While being the second most played map on Age of Empires II just behind Arabia, Arena is one of the most popular maps on the game as well as a classic to the age community, where it’s closed player base, a booming economy and the most crazy stats are taking place.
On contrast for the other most popular maps, Arena is the one closed map where every player is protected by a layer of stonewalls and an empty battlefield on the middle for extra resources, where map control and a great economy are key factors for the win, and in most cases, the civilization pick as well.
For this list, it looks at the best civilizations for Arena by looking at how often they’re picked for this map and how great is their win rate according to the stats that this page made by the community shows with fine details, looking the civilizations performance for ELO’s above 1200 on Arena, and possible reasons why they are so good for it.
One of the newest additions to Age of Empires II with the release of the Dawn of the Dukes expansion two months ago is currently taking one of the best positions for closed maps. That being said, it is worth remembering that by being an DLC that not anyone has, just being on the top 5 is a huge selling feature.
While Bohemians perform similarly to Portuguese, for example, in the way that their early game is slow and vulnerable to early aggression, closed maps like Arena makes them go directly to middle and late game with the full strength of their tech tree. But that’s not the only reason that made Bohemians be the second most picked civ for Arena, just behind Turks.
The reason why Bohemians are considered that strong is because of two major factors. In the first place, the free mining techs for both gold and stone gives an immediate effect by taking more gold than other civs would take by doing a Fast Castle strategy. This helps Bohemians not just for going to castle age with a great gold income, but also to take stone faster and make castles more intensively, useful for the classic “Castle Drop”.
The second reason is their unique units: the Hussite Wagon and the Houfnice. Wagons work in a similar way to the Portuguese Organ Gun, with the big difference that the first has better pierce armor, no minimum range, and a more powerful attack. Combining that with the great access to stone to make castles for production, along with their fast creation time, a good amount of Waggons makes themselves a dangerous threat to even melee units.
The downside of this is that they’re really vulnerable to siege units like the mangonel line, but in the Imperial Age that gets addressed by their second unique unit, the Houfnice, which is their unique upgrade to the bombard cannon. This upgrade improves their attack, armor and the damage area around the target, allowing them to snipe any siege unit that could treat the Hussite Wagons. If the pikeman line with +25% bonus damage is added to this composition to address cavalry counter attack, it makes a truly unstoppable composition.
The next civilization on the list is that kind of civilization that’s famous for their unique unit and the craziest strategies ever: The Spanish.
While it’s true that the Spanish have a very powerful late game scenario, what’s working better for them is that they can perform extremely well in three of the most seen strategies for Arena.
First of all, the villagers being able to build 30% faster is a nice and useful thing not just for building the economy faster, but for making offensive buildings like castles and siege workshops. This makes Spanish one of the best civilizations to try this, although the Sicilians civ bonus is better in that regard by building castles in half the time, but with the difference that Spanish apply this to all their buildings.
Once the castle is up, the Spanish player has three great options. It can either add Conquistadors and siege to start pushing the enemy base on an uncommon early aggression, or play ‘clown’ and add monks with inquisition, that makes them convert units faster. Monks are usually seen on Arena, first hand to pick relics, but also as a support unit that, with inquisition on the back, makes them really useful… and annoying.
One final option is to go straight to Imperial and start adding more gunpowder units after researching chemistry, taking advantage of their main military bonus that makes Hand Cannoneers, bombard cannons and bombard towers fire faster.
A fun fact about Spanish is that all of the trash units, the Hussar, Halberdiers and Skirmishers are available with full upgrades, so adding trash units into this composition is also really reliable.
It’s no wonder that three of the civilizations that occupy the top 5, are gunpowder civilizations. Here is the queen of all of them.
Thanks to their civ bonuses and their great units to come along, Turks have for years been considered the best civilization for closed maps, and with the new patches on Definitive Edition, this hasn’t changed very much, but on the contrary, made them even stronger.
