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


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 economic bonus, their Market bonus 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.

Their civilization bonus gives +10 HP to their Camel Riders and Mamelukes, and their unique technology, Zealotry, grants Camel Riders and Mamelukes +20 hit points, for a total of +30 extra HP. This makes them a very strong counter to cavalry-heavy civilizations. The Mameluke is one of the most effective cavalry counters in the game, and it is capable of taking on infantry and siege as well, due to their ranged attack.

The Saracens also notably have one of the wider 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. Outside of their aforementioned options, they also have fully upgraded Cavalry Archers, Hussars, Champions, Monks, Bombard Cannons, Siege Rams, and Siege Onagers. For the latter, they have Counterweights, which makes the already mighty Siege Onager even more powerful.

The Saracens also have an above-average navy, with their Galleons having a faster attack rate, and their Transport Ships that have extra 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.


Their main two weaknesses are in their lack of Imperial Age upgrades for their Knights and Pikemen, as well as their lack of persistant economic bonus, and high gold cost 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. 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.

They are also one of the hardest civilizations in the game. 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 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, can cause players to run out of gold in the late game. These things can be mitigated or side-stepped with proper planning, however.


Saracen strategies revolve heavily around their use of the Market, but this can be 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 and the player has finished creating Villagers). 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.

The Saracens have a very generic Dark Age, having no particular bonus that affects them. Thus, it is common 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.

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 tower rushes (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 any Feudal Age strategy well once their Market bonus starts to kick in, though they are 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.

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, though their poor late-game potential means they should not be used too much. 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.

The transition to the Imperial Age can be tricky for the Saracens if they have over-invested into Knights. 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. The player can help mitigate the Mameluke's high gold cost 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 effective. With Zealotry, they become much tankier, being able to fight one on one with Paladins, and have slightly better 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.

Lastly is their Imperial 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, 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 Monks more committal during the late game. 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, and the technology was considered weak due to requiring a Castle and gold that could have gone into 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.

Strategy changes in The Mountain Royals[]

Zealotry was replaced by Bimaristan, and the hit point bonus this technology added to camel units is now built in as a civilization bonus, making Mamelukes and Camel Riders much easier to employ. Bimaristan makes the already-good Monks of the Saracens a better support unit that heals in an area around them, to heal armies faster and making them highly valuable when playing in a team game.


In team games, the Saracens should preferably play in the pocket position, but they can also stand in the front-line position. As a teammate, the Saracens synergize with archer-based civilizations, as it gives allied foot archers +3 attack versus buildings (originally it was +2), granting a boost to early-game aggression. The Saracens benefit mostly from team bonuses that improve either Monks, trade, camel units, or navy. The Bimaristan technology is also a good asset in team games, as it gives Saracen Monks a healing aura that also benefits their allies.

