The Burmese are classified as a Monk and Battle Elephant civilization. To reflect this, they have full Cavalry upgrades (except for the Paladin), and their unique technology Howdah gives their Battle Elephants +1/+2 armor. Their other unique technology Manipur Cavalry not only affects Elephants, but all Cavalry and also the Burmese unique unit, the Arambai, and gives them +6 attack against buildings. Thanks to these technologies, fully upgraded Burmese Elite Battle Elephants can be used as makeshift Siege Weapons.
Their Monks are also exceptionally strong, with access to all Monastery technologies available (save for Heresy in order to give their Battle Elephants a more fleshed out counter) and they even get a 50% discount on them. Their team bonus also helps their Monks by revealing the locations of all Relics on the map, allowing the Burmese player and their teammates to quickly collect them and have a gold lead in the late game. This is especially useful on Arena maps, where the Burmese can quickly advance to the Castle Age behind the safety of their walls.
Another strength of the Burmese is Infantry. Again, full upgrades are available and the Burmese civilization bonus of +1 infantry attack per Age further cements their supremacy.
Their economy bonus comes in the form of free Lumber Camp upgrades, giving the Burmese a slight advantage over civilizations without economy bonuses.
The Burmese are very strong on closed maps like Arena and Black Forest. In Arena, cheaper monk technologies gives the Burmese a slight edge over their opponents in monk strength. In Black Forest the narrow chokepoints help buff the Arambai's poor 20% accuracy. On both maps the Burmese can boom behind the safety of their walls.
The most glaring weakness of the Burmese is their abysmal Archery Range. Not only do they lack Hand Cannoneer, Arbalester, and Thumb Ring, but they are also are the only civilization not to get the Castle Age technology Leather Archer Armor. While lacking Leather Archer Armor isn't a huge deal, since attack upgrades for archers are highly prioritized over armor, this means that the Burmese archers and cavalry archers are essentially glass cannon units and will lose out in a lot of archer vs. archer trades, unless the Burmese take advantage of elevation, meaning that their anti-infantry options are limited to Arambai and their below average Heavy Cavalry Archers with Parthian Tactics. To make up for the lack of the Castle Age armor, the Burmese's free Lumber Camp upgrades can allow the Burmese to do a decent Feudal Age Archer rush in superior numbers, but once the Burmese reach Castle Age, they should transition to their civilization strengths (such as a Battle Elephant, Knight and Monk rush).
As mentioned earlier, because the Burmese lack Heresy, their strong Battle Elephants are very prone to conversion, prompting the Burmese player to field anti-Monk units (usually Archers), which are really lacking for the Burmese. That said, the Burmese have access to fully upgradable Hussars as an anti-Monk option.
Another weak spot is their mediocre late game navy, lacking both the Fast Fire Ship and Heavy Demolition Ship upgrades, as well as, more crucially, Shipwright. As a result, the Burmese have to rely on Galleons; however, this is the war ship most commonly used anyways.
Even though the Burmese are an Elephant and monk civilization, they have a great bonus that favors the use of infantry very early on the game. The Burmese are able to perform an infantry rush in the Feudal Age, as the extra attack can prove valuable in the raiding, and they also have full Champion and Halberdier upgrades. The infantry will also retain their value in later ages, considering their increasing attack per age. The extra attack bonus for infantry can be compared with the Aztec Garland Wars technology. For example, the basic militia line units will be stronger for the Burmese in the early stages of the game, but once the Aztecs manage to reach Imperial Age and research their unique technology, an Aztec Champion will have +1 attack over a Burmese one (not to mention their Elite Jaguar Warriors that are impervious against other infantry), but the Burmese spearman line will remain marginally better than the Aztecs, as the Burmese have access to the Halberdier upgrade that gives them a crucial boost in their anti-cavalry and trash-fighting capabilities, whereas the Aztecs don't have this upgrade.
The Burmese also have a strong economy. Their Dark Age will be normal, but once they reach Feudal Age, they will receive the Double-Bit Axe improvement for free, which means they will gather wood faster, and this may help to them to focus more on other resources. Booming with the Burmese is very possible, as they have almost all economic upgrades and the Lumber camp upgrades are free.
Using a fast castle tactic will enable the Burmese to perform a Monk Rush. Monastery technologies are a lot cheaper for the Burmese, meaning that Burmese Monks will be better prepared than other monks when performing this tactic, even if the player is not intending to use the monks offensively. Having cheaper monastery technologies is also highly valuable. For instance, Faith, the most expensive technology at the monastery, will only cost 375 food and 500 gold for them. Faith is very useful when facing opponents' Monks, and having this improvement at a cheaper price will help to invest that gold and food in troops and cavalry, especially Battle Elephants.
Burmese players and their allies will know the locations of all Relics from the start of the game, and the gold trickle from Relics is highly valuable, also having the consideration that gathering the Relics is a victory condition in a standard game. One tactic a Burmese player can use against enemy Monks that helps to achieve a Relic victory is to send Scout Cavalry and some supportive Skirmishers or Archers to each Relic location they can reach on the map since Feudal Age, and set them on patrolling the areas of the Relics. This will make it very difficult for opponent monks to approach the Relics. Then the player must advance to the Castle Age as quickly as possible and spam monks to each secured Relic location.
