The Aztec priests would cut your beating heart out as a sacrifice to their gods. So be happy they only chant wololo to you in the game.
- Loom free
- Villagers carry +5
- Military units created 15% faster
- Monks +5 HP for each Monastery technology
- Unique Unit: Jaguar Warrior
- Unique Unit: Eagle Warrior
- Unique Technology: Garland Wars
- Team Bonus: Relics generate +33% Gold
Analysis of bonuses
This bonus is almost as good as the extra villager bonuses from the Mayans and the Chinese. Because on nearly every map with nearly every tactic, you must research loom. Which takes roughly the same time as creating villager. Now, whereas the Chinese and the Mayans get a subtraction of resources for their free villager, Aztecs get to keep the 50 gold and this opens a whole lot of options. The most notable example is the drush, the Dark Age rush, where you attack your enemy with militia. A normal civ can only afford 2 militia (3 if he decides to mine 10 extra gold) while Aztecs have the gold for 5 militia right away. That’s a big difference on a minimal Dark Age economy! Other than that, it makes your villagers safe from vilwars on nomad style maps, in case you’d ever meet a goof who engages in villager fights. So to sum it all up: 50 extra gold, an extra villager, free loom and laming protection!
With such a strong Dark Age and the immediate strength of militia, it’s not a stretch to imagine that people try to deepen out this path. You might remember the Longsword Showdown game from our archives but this was sure not the only time a game got decided by only one type of unit.
Villagers carry +5
This bonus changes its face over the ages: in the Dark Age, the bonus is more a curse than a blessing. You’ll need to drop off resources manually to keep villager production at full pace, especially in lag games, this can put you behind. But once you overcame this first hazard, the bonus only gets sweeter. A first highlight comes when you sent out your villagers to hunt deer. You’ll be able to eat all of the deer with only 3 villagers, other civs will leave a bit behind with 3 villagers. Later on the bonus reduces bumping. Which means that if you have 10 villagers work around a resource, they’ll have to run back once in a while to drop off their resources. If more villagers run back at the same time, they bump into each other and slow each other down. But if you need to run back less, you’ll also bump less, increasing your gather rate.
Last but not least this drastically improves your farmers: the weakest link in farming is that villagers constantly need to move around on their farm and run back to the nearest drop off site later. Compared to other resources, farms can’t be always built right next to a mill or TC. So every trip spared is a drastic speed advantage. Above that, there’s a farm bug, which makes Aztec farmers run around less on their farms, further increasing their gathering rate. In the end this means Aztec farmers work somewhere between 11% and 15% faster (depending on the techs researched and the position of the farm).
Military units created 15% faster
Once more stressing how Aztecs are a Dark Age powerhouse. But the bonus obviously sets forth in later stages of the game and is not limited to barracks and archery range units. Slower units like siege, monks and boats are created notably faster. If you paid some attention, this is actually the 3rd bonus in a row, benefiting your monks. But a little word on their navy too: Aztecs are indeed not so bad on water as the techtree makes them appear to be. Faster working docks is a good bonus and they have small economical bonuses to support this. However, they’re no top water civ, they’ll die horribly if you can’t force an early advantage and probably half of the civs have better early advantages.
Monks +5 HP for each Monastery technology
I would like to say “okay, promised, this is the last bonus to benefit your monks” but I would be lying. This bonus is ofcourse the most visible one. Sanctity gives monks a bonus of +15 HP for normal civs, but Aztecs see their monks with +20 HP. If you’re going for an all out monk rush, you can research less popular techs like fervor or maybe even herbal medicine just to slowly turn your monks into wololoing monsters. If you’d wonder to what this can lead: a maximum of 95 HP, making monks even withstand siege onager fire. The downside of monks is ofcourse: they need to be monitored manually. Monk micro is a skill of its own
This obviously brings us to this classic game between Terror and _DauT_, where the latter did an amazing job on trying to fight back Terror’s 5 farm policy.
Team Bonus: Relics generate +33% Gold
Okay, this is really the last bonus for your monks. Aztecs rely heavily on gold, so don’t hesitate to gather the relics. And it’s a team bonus, so everyone can enjoy their richness without the need to plunder their homelands. (That was a stab at the Spaniards.)
- Cost: 60 food, 30 gold
- Attack: 10 (Elite: 12)
- Armor: 1/0 (Elite: 2/0)
- HP: 50 (Elite: 75)
- Elite Upgrade: 1000 food, 500 gold
The noble jaguar warrior, kills all those other barbaric infantry units with a huge attack and idem bonus. A champion sinks on his knees after only 3 slices and most unique infantry don’t have a lot to bring in either. However, a noble unit is beaten by nobler units. Elite Teutonic knights win jaguar warriors with a narrow margin but the Japanese samurai more or less decimate a jaguar army. However, the jaguar warrior has a lot of weaknesses: first of all they’re incredibly vulnerable to ranged fire, even up to the point that skirmishers perform “okay”. In that perspective they’re a bit kamikaze units: a huge attack but they won’t be able to deal a lot of strikes if there’s arrows flying around. Their other weakness is the place they’re created: castles. Even though this goes for about every unique unit, Aztecs suffer most because their castles are oh so weak. They don’t have a single upgrade on their buildings which makes their castles melt like a snowflake in the Tuscan sun.
