While new kingdoms formed from the ruins of the Roman Empire in Western Europe, Slavic tribes settled the rich lands of Central and Eastern Europe and established formidable states of their own. Illuminate your populations with the teachings of Orthodoxy, recreate the rich farming and trade economies of Poland and Kievan Rus, assemble retinues of Boyars and Druzhina to defend the Russian principalities from the Mongols, or lead a charge of Winged Hussars to save Europe from Ottoman conquest!
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 Supplies (Tracking before the Definitive Edition) 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. They lack Heresy and Faith and thus are vulnerable to conversion (Note: Faith was added in the Definitive Edition). Their defensive structures are below average but their faster farming is considered one of the strongest economic bonuses in the game.
The Slavs are a playable civilization only in a few scenarios of the Dracula campaign. They also appear as allies or enemies in:
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 couple of archaic words, most notably аз (az) - an archaic form of pronoun "I". Historically, East Slavs spoke a dialect continuum termed Old East Slavic.
Move 1Az sdelayu chto vam ugodno (Аз сделаю что вам угодно) - I'll do as you please
Move 2Po moyey milosti (По моей милости) - By my grace
Move 3Kak vy prikazali (Как вы приказали) - As you ordered
Move 4Az sdelayu (Аз сделаю) - I'll do (it)
AI player names
When playing a random map game against the computer, the player may encounter any of the following Slavic AI characters:
Alexander Nevsky (Александр Невский): 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: he defeated Swedish invaders in the north, the Livonian Order (landmasters of the Teutonic Order) in the west and made a peace with Mongolian conquerors in the east. He was later declared a saint by the Eastern Orthodox Church.
Igor the Old: (died 945) was a Varangian ruler of Kievan Rus' from 912 to 945.
Saint Olga: (c. 890–925 – 969) was a regent of Kievan Rus' for her son Sviatoslav from 945 until 960. Following her baptism, Olga took the name Elenа. She is known for her subjugation of the Drevlians, a tribe that had killed her husband Igor of Kiev. Even though it would be her grandson Vladimir that would convert the entire nation to Christianity, because of her efforts to spread Christianity through Rus', Olga is venerated as a saint in the Eastern Orthodox Church with the epithet "Equal to the Apostles" and her feast day is 11 July.
Oleg the Seer (Ѡлегъ, Modern Russian: Олег Вещий): A Varangian prince (or konung) who ruled all or part of the Rus' people during the early 10th century.
Dmitry Donskoy: (12 October 1350 – 19 May 1389), son of Ivan II the Fair of Moscow (1326–1359), reigned as the Prince of Moscow from 1359 and Grand Prince of Vladimir from 1363 to his death. He was the first prince of Moscow to openly challenge Mongol authority in Russia. His nickname, Donskoy (i.e., "of the Don"), alludes to his great victory against the Tatars in the Battle of Kulikovo (1380), which took place on the Don River. He is venerated as a Saint in the Orthodox Church with his feast day on 19 May (O.S.).
Rurik I (Рюрик 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 (Свѧтославъ Игорєвичь): 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 (Володимѣръ Свѧтославичь): A prince of Novgorod, grand prince of Kiev, and ruler of Kievan Rus' from 980 to 1015. He initiated a process of christening of Russia and got many glorifying names, including Vladimir the Christianizer (Креститель) and Vladimir the Scarlet Sun (Красно Солнышко)
Vlad Dracula: Vlad III, commonly known as Vlad the Impaler (Romanian: Vlad Țepeș [ˈvlad ˈtsepeʃ]) or Vlad Dracula (/ˈdrækjələ/; Romanian: Vlad Drăculea [ˈdrəkule̯a]; 1428/31 – 1476/77), was Voivode of Wallachia three times between 1448 and his death. He is often considered one of the most important rulers in Wallachian history and a national hero of Romani
Ivan III the Great: Ivan III Vasilyevich (Russian: Иван III Васильевич; 22 January 1440, Moscow – 27 October 1505, Moscow), also known as Ivan the Great, was a Grand Prince of Moscow and Grand Prince of all Rus'. Ivan served as the co-ruler and regent for his blind father Vasily II from the mid-1450s before he officially ascended the throne in 1462. He tripled the territory of his state, ended the dominance of the Mongols/Tatars over Russia, renovated the Moscow Kremlin, introduced a new legal codex and laid the foundations of the Russian state. His 1480 victory over the Great Horde is cited as the restoration of Russian independence 240 years after the fall of Kiev to Mongols' invasion. Ivan was the first Russian ruler to style himself "tsar", albeit not as an official title. Through marriage to Sofia Paleologue, he made the double-headed eagle Russia's coat of arms and adopted the idea of Moscow as Third Rome. His 43-year reign was one of the longest in Russian history, second only to that of his grandson Ivan IV.
