Heirs to the Roman Empire. But despite their extremely extended technology tree, they can’t make legionaries.

Quick Card

  • Buildings +10% HP Dark +20% HP Feudal, +30% HP Castle, +40% HP Imperial Age
  • Camels, Skirmishers, Spearmen, Pikemen, Halberdiers cost -25%
  • Fire Ships +20% attack
  • Advance to Imperial costs -33%
  • Free Townwatch
  • Unique Unit: Cataphract
  • Unique Technology: Logistica
  • Team Bonus: Monks +50% heal speed

Analysis of bonuses

Buildings +10% HP Dark +20% HP Feudal, +30% HP Castle, +40% HP Imperial Age

This bonus is actually double sided and that extra side is not documented anywhere in the techtree. Yet, it holds truth. Alongside the bonus also comes a build speed advantage. Thus a Byzantine villager does not need more time to construct a building than any other civ. For example a town center in the castle age: regular civs need 1:30 minutes to construct 2400 HP, while Byzantines need exactly the same time to construct their 3120 HP TC.

So a great bonus for defensive building and it makes Byzantine castles very fierce opponents in trebuchet wars (a whopping 6720 HP without upgrades).

Camels, Skirmishers, Spearmen, Pikemen, Halberdiers cost -25%

Arguably the best bonus in the Byzantine arsenal. Their cheap trashunits are unprecedented. When engaging in a trashwar against these heirs of the Roman empire, you better brace up to learn some Latin. This especially holds true in feudal age trashwars. When Byzantines even catch up with the economical advantage of the Huns. Huns save about 30-40 wood per house while Byzantines save 9 wood and 5 food per skirmisher (and 9 food, 5 wood per spear). So a pack of roughly 30 units probably already covers the disadvantage. You smell a record coming now probably and right you are. You obviously remember the recorded game where DauT picked Byzantines and went skirmishers all game long. But let’s include a new recorded game.

A game between PL_Dziamdziak and _BnK_ZuRdOkO_ with an amazing comeback. Proving once more how crazy powerful Byzantine trash units are. And how crazy weak their Teutonic counterparts are.

Recorded Game


An often overlooked bonus are the Byzantine camels though, mainly made in case of emergency but they might be a good combination for fast impers?

Fire Ships +20% attack

A rarely used bonus and probably the only design error made during the development of AoC. Naval battles are 99% of the time decided by galleys or their successors. A whole fleet of these is simply not to stop by anything else except unique units. However, luckily this bonus sometimes encourages players to think out of the box and make fire ships.

And hell, you don’t even need to be a Byzantine to pull it off!

Advance to Imperial costs -33%

Another great bonus to cover the lack of any economical bonus. The bonus above shows that military and economy go hand in hand. But in boom games, early discounts don’t make the cut against a full imperial army. That’s why Byzantines have a cheaper imp. Combined with their cheap trash units, this even makes them a good boom civ. In a weird way of course, but they make the cut.

A map where this discount is most fearsome is arena. Castle dropping a Byzantine can prove suicidal if he decides to engage in a race to imp. Because no matter what, 333 food and 264 gold is quite an advantage for fragile fast imp economies.

Free Townwatch

This bonus probably looks most worthless to newer players but I can imagine most experienced players call this the 2nd best bonus of the Byzantines. Why? Because Byzantines are downright bad in the dark age. They probably come out last and are most likely forced into defence unless they forward. And when being pushed into defence with 4 extra LOS, you just might see everything and anyone coming. Making your defensive tasks a lot easier.

Also keep this in mind when rushing a Byzantine, especially when trushing. He will probably see you coming and if he builds his tower earlier than you, his extra HP will give him the cut!

Team Bonus: Monks +50% heal speed

Perhaps the most useless team bonus in the game. Sure it helps when you’re monk rushing but it’s no key bonus. Safe to say this bonus rarely decides a game.


