The Slavs represent their namesake based on the Eastern European peoples that later became the founders of Slavic European nations with a sphere of influence consisting of modern day Bulgaria, Poland, Russia, and Ukraine. By the time frame of Ages of Empires II, the Slavic tribes had already split into the Western, Eastern, and Southern branches.
The Slavic civilization is mostly representative of the Eastern Slavic identity of the Kievan Rus', whose semi-autonomous principalities and city-states covered much of modern-day Ukraine, Belarus, and Western Russia. Politics of the time were dominated by Boyar aristocracy, which was adapted into the Slavs' unique heavy cavalry unit.
Educated and influenced by the Byzantine Greeks as a result of its close proximity, they adopted the Eastern Orthodox branch of Christianity as their religion, and to depict this, their unique technology gives Monks extra armor. Slavic armies are mainly composed of infantry, and to depict this, their other unique technology gives infantry trample damage, making them powerful in groups and against clusters of units, and they also receive Tracking for free.
Slavic lands in modern-day Ukraine were especially fertile and productive, later to be known as the Breadbasket of Europe, thus Slav Farmers receive a bonus. The Slavs have cheaper siege weapons and their team bonus provides +5 population to all military buildings, providing them a logistical military advantage in a similar fashion to the Byzantines, albeit in a more offensive way.
As an infantry civilization, the Slavs have access to the full infantry technology tree and also get Druzhina, making their infantry units highly useful in mass battles. Their cavalry is also good despite missing out on the Paladin upgrade. The archers, however, are among the worst of all civilizations. This is compensated to a degree by their excellent Siege Workshop units that get a 15% discount. Especially the Heavy Scorpion can fulfill the archers' role for the Slavs. Their navy is weak, although they can fully upgrade their Fire Ships. The Slavic Monks are excellent offensively with every upgrade there plus Orthodoxy which grants them extra armor, making them fearsome in Monk rushes, but the lack of both Heresy and Faith (an unfortunate trait that is only shared with the Khmer) hinders them. Boyars in particular are very prone to conversion due to the lack of both technologies. Their defensive structures are below average but their faster farming is considered one of the strongest economic bonuses in the game.
In-game, Slavic units speak Russian. Before Rise of the Rajas was released, Slavic units reused the Russians' dialogue that is used in Age of Empires III. With the expansion's release, they received new dialogue in Russian with a small number of archaic words.
Az gotov/Az gotova Аз готов/Аз готовa - I'm ready
Da Да - Yes
Zdrav bud' Здрав будь - Greetings
Prikazaniya? Приказания? - Orders?
Az delayu Аз делаю - I do
Sdelayu Сделаю - I will do it
Totchas sdelayu Тотчас сделаю - I'll do it immediately
When playing a random map game against the computer, the player may encounter any of the following Slavic AI characters:
Alexander Nevsky: Served as Prince of Novgorod (1236–52), Grand Prince of Kiev (1236–52) and Grand Prince of Vladimir (1252–63) during some of the most difficult times in Kievan Rus' history.
Bolesław the Brave: Duke of Poland from 992 to 1025, and the first King of Poland in 1025. As Boleslav IV, he was also Duke of Bohemia between 1002 and 1003.
Casimir II the Great: Possibly refers to Casimir II the Just (1138–1194), Duke of Cracow and senior prince of Poland, or Casimir III the Great reigned as the King of Poland from 1333 to 1370.
Oleg the Seer: A Varangian prince (or konung) who ruled all or part of the Rus' people during the early 10th century.
Ottokar I: Duke of Bohemia periodically beginning in 1192, then acquired the title King of Bohemia, first in 1198 from Philip of Swabia, later in 1203 from Otto IV of Brunswick and in 1212 from Frederick. He was a member of the Přemyslid dynasty.
Rurik I: Prince of Novgorod and Ladoga. He is the founder of Rurik Dynasty which ruled the Kievan Rus' and its successor states. He remained his power until his death in 879 in Novgorod, Kievan Rus.
Sviatoslav the Brave: Also spelled Svyatoslav was a Grand prince of Kiev famous for his persistent campaigns in the east and south, which precipitated the collapse of two great powers of Eastern Europe, Khazaria and the First Bulgarian Empire.
Vladimir the Great: A prince of Novgorod, grand prince of Kiev, and ruler of Kievan Rus' from 980 to 1015.
Wenceslaus I: Saint Wenceslaus I, Duke of Bohemia (907–935 or 929), and subject of a Christmas carol.
Wenceslaus the One-Eyed: King of Bohemia from 1230 to 1253.
Yaroslav the Wise: Thrice grand prince of Veliky Novgorod and Kiev, uniting the two principalities for a time under his rule.
Yuri II: The fourth Grand Prince of Vladimir (1212–1216, 1218–1238) who presided over Vladimir-Suzdal at the time of the Mongol invasion of Russia.
Before the Forgotten was released, all of the Slav factions in the Genghis Khan and Barbarossa campaigns (Polish, Bohemians, and Russians) are mostly represented by Goths and Teutons.
The Slavs are roughly named after the pre-divisional Eastern Slavic identity of the Kievan Rus'. As this TedED video on the history of Russia explains, they were a people "populated by Slavs, ruled by Vikings, taught by Greeks, and split by Mongols, would develop differences in society, culture, and language that remain to the present day".
The Slavs were the second Russian-type civilization to be featured in the Age of Empires series, preceded by the Russians in Age of Empires III.
Despite the fact that Castles are military buildings, they are not affected by the Slavic military building population bonus. This is most likely due to the fact that Castles already provide population.
During the development of The Conquerors, the Slavs (along with the Huns, Swiss, Magyars, and Habsburgs) had been considered to appear as the new civilization representing Eastern Europe. However, the Ensemble Studios team eventually picked the Huns because they were impressed by Attila story and the medieval Russians did very little of invading other countries when compared to the Huns.
When the Forgotten Empires team was working on the Forgotten Empires mod (which eventually became The Forgotten), they initially planned to add the Scythians as one of the new civilizations. But eventually the plan was dropped because the Scythians were considered "too out of place" and they were replaced by Slavs.