Which Age of Empires II Civilization Is the Best? (2023)

By Marshall Honorof


There are 35 from which to choose

Which Age of Empires II Civilization Is the Best? (1)
(Video) Top 5 AoE2 Civilizations (According to Science)

Now that Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition is here, fans are starting to once again ask a question that they've been asking since 1999: Which Age of Empires II civilization is the best? Naturally, there's no one "right" answer to this query; the best civilization depends on your playstyle, your map, your available resources, your opponent and a whole host of other factors. Furthermore, AoEII: DE has 35 civilizations from which to choose; the differences between some of them are going to be very, very granular.

Still, while there is no "best" civilization, there might be a best civilization for you, particularly if you're new to the game. Read on to discover which civilizations you'll want to try right away, and which you'll want to save for a challenge.

Which Age of Empires II Civilization Is the Best? (2)

How do civilizations work?

Like most RTS games, AoEII: DE lets you choose a playable race. Unlike StarCraft, though, where the races are totally asymmetrical, the civilizations in AoEII have more in common than not. They all need the same resources, which they gather with the same buildings and the same technologies. And while unit composition varies by civilization, they all draw upon the same core pool. Almost every race is going to have infantry, archers, cavalry and siege weapons — the difference is in which of these units it favors, and which it can't fully leverage.

For example: the Goths can field excellent infantry, letting you upgrade your simple Militia clubmen all the way up to Champion swordsmen. They can research the Squires technology, which lets infantry move faster, and the Arson technology, which lets infantry deal more damage to buildings. But they can't upgrade their archers or their cavalry all the way. They can't research Hoardings, which makes castles more durable, or construct Siege Rams, which can make short work of an enemy base.

Additionally, every civilization has unique bonuses, units and technologies. Continuing with the Goths, their infantry is 35% cheaper, their villagers are better at hunting boar, and they can support 10 additional population late-game. Their unique unit, the Huskarl, is infantry that can make short work of archers; their unique tech, Perfusion, lets your Barracks churn out infantry twice as fast.

(Video) Best Civ for Beginners? [AoE2]

Just by paying a little attention to the tech tree, we already have a good idea of how to play the Goths: train infantry, upgrade infantry and use infantry to destroy buildings. You can access every race's technology tree from the main menu, then do a little legwork to determine their strengths and weaknesses, and how they might play.

(And, yes, you'll have to do this 35 times if you want to examine every race in depth. But hey, you'll get an achievement each time you earn a victory as a new race, so that's somewhat rewarding.)

There's no perfect way to evaluate each civilization, of course; you may lose a match with a race that suits your playstyle, or win with one that doesn't, depending on your opponent and the conditions. For newer players, the campaigns are a good way to learn about half of the playable races, since you'll get at least a few missions and a few hours with each one.

Which Age of Empires II Civilization Is the Best? (3)

The best Age of Empires II civilization for new players

At the risk of giving a non-answer, there is no "best" civilization for new players, just as there is no "best" civilization overall. Each player is going to approach Age of Empires II a different way. Some are going to seek naval supremacy; some are going to want a balanced army; some are going to want to turtle up and seek economic victory.

Still, some civilizations are more straightforward than others. I'm going to focus on a handful of races that can set up good early defenses, or can lean on a handful of unit types, or don't need to expend too many resources to get off the ground. Bear in mind that any strategies I give a) are not guaranteed to work in every situation and b) will almost definitely not work at higher levels of play.

First off, there's the Celts. The Celts are an infantry civilization whose soldiers have a bonus to movement speed. Their siege weapons fire a little faster; it's easier for them to find and keep sheep, which are an important early-game food source. The Celts are straightforward to play, but more important than that, they're probably the first civilization that first-timers will encounter in the game, through the comprehensive William Wallace Learn to Play campaign. There's something to be said for familiarity.

Here's a somewhat controversial take: I like the Huns for new players. This civilization can create awesome cavalry archers, and their unique Tarkan cavalry are great for hit-and-run attacks against enemy outposts, as Tarkans can demolish buildings with ease. Although the Huns start with a deficit of wood, the trade-off is more than worthwhile: You'll never need to build houses. You start with your population cap at maximum. Some players on Reddit and Steam argue that this builds "bad habits" for new players, and they're not wrong — but there are plenty of other skills to learn without focusing on population growth.

Which Age of Empires II Civilization Is the Best? (4)

(Video) Top 5 Best Post Imp Civilizations | AoE2

The Byzantines are a fairly conventional choice for new players, and it's easy to see why. Their buildings are more durable right off the bat, and they get Town Watch, a technology that increases line-of-sight early on, for free. Skirmishers, spearmen and camels are cheaper, so it's easy to pump out units to specifically counter whatever kind of early-game rush you might face. I would argue that mastering the Byzantines is more about late-game performance, and the race's "jack-of-all-trades" approach can leave new players a little paralyzed with choice. But if survivability is a concern, the Byzantines are hard to beat.

