Age of Empires 2 Best Civilisation Tier List

Last Updated on April 22, 2022 by Samuel Franklin

Age of Empires 2 Best Civilization Tier List

Play the Age of Empires 2 best civilisation with this tier list that provides recommendations for which civilisations excel in different scenarios. Designed for Age of Empires 2: Definitive Edition this list will help you find the ideal civilisation for your preferences and intended use cases be it fighting against AI, friends or ranked opponents.

Like other popular real time strategy games Age of Empires 2 civilisations are constantly receiving small and large adjustments to maintain as much strategy balance as possible in the game meta. While the top multiplayer civilisations do change with each patch because of this there are still a number of civilisations that are regularly above average due to their technology tree options and overall theme which generally remain untouched between patches. This drives the civilisations ease of use, flexibility and ultimately how many favourable matchups they have which are the primary factors considered for this tier list.

What Makes The Best Age of Empires 2 Civilisations – Tier List Factors

Best is always subjective in any strategy game like Age of Empires and this tier list does not mean that you can never win a match with a civilisation not in the top tier. Instead this best Age of Empires 2 civilisation tier list is designed to give new and intermediate players a focused pool of options to find your initial favourite civilisations. Whether you want an economic power house, a civilisation to try that new Age of Empires 2 Knight rush build order or the safety of a defensive civilisation each has their place on this tier list.

These options have been primarily considered from a 1v1 and smaller team games on land maps as these are the most common game modes in Age of Empires 2. The tier list for water maps for example will be different to that featured here although there is some overlap.

The factors considered in creating this Age of Empires 2 civilisation tier list include:

  • Ease of use: Civilisations that are easy to use require less effort and perfect play to achieve victory in Age of Empires 2 multiplayer matches which makes them good options to select. This means a civilisation that has bonuses that help you maintain your economy, has a good range of technology tree options and doesn’t have a glaring weakness that a smart opponent can take advantage of. Put simply these civilisations can afford to make more mistakes than a comparable civilisation without completely jeopardising their victory. This includes considering civilisation bonuses that don’t require specific scenarios to be effective as this means you’ll maximise your potential more often. The Persians for example always benefit from extra town centre speed as its a staple of all Age of Empires 2 build orders and strategies. In comparison a civilisation that relies on a strong unique unit might not even be able to make this unit in half their games if games end quickly.
  • Cohesive design: Civilisations that have clear win conditions in their designs make them easier to play and secure a victory. This design comes through the overall technology tree and civilisation specific bonuses that helps guide players towards their ideal path to victory. The Aztecs for example have a wealth of infantry related bonuses and support them with gold and monk related technologies that all help you with the single purpose of building a viable infantry army supported with durable monks to heal your fighters.
  • Flexibility: Civilisations with good flexibility across their technology tree allow players to counter enemies with ease which is fundamental to Age of Empires 2 multiplayer success. A civilisation that can produce a fully upgraded (or close to) archer counter, cavalry counter and infantry counter has a greater chance of being able to succeed in multiplayer.

Based on these factors this Age of Empires 2 best civilisation tier list has the following three tier definitions. Civilisations not on this list fall outside of these tiers for the considerations noted above:

  • S Tier: The best of the best when it comes to civilisation options. These have civilisation bonuses that are useful in the majority of game scenarios, clear intended paths to victory for you to utilise or a well rounded technology tree that gives you plenty of choice to counter your enemy.
  • A Tier: Civilisations that are still strong and hold their own in multiplayer regularly but fall short in one game area, be it a bonus that doesn’t quite fit with their other bonuses or can’t reach powerful enough counter units across the board.
  • B Tier: Capable civilisations that in the right hands through practice can be just as deadly as a S or A tier civilisation. These civilisations are let down by a glaring weakness across technology tree or civilisation bonus that results in them having some difficult situations come their way.

Best Age of Empires 2 Civilisations – S Tier

In no particular order the S tier civilisations are:

age-of-empires-2-chineseChinese

Starting from the unique position of extra villagers at the cost of resources the Chinese give you a fantastic foundation to build from. While an awkward start compared to the standard build orders you might be used to the extra starting villagers often come out ahead. This bonus is also applicable to nomad and applies once your town centre is built which makes them also one of the Age of Empires 2 best civilisations for nomad as well.

Beyond the starting position of the Chinese they have cheaper technology options to ensure your units or economy are stronger than your opponents with less investment and farms provided a little extra boost to help your economy further. They have a powerful unique unit and associated technology for them but also the appropriate technology tree upgrades in the blacksmith to take other pathways to victory.

age-of-empires-2-lithuanians

Lithuanians

Offering players a strong starting position with extra food this allows players to make some minor early game mistakes without this flowing through to town centre idle time. This is also supported nicely with faster moving and armoured counter units in the spearman and skirmishers line that give them a small edge over the competition and is useful in basically every Age of Empires match.

Players that can secure relics will also find themselves with a little more power to their cavalry unit although this is small in comparison to the wealth of technology tree options they have available to them to respond to how the match is going.

Best Age of Empires 2 Civilisations – A Tier

In no particular order the A tier civilisations are:

age-of-empires-2-vikings

Vikings

Effective on both land and water maps or combinations of both Vikings are a good option for those that like to play blended or random maps. From an economic boost the free town centre upgrades of wheelbarrow and hand cart give you a boost to all resource gathering rates and prevents players having to stop villager creation to obtain them. Vikings are the option you’ll want to consider for those seeking the Age of Empires 2 best infantry civilisation.

