As was said in our AOE 3 review, Age of Empires III is a great game – even (or maybe especially?!) when compared to its previous versions. Your control of the “race” is increased, and battles require more advanced tactics. When playing the “deathmatch” game (either as teams or nations) you can take control of one of 8 nations. Each one has its strengths and weaknesses – which should be utilized to achieve the ultimate target of the game – eliminate your rivals.
Age of Empires III gives you civilizations to choose from as a player: Spanish, British, French, Portuguese, Dutch, Russian, German, and Ottoman. Each nation has its unique aspects, and are not considered equal in terms of playing difficulty.
Considered the easiest civilization to control, the Spanish (Queen Isabella I) get quicker shipments from their home city and have Rodeleros and Lancers as unique units. Also, the explorer can train War Dogs even before soldiers can be trained.
Second easiest to win with and advised for those new to the game (as are the Spanish), the British have the ability to train settlers when building manor houses. Although those houses are more expensive, it is a real plus to use them to produce settlers. The British (led by Queen Elizabeth) also have the longbowman, whose range is greater than other nation’s archery counterparts. Congreve Rockets are another unique British unit.
The French settlers have much more hitpoints so they are much harder to eliminate. The unique French (Napoleon) unit is the Cuirassier – an extremely strong cavalry unit. It’s only problem is that it is expensive.
Portugual’s (Henry) main advantage is, certainly, the ability of their explorer to cut the Fog of War. Unique units include Cassadors and Organ Guns. Also, Portuguese naval units and dragoons are little bit stronger than other civilization’s.
Dutch (Maurice) have the ability to construct banks. The bank generates coins automatically – without the need to gather it with settlers. However, Dutch settlers actually cost money – making economy growth rather problematic. Unique units are not very useful – the Fluyt is only slightly better than a Galleon, and Ruyters are quick – but weak in melee combat.
The Russians (Ivan) have a unique building, called a ”blockhouse”. It is a combination of barracks and outpost and already available at age 1. Thier settlers can be trained as groups and there are several unique units: Strelets, Cossack and Oprichnik. All of those are slightly weaker than the “normal” units like Hussars, but they are cheaper and usually faster. Considered by some as pretty tough to play with, early in the game Russia is a strong nation. As the game goes by, though, weak units can pose a serious problem.
Germans have no special building and start with fewer settlers than other nations. Specializing in Cavalry, the Germans (Frederick) have the cheap Uhlans, and the mighty War Wagons – one of the strongest units of the game. They can also counter enemy cavalry with Doppelsoldners, which are even more effective than the pikemen.
Led by Suleiman, the Ottoman Empire is surely the toughest nation to play with. Although they have artillery available in age 2 (Abus guns) and several useful unique units (Janissari, Spahi), their “advantage” of automatic settler production by town centers can pose a serious headache – as the overall unit count is limited – so fewer soldiers are available…
So, now you know all about various nations in AOEIII. I propose starting with the with Spanish or English to get a better understanding of game concepts. Once you feel pretty sure about yourself – try the Dutch and Russians, or even Germans. And if you are up for the ultimate challenge – pick the Ottomans for a deathmatch game….