Best foot archers in the game. Unique Unit: Longbowman (long ranged infantry archer). Wonder: A placeholder cathedral.note The graphic appears to be based on the Aachen Cathedral, which is found in the editor.
A Commander Is You: They have elements of a Ranger Faction with a dash of Specialist as their Longbowmen and normal archer units have the longest range in game, but is the only old world civilization without any gunpowder units. The Forgotten does add Cannon Galleons to their tech tree.
Does Not Like Guns: Like mentioned above, they are the only old world civilization with no gunpowder units of any kind.
No Campaign for the Wicked: Despite appearing several times as villains, they're never playable, in a campaign, except for the Agincourt Scenario in Conquerors.
Non-Indicative Name: Their historical basis is the Medieval Kingdom of England, not the Celtic Britons that would eventually be reduced to the Welsh.
Sacred Language: While their other units speak an old dialect of English, their Monks speak Latin.
Very powerful siege weapons supported by fast Infantry. UU: Woad Raider (fast infantry). Wonder: Rock of Cashel.
A Commander Is You: They are the Balanced faction due to the tutorial campaign. Plus, they have the Ranger faction's high speed, and Guerrilla faction's use of element of surprise.
Fragile Speedster: Probably the closest the game has to one. Their infantry are 15% faster, their unique unit takes this Up to Eleven, and their siege weapons fire faster. They're very much focused on offence over defence though.
Mighty Lumberjack: They're not necessarily more manly and tough and impressive than other civ's Lumberjacks but they do work 20% faster.
Scotireland: The Celts are meant to stand in for all the non-Germanic peoples in the British isles (plus the Duchy of Brittany in modern France). Woad Raiders are based on the Picts of ancient Scotland and the Celtic wonder is the Rock of Cashel castle in Ireland.
A Commander Is You: Possibly Generalist since their bonuses are towards cavalry but they also have Throwing Axemen as their unique units. They also have free farm upgrades and cheaper castles of an economist faction.
Durable cavalry and gunpowder. UUs: Conquistador (hand cannoneer cavalry), Missionary (cavalry monk). Wonder: Torre del Oro.
Anachronism Stew: The game's Torre del Oro includes the third stage with a dome, which in the real building wasn't added until the 18th century (out of the game's timeframe). See also Toros y Flamenco below.
Badass Normal: Their unique technology, Supremacy, elevates villagers' combat stats up to the level of most frontline units.
A Commander Is You: They are definitely an Elitist Faction that relies on units with a high gold cost, especially Knights, Conquistadors, Monks, Bombard Cannons, and Bombard Towers. They are also the closest thing to an Industrial Faction in Age of Empires 2, as their villagers create buildings faster and one can infer that creating gunpowder weapons requires mechanical knowhow.
Horse Archer: The Spanish Unique Unit, the Conquistador, although he's a dude with a matchlock rifle instead of a bow.
More Dakka: All of their gunpowder units fire 15% faster. This means that their Hand Cannoneers and Bombard Cannons even beat Turkish ones in direct combat. Their Cannon Galleons also benefit from the Ballistics technology. Normal Cannon Galleons are only good for anti-building bombardment thanks to their slow moving cannonballs and require an escort from combat ships, Spanish ones can fight ship to ship and win handily.
The Theme Park Version: The Conquistador unit is a summation of what advantages the conquistadors had over the American natives (i.e. gunpowder, horses and steel armor), rather than what an actual conquistador would have used in battle all at once. The rifles of the time were too big and slow to charge and fire to use them from horseback, though heavily armored cavalry made use of short-ranged pistols around that time.
Toros y Flamenco: The Spanish Regional Riff is a flamenco-ish chant, despite flamenco appearing in the 18th century and thus out of the game's timeframe.
Cheap and fast training infantry, but no walls. UU: Huskarl (anti-archer infantry). Wonder: Mausoleum of Theodoric.
Annoying Arrows: Huskarls have high pierce armor for flesh and blood units, which means that arrows from an archer or a tower only do 1 damage to them. With full upgrades, it takes as many arrows as each hit point a Huskarl has to kill them.
Barbarian Tribe: For most scenario creators, the "go to" civilization when you want to feature European 'barbarians' that aren't Vikings or Huns.
Gratuitous German: Makes sense for the actual German civ, the Teutons, but the Goths use the same exact voice clips as them. Gothic was more similar to Old Norse than Old German so using the Viking voice clips may have been more accurate.
No Campaign for the Wicked: The Goths are a frequent enemy in the Ghengis Khan campaign, the Barbarossa campaign, the Attila the Hun campaign, and a scenario in The Battles of the Conquerors suite but receive no campaign of their own. May be justified due to the Goths having a significantly different gameplay than all the other civs, lacking stone walls, towers, and a strong economic bonus. The campaigns usually feature some form of defend and build up even if the civ used is not quite suited for it, like the Huns or Aztecs, but at least those guys have walls.
The Non Descript: The Goths are often used in campaigns for any European culture that is not big on chivalry and fortifications (excluding the Vikings and the Huns). They fill in for the Saxons in the Hastings scenario and for eastern European states like Poland and Russia in the Barbarossa and Genghis Khan campaigns.
Zerg Rush: Lacking the powerful Paladin and the ranged Arbalest, their Infantry don't even get the final armor upgrade. Instead, their Infantry are 35% (the technology tree says 25%, though) cheaper than everybody else's and their Barracks churn out those Infantry 20% faster. Later on in the game, they are the only civilization who can create their unique unit from the cheap Barracks as opposed to the costly Castle and they can churn out Infantry 100% (again, the tech tree claims it to be 50%) faster!
The most offensive civilization in the game. Since they do not need to build houses they can rapidly spam units from the beginning and have bonuses in cavalry and destruction of buildings. UU: Tarkan (anti-building cavalry). Wonder: Destroyed Arch of Constantine surrounded by plundered gold.
