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Age of Empires 2 Best Civilizations Tier List

The wisest choice of them all.
Age of Empires II
Image Via Forgotten Empires, Tantalus Media & Wicked Witch

This game is awesome. I have played it since the day it was released. Well, not really, I was 5 years old at the time, but since I had the ability to use a computer I have always been playing both Age of Empires 2 and Age of Mythology alike. And what I learned is that no matter how good you are as an Age of Empires player, choosing the appropriate civilization will be the first attack move of the game. With that in mind, here is the Age of Empires 2 best civilizations tier list.

Age of Empires 2 Best Civilizations Tier List

S-Tier Age of Empires 2 Civilizations

SChineseThe best archers of the bunch, with a special unit, Chu Ko Nu, that fires multiple arrows at once. The Great Wall technology will increase your walls and towers hit points, which makes them a defensive powerhouse. Combine that with great starting bonuses, for example starting with more villagers and a biggerpopulation size.
SLithuaniansLithuanians are the Monk masters (they are created 20% faster). If you choose this civilization, go ahead and pick all the relics that you can find in the wild and place them in your monasteries. For every relic, your Knights and Leitis will gain one extra attack point stat.
SVikingsBeing the infantry kings, the Vikings have a great health regeneration. The Berserkers and Longboats are the Vikings’ unique units, with available upgrades for them. They will get the Wheelbarrow and Hand Cart technologies for free, giving a resource boost from the start.

A-Tier Age of Empires 2 Civilizations

AAztecsThe Aztecs’ units are completely unique in the game. Monks and Jaguar Warriors are the name of the game. Units create faster, and several upgrades available will boost your units’ damage output. Gold amount are boosted thanks to the relics collected by monks.
ABritonsBritons and Longbowman go together like bread and butter. Summoning an army of this unit will prove a challenge, as their range is greater than of castles’. Add a 20% creation speed bonus for archery ranges and you have a death making machine.
AJapaneseThey have the Samurai, what else can be said? Well, they perform well in land and sea. Japanese towers, galleys, and trebuchets will have damage output bonuses that will make them a force to be reckoned with.
AMayansThey sport no cavalry, similar to the Aztecs, but their Plumed Archers are great at what they do, they are cheap and have a great armor. Wall building costs are 50% cheaper, so you will be very well defended.

B-Tier Age of Empires 2 Civilizations

BFranksThey excel at cavalry and also at producing Throwing Axemen. However, they lack many upgrades or technologies. Having said that, the Chivalry technology will make stables produce 40% faster. The Franks also has a 20% more hit points for mounted units.
BHunsHuns start with the maximum population cap of the game. Well, they are the Huns after all. And, of course, they rely heavily on cavalry to swarm the enemies’ settlements and cities. Just like the real Huns.
BItaliansWhile the Italians do not excel at unit production (it is a meme up to this point), what they do have is culture, and they will be able to research technologies and age up faster than the other civilizations.
BKhmerKhmer are the siege kings, with several units that will have several upgrades that will boost their damage output. Ballista Elephants and Scorpions, they are the name of the game.
BKoreansThe Koreans will build Towers like there is no tomorrow. However, that’s pretty much what they do, because they do not have the attacking capabilities to justify choosing them.
BMalayWell, they may not attack very well, since their units are cheap but fragile, but man, they do know how to fish. Their docks and harbors will provide more line of sight and provide more protection by firing fire arrows.
BMaliansGood cavalry and cheaper building costs, a good combination to adapt to any situation that comes by you, but don’t expect much more.
BMongolsThe Mangudai, the Mongol’s special units, are mounted archers specially strong against siege units. This will prevent any siege happening soon, and also you will be able to upgrade their firing rate thanks to the available upgrades.
BPortugueseThey sport a couple of special units that will excel at land and sea combat (Organ Gun and Caravel). They also have a special building called the Feitoria which will grant resources passively.
BVietnameseRattan Archers and Imperial Skirmishers represents the best of the Vietnamese, both being ranged units. They will gain bonuses by hit point upgrades, as well as a significant production increase at Vietnamese’s archery ranges. Besides that, they will know the enemies’ position at the start of the game.

