So you've heard about the power of the Turks and would like to know more? Stick around then as I will detail in this article strategies for when playing with the Turks in Age of Empires II and the specifics about this formidable civilization.
The first thing to take into account when playing the Turks is that they are a civilization that require building up, preparation, resistance to early rushes and a lot of resources. You can't expect to start a random game with the Turks and win a rush game or in the first 5 minutes. Unless your enemy doesn't build an army.
The Turks are specialized in gunpowder units and technology, so if you wanna take full advantage of their unique traits, techs and units, you are going to want to bet on their cannons and rifles!
-Gunpowder units +25% Hit Points
The Turks gunpowder prowess start with this little bonus which is much welcome. Hand cannoneers and janissaries' HP aren't exactly that high, so this trait will aid them survive a little longer in battle.
-Researching gunpowder technologies cost -50%
This trait is useful for researching bombard towers, elite cannon galleons and elite jannissaries at half the cost. Traits are passive so you can count on this from the start.
-Chemistry for free
Why isn't chemistry (the University Research that gives you gunpowder units) mentioned in the trait above? Because this one in particular is free of charge for the Turks! It's not that expensive anyways, at a mere 300 food and 200 gold. Everything counts, though!
-Gold miners work 25% faster
Now this is talking! Gold is needed for almost any unit and tech in the game, and if you are starting a standard game, this means you can advance ages faster by trading in the Market, in addition to getting those Blacksmith upgrades quicker! The 1000 gold you would have in 10 minutes becomes 1250, and belive me when I say that this does add up!
-Light Cavalry and Hussar upgrades free
Scout units are great for sneaking up on siege, kill outside villagers and reveal enemy locations. Each upgrade means augmenting their ability for doing these things, so getting the upgrades as soon as you advance ages, without worrying about spending food, is always a plus.
"Some of the best units in the Turkish armies were the Janissaries. These men were slaves captured as children and raised under Islam to be fanatical warriors. They wore white headgear and marched into battle accompanied by music. They fought on foot with a variety of weapons, including early firearms when these weapons reached the Middle East. The military was their entire life and they took great pride in their ability. They led the successful assault into Constantinople and the unsuccessful Turkish attacks against Malta and Vienna."
The Janissary Turkish units in the game are known for their abusive attack power (22!) and range (8). Correct me if I'm wrong, but the Elite Janissary has the highest base attack power of any single unit in the game (not counting siege units), even surpassing the Elite War Elephant's 20 attack power! However, hand cannoneer units don't receive the offensive Blacksmith upgrades, so in the long run, they lose their place as the most powerful man-unit, but a start-off of 22 is still incredible.
A problem with the janissaries is their accuracy, though. They miss a lot by nature and don't receive the attack, range and accuracy upgrades of your every-day archer. However, they tend to hit more the closer they are, for almost 100% accuracy at close-range. To avoid, anyway. The best use for the Janissary is when your enemy is playing a lot of infantry or even cavalry. Hordes of horses will fall like domino pieces if outnumbered by janissaries, as their raw attack power combined in numbers goes through the roof.
If your enemy knows what you are doing, janissaries can fall just as easily. They are still outranged by siege weapons and by the longbowmen of the Britons. Another counter to the Janissary is the Skirmisher, that is an incredibly cheap and quick-to-produce unit. You can easily make numbers of them without ruining your economy to outnumber the more expensive and slower-to-produce janissaries. The best counter is still the Siege Onager, though. Onagers clean sweep numbers of fragile ranged units.
"Early firearms and cannons were operated by professionals and mercenaries who worked for the high bidder. In the late Middle Ages, the high bidder was often the Turk who controlled important trade routes to the East. This gave the Turks important experience with these new weapons that they used with effect against Constantinople and other Christian citadels."
This is the bread and butter of the Turks! This unique tech is what makes the Turks so deadly! Giving their bombard cannons, bombard towers and canon galleons +2 range, Artillery allows the Turks' cannons to outrange many things or just make your enemies' lives incredibly difficult. A +2 range may not sound something incredible on paper, but if you consider the type of units we are talking about, you will see the difference it makes.
Bombard cannons are very powerful and long-ranged by nature, they are like mini mobile trebuchets and outrange castles, towers and archers; bombard towers are your enemy's raiding forces worst nightmare, not only do they have an extensive line of sight and range, but the damage they deal can one-hit kill many things as well; cannon galleons are the weapon of choice for removing your enemy's coastal buildings from existence. Now give these 3 giants of destruction +2 range and watch as they annihilate men, siege and buildings from afar, behind walls or even across large waters.
