I still remember my reaction when I first looked at the tech tree of the Goths- "this is like the worst civilization of all time!" For me indeed it was, at the time. Later, when my knowledge of the game mechanics was a little different, I tried this civilization in a friendly match, and I understood their true purpose and hidden potential.
The Goths are also very unique in two aspects: they are the only civilization with no access to walls; and the only ones who receive two unique technologies, of which one can be researched during the Castle Age. Read more to understand the strengths of this odd civilization.
Infantry cost -25% Feudal Age
The meat and bone of the Goths. Being a nomad tribe, they lack fortified towns, with their only defensive structure being the basic Watch Tower. This means that they rely solely on human resources. Having 25% cheaper infantry is giving the Goths the economic power to keep producing a military force for both defense and attack.
Infantry +1 attack vs. buildings
Infantry have always been good at destroying buildings, they do siege job in the early game! Receiving +1 attack vs. buildings allows for more efficient rushes and lethal raids.
Villagers carry +5 attack vs. wild boar
A bonus to help the Goths advance faster. Villagers kill boars, the most abundant source of food in the game, faster, and may avoid possible casualties.
Hunters carry +15 meat
Continuation of the above, this helps advancing faster as more meat carried at a time means less trips to drop off the food.
+10 population in Imperial Age
On a standard game, this means 210 population instead of 200. This can mean many things: a larger army, extra villagers on food or wood, or 10 extra trade carts in team-play. In any case, it will only be an advantage if you can fill it, so a stronger economy in Imperial Age is essential.
"Within the Germanic tribes that overran the Western Roman Empire and brought in the Dark Ages, including the Goths, tribal leaders kept a personal retinue of warriors known as huskarls. These men served their chiefs fanatically in return for a large share in any plunder the tribe could grab. Huskarls trained for battle continuously and had few other duties. A chief had to be successful in acquiring plunder, however, or risk being removed or abandoned.
"As the Dark Ages progressed, huskarls were absorbed into the feudal system as vassals of lords. They remained a lord's or king's personal fighting force but often became responsible for their own support on lands given to them by their chief. This system replaced much of the sharing of plunder."
The unique unit of the Goths is an interesting one. The Huskarl is a fast infantry unit with incredible pierce armour. They also gain attack bonuses versus archers and buildings. The greatest strength of the Huskarl is the fact that it is virtually immune to arrows. That in conjunction with its attack bonus, makes it the perfect unit to charge archers and raid towns with.
"The Goth tribal system worked well for a society that seemed always on the move, fighting here and settling there, but never for long in either case. Their flexibility meant they could appear suddenly and without warning, and vanish just as quickly. Their armies were never the best equipped because they lacked any permanent industry, but no one felt safe if they were even rumored to be on the move."
The first technology affects huskarls. Anarchy gives the ability to produce them from Barracks. This may not seem like such a big deal at first sight, but the fact is that this skill can win you the game. Being able to produce huskarls from Barracks comes into great effect when you build rows of them near your enemy town and keep mass-producing huskarls to keep your armies full, killing through enemy units and razing their buildings down, always having substitutes for your casualties, and keeping the pressure on! Barracks won't cost you precious stone and are built much faster, thus providing you with the ability to truly strike from any part of the map with your huskarls, quick and efficiently, as long as your villagers have the access.
"A migratory people like the Goths had the ability to put armies in the field quickly. Their whole civilization was in a sense an army in the field. The youth of the Goths learned skills of a warrior at an early age. The entire male population could become fighters in hours. Rivals learned not to let the Goths get close, if possible, and not to antagonize them if they did approach."
And finally, this is what makes the Goths a truly demoniac civilization, as it gives it the power to strike a never-ending raid on an enemy town, preventing its rebuilding and recovery, until it's completely destroyed. What Perfusion does is, it increases the work speed of your Barracks by 50%! Well, this works in conjunction with the Goths' team bonus to create the fastest-producing military building in the game! The speed with which units leave the Barracks is insane, and will be your main weapon in the late-game.
Barracks work 20% faster
The Goths couldn't have asked for a better bonus for themselves, especially when combining this with their unique tech Perfusion, you have an authentic soldier manufacturing industry! Any civ using Champions will benefit from a team-up with the Goths. However, there are two that come to mind, that would particularly appreciate this partnership, the Aztecs and the Vikings.
Both the Aztec and Viking infantry units have specialized upgrades, and both civilizations rely heavily on them. Being able to create them faster will aid in the reposition of lost men when under attack, or improve the damage dealt to an enemy town during a siege. Since the rate with which Champions come out of the Barracks is superior, you can suddenly overwhelm your enemy with numbers and exhaust him with constant and quick attacks.
As a civilization whose secret tool is only really infantry optimization, countering it with anti-infantry civilizations can render the Goths strategy ineffective, as the enemy can best your numbers with a few key units. These civs include: The Turks, the Teutons, the Aztecs, the Japanese and the Vikings, all with their own infantry-murderers or simply statistically superior unique units.
A curious observation: when I look at the Teutons and the Goths, I see total opposites. One develops great defenses, the other completely lacks them. One has slow infantry perfect for close-combat, the other has fast infantry specialized in countering ranged units. One is a fortified late bloomer and the other one a nomad raider. Interesting enough, I guess.
Ultimately speaking, what would you rather have? The ability to create a single army consisting of paladins, the higher tier of siege units and expensive ranged units, once; or the capacity to never stop refilling your armies with new blood, keeping your forces at full strength all the time, while constantly having your enemy town under pressure, avoiding raids on your own? The Goths give you the best possible way to achieve the latter in Age of Empires II.
Did you like reading about this civ? Read more about my favorites in 10 of the Best Civilizations from Age of Empires II: The Conquerors!