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The Saracens are an aggressive civilization with a particularly devastating early-mid game that is highlighted by their strong camel units, unique Archer flush, and Market bonus.

Strengths[]

The Saracens are known for a dangerous archer flush that can quickly snowball a game if not properly defended. This is due to their building attack bonus, which allows them to quickly break through walls and expose enemy economies.

This can often be further strengthened by a significant early-mid economy advantage against many other civilizations. Though they do not appear to have a strong economy bonus, their Market bonus actually serves this purpose well when utilized correctly, as it allows them to buy their way ahead of most civilizations for a short period of time. This is only temporary, however, and only creates a very strong boost when utilized for a short window of time.

Their civilization bonus gives +10 HP to their Camel Riders and Mamelukes, and their unique technology, Zealotry, grants Camel Riders and Mamelukes +20 more hit points, for a total of +30 extra HP. This makes them a very strong counter to cavalry/elephant-heavy civilizations. The Mameluke is one of the most effective cavalry counters in the game, and capable of taking on many types of infantry as well, due to their ranged attack. However, their extremely high gold cost makes them limited for most non-team games.

The Saracens also notably have one of the bigger tech trees in the game, allowing them to have a lot of options for rushes in the early and mid game, and a very strong late-game. However, a lot of these advantages are tricky to pull off for the inexperienced. This is due to being a very non-standard civilization in general and having a number of pitfalls that many players often fall into. For one thing, their Market bonus is pretty tricky to learn, and requires a fair bit of practice and learning. Secondly, many of their best units, such as the Mameluke, have a heavy reliance on gold, which along with missing the Halberdier upgrade, causes many players to run out of gold in the late game. These things can be mitigated or side-stepped with proper planning, however. Careful management of the player's unit composition, notably incorporating trash units such as Hussars or Skirmishers alongside gold-intensive units such as archers, Onagers, or Mamelukes can greatly bring down the heavy gold drain of their military and offer great buffers to their more expensive units. Utilizing their market bonus to sell not only cheaply but earlier than most civilizations can also bring in a tremendous amount of gold while also preventing their opponents from the same benefit.

The Saracens also have an above-average navy, with their Galleons having a faster attack rate, and their Transport Ships having more hit points. However, due to the dominance of Fire Galleys in the early stages of most water maps, the requirement of a Mill to build a Market, and no particular economic bonus that would help their navy, the Saracen navy is often considered a tier below the best naval civilizations such as the Vikings, Italians, Japanese, and Portuguese.

Weaknesses[]

Their main two weakness is in their lack of Imperial Age upgrades for their Knights and Pikemen, as well as their lack of persistant economic bonus and high gold drain on many of their best units and upgrades. Thus, the Saracens lack both a mobile, high pierce armor unit that can dive under Castle and Town Center fire to snowball a game as well as a cheap, non-gold costing anti-cavalry alternative to Camel Riders and Mamelukes. Fortunately, the Saracens can help make up for these weaknesses to a degree through their broad tech tree and various unit combinations. They also lack a strong persisting economic bonus, which combined with very gold-intensive units and no Crop Rotation really hurts their economy once the gold runs out. Defensively, they lack many important upgrades, such as Heated Shot, Architecture, and Bombard Tower, which helps further their reputation as an aggressive, offensively-oriented civilization.

Strategy[]

Saracen strategies revolve heavily around their use of the Market, but this can be fairly confusing for new players. To understand why the Market can lead to an early economic advantage, it is important to first understand the differences in gathering rates. Each resource in the game gathers at a different rate, with things like gold mining, stone mining, and lumber being relatively quick and farming being gathered notably far slower in contrast. Food, however, is also the player's most valuable resource throughout most of the early and mid game, as it is needed for advancing and upgrades. Herdables, hunt, and/or fish are very fast sources of food, but once they have been exhausted (or sooner), most civilizations have to transition to the far slower farming method. The Saracens, however, can delay this transition for a very long time, by simply mining gold or stone and then buying their food at the Market with their very cheap Market rates. Market prices rise, however with each purchase, so this can only be done temporarily until it eventually becomes inefficient to do so. For a short window of time, however, the Saracens can propel themselves ahead of many civilizations and use this window of opportunity to gain a lead or even snowball the game. Any gold spent on the 5% Market fee can be easily made back up by being able to sell resources sooner and at far better prices in the late-game (the value of food drops immensely in the late-game once all desired upgrades have been researched). In addition to this, by delaying farming, the player saves resources by not building farms that have not been upgraded with Horse Collar and/or Heavy Plow. This adds up to a considerable amount of wood saved.

