Along the valleys of the Mekong and Chao Phraya, a culture of architects, statesmen, warriors, and religious devotees flourished. Overthrow the king of Khmer, build strategic alliances, and settle the score with your historic rivals. Construct the largest religious monument in the world and amass an unstoppable army of devastating siege weapons. The Khmer unique unit is the Ballista Elephant, a mounted scorpion that can be upgraded to fire two bolts simultaneously.
The Khmer are based on the Khmer Empire, whose capital was Angkor (located in present Cambodia), one of the largest pre-industrial cities. At its peak, the city supported one million people. This is reflected by three of their bonuses: Villagers can garrison inside Houses, they do not need to build certain buildings to unlock other buildings or to advance to the next Ages, and food gathered from farming by villagers is instantly collected. Like their Persian and Indian neighbors to the west, the Khmer Empire was known to employ war elephants widely for both tactical and logistical purpose. To reflect this, their Battle Elephants move faster and can be upgraded to deal more damage with the Tusk Swords unique technology.
Like their Chinese neighbor to the north, the Khmer Empire was also known to employ ballista technology. Consequently, their team bonus increases the range of Scorpions. In addition, Khmer also possess a ballista-carrying unique unit named Ballista Elephant. Furthermore, the number of missiles fired by both Ballista Elephants and Scorpions can be increased with the Double Crossbow unique technology.
The Khmer are classified as an elephant and siege civilization, and they really shine in their advertised departments. Their Battle Elephants are particularly dangerous as they get a notable speed boost which, along with Husbandry, effectively addresses their greatest weakness which is the low speed (although they are still not fast enough to escape Halberdiers). Additionally, they get +3 attack out of Tusk Swords which lifts their attack to levels only the Elite War Elephant sits in.
They get +1 range from their team bonus and another +1 from Siege Engineers for a total of 9 - enough to outrange Arbalests, and they get a second bolt fired simultaneously (from Double Crossbow) which greatly increases their damage output. The Ballista Elephant also deserves a mention here as it broadens the versatility in their siege department, but it often struggles to be effective unless used in mass numbers. Their navy is also very good, only lacking the Heavy Demolition Ship, but their Monks leave much to be desired. Their defensive structures are average, and their economy is lacking as well without Two-Man Saw and Guilds.
Khmer units speak their namesake, an Austroasiatic language (related to the language spoken by the Vietnamese) spoken as the official language of the modern Cambodia.
Along with the Malay, Khmer is one of the few major languages of mainland Southeast Asia that is non-tonal. It also shares similarities with Malay due to Indian and Sanskrit influence (e.g. Suosdey in Khmer and Swasti in Malay).
When playing a random map game against the computer, the player may encounter any of the following Khmer AI characters:
Barom Reachea I (បរមរាមាធិបតី, also known as Dhamkat (ដំខាត់); reigned 1363 to 1370): One of the last kings of the Khmer Empire under the rule of the Thai Kingdom of Ayutthaya. He lead a rebellion against the Ayutthaya Empire before he died after being poisoned by his crucibles, leading to civil war and downfall of Khmer Empire. Father of Ponhea Yat.
Indravarman III (ឥន្ទ្រវរ្ម័នទី៣; reigned 1295 to 1308): King of the Khmer Empire, also titled Srindravarman (Khmer: ស្រីន្ទ្រវរ្ម័ន). Upon his ascent to power, he declared Theravada Buddhism as the state religion. Son-in-law of Jayavarman VIII.
Jayavarman II (ជ័យវរ្ម័នទី២; reigned 802 to 835): Founder of the Khmer Empire, he unified several parts of Khmer warlord states, marking the beginning of Angkor (great city) era in Cambodia history.
Jayavarman VII Mahaparamasaugata (ជ័យវរ្ម័នទី៧; 1125-1218, reigned 1181 to 1218): Regarded as one of the greatest kings in Khmer history and his reign is remembered as the "golden age" of the Khmer Empire. During his reign, he defeated the Champas, expanding his empire to its greatest extent, as well as building the Bayon Temple and hundreds of Buddhist temples.
Ponhea Yat (ពញាយ៉ាត; 1396-1463, reigned 1405 - 1463): The last king of the Khmer Empire who reigned at the age of 11, known by his reigning title as Barom Reachea II (បរមរាជាទី២). After the attack by the Ayutthaya Kingdom in 1436, he was forced to submit his kingdom to the Ayutthaya, ending the Angkor era and beginning the era of the Kingdom of Cambodia, which saw the conquest over Cambodia between the Siamese and the Vietnamese.
Rajendravarman II (ជេន្ទ្រវរ្ម័នទី២; reigned 944 to 968): King of the Khmer Empire, described as a great warrior-king who ruled his people kindly.
Sangrama (សង្គ្រាម, died in 1065): General under the service of Udayadityavarman II, he was credited for putting down several rebellions against Udayadityavarman II's rule.
Suryavarman I (សូរ្យវរ្ម័នទី១; reigned 1006 to 1050): First king of the united Khmer Empire. During his reign, he expanded his territory to the west to Lopburi, including the Menam basin in Thailand, and east into the Mekong basin. After his death in 1050, he gained the posthumous title Nirvanapada (the king who has gone to nirvana) for his Buddhist beliefs.
Suryavarman II Paramavishnuloka (សូរ្យវរ្ម័នទី២; reigned 1113 to 1145/1150): King of the Khmer Empire, widely regarded as the greatest king of Khmer Empire, well known for building the Angkor Wat, the largest religious monument in the world.
