“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.

Quick Card

  • 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.

Recorded Game


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.

Recorded Game


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:

Unit Maximum Damage
Elite Eagle Warrior 10
Huskarl 10
Elite Huskarl 8
Siege Ram 15
Paladin 11

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.

Dark Age

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.

Feudal Age

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.

Castle Age

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

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!

Recorded Game


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.

Recorded Game



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.

Recorded Game


The superior man is modest in his speech, but exceeds in his actions.


Written by Cysion

  • PZZY

    I believe the articles on Mayans and Chinese miss out a very important analysis on having extra villager(s) since the start of the game. The best part about having extra villager(s) is that they can work ever since t=0s. What does this mean? For example, Chinese will have 3 extra villagers working for 600s each in the first 10min (the time when most players are about to reach feudal). This gives them an extra 1800 villager seconds! If you convert this to resource collection, it will be 600+ more resources collected in Dark Age. Though you have to take away 250, it still proves to be more than enough to be called a bonus. And as the time goes on, Chinese extra villagers will simple produce more additional resources, which make them a 1st tier Feudal civ.
    Even if you happen to be unlucky and only maintain 2 villager advantage, that will still give you 2400 more villager second in the first 20 min of the game! That’s an unbelievable advantage! That’s why Chinese were the No.1 civ in 1.0a patch with 50 more food at start. And even in 1.0c, Chinese are still among the top choices for Arabia, simply due to the unmatched villager advantage. Similarly, Mayans’ 1 extra villager advantage is monstrous too!

    • PZZY

      Due to the reason stated above, Chinese have one of the best economies (if not the single best) between early feudal to early castle. The advantage of extra villagers only fades away when better booming civs start to boom in Castle Age.

      • PZZY

        So in my opinion Chinese are a very aggressive civ instead of defensive one! The huge advantage built up in Feudal and Castle is already enough to kill most enemies. Only in the Imperial Age when Paladins and EEWs are roaming around will the Chinese feel short of the power.

  • http://www.itself.wld Brainless

    If you like to see an awesome display of Chinese archers in action, watch the film “Hero” by Quentin Tarantino
    trailer: [URL][URL]
    outtake: [URL][URL]

  • Pikeman93

    What do you guys think of Chinese fast imperial?

    I’ve tried it before. It’s effective, and people just don’t know what to expect for the Chinese. The 20% cheaper techs is a good bonus to have here because unlike other civs, you can get all the economy techs researched while massing the arbalests.

    For ever 4 tech a civ can research, the Chinese can research 5.

  • Richard


    So how do Chu-Ko-Nus attack exactly? They have 8+6 attack if I am not mistaken. How much is the attack of the first arrow? The following arrows cause 1-3 demage randomly? And is that demage over 8+6? So does it mean that they attack 14+4*(1..3)? Or the whole series of arrows cause 8+6 demage? Could you please elaborate? I have never understood Chu-Ko-Nus exactly. All I know is they rock. :)

    Also it was a new information for me, that Spies is cheaper too for the Chinese. Thx for this article. Looking forward for your answer about Chu-Ko-Nus. :D

    • Cysion

      Thx for the appreciation ^^

      The first arrow of the Chu-Ko-Nu deals 8+6 damage (let’s consider the target a militia with 0/0 armor). The next arrows all deal 3 damage. So against the militia it would deal 14+3+3+3+3 (=26) damage. However, it’s highly unlikely you would face imperial age infantry without defensive upgrades, so if that same militia would have its defensive upgrades (3/4) then the Chu-Ko-Nu would only deal 10+1+1+1+1 (=14) damage.

      • Pikeman93

        In that case why would Chu-Ko-Nu deal 3 damage for each subsequent 3-4 arrows to siege rams? Rams have like 100-200 pierce armour.

        • Cysion

          Well, if someone would dig into genied, he/she could check the details on certain attack bonuses. I’m quite sure this is the basic functionality of a chuk, but I’m really not aware about all the hidden bonuses.

          • AKFrost

            That’s the funny thing actually.

            When the genie engine duplicates a projectile. It uses the projectile’s own attack values.

            So what actually happens here, is that the projectile #510 has 3 pierce and 0 melee, whereas siege ram has 195 pierce armor and -3 melee armor.

            Damage type 3 dealt: 3-195 = 0
            Damage type 4 dealt: 0 – (-3) = 3.

            Total damage dealt: 0 + 3 = 3.

            Basically, each damage type is zeroed if they’re negative before they’re totaled. If the result is less than 1, it’s 1.

            This is why no matter how much melee/pierce armor you add to a TK, a hand cannon will always rip out 10+ HP per shot, due to the damage bonus.

            As an aside, unknown 20 in AGE 1.7 is actually the “default” armor value. In other words, unless you actually override the armor value, this is the value that’ll be used. It’s 1000 for most units, hence most bonus damages won’t work unless the target unit has the appropriate armor overridden. This is not the case for dire wolf, which has it at 0, which means a siege ram will do building damage and 1-shot it, funnily.

          • Cysion

            Aah, very nice insight, AKFrost, I would give it a thumbs up if I could :p

          • Richard

            Wow, thats very nice. You know a lot about these things. :O Are you a map designer? So can you tell me what is the so called building armor, and how does it work? Thank you. :)

          • AKFrost

            No, I’m not a map designer actually. I’m somewhat of a modder (mostly tweaking the chinese civ, funnily), but I don’t have much time to do anything nowadays.

            Anyway, There’s 2 kinds of building armor.

