Top 5 AoE2 Civilizations (According to Science)
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Top 5 AoE2 Civilizations (According to Science)


Hey guys Spirit of the Law here In this video we’ll take a look at the top 5 best civilizations in Age of Empires 2 Now of course, best is a subjective term and normally there’s no way to take everything into account since civilizations thrive on different maps and different settings Really, the safest answer to the question has always been to just say “it depends” And there’s definitely some truth to that So that’s why I’m not gonna give you a list I’ve come up with off the top of my head Based on speculation or personal experience These are the best civilizations according to science By that I mean this list is based entirely on their actual 1VS1 win percentages online Across all ELO ratings and maps It’s based on over a 100 and 50.000 recent games All collected and analyzed automatically on a fantastic site set up by a member of the community Which I’ll link in the description So we’ve all heard the opinions But let’s find out which civilizations the numbers and results say are the best in practice At number 5 is the Vikings The fact that so many people play with random civilizations Means the majority of these wins are probably from land maps Now Vikings aren’t necessarily amazing right out the gate With the fourth slowest feudal time on average And actually perform below average in games ending in under 20 minutes They make up for it though, in games ending between 30 and 45 minutes That’s right around the late castle age into early imperial aged timeframe When they’re able to get berserk, arbalest, and siege rams onto the battlefield The most obvious explanation for their top tier win rate is their strong economy Set up by free and Instantaneous wheelbarrow and then handcart techs upon advancing Not only does that boost the collection rate of your villagers right away But you’re also saving the cost of those techs And freeing up your town center’s time to make even more villagers Looking at peripheral stats tells a similar story as well With an economy score and villager number lead in the mid game If you ever needed an example of how far a great economic bonus can completely carry a civilizations Look no further than the Vikings Next at number 4 is the Huns Perhaps not surprisingly, they’re the most popular civilizations to play Having a consistent edge right from the short games straight through to the hour plus marathons Their peak is in the 20 to 30 minute range, though Which covers either late feudal or the castle age Now, the Huns have always been considered a strong civilizations With their house bonus, cheap cavalry archers and faster working stables Now personally I’ve been pretty skeptical of their house bonus from an economy perspective in the past And the stats reflect that the Huns don’t really have an economy edge in the early to mid game So then why are they winning so much? The data doesn’t say anything about army composition But I would suspect it’s largely down to their flexibility Scouts, crossbows, knights, cavalry archers, Huns can do it all And in a natural progression where each new unit counters what you were sending against the last one You made spears against the Hun’s scouts Great, they’ll go for archers You make skirmishers to counter those Great, by the time you have them ready, the Huns are already gonna be transitioning towards knights So you switch back to pikemen, but pretty soon they’ll hit and run by cavalry archers It’s hard to play against, as they’re always able to transition to the next thing Combined with bonuses helping some of those units out, it always makes them feel just 1 step ahead You could see the Huns strong booming potential as well With their higher villager and economy numbers in the late game This is probably when the housing bonus is actually making its largest impact Both because of the saved wood but maybe just as important Is that the player’s concentration isn’t being regularly broken By needing to switch their attention to building more houses Ever so slightly edging them out in terms of win percentage though, at number 3 is the Incas Now they have the 3rd slowest castle time and great results in sub 20-minute games Implying a lot of the time they’re going more heavily into feudal age aggression If a 1VS1 featuring an Inca player ends that early, there’s a roughly ⅔ chance the Inca player won That’s pretty impressive Naturally, it makes sense that they also have on average some of these shortest games You might think those quick wins are from tower rushes At some very well might be, as they do have a stone discount But upon closer inspection, the stone collected in Dark Age is only slightly elevated And nowhere near that of the Koreans for instance The big advantage I see them having, is in terms of food and villager number If you think about it there are quite a few things going into that First and maybe most important is their free starting llama That counts for way more than just 1 extra sheep It means they have a more consistent start of always knowing where their initial food is coming from And are less impacted by unlucky starts or bad scouting Every time they can start taking food right after finishing house That’s an immediate food bonus They also have houses that support 10 populations instead of 5 Which is a nice immediate wood bonus as well The eagle scout is also objectively superior to the scout cavalry when it comes to exploring the map Which also gives the Incas a sizeable scouting advantage early on as well There’s a lot going on here that’s easy to overlook because individually they’re all small advantages But add up in dark age for a clean and efficient