For centuries, fierce nomads roamed the Central Asian steppe, periodically launching distant migrations or campaigns to conquer or extort their sedentary neighbors. Don arrow-resistant silk armor and dominate the hills and plains with mobile horsemen and cavalry archers, or join the Mongol hordes and swell the ranks of the Keshiks, honored bodyguards of the Great Khan himself! Dare you follow in the footsteps of Tamerlane and mercilessly conquer an empire from Transoxiana to India, Anatolia, and Russia?
The Tatars are sometimes compared to the Mongols, both historically and in gameplay, as both Tatars and Mongols were descended from the Shiwei people. This is also reflected by their strengths and weaknesses, as their main army composition is similar to the Mongols, which consists of Cavalry Archers, Light cavalry, and siege, with below-average foot soldiers and Monks (in fact, their infantry is the worst in the game, being the only civilization to lack Chain Mail Armor for their infantry; and their conversion resistance is the worst, being the only civilization to lack both Faith and Heresy). However, the Tatars' siege puts more emphasis on their Trebuchets, as they have access to an Imperial Age technology that increases the range for their Trebuchets. As a nomadic civilization, the Tatars have access to the Steppe Lancer. The Tatars are designed for experienced players who can take advantage of the map terrain, as their units deal more damage when attacking from higher terrain (especially players who are familiar with playing as the Mongols).
The Tatars are classified as a cavalry archer civilization. Their Cavalry Archers are extremely powerful, not only having all possible upgrades (two of those, Parthian Tactics and Thumb Ring, are free for them), they also deal 50% more damage when fight on higher grounds (this bonus applies to all Tatar units), increased Line of Sight (which is their team bonus) and the Silk Armor unique technology, which gives additional melee and pierce armor to them, putting the Tatar cavalry archers at the same level as the Mongol, Hun, Turk, Magyar and Cuman cavalry archers.
Tatars also have strong cavalry, despite lacking the Paladin upgrade, as they have the Keshik, a medium armored cavalry unit which generates gold when fighting other units, and complete upgrades to all Stable units (the Scout Cavalry also benefits from the Silk Armor unique technology) as well access to the Steppe Lancer which is exclusive to the Tatars, Cumans, and Mongols, and affected by Silk Armor.
Though having Hand Cannoneer, their foot archers are not great, due to lacking the Arbalester upgrade. Tatars also have possibly the weakest infantry of all civilizations, to the point that it is nearly unusable, not only lacking the Champion upgrade and Supplies, they are the only civilization that lack Chain Mail Armor.
Tatar Monks are very weak, as they lack several upgrades.
Their economy is pretty strong at the start and part of the mid-game, as their herdables contain 50% more food and they get two free Sheep per new Town Center, starting in the Castle Age (rebuilding the Town Center before then does not give Sheep), but much more limited in the late game, due to lacking Stone Shaft Mining and Two-Man Saw.
The Tatars have a campaign devoted to their civilization: Tamerlane. They are also the playable civilization in a scenario from the Babur campaign. They also appear in:
Initially Keshiks were trained in 23 (20) seconds. With update 36202, they train in 16 (14) seconds.
With update 36202, Silk Armor now grants its benefits to Steppe Lancers.
Initially, Timurid Siegecraft increase range of Trebuchets by +1. With update 36202, Timurid Siegecraft increases range of Trebuchets by +2 and also makes the new Flaming Camel unit available when researched — a fast-moving Petard with bonuses vs. mounted units and elephants.
With update 61321, Flaming Camels deal 25 bonus damage against siege units, and 200 bonus damage against buildings.
In-game dialogue language
Tatar units speak Chagatai, an extinct Turkic literary language that was once widely spoken in Central Asia and remained the shared literary language there until the early 20th century. Being a Turkic language it is related to the languages spoken by the Turks and Cumans. But in stark contrast with the lines spoken by the latter, where mainly words with Turkic roots are used, Tatar dialogue lines contain a lot of loanwords from Arabic and Persian, even if they have purely Turkic synonyms, most probably to make spoken lines of these two civilizations as different as possible.
It also should be noted that voice actors are either speakers of different modern Turkic languages or non-Turkic speakers at all and because of that different voice actors pronounce the same words differently or even mispronounce them.
When playing a random map game against the computer, the player may encounter any of the following Tatar AI characters:
Bilge Kul Qadir-Khan: First known ruler of Karakhanids; died 893.
Emir Edigu: Emir of the White Horde and founder of the Nogai Horde; died 1419.
Harun Bughra Khan: Karakhanid ruler of Transoxiana; died 1034.