Born in the Saddle: Cutscenes in the Attila the Hun campaign state that the Huns even had deformed legs due to being on horseback most of their lives. This was a true trope in real life, the Huns originally being a Central Asian people. Reflected in gameplay, too, since their foot troops are limited in variety and weak.
Barbarian Tribe: Out of all the civs, the Huns are viewed as the most barbaric. The contemporary Goths adopted many Roman customs, and the Mongols take a pragmatic approach to conquest sparing anybody who backs down and making examples of those who resist. Romans during the campaign exclaim that the Huns care about nothing but gold and conquest. Hunnic notions of firing and retreating in battle was incomprehensible to the Romans, as was their refusal to eventually settle down in one place like the Germanic tribes. This is depicted in gameplay as the Huns don't need Houses, they lack access to more advanced upgrades to machinery such as Onagers, Bombard Cannons, or Arbalests, and lack many defensive upgrades.
A Commander Is You: They are a Unit Specialist faction towards cavalry and Brute Force faction's poor defenses but excellent offenses. They are also Spammer faction in Deathmatches to due their lack of need for houses.
Horse Archer: The Huns get cheaper Cavalry Archers to the point that they are barely more costly than regular Archers but still have twice the durability, more attack, and more speed. In real life of course, the majority of the Hun army was on horseback.
Outgrown Such Silly Superstitions: Their Unique Technology? Atheism. It makes other players need more time to win after building a Wonder or collecting all relics from a map.
Rape, Pillage, and Burn: This is generally their MO in their campaign. Their Tarkan unique unit is a horse mounted raider armed with a flaming brand, particularly effective against buildings.
Strong defenses and a diverse tech tree. UU: Teutonic Knight (powerful but slow infantry). Wonder: Maria Laach Abbey.
Black Knight: The appropriately ominous looking Teutonic Knight is the closest equivalent to the first Age of Empires Phallanx: 50% more HPs than a Champion, three times the melee armor, almost twice the cost, half its speed. They easily kill other melee units, even the dreaded Paladin, and unlike the Persian elephants they are resistant to conversion. However their decent pierce armor and HP doesn't make up for their speed and they are beaten by most ranged units. Combine them with rams and most opponents will still shit their pants as they walk to their base.... though veeeery slowly.
A Commander Is You: THEBrute Force faction. Despite being slow as molasses, their Teutonic Knights do tons of damage. Unlike most other Brute Force factions, they also have excellent defense bonuses, cheaper farms, units that are resistant to conversion, and their monks have doubled healing range.
Germanic Efficiency: Definitely invoked when one looks at their castles or compares the Teutonic Knight to other infantry. Not fast nor cheap, but definitely worth to invest in.
Mighty Glacier: A good way to characterize the Teuton's offense. Slow Teutonic Knights and siege weapons, along with encroaching fortifications. They are also one of the few civs to lack the movement speed upgrade for their mounted units.
Rain of Arrows: "Crenellations" also increases the range of their castles.
The Teutonic Knights: Their Unique Unit. They are mainstays in the armies of the Hospitallers and Templars in the campaign mode which is weird at first glance but the real life Teutonic Order started in the Holy Land. The Teutonic Knights were also present during the Battle of Mohi, the final Ghengis Khan mission, so the Hungarians being represented by Teutons is not completely out there.
Maritime civ with cheap warships and decent Infantry. UUs: Berserker (self-healing infantry), Longboat (ship that fires multiple arrows at once). Wonder: Borgund Stave Church.
Acceptable Breaks from Reality: Longboats (like all ships in the game) have no oars, whose animation would probably cause lag on the computers of the time when the game was released.
A Commander Is You: Due to their limited tech tree, the Vikings are hard to pin down but they have a very strong economy in the middle section of a round such that they can get away with using units that they are weak with such as Knights. A common misconception is that they are poor on land but they are strong for most of the game. They are only weak late game due to lacking many of the strongest Imperial Age units such as Siege Onager and Paladins. However, they dominate water maps. When competitive players on teams get to choose their civs but have no idea what map they will be on, each team will almost always have a Viking player on the off chance they get a map with significant water on it as well as the fact that the Vikings are still a good land civ.
Cool Ship: Their sleek Longboats with masts shaped like dragonheads, counterparts of the real like Drakkar.
Horny Vikings: Obviously. Though it's downplayed a bit, only the above mentioned unique unit actually has a horned helmet.
Lightning Bruiser: Longboats are very fast and shoot volleys of arrows at once, making them perfect for sea-raids.
Rain of Arrows: The Longboat's attack, which gives it an edge over the galleys and makes it dangerous to land units.
A very balanced civilization with a wide tech tree and strong buildings, ideal for new players. UU: Cataphract (anti-infantry cavalry). Wonder: Hagia Sophia.
A Commander Is You: They have traits of the Balanced Faction, the Spammer Faction, and even the Research Faction. They have the lowest cost to reach the Imperial Age, which means that they can quickly field very powerful units while their opponents are still in the Castle Age.
Confusion Fu: They have access to most standard technologies. They are lacking in Siege and miss a crucial tech for Cavalry (extra HP from Bloodlines) and a tech for Cavalry AND Infantry (extra attack from Blast Furnace). This makes them capable of a wide range of playstyles, and unpredictable to face in multiplayer.
Living Relic: By the end of it's lifespan, the Byzantine Empire could be regarded as such. It had essentially become a city-state, the inhabitants mostly spoke Greek, and their army was in shambles. A common Western European insult to the Byzantines was to call them the "Greek Empire" rather than their preferred name for themselves, the "Roman Empire."
No Campaign for the Wicked: A very common enemy in campaigns (and the Arch-Enemy in the Attila the Hun one) but only playable in standard game. Fan-made Byzantine campaigns are very common however, and most of them center on Belisarius' invasions of Africa and Italy, since a Belisarius unit is available in the editor.
The Paladin: The Cataphract is one of the best cavalry units in the game. After researching 'Logistics' they also give trample damage to other units around them, like the Persian War Elephants.