            The first is the undisplayed melee/pierce armor. For example. The Feudal Age Archery Range (Unit #87) has 1 melee armor and 8 pierce armor. This means if you attack with an unupgraded knight (10 attack), you will do 9 damage per strike. On the other hand, pretty much every archer in the game (not gunpowder) deals only 1 damage (again, if total damage is less than 1, it’s 1).

            The second is the “building armor”, which handles building bonus damage, which are split into 5 damage types (11, 13, 21, 22, 26).
            11 is the general building damage. Every building has this at 0 to my knowledge except castles/walls/gates (8, 16 and 20 respectively). This means a unit with damage type 11 (general building bonus, i.e. rams, trebs), will deal extra damage to said buildings. Example: Battering Ram has 125 damage #11, when it goes up against a range, it will deal (2-1) + (125-0) = 126 damage per strike. Against a gate though, it will deal (2-6) + (125-20) = 0 + 105 = 105 damage per strike. (remember, each damage type is zeroed if negative before summed).

            13 is the “Stone defense” bonus damage. i.e. stone walls and gates. The sabobeur cheat unit has 500 damage #13. All stone stuff (surprisingly, not castles) have this armor. This is why Saboteurs own walls. A sabeteur deals (100 – 6) + (500 – 20) (damage #11) + (500 – 0) (damage #13) = 1074 damage per strike (well, their only strike).

            21 is the “normal building” damage. i.e ranges, raxs, etc. Swordsmen have bonus damage #21, meaning while they tear down buildings fine, they can’t hit walls for jack. Long swordsmen have 2 damage #21. So they would deal (9-1) + (2-0) = 10 damage a strike to an archery range.

            22 is the wall/gate bonus damage. All walls (including palisades) and gates have this armor. The Petard unit has 900 damage #22. So they would deal (25 – 6) + (500 – 20) + (900 – 0) = 1399 damage per strike (again, their only strike).

            26 is the castle bonus damage. Obviously, only castles have this armor. A petard has 100 damage #26. So they would deal (25 – 8) + (500 – 8) + (100 – 0) = 609 damage against a castle per strike (again, their only strike).

            That about sums up building armor.

          • Wurstigkeit

            omg, AKFrost, you really did a lot of research about these hidden stuff, thx for the info! :D

          • Richard

            Thank you very much for your long and detailed answer, AKFrost. It is very nice. :)

  • Pikeman93

    You said that the Chinese is the ultimate counter civilization. But how is it moreso than the Spanish, the Byzantines, or the Saracens?

    Byzantines have all the counter units, some at 25% discount. Spanish have an outstanding tech tree, and unless you count arbalests or crossbowmen as a counter unit (I don’t), they can counter everything that’s thrown at them. Same thing with the Saracens, except maybe better because they have siege onagers and siege engineers.

    Chinese is actually missing quite a lot of upgrades and techs needed to counter certain units. No siege onager (can’t counter arbalests as effectively) and paladins, so they are over-reliant on skirmishers to counter archers. No hand cannoneers, though I’m not sure if their powerful heavy scorps make a good enough substitution. No hussar upgrade, making their scoutline 15 HP less, and you need all the HP you’ll need to use scoutline to counter siege and pierce-based units. Lacking block printing also hurt pretty badly. And like you said, Chinese can’t effectively counter siege onagers.

    But then again I’m not that knowledgeable so could you please explain why you think the Chinese is a better counter-civ than the Byzantines, Spanish, or Saracens?

    • barbarossa89

      They are the “ultimate counter” because they can react more quickly than any other civilization to whatever threats come up. Scouting the enemy, and see he has an archery range? Techs to upgrade your skirmishers are cheaper for the Chinese, and whatever they were planning to do, they can afford to fall back and switch to skirmishers.

      Enemy had a hidden stable and attacks you with knights as well as archers? Researches for pikemen are cheaper for the Chinese, and they are more able to switch gears.

      Enemy builds a forward siege workshop and starts attacking with mangonels and scorpions? Techs for cavalry are cheaper for Chinese, and they can start the upgraded cavalry sooner.

      Enemy had pikemen in reserve to kill knights? Crossbowman, bodkin arrow, and thumb ring are cheaper for the Chinese.

      Obviously, this goes away in michi or black forest, where fighting only happens much later anyway. But Chinese are extremely nimble and can switch gears at any time to adapt to the situation. Cheaper technologies and a very broad tech tree are what make this possible.

      • Pikeman93

        I see. Thanks.

    • Cysion

      In addition to what barbarossa89 said: don’t mistake trash units with counter units. A camel is in my eyes, the ultimate counter unit: it’s great against knights but otherwise it has very few purposes. Same with skirmishers for that matter.

      Besides that they can adapt faster than other civs: they also miss out a bit on the “strong unit” department. Civs with paladins or eagles have a strong individual unit that can force things on their own. Chinese not so, their backbone is the chu-ko-nu and it takes time to mass them and just like any archer, they must be in groups to win. So not only will Chinese be forced in defense more than often, but they’re also bloody good at it.

      • Wurstigkeit

        Speaking of massing Chuks, I remember reading from somewhere that EChuks are also faster to train than ordinary Chuks in addition to the minimal increase in hp and arrows, so maybe that adds to the reason for doing the elite upgrade

  • warr

    nice article as always, gj cysion

  • Wurstigkeit

    But I guess the way many people play china today is probably a bit demanding on food since chinese light cav appears to be the most popular (and indeed very effective) meat shield for chuks

    • Cysion

      Yeah indeed, they’re fast and are a good answer to both siege and skirmishers.

  • Wurstigkeit

    Great article and a nice read:D

  • FrozzenFlame

    YaY 1st post Uhm all i can say is Good job/u rox/keep up the good work.