The Aztecs are an Infantry- and Monk-oriented civilization. They are also well known for their early-game aggression and strong economy on land maps.
Overall, Aztecs are a very strong civilization. They begin with +50 gold in the Dark Age, allowing them to train five Militia without having to task any villagers to mine gold. This, combined with their faster military buildings, allows them to perform a Dark Age rush more effectively than other civilizations. Aztecs can win games quickly.
Their unique technology, Garland Wars, increases the attack of all infantry by four. This gives all of their infantry massive attack compared to those of other civilizations. Their unique unit, the Jaguar Warrior, benefits greatly from this. The Jaguar Warrior already has a large attack and a bonus against other infantry. When coupled with their unique technology, they can defeat any other infantry unit in the game. Their unique unit is effective against infantry because they do not also cost too much. The Eagle Warrior benefits from all infantry upgrades and is a strong choice against Monks, archers and seige weapons. They can defeat civilizations who heavily depend on infantry such as Goths, Vikings, Malians, and Incas. Their Monks are also the best in the game. The Aztecs can research every single Monastery technology, and their Monks receive extra hit points every time one is researched. In some situations, this bonus is of somewhat questionable value, but with all Monk technologies researched, an Aztec Monk has 95 HP. This makes them durable against anti-Monk units like the Hussar and Eagle Warrior, and they can even survive a Siege Onager hit. This makes the Aztecs one of the best civilizations for Monk rushes (combined with increased gold generation of Relics) and allows them to excel at punishing any civilization that lacks Heresy, particularly civilizations that heavily depend on expensive units (such as the Persians, Slavs, Teutons, Indians, and Koreans).
Aztec economy bonuses are strong in the early and late game. Villagers carry +3 extra resources. The +50 extra gold is very good early in the game, and the Relic bonus is useful later, particularly against civilizations like Teutons who get short of gold in the late game. Aztecs have access to Siege Rams and Siege Onagers, while lacking Heavy Scorpions and Bombard Cannons.
The Aztecs' total lack of cavalry or gunpowder puts them at a huge disadvantage in the late game. While Eagle Warriors make decent cavalry substitutes in the Castle Age and early Imperial Age, they don't have a lot of HP and so are easily outmatched by Paladins, and they cost a lot of gold unlike Hussars. While Aztec Pikemen have greater basic attack than other civilizations' Halberdiers, they are nowhere near generally as effective against cavalry. This further compounds the problem of the Aztecs' lack of cavalry. However, some units, like their strong Monks, can compensate for their cavalry need in the late game.
The Aztecs have the weakest navy in the game, as they are the only civilization which can create neither Galleons nor Cannon Galleons. Lacking the latter fails to reward any naval dominance the Aztecs achieve, as they cannot bombard an opponent's buildings from the water. Overall, they prove extremely weak on water maps in the Imperial Age. Their only exception to naval weakness is their fully upgradable Fast Fire Ships.
Even though the Aztecs have Arbalesters, they are missing two important archer upgrades (Thumb Ring and Ring Archer Armor), making their archers fairly weak late-game when compared to civilizations with stronger archers such as the Chinese and Britons.
Aztecs have a very effective five-Militia Dark Age rush (drush) as they begin with +50 gold, and military units create faster. A standard drush consists of three Militia, so Aztecs get a large advantage here, especially when the opponent is also drushing. In a 1v1, Aztec players should almost always drush, as it is one of their key advantages. The early aggression can make an Aztec player win a game in the early game. With the Militia rush, they can disturb the enemy's economy by attacking Villagers and buildings while the Aztec player gathers their strength and advances quickly to the next ages.
Aztecs have a powerful economic advantage because of their Villager carrying bonus, and if the player chooses not to drush, this combined with the extra gold can make a large economic difference. This helps make up for the fact that Aztecs lack Scouts in the Feudal Age. In the Castle and Imperial Ages, an Aztec player must use Monks, Eagle Warriors, Jaguar Warriors, and Champions as needed. Monks can deter Cavalry charges with proper support, Eagle Warriors are great against archers and for raiding, and Jaguar Warriors can easily defeat other Infantry, especially Champions who have a bonus against Eagle Warriors. The player must mix Siege Onagers and Siege Rams in their army for better results.
