a. Main strenghts
b. Main weaknesses
2) Starting macro
a. Exploration age
c. Early commerce age
3) Build orders
a. Common build orders
b. Specific build orders
This guide has for purpose to help new players as well as more experienced players, to learn or improve their German gameplay. This is exclusively for 1v1 supremacy purpose. This guide will have some room for improvement and is subjected to balance changes.
For more advanced tips, feel free to contact me on discord or join the ESO Community discord where you will find a panel of top players willing to help.
To begin, I will quote a few top players for pure flexing purposes :
Keywords through the guide :
- SW = Settler Wagons
- Timing = a power spike, either economic or military
- To contain = the action of controlling the map and denying the opponent resources.
- Kiting = The action to use your range advantage to shoot, gain some distance while you’re reloading and shoot again.
- Scouting = the action of exploring/patrolling the map to gain information (resources locations, opponent’s plans…etc.)
- Herding : the action of shooting a herd in a specific direction, usually to get them closer to your town center.
- Semi ff : or Semi fast-fortress. The idea is to train a couple of units in the commerce age but going for the fortress age after a couple shipments.
- Poking : the action of using your ranged infantry to take small shots without committing to a fight.
- Booming : focusing on economic development
- Micro : the action of micro managing your army/units
a. Main strenghts
- Economy : Germany has a great early game economy. With the advantages of settler wagons shipments, they have access to 2 SW shipment in age 1 which is the equivalent of 4 standard villagers as settler wagons gather with twice the speed of a regular villager.
They also have access to a 3 SW shipment in the commerce age, making it one of the best economic commerce age shipment.
- Military : Germany is, in my opinion, the perfect example of what a timing civilization is. With huge power spikes in the fortress age, Germany has some of the scariest fortress age timings in the game. If you play your cards well enough, you can inflict serious economic or military damage and snowball/win the game like this.
“Free” uhlans, which is one of the German civilization bonus, are going to make a big difference in the game, allowing you excellent raiding potential and/or adding additional units to your main army. Mercenaries are also a great way to improve your army. 12 jaegers and 9 black riders shipments are excellent for their cost.
Germany commerce age potential is also quite good : with a combination of economic and military shipments (we will see which later on in this guide) you are able to reach strong commerce age timings that can allow you to punish an opponent trying to age up, to break a contain or help you holding your opponent’s timing push.
Overall, shipments are what makes Germany strong. So you will need a source of experience income. Either a/several trading post(s), a church, sometimes both.
b. Main weaknesses
- Economy : Although their early game economy is good, the follow-up is nothing special. Besides training regular villagers, there isn’t a lot of economic potential. You do have situational shipment such as silversmith to boost your coin gather rate and make your mines last a little bit longer.
You also have access to the German town farmers shipment in the fortress age, allowing you to train settler wagons but they are quite costly and this is a card you can’t fit in your decks 95% of the time.
1000 wood shipment in the fortress age could allow you to build an additional town center and grap map control, train more settlers but you usually need a lot of population space as Germany, thus spending wood to build a lot of houses.
That is why Germany eventually tends to fall behind in economy vs most civilization in the game.
Germany is also possibly the most coin hungry civilization in the game. Literally all their fortress age units cost coin. So you are going to mine. A LOT. Leading to exposed villagers which are going to be a target for your opponent.
- Millitary : Strength in number is the main characteristic of the German army. Even though, as we mentioned in their strengths, Germany can reach excellent timings with a lot of units, these units aren’t super good… Let me explain :
In the commerce age, German main weakness is the lack of a musketeer type unit in their composition, making them weak against musketeers + hussars type of composition. To counter that, Germany can mass a lot of crossbows and pikeman but they don’t have upgrades and fall of in late commerce age. So your main weakness in the commerce age is going to be holding timing pushes.
In the fortress age, German has access to war wagons to counter these musketeers/hussars composition, which are a great units against that but also quite hard to use. They are very expensive and hard to mass (150 food 150 coin per unit) and they are quite slow for a dragoon type unit. You will need good unit control to use them, mostly kiting.
Germany doesn’t have access to cannons shipment in the fortress age compared to other European civilizations. They are a threat for sure and counter your jaegers shipment as well as your regular skirmishers. To deal with them you will have to take good care of when you choose to engage because this is a crucial moment in the game and could lead to a game loss.
Germany main army composition is going to be skirmishers, war wagons and uhlans most of the time. This composition can struggle vs melee units, but you can add doppelsoldners if you want.
- Specific mentions : You only have one scout to begin the game with and it’s very valuable. You need to build a trading post between exploration and commerce age 90% of the time. Losing him is very painful : no trading post = no experience for your valuable shipments + you won’t be able to scout your opponent effectively. Keep in mind he could be targeted by the opponent.
- Water presence : Germany is… not great at fighting on water. They lack upgrades for their ships, their wood is very valuable to build other infrastructure. We will come back to this topic later as it is very match up and map dependent.
2) Starting macro
a. Exploration age
As Germany, your start will be mostly the same as they have a fixed 100c crate start. You will go for a market and the hunting dogs tech research as it is 100% worth it.
