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The Byzantines are primarily a defensive civilization that excels at turtling. However they are very versatile and are perfectly capable of mounting a good offense as well. As a result, they are a perfect civilization for players who are new to the game and veterans who want to try using different strategies reasonably well.


The Byzantines' primary strengths are defense and their ability to effectively counter a variety of troop types (infantry, ranged, and cavalry). Their buildings have bonus hit points which increase with every age advance. This makes knocking down their walls difficult and their defensive structures benefit as well. In addition they have access to all defensive buildings and their counter units have bonuses, making attacking them even more difficult. Technologically they are the one of, if not the, most advanced civilizations in the game, as they can research almost every technology. In the original game they only lacked the Blast Furnace technology, while in the expansion they are missing several others but are still remarkably advanced. They also have a considerable discount when researching the Imperial Age upgrade.

A Byzantine military will likely be composed mainly of mounted units as they have full cavalry technologies (excluding Bloodlines), but due to their large amount of accessible technologies, they can effectively create any kind of army. Their unique unit, the Cataphract, excels at killing infantry but can take on almost any unit due to their large attack and armor. In addition they are virtually immune to bonus damage from Camels and Mamelukes, making these normally potent anti-cavalry units harmless. The Byzantines also possess a strong navy with full naval technologies and have full access to gunpowder units. They also have a faster attacking Fire Ship which helps them defensively in the seas, and makes them slightly better at shore-bombardment in the Castle Age. In addition, the Byzantines' Halberdiers, skirmishers, and camels have a cost reduction. These units give them effective counters to cavalry and archers, working alongside the Cataphracts' devastating anti-infantry ability.


Byzantines are versatile, but have a few weaknesses. They excel defensively but they don't have as many offensive bonuses to aid them while attacking, since they lack Blast Furnace. Due to this, Paladins are one of the best defenses against their Cataphracts, since they are also cavalry and possess high defensive and offensive stats. Their siege weapons are also slightly lacking, missing the Siege Onager and Heavy Scorpion.

Although Byzantines have a complete Stable unit tree, their Stable units are considered weak because they lack Bloodlines and Blast Furnace upgrades. In a one-on-one situation, the Byzantine Heavy Camel Rider loses to a Paladin with the Bloodlines upgrade. The same outcome also applies to the Cataphract. This in turn puts them at a disadvantage against an army consisted of heavy cavalry. Luckily, this is balanced by the fact that Byzantines possess the cheapest Camels and Halberdiers in the game, so Byzantines are still able to defeat hostile heavy cavalry troops by using numerical superiority.


Byzantines have a nearly-complete tech tree, allowing them to do pretty much whatever they want, instead of being limited to one or two particular strategies like other civilizations. Unfortunately, they don't truly excel at any strategy save defense. Typically, Byzantines will try to reach the Castle or Imperial Age as quickly as possible, since that is when their tech advantages shine. They are perfectly capable of Dark Age rushing (drushing) or Feudal Age rushing (flushing) if they want to. They can flush with any Feudal units, although their Skirmishers and Spearmen are cheaper, allowing them to effectively counter an incoming flush. Maybe the best tactic used by Byzantine players is turtling since all their buildings have a large amount of hit points, and them having access to all defensive structures, having the entire Watch Tower line, Bombard Tower and overall strong castles.

In the Castle Age, Cataphracts, Camels and Knights work exceptionally well together. All are fast and mobile, Cataphracts help counter Pikemen and Camels, Camels get rid of opposing Knights who can otherwise give Cataphracts difficulty, and Knights are all-around bulky and good for killing Archers and raiding Town Centers and Castles. Byzantines also get cheaper Camels, making this combination even more effective. With their team bonus increasing Monk heal-speed, the player can also keep some Monks around to make up for the lack of Herbal Medicine.

Castles, Keeps and Bombard Towers make for an effective defense on land maps. On sea maps, Byzantines lack Heated Shot, so they should attempt to win the water with their stronger Fire Ships and complete Dock techs.

Strategy changes in The Forgotten[]

Their new Tech Greek Fire gives Fire Ships +1 range; they already have good and strong Fire Ships so this new tech gives a bigger advantage at the sea and can take down enemy ships for more distance.

Strategy changes in The African Kingdoms[]

Byzantines have already a nearly complete tech tree and in this expansion this tech tree is furthered with the addition of the Arson and Arrowslits technologies which in this last case furthers the defensive capabilities of the already strong Byzantine towers. Also, the addition of the Fire Galley in the Feudal Age gives an early edge to the Byzantine navy since they will benefit from the Fire Ship bonus.

Strategy changes in the Definitive Edition[]

Watch Towers' base HP is reduced to 700 in the Dark Age (in the Castle Age, they still have 1,200 base HP). Despite this, the Byzantines can still perform a Tower rush (and can partially circumvent this nerf, as their HP bonus still applies); it is just a bit harder to make it and succeed. Update 39284 reduced the food cost of the Elite upgrade of the Cataphract and the Logistica technology to 1,200 food and 800 food, respectively, encouraging their use.


