Age of Empires II is the legendary Ensemble Studios PC strategy game originally launched in 1999 with the Age of Empires II: Age of Kings first edition. It saw an even more legendary expansion release entitled The Conquerors in 2000; a Gold Edition featuring both games in 2001; and the recent 2013 HD Edition that quickly garnered a whole Steam community anxiously waiting to delve into the expanded and improved online gameplay.
This article serves the purpose of compiling the series of guides I wrote regarding each civilization from the game, in sequence of an initial article I came up with for fun and nostalgia! You can check it out at 10 of the Best Civilizations from Age of Empires II: The Conquerors. The guides aren't exactly for expert gameplay, since I will be focusing mainly on each civilization's strengths, weaknesses, unique characteristics, bonuses and units, and how you can take the most out of said civilization through its natural advantages. I do give out some tips for many stages of the game, though. Both for when playing with or against the civ.
Aztecs: One of the two native American horseless civilization, firstly introduced in The Conquerors. The Aztecs have the toughest infantry in the game, and are perfect for Monk users as well, thanks to their unique upgrades for these units.
Britons: The most annoying and lethal archer civilization in the game in good hands. The Britons are famous for the absurd range of their unique Castle units, the Longbowmen.
Byzantines: One of the most solid civilizations, for having one of the most complete tech trees in the game. They dominate for having the sturdiest defenses, a good economy, virtually no weaknesses, and the demoniac horseman, the Cataphract.
Celts: The Celts have specialized in the use of infantry and siege weapons. Their infantry options are diverse and quick, and their siege units are the most powerful in the game for their hit points and firing-rate improvements.
Chinese: An odd one, because they don't have a particular unit to highlight, with the exception of a most deadly beefed-up Scorpion. Very balanced civilization with fully upgradable infantry and archery basic units, and a good economy.
Franks: The perfect choice for those who truly rely on Paladins. The French Paladins, not only do receive all the upgrades available, but also a natural passive 20% increase to hit points, making them incredibly hard to kill units. The Franks also have ranged infantry, the Throwing Axemen.
Goths: Unique in many aspects, but most notably the fact that they receive two unique techs that make them an infantry spamming specialist. From the Castle age onwards, a player facing the Goths, may be overwhelmed by a never-ending siege of Champions, Halberdiers and Huskarls.
Huns: The other unique civilization introduced in The Conquerors, that can quickly overwhelm players with super early rushes. The Huns' ability to disregard houses, make them able to start with the max population available, giving them a much larger margin to focus on resources and military units early on.
Japanese: The Japanese suffer for lacking a truly unique trait or strong military unit. However, their tweaked trebuchets can be a most lethal weapon for razing your enemy's town to the ground, before he has time to realize what hit him.
Koreans: My truly favorite civ for their mix of incredibly powerful military units available. These include War Wagons, Bombard Cannons, Champions, Halberdiers, Hand Cannoneers, Towers and Bombard Towers! They are also deadly on water maps thanks to their early available Turtle Ships. Truly an imposing military power, albeit an expensive one!
Mayans: The other native American civilization that lacks the ability to use cavalry. The Mayans counter this with a great economy, and an fantastic variety of sturdy and quick infantry and archery units.
Mongols: A top-tier in every way you look at it. They can rush in standard games, they can dominate in Deathmatches, they have the most lethal cavalry archers, can scout further than any other civilization and have turbos on their onagers.
Persians: The most complete cavalry civilization in the game. The Persians have at their disposal fully upgradable Paladins, Camels, Scouts, Cavalry Archers, as well as having the most difficult-to-take-down unit in the game, the behemoth War Elephant.
Saracens: The Saracens were a favorite among my friends. These guys are perfect to counter cavalry, as camels get bonus damage versus them, and the Saracens have sturdier ones. Their Mamelukes are a ranged camel unit that can become a hell to a unexperienced player's life. Before the expansion pack, they were the dominating water map civ.
Spanish: The equivalent from The Conquerors to the Byzantines in terms of available technology and military prowess. The Spanish are a gunpowder civilization that provide for mounted riflemen with their Conquistadores, a killer navy and very efficient villagers.
Teutons: Another very solid civilization, in the sense that they have a large variety of military units, siege, and have great defensive bonuses, allowing for quick transitions between defending and striking your enemy.
Turks: There is no best civilization in Age of Empires II no matter how you look at it. This game is actually pretty balanced and all the different scenario variants or situations a player might find himself into, may leave a possible best civilization at a disadvantage. However, if you were to ask me what is the best civilization in the game was, when at its peak, I'd say the Turks. They simply have this later-game weapon under their sleeve (longer range cannons), and a combination of units and buildings they can use to stop and annihilate virtually anything that can pose a threat, not to mention they also excel in water maps.
Vikings: After talking about a considered best, The Vikings generally come up at the other side of the spectrum. They suffer from the curse of Infantry civilizations: many things can counter them. However, unlike most other infantry civilizations, they don't have a particularly great unit to support them (example: Paladins). They do have to rely on their great infantry, while juggling with their other very good, often underlooked options.
Get a hold of me
If you ever want to find me in Steam, my nickname there is Veethorn. Come and say hello or challenge me for a game. My favorite civilizations are the Koreans, the Mayans, the Persians and the Goths!