Competitive players will always seek advantages and consistent ways of achieving victory. The best build, the best counters, and the fastest way to reach the next era are all crucial things to learn about the game.
However, before all that, players have to make a choice that already impacts them competitively and demands a lot of dedication — their main civilization. This is why tier lists an unavoidable in Age of Empires.
If you play for fun, tier lists should not matter to you. The game is very well balanced, and thinking about tiers can ruin the fun of it.
However, if you are a hardcore RTS player — or even just curious — keep reading to learn which are, in my opinion, the best civilizations in Age of Empires 4.
Age of Empires 4 Civilization Tier List
Real-time strategy games are ever-changing by nature. There will always be new Age of Empires 4 strategies, builds, and tactics as long as people keep playing and trying to better themselves.
Still, competitive players will spot things that can give you an edge. It might seem like a tiny difference at first, but a few of those in a single civilization can cause a snowball effect.
So we are dividing the civilizations into four tiers.
S Tier: The best civilizations of the game. They have traits that grant them clear competitive advantages against other civilizations while having no significant weaknesses.
A Tier: These civilizations are clearly powerful. Yet, they still have weaknesses to be exploited.
B Tier: You can play these civilizations competitively and perform well. Still, other players have a much better chance of exploring your weaknesses. They might have a few bad match-ups and have a tough time against S-Tier civilizations.
C Tier: These are the civilizations that clearly suffer to keep up against the others when used competitively.
Rus – S Tier
This civilization is often considered the best one in the game. The Rus civilization has powerful units and a way to snowball their Economy thanks to the Bounty System.
The Bounty System provides gold to the Rus player every time their Scout kills an animal. Because of that, they can go around killing deers to gain gold and eventually advance to the next Age without ever mining.
This can also be used to kill anything near the enemy spawning point, making it more difficult for them to hunt while still gaining gold.
Being ahead in the economy and knowing unit counters in Age of Empires 4 gives you a pretty good advantage over your adversary.
This structure also generates Gold over time and can produce scouts. This means you don’t need to stop producing villagers to increase the number of riders killing animals on the map.
It doesn’t take much to see what makes this civilization so good. Their strong economy with a lot of momentum from the early game, strong defensive buildings, access to Early Knights, and very durable wooden fortresses all contribute to making them an S-Tier civ.
Abbasid Dynasty – A Tier
This is an interesting civilization due to one of its traits, which is being anti-cavalry.
The Abbasids deal very well with the most effective units in Age of Empires 4, allowing them to counter mighty civilizations with effective cavalries such as Mongols, Rus, Ottomans, and French.
Although they are a 2 Star Difficulty civilization, learning how to play as the Abbasid Dynasty can be deceptively complicated. Keeping up with everything they must do is quite troubling when you have to constantly micro villagers and military units.
However, when it comes to Town Centers and the economy, they are always ahead due to their cheaper workers.
Besides, Abbassid Dynasty can defend itself even with many Town Centers, which helps this civ to stay ahead.
Malian – B Tier
Malians seem to have many different things that allow them to prosper. The Mali civilization has a passive income that is way over the curve.
They can pretty much produce all the food and gold they need.
Combine that with their powerful Javelin throwers, and you have an expandable army capable of causing much trouble to the enemy civ.
Generally speaking, this civilization seems great at harassing enemies and snowballing its economy. Yet, they have fragile units.
The Malians have potential, and their economy can be very scary to compete with. Still, its advantages don’t seem to be as significant as the ones seen in the Rus or Abbasid Dynasty.
French – B Tier
This civilization is among the best ones across the first ages. The French must be taken seriously due to their solid start.
That said, the French fall off significantly when they reach age 4, making them the exact opposite of the English. However, unlike the English, they have a greater chance of winning by snowballing their early game.
The biggest problem you face playing the French is that this civilization is somewhat predictable.
If the opponent knows how to deal with the French, they have a greater chance of reaching Imperial in good shape. By then, the French will start falling off.
Holy Roman Empire – B Tier
The Holy Roman Empire was once among the best civilizations in the game. However, things changed after relics were made less relevant.
Although the Holy Roman Empire is still viable, players have less room to commit mistakes with them now.