The Roman Empire: Historically, the Byzantines were a continuation of the Roman Empire and they stand for Ancient Rome in the game's Attila campaign. They were officially the "Eastern Roman Empire" before the Middle Ages and simply "Roman Empire" during it. They never called themselves Byzantines but Romans. This led to some interesting developments: the Seljuq Turks in control of present-day Turkey called their lands "Romaniyye," and while the origin of present-day Romania's name is quite obvious, it's not so much that Romanian and Moldovan are actually related to Latin rather than the surrounding Slavic languages. Latin was the official language up until it was replaced by Greek in 620 AD (they still referred to their language as the "Roman language") and their units speak Latin in game. After Constantinople fell, several nations laid claim to the title of "Roman Empire" including the Ottoman Empire and the Russian Empire.
Stone Wall: Have some of the toughest buildings in the game, and they're summed up as a "Defensive Civilization" in the in-game tech tree. The "counter units" of the Skirmisher, Spearmen, and Camel line are 25% cheaper; these units are specifically strong against one unit type (skirmishers beat archers, spearmen beat cavalry, camels beat cavalry) but weak against others making them good for defense. Their Cataphract unique unit is also one of only three units in the game with a specific attack bonus against infantry. Unlike the cheaper "counter units," Cataphracts are very expensive but are also useful in many other situations.
Cavalry civilization with economy bonuses. UU: War Elephant (powerful but slow cavalry). Wonder: Khosrau's Palace.
A Commander Is You: Elitist Faction for sure. They do not have access to many strong, cheap units like the Arbalest, the Champion, or even the Two-Handed Swordsmen. They rely almost entirely on their cavalry. They do have a good ship fleet, though.
Mighty Glacier: The biggest example in the game with even the Teutonic Knight being a wimp compared to it in terms of health, resisting high damage and damaging units adjacent to whatever they're attacking. Outside of units they're specially weak to, there's no cost effective way of beating them. They are extremely slow, but...
Lightning Bruiser: The Persian unique technology (Mahouts) can bring them up to this level.
Weaksauce Weakness: Very easily converted by Monks. And then used against the Persian player!
A civ with a wide tech tree, weaker bonuses, and some bonuses towards water. UU: Mameluke (ranged camel). Wonder: Great Mosque of Samarra.
Archer Archetype: The Saracens and Japanese are the only civs to get every technology from the Archery Range.
A Commander Is You: The Saracens seem to fall under The Ranger Faction as their strongest and most important units tend to be ranged. Arbalests, Cavalry Archers, Mamelukes, Siege Onagers, Bombard Cannons, Monks, Trebuchets, and even Galleons. In the 6th and final Barbarossa scenario, Saladin makes good use of this fact with an army of exclusively ranged units with only a couple of Heavy Camels to start the scenario. This is quite excruciating because the player uses the Teutons who are the slow and methodical civilization.
Horse Archer: The Saracen Horse Archers specifically do more damage to buildings, and the are the only civilization to get every technology to upgrade them along with the Turks. Their Mameluke Unique Unit is sort of like this, playing like a short-ranged Horse Archer except he's a guy on a camel that throws swords and does melee damage instead of ranged damage.
Our Elves Are Better: Interestingly they have alot of the usual traits of elves in strategy games. Besides their Ranger Faction tendencies, the Saladin campaign depicts the Saracens as originally peaceful and civilized who become warlike due to events around them. They are men who used to "enter battle as gentlemen" who "discuss mathematics and astronomy" and "seek to dignify their civilization" but the Crusades made them warlike. Their cities such as Cairo and Baghdad are described by the Norman narrator with awe. Their Wonder is even impressive enough to make do as a Mage Tower. In real life, the Arabs had advanced technology compared to the Europeans but they were as warlike as everybody else in the Middle Ages.
Slave Mooks: Muslim leaders had to get around the soft ban on Muslims fighting each other; slave mooks known as Mamelukes were the answer. Slaves usually came from Turkic sources, which meant the Mamelukes were probably a precursor to the Jannisaries. Eventually the Mamelukes took control from their owners and founded their own empires in India, Egypt, and Central Asia. In fact the first nation to call itself "Turkey" was the Mamluk Sultanate of Egypt.
Faceless Goons: They wear black turbans that cover their face completely.
Throwing Your Sword Always Works: Mamelukes throw their scimitars at enemies, they usually hit, and pretty hard at that. Of course, the Mameluke has an endless supply of scimitars to throw at people.
Gunpowder civilization supported by Light Cavalry. UU: Janissary (strong hand cannoneer). Wonder: Suleiman's Mosque.
Born in the Saddle: Historically, the Turks used to be this type of civilization. When they moved to the Middle East, they quickly took on many Persian and Arab characteristics but still retained strong horsemanship into Ottoman times. In gameplay this is reflected by their free upgrades to the Scout Cavalry line as well as being the only civ besides the Saracens to get every upgrade for their Cavalry Archers. The Ottomans made good use of infantry so the Turks have limited access to foot units but what they have is strong.
A Commander Is You: Definitely an Elitist Faction. They lack the full upgrades for the cheap Spearmen and Skirmishers and must rely on gold intensive units like Jannisaries. The only strong, non-gold unit they have are the Hussars which they have a bonus for.
More Dakka: They create gunpowder units faster, get all gunpowder-related technologies for half cost, and their Cannon Galleons, Bombard Tower, and Bombard Cannon all outrange their counterparts in other civs. All of their gunpowder units also have 25% extra Hit Points. It's pretty obvious which units the game wants you to use when you play as the Turks.
Slave Mooks: The Jannisary corps were slaves brought in from the Slavs in the Balkans and then from the Greeks. Young boys were captured and then given an exclusively military education, which for the Turks included warfare, wrestling, swordsmanship, Islam, chess, music, cooking, and engineering.