Dark Age: Generally, the Saracens have a very generic Dark Age, having no particular bonus that affects them. Thus, it is not uncommon to try to escape Dark Age as quickly as possible, so they can utilize their Market, or using a Drush to disrupt their opponent and allow them to have a later age-up time.

Feudal Age: Once they reach Feudal Age, Saracen players almost immediately build a Market, and most players will sell their starting 200 stone right away to buy food or upgrades. This does come with some risk, however, as the player gives up the ability to counter-tower if the opposing player trushes the player. On the other hand, trushing against Saracens is less likely, given that the Market and building attack bonuses on their archers can make trushes less successful.

The Saracens can do just about any Feudal Age strategy well once their Market bonus starts to kick in, though they are probably best known for their archer rushes, thanks to their building attack bonus. However, having so many options is itself a bonus, as it creates a conundrum for opposing players in that they must be wary of the choice the player makes.

Castle Age: The Saracens have a lot of options in the Castle Age. Though they lack the ability to upgrade them in the Imperial Age, Saracen Knights are fully upgradable in the Castle Age and can be mixed with Camel Riders to gain an edge against other cavalry. Archers are always a good option for any age with the Saracens, and that includes their Cavalry Archers, which are fully upgradable in all stages of the game. Both Mangonels and Monks are also quite common for clearing up Skirmishers, attacking enemy Town Centers, and to protect against cavalry and gather Relics. However, in the Castle Age, the player should start to transition away from Knights as they cannot be upgraded to the Cavalier/Paladin in the Imperial Age.

Imperial Age: The transition to the Imperial Age can be tricky for the Saracens if they've over-invested into Knights. However, despite lacking the Cavalier upgrade, Saracen Knights are actually on par with some civilization's Cavaliers if said civilization lacks Bloodlines or a Blacksmith upgrade. Even so, Saracen cavalry line strengths lie in their Mamelukes and Camel Riders, which share the same upgrade path. The Elite Mameluke is one of the cheapest unique unit elite upgrades in the game, and offers one of the highest values as well. If going for Mamelukes, however, the player should hold off on Zealotry for a little while, as it does not benefit the Mameluke nearly as much as it benefits Camel Riders, due to Mamelukes being ranged units. Not to mention it is quite expensive in gold, especially when the Mameluke is already a very expensive unit to begin with. The player can help mitigate the Mameluke's high gold drain to a degree by pairing them with trash units such as Hussars and Elite Skirmishers, and making sure to micro them away from danger when possible.

If the player is going Camel Riders instead, which may be necessary against certain units that Mamelukes do not fare well against, such as other Camel Riders, then Zealotry can be really effective. With Zealotry, they become much tankier, being able to fight one on one with Paladins, and have slightly more ability to dive under Town Center fire and Castle fire, especially when aided by Siege Rams or some other unit to soak up fire. Camel Riders do not pack the offensive power of cavalry units, due to having lower attack and much lower pierce armor, but they are essential in defending other offensive units, such as siege and archers, as well as being able to protect the player's base.

Fast Arbalester into Heavy Cavalry Archers is another great option, especially if the player has already invested heavily in the Archer-line and capitalized on their building attack bonus. Although their bonus against buildings is not quite as impactful in the Imperial Age as it was in the Feudal and Castle Age, due to the abundance of defensive structures like Castles and the higher HP and defenses of buildings, Saracen archery units are still quite potent and can still take out towers and structures used as walls relatively quickly. They outrange Town Centers and, due to their high pierce armor, Heavy Cavalry Archers become much tankier overall.

Lastly is their unique technology, Counterweights, which is a mainstay for them in the Imperial Age. This technology gives their Mangonel-line and Trebuchets +15% attack, which affects bonus damage. This technology not only helps destroy buildings like Castles much faster, but is effective against units as well. The Trebuchet, for example, can kill other Trebuchets in two hits instead of three, and the Mangonel-line becomes even more deadly against masses of infantry and archer units. This tech synergizes very well with their camel bonuses, as camels are excellent defenders of siege from cavalry. The end-game ideal unit composition for the Saracens usually includes some combination of Mamelukes / Heavy Camel Riders and some form of siege (Siege Ram, Siege Onager, Bombard Cannon, or Trebuchet), or an archer unit (Skirmisher, Arbalester, or Heavy Cavalry Archer) that it is protecting. In some cases, however, Champions make a better pairing than Mamelukes or Camel Riders if the player's opponent is a Native American civilization or Goths, due to the types of units those civilizations create (Eagle Warriors and Huskarls, respectively).

