The Persians offer a unique gameplay that features a fast booming economy in the early stages of the game but gradually declines towards the middle game. As the game progresses towards the Iron Age however, their strategy becomes strictly offensive. The Persians are unique from the other civilizations in that they are the weakest during the Bronze Age from an economic standpoint. Although the Macedonians offers a similar gameplay style due their inability to research the Wheel upgrade that increases Villager speed and work rate, they can mount offensive strategies easier than the Persians due to their Bronze Age military bonuses. Therefore, the Persians are one of the few civilizations that can be use advantageously in either both short random map games or longer deathmatches. However, they are not as effective during the middle part of the game, especially if played without the Rise of Rome expansion due their farming rate penalty, which is the only civilization bonus in the entire game that negatively affects gameplay.
The Persians have a quick, stable economy in early games due to their ability to hunt faster than other civilizations. However, as Food from animals begin to deplete later in the game, the bonus becomes less valuable and the negative attribute for Farming will make a significant impact from Tool Age onward. In Rise of Rome, this negative attribute is eliminated. However, the Persians still have the inability to research economic upgrades from the market during the Bronze Age, especially the Wheel, which is one of the most important Bronze Age technologies, making their economy much slower than other civilizations.
Despite their economic disadvantages in the middle part of the game, the Persians can conscript a variety of powerful units both on land and water once Iron Age is reached if they manage to survive that long.
Although they cannot train any unit from the Academy, they have full access to all of the strongest archers except Chariot Archers due to the lack of the Wheel, and have the ability to train all of the most powerful cavalry units in the game except for Chariots. They also have full access to all technologies available from the Storage Pit and the Temple. Although Persians lack well developed siege weapons in Iron Age combat, their Armored Elephants can be used to supplement this role due to their high trample damage and their bonus siege damage against buildings. Most importantly, they can move War Elephants and Armored Elephants much faster than other civilizations, making them quicker than infantry and siege weapons. Although this bonus may not be significant on the surface, it actually increases the strength and durability of their elephant units since their weakness from siege engines and archers including Horse Archers are reduced, being able to penetrate enemy lines and defensive fronts much more effectively. Moreover, having the ability to move elephant units faster also allows the player to save time in transporting them to the desired location and also slightly reduces the recovery time allocated for the defender during safe zones between different waves of attacks.
This bonus also applies to Elephant Archers whose faster speed can be used for hit-and-run tactics to some extent but are somewhat handicapped due to their inability to develop Ballistics and woodworking technologies beyond the Tool Age that improves accuracy and range. This handicap also applies to Horse Archers which is one reason why mounted archer units do not form the bulk of the Persian army for the computer player in deathmatches, and instead rely on brute force using melee units such as Cataphracts and Armored Elephants while using Priests for primarily defensive support, provided that the computer have ample resources. Despite this range handicap, implementing a mixed Heavy Horse Archer, Elephant Archer, War Elephant and Cataphract rush or counterattack can be very effective if this combo is micromanaged properly. However, since cavalry units with the exception of Chariots are easier to convert by enemy Priests, this strategy may fall short against civilizations with Priests forming the backbone of their military such as the Egyptians and the Babylonians. However, the Persians do have full access to all Temple technologies so a Persian player can use their own Priests to counterattack their vulnerability of cavalry to enemy conversion.
The Persians are also effective on sea during the early Iron Age since their Triremes can fire twice as faster than ordinary triremes, making them deadly in close combat. However, due to their lower range, the Persian navy are not as advantageous in maps requiring prolonged naval combat on the open water. In late Iron Age games, other civilizations with bonuses for the Juggernaught such as the Yamato and the Phoenicians will be able to challenge the Persian navy and wrest control of the high seas whose higher range can outperform Persian Triremes in both land attacks and naval combat, provided that there is enough gold on the map. Persians can still build Juggernaughts themselves, however.
When controlling this civilization in random maps, the computer will create Scouts during the Tool Age and Camel Riders along with the odd Cavalry unit in the Bronze Age. War Elephants will make up the bulk of their army in the Iron Age. Rarely, the AI may use swordsmen in addition to or instead of their camel/elephant strategy.
The Persian AI tends to be one of the weakest in the game in random maps. This is primarily because their military forces are often quite limited, especially before the Iron Age is reached. They share this characteristic with the Sumerians.
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