Chinese Overview AoE2

Hello ladies and gentlemen, Spirit of the Law here This video is going to be all about the Chinese We finally get to talk about the civilization that invented guns, block printing and cannons and then got none of those in its tech tree Though to be fair, the Chinese invented pretty much every medieval technology Now personally, while learning the game, I always found the Chinese to be one of the most difficult civilizations to use well And they have a really strange start with all their extra villagers and also a unique unit that has more going on behind the scenes than probably any other I’ll try to keep this short, b ut there’s a lot to cover, so let’s jump into it [Intro Music] Subtitles provided by Chtyl Dubreux The Chinese team bonus is that their farms have +45 food Now there’s a few aspects of this to look at and I’ll put all that information in a table If we think of farms as a way of turning 60 wood into several hundred food over time, the Chinese bonus is giving you a better conversion rate, which makes it more of a wood than a food bonus Though if we look at the actual improvement, we can see it goes from a solid 26% better ratio early on down to only an 8% improvement by the Imperial Age If we look at the actual collection rate, theoretically it does go up slightly because your farms are lasting a bit longer, so you’re spending less time proportionally reseeding them But it’s not a very notable increase and at best it’s about one extra food every three minutes and becomes steadily worse over the course of the game But speaking of that delay to having to refresh them, check out the time it takes to exhaust a farm, which is worth noting because I think it has some convenience value, for example when you’re doing a fast Castle strategy Normally all those farms that you’re putting down in the late Dark Age and early Feudal Age tend to be coming up on their nine-minute lifespan just after you reach the Castle Age and that’s the time that you’re usually trying to get some more Town Centers and other buildings and units out The extra two minutes that the Chinese and all of their allies get on those early farms means you’re gonna feel a crunch a couple of minutes later, which, just subjectively speaking, I think makes things feel more manageable and to me is the big advantage of the bonus Moving on to their civ bonuses, the first one is that they start with plus three villagers, minus 50 wood and minus 200 food This is probably what the Chinese are best known for and makes for a pretty crazy start on typical maps Your first reaction playing them is probably either: “This is amazing, I have double the villagers!” or “Wow, this is terrible I have no food.” It is always smart to get loom at some point early on to keep your Town Centre working, but, other than that, the biggest priority is just getting food If you don’t see your sheep quickly, it’s not a bad idea to scout with a few villagers, but the biggest thing is to just get them all working in any way that you can Whether it’s with chopping a bit of wood to make up for having 50 less, or even better, grabbing some food from a berry bush or luring a boar It doesn’t help to be picky about the food source and you just have to be a bit opportunistic like that Another little tip is to try to suppress your natural reactions if you normally put down two houses, since that means that you won’t have enough wood for a lumber camp under standard settings I like to make just one house at the start or right away with the eighth villager after your first seven go on food and I just find that makes things run smoother A big question that’s usually asked about this bonus, though, is whether or not you’re actually ahead in population And the answer is: you probably are, but not by as many villagers as it initially appears because of that minus 200 food and resulting Town Center idle time To get a sense of it, let’s run a regular game with constant villager production for a generic civilization, starting with three villagers, and we’ll try some Chinese starts and see how the populations compare Hello ladies and gentlemen, Spirit of the Law here. This video is gonna be all about the Chinese We finally get to talk about the civilization that invented guns, block printing and cannons and then got none of those in its tech tree Though to be fair, the Chinese invented pretty much every medieval technology. Now personally, while learning the game, I always found the Chinese to be one of the most difficult civilizations to use well. And they have a really strange start with all their extra villagers and also a unique unit that has more going on behind the scenes that probably any other. I’ll try to keep this short, but there’s a lot to cover, so let’s jump into it The Chinese team bonus is that their farms have +45 food. Now there’s a few aspects of this to look at and I’ll put all that information in a table. If we think of farms as a way of turning 60 wood into several hundred food over time, the Chinese bonus is giving you a better conversion rate, which makes it more of a wood than a food bonus. Though if we look at the actual improvement, we can see it goes from a solid 26% better ratio early on down to only an 8% improvement by the Imperial Age. If we look at the actual collection rate, theoretically it does go up slightly because your farms are lasting a bit longer, so you’re spending less