Jahan Shah: Born Muzaffar al-Din Jahan Shah ibn Yusuf, an Oghuz Turk poet and leader who leads the Kara Koyunlu dynasty in the present-day Iranian Azerbaijan and Arran (now Caucasus) from ca. 1438 to 1467.
Muhan Qaghan: Khan of the Göktürk Khaganate; died 572.
Oz Beg Khan: Longest-reigning khan of the Golden Horde; died 1341.
Qara Osman: Ruler of the Aq Qoyunlu; died 1435.
Qara Yusuf: Ruler of the Kara Koyunlu; died 1420.
Tamerlane: A Turco-Mongol conqueror. As the founder of the Timurid Empire in Persia and Central Asia he became the first ruler in the Timurid dynasty.
Timur Qutlugh: Khan of the Golden Horde; died 1399.
Tong Yabghu Qaghan: Khan of the Western Turkic Khaganate; died 628.
Urus Khan: Khan of the White Horde and a disputed Khan of the Blue Horde; died 1377.
Uzun Hassan: Ruler of the Aq Qoyunlu; died 1478.
Yabgu Shahmalik: Last ruler of the Oghuz Yabgu State; died 1042.
The Tatars' civilization icon is based on the tamga (emblem) of the Golden Horde. This is ironic but justified, as while the Golden Horde historically opposed the Timurids, the Tatars actually fought on both sides.
Some Tatar AI player names are Göktürk, Karakhanid, Oghuz Yabgu, Kara Qoyunlu, and Aq Qoyunlu rulers. However, those states were distinct from the Tatar states:
Göktürks spoke Old Turkic, which is the oldest form of a Turkic language to be preserved in writing dating back to the early 8th century - Orkhon inscriptions. These inscriptions mention Tatars' hostility, referring to Mongolic tribes of the Tatar confederation.
Göktürks' historical architecture would be likely Sinicized.
Oghuz Yabgu, Kara Qoyunlu, and Aq Qoyunlu all spoke Oghuz languages, and the latter two sometimes warred against Timurid Tatars.
Karakhanids spoke Karluk-Turkic, only much later would Tatars in Central and West Asia adopt the related Chagatai Karluk dialect.
The above shows that the ingame Tatars represent not only the Golden Horde and the Timurids as well the Tatars themselves, but also other Turkic peoples who had reached Central and partially West Asia.
Two of the Tatar AI player names, Tamerlane and Oz Beg Khan (Uzbeg), were previously Mongol AI player names.
European chroniclers added an extra -r- to the ethnonym Tatar, resulting in the derogatory exonym Tartar, likely in connection with Tartarus, the underworld in Greek mythology. Tartar would be erroneously used by other European ethnographers for Mongols as well as various Turkic-speaking peoples under Mongol rule. Thus, Tatars would become the namesake, as "Tartars", of the vast historical region Tartary.
Urgunge Onon (2001) proposed that Mongols were initially known as Tatars to Europeans because conquered Tatars acted as the Mongol army's vanguards.
The Tatars are the only "nomadic steppe civilization" as well as the only Central Asian one to have access to Hand Cannoneers, even though is not really historically accurate. The possible reason behind it is because most of the steppe people of Central Asia had access to the Silk Road, so when the Mongols took control of it, they spread some gunpowder weapons through the region, although at a small scale.
Another reason could be because of the Timurid armies, which used firearms in small quantities. In addition, the Timurids were predecessors of the Mughal Empire, one of the "gunpowder empires" (this could also explain their access to Bombard Towers).
At release, the Tatars were the only civilization added in The Last Khans who did not have access to Halberdiers. However, since update 35584, Tatars now have access to Halberdiers, making it available to all civilizations introduced in the The Last Khans expansion.
During the beta, the Tatars had access to Shipwright, which made them the only civilization in the Definitive Edition with access to it. The also lacked access to the Fortified Wall.
The Tatars' average navy is geographically inaccurate, as most Turkic tribes rarely battle on the water. Additionaly, the in-game Tatars are represented by the Tirmurid Empire, which belongs to Uzbekistan history, a double-landlocked country in Central Asia.
The Tatars have the worst resistance against conversion, as they are the only civilization lacking both Heresy and Faith.