  • Cost: 70 food, 75 gold
  • Attack: 9 (Elite: 12)
  • Armor: 2/1 (Elite: 2/1)
  • HP: 110 (Elite: 150)
  • Elite Upgrade: 1600 food, 800 gold

When I first played AoC, this unit was amongst my favourites. They looked good and they are simply good. And up to today, that still holds truth. What makes them so strong then? Not their raw force though, but their bonuses against various units. Most obviously the pikeman line. The ultimate cavalry counter does not counter these horse riders. Which makes it the only horse unit to withstand all trash units. In fact, they even perform good against camels and small flocks of mamelukes too. So if the normal cavalry counters don’t work, what does? The answer is not very straightforward. The best counters are either massed archers, paladins or huge masses of halberdiers. If you pick the latter, you must be prepared for major losses since a fully upgraded cataphract only needs 2 slashes to kill a halberdier (trample damage taken into account).

But with all these good sides, also come bad sides. All the upgrades for cataphracts combined cost 3970 food and 1870 gold. Which is almost equal to the cost of upgrading an elephant! Besides that, compared to their counters, they must be created from a castle, making them even harder to mass.

However, a game previously posted on the box proved that even fragile economies can afford cataphracts. It just takes some very good economy balance.

If you haven’t stumbled upon the game yet, you can find it back in the Sun Tzu article under the “Haste” paragraph.


It has already been mentioned above, but to stress it again, cataphracts are extremely costly. Both to train and to upgrade. Their unique technology is even the most expensive of the whole game with a whopping 1000 food and 600 gold. It gives your units trample damage though. This means that when a cataphract attacks a unit in front of him, he will also deal damage (5) to whatever unit is around him. Even buildings! The most practical example can be found in cataphracts vs halberdiers: if a cataphract is surrounded by 2 halberdiers, he will kill the one in front of him in 3 strikes. But in the meanwhile, the halberdier left of him has suffered 15 damage already. So he will die after only 2 more strikes.

This highlights the importance of using patrol when attacking with cataphracts, so they can maximize their use of trample damage.

Dominance through the Ages

An oversight about dominance through the ages can be found in this article.

Dark Age

Byzantines are simply the worse civ in the dark age. They have some competition from Saracens and Franks but that’s about it. Neither of these civs have any bonus during the dark age. Except when you want to consider the 10% extra HP on palisade walls as a bonus of course. However, let’s quickly advance to the…

Feudal Age

From zero to hero, that’s how you could call the feudal age upgrade for Byzantines. The former Romans start to shine here because of their extremely cheap trash units. Which means there is a discount for half of the most commonly used units in the feudal age. Besides that their free townwatch upgrade kicks in right here.

Castle Age

Byzantines are a bit different to control in the castle age. Their trash bonus still lives on and it might be worthwhile to take this path. They lack a bit in the cavalry department though. Surprisingly if you look at the amount of horse units they can make, but they don’t have bloodlines. They still have no economical bonus either.

But with good archers, decent knights, great trash and very good monks, there is still plenty of choice left.

Early Imperial Age

Time to shine. The Byzantines actually represent the East Roman Empire and since they were around till 1453 AD it’s a nice historical detail to make Byzantines shine so late. Their cheaper imp and cheap trash ranks them amongst the higher tiers. Add gunpowder to this combination and a very wide techtree overall. Which path to chose? Needless to say, Byzantines are great to play mind games on your opponent.

Imperial Age

Byzantines can claim their top tier back in this age. Civs have had the time to do their most expensive upgrades but a combination of trash units with cataphracts is hard to beat, no matter what. However, the choice is not limited to this. Byzantines can be played like an archer civ or even an infantry civ. Hell, they can even be played like a cavalry or a gunpowder civ. All without a bonus though, but they can field arbalests, champions, paladins and the full gunpowder arsenal.

Post Imperial Age (no trade)

It’s about time to stop mentioning their trash units, but this is the last time they really shine. Once gold runs out, the Byzantine will or should win the battle. The economical advantage is simply too great, even if their hussars and halberdiers lack some upgrades.

