Villagers move 10% faster
Stable units are 15% cheaper in Castle Age and 20% cheaper in Imperial Age
Ships move 10% faster
Genitour can be trained from the Archery Range
Camel Archer – Ranged Camel unit that does bonus damage to Cavalry Archers
Genitour – Mounted Skirmisher
Kasbah – team Castles work 25% faster
Maghrabi Camels – Camel units regenerate 15 HP per minute
No Halberdier upgrade
No Arbalester upgrade
Missing Parthian Tactics
Fully upgradable Hussar and Heavy Camel but no Paladin
No Siege Ram or Siege Onager but get Bombard Cannon
Strong water technology tree – only missing Shipwright
No Keeps or Bombard Tower and no Architecture
No Block Printing or Sanctity for Monks (range and hp bonuses respectively)
Only missing Two-Handed Saw from the economy upgrades
Full Blacksmith technologies
Excel in Castle Age and early Imperial Age
The Berbers have minimal economy upgrades to help their start. The increased Villager speed is mostly beneficial to improve the rate of farming (which is rarely utilised in the Dark Age) but it will help newer players to not lose Villagers when they are ‘luring’ a boar.
Berbers have a conventional start with 3 Villagers and a Scout Cavalry. They have no bonuses in the early game that dictate their opening – but they should aim to streamline towards their stronger options in Castle Age (cheaper Stable units or their Camel Archers). However, the lack of specialisation early on can be good as it gives them the flexibility to perform many of the more common openings depending on the specific game situation and most of these can help with their potential transitions later in the game.
The extra speed of Berber Villagers does have the small added benefit of being able to wall your base slightly faster and therefore return to collecting resources slightly sooner.
A Scout build order is often the most preferable start for the Berbers as it will always complement their unit choices throughout the game. Should the player go into Knights or Camels later then the upgrades on Scouts also benefits these. If they instead choose to go for Camel Archers then a stable is necessary for Bloodlines and Husbandry – vital upgrades for all Cavalry units. If the enemy produces Spearmen to counter the Scouts, an Archery Range can be added to combine in some Skirmishers or Archers. Again, this can lead into Camel Archers later in the game for Thumb Ring – another vital upgrade.
Straight Archers or Men-at-Arms into Archers are possible strategies for the Berbers as the upgrades on Archers can help their unit composition as the game develops but it is not an optimal choice as they do not have any specific bonuses to support this. If this is chosen, be aware that Berbers are limited to Crossbow in the Archer-line so this should not be viewed as a long term composition.
The Berber Villager speed bonus should begin to be beneficial during the Feudal Age and their food economy should benefit from a decrease in movement time. All other resource collection rates will experience a very minor boost but farming is the one that involves the most movement and so is impacted more.
On water maps, the Berber speed bonus for ships helps to make their fishing ships more efficient than standard Civilisations. In combat, it gives Berbers the advantage of selecting which fights they wish to take. It could even be utilised to remove damaged Fire Galleys from the fight to be repaired as the opponent would not be able to chase so easily. The extra speed can also enable the Berber fishing ships to evade Fire Galleys, hopefully then surviving until the Berber player has won the water battle and can resume collecting food. Another by-product of the increased ship speed is that Galley micro becomes more efficient. They are able to turn to shoot at following ships whilst continue progressing away from opposition ships with their faster movement.
Castle Age is when the Berbers’ advantages really begin to shape their play. 15% discount on stable units allows one of the strongest Knight rushes as the cheaper price allows continued production from two Stables whilst sustaining Villager production and researching economy and military upgrades. The Berbers are also able to mix in Camel Riders with their Knights. The advantage there is that Camel Riders are cheaper, produce faster and deal bonus damage to Knights. The downside of Camels is that they have no base pierce armour, meaning that they are susceptible to attacks from most ranged units. This is a sensible follow up to Scouts in Feudal Age as you will then use the time advancing to Castle Age to research the necessary upgrades for the Knights or Camels that will follow.