Far East: All four civilizations get the same building style, which is nonetheless very Japanese-looking.
Bonuses in economy and research. UU: Chu Ko Nu (repeating archer). Wonder: Temple of Heaven.
A Commander Is You: They fit the Balanced Faction type along with the Research Faction. One of their advantages is cheaper research of technology which leads to the Chinese having more advanced troops than everybody else.
Gameplay and Story Segregation: More like Gameplay and History Segregation. The Chinese historically are well-known for their invention of gunpowder and the heavy use of it in warfare (and even the first hand cannon and the cannon were invented in China), yet the Chinese do not have access to the Hand Cannoner and Bombard Cannon unit note They still have access to Cannon Galleons and Bombard Towers though. This is justified because their gameplay already excels in archery and long range sieging thanks to their unique technologies, their bonuses, and their unique unit; and giving such access to gunpowder units will be a game breaker.
The Great Wall: Referenced (and portrayed) in the Chinese scenario of the Genghis Khan's campaign. It is invoked once again in Forgotten Empires, where the new Chinese UT "Great Wall" increases their walls' HP.
More Dakka: Chu Ko Nus fire 5 arrows at a time, though each arrow is less accurate than the last and makes their ability less pronounced on faster enemies. When you have an army of Chu Ko Nus, the number of arrows flying on the screen can actually cause the game to lag. One of the main upsides of the Chu Ko Nus is that while each arrow may do 1 damage to high pierce armor targets like Rams or Trebuchets, those units are so slow that they will probably be hit by 4 or 5 arrows. The Chu Ko Nus make a great defensive unit.
No Campaign for the Wicked: Appear as antagonists in the third scenario of Genghis Khan's campaign (possibly the most popular of the campaign if not the whole game), but they never get to be playable, except for Casual Maps.
Chinese campaigns are even rare in the fandom for some reason. The popular fan site Age of Kings Heaven even tried to correct this by making a contest of historically themed Chinese campaigns.
Infantry and maritime based civilization. UU: Samurai (infantry with bonus attack against other UUs). Wonder: Todai-ji.
Archer Archetype: The Japanese and Saracens are the only civs to receive all technologies in the Archery Range. Historically, the Samurai were expert archers for most of the Middle Ages and the developers originally intended for the Samurai to have two attack modes: melee with swords and range with archery. This was deemed too user unfriendly because a player could order his Samurai to attack a high pierce armor building destroyer like a Ram, switch to a different screen to micro another army, then switch back only to see his buildings gone thanks to the Samurai feebly firing arrows at the Ram.
A Commander Is You: It's difficult to pinpoint the Japanese, but they are closest to the Brute Force Faction. They tend to have a strong economy and use cheaper foot units such as their Archers or their faster attacking Infantry. They lack variety in siege weapons and have weak cavalry so their unit roster is limited. Ironically, The Conquerors makes their Trebuchets very, very powerful giving them a single strong, expensive Siege weapon as an exception to the rest of their playstyle.
Gratuitous English: Their unique technology, which makes Trebuchets fire faster, is called Kataparuto, which is simply 'catapult' spelt out in Katakana.
Hero Killer: Samurai are almost average infantry units (one samurai can beat one champion, but barely) but their bonus against UUs means that they can kill any of them in a one-on-one fight, excluding Teutonic Knights, War Elephants and Cataphracts. The former two are too strong for Samurai even with the bonus, and the later's bonus damage against infantry counters the Samurai's.
Horse Archer: The Japanese are lacking in cavalry units but a unique combination of technologies makes their Horse Archers able to compete with Hunnic and Persian horse archers man to man. The Samurai spent a period of time as horse archers who engaged in ritual duels.
Katanas Are Just Better: And Naginata, too. Although the Samurai is the only unit that actually wields a Katana, Japanese infantry attack 25% faster. This means their Infantry defeat the Infantry of all other civs one to one in every age (including Aztecs with the feared +4 Attack), and their Halberdiers slaughter enemy cavalry if they get close.
This Looks Like a Job for Aquaman: How much use the Samurai get depends entirely on the enemy's unique unit, with a more useful one meaning the Samurai will get used to counter it. Otherwise, champions are more cost effective.
Bonuses in siege and fortifications. UUs: War Wagon (armored cavalry archer), Turtle Ship (armored cannon ship). Wonder: Hwangnyong Pagoda.
A Commander Is You: They're a combination of the Elitist Faction, the Ranger Faction, and the Technical Faction. Their best units, Siege Onagers and War Wagons, are expensive but very powerful. Their melee units are weak, but it's easy to rely on their powerful ranged units.
Cool Ship: Turtle Ships are undeniably cool: big, spiky turtle shells with dragon heads that spit cannonballs.
Mighty Glacier: Turtle Ships are colossal, have lots of health points and are terribly slow. However, once a building or ship gets inside theirs (rather short) range, it's doomed. War Wagons could also be considered slower but stronger Cavalry Archers.
Spikes Of Doom: Just in case you though those spikes were for show, the Noryang scenario has a drawing of a Japanese boarder Impaled with Extreme Prejudice in one of them. The Turtle Ships' main strength in Real Life came from the fact that they could not be boarded and captured.
Light cavalry and cavalry archer civilization. UU: Mangudai (anti-siege weapons cavalry archer). Wonder: Great Tent of the Golden Horde.
Born in the Saddle: Mongolian culture practically revolves around the horse in real life and it led to their military success in history. A cutscene proudly proclaims that a Mongol at war would even sleep in the saddle. In-game, their light cavalry have 33% more Hit Points and their Mangudai Unique Unit is a Cavalry Archer on steroids. Unlike the Huns or the Turks, they still have alot of strong foot units but their foot archers in particular miss a key armor technology making them a tad bit weaker than, say, a Saracen or Mayan foot archer.
A Commander Is You: They are definitely the Technical Faction as well as the Ranger Faction. Their cavalry archers and siege weapons are defensively weak and require hit and run tactics to be effective.