Strategy changes in The Forgotten[]

Their new unique technology, Madrasah, returns 33% of the cost of Monks to the player when they die. This makes Saracen Monks a more efficient investment when built to support other units.

Saracens also received a -75 wood discount building Markets. This improves their access to the Saracen civilization bonus at the Market as well as providing a small boost to trade.

Strategy changes in The African Kingdoms[]

As of The African Kingdoms, camels are no longer considered ships. This change affects the Saracen unique unit, the Mameluke, and makes them better protected against enemy towers, which were previously more effective against Mamelukes when raiding.

Strategy changes in the Definitive Edition[]

Their Cavalry Archer attack bonus now applies to the Archer line, but is reduced to +3 (for a total +5 in the case of the Archer line, considering their team bonus). This makes an Archer rush in the Feudal Age much more appealing for Saracens, while also making masses of Arbalesters a viable alternative to siege units in the later stages of the game. The cost of the Market is lowered now to only 75 wood, making their fast Castle technique described previously much better. The Elite Mameluke got its frame delay reduced and Halberdiers do -5 damage to them, so overall improving the unit's effectiveness.

The effectiveness of the archer bonus against buildings was too high, to the point that it was toned down per age in update 34055.

In update 37650, the gold cost of Zealotry was reduced a bit from 800 gold to 700 gold, making it more affordable but still a very expensive unique technology.

Strategy changes in Lords of the West[]

Several changes for the Saracens happened. The archer bonus against buildings was removed because of design purposes, as archers are not meant to destroy buildings faster than siege weapons, which, in conjunction with the Market bonuses, was considered unfair to play against. In compensation, their team bonus was improved from +2 attack to +3 attack vs buildings, making it more useful but still a much lower effect than the former civilization bonus. In addition, their Camel Riders and Mamelukes got greatly improved, as they now receive +10 hitpoints as civilization bonus, thus making Saracen camel units much stronger and more reliable to use in the Castle Age, especially against cavalry civilizations. The Zealotry tech also was made much cheaper as it now costs 500 food and 450 gold, but the effect was reduced to +20 hitpoints to balance it. As a result, using Camel Riders from Castle Age to Imperial Age is now much more effective than before.

Strategy changes in Dynasties of India[]

Madrasah is removed, which makes the Saracen "smush" a less viable strategy. Monks will no longer restore 33% of their training cost upon death and become plain normal (albeit since they have all Monastery technologies, this does little to weaken Saracen Monks).

Zealotry is now available as early as the Castle Age, which can make Saracen Camel Riders extremely dangerous in late Castle Age/early Imperial Age. A fully upgraded Saracen Camel Rider in the Castle Age can have up to 150 hit points (provided that the player can afford the steep price of Zealotry), which gives the unit a decisive edge over enemy cavalry. With so many hit points at their disposal, Camel Riders can even effectively raid the enemy economy under Town Center and Castle fire.

A new Imperial Age technology, Counterweights, is introduced. It provides 15% damage bonus to Mangonel-line units and Trebuchets, and thus makes Saracen siege very potent. Since Saracens have access to Siege Onagers, they now provide an excellent support to massed Arbalesters.

Alliances[]

In team games, Saracens should preferably play in the pocket position, but they can also stand in the front line position.