The way you go for it depends whether you have a coin treasure around your town center or not. The more coin you can get through treasures, the less you will need to mine obviously. You need 175 coin total for that. (50c for hunting dogs and 125c to buy wood)
Gather your starting crates, move your settler wagons to coin. With one of them, build your market and buy 100w as soon as you can. Research hunting dogs and move your settler wagons to wood to chop the remaining 50w needed for a house. It is tight macro to keep constant villager production but if you get a coin or a wood treasure it will help you a lot. Once you have 100w, build your house and put all your vills on food and gather for your age up. We will age with the quartermaster (400w age up) every single time.
Once you click up to the commerce age, you want to gather an additional 100f to research gangsaw in your market as we will be chopping some wood and it’s a good upgrade to have later as well.
Move all your settler wagons and some regular villagers as well to wood. Just keep 2-3 villagers on food for herding purposes.
Here you want to chop 400w total. 200w for a trading post, 75w for placer mines upgrade and 125w for steel traps when you reach commerce age. Once you gathered your remaining wood for steel traps, move all your settlers wagons on coin, and all your regular vills on food. This is an easy way and efficient way to macro to for the following part. Don’t forget to send your hero to scout after your trading post is built !
You can also get the great coat upgrade to handle better some civilization early pressure such as Russia for example. 400hp settler wagons are tanky and very helpful.
c. Early commerce age
Once you reach commerce age, gather your 400w crates with a settler wagon, research steel traps and send your first shipment. What you will send depends on what strategy you want to do, or how you react to what you scout. Most of the time, 3 SW is the way to go. 6 villagers + 2 uhlans is just insane value and you can still hold early pressure with that opening.
3) Build orders
For each following build orders, there will be a turning point where you will have to adapt to what your opponent is doing and might deviate from the original plan.
a. Common build orders
- Semi ff uhlans opening : It is considered to be the most common opening you can do with Germany. Send 3SW as your first shipment, drop a stable and 2 houses with your 400w age up. Start training uhlans and if you followed the early commerce macro section, you should be able to get a good first batch even if uhlans are expensive. Be careful with population space issues. Every time you send a commerce age shipment as Germany you will consume 4 population for the 2 free uhlans that comes with the shipment. Use that cavalry to apply pressure on your opponents by raiding or use that cavalry to defend your opponent aggression.
Next shipment should be 700w to help you with housing problems, as well as adding a second military building to answer your opponent start. If your opponent is starting with a barracks for example, you might want to add a barracks of your own and train a few crossbows to defend.
Next shipment will be 700c to prepare an age up. Once you sent it, gather 300c than move all your villagers to food to gather the 1200f needed to age up. Always use the fast age up politician as Germany ! In transition to the fortress age, put a few villagers on wood (generally 5 villagers is enough for housing but you will need more for Germany as you need more pop space, as well as veteran uhlan upgrade early fortress age. I recommend 7 to 8 villagers on wood during transition.
Once you reach the fortress age, you have several options : either you’re being timing pushed, or your opponent is trying to follow you up to the fortress age. If you’re getting timing pushed, sending 3 war wagons and training as many as you can is the way to go as they counter most commerce age units. If your opponent is aging, you can go for 1000w to get an economical advantage, 8 skirmishers (+3uhlans) to get a military advantage or more situationally 1000 coin to help you mass units or send mercenaries with your next shipment.
- Semi ff barracks start : a bit more situational, this start is effective if you manage to scout that your opponent is going aggressive with a forward base. The objective will be to defend with crossbows and pikeman and get away with an age up when the time comes.
Send 3 SW as your first shipment and move all your SW to wood once you have the 125c required for steel traps. Drop a barracks with your 400w age up and 2 houses and start training crossbows. Send 700w next for more crossbow/pikeman production as well as houses and a stable. Next shipment will be 700c for an age up. You can delay this age up if you feel your opponent is going to timing push you. In this case, keep training crossbows and pikeman and send 8 crossbows to help you hold. 3 doppelsoldners shipment can be very good as well if you can pop them right on top of the opponent army.
Once you feel safe, send 700c and age up to the fortress age. Same follow up for the fortress age as the semi ff uhlans opening. Send units if you need to hold another timing or for an early fortress push with superior units. Sending an economic shipment is also viable.
- Colonial timing push : This build order will be viable on no trading posts maps but is also okay on trading post maps as you can catch your opponent of guard with a lot of units.
Put all your SW on wood after you research steel traps.
Send 3 SW as your first card and build a barracks and 2 houses with your 400w age up. Start training crossbows. Next shipment is 700w for more military production. Add a second barracks with this wood shipment. You want mostly crossbows but also a decent amount of pikeman for anti-cavalry and sieging purposes. Your uhlans should be mostly used to gather information on what your opponent is doing, try not to lose them as they will complement your archaic army push.
Next shipment is going to be 600w, we want to keep training as many crossbows and pikes as possible. If you feel your opponent is trying to age, now is the time to go. If you scout that he is still training units, then wait for the next shipment : 8 crossbows. Now it’s time to go, you should have a solid mass of units at this point. You can easily have around 50 military population or more around the 8 min mark.
- The tower rush : Back to the vanilla days of the game, this used to be a common strong build order. Nowadays it’s much more niche but can be effective.
Here we are not going to build a trading post in transition, but we will send a settler wagon forward and build an outpost instead. The idea is to get a forward shipment point to apply very early pressure.
