“When we attack today, our arrows will blot out the sun! Good; then we will fight in the shade.” Technically a quote from the Spartans at the battle of Thermopylae but in AoC, you can fight in the shade against the Chinese.
- Start +3 villagers but -200 food, -50 wood
- Technologies cost -10% Feudal Age, -15% Castle Age, -20% Imperial Age
- Town Centers support 10 population
- Demolition ships +50% HPs
- Unique Unit: Chu-Ko-Nu
- Unique Technology: Rocketry
- Team Bonus: Farms +45 food
Analysis of bonuses
Start +3 villagers but -200 food, -50 wood
The most contested bonus in the game probably. Since the 1.0c patch came out, Chinese now start with 0 food instead of 50, which forces them to loom right away and gives them no more than 25 seconds to start eating sheep. If you want to keep your villager bonus you would even have to find your sheep immediately at game start. Needless to say this makes Chinese a very hard civ to start out. A safer option is to mill right away but this can’t be done on water maps where you’ll fall behind desperately in grushing times. So judging by the looks of it, isn’t this bonus rather an anti-bonus? No it’s not, but the bonus is most visible on other maps. Nomad and regicide game types are the home maps of the Chinese. A Chinese start on land nomad is monstrous: a double portion of villagers to cut your wood, a double portion of initial explorers and a double portion of builders on your town center. All in all they can get to the castle age 3 minutes earlier than an average civ. And nearly 4-5 mins compared to Huns!
You can imagine that this inspired people to try out a 1v2 setup on LN: the Chinese empire against the Hunnic barbarians. Watch how the plundering nomads get beaten back by civilisation! If you have questions about the rates: the Chinese is indeed 19xx and the Huns are “only” 16xx, but with loads of games on their bill.
Technologies cost -10% Feudal Age, -15% Castle Age, -20% Imperial Age
Technically, Chinese have a bonus on every tactic imaginable, except the very few ones that don’t need upgrades (drush). This bonus is the most complex one to judge because of its broad spectrum but let’s highlight some of the most outstanding strengths. 10% on Feudal age upgrades sounds like it’s barely worth it: horse collar costs 67 wood, 67 food instead of the normal 75 wood, 75 food. But the bonus is like a good wine, it gets better over the years. Especially in the castle age where more expensive upgrades start to pop up, most notably in the monastery.
Indeed, not only do Chinese have the technologies for a successful monkrush (only missing out on 2 imperial upgrades), they also get them at a discount price. Redemption costs a whopping 475 gold but Chinese are allowed to convert buildings and siege for only 403 gold. If we count the savings on the 4 crucial techs for a successful monkrush: Redemption, Atonement, Sanctity and Fervor then we have a total amount of 160 gold saved. That’s one fully upgraded monk extra for you to chant wololo. It also helps your boom, where you can get wheelbarrow and hand cart at a fairly cheap rate. If this is still not enough for you then just hold on for the Imperial Age where the most expensive upgrades of them all come to you for a bargain: siege rams for only 800 food and bombard towers for 640 food and 320 wood! But if you want to get totally loose, then take a look at spies. The maximum price for this ultimate tech is 24000 gold, 6000 cheaper than the average civ!
Before you start to think where on earth you could utilize the monk bonus, don’t make your train of thought stop at arena. Nomadic people will disagree with you, and will also tell you that in their lands, games can be very good too.
Town Centers support 10 population
Once more a bonus that manifests itself on many fields: the obvious one is the different start: Chinese don’t need to start of with houses to avoid being “housed” right away. This is especially handy on nomad maps, where they don’t need to cut extra wood at the start for their first house. And remember, Chinese were already so powerful on these kinds of maps. There’s also a 3rd clear benefit which shows up in booming games: extra population from town centers means you can wait longer to make extra houses. And a good boomer needs to hire a full time mason for his housing problems so the longer you can push that cost forward, the better.
Demolition ships +50% HPs
It might be unbelievable, but I really have nothing to say about this bonus. I could rant again on how naval battles are rarely decided by anything else than galleys but I won’t. The only real use for demolition ships seems to be guarding shallows on maps like highland. You patrol your demolition ships in aggressive stance over a shallow and none shall pass.