Post Imperial age (with trade)

When trade carts are strolling back and forth between markets, Byzantines lose a little bit of their strength. Sure they can field bombard towers, guns and mighty horse riders. But since none of these come with a bonus, they can’t be considered top tier anymore. Especially since at this point, raw power is more crucial than cost effective units.


Byzantines are one of the few civs without any economical bonus, just like Goths. But just like Goths, they make up for that with a cheaper line of units. Besides that, Byzantines have every economical upgrade in the book, so late game, there isn’t any notable problem.

However, this is still the main weakness of Byzantines. Even though they’re incredibly strong throughout the ages, they have no notable bonus to finance their strengths.



Only lacking blast furnace, Byzantines can be played as an infantry civ. They have champions, halberdiers and besides the last attack upgrade, any other upgrade.


Byzantines simply have the greatest tech tree of them all. Even their archers have every upgrade. Only cavalry archers are running behind without bloodlines and Parthian tactics.


And last but not least the Byzantines can be treated as a cavalry civ too. They lack the last attack upgrade and bloodlines, but besides that they’re one of the civs blessed with paladins.


This is the only department where Byzantines lack a bit. They can make siege rams, bombard cannons and onagers. But without siege onagers, heavy scorpions and most important, siege engineers, their imperial siege strength is very limited. But with everything mentioned so far, who needs heavy scorpions or siege onagers?


My favourite sound of the game, let’s all chant wololo! Byzantines have no “Herbal Medicine” but to be fair, unless you’re Aztecs with an overdose of gold, no one will ever research this tech. All other techs are available though.


With a naval bonus and the full naval techtree at your service, Byzantines have everything.


The extra HP on buildings, fully upgraded towers and bombard towers. A very population effective way to control the map. A Byzantine castle can even have up to 8131 HP. Not a single other structure can compete with this.

Before we write out the conclusion, time for a final record: a classic game between ralber and Ruso. In this match between probably the best Spanish players of AoC, Ruso’s Huns try to take on ralber’s Byzantines. Amazing persistence guaranteed!

Recorded Game



Byzantines are a top tier civilisation throughout the whole game. They lack a free economical bonus but they make up for that with their cheap trash and extremely wide tech tree. In fact, if you like to think out of the box, or play mind games, this civ is simply the best. However, a broad tech tree means you must stay focussed on your plans. It’s very tempting to use various parts of their technologies in a rush but because they lack a bonus to pay this, so use your brain to the max!

Ubi concordia, ibi victoria - Where is the unity, there is the victory.
-Publius Syrus

Written by Cysion

  • sid

    can you please do a detailed civilization review for the turks??

  • Tune

    I’ve always had this thought: How do Byzantine buildings fare against buildings with Masonry/Architecture? I was at first attracted to 8000+HP castles, but then I did notice they lacked the building armour as a trade-off. I haven’t personally tested it out, but regardless of the simple “which will take more hits” question, I wonder if there were other advantages with the Byzantine feature?

  • LukeMam

    I have a question – what do you think of Byzantine paladins?

    I thought they were inferior too, because of the lack of bloodlines and blast furnace, before I realized that Byzantines are the only civ in the game with paladins AND fully upgraded arbalests. It take 8 shots for an arbalest to kill a halberdier and 24 shots to kill a FU heavy camel, and although hand cannoneers and heavy cavalry archers can do better, arbalests are accurate, fire fast, and aren’t weak to anti-cavalry units. Byzantine paladins may have better survivability than even Frankish paladins as long as you keep those arbalests alive.

    • BlanketPI

      I just noticed that all four civilizations without Bracer have Paladins. Actually the Byzatines are the only civilization with both Arbalests and Paladins, period, which is interesting, too, because only 8 civilizations lack Arbalests. I think I remember seeing something in the “Ask Sandyman” archives about Arbalests being a super-unit, like Paladins, so I guess that explains it. The Byzantines are just the exception because they have their large military technology tree. (They only miss 2 units, both of which are siege!)

      (Please remember I am not good at this game and could easily be wrong, here.)

