The Spanish are primarily an offensive civilization featuring a strong Imperial Age army and navy. Most of their military bonuses can only be used in late games and are most powerful after reaching the Imperial Age. Despite their emphasis of gunpowder units like the Turks, the Spanish have access to a wide range of technologies and are able to field a varied army. The Spanish well-rounded tech tree, combined with their access to strong late-game units (such as Paladins, their unique unit, and gunpowder units) and solid trash units makes them a good choice for beginners and expert players.
The Spanish can research all naval technologies, which makes them formidable on the water. Their greatest naval advantage is that their Cannon Galleons benefit from Ballistics. This allows them to fire much faster and more accurately. In addition to performing their regular duties more efficiently, this allows Spanish Cannon Galleons to effectively engage enemy warships, reducing their need to be escorted by Galleons or Fast Fire Ships.
The Spanish unique unit is the Conquistador, a mounted Hand Cannoneer. Like the regular Hand Cannoneer, they have a large attack, but are inaccurate. They have the advantage of being mounted which gives them an edge in speed, allowing them to use guerilla tactics. They are somewhat fragile so are best used as support units in formations with Knights or Paladins, whose higher hit points can absorb damage that would easily kill a Conquistador. The Spanish Conquistador is arguably the most powerful unit in the Castle Age.
The Spanish also have the Missionary, which is a mounted monk with greater speed, but lower range and without the ability to pick up relics. Since Missionaries move much faster than normal monks and a Spanish army will be mostly composed of cavalry, this is a big advantage. Spanish also have access to all Monastery upgrades for their regular Monks, and their unique technology Inquisition allows Spanish Monks and Missionaries to convert units more quickly.
The second Spanish unique technology, Supremacy, gives Villagers a large increase in attack, hit points, and armor. This allows them to go in the front lines and build military buildings to reinforce and support a Spanish army without getting killed as easily. While their Villagers are capable of defending themselves against certain units, they should not be strictly used for combat.
The Spanish also excel in trash wars, as it is the only civilization whose general trash units can be fully upgraded. They also have their unique technology Supremacy if the player decides to go for villager rush, and their Blacksmith technologies cost no gold.
Despite their large number of advantages in the Imperial Age, the Spanish have some drawbacks in the early stages of the game. They have poor foot archers, being one of only two civilizations in the game unable to improve their Archers to the Crossbowman upgrade (the other being the Bulgarians). Their siege weapons are average, lacking Siege Engineers and the upgrades Siege Onager and Heavy Scorpion. Despite their faster-working builders, they lack any major economic bonuses, leaving them relatively vulnerable to a Feudal Rush or Fast Castle strategy and thus making it harder for them to properly take advantage of their offensive capabilities in the Castle and Imperial Age.
The Spanish can be used in several ways. They can be used for turtling and rushing strategies, but they are mainly considered a Boom civilization due to the fact that most of their bonuses are Castle and Imperial Age bonuses. Normally a Spanish player should try to go for a Fast Castle, but alternatively they can try a Feudal Age rush by taking advantage of their bonus that allows villagers to build 30% faster and scout rush or a tower rush. The building bonus can also be used in order to wall off and turtle early in the game.
Typically, Spanish should go for a Fast Castle and boom their economy. Once in the Castle Age, a Spanish player must create some Monasteries and one or two Castles. Conquistadors as a gunpowder unit are formidable against infantry and Missionaries excel in supporting mounted units so a combined force of heavy cavalry, Conquistadors and a few Missionaries must be the main offensive force. The player must not forget the Spanish Blacksmith bonus, which removes the gold cost from all Blacksmith technologies, allowing the player to research all of these technologies at a bargain price of only food.
The Imperial Age is when The Spanish really start to show their strengths. The Spanish are one of the few civilizations that have full gunpowder improvements, so at this point the formidable Hand Cannoneers and Bombard Cannons can be trained. Conquistadors must remain the main mounted unit along with the Paladin during the Imperial Age; the player must upgrade these as soon as possible.
Researching Supremacy in the Imperial Age allows the Spanish to improve their town defense by boosting all the Villager attack and defensive stats, but also in many cases the player can abuse their villagers for frontline support and create forward Castles, towers and other military buildings just for their defensive stats and building speed. Spanish Villagers can help heavily in a siege by attacking buildings and enemy villagers since a Spanish Villager is almost as strong as a standard infantry unit.
On maps with water, Spanish must try to take naval superiority early on in order to make room for their formidable Cannon Galleons in later ages. Because Ballistics benefit Spanish Cannon Galleons, a siege from the sea can become devastating in the Imperial Age.