Byzantines make great support in team games, as they have several defensive bonuses that can aid their allies. Their HP bonus for buildings greatly helps their team, as it allows them to create strong defensive structures. If an ally attempts a Wonder or Relic victory, is recommended that the Byzantines support that player with Walls, Towers, and Castles (even in the Dark Age, which can also be useful for Gurjara team-mates to safeguard their Mills and the herdables they garrisoned into them).

The Byzantine team bonus makes monk support more effective, as the monks can heal faster. This is especially useful for civilizations that already have good monks or bonuses for monks, like the Aztecs, the Saracens (especially when they perform the Smush), the Slavs, the Spanish, the Teutons (which will make their monks the best healers in the game, as their monks have also a healing range bonus that was fixed in the Forgotten), the Burmese, the Lithuanians (combined with their own bonus to produce Monks quicker) and the Bohemians (they have the Hussite Reforms technology that make their Monks food-only healers, i.e. another handy instrument for "trash wars").

With an open tech tree and a wide variety of tactical options, most team bonuses will benefit the Byzantines at some point of the game. Maybe the best teammates for the Byzantines are the Incas (Byzantine cheaper Halberdiers and Skirmishers will get +2 LOS), Mayans (as their team bonus will make the strong Byzantine walls cheaper), the Vikings, the Japanese , the Malay, the Sicilians, or the Dravidians(if playing on water maps), and the Hindustanis (which will add their anti-building bonus to the cheap Byzantine Camels). It may seem useless on paper, but the Cumans' team bonus (+33% hit points for Palisades) is a great boost in the early-game defense, and it stacks with the Byzantine hit point bonus for all their buildings, making an early turtling tactic much more viable.

Both Berber and Vietnamese allies can deliver quality trash units (Genitours from the former and Imperial Skirmishers from the latter) which allow Byzantine players to "swarm away" their opponents once-and-for-all as those in the Byzantines' case are cheaper. Apart from that, Kasbah from Berber allies makes amassing large Cataphract contingents feasible, particularly in deathmatches.

Compared advantages and disadvantages[]

Advantages vs other civilizations[]

  • The Cataphract is a well-rounded cavalry unit with attack bonus vs infantry, trample damage after researching Logistica and a hidden bonus armor against anti-cavalry attacks. They counter all types of infantry, even the infantry from prominent infantry civilizations (like Teutons, Burmese, Malay, Vikings, Japanese, Aztecs, Goths, Malians and Celts), with the exception of the Halberdier, if it surpasses a critical mass (see in disadvantages). It also counters the light cavalry of many other civilizations (like the Magyars, the Huns and Mongols), and even the camelry of prominent camel civilizations (like Saracens, Berbers and Indians). Cataphracts are also effective against both versions of the Bulgarian Konnik, due to their movement speed, relatively good armor, trample damage after Logistica, and their attack bonus against infantry, making the dismounted version more vulnerable.
  • As they have cheaper skirmishers and all the proper basic upgrades for them, civilizations based on archer type units and cavalry archers like Mongols, Tatars, Cumans, Britons, Mayans, Chinese, Magyars, Turks, and Berbers will have a hard time against massed cheap Byzantine skirmishers.
  • Having as well cheaper Halberdiers and Camels, cavalry based civilizations like Tatars, Persians, Magyars, Huns, and Franks will have a hard time against a Byzantine army.
  • As they have a fairly open tech tree with almost all technologies available, they can effectively counter civilizations more limited in that regard like the Goths, the Mayans, the Magyars, the Britons and other "specialist" civilizations.
  • Defensively they have an advantage against civilizations with mediocre siege workshop or proper anti-building units thanks to their overall bulkier buildings (without considering the Trebuchets which every civilization have access to). This includes Britons, Japanese, and Magyars (of course, once they get to the Imperial Age, this advantage is no longer a problem for them). Even civilizations with good siege engines, like Celts, Turks, Ethiopians, Khmer and Koreans will have a harder time against a turtling Byzantine settlement.
  • Being a civilization able to perform a potent Tower rush supported by cheap skirmishers and Spearmen they have an advantage against civilizations with bad early game like the Turks, the Portuguese, the Spanish, and the Khmer, particularly in open maps like Arabia if starting from the Dark and Feudal Age.
  • Regarding the naval Warfare they are in advantage against civilizations that rely on Galleons, Cannon Galleons or other ranged ships for offense (like the Viking Longboat and the Portuguese Caravel) as their Fire ships have more range and more firing rate and they also have a complete dock tech tree. Even the navy of civilizations like Spanish, Berbers, Saracens, Koreans, and Malay may have trouble against the Byzantine navy especially if they mix also Galleons and Cannon Galleons with their improved Fire Ships.