      I think Hand Cannoneers are still better in gap warfare, since they do a tremendous amount of damage for a single shot (24 with Plate Mail Armor, 26 without) and even if they do miss, they still do 12 damage to another enemy, most of the time. However, against the Turks and Huns, both of whom lack the Onager, Arbalests are probably superior, because they out-range the enemy siege and can take a hit from it, too. Either way, I think Parthian Tactics rules all, as your Paladins protect your Heavy Cavalry Archers, which do more damage, even if they are Persian and thus, lack Bracer. The range only helps against small amounts of enemy troops, so….

      On open maps, it is more subtle, and against Heavy Camels, I would certainly prefer Arbalests or Hand Cannoneers. I think that the greater damage when defending themselves would make me choose Hand Cannoneers for Halberdiers, but against Heavy Camels, Arbalests are probably better, as they survive more hits and can kill the enemy off one at a time.

      It is certainly something to think about, however!

      (I expect to be corrected, since I still do not know much of this game, but I thought I would share my thoughts, regardless.)

  • Pikeman93

    I dunno… I think you’re being way too generous with saying that the Byzantine siege is lacking “a bit”.

    The only thing they have over Hunnic siege (which you said is a no-go) is having onagers. Which is good, but lacking siege engineers mean that their onagers can’t counter archers as well, since they have only 8 range. The only time I use their siege is when I’m doing a fast imperial and I use the arbalest + ram combo.

    • barbarossa89

      They also have cannons.

      Here’s how I would rate siege civilizations:

      Celts > Koreans > Mongols > Teutons > Saracens > Japanese > Turks > Franks > Persians > Aztecs > Vikings > Spanish > Goths > Byzantines > Chinese > Mayans > Britons > Huns.

      Note that Britons, because of siege engineers, have the potential to be higher in certain maps. But missing siege onager, siege ram, heavy scorpion AND bombard cannon makes it kind of hard to treat them kindly in this.

      Note also that Goths are the ONLY civilization to miss both siege ram and siege engineers.

      • Pikeman93

        Ah true. Forgot that Byzantines had bombard cannons. Thanks.

        A few questions though – why is Chinese the fourth worst? They have the second best heavy scorpions in the game. They have similar siege tree as the Persians, so I’m assuming that having bombard cannons is better than having heavy scorpions with a bonus?

        Also, why Japanese above the Vikings and Franks? Is it because of their UT?

        Lastly, Franks and Goths have similar siege tech tree, except Goths do not have siege engineer. And yet you listed Franks 5 civs above Goths. Is having Siege Engineers really that much of an importance?


        • barbarossa89

          I put Chinese that far down because cannon and siege engineers are both pretty useful.

          I will try to justify everything I said:

          Celts: 20% faster firing and production, everything except cannons, and furor celtica rocks.

          Koreans: Siege onagers. Koreans are the strongest on michi.

          Mongols: Same tech tree as Celts for siege, speedy instead of strong.

          Teutons: Everything except siege ram.

          Saracens: Everything except heavy scorpion. Some may consider them better than Teutons.

          Japanese: Trebuchets are pretty useful already. Japanese have them absolutely awesome.

          Turks: Super cannons make up for the lack of onager.

          Franks: Missing siege ram and siege onager, and that’s it. I think the Japanese UT more than makes up for lacking cannons. Not necessarily true on all maps, so there’s a little leeway.

          Persians: Everything except siege onager and siege engineers.

          Aztecs: Siege onagers and siege rams are a good combination. Missing heavy scorpion and cannon drops them this far.

          Vikings: Everything except cannon and siege onager. I do value cannons quite highly, as you may have noticed.

          Spanish: Fast-firing cannons. No siege engineers, no heavy scorpion, no siege onager.

          Goths: Like Spanish but without siege ram and with heavy scorpion.

          Byzantines: Like Spanish without the fast-firing cannon bonus.

          Chinese: They get siege ram, onager, and superior scorpions, but missing siege engineers and cannons both is quite the problem, IMO.

          Mayans: Chinese without the heavy scorpion bonus.

          Britons: No ultimate upgrades.