early game Now as the game drags on they do start to lose that advantage Probably because they specialize in cheap counter units which are eventually overwhelmed by some of the more powerful late-game civilizations Good example of one of those coming in at number 2 is the Slavs A couple of years back this is a civilization that would never have made this list But they’ve had a recent revival thanks to a boost to their farming rate Just looking at their food collected compared to the average civilizations tells you a lot about their economy Which translates to more military, a higher villager population and even a research edge as well All of these things of course work in a positive feedback loop Like the Huns, the Slavs are also another strong cavalry civilization This time with the threat of discounted siege as well Their game plan is essentially to go for powerful units, pass go, collect 200 food and repeat In the late game they spam halberdiers with splash damage, pass go, collect 200 food and repeat You can even see the switch from quality to quantity in their kills VS game lengths As they switch from powerful and expensive cavalry units with great kill to death ratios Into halberdiers, hussars, or elite skirmishers without bracer Which all yield a significantly worse ratio This also corresponds to a return to a roughly average win rate in our + games when the gold starts to run out Maybe partly because of that late-game weakness, there’s still a slightly higher win rate Before we get to number 1, though there are a few civilizations that you might be expecting that won’t be showing up there and I want to include them as honorable mentions as they’re just outside the top 5 First of all, there’s the Celts which are a solid civilization in the number 8 spot They perform considerably above average in games of any length Powered by their wood bonus, fast infantry, unique unit and top tier siege I find it interesting that their worst matchup is actually against the Vikings With just a 39% win rate I’m picturing epic berserk VS woad raider battles where the berserks narrowly win and then completely heal up Next, there are the Mayans which came in at number 7 Like the Incas they performed well early on Though maybe surprisingly they have a steeper drop-off in the mid game That might seem a bit odd considering their strong plumed archers in castle age Though upon closer inspection they lack behind in food and villagers Maybe partly because of their focus on archers Though, I think their slower working farms are also a factor there That also translates into a worse economy score in the late game Though, even with a weaker economy their strong eagle warriors and cheap plumed archers Let them get a lot of value from the resources they have I still think they’re a great civilization But in the real world, they’re losing consistently to the strongest ones on the list I also want to give a quick mention to the Aztecs who come in at number 6 They start out strong in the early to mid game with their militia rush And faster working military buildings Again, they have a great economy, this time combined with some truly impressive relic gold stats Similar to the Mayans, It’s not so much that there’s an obvious weakness here But just that they fall a bit short in practice When matched head-to-head against the civilizations that come in above them on this list So who do you think is 1st?
the American civilizations are out So would it be Burmese with their arambai? Malians? Indians? Maybe the Japanese? Nope And more than 60% win rate number 1 is the Franks Trust me, I know, I spat out my coffee too To be frank, I’ve never thought of them as a top tier 1VS1 civilizations But assuming the data is correct and there’s no french judges here being bribed and skewing the results That’s what they are Looking at the numbers they have 1 of the fastest castle age times on average Which is also the period where their knights left them dominating in 1VS1 games ending between 20 and 30 minutes, the Franks come out on top about ⅔ of the time Considering all the one-sided matchups from a rating perspective, that’s a really impressive number They follow it up with the 2nd fastest imperial age time as well so what about the Franks makes them so powerful? Well they start with 25% faster berry collection rate gives a great boost to their dark age That lets them advance quickly and open with scouts You’re able to get them out more easily, plus remember they now have extra HP After a bit of harassment, they can follow that up in castle age by using those same stables And any upgrades they picked up to make their famous knights Of course there are even more bonuses dedicated to helping them do that Including essentially free bloodlines, extra line of sight and later on faster working stable thanks to unique tech They also have free mill upgrades to help you get the most out of their farms in the mid-game Food is the most important resource early on and it’s interesting that 4 of the top 5 civilizations Have a direct bonus giving them either more food in the dark age or a boost to their farming And in the Franks case they have one of each of those So those are the top 5 civilizations in Age of Empires 2 at the moment The biggest takeaway for me looking at the list Is really the importance of a food bonus and the superiority of cavalry especially in the mid-game Remember this is all just for 1VS1, which don’t have trade and tend to be where more open maps are chosen Emphasizing a particular set of civilizations that excel in that situation Still, I hope you enjoyed the breakdown and maybe had a few surprises along the way I know I definitely did That’s all for this one though, Thanks for watching guys and I’ll see you next time

