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The Franks are an offensive civilization that relies primarily on their heavy cavalry for combat. The Franks' straightforward civilization bonuses with their cavalry make them an ideal civilization to utilize the "Knight rush" strategy for newer players and veterans alike.


Their mounted units receive +20% hit points, though this is partially offset by their lack of Bloodlines. While the Knight line is better off with this, their Light Cavalry and Cavalry Archers are not (though the latter are not a viable option regardless). Their unique technology, Chivalry, is not a trade-off, giving Stables a 40% work rate, allowing the Franks to replenish lost forces faster. A smaller but still notable buff is the extra Line of Sight, something appreciated by a unit that normally has a low Line of Sight. They have a strong early- and mid-game economy, due to their faster gathering Foragers and free Farm upgrades, respectively. Another major advantage is their 25% cheaper Castles. This allows them to both build more Castles and build them earlier, making them better at securing parts of the map and pressuring the enemy directly. Another thing their cheap Castles can do is help them create their unique unit, the Throwing Axeman. While functioning similarly to a Champion in terms of unit matchups, their range allows them support their Knights. Outside of the Throwing Axeman, the Franks have a solid infantry tree with all the upgrades, and their siege tree is a similar story.


In contrast with their cavalry, their archers are very weak, lacking Bracer, Arbalester, Thumb Ring, and Ring Archer Armor, the latter of which hurts their Hand Cannoneers, their only viable Archery Range unit. Their Cavalry Archers are just as unusable as the rest of their archers, especially as the 20% extra hit points leaves them worse than if they had Bloodlines. Their Throwing Axemen do not truly fill this gap either, as they have a long attack startup and lower range. Also, despite their powerful heavy cavalry, they lack the Hussar upgrade. Combined with their awful Skirmishers, this gives them a reliance on gold that causes the Franks to fizzle out in trash wars. Also, the Frankish economy is fairly lacking in a broad and overall technological sense, and neither of their economy bonuses last beyond the early Imperial Age, hurting their late game further. Lastly, the lack of Bracer hurts their defenses and ships, especially when compounded with the lack of Bombard Towers and Shipwright, respectively.


The Franks are a strong civilization throughout most of the game but will need to end the game before it gets too late. Their foraging bonus and extra 20% hit points on cavalry give them a strong Scout Cavalry rush, even if their Scout Cavalry have fewer hit points than if they had Bloodlines.

Their Knight line is one of the best in the game, thanks to saving on the cost of Bloodlines, the strong Frankish economy, and +2 Line of Sight. Due to cheaper Castles (488 stone instead of 650 stone) they can easily make a forward Castle to limit the opponent and give the Knights a fallback option. Franks are extremely predictable thanks to their poor archers, and any competent foe will keep Pikemen or Camel Riders and such on-hand, so a Frankish player must try to micromanage the Knights well and have a back-up plan if the opponent attacks with these units. Throwing Axemen are good as a support unit for Knights, but are not as good on their own due to their slow speed and frame delay. The Franks have a viable Long Swordsman rush, but this is mainly useful as a mix-up against an opponent who has already created Pikemen.

In the Imperial Age, the Franks' game plan will remain the same, with the only changes being new upgrades. The Franks are poor at trash wars, so they will need to strike a delicate balance of using powerful enough units combined with early pressure to end the game without burning out too fast. Light Cavalry, despite lacking hit points, are decent thanks to their faster production speed. Throwing Axemen and Hand Cannoneers are the Franks' prefered back-line unit to support their Paladins, with the former being less expensive and the latter deals more damage against infantry. Elite Skirmishers can also substitute if the player is strapped for gold, but without Bracer or Ring Archer Armor their stats will be lacking. On the flipside, Heavy Scorpions are very powerful complements to Paladins, but are very expensive. Bombard Cannons are the premiere siege unit of choice, as they can take down Castles and siege while also being good at razing buildings.

On water maps, Franks have a below-average navy, and should use their cheaper Castles to gain an edge.