If you're tired of being harassed by Britons in the first two campaigns, give the race a try yourself. The Britons have one of the very best unique units in the game: the Longbowman. Fully upgraded, an army of Longbowmen can annihilate almost any kind of unit before it even gets close. Protect your base with these archers, and an enemy will have a tough time getting close; attack a base with them, and enemy soldiers will fall just as soon as they appear. Of course, experienced players can rout a Longbowman battalion — but that's true of any army that leans too heavily on one particular unit.

Other good choices include the Teutons, the Franks, the Ethiopians, the Japanese and the Persians.

Here's a good rule of thumb: In the tech tree, just below each civilization's name, you'll see a descriptor of their general playstyle. Try anything that says "Infantry civilization," "Cavalry civilization" or "Archer civilization." If a civilization combines two aspects (the Vikings, for example, are an "Infantry and naval civilization,") save them for later. Or try them out; diving into the deep end is also a perfectly good way to learn.

Which Age of Empires II Civilization Is the Best? (5)

How to choose

Experienced players don't need me to tell them the best way to learn a new race: play random map games and select "random" when you choose a civilization. Truthfully, the same core principles apply for most races; it's just the units and technologies you'll want to emphasize that differ. You'll always need resources; you'll always need buildings; you'll always need a standing army of some kind. Consider each race's benefits as a bonus rather than a crutch, and you'll be better off in the long run.

In any case, I did promise to take a crack at pinpointing the "best" civilization in Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition, so here's my take: I like the Spanish, the Huns, the Turks and the Mongols. Cavalry and gunpowder tend to work pretty well for me, and I'd rather field a sophisticated army late-game than try to rush a foe early on. But I've lost about as many games as I've won, so who knows; there might be a better choice out there for me.

Perhaps I'll take my own advice and start going through random maps until I find it.

(Video) The BEST Civilizations For Beginners Tierlist

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Marshall Honorof

(Video) Top 5 Civilizations For Beginner Players | AoE2


What is the easiest civilization in aoe2? ›

In short, the Persians are an amazing pick for new players on Age of Empires 2, because: Starting the game with more food and wood gives you an upper hand in early game or during the Dark Age. Faster Town Center means you can produce villagers faster.

What is the strongest unit in Age of Empires 2? ›

Every troop has weakness for balance play but Cataphract is the most powerful unit. Some might say it's Paladin as Paladin will beat Cataphract but when it's pikemen, Cataphract works much better as compared to Paladins.

Why is Chinese the best Civ aoe2? ›

The Chinese are a very versatile civilization with an overall solid technology tree. Their infantry have all technologies but lack Supplies. Their foot archers get all the upgrades they could want. Their cavalry is usable for for 1vs1 despite missing the Hussar.

What is the best civilization to start with? ›

China is still uncontested as the best civilization for beginners simply because of the perk that increases their building speed.

Why are Mayans so good aoe2? ›

Mayans are one of the strongest archer civilizations. Their archers decrease in cost every single age, making them the cheapest of any civilization, which is a great bonus, especially in the late game. Their unique unit is the Plumed Archer, an archer with better hit points, armor, speed but lower attack.

Who won the longest aoe2 game? ›

The massive Age of Empires 2 stalemate match finally ends after 97 hours. The Age of Empires 2 match, which lasted for nearly sixty hours, has finally concluded, crowning Andre_2i as the winner by default.

What is the fastest unit in Age of Empires 2? ›

For example, horseback cavalry units are usually the fastest units in a game, whereas siege units are among the slowest units available.

Why is Chinese so strong aoe2? ›

They have access to all siege weapons except the Siege Onager and the Bombard Cannon. Their unique technology, Rocketry, makes their Chu Ko Nu and Heavy Scorpion potentially deadly and allow them to excel in long range sieging.

How do you get unlimited population in Age of Empires 2? ›

Open the Main Menu. Press Enter repeatedly to skip through the pre-game cinematics and display the Main Menu. Choose your game mode. All game modes in AoE 2 (except for Campaigns, which are set by the game) allow you to change the population limit setting.

Are the Vikings good on AoE 2? ›

Their economy is arguably the best in the game from the mid-Feudal Age to the late game due to free Wheelbarrow and Hand Cart, which give a 5 Villager advantage, a boost to Villager collection, and saves a sizable amount of resources (475 food, 250 wood).

What should I build first in Age of Empires 2? ›

Players should start by building one or two Houses before exploring until they find berries. Then, they should build a Granary by the berries to start getting food. They'll want six Villagers gathering berries as most civilizations to maintain constant Villager production.

What campaign should I start at In Age of Empires 2? ›

You're going to want to start off by playing the William Wallace tutorial campaign. If you're an old hat, it'll mostly be stuff you already know, but if you're dipping your toes in to an RTS in general or AOE specifically, it's a pretty great way to introduce you to the basics.