Yaroslav the Wise (Яросла́в Му́дрый): Thrice grand prince of Veliky Novgorod and Kiev, uniting the two principalities for a time under his rule. During his reign, there was created the first Russian set of laws, "Russian Justice" ("Русская Правда").
Yuri II (Юрий 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. However, the Polish and Bohemians have now their own civilizations for the upcoming Dawn of the Dukes expansion, so making possible that those Slavic factions get replaced by their proper civilizations on previous camapigns.
The in-game Slavs represented 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".
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.
Before the removal of Treadmill Crane, the Slavs were the most powerful civilization in Deathmatches.
Behind the scenes
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.
Mass fifth century migrations caused by the Hunnic invasions left northeastern Europe an area open for settlement and, starting circa 500 AD, the Slavs became the region’s dominant civilization. Although archaeological evidence indicates that the Slavs had already settled Europe in prior centuries, possibly in the areas of present-day Ukraine and Belarus, the historical record first makes mention of them through Byzantine writings describing the large numbers of Slavs massing near their borders. Upon settling down, the Slavs established several competing states throughout Eastern Europe, falling into either the Byzantine or Holy Roman spheres of influence.
The first great Slavic state, the Bulgarian Empire, formed in 681 AD. This nation was founded by the Bulgars, a Turkic people that settled in the Eastern Balkans (north of the Byzantine Empire). However, the Bulgarian Empire expanded into most of the Balkans, which was by then mainly Slavic, and by the tenth century the state was effectively Slavicized. The Bulgarian Empire played an important role in the consolidation of Slavic civilization, with its language becoming a lingua franca for the spread for Christianity and literacy in Eastern Europe.
Another important medieval Slavic state, Great Moravia, formed in Central Europe after the union of the Principalities of Nitra and Moravia in 833. Although Great Moravia never achieved a dominant position, it played a crucial role in the balance of power between the Franks, Bulgarians, and Byzantines. When King Rastislav of Great Moravia asked the Byzantines for help in translating Christian texts into Slavic, the Byzantine missionaries entrusted with the task, Cyril and Methodius, successfully developed the first Slavic alphabet and wrote down the oldest text in Slavic literature (a translation of the Christian Gospel) in 863.
Perhaps the last great medieval Slavic state was formed around Kiev, in present-day Ukraine, in 882 AD. This Kievan Rus’ kingdom, although mostly populated by Slavs, was led by Scandinavians (called Rus’) who took power in the area by defeating the ruling Turkic Khazars. The liberation of this and several other Slavic cities allowed them to focus more on internal development rather than on serving foreign lands. The region benefited economically from its geography, as it was located in the middle of the Europe-Asia trade route and close to the Byzantines and Persians. Under the reign of Yaroslav the Wise, the Kievan state not only became the largest of its time, but also achieved a high literacy rate, provided property rights to women, and punishments under law generally did not involve death sentences. However, the death of Yaroslav led to the gradual disintegration of the state, which finally fell to the Mongols by 1240 AD.
During the Middle Ages, Slavic governments followed a feudal system, but in contradiction to other parts of Europe the power of the kings was constrained by that of high-ranking aristocrats called boyars. Boyars not only were powerful landowners with several serfs under their command, but they also were generally leaders of the military and government agencies. The alliance and competition among these aristocrats shaped the economic development of the Slavic states, improving the vitality of their domains but weakening the central governments. By the Late Middle Ages, the rise of absolute monarchs led to the downfall of the boyars.