The conqueror civilization that gives meaning to the Age of Empires II expansion name- The Conquerors. The Spanish brought the game another gunpowder civilization to compete with the previously exclusive Turks, and together with the Koreans, fight for dominance over the seas against populares in the area like the Saracens or the Vikings.
Besides this, the Spanish can rely on its good cavalry, infantry and overall great capacity to grow fast and compete with the best. They were my very first expansion civ, and became a favorite among my group of friends in our early days of The Conquerors.
Gunpowder and Monk Civilization
Builders work 30% faster
Although this isn't a trait that will aid the Spanish in developing faster in the Dark Age, since they lack any real advantage in resource gathering, it is in Feudal Age, when most building take place, that this trait will really come in handy. Also, allied with the other villager upgrades the Spanish receive later, this makes for superior growing and map-expansion in the Castle and Imperial Age.
Blacksmith Upgrades don't cost gold
This is the beginning of the great economy for this advanced civ, the possibility to upgrade your armies without spending any gold. Not only does this allow for quick upgrades as soon as they become available, but it gives the chance to focus on other expenses, like the Monastery researches.
Cannon Galleons benefit from Ballistics
This is part of what will make the conquerors dominate the seas. Cannon galleons with Ballistics will hit moving ships faster and accurately. Ally the destructive power of cannon galleons with the precision of Ballistics and you've got yourself the perfect weapon for water maps.
"Spanish adventurers who set off to conquer the New World became known as Conquistadors. These men were an assortment of disposed sons of the nobility and soldiers of fortune looking for adventure and loot. Most were soldiers without employment. They arrived in the New World with a great technical advantage in weapons over the natives who could not stand up to steel swords, firearms, and mounted lancers. The horse was particularly terrifying to the first natives who encountered it. Mounted men were thought to be some sort of new creature, half man and half four-legged beast. Thanks to the spread of European diseases before them and advantageous use of native allies on occasion, ridiculously small armies of Conquistadores conquered with relative ease the two great American civilizations, the Aztecs and the Incas."
The Conquistador, the very unique combination of a mounted unit with gunpowder power. As is normal with hand cannoneers, the conquistadores also excel at killing infantry, and with the added speed they can retreat against enclosing threats. However, the conquistadores are fragile and their fire rate is pretty slow, so they can be exploited by other cavalry and fall in the blink of an eye if hit by onager rocks. The greatest use of the Conquistador, in my opinion, is when paired with strong and sturdy front walls of heavy cavalry, and since the Spanish can research and fully upgrade the Paladin, this can make for a pretty difficult combo for your enemies to deal with in the late game.
"As Europeans gradually came to understand that Columbus had opened the door to two complete continents, they awoke to the desirability of converting the potentially immense native population to Christianity. The Spanish, Portuguese, and other European nations sent monks called missionaries into the New World to bring about conversion and salvation. To be a missionary required great faith, a strong constitution, and great zeal. They often were required to plunge into the wilderness amongst peoples of radically different cultures and beliefs. Many missionaries suffered despair, torture, and death at the hands of natives who resisted the message being brought to them or identified the monks with the disease and conquest that accompanied them. "
Another exclusive unit of the Spanish civ, the Missionary is a mounted monk on a burro that can accompany the other mounted Spanish forces for some prompt healing after a hard earned conquista! Although Missionaries have shorter range than the typical Monk, they can be used to great effect to convert slower enemy units, as they can outspeed them, or retreat if necessary.
"The peasants of Spain lived especially hard lives in an era when life was not easy for anyone. The difference was that Spain was a battleground for much of the Middle Ages as the Christian kingdoms in the north strived to reconquer the peninsula from the Saracens who had invaded in the 8th century. Spanish peasants were therefore also warriors part of the time. This was a fact that the French army under Napoleon would learn the hard way in the early 19th century."
Supremacy gives the Spanish villagers the stats to make them authentic warriors. With extra hit points, attack and amour, villagers can now defend themselves from raids or accompany your attacking forces. Supremacy, allied with Sappers and the construction speed boost, allows Spanish villagers to engage in battle, destroy buildings, repair siege weapons and quickly establish new settlements in enemy territory. It's like having your own unit of multi-functioned engineering soldiers!