Are Italians good AOE 2? ›

The Italians have a 15% discount for advancing in ages which allows them to age up earlier. They are effective at booming since they have almost all economic technologies, and their Silk Road technology is very helpful in late game when all gold mines have been taken.

Are Japanese good in AOE 2? ›

The Japanese are an infantry civilization and command what is arguably the strongest infantry of all civilizations, with all upgrades available plus a speed boost for their attacks which results in a very high damage output. The Japanese also have fully upgradable archers, including Cavalry Archers.

Who has best Paladins AOE 2? ›

Despite lacking Bloodlines, the Franks have some of the strongest Paladins in the game due to their civilization bonus which grants them +20% HP, making them very powerful against melee (especially Halberdiers) and ranged units and excellent at raiding.

What is the most powerful civilization of all time? ›

8 of the Largest Empires in History
  • Persian empire. Also known as the Achaemenian Empire, the kingdom created under Cyrus the Great stretched from Iran into Central Asia and Egypt.
  • Han dynasty. ...
  • Umayyad Caliphate. ...
  • Mongol empire. ...
  • Ottoman Empire. ...
  • Spanish empire. ...
  • Russian Empire. ...
  • British Empire.

What is the most impressive civilization? ›

The Roman Empire was one of the greatest and most influential civilizations in world history. It began in the city of Rome in 753 BCE and lasted for well over 1000 years.

What is the best unit in Age of Empires? ›

The Royal Knight is more powerful than its generic counterpart, able to inflict more damage while staying in the fight longer. The Royal Knight's charge ability is overwhelming when employed en masse. Using their lances, these units deal tremendous damage when they first make an impact during a charge.

How many farms should I make aoe2? ›

Ideally, eight Farms should be built around Town Centers and Mills like this Farms should always be placed right next to Town Centers or Mills in order to keep the walking distances of the Villagers as short as possible.

Who has the best monks in aoe2? ›

Of all civilizations, the Aztecs have the strongest Monks in late game, having access to all religious technologies and receiving an extra 5 hit points for each one researched. If every technology is researched, Aztec Monks have 95 hit points - more than twice as much as a regular Monk with Sanctity.

What is the population limit in AOE2? ›

In Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings, the maximum population cap is 200. In The Forgotten, however, the population cap can be set up to 500.

How long is an average game of Age of Empires 2? ›

When focusing on the main objectives, Age of Empires II: HD Edition is about 31 Hours in length. If you're a gamer that strives to see all aspects of the game, you are likely to spend around 130 Hours to obtain 100% completion.

What has the longest range in Age of Empires 2? ›

The Trebuchet is a long-range siege unit in Age of Empires II that can be trained at the Castle once the Imperial Age is reached. It is the most powerful siege weapon with the longest base range and attack of all the units in the game. Its ability to take out buildings from a distance is unparalleled.

Which galactic civilization is best? ›

Galactic Civilizations 3: 8 Best Factions
  • 8 Krynn Syndicate.
  • 7 Terran Resistance.
  • 6 Drengin Empire.
  • 5 Torian Regime.
  • 4 Arcean Empire.
  • 3 Altarian Resistance.
  • 2 Iconian Refuge.
  • 1 Yor Singularity.
Jan 19, 2022

Who is the best character in civilization? ›

Hojo Tokimune might be the best leader in Civ. Their combination of adjacency bonuses for any district alongside halved build time for encampments, theatre squares, and holy sites means that you can get a great start no matter what.

What is the best civilization for mid game? ›

Rise of Kingdoms best civilisation – mid-game

Germany is my pick for the best mid-game civilisation, due to its improved action point recovery and troop building speed. Both these combined help you focus on building your empire.

Why do galactic empires fail? ›

The Empire would crumble in 4 ABY when Jedi Knight Luke Skywalker helped to turn his father Darth Vader back to the light side and kill Emperor Palpatine. Without the leadership of Palpatine, the structure of the Empire began to fall apart. In the following years, the Rebellion would keep growing in power.

Are the Vikings good on AOE 2? ›

Their economy is arguably the best in the game from the mid-Feudal Age to the late game due to free Wheelbarrow and Hand Cart, which give a 5 Villager advantage, a boost to Villager collection, and saves a sizable amount of resources (475 food, 250 wood).

Which civilization is best and why? ›

1 Roman Empire (27 BC - 1453 AD)

If Rome did not fall, we would be thousands of years more advanced. We probably would have had the industrial revolution around 500 AD. Rome is truly one of the greatest examples of a great civilization.

Who is the best leader in civilization? ›

1 Tomyris (Scythia) (Civ 6)

Considered by many fans to be the best leader to learn on, Tomyris of Scythia affords players an insanely great early game. Her military focus and special unit (the Saka Horse Archer) that doesn't require horses is difficult to beat.

What is the longest surviving civilization? ›

With more than four thousand years of recorded history, China is the world's oldest continuous civilization.


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