- Cost: 20 food, 50 gold
- Attack: 4+3 (Elite: 9)
- Armor: 0/2 (Elite: 0/4)
- HP: 50 (Elite: 60)
- Elite Upgrade: 800 food, 500 gold
So much can be told about these little birdies, so let’s look at them age per age. And no, this section is not the same as in the Mayan article.
- Dark Age: You can’t exactly make eagle warriors but at least you start off with one. A great scout but also slower than their horse back riding counterpart. 1v1 they win against scout cavalry in the dark age, so that makes up for their slower speed.
- Feudal Age: If you’d like to save your eagle for better times, you can better hide him in the feudal age. He loses badly to scout cavalry with their free +2 attack upgrade and above that the scout runs faster too to hunt him down.
- Castle Age: Not exactly time to shine but at least they get a +3 attack upgrade. They are supposed to be the mesoamerican answer to cavalry but they’re definitely no real match nor a counter. But they got their uses, they just must be handled with care. First of they’re very cheap and are very good against trash units, already in the castle age they make a good stance against skirms, pikes and scout cavalry. Another virtue is their low cost, which makes a faster castle possible. These two characteristics are also the basic of the KLEW! And most important: they counter the siege that may crumble your beautiful army of archers. Or they can support your monks for a relatively low price.
- Imperial Age: Time to shine, period. With all defensive upgrades they’re as arrow resistant as an elite huskarl, which actually makes Aztecs an anti-archer civ too, especially combined with siege onagers.
Another thing that must be noted about eagles is their conversion resistance. Since meso civs have no access to light cavalry, their eagles also take over their functionality. So with eagles, supermonks of their own and a great tendency to create archers, Aztecs are also a good anti-monk civ. Monkrushing an Aztec player thus comes with a big risk. But if you got big balls, why not try?
A straightforward upgrade: boosting the attack of all your infantry units by +4 for 450 food and 750 gold. A fair price for this upgrade. It means however that compared to all the other traditional infantry civs, Aztecs must pay for an upgrade before their infantry truly shines. It also makes once more clear that their units are a bit of the kamikaze kind: a fierce attack but barely pierce armor (or in the case of the eagle warrior: barely HP) to survive on the battlefield for long. You might think this makes up for the lack of halberdiers but this is sadly enough totally wrong: the truth is that Aztecs have no obvious counter to paladins. Their pikemen fall short, their champions and jaguar warriors deal a lot of damage but simply aren’t strong enough to make the cut. If you can toss in some monks, you might be able to convert some horses to your side, but this is a risky and micro intensive task. Needless to say: Aztecs have a rather tough time in long games especially if there’s a civ with paladins on the opposing side.
Dominance through the Ages
An oversight about dominance through the ages can be found in this article.
The best civ in the Dark Age, period. Free loom, thus saving time for your town centers, an extra 50 gold to spend, militia are created 15% faster and in nomad style games you’re safe from laming. How about trying a game with some friends where you stay in the Dark Age forever?
Not an Aztec’s finest period but he’ll still batter through without problems. First of all, they miss a stable, so no scout rushing for you. But their faster farms start to kick in, and their faster working ranges and barracks do make a difference. So a limited amount of choices, but strong choices.
It seems things are only going downhill for the Aztecs and indeed, the Castle Age is no exception to this. The general witticism is: kill an Aztec in the Castle Age or be killed later on. Aztecs can’t rely on their unique units, their eagles are no match for knights or any massed archery unit and even though their monks are beasty: they are hard to handle and for sure don’t work against archers. What do Aztecs have then? Archers of their own, siege that is created faster, eagles to back up your army and monks in case there will be knights. But there’s one thing that gives Aztecs hope in this age: their farming bonus. The Castle Age is the time to surround all your town centers with farms. And if they can work more than 10% faster you can be sure that even though Aztecs have no individually strong units, they can still kick the hell out of you with a flood of weaker units, paid by their light economy. In fact, this is also what Aztecs so strong once you hit the imp button.
Funny enough, I’m going to include a game now where the Aztecs are losing. Back in 2004, Aztecs were the better civ on arabia by a landslide. This domination is broken by the Huns again but back then, experts even made “how to beat Aztecs” packs. This is one of the nicest games to come forth from these packs. It also shows that eagles are not invulnerable against trash units. A good pike+skirmisher does stand a chance, especially a pack of Byzantine ones.
