Top 10 Best Civilizations in Age of Empires II: HD Edition

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Few franchises in the history of gaming have been as long-standing as Age of Empires, Ensemble Studios’ classic historical RTS.

And very few games have been played for such a long time as Age of Empires II, arguably the most beloved installment in the series.

It’s been going strong since 1999 and with the release of the HD Edition in 2013 and the arrival of the Definitive Edition in November 2019, it doesn’t look like that’s going to end anytime soon.

With the HD version came several new civilizations to control and develop into bustling empires, complicating the ever-controversial question of which civilization is the best.

Some may do better on certain maps, some benefit from 1v1 settings or are good in team games, and the list of variables goes on making it hard to make a simple ranking.

To simplify this I’ve turned to, an independent project that monitors the game’s competitive scene and provides easy to understand data such as win rate, overall usage, and average game score for each civilization.

So without further ado, here are the best civilizations with the highest win-rate in AoEII: HD Edition.

10. Britons

Britons AoE2

The first entry in our list happens to be the Britons, a classic civilization with a focus on archery for their military strategies.

Their archery ranges produce units considerably faster than the average civilization, and their archers in general have a longer range.

Their unique unit is the Longbowman which can out-range virtually every other unit in the game as well as towers and castles once fully upgraded.

Their villagers gather food faster from sheep, and their Town Centers are cheaper than usual, which helps their economy and gives them the possibility of expanding in the mid-game much faster.


9. Berbers

Berbers AoE2

A big part of many strategies for winning a game depend on progressing through the ages faster.

And the Berbers have the fastest Feudal Age times in the list.

They’re focused on cavalry which they can produce for cheaper costs once they hit Castle Age.

Their Camel Archer unit is among the best ranged mounted units as well, with excellent strength and accuracy, and it benefits from the Maghrabi Camels tech which grants Berber camel units a regenerative ability.

A good choice if you want to move fast and grow even faster.


8. Mayans

Mayans AoE2

The Mayans not only win a lot of games, they’re also simply present in most of them.

They’re a fan favorite and the second most picked civilization in the list, right under the Huns.

Their early game is excellent thanks to their superior scout, the Eagle Warrior, and they can get to work faster thanks to an extra starting villager.

They win most of their games in the early mid-game when they can fully benefit from their longer lasting resources and amazingly cost-efficient Plumed Archer unique unit.


7. Indians

Indians in AoE2

This is one of the first new civilizations added to the game with the release of the HD Edition.

The Indians focus on camels and gunpowder units, among which their Hand Cannoneers excel after getting the +1 Range upgrade from the Shatagni tech.

Their Imperial Camel, which replaces the Knight, is also notably useful.

While somewhat weaker than its European counterpart, the Imperial Camel also costs much less.

Their economy can become much more profitable than the average civilization too thanks to their Sultans tech which increases all gold income by 10%.


6. Aztecs

Aztecs civilization AoE2

The Aztecs are another great early game civilization that generally wins its games in the blink of an eye.

This is mostly thanks to economy boosts such as villagers carrying more resources and an extra 50 gold at the start of the game.

They can also profit greatly from relics, which generate 30% more gold for the Aztecs and their teammates.

Although they lack any cavalry whatsoever, their infantry units, including the Eagle Warrior scout, are very strong thanks to a full tech tree and two unique upgrades.

And those units are produced 18% faster along with all other Aztec military units.


5. Vikings

Vikings AoE2

Contrary to what you might expect, the Vikings aren’t only strong at sea. They can also dominate on land as well.

Their Berserk unique infantry unit can regenerate and is therefore much more viable for small harassing incursions.

In regards to their economy, their most notable and very helpful bonus is getting both the Wheelbarrow and Handcart techs for free. Which will make them an absolute powerhouse during the time it takes other civilizations to research them.


4. Huns

Huns AoE2

The most played civilization in the list is also one of the most unique.

Their most notable characteristic is that they don’t need houses for their population, which saves you a lot of time and resources in the early and mid-game.

It also lets you focus much more on micromanaging military units and outmaneuvering your foes while they worry about social housing projects.

Their unique unit, the Tarkan, excels at razing defensive structures.

It’s a very viable unit thanks to the Marauders technology that allows you to produce them in stables, which are 20% faster for the Huns.


3. Incas

Incas AoE2

Another Native American civilization makes the list, following the same early game domination strategies as the others.

Like the Huns, they need to worry less about housing as their houses have double the population capacity of normal ones.

And they get a free llama at the start of the game to give you the food boost you need to fill them up faster.

A nice strategy with the Incas is the classic Tower Rush, made easier thanks to their 15% discount when building stone structures, and supported by their extra-durable villagers.


2. Slavs

Slavs AoE2

The Slavs are the silent assassins of the game.

One wouldn’t generally expect them to be so successful!

Their many victories can probably be explained by their amazing economy, carried by villagers who work 15% faster.

Their siege units also come at a discount, helping them build strong high-cost armies faster and more consistently.

However once the game starts getting too long and gold becomes scarce, they start losing ground fast. So it’s best to wrap things up as quickly as possible.


1. Franks

Franks AoE2

The Franks may feel like an unusual choice for best civilization to some people.

But the numbers don’t lie!

The Franks are not only the most successful civilization in the AoE II competitive scene, they’re also ahead by a large margin.

Their power comes from two main things: a strong economy thanks to faster berry pick-up and free farm upgrades(which lets them advance through the ages much faster) and their bonus 20% cavalry health.

One of the most popular strategies in the game that’s absolutely dominated by the Franks is the early Scout Rush, thanks to their mounted scout units being 20% more resistant in general.

If that fails you’ll still reach Imperial Age faster than most and your mighty Frank paladins can carry you to victory.

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Nelson Chitty

Nelson Chitty is a Venezuelan expat living in Argentina. He’s a writer and translator passionate about history and foreign cultures. His ideal weekend is spent between leisurely playing games of Civilization VI and looking for the next seinen anime to marathon.