Deep in the rainforests of the Yucatan, an intriguing civilization subsisted within the humid climate for centuries before mysteriously vanishing. Establish city-states and crown them with awe-inspiring pyramids, a testament to your rich mythology and the splendor of your rulers. Conquer the jungles with powerful infantry and swift Plumed Archers, deadly marksmen who can elude all but the most mobile enemy troops. Can you build a legacy worthy of your temperamental gods?
In contrast to the Aztecs, the Mayans put more emphasis on their foot archers and have better defenses, but have average Monks and siege and weaker front-line units (in the case of the Mayans, they lack Supplies and Champion upgrades). Despite this, the Mayans are capable of a strong archer rush because their archers are cheaper. The Mayan army composition puts more emphasis on mobility thanks to their bulkier Eagle Warriors and their unique unit that acts as a pseudo Cavalry Archer. Much like the Aztecs, the Mayans have a strong economy and a unique technology that improves their Skirmishers (in the case of the Mayans, they have a unique technology that allows their Skirmishers to fire an extra projectile). As a Native American civilization, they do not have access to cavalry and gunpowder units.
Due to the way this bonus works (lowered work rates are multiplied by higher resource gains), farming is ~2.5% / 5.5% / 2.5% slower with no upgrades / Wheelbarrow / Hand Cart, respectively (slightly lower difference with Heavy Plow researched).
When playing a random map game against the computer, the player may encounter any of the following Mayan AI characters:
Bird Jaguar (Yaxun Bʼalam): Name of several kings of Yaxchilan, most notably Bird Jaguar IV; lived 709–768 and ruled from 752. He struggled to take and hold power, as he was not perceived to be the rightful heir to the throne due to not being born to his father's first wife.
Black Serpent (Kan Ekʼ): Title used by the kings of Lake Peten Itza between 1194 and 1697, the last Mayan polity conquered by the Spanish. Also the personal name of several unrelated kings in Motul, Calakmul, Chichen Itza and Seibal between 600 and 900 A.D.
Curl Snout (Yax Nuun Ahiin I, a.k.a. Curl Nose (r. 379-404?): King of Tikal. His name when transcribed is YAX-?-AH:N, translated "First ? Crocodile". Son of the Teotihuacan ruler Spearthrower Owl.
Eighteen Rabbit (Uaxaclajuun Ubʼaah Kʼawiil, r. 695-738): 13th king of Copan in modern Honduras and builder of most of its monuments.
Flint Sky God (Bʼalaj Chan Kʼawiil, 625 – c. 692): First king of Dos Pilas. He is also known as Ruler 1, Flint Sky God K, and Malah Chan Kʼawil. Installed as ruler of Dos Pilas by his father the king of Tikal, when he was four years old, he rebelled against Tikal in 648 and waged wars against it, Calakmul, Coban, and Machaquila.
Great Jaguar Paw (Chak Tok Ichʼaak I, r. 360?-378): Also known as Great Paw, Great Jaguar Paw, and Toh Chak Ichʼak, was a king of Tikal likely killed when it was conquered by Teotihuacan.
King Stormy Sky (Sihyaj Chan Kʼawiil II, a.k.a. Storm Sky and Manikin Cleft Sky, r. 411-456): King of Tikal buried beneath Temple 33.
Lady Great Skull Zero: Wife of Bird Jaguar IV.
Shield Jaguar II: Possibly Itzamnaaj B'alam II (r. 681-742), king of Yaxchilan in Chiapas, Mexico. Best known for the many buildings and stelae he commissioned during his rule.
Smoke Imix God: Possibly Chan Imix Kʼawiil a.k.a. Smoke Jaguar (r. 628-695), the twelfth and longest-reigning king of Copan.
Smoke Monkey: Possibly Kʼakʼ Joplaj Chan Kʼawiil (r. 738-749), 14th king of Copan. Little is known of his reign due to the lack of monuments raised after the defeat of Copan by Quiriguá and the execution of the previous king, which possibly reduced Copan to vassalage.