Saracens profit greatly from the following team bonuses:

  • Britons: +20% faster Archery Ranges. The bonus is helpful with any archer rush tactic, which the Saracens can already employ very well. It also aids in keeping up a steady production of archers in the late game.
  • Magyars: +2 LOS for foot archers makes them better, especially after the Definitive Edition buff for these units.
  • Byzantines: Monks heal 50% faster. This improves the strong Saracen Monks and helps with the smush.
  • Hindustanis: +2 Camel and Scout Cavalry line attack versus buildings. This bonus affects the strong Saracen Camel and Mameluke units and helps with raiding enemy towns. The camels are still susceptible to building's attacks though.
  • Gurjaras: Camel units (including the Mameluke) are created 25% faster.
  • Huns: +20% faster Stables. The Hun bonus is useful for Camel and Scout Cavalry production.
  • Japanese: +2 Galley line of sight. This improves the fast firing Saracen Galleys and helps with early scouting and rushing on water maps.
  • Vikings: Docks 15% cheaper. This makes an early-game Galley rush even easier.
  • Burmese: They reveal in-map locations of the relics to their teammates even as the match kicks off, allowing competent Saracen Monks to snatch them early to ensure future gold supply.
  • Bulgarians: Blacksmiths work 50% faster. This makes all Saracen military units receive improvements quicker, considering Saracens have all Blacksmith upgrades.
  • Lithuanians: Monastery works 20% faster. This makes researching technologies and producing Monks faster, improving the Monk rush.
  • Tatars: +2 line of sight for Cavalry Archers. This allows fully-teched Saracen Cavalry Archers to conduct scouting works and spot enemy units more efficiently.
  • Turks: Since Saracens get access to gunpowder units, the Turkish team bonus (gunpowder units are produced faster) becomes very handy.
  • Sicilians: In water maps, their team bonus increases the Line of Sight of Transport Ships while also reducing their cost, making the Saracen Transport Ship even better.
  • Bohemians: Efficiency bonus for allied Markets from them make Saracen Markets (Saracens are already cheaper and have better commodity trading fee) the most competent of their kind.
  • Dravidians: Their bonus population space for Docks allow Saracens players to spend less wood on Houses, thus more wood can be used on extra warships.
  • Celts: Since Dynasties of India, as Saracens now have the Counterweights unique technology, they can better synergize with the Celts, as their Onagers with better attack can be created faster.
  • Koreans: Since Dynasties of India, as Saracens now have the Counterweights unique technology, the Korean bonus becomes more significant, as it reduces the minimum range of their Onagers with better attack
  • Berbers: Since Dynasties of India, as Saracens now have the Counterweights unique technology, having a Berber ally that can research Kasbah will make the improved Saracen Trebuchets easier to spam. Also, Genitours make a good pair with Saracen Camel Riders and Mamelukes.

As a teammate, Saracens make a synergy with archer based civilizations, such as the Britons, the Chinese, the Mayans, and others. Their team bonus gives allied foot archers +3 attack versus buildings (originally it was +2). Fully upgraded British Longbowmen can outrange towers and castles, so this bonus speeds up the destruction of enemy fortifications. Vietnamese allies also grant Saracen players anti-building-enhanced Imperial Skirmishers and first-hand revelation of the enemy bases at the beginning, in exchange for more "siegeable" Rattan Archers against hostile fortifications.

Compared advantages and disadvantages[]

Advantages vs other civilizations[]

  • The Mameluke being a camel unit with range and attack bonus vs cavalry counters almost all types of cavalry, even the cavalry from prominent cavalry and cavalry archer civilizations like the Franks, the Burmese, the Persians, the Huns, the Magyars, the Mongols, etc. Also they can counter slow moving units by hit-and-running them, like the infantry (with some exceptions; see in disadvantages) Even civilizations with good infantry may have trouble against Mamelukes like Goths, Aztecs, Malians, and Burmese as they can hit-and-run them. Their zealotry technology adds more advantage against the previously cited cavalry civilizations.
  • Being a civilization with good mid game and late game and able to perform a good Monk Rush as well as being able to raid with the use of Scout Cavalry, Camel Riders, Cavalry Archers, and Mamelukes, they can defeat civilizations that fare otherwise especially in enclosed maps like Arena and Fortress, especially if starting at Feudal Age onwards. These civilizations include, Aztecs, Huns, and Mongols for example. In Arabia they can take this advantage against civilizations with bad early game like Turks, Spanish, Indians, Portuguese, and Khmer, as they can jump to Castle Age by Market trading.
  • Having complete Archery Range upgrades and an anti-building bonus for archers, they have an advantage against civilizations with poor defense (like Magyars and Japanese) and civilizations reliant on infantry (like Aztecs and Celts).
  • Regarding naval warfare, they have an advantage against civilizations that rely on their late game Naval vessels and close proximity ships (Demolition Ship and Korean Turtle Ship) as their Galleons have more firing rate and Transport Ships allow +5 loading space. Even the navy of civilizations like Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, and Malay may have trouble against the Saracen navy.

