The Celts are an offensive civilization that focuses primarily on infantry and siege weapons, but they also have decent cavalry and navy as well. While the Celts fare better than most civilizations in early games, they are the most powerful from Castle Age and onward. Thanks to a number of non-situational bonuses and units, the Celts are ideal for new players and experts alike.
Their infantry move faster than those of other civilizations and their unique unit, the Woad Raider, is the fastest infantry unit in the game. They also have access to all siege weapons (Siege Rams, Siege Onagers and Heavy Scorpions) which offers a faster attack speed. However, they lack the ability to develop gunpowder units such as the Bombard Cannons. In addition, their unique technology, Furor Celtica, greatly increases the hit points of their siege weapons, making them quite difficult to destroy. They also fare better economically since their lumberjacks can gather wood faster than those of other civilizations. This frees up some population space since fewer villagers have to be tasked to gather it. In addition, their herdables cannot be stolen as long as it is within the line of sight of any Celtic unit, while they can steal herdables of other players with their units.
Defensively they are average, lacking many defensive upgrades, especially Architecture, and Bombard Towers. Their cavalry is decent but is nothing special since they lack Bloodlines and Plate Barding Armor; still, they are able to upgrade to Hussar and Paladin. The lack of Camel Riders is somewhat compensated by the faster speed of their Spearmen. They also have some of the weakest Monks in the game, missing many technologies at the Monastery. Their archers are also incredibly weak, lacking the Arbalester upgrade, Bracer, and Thumb Ring; the lack of Bracer hurts their ships as well.
Celts have a strong early-game economy due to their Lumberjack bonus. They have a powerful Feudal Age rush (flush) because their Militia move faster than opposing Militia and Villagers, allowing them to perform hit-and-run tactics, and raid more effectively. This bonus lasts into the Castle Age and beyond, as it essentially gives them free Squires plus a little bit more, giving them an advantage running from or pursuing other infantry.
In the Feudal Age, Celts can do more or less whatever they want, although Infantry are the go-to option since they keep their value even in the later ages. Lingering in the Feudal Age is generally a bad idea, since Celts really shine in the Castle and Imperial Age. Celtic Siege is among the best in the game, with extra health and faster firing rate. Woad Raiders make great raiding units due to their speed and attack bonus against buildings, and Halberdiers are good for protecting Siege, since they are better equipped to keep up with Cavalry than other civilizations because of the speed bonus. The Lumberjack bonus is fabulous for getting extra wood to make Siege Engines as well. A Celt player must be sure to keep multiple Siege Workshops up (preferably at least four) since Siege is slow to create.
The Celtic Lumberjack bonus also helps with naval conflict, allowing them to make more ships with fewer Villagers. Celts have a relatively good navy, only missing Fast Fire Ship and Elite Cannon Galleon, neither of which are vital to succeed; they also lack Bracer for their ships, but can research Shipwright for long water battles.
Being the official tutorial civilization, the Celts are recommended for newer players due to the Celts being a straightforward civilization with strong synergy with their civilization bonuses (faster woodcutting rate, faster firing and producing siege), their unique tech, and an infantry bonus with an infantry unique unit. Their tech tree is also well-rounded with strong siege and infantry and a decent cavalry and navy, with archers, Monks, and defense being their only clear weaknesses.
Strategy changes in The Forgotten
Celtic defenses in The Forgotten are greatly improved with their new Castle Age unique technology, Stronghold, that increases the firing rate of Towers and Castles. Despite so, they still lack Architecture, Bracer, and Bombard Towers, though this new improvement make their defense better. Although Furor Celtica now gives only 40% HP to siege weapons, the amount is still significant enough in the battlefield. If playing alongside with the Koreans, the minimum range for Celtic Mangonels are eliminated. This combining with the faster fire speed makes Celtic Mangonels among the most feared siege unit in the game.
Strategy changes in The African Kingdoms
All civilizations received the new Siege Tower at their siege Workshop, and as the Celts are one of the civilizations that favors the use of siege units, this makes a great difference. In the Celts' case, they are spammed quicker, and with Furor Celtica, they will have more hit points, making this unit more resilient against enemy attacks, especially from towers behind a wall. Since the purpose of the Siege Tower is to drop foot troops on the other side of a wall, the ability of this unit synergizes nicely with the infantry bonuses the Celts have.
Strategy changes in the Definitive Edition
As with most civilizations (except the Goths and a few others), the Celts received the new Supplies technology, which makes their Militia-line infantry a bit cheaper and consequently a bit easier to mass, making their Men-at-Arms rush in the Feudal Age a bit more viable. Of course, their faster Champions will be easier to mass in the later stages of the game because of this. The speed bonus for infantry has been disabled in the Dark Age, making their Dark Age rush (drush) much less threatening than before. The bonus now kicks in from the Feudal Age onwards.
Celts should be paired with civilizations that rely heavily upon their siege workshop units, such as the Slavs, Koreans, Mongols, and, particularly Ethiopians (with their own Torsion Engines upgrade), Khmer (with their own Double Crossbow upgrade), all four civilizations from Dynasties of India (all of them have access to Siege Elephants), and gunpowder civilizations with access to Bombard Cannons such as Turks or Bohemians (with their own Houfnice upgrade). The Celtic team bonus helps them keep up a faster and more steady supply of siege units. A great early game synergy Celts have is also with Cumans, as the Cumans can create Siege Workshops and train Battering Rams in the Feudal Age, giving the Cuman Feudal Battering Ram Rush decisive seconds to win the battle.
Celts benefit from allies such as the Goths, who enable them to train their infantry faster, and from Koreans, because of the reduced minimum range for Mangonel units. The Italian Condottiero is also very useful for the Celts, because it can reach and counter dangerous gunpowder units very quickly. Alternatively, Genitours from Berber allies will also be the saving grace for feeble Celtic missile contingents against archer-oriented civilizations, together with Kasbah upgrade to make mass-producing Woad Raiders and Trebuchets in quicker speed possible.
Slavs team Bonus will also enable Celt to save some wood in houses, and invest that wood on more siege units. Khmer allies also proved to have good synergy with the Celts, not only contribute Hand Cannoneers for gunpowder support, they also grant Celtic Scorpions adequate range boost, in exchange for quick production speed of their own counterparts and Ballista Elephants, both enhanced by Siege Engineers and Double Crossbow technologies, as "friendly-fire-free" counter-measures against archers, ships and massed units.
In circumstances were the Celts are able to steal herdables from an opponent (which for them is a bit easier, due to their herdable-stealing bonus), they can instead give the stolen herdables to Britons, Mayans, Gurjaras or Tatars (Age of Empires II) allies, as they can get more out of the herdables (Britons gather them faster, Mayans and Tatars get more food out of them, Gurjaras can perpetually have a trickle of food by garrisoning herdables in a Mill).
Compared advantages and disadvantages
Advantages vs other civilizations
Disadvantages vs other civilizations
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