100 thoughts on “Top 5 AoE2 Civilizations (According to Science)

  1. There is a problem with concentration. What if there are a small group of pros that skew the results? 150000 sample size, how many civilization? And combinations of match ups would give the average sample size per match up at how much? Enough for a relatively small number of highly skilled and prolific players to skew the results?

  2. Makes since, since Rome fell till Germany conquered them France maintained an Empire and a strong Super Power for hundreds if not thousands of years.
    To be fair though, according to the stats nearly every nation is hovering the 50% win ratio.

  3. There's one piece of data you missed.
    Skill level.
    It could very well be that the Frank's are generally accepted as one of the not great civilizations, not excelling in enough areas to put all your eggs into their basket. However, it could be this challenge that draws in the more skilled players and keeps out the weaker players, which would give your data the numbers that would make them appear to be better than they are, when it could ver ywell just be the players who chose that civilizations are as a whole, more skilled.

    similar to how in world of warcraft you see newer players choosing the horde because all the monsters look neat while alliance are normaly more veteran players and lower numbers but higher skill. this of course varies by server but used to be a fact back in the day. Never discount player skill and preference.

  4. Sorry for the question, but why Mayans are the worst farmer in the game? Are they actually slower, or in stats they farm less than other civs?

  5. Have been using the Throwing Axemen + Heavy Cavalry combo for decades. I knew I couldn't be wrong all along.

    For me, this has always been too obvious, as Franks have the most powerful military combo in the game, from what I can see. Pretty much the best infantry combined with the best cavalry and a good economy. What is the surprise?

  6. People think Franks are weaker then they actually are simply because they are predictable. But heres the thing, being predictable doesn't matter if you can't defeat them even when you know what they are going to do. Frank cavalry is so strong that pikes are really the only good counter against them in the castle age. Problem is, the Franks unique units absolutely wreck pikeman and their fast castle time as well as the castles themselves being cheaper means its very easy to transition into them. They also got crossbows. Theres almost no army composition in the game that can beat Frank cavalry backed by throwing axeman and the few armies that could beat that usually requires the imperial age and tons of upgrade and research.

    I'm sure lots of people at every skill level would find Inca and Aztec more dominant simply because you never know what they are going to do. But thats exactly what makes Franks really overpowered, the fact that you always know what they are going to do and still lose! Even Indians, which people often say are their counter, have negative win rates against them even at over 2000 rating! It would be like arguing that Hulk is a weak Avengers because all he can do is smash while the others are so much more versatiles. Yeah but all the Hulk needs to do is smash. And all the Franks need are their cavalry.

  7. I love the game, but I'm really bad. Last night, I played Vikings vs Aztecs (computer) on Normal, and lost.

  8. Franks huh ? Not surprising, considering everybody spams Franks since 99', because of the insane paladins. And most people don't play with pikemen OR they don't make enough of them !

  9. what happen to the brits? i use to dominate with them back in high school 99-02. now i cant even win one game with them

  10. Franks were not only french. After Charlemagne/Karl der Große/Carl the Great the Franks split into west and east frankia which later formed the preprepre-states of France and Germany (and the Benelux etc)

  11. Dev1: What should we give the Franks?
    Dev2: 25% bonus to collecting Berries
    D1: What? why?
    D2: Because the French can't live without wine obviously

  12. No matter how much they nerf Franks, they' always win with style! Lol. In base aoe2 game 192hp paladin while others had 160!!

  13. My two first favorite civs are the most hated and mocked because they have slow melee unique units. Memes memes everywhere.

  14. Last time I played about 9-10 years ago and I was spamming Mayans, glad they're on honorable mentions.

  15. I don't even know how to this play game well but I bet the incas are mostly played by above average players that want to cheese with tower so the % is high because bottom tier multi players barely run them.

  16. I wish there was a new Star Wars Galactic Battlegrounds in the works. Empire at War was a terrible game and I keep finding myself going back to the classic.

  17. Franks are germans not France. Franks or Franken still exist in Germany . They had a small axe which they throw on enemy who called Franziska, today Franziska is a German female name. They life in north Bavaria and speak like every German Region a different dialect.

  18. I watched a lot of aoe2 casts recently and i noticed that franks are very rarely chosen in the big tournaments. Yet every top 10 player must know the statistics. Why is that ? Maybe they are not versatile enough in top pro games ? I look forward to having your feedback

  19. what i also noticed (and it's probaly the biggest flaw in the franks overview): you overlook a bit the advantages of the farm bonus by saying it's mostly a wood saver. However, it reduces idle time from farmers (that depends on the reactivity of the player, but even for an expert player, it gives him time to focus on other things like microing battle) and reduces the time a farmer spends planting the seeds to create a farm (i'm not an aoe2 player, just an enthousiastic watcher so don't hesitate to tell me if i'm saying dumb things), which results in a serious eco/food bonus

  20. i have 70% win rate with franks:

    -You can have 3 castle for price of 2
    -Speed food with bonus
    -You can nerver buy upgrade if you swich at new age ( feodal: soldier / spears man + archer >>> Castle: cavalieri + axe launcher. imperial: cavalieri + canon hand )
    -axe launcher are ranged but in forge they have bonus of infantry (you have just at take all top upgrade) and they are good with nice micro.

  21. i say britons are number one, longbow man are the best units in game ; 12 range is almost as far as trebushes ; 11 attack ; cheap resources to make

  22. Oh man… your analysis are by far the best ones regarding AoC. You are such a scholar. Thanks for this. I really hope the developers of Age II DE contact you often before making balance decisions.
    After having gone through the change log up to patch 5.8, I didn't spit out my coffee with the Franks. Boosted in every single age, Free bloodline was too much, plus squires. No weakness for Franks.
    I hope in the future versions of the game each civs "at least" will have "a chance" to stand against stronger ones in the most popular maps. Balance in early ages is critical.

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