In the Castle and Imperial Ages, Burmese should start to focus more on cavalry and infantry rather than on monks, and use their monks more for supportive and utility purposes (healing the Burmese expensive units and converting enemy expensive units). Burmese cavalry (particularly Battle Elephants) are a great tool for a siege, thanks to their unique technology Manipur Cavalry that gives +6 bonus damage against buildings to all melee cavalry and the Arambai. Also, their Battle Elephants can be improved with their second unique technology, Howdah, which gives them more armor, making the Battle Elephant a viable substitute to siege engines (considering also that Battle Elephants already have bonus attack against buildings and defensive structures).
The extra attack for the Burmese infantry will have a lot of value, since they not only get all the infantry upgrades, but will allow them win infantry vs infantry trades if backed by their Arambai. Their unique unit, the Arambai, is a cavalry archer that deals heavy damage, but with very low accuracy. It can be compared to the Spanish Conquistador: a fast unit that deals a lot of damage with low accuracy, but in the case of the Arambai, those traits are more extreme. The Arambai works a lot better in large numbers and against large numbers of enemy units, as they can deliver volleys of darts.
On water maps, the Burmese should use their free Lumber Camp upgrades to gain an edge on the early game and try a Galley rush. Later on, their navy will be average, lacking important upgrades like Shipwright and Fast Fire Ship, so raiding is very important on those kinds of maps. Otherwise, they should keep their feet dry.
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. The Elite Battle Elephant now has 14 base attack instead of 16, but is still a viable option for sieging.
Update 34699 reduced the Arambai wood cost to 75 wood, which works better with their free Lumber Camp upgrades.
With update 37650, Manipuri Cavalry no longer gets partially blocked by the Masonry technology, making their excellent Stable units a much better choice at destroying buildings.
However, in update 39284, Battle Elephant trample damage was reduced to 25%, making them much more vulnerable to massed Halberdiers and Camel Riders in pitched battles, but their increased armor by the Howdah technology still makes them a good choice as frontline.
With update 42848, the Arambai firing rate was reduced from 2.0 to 2.2, but their effectiveness is still solid. Their Battle Elephants were directly touched by the increasing of the collision size and the bonus reduction against buildings to 4 for standard and 7 for elite. However, they can still take down building fairly quickly thanks to Manipur Cavalry.
Strategy changes in Lords of the West
With update 44725, the Arambai base attack was reduced to 12 for standard and 15 for elite and the rate of fire set back to 2.0, while missing shots now do 100% damage, weakening their power against buildings (especially in closed maps like Arena), but increasing the effectiveness against other units.
Strategy changes in Dawn of the Dukes
With update 51737, the Howdah technology was improved, as it now gives +1/+2 armor instead of +1/+1 armor (Bringing it back to the Rise of the Rajas release), making ther Battle Elephants a much stronger unit to soak all arrow damage. They now take only 1 damage from Arbalester shots, also being a much more devasting raiding unit.
A major change to Manipur Cavalry in update 56005 is that it now gives Stable units +5 attack against archers, replacing the older effect against buildings. As a result, the Burmese Stable units become a formidable force against archer civilizations. Hussars can kill Arbalesters in one less hit, because most of the time, the attack and range upgrades are researched before armor when playing with archers. The Burmese Cavalier can be a bigger threat, as with all attack upgrades and the technology effect, it can kill Arbalesters in two hits. The effect on the Elite Battle Elephant isn't small. Trapped Arbalesters can be killed in just two hits, which is even more powerful when Burmese elephants also get extra armor. Unfortunately, it no longer affects Arambai.
Strategy changes in Dynasties of India
Burmese Battle Elephants now have +1/+1 armor as a bonus, and Howdah again gives +1/+1 armor, resulting in better melee armor to the previous versions, which means that Burmese Battle Elephants now hold slightly better against melee units. The cost of Manipur Cavalry was also reduced, and the train-time of the Arambai was also reduced, enabling Burmese players to mass them better.
Despite being branded as a "Monk and Elephant" civilization, the Burmese, in reality, are quite versatile, boasting offensively powerful infantry and great religion-based bonuses to rival the Aztecs', a great variety of cavalry (boosted intensely by the Unique Technologies) and a lumber bonus that can assist the Burmese economy. Though they have the worst Archery Range, this plethora of tactical perks allows them to potentially execute both booming and rushing strategies, that may be assisted by the right ally.
An obvious teammate could be an Aztec player, and not only because of their spectacular Relic synergy that allows them to discover and abuse Relics' gold. The Aztecs offer great early game possibilities, and rather than executing rushes, they could try a Springboard strategy, helping the Burmese execute a rushing Springboard using superior infantry, or boom up to the Castle or Imperial Age to train cavalry, Elephants and Arambai. With a Burgundian ally, the Relics the team capture will also generate food alongside the regular gold they provide.