          Huns: No onager, no heavy scorpion, no siege engineers.

          Notice that the Chinese, Mayans, and Huns are the only civilizations to miss both cannons and siege engineers. Britons, while they get siege engineers, get no siege ram, siege onager, heavy scorpion, or cannon. Some might rate them higher because of siege engineers, but I can’t justify it overall. Maybe on michi, but who plays Britons on michi?

          • Wurstigkeit

            IMO the onagers of Britons are for a more restricted but valuable purpose: crushing skirms and other foot archers more quickly. Yes, their longbows and arbs can kill most other archers and gun units but their 8+1 range onagers save their archers quite a bit of work and time (considering Britons lack thumbring and thus it hurts the rate of fire for their archers a bit).
            But it is true that Britons’ siege is really less than impressive – they are the only civ lacking both siege ram and cannons and without something else (like the Japanese UT) to compensate for that.

          • Pikeman93

            Another question Barb – for the Frank siege, does cheaper castles count? Being able to build 3 castles as opposed to 2 = 50% faster trebuchet production (indirectly).

          • BlanketPI

            It is 25% cheaper, not 50% cheaper. Hence, 25% increase in Trebuchet production, not 50%.

            I would guess (I do mean guess) that it is not enough to really make their siege much better. They get an indirect bonus, but 25% is still only 25%. That and you still need to pay for the extra Trebuchets. Sure, the Celts get a 20% bonus, but that is not the only element. Still, like I said, this is a guess, not a good answer.

            (By the way, why do you not register? It supports the site and since you post frequently enough, it would save time….)

          • AKFrost

            25% cheaper is 1/(0.75) = 1.33 or 33% more.

          • BlanketPI

            You are right. I feel stupid since normally I remember that stuff.

            Maybe 33% would be enough of a bonus, but I think that beating the closest to perfect siege in the first ones and the powerful Trebuchets of the Japanese are highly unlikely. The long-ranged, 100 HP Bombard Cannons of the Turks might be something that the extra Trebuchets can overcome, but I highly doubt anything further than that. Still, it is something to ask about.

  • http://N/A Thomas

    i still call them romans. with good reason.
    their realistic bonus would probly be start in castle age ;p

    • GntlMn

      I call them greeks. :D They spoke and speak (in game) greek, not latin. Hard to originate their institutions from the West, in fact, East-Roman Empire never was “roman”, it is more of a hellenistic culture as a huge melting-pot of several Middle Eastern cultures.

      • http://N/A Thomas

        They were known as romans and thought of as romans. Byzantines is just another word for the middle age peoples of the roman empire.

        • GntlMn

          Ehi, i can’t agree with that all in all, but yeah, this is kind of a complicated question.

          • Age2player

            I think the Byzantine’s in-game language is medieval latin, at least that’s what is claimed on the AoE series wiki

          • GntlMn

            LOL. i have to say, you are right!
            My memory is not that good, it seems. I checked now, and it is nice latin. (Kinda weird, since greek was more accepted in the eastern roman empire from the beginnings.) What was my mistake? I remembered one word only, i.e. άγω. (ágó) That is the only one in greek, that’s what villies say frequently. It means lead, bring, carry.

  • Age2player

    Just one thing, are you going to write about the rest too or what?

    • Cysion

      Yes, but I sadly only have 1 pair of hands :)

      So atm, my time/energy goes to other things.

      • Age2player

        Understandable, I have the same problem with a story I’m writing on fanfiction. net, the worst part is that there’s actually a lot of people who are reading it and like what I’m doing, so that just frustrates me about not working on it when I have the time.

  • AmericanFuhrer

    “This highlights the importance of using patrol when attacking with cataphracts, so they can maximize their use of trample damage.’

    Can you elaborate on this please? I don’t understand.. How does the use of patrol maximize their trample damage?


    • Cysion

      Patrolled units will attack the first unit they meet, rather than running around for a while before they stand still. On top level, patrol is a very common way to let your units charge. So if two armies collide, they will pretty much “line up” against each other and attack right away. A tight line of cataphracts will inflict damage not only to their direct opponent, but also the opponents of his neighbouring cataphracts.

