Age of Empires III: Definitive Edition – Understanding Treaty Games: Guide to Creating a Proper Treaty Card Deck and Choosing a Good Civ

This guide seeks to educate the playerbase on how to properly go about preparing for a treaty game.

Treaty Games: Basic Overview and Terminology

There are many different ways to go about playing Age of Empires. Some like to rush to finish the game quickly and move on to another game, but some of us (myself included) consider rushing to be a cheap strategy that is simply a substitute for fully understanding the game’s mechanics and does not fully explore all the game has to offer, particularly in its later ages, such as age IV and V.

For those of us who prefer to engage in combat primarily in these later ages, Treaty games the preferred method of ensuring combat occurs in the late game. A treaty game works by having a timer that counts down from a set point until it expires. The exact length of this timer may be set at the start of the game by the game’s host, and can vary from as little as 10 minutes, to as long as 90 minutes. While this timer is active, combat between units is disabled via game mechanics, I.E. its physically impossible to attack another player’s units or buildings during the timer. In addition, during while the treaty timer is in effect, it is impossible to build buildings too far away from your own town center. Once the timer expires however, combat may begin between units of the opposing teams, and buildings may be built anywhere on the map by either team.

Due to the unique nature of treaty games when compared to other game modes, players over the years have added rules to treaty games to help ensure proper balance and that everyone has fun. These rules are generally listed in the server name. As that name can only be so long, these names are generally abbreviated. I will explain the abbreviations (and their meanings), below:

HM: ”HM” is short for ”Half Map.” This rule is usually used for perfectly symmetrical (or nearly symmetrical) maps. It means that The map is divided down an axis somewhere, which is usually a geographical feature, such as a river.

According to this rule, each half of the map belongs to one team or player, and the other team or player is not allowed to explore other team’s side, gather resources on the other side, or station units of any sort on the other side, prior to the end of the treaty.

This rule is designed to prevent teams from stealing each other’s resources, or stationing a mass of units right outside the other teams town to quickly cause chaos right as the treaty timer expires.

NWS: “NWS” is short for ”No Warships.” This rule is common on half maps divided by a river that has land crossings, such as orinoco. This rule means exactly what it sounds like, and means that neither team or player is allowed to build a dock or warships to attack the other team’s town from the river. This rule almost always remains in effect even after treaty timer has expired.

NOOP (Also sometimes NO OP): “NOOP/NO OP.” Means that civs that are frequently considered ”OP” or overpowered in treaty games are not allowed to be chosen in this lobby for balance reasons. This usually means French/Russians/Japanese/Chinese civs. Specific lobbies may have other civs their host considers OP, but these are the most common ones. If you see this rule in the lobby name, it’s usually a good idea to ask the host which civs he/she considers OP.

In addition to specific rules, treaty games often require that players have purpose-built card decks (the cards that you choose for your home city), in order to be competitive. Below I will describe how to build a proper treaty deck, and show an example of a good treaty deck, and a bad treaty deck.

Treaty Decks: What Are They and How to Build Them

As mentioned above, players in treaty games need specially designed decks in order to be competitive in treaty games. These decks are known as treaty decks, and are sometimes abbreviated as “TR Decks.” Victory in a treaty game often comes down to a few very basic variables:

  • 1: How many resources can a civ accumulate for unit production and upgrades before the Treaty Timer ends.
  • 2: How fast that civ can train units to actually make use of those resources.

What this means is that 2 types of cards are EXTREMELY important for treaty games:

  • 1: Those cards that increase gathering rates of resources by villagers.
  • 2: Those cards that decrease unit training times.

As a deck may only contain 25 cards, it is very important in treaty games to prioritize cards that allow your civ to gather as many resources as possible, and to quickly transform those resources into units in the field.

Using the French as an example, below is example of a good treaty deck:

This deck contains all the gathering rate increase cards, specifically those from mills and estates, as those will be the majority of your food and coin production late game. This deck also contains both factory cards to produce more resources. It also contains both the cavalry training time decrease card, and the infantry training time decrease card, to allow you to more quickly use those resources. Any additional card spaces may be taken up by fortification cards and unit combat bonus cards, which vary from civ to civ.

With this particular deck, you should have enough resources to at least give your opponent a good run for their money.

So what kind of deck is NOT good for a treaty game you ask?