Another great teammate are the Lithuanians, whose team bonus makes Monasteries work 20% faster. The Burmese team bonus grants vision of Relics, so the Lithuanian player can collect them much more easily. If the Lithuanians can't get to the Relics, the Burmese ally can get them for them until they get their 4 Relics, which increases the attack of their heavy cavalry. The Lithuanian player grants faster-working Monasteries, so the Burmese player can tech into Monks (since their Monk techs are 50% off). The Burmese have very strong infantry, while the Lithuanians lack Plate Mail Armor and Blast Furnace. The Lithuanians have decent Crossbowmen and Cavalry Archers and Tower Shields for their Elite Skirmishers, while the Burmese lack Leather Archer Armor (the only civilization that lacks it) and Thumb Ring, so their Archery Range is overall weak. Both civilizations possess powerful cavalry options. The Burmese have a superior Siege Workshop, having two items the Lithuanians lack: Siege Engineers and Heavy Scorpion. The Lithuanians have a full Monastery, so they can re-convert Battle Elephants that their Burmese teammate lost and they'll gain protection from Heresy.
Apart from the Aztecs, Lithuanians and Burgundians, the other civilizations with decent Monks/religious bonuses (Slavs, Saracens, Spanish) can exploit the revelation of Relics to rapidly secure most if not, all Relics on the map, but probably the best choice of these 3 civilizations would be the Slavs; their team bonus can facilitate Feudal Age infantry rushes by saving time (and wood) built on Houses, whereas the Burmese can constantly tribute lumber to the Slavs in order to plant Farms and exploit their Villagers' improved gather rate.
Speaking of cavalry, the Huns' bonus can be used in the late game, so that the Burmese spam anti-archer Elephants or cavalry along with the Huns' Tarkans, while also using infantry and Cavalry Archers to attack any anti-cavalry units that can harass the Hun or Burmese cavalry. This team bonus can also stack up with the Gurjara team bonus (elephant and camel units are created faster), at least for the Battle Elephant. The Manipur Cavalry unique technology (+5 attack vs archers for all cavalry) can stack up with team bonuses such as the Persian team bonus (Knight line +2 attack vs archers) and the Polish team bonus (Light Cavalry line +2 attack vs archers). If allied with the Hindustanis, their Hussars will also have some attack bonus vs buildings.
Goths can also be used in a similar way, with their team bonus allowing for potentially terrifying Feudal Age rushes of Burmese and Gothic infantry.
The Chinese are not an obvious choice, but they can prove to be a surprisingly brilliant ally: the Farm team bonus, combined with the better production of lumber, can allow the Burmese to both save and gain extra resources, saving time and wood, while at the same time a Chinese-Burmese alliance offers a great variety of units that can make the team highly unpredictable. And of course, the Chinese offer awesome ranged units that can make up for the abysmal Burmese Archery Range, whereas the Burmese offer strong infantry and versatile cavalry to increase power projection and harass Villagers and towns.
Another interesting (though more efficient at late game) combination could be an Italian-Burmese alliance. Burmese Condottieri can become alarmingly powerful, thanks to the attack bonus, while Italians offer better archers and gunpowder units, and Burmese make up for the Italians' below average cavalry with their own. Lumber tributes can also be put to good use by the Italians' navy.
Berbers can be used similarly, with Genitours offering the Burmese a spectacular trash game (despite being frail), alongside Hussars with anti-building bonuses and Halberdiers with very high attack. In return, the Burmese will assist the Berbers with their better infantry and their Elephants (that make up for the lack of Siege Rams), whereas the Berber Cavalry Archers will reliably stave off Monks and archers (mounted and foot archers) that can severely harass the Burmese. The Burmese can also exploit their free Lumber Camp upgrades to offer tributes that can be put into good use by the Berbers, especially as navy is concerned, similarly to the Italians' case; for example, they can spam ships at early game in order to flood the enemy's Fishing Ships. Vietnamese also offer Imperial Skirmishers to somewhat offset their bad Skirmishers and the two civs may cover each other's weaknesses, the Vietnamese offering superior ranged units, whereas the Burmese can rush revealed positions with Militia and Spearmen. In general, the Burmese can really cooperate well with all 3 civilizations that offer unique units as team bonuses.
Tatar Team Bonus (+2 Line of sight for Cavalry Archers) improves the usefulness of the Arambai.
An alliance with the Portuguese can be used for a Monk spam, by coordinating the cheaper Portuguese Monks to acquire Relics for the entire team. They also bring at late game their excellent gunpowder units, including Organ Guns, making up for the poor Burmese ranged warfare. It should be noted however, that both Mediterranean civilizations (Italians and Portuguese) will offer a powerful late level game, but not a decent early one.
Unfortunately, the Burmese elite units are vulnerable to Monks, and thus a Teuton-Burmese alliance should also be considered in order to shield Elephants and other vulnerable units, while creating a tough-to-beat bulwark, as the game goes on, of fast and dependable Burmese cavalry, hard hitting Burmese infantry, tough Burmese elephants and Teutonic Knights, supported by Teuton siege and base defenses and of course, backed by both sides' Monks.
Compared advantages and disadvantages
Advantages vs other civilizations
Disadvantages vs other civilizations