Gunpowder units created 20% faster
The Turks' team bonus only makes their gunpowder power come into effect more quickly! This bonus allows hand cannoneer units, bombard cannons and cannon galleons to be produced faster, thus allowing you to create your gunpowder army sooner.
I don't think it's a particular useful bonus for your team members. If their civ has hand cannoneers, like the Koreans, they can make them faster, but those units are rendered obsolete by the janissaries. I guess it can be useful for your allies to create bombard cannons faster, as these are painfully slow to come out from the house!
You were to take great advantage of this bonus if you paired up with a Spanish player in a water map. They are the other gunpowder civ of Age of Empires II and possess one of the best navies in the game. Their cannon galleons are deadly for their insanely rapid-fire and accuracy, allied with Turks' extra ranged cannon galleons for the more distant buildings from the coast, this pairing makes your team unstoppable!
The Spanish team bonus is the greatest economic bonus of the game, as it makes the team generate 33% more gold from trade units. With more incoming gold, the team achieves the economic power needed to produce more cannons and gunpowder units, in addition to being able to produce faster thanks to the Turks team bonus.
There is more to the Turks than just Gunpowder
There are civs in Age of Empires II that win when it comes to diversification. This is not exactly the case with the Turks. The incredible thing about them, though, is how perfected the tools they have at their disposal are! They take gunpowder units and techs to a level that no other civilization in the game can take, plus they can give the player the following options:
Perfect Heavy Cavalry Archers
What do I mean by perfect? It's the concept of having a unit with all the upgrades of the tech tree for that specific unit available. And the Cavalry Archer is particularly elusive when it comes to having all the upgrades the tech tree has to offer. Only the Turks and the Saracens have all the upgrades available for this great unit in the game, making it quite attractive (it's an expensive unit). These include: all Blacksmith and Stable researches, Ballistics, Thumb Ring and Parthian Tactics (which give them +4 attack).
All this makes the Turk Heavy Cavalry Archer an impressive 80 HP, 14 Attack, 7 Range, fully armored, 100% accurate, agile, rapid-firing and fast-moving ranged unit! These are great units for the ever-annoying hit and run strategy, in addition to making the killing of slow foot soldiers, priests or venturous villagers a much simpler task. These upped cavalry archers can also challenge the almighty unique unit of the Byzantines, the Cataphract- a powerful horseman, but with lesser piercing defense.
Perfect Heavy Camels and Hussars:
The Turks' back-up cavalry! They may lack paladins, but they do have fully upgraded camels to protect your cannons from charging enemy paladins. And hussars as well, cheap units that only cost 80 food, great for charging smaller groups of archers or sneak on siege units and eat them. The Hussar of the Turks is especially good as it can be researched free of charge as soon as you reach Imperial Age.
In my opinion, having fully upgradable milita is incredibly useful. Think about it for a second: they are the very first unit you are probably going to create, and if you are playing a good player you should, as you are most likely going to be attacked early, if not only by his scout. They are relatively cheap and fast to create, can protect your town in numbers and can raid lightly defended enemy towns. So, the Turks also benefit from perfect foot-soldiers, great for protecting your cannons from suicidal hussars, or from the Mayan and Aztec eagle warriors.
The Turks are a mighty civilization, albeit a late-bloomer. They can be stopped, but can be unstoppable if let. Their main weakness lies on the fact that their main arsenal is only available in the Imperial age, so they are susceptible to rushes if not prepared. A good Huns player can destroy a Turks player before he's got the chance to show his skill.
Taking into account the power of their cannons and their range, a player facing the Turks will want to bet on cleaning out walls and towers with trebuchets, and charge cannons with paladins. The best Paladin comes from the Franks, so that civ can be a counter for the cannons-behind-walls strategy.
Another way is to use rams if your enemy is focusing on defences and dismissing foot-soldiers. Surprise him with 40 rams and even the Turks' cannons won't be able to resist such a destructive force. This is a great Celts strategy, as they have the toughest siege in Age of Empires II.
I would say the Turks can be the best civilization in the game, when played well. Just the right things they have, their ability to counter virtually anything and their deadly cannons make them a formidable force. And again, when used well.
For more tips on other civilizations check out my 10 of the Best Civilizations from Age of Empires II: The Conquerors!