Horse Archer: Their Cavalry Archers fire 20% faster and the Mangudai is among the strongest, faster moving and attacking than most units.
Lightning Bruiser: Mangudai are pretty fast, but their Unique Tech Drills will drastically speed up every siege engine made in the Siege Workshop. Resulting in Mangonels, Rams and Scorpions moving faster than infantry.
Artstyle only available in The Conquerors. When the developers decided on creating an expansion, they thought about adding an African, Indian, or Mesoamerican set of civilizations to the game. They chose the Mesoamericans because they were the most exotic looking and because they could also include the Spanish. Their most obvious difference with other civilizations is that they lack any type of cavalry or gunpowder units, though their exclusive fast running Eagle Warriors cover the role of the former.
Fragile Speedster: The Eagle Warrior is in effect a replacement of the Light Cavalry line.
Gameplay and Story Segregation: Despite being from a wholly different continent, in game their infantry and archer units are virtually identical to those of other populations, resulting in Aztecs and Mayan armed with steel swords and armors or crossbows.
Their trade cart is pulled by a man rather than a horse to account for the fact that they didn't have horses - but it is a cart which doesn't make much sense because the Aztecs and Mayans only used the wheel for toys.
Also, as they keep the same artstyle as everyone else for the Dark Age, this results in their first mills still having a donkey visibly turning the grinding wheel, even though donkeys are not native to the Americas, nor did Mesoamerica know the milling wheel either. From the Feudal Age these get replaced by windmills, which weren't known historically in Mesoamerica either.
Lightning Bruiser: Instead of Cavalry they use Eagle Warriors, who can move as fast as cavalry units.
Mayincatec: Averted in that the Aztecs and Mayans are two different civilizations with different actual sound clips of their languages and completely different playstyles.
Played straight with their artstyle, as both factions use the same exact building designs, save for their respective Wonders.
Panthera Awesome: The development of Mesoamerican civilizations also brought tropical American maps and jaguars lurking in their jungles with them.
Infantry based civilization with the best monks in game. UU: Jaguar Warrior (most powerful infantry in game). Wonder: Great Temple of Tenochtitlan.
Badass Army: The Aztecs have access to all swordsman upgrades and their unique technology "Garland Wars" gives them 4 additional attack points. then consider that Jaguar Warriors also benefit from these technologies, and that they themselves have a bonus attack against other infantry units.
A Commander Is You: Mostly the Brute Force Faction. Their buildings are the weakest in the game and they lack cavalry, but they can create all of their military units faster on a powerful economy to boot, and they have a technology that gives their frail Infantry +4 attack. The are not completely glass cannons because for every Monastery technology they research, their Monks gain +5 HP. This combination of fast Eagles, strong Jaguars, micro-intensive Monks, and the need to constantly be on offense lends them a Technical Faction feel.
Foil: To the Mayans. The Aztecs are the most well-known pre-Columbian civilization, fit "The Conquerors" theme, and were probably developed early on. Gameplay-wise, the Aztecs are very focused on offense, while the Mayans were probably developed later and are clearly much more defensive and have many techs the Aztecs lack.
Glass Cannon: Their Infantry has relatively low HP despite its high attack. The Aztecs are also one of the few civilizations to have access to the Siege Onager, a very expensive glass cannon unit.
A Commander Is You: The Mayans are a combo of the Spammer Faction and the Ranger Faction. They extract 20% more resources from the same source than the other civilizations, and their archers are dirt cheap. Combine the two, and they definitely have reserves.
Fragile Speedster: In terms of military force: their forte are Plumed Archers and Eagle Warriors, which are both good for Hit-and-Run Tactics. While they're not as beefy as the horse archers and cavalry they're supposed to replace they have noticeably higher HP than regular infantry or archers and are dirt cheap.
Foil: To the Aztecs. Their ships, archers, siege engines and fortifications are better, while their infantry and monks are considerably worse. The exception is the eagle warrior which is stronger than its Aztec equivalent and together with the also fast plummed archers, can effectively be considered a form of light cavalry - something that the Aztecs definitely lack.
Civilizations in The Forgotten
Ranged and naval based civilization. The Italians have their own artstyle, a version of the Roman one used in the previously developed Rome at War mod (that replaced the Aztecs with Ancient Romans) that was in turn modified and used for the Genoese in the total conversion mod Age of Chivalry. UUs: Genoese Crossbowman (anti-cavalry foot archer), Condottiero (anti-gunpowder infantry that can also be trained by other civilizations allied to an Italian player). Wonder: Basilica of San Lorenzo.
Anti-Cavalry: The Genoese Crossbowman is one, the only foot archer in game to have this property.
A Commander Is You: The Italians are mostly a Ranger Faction. They receive a ranged unit for every situation: Genoese Crossbowmen who shoot Cavalry to pieces, cheaper Hand Cannoneers who can decimate Infantry, Skirmishers who kill other Archers, and cheaper Bombard Cannons that destroy buildings and are effective vs other siege weapons. Most civs tend to have a specialization that keeps them from being pigeonholed in one role, and the Italians receive the melee Condottieri who kill gunpowder units.
Only in It for the Money: The Condottieri availability to other civilizations is explained by the fact that they are mercenaries. In real life the Condottieri were renown for their fickleness, sometimes changing allegiances mid battle.
Siege spam civilization with strong Infantry and Cavalry. The Slavs also use an Eastern European artstyle based on the unfinished Russian mod that aimed to replace the Aztecs and Mayans with Muscovian and Kievan Russians. UU: Boyar (tough cavalry). Wonder: Khizi Church.
A Commander Is You: Brute Force since their unique technology gives their infantry trample damage and their Boyar unique unit is a well armored cavalry unit (Essentially a mounted Teutonic Knight). Along with some Spammer elements as their bonus gives their military buildings five population and their siege units are cheaper.
An Axe to Grind: The Boyar in the final HD version is armed with a longaxe.
