Franks are considered the most boring and weakest civ by some. They put on them the badge: “one-trick-pony”. They are not my favorite civ, but I still like them more than aztecs. In my eyes, the aztecs are the one trick pony – drush into crossbows into elite eagles or die. Franks get so much more – strongest knight line, gunpowder, trash and a weird unique unit 🙂 It’s true, they are not as versatile as chinese or byzantines and they are more predictable than most of the other civs, but they are a solid choice in my opinion. Their bonuses and techs are all geared toward one unit – knights. Everything else is there only for support – and that’s where the variance comes from. You have the option of trash, hand cannons, throwing axeman or even champions. Cysion already did a good overview of them, so I won’t go into too much detail this time around.
- +20% HP for the knight line
- farm upgrades free (mill required)
- castles are 25% cheaper
- Team Bonus: knight line +2 LOS
- Unique Unit: Throwing Axeman
- Unique Tech: Bearded Axe (Throwing Axeman +1 range)
Franks don’t get any early game economy bonus. This makes their early game one of the weakest. In the Forgotten Empires on HD they get faster berry collecting (faster than sheep), which could potentially change their dark age dramatically. I see a lot of mill first strategies on the horizon.
The only economy upgrade they get in the old game are free upgrades to farms. It might spare a few resources, which could help in early castle age, but it’s not enough of a bonus to make them strong. It only helps people like me, who forget to research those upgrades in a timely fashion :D.
The +20% HP bonus for knights replaces the bloodlines for franks. They get the best paladins thanks to this. Unfortunately this also means, that their light cavalry is one of the weakest.
The next bonus is a really helpful one. Franks can get castles out earlier than any other civ. They save a lot of villager time in castle drop scenarios. In theory they can afford to do a castle drop and 2 TC immediately upon reaching castle age with the same number of villagers on stone as other civs. And it doesn’t stop there: they can spam those castles and repair them much more easily. It’s a pity I don’t see enough games with franks. This bonus has the potential for interesting builds and pushes.
The team bonus is quite strange in my opinion. There is no clear benefit to the bonus apart from easier raiding with knights. You can always mix in a scout cavalry if you wanted to achieve that. Otherwise it might be helpful, when coordinating with team-mates without cartography.
I’m still not sure what to make of the frankish unique unit – the Throwing Axeman. They are strong, yet not strong enough. They are often used in death match games, but rarely in random map games. They are like the scorpions of infantry. Good when massed, weak alone. You could also argue, that they are the best unit to go with their paladins. Lets compare them to hand cannoneers:
|Throwing Axeman||55F 25G||50||0/0 (3/4)||7 (11)||3 (4)||2|
|E. Throwing Axeman||55F 25G||60||1/0 (4/4)||8 (12)||4 (5)||2|
|Hand Cannoneer||45F 50G||35||1/0 (3/2)||17||7||3.45|
I listed the maximum stats they can reach with franks with upgrades in the brackets. To get an idea how strong they are, let’s compare how much damage each unit does against a fully upgraded frankish halberdier. The throwing axeman (elite) if fully upgraded does 8 damage (9). The hand cannoneer does 13 damage + 10 bonus against infantry +1 against spearman. This means the hand cannoneers do about 50% more damage/second to halberdiers than throwing axeman. Let’s look at how they fare against paladins, where the hc’s infantry bonuses doesn’t apply. The throwing axeman (elite) do 6 (7) damage and hand cannoneers do 10 damage per shot. In this case the the throwing axeman do around 10-20% more damage per second. Apart from this they get more HP, they are cheaper and trained in half the time HC train. Needing to have a castle is not even a huge disadvantage given how cheap those castles are. The other disadvantage when compared to hand cannoneers is the range. I have to admit, I thought they were weaker, but they are not that bad.
I’m not exactly sure how much the unique tech (bearded axe – +1 range for throwing axeman) helps. It’s quite cheap, so why not research it if you have enough of these axe jugglers.
The dark and feudal of the franks are one of the weakest. Best skip them fast and go for castle age asap. Upon reaching castle age, franks can easily drop a castle or two to defend and boom a little bit. Their knights in castle age are still not the strongest. Having the HP bonus only helps against equal numbers initially, when the opponent civ doesn’t have bloodlines yet. In castle age their crossbows only miss thumb ring. They could provide a good alternative to knights initially.
The frankish knight line starts to shine only in imperial age after the cavalier and paladin upgrades. For support they have several options, as I mentioned earlier (throwing axeman, HC, champs, siege), but they don’t get another strong unit line. Once gold runs out, franks are basically screwed. They only get fully upgraded hablerdiers. Their skirmishers miss all upgrades in the imperial age and their light cavalry is probably the weakest. In team games, when there is trade, however they can afford the most population efficient unit in-game: frank paladins.
On water they are average without any economy bonuses to help them. In imperial age their navy falls off, due to missing bracer and shipwright. With redemption and atonement missing monk rushes are futile with franks. The monks however are incredibly useful in mirror matchups, though, and to keep their very pricey army at full HP.
Economy and Technology
Economy wise franks only get breadcrumbs as bonuses – free farm upgrades and cheaper castles. The cheaper castles helps only with booms, where you still want to put up a castle or two to defend.
Franks are given all the tools to defend – strong buildings, cheap castles. They only miss bombard towers and keeps.
Franks are one tricky pony to tame. Their bonuses make them relatively predictable and it’s up to the player to come up with something unexpected.
I beat hardest barbie with them relatively easily. They still not one of my favourite civs, but I started to appreciate the strength of frankish castles and Throwing Axeman.