  • Ethiopians AoE2 Ethiopians: Their archers fire faster, and their damage input can be improved against buildings with the Saracen team bonus, making them a good supplement against buildings. This is particularly useful in a Feudal Age rush.
  • Berbers AoE2 Berbers: Having a Berber ally that can research Kasbah will make the Mameluke and Counterweights Trebuchets easier to mass. Genitours pair well with Mamelukes and Camel Riders.
  • Bohemians AoE2 Bohemians: The Saracens have the cheapest Markets in the game and better commodity trading fee. The Bohemian team bonus will help to research Market technologies faster and train Trade Carts faster. Hussite Wagons will help ranged units by soaking the damage opponent ranged units deal to them.
  • Britons AoE2 Britons: The +20% faster Archery Ranges are helpful with any archer rush tactic, which the Saracens can already employ very well. The Britons appreciate the Saracens team bonus in return and can use the Saracens' cavalry and strong siege to help them.
  • Byzantines AoE2 Byzantines: The 100% faster-healing Monks improve the strong Saracen Monks and helps with their smush, and this bonus also stacks with the Bimaristan technology. The Byzantines in return gain extra attack for their solid archer options.
  • Chinese AoE2 Chinese: The Saracen team bonus helps Chu Ko Nus against buildings. The Chinese can provide the defenses for the team with walls and yowers improved with Great Wall. Their team bonus will help the Saracens with their economy, as they can sell some of the food from Farms for a better price.
  • Dravidians AoE2 Dravidians: Their bonus population space for Docks allows the Saracens to spend less wood on Houses; thus, more wood can be used on warships.
  • Gurjaras AoE2 Gurjaras: The Gurjaras do not gain much from the Saracen team bonus, but they provide the Saracens with a better work-rate for training Mamelukes and Camel Riders. The Saracen Monks with Bimaristan can be a good tool for healing armies of resilient Elephant Archers and Armored Elephants.
  • Hindustanis AoE2 Hindustanis: They provide Camel Riders and Light Cavalry with bonus attack against buildings, making the Saracens even better at sieging.
  • Huns AoE2 Huns: The +20% faster Stables bonus is useful for Camel and Scout Cavalry production. The Huns have great archer options, which are buffed with the Saracens' team bonus.
  • Italians AoE2 Italians: Italian Arbalesters and Genoese Crossbowmen can make good use of the Saracen team bonus. The Italians provide the Saracens with the Condottiero, giving them an option against gunpowder units.
  • Japanese AoE2 Japanese: +2 Galley Line of Sight. This improves the fast-firing Saracen Galleys and helps with early scouting and rushing on water maps. The Japanese in return have a solid Archery Range, which is buffed by the Saracen team bonus.
  • Koreans AoE2 Koreans: As the Saracens have the Counterweights unique technology, the Korean bonus is helpful, as it reduces the minimum range of their Onagers with better attack. The Koreans' discounted archers are also going to be better off with a Saracen ally.
  • Mayans AoE2 Mayans: The Mayans are one of the top archer civilizations. The Saracen team bonus fits well with their playstyle. The Saracens will gain cheaper walls for a good defense.
  • Persians AoE2 Persians: The expendable Persian Crossbowmen with Kamandaran improved with the Saracen team bonus are a great tool against buildings.
  • Sicilians AoE2 Sicilians: Saracens Transport Ships have +5 room and more hit points. With the Sicilian team bonus, they also get more Line of Sight, and their cost halved, making them the best Transport Ships in the game. When playing on naval maps in a Saracen-Sicilian team, the Saracen player should provide the transport for all players.
  • Tatars AoE2 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. In exchange, the Tatars' archers will gain extra anti-building damage.
  • Vietnamese AoE2 Vietnamese: Their resilient archers will appreciate the bonus attack vs buildings. The Vietnamese provide allied players with the Imperial Skirmisher upgrade and sight of the opponent Town Centers, enabling the Saracens to target an opponent with a rush and later use Imperial Skirmishers for defending against archers. Vietnamese Battle Elephants may also act as meatshields for Saracen ranged units.
  • Vikings AoE2 Vikings: Docks are 15% cheaper. This makes an early-game Galley rush even easier. Meanwhile, the Vikings have solid archery units themselves to benefit from the Saracens' team bonus. Bimaristan will enable an even faster healing for the Berserks if the Viking player sends them back to a Saracen Monk.

Compared advantages and disadvantages[]

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Advantages vs other civilizations[]

  • The Mameluke, being a camel unit with range and attack bonus vs cavalry, counters almost every type of cavalry, even the cavalry from prominent cavalry and cavalry archer civilizations. Also, they can counter slow moving units by hit-and-running them, like infantry. Even civilizations with good infantry may have trouble against Mamelukes.
  • 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. In Arabia they can take this advantage against civilizations with bad early games, as they can jump to Castle Age by Market trading.
  • Regarding naval warfare, they have an advantage against civilizations that rely on their late game ships and close proximity ships (Demolition Ship and Korean Turtle Ship) as their Galleons have a faster firing rate and Transport Ships allow +5 loading space.

Disadvantages vs other civilizations[]

  • They lack Cavaliers and Halberdiers, two very important units. The lack of both means they must rely more on their camel units.
  • The Saracen early game is very dependent on their Market bonus, and if they fail to properly utilize it, they tend to struggle.
  • Most of their best units rely on gold, so they need to be careful not to burn out.
  • Regarding the naval Warfare they are in disadvantage against civilizations with good Fire Ships as that is the counter for the Galleons. 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 or late game sustainable economy can overcome them.

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 maps with starting Transport Ships, they have an early advantage, as they will retain their value further in the game.
  • 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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