Once in the Imperial Age, an Aztec player must focus on gold production (relics are good because of the Aztec team bonus) and mass-produce large numbers of Garland Wars-boosted Elite Eagle Warriors for raiding. The tech tree becomes wider so the player can now have many options to encounter the enemy's army. If the opponent is using lots of heavy cavalry, the player should make Monks to convert them, or Pikemen, which are cost-effective. Elite Eagle Warriors have +4 vs cavalry, so with Garland Warss, Eagle Warriors do 21 vs cavalry. The main strength of Eagles is their speed and resistance to arrow fire, allowing them to run under Castles and Town Centers with impunity. Eagle Warriors can effectively fight archers, Monks and siege weapons. Civilizations like Vikings, Goths, and Malians, who rely heavily on infantry, can be countered by the the Jaguar Warrior. Gunpowder units that can pose a heavy threat to the Aztecs' infantry should be countered with high-HP Monks and Skirmishers. Gunpowder units are expensive, so Skirmishers are a cheap counter. When the game goes very long, gold runs out, which can give a high advantage to Aztecs, due to their gold bonus and good trash units.
Aztecs should try to keep their feet dry where possible, as they have indisputably the worst Navy in the game. Lacking Galleons, Cannon Galleons, and Demolition Ships, their only hope is to take over the water before the foe can get the Galleon upgrade. On primarily sea-based maps, it is vitally important to control the water from early game, since War Galleys stand no chance going up against an army of Galleons. Fire Ships are good for taking the water and holding it, since Aztecs fortunately get Fast Fire Ships and all the relevant technologies.
If the player is forced to go defensive as Aztecs, they must use Monks and siege and build walls. Lacking Masonry, Architecture, and Hoardings, their Castles go down extremely fast and should never be relied on for defense.
The Aztecs' main foe would be civilizations that utilize cavalry and gunpowder units to a great extent, like the Spanish or the Persians with Hand Cannoneers and Paladins doing formidable damage against the Aztecs' infantry (in addition to the lack of Halberdiers to deal with strong Paladins, although the Aztecs can easily punish the Persians due to them lacking Heresy). However, fully-upgraded Elite Eagle Warriors (do 21 damage vs cavalry), Pikemen (+22 vs cavalry) and Monks (high HP) can save the Aztecs from such cavalry threats while the cost-effective Skirmishers can fight costly gunpowder units. Civilizations with strong navy post the greatest threat to Aztecs. The Aztecs, like many Native American civilizations, will struggle against the Byzantine Cataphracts due to the anti-infantry nature of the units in addition to their cheaper Skirmishers and stronger archery line should the Aztecs try to counter the Cataphracts with archers, so Aztecs should try to defeat the Byzantines in the early game, as Byzantines have weak early-game bonuses. Aztecs will find it easier to play against archer civilizations and other infantry civilizations, like Goths.
Strategy changes in The Forgotten
Despite the loss of their free loom bonus (replaced with +50 gold at start), the Aztecs are still a good rushing civilization. Their new unique tech Atlatl improves the range and damage of their Skirmishers, making them one of the best Skirmishers in the game.
Strategy changes in The African Kingdoms
The Eagle Scout is now available in the Feudal Age, meaning Aztecs have the option to spend their 50 extra gold on two eagle scouts instead of a five milita drush. Eagle scouts have a very long build time in the Feudal Age, but Aztecs partially circumvent this with their faster military production. Despite being very expensive, the Eagle Scout is an impressive unit in Feudal Age warfare, countering Archer, Skirmisher, and Spearman lines (in total cost but not taking into account gold scarcity later on). Considering their counter, the Militia line, is very rarely seen in the Feudal Age, that mostly leaves Scout Cavalry as their only contender.
Strategy changes in Rise of the Rajas
The military creation bonus no longer applies to Monks, meaning that a Monk Rush will be somewhat delayed, but still viable. The do however get access to the Demolition Raft (despite lacking gunpowder), in order to slightly boost their early navy, though they still have the worst navy in the game.
Strategy changes in Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition
As all civilizations (except the Goths) received the new Barracks tech Supplies, they are now better enabled to perform a Feudal Age rush with Men-at-Arms. Also, later on, their Champions are cheaper thanks to this new technology. They are also able to train Xolotl Warriors if they convert a Stable, so they gain access to a cavalry unit. The effect of Tracking is now applied directly when advancing to the Feudal Age, improving the scouting ability of their Eagle Scouts, as they now do not have to research it. Their navy is no longer the worst, as the Cuman and Bulgarian navy is even worse.