Disadvantages vs other civilizations[]

  • As far as they are awesome against cavalry and able to hit-and-run slower units, Mameluke have several disadvantages. They can be killed by Onagers if the player forgets to microing them so the Koreans, Celts, Ethiopians and others can get an advantage there. Indian Imperial Camel despite does not having range, can close the distance and counter the Mameluke as they have better armor and more hit points. Similar logic applies to the Berber Camelry as they are cheaper to train and regenerate health. Masses of Incan Kamayuks, Japanese Samurai, and Halberdiers are a huge threat, while Viking Infantry with Chieftains may overturn overall the Saracen cavalry. Units with high melee armor also can counter the Mameluke. Towers still retain a +1 bonus damage against camels so civilizations with good towers such as Britons, Byzantines, Incas, Japanese, Koreans, and Teutons can use them to defend their towns against the Saracen camelry. Byzantine Cataphracts have hidden armor against camel attack so they can counter Mamelukes and their camelry perfectly.
  • Malians can be a very unpleasant rival for the Saracen archery as their infantry bonus can negate the archery attacks against them making the Malian Pikemen more threatening to their core units (Mamelukes, Camel Riders, and Cavalry Archers). Similarly Goths can counter the contingents of a Saracen Archer / Cavalry Archer army by swarming Huskarls as they have attack bonus vs Archers and high pierce armor, this combined with disposable and fast created Halberdiers will make the Saracens to have a hard time.
  • Mayans, Incas, and Aztecs have Eagle Warriors that can counter Monks, Camel Riders, Cavalry Archers, and Archers (they deal bonus damage to all those units except the latter and have high pierce armor) all of these units compose the core of the Saracen army.
  • Persian Paladins have an attack bonus against archers, which puts the Saracen Archers at an disadvantage. Similarly, as Tatar Cavalry Archers and Light Cavalry get +1 pierce armor out of the Silk Armor technology, they are effective counters against archers.
  • Vietnamese Imperial Skirmishers can counter a Saracen Cavalry archers, Archers and Mamelukes perfectly. Other prominent civilizations with good skirmishers that can also do this are the Aztecs (with the Atlatl technology), The Berbers (which have the Genitour who is a mounted skirmisher) and the Britons (whose Skirmishers are created faster and get +1 range out of Yeomen technology). Beside the Saracens have all Archer technologies and being good against buildings other prominent archer factions have better bonuses and can deal with them with ease (this includes Ethiopians, Mayans, and Chinese), Civilizations with good Onagers such as Celts and Koreans can also defeat their archers with ease.
  • Besides Saracen Monks can be a good offensive unit in the mid game, civilizations with good light cavalry (like Huns, Magyars, and Mongols) can counter them very effectively.
  • Regarding the naval Warfare they are in disadvantage against civilizations with good Fire Ships (such as Byzantines, Portuguese, and Berbers) as that is the counter for the Galleons, Similarly their Galleons fall apart against Viking Longboats, also they have a disadvantage at late-game as they do not have access to Shipwright so civilizations with either cheaper ships or access to that technology (like the Italians for example) or late game sustainable economy (like Malay and Portuguese with their unlimited resources bonuses) can overcome them.
  • Skirmishers are a very strong option against the Saracens, as they are not only integral to stopping their archer rushes, but they are also very good against other often-used Saracen units, such as Mamelukes and Cavalry Archers.

Situational advantages[]

  • In high resources Random map matches, they have an advantage as they can perform very soon a fast Castle and deliver their Monk rush, thanks to their Market interchange bonus.
  • In the Real World map Earth they have an early advantage as in this map players start with three Villagers, a Scout Cavalry and a Transport Ship (that will retain its value further in the game)
  • In the Capture the Relic Game mode as they can jump to Castle Age and access Monks buffed with all Monastery technologies plus Madrasah they have an advantage over other civilizations.
  • Their Market fee bonus is highly valuable in the Game mode "Wonder Race", as they can jump to Castle Age and develop a booming strategy.
  • Saracens are quite capable in late-game trash wars. They have excellent Hussars with all upgrades as well as strong Skirmishers, thanks to their full Blacksmith. However, a major problem is their lack of Halberdiers.
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