They are the only civilization that got a lot of buffs in later patches, but were still very weak in land maps, due to lacking a significant way to use their main strength, which is Cavalry Archers. They lacked options in the Feudal Age and for booming in closed maps. Their new bonus in update 42848 allows them to delay their Farms more and save wood for their ranged units, and in the competitive scene, is considered a very strong and flexible bonus. However, it lead to situations of not building any farms in the Dark and Feudal age, plus saving very high amount of wood, and in conjuction with the extra 50% food on herdables, and free Thumb Ring and Parthian Tactics, as well the spamming potential of the Keshik, viewed as overwhelming for open maps and exaggerated for booming strategies, ended being highly criticized by all competitive players and getting frustration when facing Tatars. Even some high-level players climbed up their ELO drastically playing only Tatars, leading to the removal of the free Sheep in the Feudal Age and the Keshik food cost increase in update 44725. Overall, the Tatars maintain a below-average win-rate, but some high-level players still consider them a solid civilization, especially for open maps.
Alongside Burgundians, the Tatars are the only civilization that can unlock a secondary unique unit with a unique technology (both in the Imperial Age).
The Tatars are very similar to the Mongols in terms of gameplay, as both civilizations not only are closely related historically (they both descended from the Shiwei), but both civilizations put emphasis on siege, cavalry archers, and light cavalry as their main army composition, as well as having below-average foot soldiers and Monks due to missing several key technologies for them.
Until Dynasties of India, the Tatars, along with Cumans, are the last civilization introduced with access to camel units.
If the Flaming Camel is considered as a mounted unit, the Tatars with a Berber and Cuman ally with Cuman Mercenaries researched can train the most mounted units, at 9.
Historically, the meaning of the ethnonym Tatar has changed continuously to denominate a variety of Turkic and Mongol-speaking groups in and around the Eurasian steppes. The term was first applied to a confederation of nomadic tribes who inhabited northeastern Mongolia starting in the fifth century. By the eleventh century, they had become engaged in a bitter war against the Mongols. Under the rule of Genghis Khan (r. 1206-1227), however, the Mongols defeated the Tatars and established one of the largest empires in all of history. Ironically, the Rus’ and Europeans referred to the people under Mongol control as Tatars. After the death of Genghis Khan, these Tatars founded the many successor states of the Mongol Empire. While none would match its extent, some of these polities became mighty empires:
When the Mongol Empire was divided into four appanages, the connotation with the Tatars became more specific to the northwestern region, known as the Golden Horde (1227-1502). Under Batu Khan (r. 1227-1255), the Tatars continued their westward expansion, conquering Cumania, Volga Bulgaria, Kievan Rus’, and Eastern Europe. To control these vast territories, they relied on the high mobility of their armies of light cavalry. The sturdy Mongolian horses allowed them to campaign effectively in the cold weather of the Russian steppe. Although they preferred to lure their enemies into open battles, the Tatars regularly contracted Chinese engineers to build siege weapons when attacking cities.
Due to the conquest of the many Turkic tribes, Tatar culture became Turkicized over time. The Golden Horde also became Islamicized when Ozbeg Khan (r. 1313-1341) adopted Islam as the state religion. To further break with tradition, he moved the capital of Sarai to a new location. This city quickly became one of the largest urban centers in the region. When Ozbeg died, the Golden Horde had reached its greatest territorial extent, but it soon fell into decline. The immense casualties caused by the Black Death in the 1340s disrupted the Tatar economy, which was based on tribute and the intercontinental trade of the Silk Road. Unable to maintain its massive armies, the empire fell apart into smaller khanates.
By the end of the fourteenth century, the age of the nomad warriors seemed to be over as the successor states of the Mongol Empire were all disintegrating. In this political vacuum, however, a new Tatar warlord named Timur (r. 1370-1405), known in the West as Tamerlane, rose to power. Beginning his career at the head of a small band of raiders, Timur used his military genius to take over the Chagatai Khanate in 1370, establishing the Timurid Empire (1370-1507). Throughout the following decades, he conquered much of Central Asia through a series of bloody campaigns. In Delhi and Aleppo, for example, he ordered the construction of ‘minarets’ of skulls after captured enemy soldiers had been beheaded.
In contrast to his brutality on the battlefield, Timur was an active patron of culture. He contracted skilled artisans throughout the empire and brought them together at his court in Samarkand. The arts flourished as new styles and techniques developed because of the cultural interaction that he facilitated. The Timurids mastered the Seljuq architectural style, featuring domes and geometrical patterns of blue and turquoise tiles. The Gur-i Amir, the mausoleum of Timur, is considered to be the pinnacle of Persian-Mongolian architecture. While this cultural boom would continue after Timur’s death, his political legacy was limited. The union of the Timurid Empire was based on Timur’s personal charisma, and after he died the polity was torn apart by civil wars. The era of Tatar dominance had finally ended.