Again using the French as an example, we have below an example of a bad treaty deck/ a rush oriented deck:

In this deck, we have no gathering rate increase cards and only one factory card. Instead, we have numerous supply crate cards and unit shipment cards. While these cards are helpful in a early game/rush scenario, if you try to use this deck in a treaty game, you will simply lose unless your opponent’s deck is equally bad, because you will simply not have the resources to sustain your unit production in the late game when the treaty timer ends, and will run out of resources, allowing your opponent to roll over you and leaving you unable to counter them because you can no longer train units due to lack of resources.

Good Civ Choices for Treaty Games

When it comes to treaty games, not all civs are created equally – some civs are inherently better at late game treaty type play, and will consequently do better in treaty games than other civs, even when proper treaty decks are made for both civs.

Picking a proper civ for treaty is no substitute for having a proper treaty deck though, and even a very good treaty civ can be easily defeated by a poor treaty civ if the good treaty civ has a bad treaty deck.

However, when treaty decks are made properly, a few civs really shine in treaty games. There are many ‘treaty tier lists” out there that attempt to organize which civs are best to worst in treaty games. This my personal treaty tier list, and is my personal opinion. However, considering I’ve played this game since 08’, I should know a thing or two.

Treaty Civ Tier List

Tier 1 (OP):

France: Gendarmes are very powerful and relatively cost-efficient to boot. Couple this with an excellent economy that needs only 20 villagers for the same amount of resources thus leaving you an extra 20 pop slots, and you have a monstrously powerful treaty civ.

Russia: Russia’s economy is also very very good, and their infantry can be trained literally instantly with the right cards. Couple this with their musketeers ability to build forts and do so way faster than normal that can then build more musketeers to build more forts, and their Oprichnik cavalry that is fast and has a massive boost against buildings, and you have an incredibly good treaty civ.

Japan: Japan has what is essentially a mobile barracks/stable/artillery foundry all rolled into one in the form of daimyos, which allow them to keep the pressure on their enemies and not have to worry about building a dedicated forward base, thus saving resources to boot.

China: China is the only civ that can have 220 population, and can have more than 99 villagers when building the temple of heaven wonder after already getting 99 villagers. Along with the porcelain tower wonder to generate more resources, and their ability to get a factory through the consulate, they can potentially have more resources in their stockpile than almost any other civ out there.

Tier 2: (Very Good Choices)

British: The British economy is very good, and they have the best musketeers in the game (tied with the Portugese). They also get a free villager from every house (manor) that they build, allowing their economy to get up and running quickly. They are a bit lacking in the artillery department though, and they require more microing than most other civs to have a good chance of winning.

Portugese: The Portugese get a free town center wagon with every age. This allows them to quickly max out their villager count (important in treaty games). They also have the best musketeers in the game (tied with the British). Their economy is strong, and their mortars are among the best in-game, as they have greater range than other civ’s mortars, allowing them to destroy defenses and buildings from very far away. Their organ guns are regarded as inferior to falconets, but Portugal is still very viable treaty civ.

Spanish: Spain gets home city shipments quickly, allowing them to send more of their cards before the treaty expires. The biggest reason Spain is here though is their ”unction” card, which gives their units +4.5% attack for every missionary in range of them, which stacks with up to 10 missionaries, thus giving their units a wopping +45% attack with enough missionaries. Their economy is pretty good, though not the best, but unction makes their units so cost effective that their resources last a long while as they don’t lose units as quickly.

Tier 3: (Decent Choices)

Ottomans: Janissaries are some of the best musketeers in the game, and can build barracks to build more Janissaries. Their abus gun artillery also shred infantry formations, are relatively cheap and take up few pop slots, but they suffer from poor anti-cavalry abilities, as Janissaries lack the anti-cavalry abilities of normal musketeers, and the Ottomans cannot build any other types of infantry. To boot, their economy is generally regarded as somewhat weak compared to most other civs, and their villagers, while trained for free, are also trained more slowly than civs which can build them outright. The Ottomans can hold their own in a treaty with teammates if properly managed, but are not regarded as the best choice for treaty games usually.