Strategy changes in The Forgotten[]

Throwing Axemen are a little bit more useful in The Forgotten expansion; the upgrade to Elite Throwing Axeman cost 100 gold less than in previous versions of the game. Their Axeman are faster because they get Squires. Their economy gets an early game improvement with their new civilization bonus that makes foragers collect food more quickly from bushes. The most important improvement for the Franks in this expansion is their Castle Age unique technology Chivalry, which improves the Stable work rate by 40%. Franks are already good with heavy cavalry, so with these new tech they can spawn Paladins at a greater rate; this technology plus Conscription enables the Franks to produce cavalry at a +86% speed rate, and it also works with the Huns team bonus (in a team battle) furthering this rate to a total of +123% creation speed for cavalry units.

Strategy changes in The African Kingdoms[]

Throwing Axemen are now slightly faster. Also, the Knight HP bonus now applies to all their cavalry, including Cavalry Archers, making a Scout rush a more viable tactic during Feudal Age and the Cavalry Archers more useful. It should be noted that building Cavalry Archers and Scouts is very suboptimal, as the HP is still pretty low in comparison to their respective cavalry units with Bloodlines (72 HP as opposed to 80 HP) and the fact that the Franks lack the important technologies for Cavalry Archer rushes (Parthian Tactics, Bracer, and Thumb Ring).

Strategy changes in Lords of the West[]

The unique technology Chivalry was moved to the Imperial Age, so they are slightly weaker during the Castle Age.

Their economy was also toned down, as foragers only work 15% faster. Meanwhile, they lose access to Treadmill Crane.

Strategy changes in Return of Rome[]

The Castle discount in the Castle Age is reduced to 15%. This hurts little in open maps, but constrains their Castle Drop strategy in closed maps.


As a Cavalry oriented civilization, Franks benefit from team bonuses that boost cavalry, particularly the Knight line units. The Franks' own team bonus helps allied Knights as well, as Knights normally have mediocre Line of Sight. Additionally, with an ally that specializes in archers, the Franks can go into the Knight line, letting their ally take care of any Spearmen or Camel Riders, while covering the archer line's greatest weaknesses of Skirmishers and Battering Rams. Watch out for elephants, as they can tank hits from both units, especially if properly supported. The Franks are typically best when played in the Pocket position, as they can go straight into their strong Knights.

  • Berbers AoE2 Berbers: The Berbers have discounted Knights to aid the Franks and have the Camel Rider to work with the Frankish Knight-line. Genitours also fit well in the Frankish cavalry-oriented army, and Kasbah helps the cheap Frankish Castles work faster.
  • Bulgarians AoE2 Bulgarians: Their faster-attacking Cavaliers with Stirrups benefit from the extra Line of Sight from the Frankish team bonus. The Franks are able to research their Blacksmith technologies faster.
  • Burgundians AoE2 Burgundians: The Frankish team bonus will aid the Burgundian early Cavaliers in a Burgundian Cavalier rush.
  • Chinese AoE2 Chinese: Their team bonus adds more food to the Franks' Farms. The Chinese can go for Knights themselves or go for Archery units.
  • Cumans AoE2 Cumans: Their faster Knights can make good use of the extra Line of Sight from the Frankish team bonus. The Franks may get good ranged assistance of free Kipchaks from the Cuman Mercenaries technology, which enables each allied castles to create five of them, and the Franks already have cheaper Castles.
  • Georgians AoE2 Georgians: Their Knight line regenerates hit points and occupy less population space after researching Aznauri Cavalry. The Frankish team bonus allows Georgian Knights to spot unfavorable combats earlier so they can disengage from them, retreat the cavalry to a safe place, and regenerate. The Georgian team bonus helps the Franks defend better and for longer, as this reduces the repairing costs of buildings.
  • Hindustanis AoE2 Hindustanis: Their team bonus gives Light Cavalry +2 bonus attack against buildings, and they can create Caravanserais along the trade route, boosting the trade of both players. The Franks can perform a scout rush in the Feudal Age, while in the Imperial Age, they will need gold for their Paladin and Throwing Axemen.
  • Huns AoE2 Huns: Their team bonus will reduce the training time of Knights and Light Cavalry which stacks with the Chivalry technology, and the Frankish team bonus will aid the Huns. The Huns also have great Cavalry Archers, which pair well with the Frankish Knight line.
  • Malians AoE2 Malians: Their Knight line has better attack after researching Farimba, which makes the Frankish team bonus valuable for the Malians. In return, the Franks are able to research University technologies faster. The Malians are also a infantry civilization and have access to Camel Riders.
  • Persians AoE2 Persians: Both the Persians and the Franks have team bonuses that aid Knights, and they can create Caravanserais along the trade route, boosting the trade of both players.
  • Poles AoE2 Poles: They get cheaper Knights after researching Szlachta Privileges, so having the extra Line of Sight is quite useful for them. The Franks in return have Light Cavalry with +1 bonus attack vs archers, which is useful on a Scout Rush in the Feudal Age.
  • Sicilians AoE2 Sicilians: Their Knight line is more resilient against bonus damage and is better armored after Hauberk is researched, so the Frankish team bonus is highly valuable for them.
  • Teutons AoE2 Teutons: As Knights are vulnerable to Monks, having a Teuton ally will help, and the Teutons have Knights of their own to benefit from the Franks.

