feudal Persian would only take 18 seconds to train him. In addition to age research & villagers, there are 5 other research items in the town center.

Q) Since the Persians have weak walls and towers, how do you suggest a player playing this civ should protect themself long enough to get eles(note the plural), much less get upgrades for them?

A) Persian walls and towers are as good as anyone else's in Feudal and Castle. It's only late Castle/Imperial that they start dropping down the curve, which ought to give them plenty of time, especially considering that they are an attack-oriented civ, which means their _enemies_ are usually the ones on the defensive.

Q) Based on your response from my last question(a few days ago), the Persians don't get anything largely above average besides cavalry and navy. What else should a Persian player use to get rid of those pesky pikemen that could collapse their entire army? (cavalry archers, possibly?)

A) You have answered your own question correctly.

Q) Except for their weakness in towers/walls, I am assuming that Persians can last long into Imperial, with their powerful UU and full line of cavalry.

A) They just have to keep on the offensive.

Q) How fast are eles once they have been given the "husbandry drug"?

A) They are still frustratingly slow. As they should be. I think husbandry adds +10 percent to your speed is all. Which makes a big difference to units at the high end of the scale, but not elephants.

Q) It's been often mentioned that the Persians main strengths are cavalry and elephants. But other than that, what units can they get/will work well for them? How strong are their archers, ships, siege equipment, and walls/towers?

A) cavalry: better than average
foot archers: worse than average
cavalry archers: average
navy: significantly better than average
siege: average
walls/towers: significantly worse than average. Their disadvantage here starts to surface in mid-Castle.

Q) Do the Persians rely too much on elephants like in Age of Empires?

A) Actually, I found that the Persian elephants (except in Deathmatch) were not that wonderful in AoE, because of the constant food shortage you had. In AoK, the high cost of the elephants means that a Persian player has to rely on other units throughout much of the game. His super-units are the last to get the elite upgrade (usually), and non-elite war elephants, while still hard to kill, aren't nearly as dangerous to other civs. A Persian who wants to fight sans elephants will soon find that he has access to every single mounted unit in the entire game.

Unique Unit: Mameluke
(ranged camel)
Unique Tech: Zealotry (+30 camel, Mameluke HP)

Team Bonus: foot archers +1 attack vs. buildings
* Market trade cost only 5%
* Transport Ships 2X HPs, 2X carry capacity
* Galleys attack 20% faster
* Cavalry archers +3 attack vs. buildings

Comments: Q) Will any UU, Super Unit, or any other unit be able to stand a chance against the Saracen UU and live to tell about it?

A) The mamelukes are generally less-effective against units that have good normal armor. They are also vulnerable to most siege weapons, and are ineffective vs. fortifications. They do not have good piercing armor, and so take heavy losses from enemy missile troops (particularly hand-cannoneers), though they also inflict heavy losses in return. Finally, the mameluke is one of the most expensive of all the UUs. They even cost more gold than the infamous elephant (less food, tho).

Q) Horse Archer bonus vs. buildings? What kind of bonus is that?

A) An extremely useful one. A Saracen cavalry archer does three times as much damage to a building as a "normal" cav archer. It means that the Saracens are the _only_ civ that can use ranged soldiers (as opposed to the ever-vulnerable siege) to destroy an enemy town. Add this to the mamelukes, and you have a deadly combination.

Q) Are there any drawbacks that the Saracen player faces when playing against a good defensive civ?

A) Sure. To show you what I mean, the Saracen navy is an attacking navy. Its bonuses and researches are offense-oriented. Thus, fighting the Saracens at sea is tough. BUT if you do manage to get the upper hand, the Saracens find it quite hard to retake the ocean. As compared to, say, the Byzantines or Chinese, who have fine defensive ships so they can maintain a naval presence even if they are no longer dominant at sea.

This same principle is generally the case with the Saracens. When they're on a roll, they're very hard to stop, but if you CAN stop them, they find it hard to get going again. Their units are not terrific at recovering from a disadvantageous situation or sitting out a siege.

Although perhaps I have actually answered the wrong question. The Saracens are, in fact, an excellent foil for a defensive civ -- they strike, the defensive civ counterstrikes, and so forth. But this kind of war just goes on until one side makes a mistake or runs out of a critical resource at a bad time.

The civs that the Saracen has to be very careful against are not so much the good defensive civs as the other offensive civs -- if the Saracen takes a bad loss in battle, he can't really protect his town adequately from a strong attacking civ. This is also the case with the other offensive civs (such as Goths), of course, and it makes these kind of battles rather interesting -- betwixt Saracen and Goth, the fight is most critical & decisive, because once one of them gets into the other's town in force, it's curtains! On the other hand, the first time or two that the Byzantines get a troop of forces into your town, you can probably survive unless something has gone seriously wrong.

Q) Don't you think that the Saracens are too strong a civ (excellent infantry+Very Strong UU+ Stong Siege+ top-notch ranged units+good economy)? If they lack any heavy cavs., that is substituted for by a killer hybrid of ranged and cavalry which is the Mameluke? What is their weakness?

A) Here are some weaknesses.