Trade units generate +33% gold
The bonus that makes everyone wanting to have a Spanish team player! More gold from trade carts imply a faster gold income, which leads to a stronger economy. However, to actually benefit from its own bonus, the Spanish really need an ally.
If you wanna take it to an even higher level you could always team up with the Aztecs! This would make for a team where gold would be generated 33% faster from trade cards and 33% faster from gathered relics! Sure relic gold isn't as significative, but if you manage to grab two or three, in the long game it does add up!
A team-up with the Byzantines, an equally technologically advanced civilization, would benefit both sides greatly. The Byzantines already receive some economic bonuses, so an extra 33% income of gold would really let them mass produce those cataphracts! While at the same time, they would provide the team with 50% monk healing speed. Spanish monks are already very resourceful, so giving them extra healing speed will simply allow for superior survivability of their ranks with such advanced monk support.
I can also see an alliance between the two most advanced gunpowder civs work spectacularly. The Turks and the Spanish would be able to create fearsome armies of superior cannons and rifles with their strong economy, as well as being able te create those units faster thanks to the Turks' team bonus. Not to mention their ability to dominate the seas with the superiority of the team's cannon galleons: accurate sinkers and long-distance destroyers.
The Spanish have an incredible tech tree
Having all the Blacksmith upgrades, the Spanish can research champions and halberdiers to their highest potential. Not that they actually need them, but a cheap unit to counter cavalry when your economy is down, or a cheaper town wrecker before you can research cannons are always resources you wanna have available.
Perfect Elite Skirmisher
The Spanish lack the crossbowman upgrade, but they can still fully upgrade the archer slayers to their fullest potential, though. This is a civilization susceptible to rushes, so you might want to produce as many of these cheap units as you can in order to protect your town from incoming threats.
Perfect Paladins and Hussars
Only lacking camels, whose real purpose is to counter paladins, we have fully upgradable paladins and hussars. Paladins are perfect to combine with conquistadors, protecting them from other cavalry and fast infantry, while at the same time conquistadors peel off halberdiers. Hussars are those cost-effective units you could use to flank enemy siege with, or with which you could catch unprotected villagers by surprise.
Being a gunpowder civilization, the Spanish can research hand cannoneers, bombard cannons, bombard towers and bombard cannon galleons. Have this civilization reach imperial age and you can become unstoppable.
Tied with the Aztecs for the best Monk civ, this becomes a case of sturdiness vs. mobility. In any case, the Aztecs don't need as much speed since they lack horses, while the Spanish don't need the hit points as their missionaries are really meant to stay behind the lines and heal injured units. Both civs have all single Monastery researches available to them.
And another perfect for the Spanish. The most versatile water map civilization in the game, being able to research Shipwright and upgrade every single ship to its maximum, in addition to applying Ballistics to canon galleons. Even the superiority of the Saracen navy and the behemoth Turtle Ship will face hardships if encountering such versatility and technology on the seas.
The Spanish are a civilization of diversity and late game weapons. Use it on the sea and chances are that you are going to dominate it. Reap the maximum benefits from this civ using it in team play, since its strongest weapon may very well be its economy.
As a late-bloomer, chances are that a good player will try to rush you to disrupt your economy or finish the game before Imperial Age. The Saracens could also be the perfect counter for this civ, as their camel units and siege weapons can kill everything the Spanish can throw at them. If there is one weakness about the Spanish in the late game, is the lack of big siege, such as the Siege Onager and Heavy Scorpion. Since siege dominate the late game, the Mongols, the Celts and the Koreans are all great choices to give the Spanish a hard time.
Improving on villagers, monks, gunpowder and navy, while offering great infantry and cavalry, the Spanish can be used by any player looking for a solid civilization. The real flaw is really the lack of initial resources to support its eminent growth. Go through the Dark and Feudal ages unscathed, and an explosive expansion is on sight.
If you liked reading about this civ read more about some of my favorites in 10 of the Best Civilizations from Age of Empires II: The Conquerors!