How many soldiers does it take to defend Paris? Nobody knows, it has never been tried.
I could give you 100 more jokes about the bravery of the French army, but let’s see how our favourite horse riders are benchmarked.
- Castles cost -25%
- Knights +20% HPs
- Farm upgrades free (require Mill)
- Unique Unit: Throwing Axeman
- Unique Technology: Bearded Axe
- Team Bonus: Knights +2 LOS
Analysis of bonuses
Castles cost -25%
France is famous for its castles, even though it doesn’t have the most castles in the world, nor does it have the most dense castellation. But everyone should at least have heard of famous fortifications such as Carcassonne. So what does this bonus mean for the Frankish player?
It means you can build a castle faster than any other civilisation, even faster than the Koreans with their stone mining bonus. Which is both a great virtue in offensive and defensive play. And a definite bonus in trebuchet wars where a Frankish player can easily pull up an extra castle to engage in the stone hurling showdown. However, a castle is still a castle, it doesn’t make the difference on its own. It’s a structure to hold ground and secure an environment. You need units to support them too. We’ll look at the Frankish castle units later on.
But first a recorded game of course, how about one with an overdose of castles, let’s say, 1 castle for every 6 minutes of game time? Start to count from dark age of course!
But then again, isn’t this game just amateurism compared to what these Germans have to offer? The last game might have been Castlemania, but HansGiebenrath is a downright Castlemaniac. 6 castles aren’t enough for him!
Knights +20% HPs
A very straightforward bonus that comes with a twist. The bonus is often nicknamed “Franks free bloodlines”, but sadly this only goes for their knights. Making their other cavalry units (light cavalry and cavalry archers) less than average.
Compared to other civs with bloodlines, their knights are just the same strength, their cavaliers have 4 extra HP and their paladins 12 extra HP. In a paladin vs paladin fight that only means 1 extra slash. But their bloodlines are free, so as a Frank player should have one of the better knight rushes. Even though there is stiff competition from Huns, Teutons and even Vikings (just because of their strong economy, in the long run, the Viking cavalry won’t make the cut)
Farm upgrades free (require Mill)
The only real economical advantage the Franks have to offer. They don’t have to spend resources to upgrade their farms, which aids their boom quite a bit. Especially handy because a strong Frankish army relies a lot on food heavy units.
Team Bonus: Knights +2 LOS
A very handy bonus for people who like to raid with knights. It’s a the inverse of the Korean LOS bonus for villagers: the Koreans can see the enemy whereas the Frankish knights can see the villagers. A handy little feature because knights have a very small line of sight. (Even though you can also incorporate a scout cavalry in your army to boost your raiding abilities)
Funny enough, this bonus is probably not the best to enhance knights, even though Franks are the ultimate knight civilisation. But whether this bonus, or the Persian attack bonus against archers is the best, is very relative.
- Cost: 55 food, 25 gold
- Attack: 7 (Elite: 8 )
- Armor: 0/0 (Elite: 1/0)
- HP: 50 (Elite: 60)
- Range: 3 (Elite: 4)
- Elite Upgrade: 1000 food, 850 gold
It can be seen as the archer unit amongst infantry units. Not only because it has a ranged attack but mainly because it needs to be in groups to be at full strength. And in big groups, it performs quite decent against almost every unit of flesh and blood. They can stand up “okay” against cavalry, they rape most infantry (except Teutonic knights, samurai and jaguar warriors) and don’t die too fast against skirmishers. In fact, they’re one of the best answers to Goth infantry floods.
Their major weakness are onagers and archers though. Both of which can be acquired easily and much cheaper than axemen. It’s clear by now that throwing axemen are actually support units. They perform excellent side by side with paladins to kill those pesky halberdiers.
Since games with Franks are very rare in 1v1 on high levels, it’s even harder to find games where our favourite axe hurling units play the lead role. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible, and in fact, there is one in the archives of aocbox! Brace yourself for the aXe Files.
One of the cheaper unique technologies with only 400 food and 400 gold. It gives throwing axeman +1 range so if you’re betting high on these fellas, you can probably spare a dime or two for this upgrade. A very specific upgrade, but then again, so are axemen.
Dominance through the Ages
An oversight about dominance through the ages can be found in this article.
Franks are the bottom of the worse in the dark age. That is probably no grammatically correct sentence, but it illustrates how Franks perform in the dark age. They have no single bonus, so nothing to write about either.