There was always a point to be made that relics could always be denied. However, even if they are not, the amount of gold generated is slightly less helpful.
Besides the issues this civ now has regarding relic changes, the Holy Roman Empire maintains its other weaknesses and strengths.
Mongols – B Tier
Mongols are a great civilization with several annoying tactics and moving structures. This is a very harassment-oriented civ with a decisive early game.
As time passes in a match, allowing the Mongols to keep their harassing tactics might cause them to snowball really hard.
However, this is pretty much all they’ve got. If Mongols’ pushes don’t work, the Mongols might lack the defensive capabilities to win the late game.
This is not the only reason that makes them B-tier, though. They also have some really bad match-ups, like the Malians and the French.
English – C Tier
The English can access one of the game’s best units as soon as they build their first Landmark.
There was a time when the Longbowmen Rush was the most annoying tactic in the game. Unfortunately, to English players, their reign of terror seems to be over.
Although the English might prosper in water maps, they generally struggle way too much during the first eras.
It seems that this civilization is meant to be played with a turtling style so they can finally come out really powerful if they survive the imperial era.
There is a point to be made regarding this civilization’s strength during Age 4. The English civ can be scary once they reach their late-game potential.
However, there’s a chance they won’t survive the first three ages, and, even if they do, they might be far behind in everything else to compete.
Ottomans – C Tier
The Ottomans have some really good things going on for them.
For instance, they need fewer workers on gold. This allows them to have a second Town Center earlier.
Their unique unit, the Sipahi, is pretty good. They have extra health, which allows them to be deceivingly powerful.
Once they hit age 3, the Ottomans will have knights, archers, and siege capabilities that could cause a headache to your opponent.
On top of that, they have the Mehter. This unit can buff allied units and increase their Attack Speed, Melee Armor, or Ranged Armor.
Yet, even with all that, the general perception is that they are weak. It might just be too much effort to make them work when you can just play French or Rus.
Besides, the Ottomans can be scary if everything goes well, but being harassed before age 3 can significantly slow them down.
Chinese – C Tier
The Chinese have too many different options to adapt and change. They have mechanics that unlock more technologies, a mighty late-game army, and some effective, unique buildings and units.
However, they are a really hard-to-play civilization, meaning that it takes much more effort to make them work than civilizations such as the Rus or the French.
On top of that, the Chinese rarely get to mount their powerful empire to start producing their best units.
To keep up with other civilizations, the player must micro their Imperial officer and hope to reach the late game.
When you play Chinese, it’s a game of doing your best to reach age 3 without many issues. Playing against the Chinese is a game of not letting them get to age 4. In that sense, it is similar to fighting the English.
Since it takes a while for the Chinese to become powerful, they might have a tough time against civilizations that can harass you effectively from the beginning.
Delhi Sultanate – C Tier
The Delhi Sultanate is a 3 Stars difficulty civilization. Their overcomplicated mechanics become a weakness when Delhi players face easy-to-play, solid civilizations such as the Rus.
In fact, this is the Delhi Sultanate’s biggest issue: they have many bad match-ups now.
With weaker Elephants, fewer economic advantages, and the multiple TC meta, it’s fair to say that Delhi has become a significantly less scary civilization.
If you play this civilization, your success is much more tied to macro-management. Making their “advantages” work in your favor is hard, risky, and depends on many variables.
Due to the complexity of Real-Time Strategy games, it’s not unusual for tier lists to suddenly change. It happens due to patches, new counter-plays, and innovative strategies that players come up with.
Not only that, but it’s also a matter of perception and opinion.
That said, the placement of the civilizations in the tier list is not as important as the discussion behind why one thinks they are in each tier.
It’s okay to disagree, but this sort of information might help you understand the characteristics of each faction.
These discussions often teach players about characteristics they didn’t see as a strength or a problem to deal with, which helps develop more tactics and gives the game even more depth.
Also, do not feel like you must pick a high-tier civilization to win or have fun. If you are not a professional player, tier lists shouldn’t make any difference to you.
Just go with the one civilization that you enjoy the most and look for a match.
Good luck. Have fun!