time proportionally reseeding them. But it’s not a very notable increase and at best it’s about one extra food every three minutes and becomes steadily worse over the course of the game But speaking of that delay to having to refresh them, check out the time it takes to exhaust a farm, which is worth noting because I think it has some convenience value, for example when you’re doing a fast Castle strategy Normally all those farms that you’re putting down in the late Dark Age and early Feudal Age tend to be coming up on their nine-minute lifespan just after you reach the Castle Age and that’s the time that you’re usually trying to get some more Town Centers and other buildings and units out. The extra two minutes that the Chinese and all of their allies get on those early farms means you’re gonna feel a crunch a couple of minutes later, which, just subjectively speaking, I think makes things feel more manageable and to me is the big advantage of the bonus Moving on to their civ bonuses, the first one is that they start with plus three villagers, minus 50 wood and minus 200 food. This is probably what the Chinese are best known for and makes for a pretty crazy start on typical maps. Your first reaction playing them is probably either: “This is amazing, I have double the villagers!” or “Wow, this is terrible I have no food.” It is always smart to get loom at some point early on to keep your Town Centre working, but, other than that, the biggest priority is just getting food. If you don’t see your sheep quickly, it’s not a bad idea to scout with a few villagers, but the biggest thing is to just get them all working in any way that you can. Whether it’s with chopping a bit of wood to make up for having 50 less, or even better, grabbing some food from a berry bush or luring a boar It doesn’t help to be picky about the food source and you just have to be a bit opportunistic like that. Another little tip is to try to suppress your natural reactions if you normally put down two houses, since that means that you won’t have enough wood for a lumber camp under standard settings. I like to make just one house at the start or right away with the eighth villager after your first seven go on food and I just find that makes things run smoother A big question that’s usually asked about this bonus, though, is whether or not you’re actually ahead in population. And the answer is: you probably are, but not by as many villagers as it initially appears because of that minus 200 food and resulting Town Center idle time To get a sense of it, let’s run a regular game with constant villager production for a generic civilization, starting with three villagers, and we’ll try some Chinese starts and see how the populations compare. Let’s say you find the sheep right away and it’s a near perfect start and you manage to get them under your town center by 20 to 25 seconds You’ll find you can start new villager production by about 50 seconds. Now that’s a solid start, but, maybe surprisingly, at that point you’re only one villager ahead of a generic civilization and you’re still behind by 20 wood and about 50 food. Now it’s not quite as bad as it seems, since you do have loom so once your opponent researches that you’ll be two villagers ahead from that point on. Remember, that’s if you get the sheep in right away, though. If it takes you a bit longer to find your sheep and they’re arriving at around 50 seconds, which is pretty reasonable if you have to explore a bit to find them, that puts you on even villager numbers with the generic civilization. Though, once your opponent stops villagers to pick up loom, you’ll jump to one ahead from that point on. I like to use a 50 second rule and

if you’re making your first villager at the Town Center by 50 seconds, then you can be confident that you’re ahead. On the other hand, if you’re just starting to take food from the sheep at 50 seconds, then you’re on about even footing and starting to take food any later than that means you’re probably a little bit behind your opponent. The time this bonus is really amazing is on Nomad maps, where having six villagers becomes an incredible bonus for the better scouting of Town Center locations, finding sheep and faster Town Center building. It’s basically like playing Nomad on easy mode The second bonus is that technologies cost ten percent less in Feudal, fifteen percent less in Castle and twenty percent less in Imperial Age. That means the cost of all technologies change as you advance, so even Feudal Age technologies cost twenty percent less if you�ve delayed researching them until the Imperial Age. Assuming you got every Chinese technology in the appropriate age before advancing, you save just over 700 wood, 2600 food and 1500 gold. Technically that puts it up there as one of the best bonuses for value of any civilization In a typical game you’re probably looking at a little more than half of that value, which is still really good, especially if you’re the kind of player that likes to incorporate a lot of different types of units into your army The third bonus is that their Town Centers support ten population. Given the fact that you’ll probably make maybe four, five Town Centers in a typical game, the bonus could be valued between one or two hundred wood in savings, so it feels like a pretty weak bonus from that perspective. I think like the team farm bonus it’s more about convenience in the early