When you look up great imperialist empires in the dictionary, there should be a picture of 16th century Spain pasted there. Five hundred years previous to this, however, the territory of Spain itself was part of a larger Islamic world. Late in the 11th century, minor Christian states in the north of Spain began a campaign to retake the Iberian peninsula known as the Reconquista. Over the next several hundred years, Arabs were driven out. The last Islamic state, Granada, fell in 1492. Ironically, the year 1492 would figure prominently in the next great chapter in Spanish history, for it was in this year that Christopher Columbus made the first of several voyages of discovery to the new world. With their colonial aspirations in the known world held in check by England and France, Spanish nobles, known as conquistadors, were quick to carve out an empire in the Americas. Aided by advanced technology and the spreading of disease to local populations, the Spanish destroyed once great empires in a relatively short time using relatively small armies. Taking a cue from their experience fighting the Arabs centuries before, after conquering the territory, the Spanish sought to conquer the people as well by the aggressive introduction of Christianity.
- Builders work 33 percent faster (except on wonders).
- Blacksmith upgrades do not cost gold.
- Cannon galleons benefit from ballistics technology.
- Unique Technology
Supremacy: Villager combat skills are increased.
- Unique Units
- Conquistador (elite conquistador)
- Team Bonus
Trade cart and trade cog carry 33 percent more gold
One of the biggest advantages the Spanish possess is that it can research every blacksmith technology in the game, and it can do this research without spending gold. If you add up the savings, it amounts to 1,695 in gold - a very significant sum. But aside from the obvious benefit of low-cost armor upgrades, what this advantage really does is let the Spanish player quickly fund research on monastery technologies; and of these two benefits, the latter is perhaps the more important one.
The Spanish conquerors are very strong when it comes to the power of their religion. Every monastery technology in the game is open to them. Because of this, your monks will be at least as strong and fast as everyone else's and have a conversion range that's at least as long. Since few other civilizations have access to all the technologies, you know right away that your monks are guaranteed to be better in some respect. The primary benefit of having strong monks is, of course, the ability to convert enemy buildings and other monks. Oh - and don't forget about your missionaries either. Except that they can't carry relics, these shorter-range monks are every bit as good, plus they can keep up with your conquistadors.
The Spanish feature a standard mix of infantry and cavalry. Most can be upgraded several times throughout the course of the game. For example, the lowly Spanish militia unit can be upgraded four times until it reaches champion status. Because infantry units are less expensive than mounted units (at least in terms of gold), it is easy to find yourself treating them as nothing more than cannon fodder. This is a mistake, and if you fall victim to this mentality, you should immediately stop what you're doing and concentrate on producing mounted units instead.
Besides, if you're looking for real cannon fodder, consider using villagers instead of infantry. Spanish villagers begin the game with 25 hit points, no armor, and an attack strength of 3. By the time you reach the imperial age, researching supremacy increases their hit points by +40, gives them modest armor bonuses (+2/+2), and increases their attack strength by 6! Considering the cost (400 food/250 gold), researching supremacy is a minor investment with a big payoff.
Given these stats, you're almost justified in creating villagers for the sole purpose of entering combat. Couple supremacy with sappers, and you wind up with villagers on steroids. Not only can they perform combat duties, they retain their ability to repair structures and siege equipment. It's like producing your own little contingent of combat engineers or seabees. Don't pass up the opportunity to employ villagers in these non-standard roles.
Mounted units, such as the heavy cavalry archer, paladin, hussar, and conquistador, are some of the strongest units in the Spanish inventory. Because they are expensive, you can never produce as many as you need. Still, cavalry units such as these should compose roughly 35 percent of your total military force. They represent the attack wing of your army and, without them, you concede the initiative to your neighbors.
Although the Spanish do not receive any bonuses when it comes to naval construction, they do have access to every naval technology and upgrade available in the game. By the time the Spanish reach the imperial age, their docks can produce fast fire ships, heavy demolition ships, and elite cannon galleons. (Spanish cannon galleons benefit from ballistics, remember.) No other navy can boast this kind of strength and versatility at sea. Of course, this is really only a benefit on maps containing open bodies of water. Nonetheless, the Spanish navy will rule the waves in most games.
Considering how strong the Spanish ultimately become, they are surprisingly weak during the early stages of the game. As is the case with many civilizations, their only real chance at winning the game lies in getting to the castle age in a hurry, preferably with lots of resources already stockpiled. The trouble is, however, the Spanish are not particularly well equipped to gather resources. They possess no economic or resource-gathering bonuses unless you factor in the trade bonus they receive when playing as a member of a team.
Considering that the two things the Spanish need most, especially late in the game, are food and gold, it's a shame that they're preventing from researching gold shaft and crop rotation. In practical terms, what this means is that you'll be forced to maintain a large number of villagers mining gold and tending fields right until the end. This is particularly troublesome, since every villager behind the lines counts toward your maximum population limit and more importantly, is one villager fewer you can use as a combat unit after researching supremacy.
The Spanish are prevented from producing crossbowmen or arbalests but instead of considering this a weakness, think of it as a blessing in disguise. You're going to get much more mileage out of other types of ranged units. This just keeps you from wasting resources. You're also prevented from producing camel units. Again, you're response should be: So what! The main benefit of camel units is the bonus they receive when fighting cavalry. As the Spanish, you're really not in need of any anticavalry bonuses. After researching bloodlines and husbandry, your equestrians are among the finest in the game.