Team Bonus: Farms +45 food
A very straight forward bonus, which helps you and your allies push back the need for a reseed. Especially cool for Mayan team mates who already have longer lasting farms. Don’t let this bonus fool you though: Chinese farms are not the best farms in the game. Their Teutonic and Mayan counterparts are still better by a landslide.
- Cost: 40 wood, 35 gold
- Attack: 8 (Elite: 8 )
- Armor: 0/0 (Elite: 0/0)
- HP: 45 (Elite: 50)
- Range: 4 (Elite: 4)
- Elite Upgrade: 760 food, 760 gold
No, I didn’t make a typo when writing down the stats for the elite chu-Ko-Nu, the upgrade is indeed this futile. Is the upgrade worth it then? Yes it sure is, maybe for just the 5 extra HP but also for the extra arrow that the elite version fires. Giving them 5 arrows instead of 4. Note that this doesn’t mean the attack increases with 8, it only adds 3. Indeed, only the first arrow of the chu-Ko-Nu hits its target with full damage. The other arrows deal a maximum of 3 damage, but 1 damage minimum!
Let’s see what this actually means:
|Elite Eagle Warrior||10|
These are ideal numbers though, in a more realistic setting, some arrows miss and the damage will be 2-3 lower. It shows one very important strength though: Chu-ko-nu are awesome castle defenders. They’re a bit like axeman in that way: they’ll tear through any ram that will bang against your precious fortress. This doesn’t mean however that chu-ko-nu are good counters to huskarls. Not even close actually because huskarls only need 2 slices to get the chuk on his knees. But it shows what chu-ko-nu are best at: being an incredible back up unit. If you can put a meat shield in front of them, they’ll sieve through any unit that tries to come in close to them.
A very straightforward tech now: chu-ko-nu get +2 attack and scorpions +4. Once more stressing the strengths of the Chinese army: arrows, arrows and some more arrows. If you compare this with the benefits of the elite upgrade you can see why this tech is often researched first. Above that, with a cost of 600 wood and 600 gold it’s cheaper too.
Dominance through the Ages
An oversight about dominance through the ages can be found in this article.
Everything depends on your start here: if you have a sheep right away, you’ll be a villager ahead, otherwise you’ll have difficulties to keep up.
Your first bonuses pop up and Chinese still have all units and upgrades at their service. Bloodlined scouts and cheaper techs. Even though these only make a marginal difference. Your farming bonus helps to save good wood though.
Actually, the farming bonus vanishes a bit here, the 2nd farming upgrade makes the bonus look like crumbles on a full plate of cookies and since you’re Chinese, you might be able to afford this upgrade earlier than other civs. What else do Chinese have? Fully upgraded knights, camels, crossbows, monks and the full trashline. Each with a small bonus because of the cheaper techs but none of them really stands out. Not even chu-ko-nu which get quite easily countered by the much easier to mass crossbows. It’s the first signal of what Chinese really are: the ultimate answer to every civ, but they’re hard to impose their will on the enemy. But more on that later.
Early Imperial Age
Chinese can hold out pretty well here: no matter what unit you went in the castle age, you can trade them in for an imperial age variant for a low price. Even if you don’t want to persist on cavalry, you can still get a few upgrades without being economically ruined. However, it’s best to prepare your chu-ko-nu right now, because it’s almost time for the…
Imperial age! No matter what unit the enemy has, you should have an answer to them. Fully upgraded camels, cavaliers, champions, arbalests, skirmishers, halberdiers, scorpions and siege rams. However, you might start to see the biggest weakness of the Chinese army: they have no beasty, speedy unit that can wander around the map, plundering whatever comes in his path. Think of paladins, eagles and a handful of unique units like woad raiders, huskarls or mangudai. A lone chu-ko-nu is a dead chu-ko-nu, he must be together with his mates because a lone chuk will be killed.They’re archers anyways and perform best in groups. And unlike mangudai or plumed archers, they can’t run away from danger. It’s the general demise of the Chinese army: they’re incredibly strong, but slow. Chuks are the backbone of your army, but as said before: they need to have some sort of backup with them. And because they’re massed from a castle and move slowly to the battlefield, holding ground is even more important. For this, Chinese have bombard towers luckily. Which is only righteous for the inventors of the gunpowder. It makes you wonder though how they never managed to drag the cannon out of the tower because Chinese don’t have access to either hand cannoneers or bombard cannons.