game as opposed to be more subtle but much larger economic impact of the technology cost bonus The final bonus is that their demolition ships have 50% more hit points. Now, first of all, we have to say the hit points left on a demolition ship don’t matter if it hits its target It explodes, loses all of its hit points and deals its damage to the nearby units in range The question of how good this bonus is really comes down to how much more likely the ships are to hit their targets with the extra HP In some practical examples it translates to two or three extra hits. Now, against war galleys and galleons that means they’ll be obviously be a bit better. Though, there is an upper limit to their effectiveness based on how many targets they can hit. So in matchups where most of them would be reaching their targets anyway, there shouldn’t be a very noticeable difference. Against fire ships for example, the results are basically the same. I wouldn’t say it’s ever a great plan to base your strategy on water around demo ships, but, as I looked at in a recent video, they certainly have a role to play in some specific situations, like water crossings And the extra hit points are certainly going to increase the odds that you can get an effective hit. So that’s the Chinese bonuses, and now let’s take a look at their unique unit: the Chu Ko Nu The units is a crossbow variation but it’s highly unusual in that it fires multiple arrows in every volley. They have a pretty low cost and, like most archers, apparently they don’t eat because they just cost you wood and gold The most natural comparison I think is with the regular crossbow line and they’re pretty similarly priced. Though, with the hidden cost of having to build a castle first. We notice they’re a higher HP, higher attack and slightly lower range alternative. Of course, the stats don’t mention anything about the multiple arrows, so let’s see how that works Now, outposts have no armor and with 10 attack and three arrows, the Chu Ko Nus do sixteen damage to them. Between this and a couple of other tests, it looks like they have one arrow that does their normal ten attack and two other arrows that do three attack. And you can even see that damage happening if you watch the HP in slow-motion. Those extra arrows are kind of weird and tend to miss sometimes, even with thumb ring researched Kind of like towers with garrisoned arrows So you are not always getting the full theoretical damage. Their Elite upgrade costs 760 food and 760 gold and statistically it looks like all that’s given you is five more HP, which is pretty weak, considering it’s about the cost of twenty units. The more hidden thing going on, though, is the number of arrows is increasing from three to five, so theoretically it’s an attack increase from about 16 to 22 or a 38 percent jump. If the unit you’re attacking has even two pierce armor, though, the jump is more like 10 to 12 attack or 20 percent greater so suddenly a lot weaker Since each arrow does at least one damage, though, this translates into a 67 percent increase with units like the Huskarl that have a lot of pierce armor. Clearly the significance of the upgrade is pretty dependent on what units you’re up against. In general, we can see you’re getting somewhere between two and six more damage per attack and the point is that that’s what the value is coming from and not just the five HP increase. In terms of more hidden stuff: they have the same speed as their regular crossbow counterparts and have the same very quick orientation time before they fire. They’re created a bit faster than crossbows: about four Chu Ko Nus for every three and in the Imperial Age it’s even better with the Elite Chu Ko Nu made about twice as fast as Arbalests, which is important considering how much they rely on

being massed up in order to be effective and how much harder it is to make a ton of castles than a lot of archery ranges. One big difference between the two units, though, is the firing rate is almost twice as fast for the crossbow as the Chu Ko Nu: about seven shots for every four after Thumb Ring. That makes for an even more complex comparison between the two units on a theoretical level, especially once you try to factor in the different armor and upgrades that units might have, but I’m still interested in how they compare in the field. So to get a sense of it in practice, let’s look at how they do against various units. I’m going under the assumption here that the faster you can kill an enemy army of units with archers, the less damage they can do to you. So the faster you can clear out the units in the test, the better we’ll say they are against them. I tried a variety of units and here’s what I found: first of all, if we’re just talking about generic infantry like pikemen, the regular crossbow line is a bit faster at taking them out. Plus the crossbow line also has one extra range, which isn’t captured here, but is also pretty important to remember Crossbows have some pretty well documented weaknesses though, and when we start to look at units that are traditionally strong against archers, things start to look a bit better for the Chu Ko Nu. They’re much better against skirmishers, they’re faster at taking out knights, and they’re significantly better against Huskarls and War Wagons, while being a little bit better against eagle warriors and they straight out murder rams. Those are the main counters