Do the usual macro, 125c for steel traps then all settler wagons on wood. Once you reach the commerce age, your first shipment is going to be 8 crossbows. We’re rushing baby. Gather your crates and build a barracks next to your outpost. Send your explorer under your opponent town center to see what military building he is starting with. If you see a barracks, you train crossbows. If you see a stable, you train pikeman, if you see nothing, you train pikeman for siege. (Prioritize houses, they are the lowest hp building and it’s painful for your opponent if he loses one or more)
Your 8 crossbows shipment should come around the same time as your first batch of units. Time to go, you need to apply pressure and do some damage. Not necessarily villagers kill but at least idle your opponent as you are cutting economy yourself.
Next shipment is up to you. Either 700w to help you mass units as your economy isn’t great, or 3SW to develop your economy. Keep poking to gain information on your opponent’s army strength. This will be an indicator of how successful things are going. With this build order we are committing to a longer commerce age than usual but it’s okay. Follow up is 600w to mass more units for a timing push or 700c and back off to age up. For the 2nd option you might need to sacrifice your forward base while you’re aging if your opponent goes for a timing push.
- Ezad’s water boom : this can be effective vs other civilizations with poor water strength. Some might see this build order as a bit cheesy, but it is very effective if unpunished as your economy will be insane.
There are 2 main ways to do this : The first build order is for heavy water boom on good water maps such as Florida, Manchuria…etc. you will be sending 700w as your first age 2 shipment as you want to drop a dock, train fishing boats and units at the same time.
2nd commerce age shipment is going to be 600w with the same purpose : making units and training villagers and fishing boats the same time. In the long term, the fishing boom is stronger than the 3 SW shipment.
The following shipment is going to be rendering plant to boost this water boom. From here it’s all about adapting to your opponent : keep training units if your opponent is sticking to the commerce age, or try to age up to the fortress age.
The 2nd way is less greedy : we’re still opening with 700w shipment and train units, drop a dock and train fishing boats, but this time we won’t boom as much on sea. We’re going 3sw next shipment to boost our land economy and then finally 700c for an age up. This is greedier than a standard land semi ff but much safer than the heavy water boom since we are going to age up to the fortress age much faster.
- The naked FF : The goal of this build order is to reach the fortress age as fast as possible to get access to our more powerful fortress age units. It’s called “naked” ff because we won’t train any units at all.
The main way to do it is to do the same start as a semi ff uhlan opening : research steel traps, all SW on coin and build 2 house. The difference is instead of dropping a military building, we will go for a greedier option : either a 2nd trading post (risky way) or a church (safe way) to get additional experience and get more powerful shipments in the fortress age. Gather all the resources you need to age up.
We will be sending 700w, but no 700c. the wood will be spent in a barracks, a stable and houses in transition to the fortress age. The idea is to punish slow booming civilizations by sending powerful units shipment and pushing them in early fortress.
Your first fortress shipment will be units. I recommend 8 skirmishers first 90% of the time and train a batch of war wagons or uhlans and get veterancy for uhlans.
- Double barracks rush : A bit similar to the tower rush, the idea is to be aggressive, sacrifice economy for an early commerce age military advantage.
Send a settler wagon forward in transition, get steel traps researched and instead of building a trading post, we will be stacking wood to build 2 barracks with our settler wagon. First shipment is going to be 700w to supply our unit production.
Make sure you scout your opponent first military building. It will tell you if you can train 10 crossbows or 10 pikemen. Put the pressure on and follow up with 600w for more unit production. You should be able to get good batches, sometimes you might get a batch of 7-8 units but it’s okay.
Next shipment is up to you. Either 8 crossbows and keep the pressure by going for a timing push or go greedier with 3 SW. if your timing push worked well you can stay in the commerce age and keep training units, send 2 SW for more economy or 700c and mix doppelsoldners/uhlans in your composition. You can also back off and age up.
- Fast industrial : Well, naked ff is cool but fast industrial takes it to the next level. Very situational build order that can be strong with a proper deck for it.
I usually consider it when my plan was to naked ff but I see my opponent going for an economic ff of their own.
It could catch your opponent off guard and can be effective vs booming civilization doing their greediest builds such as : British virginia company semi ff or naked ff, India karni mata semi ff or naked ff or even Japan heavenly kami ff. It’s less effective with nerfed polish winged hussars but you still have strong shipments with 2 heavy cannons, 6 SW, 12 skirmishers…etc.
The build is the same as the naked ff. We go for no units 3 SW 700W fast fortress. I recommend going for a 2nd trading post early as you will need a lot of experience to make it work. Once you reach fortress age, send 1000c as your first shipment and gather all the food you need to advance to the industrial age. You can still change your mind and train units if your opponent realizes what’s going on and is pushing you earlier than expected.
Then you will need to chop a lot of wood since industrial age shipment take up so much pop space for Germany. The rest is up to you. Going war wagons and heavy cannons is quite strong, but you can also be more passive by shipping factories first.
- Mercenaries build orders : This one is super troll and basically rely on luck to roll good mercenaries in the saloon. Not recommended at all for beginners but if you get Jaegers or other strong mercenaries in the saloon, you could pull it off Requires a specific deck for the strategy. To be edited.