General Dark Age Strategies
Although the Spanish have a 33 percent increase in speed when it comes to constructing buildings, they have nothing in the way of resource-gathering bonuses. For this reason, the Spanish should stick to a standard opening. Send your scout to look for your nearby sheep while your 3 villagers build two houses right near where they started. After that have them work on the sheep that your scout found and sent to the town center, or help your scout find sheep if none have been found. Once the houses are built, raising your population limit to fifteen, your town center can start cranking out additional villagers. Instead of racing to the feudal age like other civilizations, the Spanish must use their food points to raise villagers instead. A typical fast castle is around twenty-five villager population (or twenety-six with a scout), Although playing on a population limit below two hundred would lower than number accordingly. Use your scout to scout around your base first rather than looking for an enemy base. Since you won't be building a feudal army you need to make sure to be walled while you advance to the castle age.
Dark age rushing (building a barracks and three militia) is not really in the cards for the Spanish. Since the Spanish won't have a good Feudal army to fall back on it is better to try to get to the castle age as quickly as possible. After your scout has scouted your own base use it to scout your opponent's and see if he has built a barracks. If so, then make sure to wall in with palisades and houses, as a counter rush would be far more damaging to you than to him. The most important part of resisting a Dark Age Rush (drush) is having the scouting information to realize it's coming before the militia are even built. The Spanish build 33% faster, making walling rather than counter drushing seem like an even better choice.
General Feudal Age Strategies
The fact that your villagers work 33 percent faster works to offset the resource-gathering bonuses possessed by other civilizations. By itself, this benefit won't win the game for you, but it'll help in keeping others from getting too far ahead. The Spanish must assign the vast majority of their villagers to harvesting food. Obviously, fast food sources are preferred, but in the absence of wild game, build at least a half dozen farms near your town center. Second only to acquiring food is mining gold. Fortunately, your first real advantage comes once you build a market and begin trading with other players. Spanish trade bonuses produce a lot of extra gold - and you're going to need it. This makes pursuing trade alliances well worth the effort. Since you waited until you had 26 villagers to advance to the Feudal age, you will have enough income that when you get to Feudal you can simply build a market and blacksmith and advance. Although it may not be that smooth, you should only have to stay in the Feudal age for two to three minutes.
Make sure also to start walling or continue the walling you did in the dark age. Without any military you are totally defenseless to rushes without walls. Two to three minutes may not seem like a lot, but it is a lot of time when you have no military or walls to defend against feudal rushes.
General Castle Age Strategies
Until now, the Spanish have been just hanging on, barely in the game, trying to stay out of everybody's way. All this changes with the coming of the castle age and the availability of chemistry. Gunpowder is the Spanish player's best weapon. This is where your strategy begins to split based on your opponents:
If your opponent is someone like the Byzantines who has been rushing you in the Feudal age, then push your technological advantage. Go for stone and build a castle to start building conquistadors. There are no feudal age units who can stand up to conquistadors, and you probably only have a few minutes to push your advantage.
If your opponent hasn't been rushing you, they are probably going for a unit they get in the castle age. Although you will usually want to go for conquistadors, there are three reasons to not build conquistadors:
- Common unit: If you are facing British, then chances are they will simply upgrade a army of archers they already have to formidable long ranged crossbows. This applies to any civilization who does not build their unique unit in the castle age, and especially to a civilization who can simply upgrade a feudal age unit. You will find an army of twenty to thirty crossbows at your walls no more than a minute after you enter the castle age. Building castles to build conquistadors simply takes too long, so while you should still go for a little bit of a stone it would be best to build skirmishers to counter the crossbows instead as building lots of archery ranges is much easier than building lots of castles. The castles will still go up and you will eventually transition into conquistadors, but for now most of your economy will go into other units.
- Easy counter: If your opponent is someone like Franks where they usually build knights, then Pikemen is an easy counter because they cost no gold. In this case, you should mix pikemen in with your conquistadors and try to micro manage the pikemen so that the Frankish knights hit the pikemen instead of the conquistadors. This applies to any civilization which has units which are easily countered by pikemen or elite skirmishers.
- Easily countered: It is very difficult to fight units with a lot of pierce armor (like Mayan/Aztec eagle warriors) or have a long range (like British longbows) using conquistadors. If your opponent is massing up a unit that counters your conquistadors you may want to consider a different strategy. Although the spanish have no bonuses on their knights, knights could be a better choice than conquistadors for units like longbows or eagle warriors, especially since knights are made from a stable.
General Imperial Age Strategies
The game is usually decided by the imperial age, but if you do reach imperial age nothing much will change. You should continue pushing your castle age strategy of building elite conquistadors, paladins, or Halberds and elite skirmishers. Continue taking advantage of inexpensive blacksmith upgrades, while spending gold to research monastery technologies. Concentrate on upgrading your mounted forces. There aren't too many civilizations that can stand up to a concerted imperial age attack from Spanish horsemen, especially when backed up by missionaries, hand cannoneers, and bombard cannons. It's a variation on the bumper sticker: "God, Guns, and Guts: Let's keep all three!" Surprisingly, your best imperial age foot soldier may be your villagers. Researching supremacy is not mandatory, but it's a low-cost way to add a little extra muscle to your army.
Researching and producing conventional siege units may be inefficient. Once you learn chemistry, you can use the bombard cannons as your main siege unit.