Smoke Shell: Possibly Kʼakʼ Yipyaj Chan Kʼawiil (d. 763), 15th king of Copan. Built a new version of Temple 26, with the Hieroglyphic Stairway being reinstalled on the new stairway and doubled in length. Five life-size statues of seated rulers were installed seated upon the stairway. He was likely interred in Temple 11, although the tomb has not yet been excavated.
Smoking Frog (Siyaj Kʼakʼ or Siyah Kʼakʼ, a.k.a. "Fire is Born"): Warlord in the Petén region who was possibly from Teotihuacan. In 378-379 he overthrew the kings of Tikal, Uaxactun, and Copan, and replaced them with descendants of Spearthrower Owl. He ruled the area until his death in the early fifth century, during which Petén was subjected to great cultural influence from Central Mexico.
Smoking Squirrel (Kʼakʼ Tiliw Chan Chaak, 688 - c. 720): King of Naranjo from 693. His early reign saw several victories of Naranjo over Yaxha, Tikal, Ucanal, and other cities, which were presumably accomplished by his mother and regent Lady Six Sky, a daughter of Bʼalaj Chan Kʼawiil from Dos Pilas.
Waterlily Jaguar: A Mayan protector deity of the Underworld (Xibalbá), associated with royalty and libation, depicted as a jaguar looming large above the king, or as a transformer shown amidst flames.
The Mayans occupied the Yucatan peninsula, modern Honduras, and modern Guatemala. They date back perhaps to the second millennium BC, but peaked between 600 and 900 AD. Though they lived on lands of marginal agricultural value, they created monuments and ceremonial centers nearly as impressive as those in Egypt. The extent of the ceremonial building is surprising because their religion was relatively simple. Their architecture was also less developed, though undeniably impressive, compared to contemporary advances made elsewhere in the world. They invented a unique written language that is only being deciphered today. Three Mayan books survive to the present, the remnants of a much larger number destroyed by Europeans who feared they contained heresy.
The Mayans were very proficient in mathematics and astronomy. The understanding and predictability of star and planet movements was critical to the calculation of their calendar and the dating of important ceremonies. They lived in small hamlets that have not survived but congregated at their centers for important events. Noble warriors and priests controlled their society.
The Mayans went into decline in the tenth century, perhaps due to earthquake or volcanic eruption. Many of their important ceremonial sites were thereafter abandoned. Warriors from central Mexico then invaded their territory and they broke into small town groupings in the rain forest. The last Mayan center was captured by the Spanish in the 17th century, but as many as two million people of Mayan descent reside in the Yucatan today.
Kukulkan, also spelled K’uk’ulkan, ("Plumed Serpent", "Feathered Serpent") is the name of a Mesoamerican serpent deity. Kukulkan was worshipped by the Yucatec Maya people of the Yucatán Peninsula, in what is now Mexico. Kukulkan is closely related to the deity Qʼuqʼumatz of the Kʼicheʼ people and to Quetzalcoatl of Aztec mythology.
The civilization bonus of the Mayans starting with more Villagers is completely negated in maps or gamemodes that only allow a specific number of villagers to exist at the start of a map, though the Mayans still retain the trade-off of starting off with less resources, presenting a disadvantage.
The Mayans are one of the strongest civilizations for open maps in both 1 vs 1 and team games as the flank, due to their solid economic bonus and their military units, which are durable for long battles (their Plumed Archers and Eagle Warriors with the El Dorado technology), but their archer line had the reputation of "New Siege Onagers" because once Obsidian Arrows was researched, their archers became extremely powerful at taking down buildings and defensive structures, which also led to the removal of the double damage against defensive structures in update 42848. Obsidian Arrows ended up being replaced by Hul'che Javelineers with update 44725.
In addition, the Mayans are one of the easiest archer civilizations for beginners. Their good economy and cheaper archers are a great tool. The Plumed Archer is also an easy archer to micromanage thanks to their speed, which also gives them an option to use against archery units.