The jungles and hills of Vietnam proved as hospitable a home to the locals as they were a formidable obstacle to invaders. Lead the rebellion against the Chinese Ming Empire and become a Vietnamese hero. Guide your people to independence by waging guerilla warfare with an extremely powerful arsenal of ranged units. The Vietnamese unique unit is the Rattan Archer, a heavily-armored ranged unit that is effectively impervious to arrow fire.
The Vietnamese are based on various dynasties in Vietnam before the European colonization. Historically, they were known as one of the few nations who repelled the Mongol invasion in the 13th century. This is mostly attributed to the resistance of the Vietnamese army that mostly consisted of peasants and volunteers that were quickly deployed in the battlefield to resist against enemy invasions. To reflect on the Vietnamese peasant army, they get free Conscription.
The Vietnamese were viewed as masters of guerilla warfare, using the local jungles, cliffs, and wetlands to their advantage to ambush and strike their enemies through the shadows. Therefore, they have a unique upgrade for the Elite Skirmisher, the Imperial Skirmisher, which is available as a team bonus for Vietnamese allies. Also, Vietnamese strategy relied on peasant spies and infiltrators to locate enemy camps in order to set up ambushes and surprise assaults, which is why enemy Town Centers are revealed at the start of the game. Vietnamese villages and towns are often self sufficient in resources and tools, which is reflected with economic upgrades not costing wood.
The Vietnamese were known to be skilled in archery, and their troops made extensive use of rattans, a tough, light-weight woody material, for shields, armors, and bows. This is why the Vietnamese gain extra HP for their Archery Range units and their unique unit, the Rattan Archer is an archer with high pierce armor. The Vietnamese were also known to capture elephants that were larger than most other elephants in the region, and deploy them in battle, which is why their unique technology gives extra HP to their Battle Elephants.
Even though the Vietnamese have resisted Chinese occupation and overthrew the Chinese rulers in Vietnam since 938 A.D, Confucianism and Chinese culture had a strong influence on Vietnamese culture until modern times. To reflect China's influence, the Vietnamese are the only Southeast Asian civilization to use the East Asian architecture (instead of Southeast Asian, which is the case prior to the Definitive Edition).
Finally, their unique technology, Paper Money, is team-based and grants each ally gold, based on a reform of King Ho Quy Ly to replace coins by paper money to resolve the financial problems at the times.
The Vietnamese are an archer civilization with strong emphasis of team support, and their foot archers are excellent soldiers, getting additional HP as well as every upgrade there is. Additionally, their unique unit and team bonus are both foot archers, making the Vietnamese able to pick from a wide variety of different units there. Their infantry and cavalry both miss Blast Furnace, and the latter is especially shallow with other upgrades such as Paladin and Hussar missing. Their Battle Elephants, however, get additional HP out of Chatras and therefore have good defensive capabilities. The siege units are overall weak. Their navy is fair, but the Fast Fire Ship and Shipwright are missing. Their Monks rank below average as well. The defensive structures are overall good, but the lack of Masonry and Architecture is not helping. Their economy is good and especially suited for team games with Paper Money, but the lack of a major early game economic bonus makes the Vietnamese vulnerable to rush strategies.
Vietnamese units spoke their namesake, an Austroasiatic language (related to the language spoken by the Khmer) spoken in the modern-day Vietnam. It is formerly written with modified Chinese characters and currently written with modified Latin alphabets.
The language spoken, however, is anachronistically modern Vietnamese rather than Middle Vietnamese spoken during the Age of Empires II timeline (e.g. "heaven" is pronounced trời instead of blời, spelled with phonetic elements 巴+例 (ba + lệ) in Nôm script).
When playing a random map game against the computer, the player may encounter any of the following Vietnamese AI characters:
Dinh Bo Linh (丁部領, Đinh Bộ Lĩnh; 924–979): Vietnamese emperor from 968–979, first independent ruler of a unified Vietnam since its liberation from Southern Han Chinese control by Ngo Quyen. Emerged victorious after the chaotic "Anarchy of the 12 Warlords" period.
Le Dai Hanh (黎大行, Lê Đại Hành; 941-1005): Became Emperor of Vietnam after the Dinh queen deposed her six-year-old heir of Dinh Bo Linh and trusted Le Dai Hanh to save the country. He successfully defended Vietnam from Song dynasty invasions.
Le Thai To (黎太祖, Lê Thái Tổ; 1384-1433): Real name was Le Loi, Emperor of Vietnam from 1428-1433, first emperor of the Later Le dynasty which would remain in power for over 300 years. He came to power via the Lam Son uprising against Ming Chinese rule.
Le Thanh Tong (黎聖宗, Lê Thánh Tông; 1442-1497): Later Le Emperor of Vietnam from 1460-1497; he lead Vietnam through prosperous times and military successes against foreign threats. He also reformed the empire's legal system.
