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