Udayadityavarman I (ឧទយាទិត្យវម៌្មទី១, reigned for only few months in 1002): Succeeded the throne after Jayavarman V, Udayadityavarman I later dethroned by Jayaviravarman in 1002.
Yasovarman I (ព្រះបាទយសោវរ្ម័នទី១; reigned 889 - 910): King of the Khmer Empire. His reign is remarkable for various major construction projects, he built several water reservoirs around the new capital of Yasodharapura (later known as Angkor) as well as a hundred monasteries.
Khmer Houses can be compared to AtlanteanManors from Age of Mythology: The Titans; both can garrison Villagers. However, Manors support more population, soldiers can garrison inside and also cost some gold alongside wood.
They are the only civilization outside most Age of Empires III civilizations (Asian ones, however, need to construct Wonders) that can advance to the next Age without requirements. They also are the only civilization outside of the Age of Empires III civilizations and the Atlantean Citizens of Age of Mythology: The Titans that don't need dropsites for food produced by farms.
Until the Definitive Edition, Khmer Battle Elephants were the weakest against conversion as they did not have access to Faith.
The original Rise of the Rajas campaign scenario prologues and epilogues consistently mispronounce the name of the civilization. The Definitive Edition re-dub uses the proper pronunciation, better approximated by the spelling "K'mai."
The Khmer are the only civilization added in Rise of the Rajas that can train Hand Cannoneers. However, they are also the only Rajas civilization to miss out on the Bombard Cannon. They are also the only Rajas civilization that lack Supplies.
In the HD Edition, the Khmer were considered the worst civilization in 1v1 in the Arabia map, as they lacked significant economy bonuses, a confined tactic (only Battle Elephants and Scorpions are strong), lacking early-game economy and late-game trash units. However, after they received their new bonus for farmers, Khmer were considered an extremely powerful civilization in team games on closed maps like Arena, because they can gather enough resources to field overwhelming numbers of their powerful Battle Elephants, which can completely destroy entire enemy bases in a short time, being viewed as overpowered and unbalanced in team games, possibly explaining the several nerfs to Battle Elephants, the removal of Bombard Cannons to give them a weakness against Onagers and Halberdiers, and the slower workrate of their farmers.
During the beta, Khmer Villagers could use Houses as dropsites for resources.
Although the Khmer are one of the newest civilizations in Age of Empires II series, they have long been considered as the new potential addition by Ensemble Studio. During the development of The Conquerors, Khmer - along with Tibetans and Koreans - were considered as one of the new factions to represent the Far East region. Eventually, the developers picked Koreans because they were impressed with Turtle Ships and attracted by potential sales in South Korea.
Although the Khmer people had already settled in present-day Cambodia since the second millennium BC, larger polities would only emerge from the first century AD on. Along the Mekong river, the kingdom of Funan (68-550) and the kingdom of Chenla (550-802) profited greatly from trade and rice cultivation. However, it was their successor, the Khmer Empire (802-1431), that became the most powerful state during the Middle Ages in mainland Southeast Asia.
A century after the kingdom of Chenla had disintegrated, a local chief from Southeast Cambodia called Jayavarman II (770-834) reunited the different polities through military conquest and marriages. Following his successful expedition, Jayavarman crowned himself God King (Deva Raja) in 802. This ritual act, inspired by Indian Hinduism and local traditions, not only marked the birth of the Khmer empire, but also legitimized the Khmer kings as manifestations of the Hindu gods Shiva or Vishnu. Successive rulers used this power to intervene in many aspects of the Khmer society:
First, kings ordered largescale waterworks. Because monsoons greatly affected water levels, proper irrigation systems were essential for the widespread rice cultivation. At the same time, the government did not try to control production itself. Instead, local officials collected a levy from the traders in the marketplace, which was mainly run by women. Temples served as storage and were connected by an extensive network of roads, facilitating long-distance trade.
Second, Khmer rulers funded extensive building programs as they regularly moved their capital. This relocation was often accompanied by the construction of a new state temple that acted as the center of the city and a place for worshiping the king. Angkor, one of the largest pre-industrial urban areas, consisted of seven capital cities and housed over one thousand temples. In the early twelfth century, Suryavarman II (1113-1150) constructed the most famous state temple, Angkor Wat. Today, the temple is still considered the largest religious complex in the world, testifying to the engineering and architectural skills of the Khmer.
Finally, the king commanded the army. Between the ninth and fourteenth centuries, Khmer rulers continuously conducted military campaigns and conquered much of Southeast Asia. Their major enemies were the Siamese, the Vietnamese, and the Cham, who raided Angkor in 1177 and 1178. The Khmer had no standing army, but relied on appointed captains who were responsible for conscripting peasants in times of war. Aside from this large contingent of peasant infantry, the army deployed war elephants, sometimes mounted with ballistae.
The Khmer not only fought other civilizations. Because kings married multiple women, disputes between different lineages often resulted in civil wars. For example, after Suryavarman I (1002-1049) had claimed the throne, he fought eight years with other contenders. Political instability was inherent to the Khmer society. However, from the fourteenth century on, civil wars became more frequent as rulers were unable to deal with other, structural problems: rice cultivation declined due to a cooling of temperature, the conversion from Hinduism to Theravada Buddhism undermined the legitimacy of kings as divine ruler, and warfare with the Siamese resulted in a continuous loss of territory. Eventually, king Ponhea Yat (1405-1463) abandoned Angkor in 1431, marking the end of the great Khmer Empire.