Ly Nam De (李南帝, Lý Nam Đế; 503-548): Vietnamese king from 544-548; first ruler of the Early Ly dynasty. Originally a regional leader within the Chinese Liang Dynasty's administration of northern Vietnam, he resigned, and with local forces, rebelled to establish his own kingdom.
Ly Nhan Tong (李仁宗, Lý Nhân Tông; 1066-1128): Vietnamese Emperor from 1072-1128; a ruler of the Later Ly dynasty. He established Confucianism as the state philosophy; created schools of Confucian learning. During his early reign, Lý and Song China engaged in a two-years bloody border war that resulted in 500,000 deaths.
Ly Thai To (李太祖, Lý Thái Tổ; 974-1028): Vietnamese Emperor from 1009-1028; the first of the Later Ly dynasty. From an orphan raised by monks he rose to head of imperial guards, elected by the entire country after the previous emperor died and none of his childen wanted the throne.
Ngo Quyen (吳權, Ngô Quyền; 897-944): Vietnamese King from 938-944 who rose to power after defeating Southern Han Chinese forces at the Battle of Bach Dang River in 938. His reign was marked by chaos and unrest, however, and his death was followed by the "Anarchy of the 12 Warlords" period.
Phung Hung (馮興, Phùng Hưng; 761-802): Mounted a rebellion against the Chinese Tang Dynasty in 791, becoming the de facto ruler over the region from 791-799. The Tang Dynasty still officially laid claim to the region.
Tran Anh Tong (陳英宗, Trần Anh Tông; 1276-1320): the fourth emperor of the Tran dynasty; ruled from 1293-1314. His reign was notable for relative peace and prosperity, upholding a détente with the Mongol Yuan Dynasty. Son of Tran Nhan Tong.
Tran Nhan Tong (陳仁宗, Trần Nhân Tông; 1258-1308): the third emperor of the Tran dynasty; ruled from 1278-1293. He presided over the repulsion of invading Yuan Dynasty forces on land and at sea. Father of Tran Anh Tong.
Tran Thai Tong (陳太宗, Trần Thái Tông; 1218-1277): Vietnamese Emperor from 1226-1258; the first of the Tran dynasty. Grandfather of Tran Nhan Tong.
Though the in-game Vietnamese are team-support-oriented, their real-life inspirations often waged wars, defensively (except once) against Chinese and offensively against southernly & westernly neighbouring states.
The in-game Vietnamese being an archer civilization coincidentally reflects many linguists' conjectures on the Austroasiatic origin of Chinese word for crossbow (弩).
If a player picks the Vietnamese civilization, the bottom left and center of the navigation bar will show two women with swords and a dragon respectively. The women are likely a reference to the Trưng Sisters, while the dragon is drawn in a distinctively Lê dynasty style.
When debuting in Rise of the Rajas, the Vietnamese used Indianized Southeast Asian architecture, which was changed to Sinicized East Asian in Definitive Edition. This is because real-life Vietnamese architecture strongly resembles Chinese architecture (or East Asian in Age of Empires II's parlance) due to China's strong cultural influence in Vietnam throughout medieval Vietnam's history.
The Vietnamese wonder, But Thap Temple, is such a Vietnamese architecture's sample.
According to the developers, the use of Southeast Asian architecture for the Vietnamese in Rise of the Rajas is supposed to reflect on the Dai Viet and Champa kingdoms in South Vietnam.
However, this remains historically inaccurate, as the Le Loi campaign took place during the Fourth Chinese domination (1407-1427), and the post-Trần-Hồ's Dai Viet then did not include the majority of Champa territories; not until Lê Lợi's grandson Tư Thành would conquer two Champa principalities and reduce the third one to a vassal tributary. Even after the conquest, Vietnamese who colonized conquered southern territories always built towns whose architecture is clearly based on East Asian architecture (for example, Hội An, built by Vietnamese, in former Champa lands).
Another developers' inaccurate historiography is that the Red River Delta, heartland of the medieval Vietnamese civilization, is covered with tropical jungles in-game even though the Delta actually stays in the Köppen-classied subtropical climate zone.
Developers also projected a recent phenomenon, extensive use of guerilla warfare by Vietnamese against far more technologically advanced foes like French and Americans, too far back into the past. Medieval Vietnamese armies were capable of not only ambushing and flanking enemies but also fighting foes directly on flat, open fields (for examples, at Tốt Động-Chúc Động south of today-Hanoi) as well as sieging and capturing enemy cities.
The Vietnamese civilization icon is based on a Đại Việt wooden shield decorated with a Vietnamese sun symbol.
The national name Đại Việt is historically attested since 1054, the first year of Lý Thánh Tông's reign, not during Ngô Quyền's time.
Before the 20th century, foreigners (from other Asian countries or from Europe) called Vietnamese various exonyms based on Middle Chinese 安南 *ʔan-nəm "(SV: An Nam) Calmed South", a colonial name by Chinese imperialists for Vietnam.
