A Home City is the capital city of a civilization in Age of Empires III that delivers economic and military shipments to a player's in-game colony, adding extra functionality to normal gameplay.
Home Cities enable more diverse game-style decision-making, where players can ship a variety of economic, land military and naval-oriented units or technology upgrades. Furthermore, players are also able to customize European Home Cities.
Each civilization has its own unique Home City, with five interactable buildings that provide the new cards depending of experience. For Europeans, the buildings are: the New World Trading Company, the Military Academy, the Cathedral, the Manufacturing Plant, and the Harbor. Every time a Home City is created, it will be automatically assigned the name of a city in that country (though the player can type in a personal choice). The following names are always the first option for each civilization:
- British: London (the Military Academy has the appearance of the Tower of London)
- Dutch: Amsterdam
- French: Paris (the Cathedral has the appearance of Notre-Dame)
- Germans: Berlin (the Cathedral has the appearance of Kölner Dom in Cologne)
- Ottomans: Istanbul/Constantinople (the Cathedral has the appearance of the Hagia Sophia)
- Portuguese: Lisbon (the Harbor has the appearance of the Belém Tower)
- Russians: St. Petersburg (the Cathedral has the appearance of St. Basil's Cathedral in Moscow)
- Spanish: Seville (the Military Academy has the appearance of the Torre del Oro)
- Aztecs: Tenochtitlan (the Temple has the appearance of the Great Pyramid of Tenochtitlan)
- Haudenosaunee: Caughnawaga
- Lakota: Great Council (Hunkpapa before the Definitive Edition)
In The Asian Dynasties expansion, the civilizations have:
- Chinese: Peking/Beijing
- Indians: Delhi (the Imperial Court has the appearance of the Taj Mahal in Agra)
- Japanese: Edo
In the Definitive Edition:
- Incas: Cuzco/Cusco
- Swedes: Stockholm
- United States: Washington D.C. (the White House and the Capitol have the appearance of the buildings they were named after)
- Mexicans: Mexico City (the Palace has the appearance of El Zócalo and Cathedral has the appearance of the Mexico City Metropolitan Cathedral)
Cards and decks
- See Home City Card.
Every civilization has a unique assortment of improvements, units, and resources that are called Cards, which can be sent to the "New World" colony as shipments. The higher the player's Home City level is the more Cards are available for use. The cards are also available by Ages, such as troops start coming in during the Commerce Age while artillery start coming in in the Fortress Age.
There are five categories of cards, represented by a building in the Home City for European and Asian civilizations:
- Economic resources
- Military upgrades
- Building upgrades
- Economic upgrades
- Naval upgrades and mercenaries
All of the cards for a Home City are put in a group called a deck. A deck can contain 25 cards. This forces players to make decisions and to only use the cards they believe to be the most important.
- See Experience.
Experience is the fourth resource added in Age of Empires III.
In the original game, all Home Cities begin at level 1 and are provided with 15 cards. In the The WarChiefs and The Asian Dynasties expansions, Home Cities begin at level 10 instead. As more XP is gained the Home City is able to level up and a new card can be added to the deck. Choosing cards must be done carefully and a certain amount of strategy must be used. Many cards must be unlocked through reaching a certain level Home City before becoming available. Some cards can also require other cards as prerequisites. Focusing on specific units or technologies minimizes the amount of cards that need to be purchased.
In the Definitive Edition, all Home Cities begin at level 1 with all cards unlocked. Leveling only affects Home City customization.
There are several ways the Home City can be customized so it looks unique from any other player's Home City. Customizations are varied; some provide entertainment to the streets of the Home City (jugglers, artists, drunks...), or even market vendors and nobles. The design the buildings can be modified through the building color, adding "Market Day" flags, etc.
Home City customizations are currently available to all civilizations except the Haudenosaunee and Lakota. Originally, only European civilizations' Home Cities were customizable. In the Definitive Edition, other civilizations (and Swedes, who were a new European civilization) didn't have the custom option when it was released. Since then, customization was made available in patches, like the Chinese in update 14825.
Whenever a Home City levels up, the player gets one point that can be spent to unlock a customization. Some customizations of most non-European civilizations need more points to be unlocked. Some updates and the The African Royals expansion let some civilizations have alternative skin for their heroes that can be seen in the Home City, but unlike other customs, to unlock them players must complete event challenges; if the event ends, there is no way to unlock the skins.