1v1 Standard deck :
1v1 water contention :
1v1 Ezad water boom : (lots of cards useful for doppelsoldners but can be replaced if you don’t train doppelsoldners)
1v1 Fast Industrial :
1v1 German mirror :
5) Match ups
Sweden Use your uhlans to find villagers building torps on the map.
You don’t want Sweden to be at 200 pop of torps as their eco get out of control and they consume your precious coin mine. You can train a couple of crossbow pike in the commerce age but don’t stay there for too long as Sweden is stronger at this.
Sweden main unit are caroleans so war wagons with a couple skirmishers should be what you want in the fortress age most of the time.
Recommended build order : semi ff barracks start, naked ff Inca
Inca commerce age is way stronger than the German one as their units just outclass yours by a lot.
If you scout Inca going aggressive with a forward war hut, try to defend with crossbow pike and age as soon as you get a window for it.
If Inca goes for the greedy play, semi ff or ff works best. Also one of the match ups where doppelsoldners can be very effective if Inca makes a lot of chimu runners and pikeman.
Recommended build order : semi ff barracks start, naked ff
Lakota Lakota cavalry is really hard for Germany to deal with. Bow riders deny any kind of stable start possible as well.
It’s a very one dimensional way to play but you have to start barracks in base. Don’t greed with treasures too much, there’s a high chance you lose your explorer to the Lakota war chief. Defend until you can reach fortress age safely then mostly train skirmishers and war wagons.
Uhlans can be used to body block Lakota cavalry, but they will die very fast. You can train to sneak a few raids with them when you know where the Lakota army is.
Getting black riders out is huge if you can.
Recommended build order : semi ff barracks start
Close match up very map dependent. On water maps Haudenosaunee economy is as good as the German one if not better and their units are stronger as well. On Land it’s more German favored in my opinion.
Haudenosaunee has the initiative in this match up and the way you play it as Germany depends on what your opponent is doing. If he is aggressive in the commerce age with a forward war hut, I would recommend starting barracks and training 5 pikeman first to deny the 4 kanye shipment.
Then you can either play like you would vs Lakota and try to age or go for a big timing push on his war hut with a lot of crossbow pike. It’s actually really hard for Haudenosaunee to hold a good German crossbow pike timing push (Courtesy of Mitoe ).
If Haudenosaunee is going war hut in base, they are most likely going for a few tomahawks semi ff. In this case you can just ff yourself but make sure to scout as they can go for a good timing of their own.
On water maps it’s trickier for Germany. You can’t really scout if he’s booming a lot or if he just trained a few fishing boats in age 1. I would play it out the same way you would on land but sneak a warship shipment at some point.
Recommended build : semi ff barracks start, naked ff, commerce age timing push
Barracks start semi ff is the standard opening vs a forward Agra fort from the Indian player. Be aware of a potential 12 sepoy rush or a timing push.
However, vs karni mata start you might change things a little bit. Karni mata start used to be mostly the greediest India build possible leading to fortress age for them but with the recent changes buffing the karni mata they can still do it and be aggressive.
Make sure you scout well when you see a karni and react accordingly. Explorer under his town center and your first free uhlans patrolling mid map to see if he is sneaking a barracks forward. If you see nothing, just ff.
Make sure you have enough war wagons to deal with India’s mahout shipments, and go for jaegers if you see a lot of Gurkhas/sepoys.
Recommended build : semi ff barracks start, naked ff
German mirrors are very unique and a very skilled based match up in my opinion. There are 2 schools : Uhlan start or doppelsoldner start. First one wants to idle the other by raiding, the other is more defensive but can go siege the opponent trading post. Both starts are viable.
Generally you want to go to the fortress age but doppelsoldners timing push can be devastating so sometimes you see a doppelsoldners battle from both players with uhlans raiding and a few crossbows mixed in to gain the edge. Black riders are absolutely insane in a mirror if you can get away with it.
Investing in towers close to your gold mines if you can afford it can definitely help as both players villagers are going to be exposed a lot. Don’t forget to get your great coats
Recommended build : semi ff doppelsoldners start, semi ff uhlan start, doppelsoldner timing push
Italy usually hits commerce age a bit late but they can age with a tower. Scout their base there is important.
If you see an outpost age up just Raid semi ff and Timing age 3 with 2nd mil shipment. If no tower (Lombard age up) they are greedier so you could apply pressure with a barracks addition. Keep in mind Italy has powerful age 2 shipments so you need a well sounded composition and avoid overcommitting under their town center.
Upon reaching fortress age Italy can basically just defend with musketeers falconets and some powerful cavalry/anti cavalry shipments so you will want a war wagons heavy composition usually. Skirmishers + uhlans are riskier and can lose to a single shipment pop.
If you realize it’s not possible to force a good fight and Italy is threatening to go age 4 you could consider going industrial yourself and just keep cutting them off resources with raids.
Once there Italy will love to go skirmishers artillery heavy and have their own strong cavalry from church, so war wagons uhlans mixed with a few skirmishers to deal with their halberdiers or dragoons is the way to go.
Generally forcing Italy to spam anti cavalry is good.