Germans: (Some people may disagree with the placing of this one, but again, personal opinion here). Uhlans are somewhat squishy, war wagons are not population-effective, and landsknechts are slow. In essence, Germany lacks any one incredible unit, but has several decent units instead. Their economy is very good, but their military unit choices handicap them a bit in most treaty games

Indians: The Indian economy is excellent – among the best in-game. To boot, their elephants are very powerful. However, all of their units train slowly at best, meaning that they have a hard time actually putting all their resources to use. Elephants also take up a lot of pop slots, meaning that Indian armies tend to be somewhat smaller than their counterparts.

Swedes: (Not a whole lot of experience with Swedes, but again, personal opinion). Torps cannot be built closely together, thus making walling your base (a must in treaty games) difficult. Their economy is also decent, but not the best. Overall, Sweden can be good in treaty games, but only if you really know what you’re doing with them.

Tier 4: (Bad Choices)

Dutch: On paper, the dutch sound great for treaty games, as their villager population is capped lower thus allowing for more military units instead while their banks to the heavy lifting of coin gathering. In practice however, Banks alone will not sustain the dutch for long in treaty games, and their small villager population will mean that they will eventually run out of resources before most of their opponents do.

Incans: The incans, as with all the other native civs, have an economy that is heavily dependent on wood for units and unit upgrades. While food and coin can be gathered from farms and estates respectively, the amount of wood in a scenario is relatively finite, and late game, wood is usually produced via factories, which the Incans cannot build. To add insult to injury, the Incans cannot build cavalry units, and thus lack a decent counter to artillery spam. Not recommended for treaty games.

Iroquois (Now known as Haudenosaunee): Perhaps the best native civ choice for treaty games thanks to their ability to build cavalry and decent walls, the Iroquois are still heavily dependent on wood for unit production and upgrades. Unless the treaty game ends soon, they will eventually run out and have to resign.

Aztecs: The Aztecs, as with all the other native civs, have an economy that is heavily dependent on wood for units and unit upgrades. While food and coin can be gathered from farms and estates respectively, the amount of wood in a scenario is relatively finite, and late game, wood is usually produced via factories, which the Aztecs cannot build. To add insult to injury, the Aztecs cannot build cavalry units, and thus lack a decent counter to artillery spam. Not recommended for treaty games.

Sioux (Now known as Lakota): Better than the Aztecs and incans thanks to their cavalry, though still not as good as the Iroquois for treaty games, the Sioux are once again let down by their dependence on wood and their inability to generate it quickly late game. To boot, their economy is slightly worse than the Iroquois, and their walls are not as good. Not recommended for treaty games.

Boom, there you have it – my civ tier list. Again, remember that this is only my opinion and a very good treaty player with a good deck will still almost always outperform a bad treaty player with a bad deck, even if the bad player is playing Russia and the good player the Sioux.

Basic Additional Tips for Treaty Games

Unless you are very, very new to this game, most of these concepts should be familiar to you already, but they are listed here anyways in case someone is that new.

  • 1: Max your villager population as quickly as possible to gather as many resources as possible.
  • 2: Assign the majority of your villagers to food, to quickly produce villagers, 2-3 to wood (until later on) and 2-3 to coin (early on) increase your coin production by beginning to assign more villagers to coin gathering once you hit age 2, as advancing from age 1-2 only requires food, but 2-3 requires coin as well. Basically, ensure villager production is constant until you hit 99 by getting lots of food and just enough wood to build houses to keep production of villagers constant.
  • 3: Gather food from animals first – they gather faster than bushes and mills. Start building mills and estates later on, once mines and animal resources have been exhausted. Make sure you have enough wood by this point to do so.
  • 4: Build lots of walls – this is extremely important in treaty games. The number of layers you can build varies by map, with some maps favoring heavier walling than others, but at least 2-3 layers of walls are necessary in treaty games.
  • 5: Make sure to build a ”forward base” – building your barracks, stables, etc. closer to the enemy’s town than your own town’s bases in order to allow you units to get to the front line more quickly and keep the pressure up on your enemy.
Volodymyr Azimoff
About Volodymyr Azimoff 13338 Articles
I love games and I live games. Video games are my passion, my hobby and my job. My experience with games started back in 1994 with the Metal Mutant game on ZX Spectrum computer. And since then, I’ve been playing on anything from consoles, to mobile devices. My first official job in the game industry started back in 2005, and I'm still doing what I love to do.

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