The Shang civilization do not have any special bonuses that are suited for combat. However, they have several powerful Iron Age units, including Heavy Horse Archer, Scythe Chariot, Cataphract, Catapult, Helepolis, Guard Tower, and a fully upgradeable Priest. All Storage Pit technologies are available to them, as well as all three range upgrades; however, their lack of Ballistics, Alchemy, and Engineering can be detrimental. They are also generally poor on water maps due to being unable to upgrade their War Galleys.
They make up for some of their flaws with their ability to create more villagers in the starting game compared to other civilizations. Since their villagers cost only 35 food (40 in 1.0a patch), they can create as many as 5 villagers on the Random Map mode of the game, with 25 food left over (only 4 can be made in 1.0a patch, with no food left over due to starting with 160). This makes the Shang an excellent choice in short, early games. Since the Shang do not have any bonuses for combat, it may be better to play this civilization only when the game is set to "standard" where military conquest is unneeded to win the game. However, it should be noted that the Shang do have access to all of the top-notch cavalry and archers in the game. Players who find themselves playing this civilization often surround themselves with extensive walls to keep invaders at bay. This strategy is fairly effective since it allows the player to focus more on the economy rather than the military. If this strategy is executed properly up to the very last age, this strategy can be very effective when it comes to constructing and defending Wonders in the Iron Age. If the computer controls this civilization in Iron Age with sufficient amount of surplus resources on land as in deathmatches, their entire army will consist of Cataphracts, Helepoli and Priests.
Strengths and Weaknesses