to archers and crossbows and Chu Ko Nus seem like an archer variation that can hold its own against those usual counters, with the big exception being the mangonel, but other than that, they’re almost like an anti anti-archer archer. That sounds kind of confusing, but if you think about it, will make sense. For harassing villagers and dodging mangonels, I think crossbows range gives them the slight edge, along with being a unit that you can make in the Feudal Age, long before a castle can go up. But by the late Castle Age, I think the mass Chu Ko Nu really does everything the regular crossbow line does, without as many exploitable weaknesses, especially if you support it with pikes or halberdiers in front and some cavalry to take out any siege. Against buildings, I had a suspicion that Chu Ko Nus would be much stronger than regular archers, and it turns out that Chu Ko Nus do about 60 percent more damage in Castle Age and about three times as much damage in Imperial Age. That’s actually kind of crazy and means 25 Elite Chu Ko Nus can take down a barracks with Architecture about as fast as a trebuchet and slightly faster (!) than a Chinese siege ram. Now, I know what you’re thinking: “is this a moment for the useless Saracen team bonus to shine? Why yes it is! With the Saracen team bonus, that makes 25 Elite Chu Ko Nu’s actually faster at razing buildings than a trebuchet. Good job, Saracens! You did a thing Moving on now to their unique tech: it gives Chu Ko Nus plus two attack and it gives scorpions plus four attack. Now technically it costs 750 wood and gold, but in practice you’ll get that with the Imperial Age discount and it will be 600 wood and 600 gold. That makes it cheaper than the Elite Chu Ko Nu upgrade, which, like we saw, added anywhere from two to six attack, but more likely on the two side of that if the enemy has high pierce armor. So you might think: “This is a cheaper way to get the exact same effect.” In testing it out to see what the damage output difference would be the plus two attack only seems to apply to the first arrow. Now, something weird happens as I was looking at this for the Elite upgrade though, and it looks like the Elite Chu Ko Nu actually fires a bit slower than the regular one, maybe because it doesn’t start reloading until the last arrow was fired, which is an effect I noticed before in my Yasama video that happens as you add more garrison arrows to a tower. Interestingly, in a practical test, the Elite upgrade slows the firing rate enough that the unique tech is better for the Chu Ko Nu. And remember, it’s a lot cheaper. Though you won’t get the creation time boost or the plus five HP with that. The plus four scorpion attack added on is also intriguing and, as we’ve seen before, scorpions only do their full twelve damage to the first unit in the line and then half damage to the five or six tiles behind that. So the unique tech is adding plus four damage to the initial contact unit and plus two damage to every unit behind it. I’m not convinced that makes them the best scorpions, though. If I set up a scenario where the Celts win, but lose about half of the scorpions and then do it again as the Chinese with their unique tech, we can see they do significantly worse. If I do it again as Saracens, who get all the siege engineers but no real scorpion bonus, they end up doing noticeably worse than the Chinese. This is in line with the conclusions in the scorpion video I make in which I found Chinese scorpions do a pretty good job of splitting the difference between the Celtic scorpions and everybody else’s The biggest problem with scorpions, though, is they’re pretty weak to onagers, which happen to be a weakness of the Chu Ko Nu as well. And the Chinese happen to also be missing a lot of the best counters to onagers. That�s certainly something to keep in mind whenever you’re playing against the Chinese as well

Now for a quick look at the HD Expansion changes, the new unique tech is that their walls and towers get plus 30 percent HP for a fairly low price of 340 wood and 170 stone. What I started wondering, though, is whether or not they’re stronger than the Byzantine walls. I had them attack some walls and gates and it turned out that the Chinese gates are stronger than Byzantine gates but Byzantine walls are still stronger than Chinese walls, even though the Chinese have Masonry and Architecture plus the 30 percent extra HP. One weird thing I noticed is that the Chinese gates survived longer than the walls, while the opposite was true for the Byzantines, which, upon a bit of inspection, I think now is a bug in the Byzantine gates, not getting their civilization’s HP boost, since every other civilization has more HP on gates than walls. Either that or it’s an amazing reference to the fact that Constantinople, and thus the Byzantine Empire, fell to the Ottomans in 1453 because someone accidentally left one of the gates open. Maybe it’s a little nod to history by making their gates a weak point or maybe just an oversight The Chinese unique tech also means that their towers are going to have some solid HP for whatever that’s worth, including bombard towers, though, which means it’s worth considering the tech if you’re going to be building those and in this case they outlast the Byzantine towers Another interesting change in the Expansions is that the Chinese now have plus five Line Of Sight on their Town Center. As you