Disadvantages vs other civilizations[]

  • Despite the fact the Cataphract is probably one of the units in the game with the fewer number of weaknesses they can be countered by masses of archers, or other heavy cavalry (like the Paladin, especially the Frank one, the Slav Boyar, the Tatar Keshik, the South East Asian Battle Elephants, and the Persian War elephant), also as the Halberdier despite being ineffective in a unit vs unit engagement they are much cheaper than the Cataphracts and if they surpass a critical mass they can still counter them. As Cataphracts are a big target with lower than average conversion resistance, civilizations with good Monks can convert them such as Slavs, Aztecs, Saracens, Spanish, and Burmese. Viking infantry after Chieftains may also being an exception as that technology gives to every Viking infantry +5 attack vs cavalry. Japanese Samurai and Incan Kamayuks should also must taken at consideration against Cataphracts especially if massed and fully upgraded of course Cataphracts can still retaliate against these two units.
  • Despite the fact they have a nearly complete tech tree, they still lack Siege Engineers at the University, along with Siege Onager and Heavy Scorpion at the Siege Workshop, and have no bonuses for their siege line. Other defensive civilizations (such as Incas, Chinese, and Koreans) can counteract a Byzantine attack if they turtle themselves. Additionally, civilizations with more specialized Siege weapons like Celts, Slavs, Ethiopians, and Khmer can manage to destroy the Byzantine siege weapons and then at late game break the Byzantine turtle if they surpass their defensive lines.
  • Despite the fact that they have a nearly complete tech tree, they still lack Bloodlines and Blast Furnace, so their stable cavalry are below of civilizations like Franks, Teutons, Persians, and Berbers, also aside from the Cataphract, Logistica (that only benefits Cataphracts) and cheaper camels they don't have other bonuses for cavalry.
  • Despite the fact they have a nearly complete tech tree, and a nice bonus for their buildings, they still lack Masonry and Architecture at the University, which means their buildings have more HP than the buildings of a regular civilization with both upgrades but less armor in comparison, which means they are more effective against siege units and melee in general but less effective against arrows, and that can be an exploitable weakness for several archer civilizations particularly Britons (whose archers outrange Byzantine Castles and Towers).
  • As their early and middle game is reliant on defending or tower rushing, civilizations with early game aggression such as Aztecs, Huns, and Japanese may overturn the Byzantines if they don't manage to wall up at time, this is especially noticeable in open maps like Arabia.
  • Regarding naval warfare as they must rely on their Fire Ships to get an advantage, civilizations with good Demolition Ships (like Chinese whom their Demolition ships have more HP or Berbers whom their Demolition Ships move Faster) may mow down their navy with fast and deciding Demolition Ship blows. Also the Korean Turtle Ship is a good response to the Byzantine Fire Ships. Byzantines also lack Heated Shot making their towers less effective against ships than they are against land units

Situational advantages[]

  • As they have bulkier buildings, arguably they have the better chance to win by Wonder victory in a standard game match. This also gives Byzantines an advantage in the game modes "Defend the Wonder" and "King of the Hill". In "Sudden Death" games, where the main objective is to destroy the single Town Center of an opponent, Byzantines also have an edge, as theirs are bulkier than average.
  • As their Imperial Age upgrade is much cheaper this can give Byzantines an advantage in the game mode " Wonder Race".
  • If playing with high resources Byzantines have a good chance to perform a "fast Imperial Age" much sooner than other civilizations as their Imperial Age upgrade is much cheaper.
  • In closed maps like Black Forest, Byzantines have a huge advantage as on those kinds of maps thanks to their better fortifications they can wall up effectively, enabling them to boom with nearly complete upgrades at the late game.
  • In enclosed maps like Fortress, Arena, and Hill Fort, their building HP bonus gives them a huge edge as they start already walled preventing enemy raids inside their town for a while.
  • In the Regicide game mode, every player starts with a Castle (alongside more Villagers and the King, but not gold). The Byzantines get an early advantage in that game mode, since their Castle has more HP than the others, making a sieging attack to their initial location more difficult.
  • Arguably, they are one of the best equipped civilizations in Post-Imperial matches.
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Strategies in Age of Empires II
AoE2-DLCicon-0.png The Age of KingsBritons · Byzantines · Celts · Chinese · Franks · Goths · Japanese · Mongols · Persians · Saracens · Teutons · Turks · Vikings
AoE2-DLCicon-1.png The ConquerorsAztecs · Huns · Koreans · Mayans · Spanish
AoE2-DLCicon-2.png The ForgottenIncas · Hindustanis · Italians · Magyars · Slavs
AoE2-DLCicon-3.png The African KingdomsBerbers · Ethiopians · Malians · Portuguese
AoE2-DLCicon-4.png Rise of the RajasBurmese · Khmer · Malay · Vietnamese
AoE2-DLCicon-5.png The Last KhansBulgarians · Cumans · Lithuanians · Tatars
AoE2Icon-LordsWest.png Lords of the WestBurgundians · Sicilians
Dawn of the Dukes icon.png Dawn of the DukesBohemians · Poles
AoE2Icon-DynastiesIndia.png Dynasties of IndiaBengalis · Dravidians · Gurjaras