The civilizational name Vietnamese is somewhat anachronistic: The national name Việt Nam 越南 dates, at the earliest, to the 16th-century Principal Graduate Trình's Oracle and is only officially used by Emperor Gia Long in the 19th century, at the request of Qing emperor Jiaqing: as Gia Long's initially suggested national name 南越 (Nam Việt) had already been used by Qin conqueror Zhao Tuo for his Nam Viet kingdom, which encompassed modern North-Vietnam, Guangdong, Guangxi, as well as parts of Hunan and Jiangxi.
A more historically appropriate civilization name would be either Viets (越) or Kinh (京), as Vietnamese call themselves.
Historically, not having access to the Hand Cannoneer is somewhat inaccurate, since late medieval Vietnamese forces already adopted and utilized gunpowder weapons. Despite the Chinese also lacking Hand Cannoneers in-game, the gunpowder dynamic is still a core part in Reaching South, a scenario of the Le Loi campaign.
The reason for this might be due to hand cannons saw limited use in Vietnamese arsenal of gunpowder weapons, as they rapidly replaced archaic hand cannons with arquebus, then with bayonet muskets and newer Western cannons, immediately after they came to contact with Western countries that were exploring South East Asia.
The Vietnamese were not going to have the Champion upgrade or Bloodlines to put more emphasis on their Archer units and their Battle Elephants , but testing revealed that the Vietnamese wouldn't have cost effective answers to the Goths' late-game. The developers decided to give the Vietnamese Champions and Bloodlines, as the former allows the Vietnamese a fighting chance against the Goths while the later allows strong synergy with their Cavalry Archers.
According to a fifteenth-century legend, the first Vietnamese state was founded in 2879 BC when king Hung Vuong united the tribes of the fertile Red River delta in Northern Vietnam. Thanks to the natural boundaries of mountains in the north and sea to the south, successive states were able to defend their independence for several centuries. In the first century BC, however, the Han dynasty of China invaded the Red River delta in order to secure their trade interests. For over a millennium, the Vietnamese would live under Chinese rule.
Even though Chinese rulers persistently tried to force their culture and traditions on the region, their efforts were only partially successful. The Vietnamese people retained a sense of pre-Chinese identity, which resulted in several rebellions against the central government. When the Chinese Tang dynasty collapsed in the early tenth century AD, local leaders used the opportunity to gradually reclaim independence. In 938, general Ngo Quyen repelled the last Chinese invasion and proclaimed himself king of the Vietnamese kingdom, known as Dai Viet. For the next centuries, successive Vietnamese dynasties would not only resist new Chinese invasions, but also expand the empire southward against the Cham. Three powerful dynasties were especially important during the Middle Ages:
In 1009 Ly Cong Uan, a former temple orphan and commander of the palace guard, founded the Ly dynasty when he was elected as the new emperor. The Ly dynasty (1009-1225) laid the foundations for a powerful Dai Viet through the development of an organized central administration. Adopting the Chinese model to their own needs, the Ly emperors established the Imperial Academy where all nobles and bureaucrats were educated in Confucianism. Officials were recruited based on their scores in an examination. In addition, the Ly dynasty promoted Buddhism as the state religion and enhanced the irrigation network.
The Ly emperors were succeeded by the Tran dynasty (1225-1400). In this period, the Vietnamese culture witnessed a golden age: theatre and literature in the Vietnamese language developed. Many innovations, such as paper money and new medicines, were introduced. Nevertheless, the Tran are most famous for their military skills. In 1257, 1284, and 1287 they successfully repelled the Mongol armies of Kublai Khan through clever use of terrain and guerrilla tactics. In the fourteenth century, spurred by economic and demographic expansion, the Vietnamese campaigned against the Champa kingdom to enlarge their empire, but ultimately failed to conquer the whole kingdom. The Tran upheld a specialized army of infantry and archers, but reduced its cost by rotating troops in training during peacetime. By 1390, the Vietnamese had also adopted the use of gunpowder from China.
After the Ho dynasty (1400-1407) had overthrown the Tran emperors, Ming China launched an invasion under the guise of restoring the Tran dynasty. Two decades of harsh rule followed until Le Loi, son of a local village leader, started a rebellion in 1418. After ten years, Le Loi restored the independence of Dai Viet by defeating the Ming rulers. During the Le dynasty (1428-1788), the state converted to Confucianism as the main religion and the law system was remodeled according to Chinese fashion. Under the emperor Le Thanh Tong (1460-1497), Dai Viet witnessed another golden age: he restored agricultural production, revised the tax system, and reorganized administration. In 1471, the emperor succeeded where the Tran did not: he defeated the Champa Kindgom. After Le Thanh Tong, the Le dynasty held the throne through much of the pre-modern period and became the longest ruling dynasty in Vietnamese history.