Recommended build order : semi ff uhlan start, commerce age timing push, naked ff France
A very standard match up but quite micro intensive. It generally goes to a fortress age war, but France has some commerce age timings possibilities. If both players start stable, Germany has the edge in the cavalry war and should put the pressure on, try to siege a house without committing too much and then age up before France can fully transition to musketeer + hussars.
France main threats in this match up are commerce age timings, their 2 falconets shipments, the ability to take a fight while coureur des bois involved and late fortress age cuirassiers.
If you can take out falconets as Germany without sacrificing too much, you should be in a good spot. Jaegers are really hard for France to deal with once you killed their cannons.
Recommended build order : Semi ff uhlan start, naked ff
A tough match up where micro usually wins. Spain mostly fast fortress so what really want to scout, if possible, is his tower placement.
If you face an in base outpost it will be hard to accomplish much so I’d recommend going fast fortress.
But if you face a forward outpost however you should definitely go for some doppelsoldner and burn it down and move to his trading post after that. Also without an outpost in base your uhlans are more effective at raiding.
In the fortress age, the Spanish main composition will be skirmishers and rodeleros with 2 cannons and cavalry shipments. The toughest part is to take out the cannons without Spanish melee units connecting with your cavalry.
Recommended build order : Naked ff or doppelsoldners semi ff
Possibly one of the best match up for Germany. It requires good defensive skills although. Russia is very one dimensional and the way for them to beat Germany is either a good commerce age timing or forcing Germany to be stuck in the commerce age.
You can either start uhlans as Germany but barracks start is also viable by training 5 pikeman. Defending the standard Russian rush is relatively easy as you can put 7 villagers in your town center to 2 shots Russian musketeers while having your settler wagons gathering coin. Don’t forget great coat : 400 hp SW are super tanky ! then you have your first batch of units + the 2 free uhlans with your first shipment to deal with the Cossacks. If you manage to clean the 5 cossacks shipment early on, you should definitely try to raid Russia as they will struggle to train Cossacks for a while.
Once you feel comfortable, try to go to the fortress age and train war wagons to defend any Russian push. From there you should be in a great spot. Commerce age Russia weakness is their anti-cavalry, so veteran uhlans and some war wagons are your best composition.
If Russia tries to go to the fortress age themselves, they will struggle a lot to get enough units to defend their forward base. A good commerce age timing push could work as well but it’s riskier. If it fails, you are stuck in age 2 and that’s what Russia wants.
Recommended build order : semi ff uhlans start, semi ff barracks start (pikeman first batch)
A good match up on land maps for Germany, a good match up for Portugal on good water maps. For land play, you will need to scout what Portugal is trying to achieve as they can go for several strategies :
- 10/10 age up with a forward town center and a forward barracks. In this case you want to defend until you can reach the fortress age. Use your uhlans to raid and train enough infantry to defend.
- Advanced trading post strategy : map dependent but can be very strong. As Germany, you will need to defend your trading post to deny Portuguese Stagecoach options. Commerce age timing push could also work and allow you to siege some trading post. Don’t stay commerce age for too long as Portugal can go for musketeers + hussars once their economy starts to get better.
- 2 town center in base stable start : here it’s pretty simple, you can train some uhlans of your own and out mass Portugal early on. Avoid fights under his double town center as their fire will kill your uhlans quickly + minuteman threat. Possible to also siege a trading post if he built one.
- 2 town center in base fast fortress : same plan, you can semi ff with uhlans to try idling him, you can siege his trading post but most importantly, deny a good 3rd town center placement for him. You could also naked FF yourself and try to win in early fortress age.
For any land play, Portugal will struggle in early fortress to train constant batches of villagers from 3 town centers and train a lot units at the same time. That’s where Germany is way superior, and you should definitely use that window.
For water maps : things are going to be harder here. What works best in my opinion is to get trading post control while Portugal is water booming and then go for some kind of timing : a few pikeman to siege his docks, a 2 caravel shipment, and a settler wagon building an outpost on the shore to secure some water control and potentially adding a dock on your own to repair and/or build more warships.
Do not overcommit to water contention as you will lose it in the long run. Portugal has more upgrades for their warships, town center fire support, dock fire support with fishing boats garrisoned. You want to force a reaction from the Portuguese player on water, while going to the fortress age yourself.
The main idea is to switch back and forth between land pressure and water pressure with timings to force an overreaction. After your age 2 water push, focus on land presence : force Portugal to slow their boom, idle their land villagers, force them to train units, to ship colonial militia perhaps. Once you see a reaction on land, go back to water. Ship a frigate, use your age 3 units to siege his coastline buildings. You can also add cannons with a 1000c shipment.
Recommended build : semi ff uhlans start, naked ff, commerce age timing push
A tricky match up where mistakes will cost you a lot. Japanese units are superior to the German ones at pretty much any stage of the game. Although you have some advantages : Timings are key and strength in number.
In this match-up you will be the one reacting to what your opponent does. Scouting is vital. Make sure you scout what wonder Japan is aging with to the commerce age.
If you see a torii gate, you will have to defend. If you see a Toshogu shrine, he will be a bit greedier. Scout his consulate too. An early Portuguese consulate means he will boom a lot, a Japanese consulate in transition means he will be training units from it, most likely clubs and mix yumi archers.
You do have an answer to their strategy. A tower rush or a double barracks rush is effective against a toshogu shrine + Portuguese consulate. A defensive barracks is good vs a torii gate wonder or a Japanese consulate start.
