Like their Phoenician and Persian counterparts, the Carthaginians are strictly an Iron Age civilization since most of their bonuses can only be used to great effect during that age. As a result of the lack of economic bonuses, the Carthaginians are not particularly adept in games requiring economic development from scratch and quick early rushes compared to other more resourceful and booming civilizations. Consequently, the Carthaginians are not advantageous in short and early games, especially in random map and are more suited in Deathmatches like most Iron Age civilizations.
The Carthaginians are suitable on land but are much better on maps featuring any body of water as long as it leads to the enemy base. Although they can field a powerful navy consisting of Fire Galleys during the Iron Age, they are not as adept as other naval civilizations that specialize in longer ranged ships such as the Minoans, the Yamato and their Phoenician counterparts which all have bonuses for the Juggernaught. Unlike Fire Galleys which are specifically used to counter ships, Juggernauts offer greater functionality due to their longer range which allows them to outgun coastal infrastructure much easier in addition to shorter ranged ships. As a result, the Carthaginians are not much of an open water civilization and are best played as a river dwelling or coastal civilization similar to their Persian counterparts. This is the result of their fast Transport speed and improved attack for Fire Galleys which mostly supplement the transport of land units from one side of any body of water to the other. It is for this reason that Carthaginians are more effective in closed channel naval warfare than other civilizations. Having a faster Transport speed on a map with any body of water allows the Carthaginian player to move their horde of slow moving Armored Elephants and Helepolises more quickly and effectively than other civilizations. While this makes their elephant units the fastest in the game, even more so than the Persians, it is more situational than the Persian bonus as its usefulness largely depends on the map topography.
Since most of the Carthaginian army consists of War Elephants, Centurions and Helepolises, the total cost to train and build these units could overwhelm the player's economy even if played in a short Iron Age game. A failed attack or miscalculation of resource spending can be devastating to the player. For example, packing the majority of your army into a single unit like the Heavy Transport without considering a naval escort makes it more vulnerable to concentrated enemy fire. It also takes many resources to field that much of an army. In addition, the Carthaginians lacks economic bonuses to keep up with high demand of resource production. Simply put, the Carthaginians will lose to those with a quick and powerful economy in short, early games such as the Assyrians and the Yamato.
When played by the AI on random map settings, the Carthaginians may deploy a wide variety of army compositions. One of their most common ones is Camel Riders in the Bronze Age, followed by War Elephants and/or Elephant Archers in the Iron Age. They are also quite fond of using a Cavalry-Ballista combination. Less frequently, the AI will produce swordsmen or Academy line units instead. During the Tool Age, they will usually train Axemen and/or Slingers.
On water maps, the AI will tend to focus on both Trireme and Fire Galley production. In deathmatches, the AI's entire army will consist of Armored Elephants and Helepolises, providing they are in the Iron Age with a sufficient amount of surplus resources.
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