Badass Army: The unique technology "Druzhina" gives trample damage to the Slavic infantry. The only other units that have this are the Persian War Elephants and the Byzantine Cataphract (after researching "Logistica").
The Paladin: The Boyar is comparable to the Byzantine Cataphract. The Cataphract destroys Infantry, even Halberdiers, as well as Camels but loses to Paladins and ranged units. The Boyar loses to Halberdiers and Camels but beats Paladins and is a little less weak to archery. Slavs lack Paladins, though, which is good because then they could help account for the Slavs' ranged weakness.
Light cavalry based civilization. They share the Eastern Europe artstyle with the Slavs (North European in the non-HD version). UU: Magyar Huszar (light cavalry with bonus against siege weapons). Wonder: Hunyad Castle.
Blade on a Stick: Outside of some knight heroes available only in campaigns and the editor, the Magyar Huszar is the only available cavalry lancer in the game.
Born in the Saddle: A strong Magyar army is fully mounted, with Magyar Huszars, Paladins, Hussars, and Cavalry Archers. In real life, the Magyars spent their early history within a confederation of mostly Turkic peoples on the steppes and adopted a horseback lifestyle. They were feared throughout Europe as the most deadly cavalry soldiers.
Early-Bird Cameo: They appear in the final Ghengis Khan mission, which depicts the Battle of Mohi. They are represented by the Teutons here.
Horse Archer: Their Horse Archers have the longest range of any other.
One-Hit Kill: Magyar villagers kill wolves with a single hit.
You Are The Translated Foreign Word: Magyar Huszar means "Hungarian Hussar". The average Hussar unit is still available to the Magyars a.k.a. Hungarians, however, and cheaper than other civs to boot. The Magyars need the regular Hussar because they are one of the few civs to lack Faith, a late-game technology that makes units very hard to convert by Monks. Regular Hussars slaughter Monks.
Gunpowder and camel based civilization (camels effectively replace the heavy cavalry line, which is wholly absent from their tech tree). Their artstyle is Middle Eastern. UUs: Elephant Archer (tough but slow cavalry archer, comparable to a movable tower), Imperial Camel (actually an unique upgrade to the Heavy Camel). Wonder: Gol Gumbaz (Taj Mahal in the non-HD version).
Anachronism Stew: The Indians use the voice clips of the Indians of Age of Empires 3, which depicts the Indians around the time of British colonization. Forgotten Empires thus gives us Indians who speak Urdu long before it existed and also say "Hello."
Horse of a Different Color: Horses are only present as light cavalry. Camels, Heavy Camels and Imperial Camels serve as a cheap but worthy replacement to Knights, Cavaliers and Paladins.
We Have Reserves: Villagers get cheaper with each age, making an Indian player far less likely to protect theirs than others.
Infantry based civilization with building bonuses. They use the Mesoamerican artstyle. UUs: Kamayuk (Spearman with longer range, best used in massed formations), Slinger (ranged infantry with bonus attack against other infantry). Wonder: Machu Picchu's Temple of the Sun.
Mayincatec: Played straight due to the Inca using the Aztec and Mayan architecture set. Subverted in that the Inca speak Quechua and have units wearing traditional Quechua clothing. Their Wonder is also undeniably Inca, based on the Temple of the Sun at Macchu Picchu.
Suffer The Slings: Only civilization in game to get them. The stats and bonus against other infantry makes the slinger the Inca equivalent of the hand cannoneer, a soldier armed with a firearm. The "Andean Sling" technology eliminates the need of a minimum range to fire.
The Unfavorite: If there is a civilization that got the cold shoulder from ES it's this, left out of both The Conquerors and later Age of Empires III: The War Chiefs despite the declared aim being to bring in playable Native American civilizations in both occasions, and the Incas being the obvious choice being the biggest native empire in the Americas, having pack animals, the most Old World-like army organization and fortifications, and keeping resistance against Europeans for 40 years without counting later rebellions. In comparison, the Mayans weren't politically unified, and the Aztecs went down in 3 years.
The first HD version was released without an Inca campaign, even though an empty South America map is still there. Word of God is that the dev team is still working on one.
Age of Kings Campaigns
William Wallace (Celts)
The main protagonist of the Celtic learning campaign that bears his name. Appears in the final map as a champion unit.
Advertised Extra: Only controlled in the last scenario, when he arrives with his army to boost the player's forces after the battle has already been going for a while.
The protagonist of the Frankish campaign. Appears as two different units: Joan the Maid, which walks on foot, has little attack and has no armor, and her more powerful knight version, who has high attack, but is not as strong as other mounted heroes.
Adaptational Badass: Both playable versions of Joan are capable of combat, even though their historical counterpart was reputed to have never killed a person.
Escort Mission: Many knights are tasked with protecting her through the campaign (Sieur Bertrand, Sieur de Metz, the Duke of Alençon, etc). They can be killed in battle but as long as Joan survives it's okay.
The Heroine: Of the second campaign. The game credits her with turning the tide of the Hundred Years War and turning the French feudal leves into an unified national army.
Large Ham: "Ah, La Hire wishes to kill something".
Made of Iron: La Hire is the ONLY unit in all of Age of Empires 2 who is simply "grievously wounded" if he gets killed in the 3rd Joan of Arc scenario, in spite of you being able to see his corpse rot. Gameplay limitations aside, he reappears for the 6th scenario but if he falls in battle there, it will be confirmed that he has perished.
Neck Snap: His plan for a few English soldiers at Patay, according to Josseline.
Bonus Boss: In the third scenario he will personally storm your base with some elite troops if you destroy one of the English Castles, but neither killing him nor defeating his bloody tough armies is vital to win the scenario.
Oh Crap: "Fastolf's Army advanced to the Imperial Age." He is the first enemy AI that hits the Imperial Age, all while the player can only advance to the Castle Age. A battle with him becomes Cavaliers and Capped Rams vs the player's Knights and Battering Rams. Thankfully, he seems somewhat handicapped and only has a few Imperial Age technologies available to him.