Update 37650 reduced the creation speed of all military units to 10%, preventing them from being too strong in early games and balancing their creation speed if they are allied with Celts, Berbers, Britons and Goths (their team bonuses make Siege Workshops, Castles, Archery Ranges, and Barracks work faster).
Update 42848 reduced the Aztecs' carrying capacity from +5 to +3, while the Jaguar Warrior's creation speed is faster. This means that it will be slightly easier to mass it to crush enemy infantry, with only a little economic reduction.
In team games, Aztec players should generally try to play in the pocket position (between two allies), since in this way they can perform an economic boom and serve as Springboards in Springboard tactics. They are however not ill-placed in the front line either, because of their good rushing abilities. As they lack cavalry and a strong navy, it is preferred that their ally must have cavalry and good navy in order to cover their natural weaknesses.
The Aztec team bonus allows allied Monasteries to produce more gold from collected relics. This gives the entire team an edge, especially in the late game when the gold becomes scarce. This bonus makes an excellent synergy with other bonuses to gold collection, and also the Indian Sultans technology. A Portuguese ally will have little trouble with gold in the late game. A Spanish ally will add +33% gold from trade for the whole team. Probably one of the best synergies this team bonus has is with Burgundians, since the Burgundian team bonus enables Relics to generate a trickle of food, so both players will get a lot more out of the captured Relics they have.
The Aztecs greatly benefit from team bonuses to infantry such as the Goths' (+20% faster Barracks in addition to the Aztecs' faster military production), and the Italians' (Condottieri available for defending infantry and buildings against cannons). The Slav team bonus allows the Aztecs to save some wood or get more population space, and this can prove useful in a Drush.
Allying with Britons will prove useful since it will ease the creation of a large amount of Aztec skirmishers, which are improved with the Atlatl technology. Allying with Berbers will add the Genitour to their Archery Range, which makes it possible for the Aztecs to have a second cavalry unit (considering the Xolotl Warrior in the Definitive Edition). The Genitour is also counted as a skirmisher and will benefit from the Atlatl technology. Allying with Cumans will grant the Aztecs 10 Elite Kipchaks to be trained for free at the Castle, giving them a third cavalry option once their Cuman ally researches Cuman Mercenaries. Similarly to the Berbers, the Vietnamese help them with Imperial Skirmishers. Combined with Atlatl and fast training, they rival ranged units of archer civilizations, as they will boast 9 damage and 9 range, outranging and neutralizing most missile units, while being cheaper and versatile, essentially replacing Arbalesters. Their trash is also effectively improved, despite lacking both Hussars and Halberdiers.
Also, Aztecs make up for the Vietnamese bad early game and can abuse the revelation of enemy Town Centers to accurately rush enemy positions.
The Chinese team bonus of 45 more food on Farms adds to the Aztecs' hidden Farm bonus. Apart from that, Chinese also bring great missile units (including Chu Ko Nu units) and Camel Riders to assist the Aztec infantry, mainly against cavalry. They can also operate efficiently in Springboard tactics, catapulting the Chinese to later ages in order to abuse their cheap technologies to create unpredictable, confusing armies, while Aztecs infantry rush.
Regarding the Monastery, The Burmese might probably be among the top allies for an Aztec player, as they reveal relic positions. This, combined with the extra income from Relics, gives them an enormous advantage, as they can easily score a religious victory, while receiving economic advantages and a motive to rush with both sides' Monks. Another powerful synergy is with the Lithuanians, since their team bonus makes Monasteries work 20% faster, enabling the Aztec player to better perform a Monk rush. In this case, it is better to bring the relics to the Lithuanian player, since their cavalry attack increases with garrisoned Relics. The Lithuanian player can tribute gold when needed. An alliance with Byzantines makes the strong Aztec Monks even more useful by increasing their healing speed. In the cases of Burmese and Lithuanian alliances, they can cooperate efficiently in Springboard tactics (with the Burmese or the Lithuanians serving as Springs), as both civilizations offer immense opportunities from the Feudal Age on, with great cavalry and gunpowder units (both weaknesses the Aztecs have).
The Aztecs lack a good navy, but that can be covered in team games.
Compared advantages and disadvantages
Advantages vs other civilizations
Disadvantages vs other civilizations
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