The main downside of the Vikings though is their weak technology tree that leaves them with a smaller pool of unit options than the S tier civilisations or weak versions of them. Players will need to go heavy on the infantry and their unique Berserk unit which can be countered although bonus HP through team bonus and their unique technologies mitigate this somewhat.

age-of-empires-2-franks

Franks

A highly popular civilisation in the lower to moderate levels of play for their effective Knight rush capabilities and useful economic bonuses that are useful on nearly all maps you’ll encounter. This is supported with a concentrated pool of bonuses and technologies to buff your cavalry creation, durability and utility that makes their cavalry something players should fear.

The Franks are equally able to react to most situations with cheap castles that let them turtle up if necessary and most of the key technologies you’ll want although their Imperial Age outside of the cavalry lines has some gaps to contend with. They also suffer from some poor matchups across popular civilisations that an advanced player will likely take advantage of.

age-of-empires-2-huns

Huns

Another civilisation known for their cavalry options the Huns can have a dramatic impact on your build order which has pros and cons for new players. Being able to ignore house construction completely has a decent wood saving throughout the game and prevents players becoming population capped which means one less item to focus on during gameplay. The negative side of this though is once you play Huns it can be difficult to transition back to other civilisations that require houses.

While their other technologies and bonuses are average at best they have most of the important technologies during the mid game that allow them to constantly counter most unit types although this suffers a bit in the lengthy games.

age-of-empires-2-aztecs

Aztecs

An early game powerhouse Aztecs have a useful economic bonus to help them throughout the entire game although is not quite as powerful as other civilisations. Their focus on early game aggression supported by their technologies and bonuses is nearly unmatched but if you find yourself unable to end the game you’ll find it to be a race against the clock as you start to drop off in power over time.

The focus on monk related technologies are nice to have but does require significant gold investment to benefit from so might not be possible in all games to utilise these civilisation bonuses.

age-of-empires-2-britons

Britons

One of the original Age of Empires 2 civilisations that focuses on foot archers with their specialty being long ranged arrow warfare through technologies and civilisation bonuses. For players that like to have a powerful archery option or are looking to play more archer focused civilisations the Britons should always be one of your first thoughts.

With an early game bonus to shepherd work the Britons also have a vital food boost to the early game although is only effective for the initial stages of a game and then becomes inconsequential to you. Regardless their core archers are devastating and while the technology tree is somewhat weak outside of this they can produce the necessary units to handle their main skirmisher counter. They also have a surprisingly good water backup if necessary for those hybrid map situations.

age-of-empires-2-mayans

Mayans

A well rounded civilisation that has few weaknesses although doesn’t necessarily excel in a particular area. Like some of the S tier civilisations they have some early game economic bonuses that can snowball your civilisation with an extra villager and longer lasting resources. While they do lack cavalry completely this does simplify your paths for newcomers to the Age of Empires 2 multiplayer arena and Eagle Scouts are not easily countered by regularly built units that make them surprisingly effective. The Eagle Scout also pairs perfectly with their Plumed Archer with similar speed and protecting against unit counters perfectly.

With cheaper foot archers in general to carry you into the late game combined with the skirmisher technology you’ll have a deadly set of ranged attackers.

Best Age of Empires 2 Civilisations – B Tier

In no particular order the B tier civilisations are:

age-of-empires-2-japanese

Japanese

While not particularly excelling in a specific area that Japanese have great flexibility across their technology tree and bonuses to ensure you always have an option across land, hybrid or water maps. Whether its your fishing bonus or the cheaper resource buildings you’ll find a consistent albeit small boost regardless of game factors.

If you find yourself on the defensive instead you’ll be able to utilise both towers and trebuchets effectively with extra attacks to defend your base. In time though you’ll want to field an army of infantry or archers which are both more than capable technology lines that the Japanese offer.

age-of-empires-2-byzantines

Byzantines

Ideal for the newer player given their durable buildings and the ability to produce core counter units for cheap the Byzantines reward players that diligently use appropriate counter options. With buildings having more health and the benefits of town watch for free it’s also easy to see your opponent coming and survive any initial attack while you move your army into position to counter.

Their fire ship technologies won’t serve you well on land maps but give you a defensive focused water option when necessary. Byzantines are not with out weaknesses and are deceptive as they have quite large unit technology trees but often lack the upgrade technology to ensure they are as fully powered as they can be which does make it difficult to turn their fantastic defences into an offensive focused army.

age-of-empires-2-koreans

Koreans

A civilisation with a diverse range of bonuses that allow players to take advantage of various situations when playing as the Koreans. A key part of their strategy though is good use of the Mangonel line which can require a playstyle adjustment for some players who might be underutilising this unit already. Defensively they come with a range of tower upgrades and technologies that make their defence as formidable as their potential offense which will want to utilise the free archer armour upgrades that save a fair chunk of resources. This saving is further enhanced with less wood cost on military units on what is likely to be a wood heavy army.

Their major weakness though is lack of early game economic bonus that gives them a rough start against other popular civilisations that will have better economy than you. Korean players that make it to the late game though will have all the options they need to close out a match in their favour.

Persians

Persians are a solid choice although don’t quite reach the power level of other high tier civilisations. Primarily boosted by their easy early game through starting food and wood which is further buffed by town centre work rate you’ll be able to boom the Persians and maintain any villager losses at a better rate.

With war elephants proving to be a durable unit even against counters Persians can also pair them with their gold free archers to counter any infantry that comes their way. Because of these two perfectly paired unique technologies the Persians are a reliable choice that can handle most situations.

Written by
Samuel Franklin
Samuel Franklin is the founder and lead editor of the Games Finder team and enjoys video games across all genres and platforms.

Sam’s favourite game in the Age of Empires franchise is AoE 2 where he has spent thousands of hours playing against other players, completing the campaigns and defeating AI opponents. His favourite civilisation is the Franks for their ability to rush enemies with Knights, construct cheap castles and their early economy boosts.

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