might imagine this is very useful for finding your sheep fast and it helps you take advantage of those plus three villagers. This used to be a Teuton Bonus, but I agree with the change and I think it’s a bit better bonus for the Chinese Now, as always in my overviews, let’s take a look at their tech tree, starting with the archers. The Chinese are classified as an archer civilization and their archers pretty good. They have all of the blacksmith upgrades, the Chu Ko Nu and the technology bonus. Historically speaking, it’s a little weird that they don’t have the hand cannoneer, but it is just one unit. Overall I’d say it’s an A minus and definitely a strength of the civilization Moving on to infantry, they basically have everything, plus cheaper upgrades. A lot of other civilizations have bonuses in unique units to help their infantry rating, though, and I do have to hold the Chinese back, a bit, and just give them a B plus. You’re certainly not going wrong with swordsmen or Pikes as counter units, but they’re not something to base your entire army around Taking a look now at the cavalry, the Bloodlines is nice and it makes the knight rush pretty decent. All the blacksmith upgrades are there plus access to camels and the technology discount helps you yet again. The farm bonus is pretty useful as well for scouts and knights and you’ll have some pretty solid cavalry options right up to the Imperial Age. So I give them a B. Considering that they’re an archery civilization, it’s a surprisingly good cavalry tech tree Checking out their siege now, as a first impression the lack of siege onager and bombard cannon take away a lot of the power. And the lack of Siege Engineers means the onagers are a bit short on range. The siege rams are nice, especially when you can use them to absorb skirmisher attacks, plus the scorpions can be considered above average thanks to the unique tech, although remember they are going to be one shorter in range because they don’t have Siege Engineers. Considering all of their siege upgrades are in the Imperial Age, though, and thus benefitting from the 20 percent reduce costs in upgrading them, I give them a B The onager is serviceable and with the scorpion attack bonus and siege ram, there is an argument that they have a couple of good siege options Now let’s check out their navy. Considering their weird start with the potential for a slight villager lead, or a potential to fall behind, the Chinese are arguably a decent but inconsistent civilization in the early game. Their galley rush is going to reflect that and I’d say they are a pretty average B minus. In the late game they’re only missing the fast fire ship and the elite cannon galleon, which of the two I think the fast fire ship hurts a bit more. Considering all the cheap technologies and heavy demolition ship HP boost, I give them a B plus in the late game for an overall average of B on the water Now to quickly check out their monks, they have a surprisingly good monastery tech tree, actually, with the hidden benefit of about 500 gold in savings through their technology bonus, if you get everything, which is pretty huge if you think about it. I’d say it’s an A minus though personally I’m a big fan of block printing for the extra conversion range and they are missing that Taking a look now at defences, they have great towers, fortified walls, which are actually even better towers and top tier walls in the Expansion, and they also get Architecture and Heated Shot, so all of the basics. I’d say the Chinese are pretty solid defensively and more of a defensive counter civilization than an aggressive one. I give them a B plus for defenses and an A minus in the HD Expansions with the extra HP on their walls and towers Taking a look now at their economy, they do have that cheaper technology bonus and, as I showed before, that can account for a potentially

huge savings if you get all the techs possible But by its nature, it means they are never top tier for any particular strategy. I’m also still a bit divided on whether or not the extra three villagers should be considered an early game bonus at all for the economy, so I’ll have to give a pretty middling B minus. Which might sound low, but the fact that you spend so long behind other civilizations from starting with missing resources as well as the long term payoff of the gradually increasing technology discount that I think is great as some of those economy bonuses sound on paper, in practise it’s too easy to fall behind a lot of other civilizations So just to finish up my thoughts on the Chinese, I always find them a fun civilization to play, partly because they’re so unusual but also because they have so many different options that you never feel like you’re funneled into a particular game plan. On the flip side of that flexibility, it also means that they never really have a golden period on most maps and while they’re decent at rushing, supporting allies with knights or pushing in the late game, they’re not really there with the best at any of those things. I’d say they’re a thinking person civilization and if you enjoy improvising a lot in the Dark Age and transitioning units a lot, then I think you’ll find them a good match. It is also a lot of fun to tear through buildings with Chu Ko Nus so they have that going for them as well. Those are my thoughts on the Chinese, though, thanks for watching guys and I’ll see you next time