Imperial Age (no trade)
China only misses the last upgrade to Hussars. They have every other upgrade and at discount price. Which is quite a benefit since the trash upgrades are not so cheap compared to the units they deliver. And not to forget, their blacksmiths are stacked with every possible technology.
Time to toss in a classic game on Regicide Fortress, the finals of Arbalet Cup 4 between _DauT_ and L_Clan_Chris. The old kings of RF vs the new kings of RF, a well fought victory for the old generation!
Post Imperial age (with trade)
Chinese are strong here, but don’t have the speedy beast unit at their disposal. Above that, in this age the one single unit comes up which leaves Chinese speechless: the siege onager. Chinese have no suitable answer to them. Their focus lays on archers and scorpions, which both get crushed by a well aimed onager shot. Their cavalry is only average and even though they have fully upgraded infantry, they have no bonus. And let’s not forget the lack of guns.
Time for a recorded game again: kkab and Neat Freak fighting out a 2v4 against a delegation of [HyM]. The perfect showcase for every unit the Chinese can create combined with their strength on LN.
A Chinese army is not really based on food, so missing out crop rotation isn’t all that bad. They have a farm bonus anyways. Together with cheaper economic upgrades, this gives China an above average economy throughout the whole game. They need to feed 1 billion people anyway…
China can be played as an infantry civ. Every upgrade is waiting for them and seeing Chinese using infantry is more common than rare. They make one of the best meat shields for chu-ko-nu.
Chinese are actually called an archer civ. A bit unjust in my eyes as I’d like to call them a counter civ. They have fully upgraded archers of any kind but no guns (no Parthian tactics for cavalry archers either). Above that, they have no bonus like the real archer civs, Britons and Mayans.
Fully upgraded cavaliers are cool, especially since they have bloodlines, but they simply fall short when the real cavalry civs start to bother. But with fully upgraded camels, they have an answer to those too.
Once more an odd balance. This time in the siege department: no siege engineers, no bombard cannons but one of the best scorpions in the game. Stiff competition from the Celts here but they’re the ultimate siege civ anyways. No siege onagers either but that’s a privilege for a very select group of civs.
I personally find Chinese one of the top monk civs. Converting a paladin to the ways of Buddha is awesome, isn’t it? They have no block printing and heresy but as Chinese don’t really have individually strong units, heresy isn’t a big miss. If you’re really missing out on that, you can still resort to a very cheap version of the very rare tech “faith”.
Despite a nearly useless naval bonus and no fast fire ships nor elite cannon galleons, I value the Chinese navy downright good. One of the best without a direct bonus in fact. All upgrades especially the expensive imperial ones are there for you. Especially on top level games where wood runs out more often than once, you can buy that oh so valuable shipwright earlier.
One of the happy few civs with all upgrades on their structures. They have no tech to build them faster but that’s really the only downside. The wall of China wasn’t built in a day, right?
Chinese are as I would like to call them “the ultimate counter civ”. Because of the nature of their units, they can’t always take the initiative. But once they can set up a push, you’re most likely in troubles. Besides that they’re the unchallenged kings on nomad style, regicide and metropolitan maps. And funny enough, also on turbo random maps, if you’d ever be crazy enough to play this setting (I know you are). And we end the article with nothing less than a crazy record. Ever played Metropolis? A map where every player starts out with 3 town centers and the respective amount of scouts and villagers. Now combine that with the Chinese start and you have 18 villagers, 3 scouts and enough room to house 30 units. Obviously the ultimate setting to practice your multitasking or totally lose your oversight. But you can coop too and drive your teamwork up to the highest gears. Enjoy this Legion Clan internal battle with some quite known players on either sides.
The superior man is modest in his speech, but exceeds in his actions.