C-Tier Age of Empires 2 Civilizations

CBerbersCamels galore. Both the Camel Archer and Genitour are camel mounted range units. Camel Archers can be built in castles, and they have upgrades that will make their production faster. A good combination of Archers and Riders can overwhelm the enemy pretty fast.
CBulgariansWho would have guessed that the Bulgarians knew the secret for resurrection? You see, their special units are the Konniks, which are mounted units that, if they are killed, will be reborn as infantry units. Furthermore, upgrades can make several units, including the Konniks, to attack 33% faster. Blacksmithing is cheaper and faster as well.
CBurmeseThe Battle Elephants are their specialty and on top of that, they will have quick access to both relics and gold at the start of the game. Their technologies will also grant extra armor to the Elephants as well. However, their special unit is totally not worth it, being that they will bring a lot of damage to the table but lacking the necessary accuracy to be able to justify it.
CByzantinesAs you can guess if you know anything about the Byzantine Empire, they will have a great defense capabilities by their buildings getting extra hit points. Not only that, but their monks will be able to heal 50% faster and the town watch technology will be free. On top of that, the Cataphract is a great heavy cavalry against infantry. Pick the Byzantines against civilizations with great emphasis in infantry units, and you will be good.
CCeltsThe Celts will be the siege making overlords. Not only will they work 24/7 to create siege workshops 20% faster and will fire 25% faster as well. Not only that, but the Celts’ technologies will provide 40% more hit points for the siege workshop. However, the Celts’ special units, the Woad Raider, while sporting fast attacks, will not find any upgrades in the form of technologies available.
CEthiopiansThe best part of the Ethiopians are their special units, called the Shotel Warriors. They are fragile, but fast, and they can be trained rapidly, with the ability to research technology to further increase the creation speed. You can potentially use this unit to continuously raid your enemy to prevent them from growing. This civilization works with a team, as a full scale attack isn’t reachable with the Ethiopians.
CIncasThe Incas are the resource royalty. They will be able to build stone buildings rapidly and their farms will be built 100% faster. Not only that, but their houses will support 10 population instead of 5. Their special units will take care of both cavalry and infantry (Kamayuk and Slinger respectively). However, they lack cavalry units, so they can be susceptible to siege attacks.
CIndiansThey have special units that resemble the Berbers’, in the sense that they will use camels as means of transportation and mounted attacks. However, they do not have any technologies that will benefit those units directly. Their villagers will be cheaper, and they can research a faster gold production along with faster fisherman work.
CPersiansWar Elephants are the Persians’ specialty. Of course, they are. They will be able to research a 30% movement bonus, and knights will be able to deal more damage to archers. Pick this civilization if you are facing an archer-relying civilization.
CSaracensThe Saracens are best fitted for trade business. Their market cost will be cheaper, and their galleys and transport ships will get boosts as well. Again, the Saracens will rely on camels, with the famous Mamelukes as close-ranged camel units, having the opportunity to research an extra 20 hit points to both the Mamelukes and Camel Rides.
CSlavsGood siege and infantry units, as well as having the Boyar, the Slavs’ special units. They are heavily armored and will deal a great amount of damage. They will be able to research more infantry damage and also making infantry cheaper while the farmers work extra hard to support the army. This sounds like the Slavs alright.
CTartarsThe Tartars’ special units, the Cavalry Archers, will be able to have improved accuracy along some great armor thanks to available research. They will also have extra line of sight, making them excellent scouts. They are great at terrains with a lot of hills, but they lack sea capabilities.
CTurksThe Turks have benefits that will apply to their gunpowder units, along with several technologies that will benefit their speed creating, damage output and cost. However, a huge reliance on gunpowder will mean a deficient accuracy, and an extra weakness for cavalry units.

D-Tier Age of Empires 2 Civilizations

DCumansThe quality of the civilizations moving forward will start to go downhill. And while they Cumans have several advantagers such as being able to create siege units one age earlier and a hit point advantage for Palisade Walls, these are useless over time.
DGothsWhile the Goths’ special unit, the Huskarl, which is a strong unit against archers and can be created quickly and cheaper, they lack the necesarry technology bonuses to justify choosing the Goths.
DMagyarsThe Magyars are similar to the Ethiopians in the sense that you can send raids of their special units, the Magyar Huszar, to harrass the enemy continuously. Besides that, there is no other benefits from using this civilization.
DTeutonsThe Teutons have great healing capabilities and self preservations skills. Monks will be able to heal faster and buildings will be able to garrison more units in case of an emergency. These are good abilities, but they lack the potential to land a great win in the game.

F-Tier Age of Empires 2 Civilizations

FBurgundiansThe Burgundians are really a very delicate civilization to deal with, since one of their skills will transform the villagers into Flemish Militia (Flemish Revolution). This will definately break your game if you do not know how to make it work or when to enable it. It is better to leave the Burgundians alone.
FSpanishMonks and gunpowder. The only things that the Spanish are able to do half-decently. Other than sporting some Conquistadors, they are not the best civilization in Age of Empires II.
FSiciliansThe Sicilians greatest strength is to excel at generating extra armor for the land units. Other than that, they don’t have what it takes to win wars. They can act as tanks in a war with several civilizations.

Related: Age of Empires 4 Counters – Unit Strengths and Weaknesses

And there you go, the 37 civilizations in Age of Empires II all ranked. As you can see, up to level C you can make use of the civilizations in several ways, however, be reluctant to pick anything D or below. You will regret once you are left with less than desirable units and useless technologies. Well, you have been warned. Good luck!

Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition is available on Windows, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S. Please check out Gamer Journalist on Facebook to join the discussion and keep up to date with our content. You might also like to check out or guides on All Civilizations in Age of Empires IV or Age of Empires IV launches this Fall 2021.

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