      Patrolling is important for pretty much every unit actually. If I recall correctly, if you run 40 paladins vs 40 paladins, one army with and one army without patrol. Then the patrolled army might have over 20 surviving paladins.

      • Age2player

        I tried this out, it works beautifully. Safe to say I’ll be using this tactic in the future.

  • lediableblanc

    i have some vn_dark_night great arabia games withh byz :D

  • CarlosFerdinand

    CsI_vegeta vs 2scared both games are very rox expert byz play vs azt.

  • Richard

    I like Byzantines, they are great.

    “When I first played AoC, this unit was amongst my favourites. They looked good and they are simply good. And up to today, that still holds truth.” This is the same for me, and I think for many others. :D

    Here we can mention Imp_Fox, who used the Byzantine trash army against Huns in a crazy way back in the old times. Some records should be added. ^^

    • Jaraldo

      Imp_Fox is my byz hero <3
      You'll find many recs of him here.
      Sorry for sending ppl to diff site cys :X but we are just byz whores :P

      • Richard

        Thx, but I have already downloaded all. :D

        • Jaraldo

          <3 you rox 11

    • Andy01

      I just watched those and those are some good games. I totally agree with Richard. Worthy of put into recorded games.

      • Jaraldo

        11 trust me, i’d love to see a billion byz games to B-). But, cys(if i may speak for him 11) wants to have unusual civ match ups, on different map, and underdog wins.

        There is 1 or 2 of Daut vs L_clan_2scared on arabia, where daut is byz and 2scared is aztecs. The rec is even labbed “How to beat aztecs”. I think those ones should be posted.

      • Cysion

        Don’t worry, I have more recs for Byzantines “marked” in my recorded games list. I’m now gathering a bunch of recs that should be attached to existing articles. I’ll release them all together, including the ones for this article ^^

  • Jaraldo

    Byz are probably the most underrated civ in the game.

  • Lyndon

    One of my favourite civs also, nice summary, looking forward to next weeks.

  • DMZ Regicide

    “Heirs to the Roman Empire”

    Ya, on the timeline they are considered as a prolongation of the Roman Empire.

    Byzantium is the Middle Age.
    Historian consider that the Middle Age begins when Rome fall down, while Byzantium is rising. And the Middle Age take end when Byzantium fall down, 1000 years later than Rome (under turk’s assault).

    Before the siege of the turks it was also pillaged by the occidentals christians (“Crusaders”). It was told in a campaign of aok (Dunno if all what they said in the campaigns is true but the narrative parts are great. Sarracens were indeed quite respectful of peoples while crusaders were barbarian).

    Pillages, killing,… Byzantium was so rich, so decorated. Nothing comparable in West Europe. So it met avidity, greed.

    And unfortunately today all almost is destroyed and we can just dream on what it was or see Hagia Sophia, who kept his magnificient dome and his structure.

    • barbarossa89

      Yeah, they took some liberties with history for the sake of a narrative. Crusaders weren’t really as barbaric as all that, (relative to what were considered standard tactics for warfare in those days,) and the Arabs weren’t necessarily quite so noble as they are portrayed in the game. Guess the victors get to write history the way they want. But Byzantium was truly the pinnacle of civilization for quite a while, at least apart from China in the east and some new world civilizations.

      Some other civilizations in the west did make efforts, though. Charlemagne tried, in the 9th century AD, to get universal education in the Frankish empire by encouraging monks to take secondary jobs as schoolteachers. Though they are not shown in this game, the Italians produced the like of Michelangelo and Da Vinci, albeit somewhat toward the end of the middle ages.

      The Byzantines did have it all earlier, though, seeing as they never really had a dark age. Of course, having a bonus “start off an age ahead” would have been too powerful. Guess they did the best they could. After all, Byzantines didn’t really use gunpowder offensively, nor did they miss out on the blast furnace in reality.

      Of course, the Aztecs and Mayans probably did not know of the horse collar in reality either.