The classic real-time strategy game Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings Just keep growing and growing and growing. The latest expansion, decades after the game was released in 1999, is called Lords of the West and adds three more campaigns and two entirely new civilizations: Burgundians and Sicilians.
Today on the PC, Lords of the West is a $ 10 add-on to the Definitive Edition of the game, which was released in 2019. In addition to the three (full-voiced) campaigns, one each for the Burgundian and Sicilian civilizations, and another for the British, which are focused on Edward Longshanks, there are two civilizations, one focusing on cavalry and gunpowder technology, while the other based on infantry with an interesting gold bonus technology.
Here are some of the highlights from Microsoft’s blog post::
- Economic improvements are available an age earlier than in other civilizations
- Stable technologies cost -50%.
- Gunpowder units gain + 25% attack
- Relics produce both gold and food
- Coustillier Cavalry Unit – Use a powerful shock attack when charging into battle. “Strong against infantry and archers. Weak against camel riders and monks.
- Burgundian Vineyards Tech – Convert all food to gold in a 2: 1 ratio. Farmers are slowly generating gold in addition to food.
- Castles and city centers are built 100% faster
- Land military units absorb 50% of all incoming bonus damage
- Farm upgrades provide farms + 100% extra food before they need to be re-sown
- Transport ships +5 carrying capacity and +10 armor against anti-ship attacks
- Serjeant – A sturdy infantry unit that can also build donjons
- Donjon – Unique fortress for training serjeants. Units can stay in the building for protection; Archers and villagers shoot additional projectiles when occupied.
In addition to their unique units and bonuses, both civilizations also have some really interesting one-off technologies that cause massive changes when first explored. Burgundian Vineyards, for example, instantly converts all food to gold in a 2: 1 ratio and from then on leads farmers to create a small amount of gold in addition to the food supply. Meanwhile, the Flemish Revolution is automatically turning all villagers into militias, which seems drastic but may be fun if you hurry up or defend the last ditch.
On the Sicilian side, there is First Crusade, in which 10 special Serjeant Infantry units are created in each existing city center (up to five), and Scutage, in which all players on a team receive 15 additional gold pieces per military unit, which they control in a one-off lump sum. The two technicians could obviously work well together and also help support the teams through a longer final.
Despite hundreds of hours in the original game, I’m still far from an expert Age of Empires II Strategist, so I’ll have to wait and see how some of the elite players in the game’s small competitive scene use these new civilizations and technologies. Still, it’s exciting to see how a number of other civilizational tradeoffs may add to the game’s balance. At least until Age of Empires IV finally arrives.