Overall, if you scout a greedy Japanese build order you can rush, out mass early and do damage, if you scout an aggressive Japanese start, you should defend and age up to the fortress age then use your superior units to gain an edge.
Quick tip : your uhlans won’t be effective at raiding early on since Japan doesn’t need to expand on the map for a long time. Instead you can look for their 2 explorers to deny their shrine boom. Having 5 pikeman sieging shrines constantly is really good.
Recommended build order : tower rush, double barracks rush, semi ff barracks start.
I still have nightmares about that one (thank you kawapasaka). It must be the hardest Germany match up in terms of army micro requirement. The smallest mistake can result in your army getting completely wiped out by the Chinese one.
As Germany you have several options depending on what you can scout: if you see a Russian consulate you should expect a blockhouse. In base or forward will give you intel on your opponent’s plan : a defensive blockhouse will deny uhlans raiding potential so I wouldn’t recommend going for an uhlans semi ff. I wouldn’t recommend going for infantry either, 5 pikeman won’t be enough to siege the Chinese trading post due to their monk, so mostly go for a fast fortress.
A forward blockhouse means that China will be aggressive, in this case go for a defensive play. Either stable or barracks start is okay.
If you scout a standard Chinese fast fortress without Russian consulate, you could make some units in colonial to force a reaction from China, or just go for a fast fortress yourself. Either knock at the front door of his base or try to siege his trading post. Forcing China to send military shipment to defend is usually a win as their fortress age death ball will be a bit weaker. Follow up to the fortress age after you applied some pressure. If you choose to fast fortress, make sure you apply enough pressure in early fortress to prevent China from going to the industrial age.
In the fortress age, you will start skirmishers and uhlans most of the time and mix some war wagons to deal with Chinese cavalry. Doppelsoldners are also a decent option if you’re afraid of a lot of melee units. Chinese economy is a bit superior to yours and China wins in late fortress. Chinese units perform well vs your main units. In my opinion, one of the best ways to win is to take fights to maintain the Chinese units count as low as possible.
Microing gets harder the more units they have. Choose fights on your timings and try to avoid the Chinese ones (around 11-12 minutes they can get a batch of redcoats from the British consulate as well as units from the summer palace + potentially a batch of units trained and a shipment). Winning a fight for either side will snowball as they will get more experience to send even more powerful shipments.
Quick tip : raiding is hard since China have villages but you can leave 1 or 2 uhlans on strategic resources locations to try to kill herding villagers and deny villages.
Recommended build order : semi ff uhlans start, semi ff barracks start, naked ff
A match up where both civilizations are comfortable in the fortress age. USA can do some commerce age plays but it’s not scary and you should be able to defend comfortably if that happens.
USA main options will be fast fortress or an economic semi ff vs regulars. You could train a few uhlans and try applying some pressure/raiding and follow up yourself.
In the fortress age, war wagons are your best friend since USA composition relies on regulars and cannons. Both poorly perform vs War wagons. If you see USA being passive they might be trying to town center boom so make sure you scout accordingly : a good timing push should deal with this, or an industrial agenda. You can also ship black riders or train 2 culverins if you struggle to deal with his gatling guns.
Recommended build order : semi ff uhlans start, naked ff
Mexico commerce age unit composition is very strong vs Germany. The lack of a musketeer type of unit for us is a problem as insurgentes can be dangerous and are deadly vs crossbows if they can connect in melee. Mexico is also versatile and can go for different strategies. Make sure you scout their hacienda placement as well.
Be aware of their rushing potential as they can get a lot of units out early and overwhelm you. You will have to train a decent amount of crossbow and pikeman to defend and ship 8 crossbows after your 3 SW as well. Stack 150c for minuteman or be ready to market trade for them.
Build your houses in the back of your base, they are an easy target for insurgentes otherwise. A few walls segments can help you defend and get some free shots with your crossbows as well.
Once you have a window for it, try going for the fortress age. I would also queue a doppelsoldner in transition and be ready to pop a batch of 5 if Mexico tries to timing push you.
In the fortress age your units will perform much better and getting black riders out can be very good by making your army micro a bit easier.
Recommended build order : semi ff barracks start, extended commerce age until you can age.
Hausa commerce age unit composition is pretty good and they have access to javelin riders which hard counter uhlans. I recommend starting barracks in base if you see any sign of aggression from the Hausa player. You might need to ship 8 crossbows or 3 doppelsoldners early on because Hausa is able to mass a lot of units in the early game.
Against their greedy university playstyle, I would simply fast fortress and put some pressure on. Hausa mid game isn’t that scary, but their units are pretty good. If it gets to the point where Hausa gets a lot of javelin riders out, going for jaegers will be necessary.
Recommended build order : semi ff barracks start, naked ff
You can’t really play aggressive vs Ethiopia. Most of the time they will be the aggressor, once again for a barracks in base and train crossbow/pikemen. Be aware of a timing push from Ethiopia as shotel warriors are effective against crossbow pikes. I would use free uhlans to raid, especially their monasteries. Age up whenever you can.
Your main threat will be to deal with their mortar in the fortress age. It’s pretty strong vs infantry but sieges buildings quite slowly so don’t hurry to take a fight if you’re getting pushed at your base. Wait for a strong timing with a shipment.