For starting, Turks have a civ bonus that makes their villagers collect gold 20% faster. This bonus is better than the Bohemians free mining upgrade in the way that Turks get more gold sooner than the newest civilization, combined with the fact that they still have all gold upgrades available.
By reaching the Imperial Age is where the Turks start to show their immense power, with the free chemistry upgrade and their extra hit points on all their gunpowder units, especially the Hand Cannoneer and Bombard Cannons.
Turks get to be one of the best civilizations to try a Fast Imperial strategy for this reason, by taking more gold than anyone else for ageing up, and get Imperial to immediately have a powerful deathball, while at the same time spending few resources and not getting many upgrades on the units themselves, since Hand Cannoneers are just affected by archer armor at the blacksmith.
Once the economy is correctly settled up and if the game hasn’t ended yet, Turks get one final card under the table with their Hussars, which are researched instantly and have +1 pierce armor. This makes them useful to get enemy skirmishers or mangonels that are commonly used to counter the Hand Cannoneers.
Making a huge contrast with what the Top has been so far, Koreans are the exception by being a powerful archery civilization.
Koreans have a great selection of civ bonuses that are useful for closed maps like Arena. For example, they have a similar bonus like the Turks, but for stone.
Taking stone and going for map control is one of the most important things in Arena, and Koreans made a great job of it, needing fewer villagers to pick stone enough for the castle and start taking map control with their fair monk tech and, of course, their unique unit, the War Waggon.
War Waggons are a difficult unit to fight due to its extra pierce armor and hit points, compared to the cavalry archer line. Their armor allows them to take fair fights against other archers and even skirmishers, and along with their faster stone mining, producing them out of multiple castles is not as hard as it might sound for other civs.
In the Imperial Age, however, they have a huge amount of possibilities, being able to combine their War Wagons with mangonels with extra range after researching Shinkichon.
One final factor, despite it not being a usual thing to see, is that thanks to their free Watch Tower line and again their faster stone mining, Koreans can take more map control by using their towers, allowing them to take more resources and secure critical points on the map.
The shocking thing about this Top 5 is that the number one civilization for Arena isn’t neither a monk nor gunpowder civilization, but a cavalry one. More stunning is the fact that it’s crowned by the second of the newest civilizations to arrive in Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition. The Poles.
Is curious that despite being a DLC civilization that not everyone have, Poles are the sixth most picked civilization for Arena, behind Cumans, Teutons, Britons, Bohemians and Turks, and even with this in mind, Poles have the best win rate for close maps.
Strictly speaking, Poles bonuses might not seem to be tough for an Arena game plan, but it works that way by having some resources useful for the most common strategies seen on this map. One thing that could explain this is their two main eco bonuses: The Folwark and their stone mining bonus.
Starting with the Folwark, one of the big issues that comes to mind when it’s played on maps like Arabia is that by having the building near the berries, it indirectly leaves the villagers vulnerable to early aggression when they start to farm around it, but in Arena this isn’t the case thanks to the layer of stone walls. This allows Poles to fully take advantage of the quick food income that comes from the Folwark, allowing them to move quickly through the ages and the expansion of the economy.
One other big thing is that their second eco bonus that gives gold while mining stone allows them to take an extra gold if the game plan is, for example, build a defensive castle at home. One idea that comes from this is that Poles can put less villagers on gold and more on stone early in the Dark Age and still have resources enough to go on a Fast Castle strategy. Not just that, but it gives Poles extra gold from the stone when all mines are gone.
Ironically enough, Poles are not a civ that uses gold as intensively as the other four on the list, despite the stone eco bonus. When it comes to the military, Poles are one of the cheapest civilizations of this top. Szlachta Privileges, for example, greatly reduces the gold cost of their heavy cavalry by 60%, making them even cheaper than the Berbers stable units, despite not having the last cavalry armor on the blacksmith.
That’s also coming with their light cavalry line, and specially the powerful Winged Hussar that after Lechitic Legacy have trample damage. Their main unique unit, the Obuch, is also a nice addition to the military as an auxiliary unit while spending little gold on the unit itself.