If the Berbers player has started with a build that involves Archers, the Crossbow upgrade provides a good power spike for them. While they should be cautious in investing too much into producing Crossbowmen themselves, the upgrades that affect Crossbowmen are valuable to the Berbers unique unit – the Camel Archer. Crossbowmen should instead be seen as a way to deal damage to the opponent and force them to defend while a Castle is being built at your own base, rather than your long-term unit composition.
The Berbers’ unique unit is the Camel Archer, which has bonus damage against Cavalry Archers. The Camel Archer fires faster than Cavalry Archers making them a very useful raiding unit and a strong unit in its own right. Camel Archers are countered by both Cavalry-counters and Archer-counters so they need to be careful fighting against Elite Skirmishers and Pikemen. In this case, they should ensure that they are being microed away from the melee units. Some form of ‘meat-shield’ in front will benefit them in this. If producing Camel Archers, you are reliant on the Castles for production so it is sensible to research Kasbah – which increases Castle production speed by 25% (this bonus also applies to the whole team making it very useful in team games).
Berbers are able to use a Siege-Monk push but do not benefit from any specific advantages for these – making this an uncommon approach which would be very situational. In fact, their Monks are missing the Sanctity upgrade in Castle Age (which gives Monks extra HP) and the Block Printing upgrade in Imperial Age (giving extra conversion range to Monks). This means that their Monks will lose out to a civilisation with fully upgraded Monks.
In a team game, the Berbers’ reduced cost of Stable units and lack of Paladin upgrade will mean that they can focus on gaining an advantage by increasing their production. The Berbers player can add extra Stables as soon as possible and continue producing Knights at a faster rate than the opposition pocket.
If the game lasts into the Imperial Age, Berbers do not have access to the Arbalester upgrade and so should have already transitioned away from Crossbowmen. Berbers’ best options for ranged units would be their Camel Archers. If committing to their production, Conscription is an important upgrade to further improve the production speed from all military production buildings – vital when restricted to training from Castles. Camel Archers could easily be paired with Hussars as a melee option as the Stable discount will apply.
In Imperial Age the Stable discount increases to 20% meaning that fully upgraded Berber Cavalier can trade nearly cost effectively with fully upgraded Paladins. The trades could be further improved for the Berber player by mixing in Heavy Camel Riders – with bonus damage to the Knight-line.
If committing to either Camel Archers or Heavy Camel Riders, the Berber player should ensure that they research Maghrabi Camels from the Castle which allows Camel units to regenerate HP. This is useful for all Camel units but particularly for Camel Archers heading into the late game as it helps to keep your crucial gold-units alive. While the regeneration of HP is not fast, it allows the units to passively heal after disengaging from combat and therefore be in a better positon for future engagements, allowing units to ‘snowball’ if they can be kept alive. This is particularly beneficial for Camel Archers as they don’t engage in direct combat, meaning they could continue to regenerate while still delivering damage.
In an Imperial Age water battle, Berbers have access to all of the units but are missing the Shipwright technology which reduces the wood-cost and creation speed of Ships. This can be a big disadvantage as it allows their opponents to take far more cost-effective fights on water and reinforce faster.
The Imperial Age technology Chemistry, gives the Berbers access to gunpowder units. Hand Cannoneers are a strong counter to Infantry and Bombard Cannons are a powerful anti-building unit. Having access to Bombard Cannons can make up for the lack of Siege Ram and can be used to snipe enemy Trebuchets or Onagers. They are produced from the Siege Workshop rather than a Castle, meaning that it is also possible to produce these whilst maintaining Camel Archer production. They are an expensive unit so need to be protected.
In the late game, the Berbers can struggle fighting a composition containing Halberdier, Siege Ram and Elite Skirmisher. In order to try and fight this, The Berbers should look to add in Onagers as they are strong against Rams and groups of units. Combining this with their cheap Hussars and Genitours – with higher HP than Elite Skirmishers, making them more population efficient – can allow the Berbers to hold against this and then use their greater mobility to damage the opposition’s economy.
Victory for the Berbers is likely to come from their raiding ability with a composition that will include many mobile units. They are capable of a direct push but must be careful to protect their Siege units – a task that is made harder by a lack of Halberdier.