Long story short, as long as the player can survive until the Imperial Age, the Spanish arguably become a "master-of-all" civilization.
Strategy changes in The Forgotten
Spanish Monks are greatly improved, as they already have many advantages that increase further because of their Castle Age unique tech, Inquisition, which makes the conversion rate of Monk and Missionaries more efficient. Missionaries are also now affected by Bloodlines, making them more resistant to attacks and enabling them to make a better frontline support.
Strategy changes in The African Kingdoms
Missionaries no longer require a Castle to be created. The Inquisition technology cost is reduced from 400 food and 400 gold to 100 food and 300 gold, so in the African Kingdoms expansion, performing a "Missionary Rush" is technically possible.
Strategy changes in the Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition
Their Conquistadors now receive anti-cavalry archer damage, so now they are more vulnerable against units like the Camel Archer, the Skirmisher, and the Genitour. On the other hand, their Missionaries are buffed, since Husbandry now increases their movement speed, and they heal at the same rate as a normal Monk. With that buff, Spanish Missionaries are now better able to "hit and run" enemy units and perform conversions, and keep following the cavalry-based army the Spanish have without slowing them too much.
Watch Towers' HP is reduced to 700 in the Dark Age (in the Castle Age, they still have 1,020 HP). Despite this, their Tower rush is still a viable tactic, just a bit harder to make it and succeed.
When playing in team battles is preferred that the Spanish take the pocket position in order to boom. They also are excellent Springs when performing a Springboard tactic.
As an ally, the Spanish boost gold production from trade for the team, which make them an excellent ally for all civilizations, but the Italians, Saracens, Hindustanis, Bengalis and/or Bohemians in particular, since these five have distinctive bonuses for trading units and the Market. This team bonus is considered to be one of the best team bonuses in the game. In the Bohemian, Bengali, and Hindustani cases, they have win-win synergies, since the Bohemian team bonus improves the workrate of the Market by 80%, the Bengali team bonus grants 10% food income for trade units, and Hindustanis can create Caravanserais to enhance the speed of all allied Trade Carts whithin their vicinity while also healing them. Having these 4 civilizations on the same team, that team will have arguably the best possible trade of all the game.
Having a Turk ally for the Spanish boosts production for gunpowder units, including Conquistadors, so the team must defend well in order to reach the Imperial Age quickly, boom, and make use of their gunpowder units. With a Bulgarian ally they can also research blacksmith technologies quickly without using gold.
The Byzantine team bonus is also especially useful, as the Missionary is counted as a monk, enabling them to heal faster and better support the army. With a Lithuanian ally they can also research Monastery technologies and produce Monks and Missionaries quickly. Being a civilization with complete improvements for cavalry, the Frankish team bonus, the Hunnic team bonus,Persian team bonus, Mongol team bonus (Scout Cavalry line +2 LOS),Polish team bonus (Light Cavalry +1 attack vs archers) and Hindustani team bonus (anti-building bonus for Spanish Hussars) are also very useful.
Being a gold hungry faction (as their core units all cost gold), having an Aztec ally aids Spanish to generate more gold per relic (this alliance also fares well in Springboard tactics, as Aztecs can take the role of the Springboard and the Spanish the Spring), and a Burmese ally will aid to snatch those relics faster. The Portuguese team bonus does not aid much, but they have a late-game advantage regarding gold production: the Feitoria, which enables them to have a steady gold production that can be sent to their Spanish ally through tribute or by lowering the cost of gold artificially using the Market, especially when gold mines run out. Having Tatars as allies may also help a bit in the gold production, as the Keshik generates gold when attacking enemy units. The Tatar Team bonus also increases the Line of Sight of the Conquistador. Having a Vietnamese ally is also interesting, as they can find the location of the opponents and granting the Imperial Skirmisher upgrade (which will partially cover the Spanish lack of Crossbowmen and Arbalests, by enabling them to have a good ranged unit that doesn't cost gold and can support their troops at a distance).
Having probably the best Cannon Galleons in the game gives them an edge in naval warfare. The Spanish also benefit from naval team bonuses, such as the Viking team bonus (cheaper docks), Malay team bonus (far-sighted docks), Japanese team bonus (more line of sight for Galleons), Sicilian team bonus (first Transport Ship free and instantly created) and Dravidian team bonus (grants Spanish Docks extra population capacity).
Compared advantages and disadvantages
Advantages vs other civilizations
Disadvantages vs other civilizations
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