Compared advantages and disadvantages[]

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Advantages vs other civilizations[]

  • The Throwing Axeman, being a ranged melee unit, can counter the most traditional counters to archery (skirmishers, Goth Huskarls, Rattan Archers, Korean War Wagons, etc.) while at the same time filling a similar role to archers. Since Frankish Castles are much cheaper, Throwing Axemen can be spawned more readily than other unique units, making them a serviceable replacement to the Champion against trash units.
  • As their cavalry receive more hit points by default, and Franks also have a good early economy through their farm and forage bonuses, they can perform raids early on, so civilizations with bad early games and mid-games will have trouble against Franks. Heresy is a nice technology for the Franks to have access to, as it counteracts the Knights' vulnerability to conversion; once researched, enemy monks will merely kill Frankish knights instead of converting them.
  • Defensively speaking, their cheaper Castles gives them an edge, as it makes it easier for them to control key areas of the map.

Disadvantages vs other civilizations[]

  • Despite the fact the Throwing Axemen can fill the place of archers, they can be overcome by Hand Cannoneers and the usual infantry counters. If the player forgets to micromanage their Throwing Axemen, Onagers can be a threat. Also, they have low movement speed, so Cavalry archers may hit-and-run them.
  • Even though Throwing Axemen can be employed to get an edge late-game (as Trash busters), Franks lacks Hussars and the final armor and attack Blacksmith upgrades for their archery, limiting the effectiveness of the Elite Skirmishers.
  • Despite the fact they have a bulkier Knight-line with more LOS and better training rate, their other cavalry units have fewer hit points when compared with civilizations with access to Bloodlines. Also, as Franks are heavily reliant on Paladins, civilizations with good anti-cavalry units such as Camel Riders and Halberdiers can overcome Franks. As Paladins are often the target of Monks, civilizations with good monks may overcome a Frankish paladin army.
  • Despite their Castles giving them a defensive edge, they still lack several defensive upgrades such as Keeps, Bombard Towers, and Bracer, so that can be an exploitable disadvantage for civlizations with good raiding units.
  • Regarding naval warfare, the Frankish navy does not have any naval bonus, as well as lacking Shipwright, Heated Shot, and Elite Cannon Galleons, so good Naval civilizations can easily defeat them in Water maps.

Situational advantages[]

  • As their villagers collect faster from forage bushes, they may get an advantage in maps where they can find more bushes than usual, such as Arena, Black Forest, and Yucatan.
  • If playing Death Match, Franks may get an advantage, as gold scarcity is not an issue, so they can spam their knights more freely.
  • In closed maps like Black Forest, Franks may get an advantage, as they can quickly make their way to Imperial Age if they manage to wall early and improve all the technologies related with cavalry and gunpowder.
  • Their cheaper Castles may give them an edge in game modes like "Defend the Wonder" and "King of the Hill".
  • As their light Cavalry have more HP by default, while also training faster after Chivalry is researched, they may get an edge in the "capture the Relic" game mode, as light cavalry is the usual counter to monks.
  • The Throwing Axeman's melee damage allows it to destroy Rams from behind walls, giving them an edge when defending on maps like Arena.
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