The first economical bonus kicks in with a free immediate farm upgrade. But sadly, that’s about it. Lacking bloodlines or a nice naval bonus makes Franks ache for survival. A wall might be an option too, and pray it won’t get busted before you arrive in the…
Time to shine, even though the Frankish castle age army is quite predictable and heavy on gold, it’s quite good. Their farm bonus carries on and even though knights are easily countered, they are still strong and fast. Expect to see some cheap castles pop up for defending key resources too.
Early Imperial Age
Franks are hard to rank in early imp. They’ll most likely arrive slower because of their expensive castle age army, especially if they didn’t manage to wreak enough havoc on the enemy. Otherwise they still fare well with an upgrade for their cavalry, which hopefully they already made in the castle age. In straight boom games, their early imp is kinda weak though.
The last chance for Franks to really shine. Their paladins can now try to sow destruction in the enemy’s cities and with either axes or guns to back them up, they should be braced for any army. It’s a very micro intense and expensive army but lethal in the hands of a focussed player.
Post Imperial Age (no trade)
If your paladins couldn’t force victory, you won’t be able to count on their weaker brothers either. Frankish light cavalry is nothing more than “okay” and suffers badly from the lack of bloodlines. Their skirmishers lack all imperial blacksmith upgrades but luckily they still have good halberdiers. Franks are nevertheless one of the weaker brothers in trashwars.
Post Imperial age (with trade)
Franks can once more do what they’re good at: set up a good old fashioned raw force of paladins. It forces archer civs to use halberdiers too, which is not so population effective in long late games. Franks don’t have good manners to hold ground though. They might be able to use some castles early on, but that’s not so valuable compared to a bombard tower geared push.
Their army is expensive but their economy is not built to follow this. They have free farm upgrades but this effect kicks in rather late when the first farms run out and need reseeding. Late game they’re missing stone shaft mining and two man saw. Not crucial for their imperial armies, but it sure doesn’t help either.
Franks can be played as an infantry civ, they have no squires but have full fledged champions and halberdiers. A great way to surprise the enemy.
Historically, the French had bad experiences with archers (The Battle of Agincourt and the Battle of Crécy), and that shows off in the game too. They’re stuck with crossbowmen and it’s probably easier to say which upgrades they do have than the upgrades they don’t have. So in short: crossbowmen, heavy cavalry archers, elite skirmishers, hand cannoneers and the blacksmith upgrades up to castle.
A double edged sword here: the best paladins in game and one of the weakest light cavalry lines in the game. Obviously no camels either. Which makes them a bit tough to play because once gold runs out for a paladin pumping Spaniard or Hun, they can switch to hussars, while Franks are stuck with their less than average light cavalry.
So we have bad archers and equally bad light cavalry, time to think out of the box and win a game with a combo of these!
Franks can get along with siege, they have nothing top notch but at least they have an upgrade for everything. They can play around with siege, but will fall short for a lengthy push.
In Frankwars, how rare they may be, monks actually play a key role. Gold is mined faster than knights and knights are an inevitable truth in a French clash. So with monks ready to convert some horses you may be able to tilt the scales to your advantage. Against other civs their monks are no more than average and for sure not suited for an all out monk rush.
This can be pulled up to extreme heights though: if a Frank would only make knights and monks, but monks technically beat knights, why not go all out on monks? Here’s a just-for-fun game between JorDan_23 and Multani, watch how Heresy plays a crucial role endgame!
Since naval battles are nearly always decided by galleons, Franks can get along for a while. Once the imperial upgrades kick in, the lack of bracer hurts their fleet. They don’t have the last upgrade to elite cannon galleons either.
Despite lacking bombard towers, Franks have outstanding structures. Fully upgraded and cheap castles that can get up to 7000+ HP. Not a replacement for bombard towers but still a good ground keeper.
Time for a final record, we have had quite some arena records so far, this is because Franks are very hard to play with on arabia (no significant bonus and very limited and gold heavy army). But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible! Here is a very good and straightforward rec between BuzZ_sletten and _Air_Breathe, showing how Franks are not always doomed on arabia.
Franks are simply tricky to play with. They have a rather limited techtree and only excel in their heavy cavalry, which is not sustained by their economy. However, in teamgames they’re a force to reckon. A paladin pumping ally forces your enemy to make either camels, halberdiers or his own weaker paladins, which is not population effective late game.
Treat them carefully, they were my favourite civ the first time I played this game!