The Huns are a civilization from Age of Empires II with a big focus on rapid growth and raiding. I was never a fan of rushing games, partly because I sucked at it and focused more on defenses and large late game sieges.
However, the Huns make it so simple to grow fast and develop an early army that unconsciously you get that rush adrenaline and start wanting to raid your enemies' towns with your homeless warriors!
This is basically the one thing that makes the Huns deadly to any civilization in the game. When you learn to optimize your time in a standard game of Age of Empires II, you will be able to start a strong economy and create an early army. Not only do the Huns do not need the time nor the waste of a villager to build houses, but they also save all the wood needed for their construction. This gives this barbarian civ an unquestionable advantage at the very beginning of the game, as it become so easy to develop. You can reach Feudal Age in the blink of an eye, and raid a nearby enemy for an easy win. Inexperienced players fall incredibly fast at the hands of a decent Huns players. Experts will only decimate everyone.
Cavalry Archers cost -25% Castle, -30% Imperial Age
The perfect trait for the Huns in the mid game. Cavalry archers are perfect to protect light cavalry from enemy pikemen. As soon as you advance to Castle Age, you can start producing them, while saving a good chunk of their original cost. Since most of your army will cost you food (Man-at-Arms, Scout Cavalry), you will have more of your villagers focusing on said resource. This discount allow you to create the powerful cavalry archers without disrupting your wood and gold reserves.
Trebuchets +30% accuracy
Trebuchets are destructive weapons, but everyone knows how inaccurate they can be sometimes! Isn't it annoying when you just miss that parked onager right after you finished razing the workshop?? Although it is not something that will decide the fate of the game, this is a very welcome bonus, as it can only aid the speed with which these homeless raiders can burn a town to the ground!
"The use of the stirrup by the Huns gave them a technological advantage against other armies when they advanced toward the west in the 3rd century. They could set themselves in their stirrups and charge into a target with a lance. The impact of a lance point transferred the force of the combined moving man and horse, thanks to the stirrup. With rare exceptions (notably Alexander's Companion cavalry) horsemen prior to this had rarely been effective with a lance or spear. The appearance of thousands of barbarian cavalry using spears so effectively forced dramatic change in warfare at the end of antiquity. The Roman legions were forced to put more emphasis on cavalry in support of their legions and eventually hire barbarian horsemen as mercenaries. Heroes of Hunnic, and Mongolian, armies were known as Tarkans."
The Tarkan is the only horseman in the game that gets an actual bonus damage to buildings, making him the perfect town center raider thanks to the speed and sturdiness of cavalry. When playing the Huns, a good strategy for an early rush is to quickly send a few scouts to kill enemy villagers, and as soon as you hit castle age, prepare a small army of tarkan to go for the buildings. The problem with this strategy is that pikemen are cheap and fast to create. To avoid this counter, focus on gold and create men-at-arms instead, buying from the market if needed.
"The paganism or outright lack of faith of the Huns offended the Romans who came to think of them as truly sub-human. The Huns, in turn, were unencumbered by the laws of structured religions. Laws of social and religious order were too restrictive for a civilization that was constantly on the move. The Huns put little faith in monuments and artifacts, therefore, focusing mainly on the here and now."
+100 years Relic and Wonder victories
The Huns' unique technology has two sides to it actually, one of which is not significant primarily because: 1- with the growth speed of the Huns you can easily steal one relic from the map; 2- you are bound to win the game before your enemy has time to even think about building a wonder. There will be a time when this skill may actual come in handy, though.
Spies/Treason cost -50%
Now this is the good part of Atheism! How many times have you raided an enemy town only for his villagers to escape and rebuild again? Not saying they will strike a victory in the end (it happens), but it can substantially delay your victory, while giving another enemy time to grow strong in the process. Having the ability to see what your enemies sees for half the cost is something that you should research as soon as possible, as this is an unparalleled advantage!
Stables work 20% faster
A great bonus for any civilization that relies on the stable a lot, even if that is saying almost all of them. The Huns in particular do benefit a great deal from this added work speed, as they are an already fast-growing civ thanks to their ability to disregard houses, so it is only natural that their raiders answer to your call faster. However, there are a set of civs that could create a great team when allied with the Huns.
Mongols: Being the other early rushing capable civ, the Mongols could provide great support for the Huns with their superior scouts, while gifting the teams' scouts with extensive line of sight. On the other hand, the Huns would aid the Mongol forces by providing faster working stables.
Franks: A heavy cavalry civilization for their superior paladins. The Franks have great dependency on cavalry, so being able to create them faster is a big plus. The own knights of the Huns will welcome a much appreciated longer line of sight as well, similar to the Mongol scout bonus.
Persians: Another civilization whose focus is mainly cavalry. Again, being able to create camels and paladins faster will only help them recover and strike faster. The Persians are also a fast growing civilization, so they can help the Huns with their knights and elephants. Their team bonus gives the team's knights +2 attack versus archers. Always convenient.
It's all about raiding really
Besides Hunnish cavalry, there is not much more on the arsenal of the barbarian tribe. They need to rely on their speed to strike fast, or their sub-par defenses may spell their doom in the late game. Failing a rush with this civilization is not an option. They still have a couple of other things they could use to their advantage.
Although lacking the last Blacksmith upgrade that gives infantry +1/+2 in defenses, you can always produce cheap halberdiers if you are finding yourself facing heavy enemy cavalry opposition. The halberdiers will try to catch those horses, while your own cavalry units would focus on enemy archers, siege weapons and military buildings.
So your enemy managed to resist your rushes and turtled himself into an impenetrable fortress? This could very well happen if your enemy is playing the Byzantines! Then, in addition to the accurate trebuchets, you can count on siege rams. Create a large force of siege rams accompanied by trebuchets and supported by cavalry archers to clash into your enemy defenses hard. With your enemy forces distracted, you could then send a horde of tarkan through their breached walls to raid houses and town centers, while the remainings of your initial siege removed outer defenses.
The Huns, the civilization of Age of Empires II with the most game-deciding trait in the game, the ability to completely disregard houses and start with the maximum population allowed. Allied with their impressive cavalry, many players enjoy playing with this civ for a fast win.
So how do you counter this civilization? An early rush is never an easy thing to counter, especially when your enemy has everything to his advantage to develop faster than you. I always like to build a tower near my town center and working villagers to give more room for villager protection and to damage curious scouts, milita or archers.
However, the Huns will be able to strike with more than this, or rush even during the Dark Age! You need to keep producing spearmen as you try to optimize your villagers the best you can. If you survive a scout rush, start investing on skirmishers as cavalry archers are bound to come next time. Try to use the Market to trade extra resources for those in need. Just remember, as long as you can outnumber with cheap counters you do stand a chance.
If you like long games, great armies and plenty of late game chaos and destruction, the Huns might not be the most enjoyable civilization for you to play with, as they will decide the game in the early ages. There is a lot of fun playing with the homeless raiders, though. There's just this strange sense of freedom and fulfilment for being able to do everything you want without the need to construct a single house in the entire game!
If you liked reading this article, learn more about other civs in the game in my 10 of the Best Civilizations from Age of Empires II: The Conquerors!