  1. No heavy cav. While the Saracens don't fear other players' heavy cav, they also don't get the advantage of having their own armored strike force. Heavy cav performs useful tasks that no other unit does quite as effectively.
  2. Average-to-middling defenses. Good enough for Castle age, but once you get into late Imperial, the Saracen fortifications start to look a bit threadbare. Still, there's worse-off civs.
  3. Their economic bonus is highly useful, and is probably my favorite economic bonus of all AoK, but it is not the kind of bonus that you can easily parlay into fast advancement, and it also has no effect in the Dark Age. In fact, the more skilled you are at micromanaging your economy, the less vital the Saracen bonus becomes! Maybe that's why I like it so much -- because I'd rather manage my armies than my economy.
  4. An Attack Navy instead of a Defense Navy. If you are the kind of player who doesn't like to mess all that much with the ships, Byzantine or Chinese is much better for you -- when the enemy Cannon Galleons come by to pelt your coast, you can quickly turn out a few demolition or fire ships and make the foe take notice. But you can only really take advantage of the Saracen navy if you like playing with boats. Not all players do.
  5. Their unit bonuses are not unit-oriented. For instance, a Mongol horse archer, all things being equal, will defeat a Saracen horse archer. Similarly, a British foot archer will defeat a Saracen foot archer. Of course, the Saracen archers can destroy buildings far more quickly, but this is cold comfort if your units are being killed in one-on-one. Sure, the Saracens get fully-upgraded infantry but (for instance) so do the Celts and Japanese, plus the latter get an infantry bonus besides. This is perhaps not so much a "weakness" of the Saracens as a lack of special strength, but you can see where I'm going with this.

Unique Unit: Conquistador (mounted hand cannoneer); Missionary (mounted monk)
Unique Tech: Supremacy (Villager combat skills increased)

Team Bonus: Trade Cart, Trade Cog return +33% gold
* Builders work 30% faster
* Blacksmith upgrades don't cost gold
* Cannon Galleons benefit from Ballistics (fire faster, more accurately)

Unique Unit: Teutonic Knight
(slow infantry);
Unique Tech: Crenellations (+3 Castle range; garrisoned infantry fire arrows)

Team Bonus: units more resistant to conversion
* Monks heal from 2X as far
* Towers garrison 2X units, fire 2X normal garrison arrows
* Murder Holes free
* Farms cost -33%
* Town Center +2 attack/+5 LOS

Comments: The Teutonic Knight is analogous to AOE's Phalanx, in that it is a slow unit that hits hard. Teutons have more armor and hit points than virtually any other unit, but make up for it with a slow speed and high cost. In fact, when dealing with unit balancing, we consider the Teutonic Knight to be worth twice the number of opposing units, since they have nearly twice as many hp, but are twice as expensive. Players who enjoy rushing through an enemy town shooting villagers will probably favor civilizations such as the Mongols and Saracens over the Teutons. However, because of the infantry bonus vs. buildings, it is very hard to stop a line of Teutonic knights before they level your Castle and half your city. The knights have so many hit points, have enough armor to shrug off most attacks, and (like all Teuton units) are highly resistant to conversion, that there is not a good counter measure to a Teutonic invasion. When an enemy sees an army of your knights escorting rams and trebuchets come slowly but inexorably over the hilltop, he has plenty of time to panic... which is always nice.

Unique Unit: Janissary
(hand cannoneer)
Unique Tech: Artillery (+2 range Bombard Towers, Bombard Cannons, Cannon Galleons)

Team Bonus: gunpowder units train 20% faster
* Gunpowder units +25% HPs, researching gunpowder technologies costs -50%*
* Gold miners work 15% faster
* Chemistry free
* Light Cavalry, Hussar upgrade free

* Changed from Age of Kings. (AoK - Gunpowder units +50% HPs, researching gunpowder technologies costs -50%)
Comments: The symbolism of cooking and eating was deeply ingrained in Janissary customs. The officers were given ranks such as corbast (soup cook), and any regiment which lost its soup kettles to the enemy was permanently disgraced. The Janissary symbol of privilege was the tall, white cap. Foreign observers who saw the Janissaries in battle described how the hat was so ungainly that it often fell off or had to be held on with two hands. Apparently, Janissaries were allowed to choose their own weapons, so regimental armories were crammed full of whips, flails, battle axes, maces, halberds, a profusion of swords and many, many missile weapons, particularly firearms, for Janissaries delighted in long-range weapons.

Unique Unit: Berserker (regenerating infantry); Longboat (war ship)
Unique Tech: Berserkergang (Berserks regenerate faster)

Team Bonus: Docks cost -25%*
* Warships cost -20%
* Infantry +10% HPs Feudal Age, +15% Castle Age, +20% Imperial Age
* Wheelbarrow, Hand Cart free

* Changed from Age of Kings. (AoK - Docks cost -33%)
Comments: Q) Do the Vikings get any high-end units at all, or just assorted middle level units?

A) The Vikings are not short-changed when it comes to high end units.

Q) Is the berserker stronger than a champion/men-at-arms/huskarl, or is is just cheap and fast to train?

A) The berserk is a marvelous unit with a rather unusual special ability, and if I were a viking AND had a castle I would build them instead of champions.

Note: The Beserker's special ability is that it heals over time without assistance from a monk.