Mercenaries will also be good against Ethiopia. If you see a lot of shotel warriors you might want black riders as war wagons are hard to micro against them, otherwise jaegers will give you the advantage in skirmishers war.
Recommended build order : semi ff barracks start
You will be reacting to what Malta does in this match up.
If you spot forward hospitals it will be a crossbow pike commerce age pressure in which case, you want to train some crossbows on your own while having superior early game economy with SW. Eventually go for an age up as Maltese units will get stronger in late commerce age.
If you see an in base commandery it’s most likely a defensive/boomy play with German tongue shipment. You can train some uhlans to force Malta into investing in units to defend and cut their own SW boom, slowing down their fortress age up time. Go for fortress age yourself and from there, either contain Malta or go for a strong timing push.
Be aware that Maltese units scale very well and the longer it goes, the bigger disadvantage you will have. Having access to jaegers can help you fight against crossbows + dragoons in the middle game, but your composition will mostly be skirmishers and uhlans.
If Malta reaches Bastion type of play where they spam buildings and fixed guns, I recommend going industrial and make mortars to slowly push for a safe win, but if Malta combines it with pressure you can also try to make a lot of culverins.
Recommended build order : semi ff barracks start, semi ff uhlans start, naked ff, fast industrial
A good match up for Germany. Scouting will be super important to react properly to the ottoman game plan. Ottomans have several options but all of them are quite easy to scout.
If they age with an outpost and 200c, they are going for a fast fortress. I recommend the 3sw 700w fast fortress against this and make as many war wagons as you can early on, while shipping 3ww as well. After that mix some skirmishers. Ottoman age 3 composition is limited early on with their low economy so it’s usually janissaries + 2 falconets which get hard countered by war wagons. They have 2 main follow up to this : either 1000c and ship mamelukes, or 1000w into a town center, artillery foundry and abus guns production so be aware of that.
If you spot 400w age up it could be 2 things : either a greedy fast fortress with mosque upgrades and/or more trading posts or they are going aggressive with a forward base. Make sure you scout it.
You will see a barracks + another military building. I’d recommend training crossbows early on until you can scout their 2nd military building. If it’s a stable, mix some pikeman and try to age when you’re comfortable. If it’s a second barracks, you will have to ship 8 crossbows at some point to defend. Make sure you train 5 pikemen as well in case ottoman goes for a timing with 3 hussars shipment. If it’s an artillery foundry they will add abus guns so keep training some crossbows and age up as fast as possible. Make sure to town center fire the abus guns if otto tries to push you as it’s very efficient. Combined with the minuteman threat this should push ottoman back until you can click up to the fortress age.
If the ottoman are going 400w age up into fast fortress AND are passive, they are most likely going very greedy with 1000w first and adding town centers. Make sure you patrol the sides of the map to catch the ottoman explorer with your free uhlans. This ottoman boom takes some time to pay off so a good timing push should win it.
Recommended build order : semi ff barracks start, naked ff
I personally think this is a close match up but most top players would argue this is Germany favored. Dutch needs some solid defense to win it as for Germany, you will have a military advantage in early commerce and fortress age. It’s all about finding a way to use it which can be tricky as Dutch base building with choke points makes your cavalry hard to use.
You will have the initiative; I would start stable most of the time and train uhlans. Scout Dutch first military building as it will dictate the way you want to play. A barracks start will result in pikeman being trained early on with potentially some skirmishers to deal with the doppelsoldners threat.
A build I like as Germany is 3sw 700w 8bows 700c. Going uhlans early on, adding a barracks with 700w, training 5 crossbows and shipping 8 to put some pressure on the Dutch. With the 700c you can add doppelsoldners for good siege and anti-cavalry option or simply age up. Prioritize houses and the market if it’s in front of the Dutch base. They can easily quickly buy wood to drop additional houses with their banks coin generation.
You can also go for a quick uhlans semi ff with 3 SW 700w 700c. I would add a 2nd trading post with 700w for additional experience and a quicker 700c. If you choose this option, you should reach fortress age a solid minute or 2 before Dutch so you must use this. 8 skirmishers shipment and getting veterancy on your uhlans can apply good pressure. Keep up the pressure, you don’t want Dutch to get away with 1000w.
If the early fortress age is a stalemate, you most likely have to send mercenaries to make something happen, usually jaegers, otherwise you will lose in the long run. Once Dutch get a decent mass of veteran hussars and ruyters, with upgraded skirmishers, your uhlans will perform extremely poorly.
Last thing, if you’re playing on a map with a trading post line in the middle of the map, you can go for a stagecoach play as Dutch will be uncomfortable trying to push out of their base early on.
Recommended build order : semi ff stable start, colonial timing push, naked ff
One of the worst German match up in my opinion. British have superior economy pretty much all the game, have a much better commerce age unit composition and all the tools to deal with Germany strengths in fortress age. Their units are also way cheaper than the German ones. Still, British is also one of the hardest civ to play. So, we’re going to try capitalizing on potential mistakes.