Out-of-Character Moment: In the Barbarossa Campaign, he appears with a small force outside the Saracen's walls surrounding Jerusalem, but sounds more fatalistic and stoic. He is also very likely to die and only serves as a brief distraction for your enemies.
For the Evulz: After destroying Khorezm, the Mongols enjoy themselves making mountains out of the decapitated heads of men, women, children, horses, dogs and cats, and sow the Khorezmian fields with salt.
You Are in Command Now: According to the narrator, in his deathbed he "refuses to die" until one of his sons agrees to take control of his horde and invade Europe, upon which he names him his heir.
Ornlu The Wolf
A wolf carrying a minor role in the Genghis Khan campaign. The task to convince the Uighurs to join Genghis, is to kill Ornlu and his pack. A renamed version of him, called Son of Ornlu, inexplicably appears in Montezuma. H is a very powerful wolf.
Breakout Villain: Despite his minor role, he is the best remembered of the fictional characters invented for the game.
The latest patch for the fan made expansion Forgotten Empires gives Ornlu his very own Hero icon. Yep, the fans decided that spending their time making a Hero icon for only scenario-available Ornlu the Wolf was worth the time and effort.
Mythology Gag: There are references to him in both Age of Mythology and Age of Empires III. And he turns up in the Montezuma campaign and Vindlandssaga missions in the Conquerors as well.
Savage Wolves: Ornlu is such a problem for a particular tribe that they will pledge loyalty to Genghis if he resolves it for them.
Unexpected Character: In a hilarious defiance of common logic, turns up in the fourth mission of the Montezuma campaign, as an Easter Egg. In the second level, a renamed version of him called Son of Ornlu can also be found.
The antagonist of the second level of Genghis Khan. Represented by a cavalier unit.
Dirty Coward: He flees as soon as he sees Genghis' men coming.
The Lancer to Genghis, and later, Ogatai. Represented by a cavalry archer.
Big Damn Heroes: In the last scenario after forty minutes of Hungarian siege, he arrives followed by a generous amount of saboteurs to save the day.
Canine Companion: His two hunting wolves. Possibly a reference to his title of "Dog of War."
Cool Pet: The Wolves gain a speed boost when they're directed at enemies, attack very quickly, and have the healing factor bestowed upon all Hero units.
Historical Hero Upgrade: Subotai was actually extremely obese and had to be pulled around in a cart. He was such an asset to the Mongol army as a strategist that nobody minded hauling him around. Age of Kings presents Subotai as the fastest military unit in the game.
The Horde: Leads the ones that conquer Russia and Hungary.
Bad Boss: The cutscene leading to the Battle of the Catalaunian Fields has Attila throwing the first spear and then turning back to his army to say that whoever remains still while Attila fights is a dead man.
For the Evulz: After massacring his way through Gaul, he puts the heads of his victims in a line of stakes. There are enough to cover all the way from Gaul to Pannonia (modern Hungary).
Hidden Depths: The stories of the Franks and Romans portray him more as a monster than a man and he leads his Huns in plenty of Rape, Pillage, and Burn campaigns. However, he personally negotiates an alliance with the Scythians, he eats from a wooden plate and cup instead of using the huge quantities of gold he obtains for his Huns, he spares one of the narrators, Father Armand, after the Battle of Chalons and he decides to turn his army around when at the gates of Rome.
Hopeless War: The Hunnic shamans predict that Attila will lose at the Catalaunian Fields, but that the enemy's leader will be killed. Attila considers it a just trade and fights anyway.
Dirty Coward: Bleda challenges Attila to hunt the "Iron Boar" at the beginning of the first Attila the Hun campaign scenario. He has Archers hidden in the place where the Iron Boar lairs. If Attila decides to betray Bleda and return to camp, the Archers will testify against him to the rest of the Hun army causing half of the army to attack Attila. If Attila saves Bleda from the Boar, Bleda will order his archers to attack Attila.
Healing Factor: Subverted in that Bleda is actually a named, regular unit and lacks the healing factor of the Hero units of the game. Even in the map editor, he appears under the regular units tab and not under the Hero units one.
Improbable Weapon User: Bleda uses the same model as the Mongol unique unit, the Mangudai...which makes no sense because the Mangudai is a horse archer and Bleda is a melee unit. This results in Bleda running up to units and firing an arrow from his bow at point blank range upward away from his enemies...
The West Roman general fighting Attila in the latter part of the campaign, although he never appears.
Historical Hero Upgrade: A lot is made of his honorability and religious tolerance. In real life, the first things he did after taking Valencia were burning alive the governor and turning the main mosques into churches (even though his forces also included Muslims and he was de jure under the command of a Muslim lord, Mutamid).
Karma Houdini: Although he is briefly imprisoned, he escapes real punishment.
The focal character of the Montezuma campaign, though arguably not the protagonist; this would rather be his nephew, Cuauhtemoc. Never appears in person.
Asskicking Equals Authority: The game describes Montezuma as slow to make decisions and seemingly afraid of going into combat. In real life the office of the Emperor is tied into military promotion. The warriors who come from noble families have a head start on commoners when it comes to rank so they always end up as the rulers but they have to prove themselves in battle time and time again until they become Emperor.
The protagonist and narrator of the Montezuma campaign, becoming emperor after his uncle's death. A Jaguar Warrior in La Noche Triste is heavily implied to be him.
Awesome Moment of Crowning: Cuauhtemoc is the narrator for the Montezuma campaign. The story is some sort of journal or a chronicle written down by him. The first scenario starting cutscene is prefaced with "Passed down to you by Cuauhtemoc, Eagle Warrior of Tenochtitlan." The second starts with him as Cuauhtemoc, Jaguar Warrior of Tenochtitlan. The fifth mission dramatically and slowly starts with Cuauhtemoc, Emperor of Tenochtitlan. He then relates his crowning by the priests, which is not so awesome because Tenochtitlan had just been wracked by warfare and the only reason he succeeded was due to Montezuma's death.