Early Imperial Age
From zero to hero: elite eagles, arbalests and siege rams. In most cases you won’t be able to research all of those, but a hostile town filled with elite eagles is usually a town signing a resignation form. Just like Mayans their strength is in the eagle warriors: cheap to upgrade, cheap to create but nearly invulnerable
against arrows. Combined with pikemen, your army will only be countered by longswordmen and a handful of unique units (assuming the enemy is still in the Castle Age).
You have to choose your combos right though: going arbalests is a tricky thing in Aztec wars for example. If your enemy is betting high on eagles and you don’t have enough jags/champs to keep up, you might get into trouble. _Air_feeling experienced this the hard way in this classic Hualian Cup game against _SWJ_Cloudy.
If, for whatever reason, you didn’t manage to kill your enemy in these few crucial minutes of the imperial age, then things are starting to look very grim and dark for the worshippers of Quetzalcoatl. You only have average arbalests, compared to the Mayans, your eagles are horrible too and your unique unit is only created for a very specific purpose. What must Aztecs do then? Make a very good mix, aimed at the army your enemy is making. You have siege onagers, siege rams, arbalests and good champs. Above that, eagles can run back and forth to filter out any enemy siege. Or you could use monks to convert enemy siege. But unlike most civs, Aztecs must mix more: most civs can make a powerful combo with just 2 units, whereas Aztecs might have to toss in more. But let’s stress again on the fact that they have faster working farmers and thus can make more army with less villagers. So even though their army must be bigger to compensate, they can afford it.
Post Imperial Age (no trade)
The Aztec empire fell when the Spaniards took their gold away and it’s the same story in the game. (Okay, technically the Aztec empire didn’t fall because of that but you get my point if you know the story behind Montezuma and the conquistadores). Aztecs don’t have a single fully upgraded trash unit: even Turks (the ultimate non-trash civ) has one! The hussar, which is a total blank for Aztecs. So you’ll be forced to defend with pikemen, skirmishers lacking some armor and that’s it. One thing must be noted though: eagle warriors. If you can toss in an eagle warrior once in a while, you’ll gain a definitive edge in trashwars. Aided by better relics you might be able to do this more than enough to eventually win the game.
Post Imperial age (with trade)
Where Aztecs could still hold on with smart combinations in the Imperial Age, it’s not really looking good in the gold-laden post Imperial Age. If we take a look at the strongest post-imp units: paladins, bombard towers, gunpowder units, halberdiers, hussars, siege rams and siege onagers, then Aztecs only have the last option by their side. In the department of unique units, it’s even looking worse. Unless your opponent is an infantry civ too, your jaguar warriors won’t bring a lot of extra power to your front lines.
Time for a kickass game indeed! A lot of known players including dogao, Alive, Ares, Wrath etc… Jags saving the day!
Aztecs have one of the strongest economies in the game: their farming bonus is the key here. And even when the games goes on for a long time, they only miss out on the two men saw. Which is not such a big miss for an army that barely relies on wood. At least they have all gold mining upgrades, which further powers their monk rushes and elite eagle warrior flooding in later stages of the game. And exactly this economy makes them so strong, they don’t need so much to survive and with even an 80 villager population they can field a basic Imperial army.
Even though Aztecs are a bit of an infantry civ, their infantry is a bit double edged: great champs, raging eagle warriors but nothing more than a totally average pikeman.
Arbalests are a great early imp solution but without the final armor upgrade or thumbring, Aztecs don’t have a long term solution for ranged units.
Probably my favourite chapter of the whole article!
Quite an awesome siege line the Aztecs have in store for you. And also their best solution against ranged units and gunpowder units. Fully upgraded siege onagers and siege rams, and above that they’re created faster!
The unchallenged rulers of wololo. Not a single other civ has better monks than the Aztecs: every economical bonus works in favour of their monks and each upgrade makes them physically stronger. Up to a whopping 95 HP in the Imperial Age.
And some guys dare to make 95HP monks to convert the hell out of you!
Unless you would be able to force an early advantage, the sea is a total no-go-zone for the Aztecs. Not only are they the only civ missing the final galleon upgrade, they have no cannon galleons and neither demolition ships. But can you blame a civ that only used canoes to navigate through the channels in Tenochtitlan?
Once more a weakness in the Aztec techtree: not that most games need more than unupgraded towers, the weakness of the Aztec structures happens later: once rams and trebuchets sow destruction over the battlefield it’s handy to have buildings that can withstand as much as battering as possible. But Aztecs lack both masonry and architecture, making their buildings melt away.
Aztecs are a civilisation of extremes, but because their economy is so damn strong, they can reduce their bad sides to an absolute minimum. If an Aztec can focus on his strong sides: Dark Age, Feudal Age and force the enemy to play his game in the Castle Age, then he should end it quickly in the Imperial Age. And if you’re not convinced by the strength of the Aztecs yet, just listen to their monks for just 10 seconds… (Don’t research heresy though, it might end bad for you).