British has the initiative in this match up, if you see British going aggressive with a forward outpost from their age up and a military building next to it, react with a barracks in your base and train crossbow or pikes depending on British military building. I wouldn’t try to go for a timing push but simply try to age when you have a window and raid with your free uhlans. British will most likely timing push you and stay age 2 with this play. You will have access to stronger units in fortress age so make good use of them.
If you see British outpost in their base and a defensive military building : In my opinion rushing them does absolute nothing as they have longbows, an outpost and town center fire. Cavalry semi ff is also not very effective but you’re confident in your mechanics you can try to multi task with several raiding groups and make the British life harder. The point of this is not necessarily to kill villagers but to idle British, force them to miss macro and keep them busy while you are aging. If you can deny some British map control that’s also great.
Keep in mind British is a snowball civilization, so if you force them to catch uhlans left and right and they are banking 600w meanwhile, that’s potentially 4-5 less villagers in manors not gathering.
British are comfortable staying commerce age vs Germany because of their 3 units composition being capable of competing with German fortress units while having superior economy. You don’t have access to cannons either to force a fight near their base. I recommend targeting resources and only fighting with your own strong timings. If British decides to age, you will have 2 windows in my opinion.
First one is to fight before they can get unit veterancy and 2 falconets. 2nd window will be going for mercenaries or adding your own cannons to your composition.
Last option, if you see British going for Virginia company build order, or going super heavy on manors early on. I recommend naked ff against this and pressure early fortress. Alternatively you can try to fast Industrial if British is too passive. Having access to heavy cannons will force them to invest a lot into culverins, and you will catch up in economy with factories.
Quick tip : fighting in open fields makes your army performing better, as longbows like to stay between trees or building and dps enemy units down. Raiding is also very effective during fights and should be used against British. British is very dependent on map resources; they will expand a bit before other civilizations and have exposed villagers.
Recommended build order : semi ff barracks start, semi ff stable start, naked ff, fast industrial
You have the tools to deal with most Aztecs strategies but it requires good defence against rushes and timing pushes, as well as adaptation against more greedy Aztec strategies.
Scouting is hard with only one explorer against Aztecs as you usually build your trading post in transition, and Aztecs can convert treasure guardians to hunt down your explorer.
There are 2 main ways to play as Aztecs :
Commerce age play : The idea being to simply rush early, force Germany to stay in the commerce age, and/or go for a big timing push when Germany tries to age
Defensive warrior priests boom : Slow start but their economy and shipment progression is really strong once it’s done.
So you need to scout, explorer early on if you can, free uhlans as well.
If you scout a forward war hut, you can open either stable or barracks it’s up to you. With uhlans start you will have to town center fire the puma spearman and they will siege your buildings very fast. Add a barracks as soon as you can and mix some crossbows as well. Once you feel safe try to age up as Aztecs units will get stronger in late commerce age and yours won’t. You can queue doppelsoldners as well and try to get a good pop on top of the Aztec army if they overcommit.
With barracks start it’s more versatile but Aztecs can go for good counters. So if you don’t see much pressure early on despite scouting a forward war hut, you’re going to get timing pushed. They are mostly going for a greedier build with 3 warrior priests first followed by 700w. They can train full coyotes and ship maces back-to-back to snipe your pikemen. This is quite hard to hold with a barracks start so make sure you don’t age too early and add uhlans once your 700w arrives.
Keep in mind it’s very easy for Aztecs to scout what you are doing as they have converted guardians, their explorer, and the eagle scout. Great coats is also your best friend as Aztecs units have low base attack.
If you don’t see a forward war hut but you scout villagers dancing on Aztecs community plaza then it’s a warrior priests boom. I wouldn’t try to go for a commerce age timing against that as it plays right into Aztecs hands. Although you could try it if Aztecs isn’t able to scout anything (you hunted down their war chief and pets) as it could work as a surprise. Otherwise just try to get villagers kills with your free uhlans and go fortress age.
It’s very important to deny forward Aztec noble huts if they age with the 2 as they provide great map control and have good stats against cavalry as well.
From there put some pressure on with fortress age shipments to deny Aztecs going industrial age and/or deny map control. If it gets to mid/late fortress black riders are great since they are tanky and perform much better against coyotes than war wagons.
Recommended build order : semi ff barracks start, semi ff stable start, naked ff
Few general tips with Germany :
Settler wagons are very efficient at building, try to build with them if possible.
Always herd with regular villagers since settler wagons are inefficient for that task.
2 uhlans raid while your opponent is distracted can do wonders.
For recorded games and tournament games I recommend watching Kaiserklein, Mitoe for standard Germany gameplay. Mine works as well but not as good as these 2 beasts LordRaphael used to be insane with Germany as well, but you will only find his games on the legacy version. If you like commerce age Germany, LukasL plays them too. For the most recent Germany gameplay I’d recommend watching Ungurs and JulianK.
You will find more diverse strategies by watching Ezad German gameplay. I’ll post a few YouTube links for good games. Some of them will be played on the legacy ESOC Patch version of the game but still applies to nowadays meta. Overall Germany is being played a lot in tournaments so you will find footage on ESOC TV YouTube channel : https://www.youtube.com/@EsocommunityNetVideos
Kaiserklein Germany vs Aykin British :
Special mentions : Many thanks to all the people who helped me write this guide ! JulianK, Ezad, Feldherr Tobi, Pérez
Thank you for reading it,