Royals Who Actually Do Something: The Jaguar Warrior armed with a very high attack during the fourth scenario of the campaign is implied to be Cuauhtemoc; at the time of the scenario, Cuauhtemoc is a Jaguar Warrior and the particular Jaguar has the same voice actor. He is the sole unit you begin the scenario with and recruits other soldiers to eventually retake the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan. However, he is not a Hero unit and if he dies it is not mentioned and the scenario continues.
Warrior Prince: Cuauhtemoc mentions a few times that he's Montezuma's nephew, and seems to be the unseen commander of your troops during the campaign.
A Berserker and leader of the Vikings appearing in Hastings, whom can be allied with William, if the player chooses, and can be used as an army. Represented by a ranged berserker unit.
An Axe to Grind: An inversion of Bleda and his melee bow, Harald takes the model of a melee unit, the Berserker, and uses it to throw axes at enemies, like the Frankish Throwing Axeman. He also throws these axes very rapidly and would be a one man army if it weren't for his low HP. He doesn't look as silly as Bleda because his animation is specifically cut off to make it look like he's doing an overhand throw.
The Lancer: To William, if they choose to ally. He can live up to the very end of the scenario and even participate in the final objective of destroying Harold the Saxon's Castle even though he is your rival to the throne, as opposed to Real Life where there wasn't any significant contact between them and Harald launched his own invasion that was separate from William's. The endgame cutscene mentions him dying at the Battle of Stamford Bridge before Harold fights William.
The protagonist of the Vinlandssaga scenario, represented by a Berserker unit.
An Axe to Grind: Is the Berserker unit, although he does not throw axes like Harald Hardraade.
Artistic License/Pragmatic Adaptation: Erik the Red himself never made it to Vinland; his son Leif did instead. He was supposed to, but stayed in Greenland after his ankle broke, seeing it as a bad omen.
Bold Explorer: Notable because, unlike most other heroes, he is not a warlord or aristocrat in any way. He is actually a fairly common viking man, and not doing conquest, actually just exploring instead. If anything, he's trying to save his fellow vikings from famine by searching for a better land.
The Hero Dies: He can, and it's one of the few times where the Hero CAN die without any consequence. One of his soldiers claim the Franks hearts will not be in the fighting, but there are zero repercussions. He survived the battle in real life and the ending cutscene treats him as if he survived regardless of gameplay events.
The Hero Dies: An inversion of Charles Martel. He can die in the game and the scenario will continue on. HOWEVER, after winning the mission the narrator states that he died in the fighting as he did in real life but the Koreans still won the battle and eventually the war.
One-Man Army: His personal ship is fully capable of finishing the mission on its own once the player gets it.
A samurai in the Kyoto map, who is executed in the beginning, leading to the revenge wished by his second Hideyoshi. Is represented by the samurai unit.
Kick the Dog: In the later levels, he stakes innocents and murders monks for flattering him.
Villain Protagonist: Arguably, the main character portrayed least sympathetic. He at one point murders a monk for flattering him, and stakes several hundred Ottoman soldiers, all of which happened in real life. The fourth mission of his campaign also requires the player to burn down undefended Wallachian villages.
Surprisingly Sudden Death: After serving as somewhat important characters for the campagin, they all unceremoniously die in the final battle of the fourth level, where only Dracula survives, with nobody even mentioning their deaths.
The leader of the Danesti clan, and the usurper of the throne of Wallachia, as well as the murderer of Draculas father and older brother. A secondary antagonist of the campaign. Represented by a cavalier unit, and later a king unit.
What Happened to the Mouse?: After his forces are defeated in the third mission, he disappears from the campaign without a word. In real life, Venice pulled off a You Have Failed Me, they called him back under the pretence of discussing the future, and he was promptly tortured and executed.
Xanatos Speed Chess: Pulls this off to defeat Malatesta, after the destruction of his siege tower.
Fillipo Maria Visconti
The Duke of Milan, and Sforza's distrustful employer. Represented in-game by a king unit.
Two spies sent by Sforza to infiltrate Carmagnola's camp. Represented by a man at arms unit.
Badass Normal: While they have the health and armor of normal man at arms, they have a ludicrously high attack, enabling them to One-Hit Kill pikemen, necessary to retain stealth during the attack. However, they retain that high damage after the gurms turn build and destroy, making them lethal units.
Cloudcuckoolander: Geremio, whom upon seeing a rat in the sewer, goes on rambling about how rats caused the plague. While they are on their way to a lethal stealth mission. Simone quickly shuts him up.
The emperor of the Western Roman Empire, and thereby the main antagonist of the campaign.
Big Bad: Though whether he is a Hero Antagonist is debatable, he is certainly the main antagonistic force in the campaign.
Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: The reason he ultimately fails. He is close to an alliance twice with Alaric, but both times breaks it for no apparent reson. Eventually Alaric gets fed up with this. Though the second time, Saurus did it without the permission or order of Honorius.
Dirty Coward: During the sack of Rome, he is nowhere to be seen, but the people and even his sister have been left behind.
Villain Protagonist: Given that he is a conquistador, but unlike Cortés, does not engage in very villainous actions. His vilest acts are committed on order from Pizarro, with him in charge, nothing is really bad.
Wrongly Accused: Of abandoning Pizarro, while in actuality, the strong current of the river kept him from returning.
The commander of Orellanas expedition, until he is lost. Represented by a conquistador unit.
What Happened to the Mouse?: A consequence of following the events strictly through the eyes of Orellana. He is never mentioned again after Orellana is forced to abandon him. In Real Life, he returned to Quito with a starving expedition, but rebelled against the king and was executed six years later.
A suspicious Native American chieftain whom leads Orellana astray with his stories. Represented by a plumed archer unit.