Their free Loom frees up gold in the Dark Age, allowing them to train five militia without having to task any villagers to mine gold. This, combined with their faster military buildings, allows them to perform a Dark Age rush more effectively than other civilizations.
Their unique technology, Garland Wars, increases the attack of all infantry by four. This gives all of their infantry massive attack compared to those of other civilizations. Their unique unit, the Jaguar Warrior, benefits greatly from this. The Jaguar Warrior already has a large attack and a bonus against other infantry. When coupled with their unique technology they can defeat any other infantry unit in the game. Their Monks are also the best in the game. The Aztecs can research every single Monastery technology, and their monks receive extra hitpoints every time one is researched. In some situations, this bonus is of somewhat questionable value, but with all monk technologies researched an Aztec monk has ninety-five HP. This makes the Aztecs one of the best civilizations for their monk rushes (combined with increased gold generation of relics) and allows them to excel at punishing any civilization that lacks Heresy, particularly civilizations that heavily depends on expensive units (such as the Persians, Slavs, Indians, and Koreans).
Any relics captured by the Aztecs or their teammates generates gold 33% faster, which is very helpful if the player's team has a lot of relics. In the late game, they have access to Siege Rams and Siege Onagers.
The Aztecs' total lack of cavalry or gunpowder puts them at a huge disadvantage in the late game. While Eagle Warriors make decent cavalry substitutes in the Castle Age and early Imperial Age, they don't have a lot of HP so are easily outmatched by Paladins and they cost a lot of gold, unlike Hussars. While Aztec Pikemen have greater basic attack than other civilizations' Halberdiers, they are nowhere near generally as effective against cavalry. This further compounds the problem of the Aztecs' lack of cavalry.
The Aztecs have the weakest navy in the game as they are the only civilization which cannot make Galleons and cannot create Demolition Ships either which causes them to be extremely weak on water maps in the Imperial Age.
Even though the Aztecs have Arbalests, they are missing two important archer upgrades (Thumb Ring and Ring Archer Armor), making their archer fairly weak lategame when compared to civilizations with stronger archers such the Chinese and Britons,
The Aztecs' main foes would be civilizations that utilize heavy cavalry and good pound units to a great extent like the Spanish or the Persians. Byzantine Cataphracts counter the Aztecs perfectly, as they are too dependent on infantry and lack the proper counters to deal with them. The Aztecs thrive against the Goths since they have the ability to make Jaguar Warriors and Arbalests countering infantry easily.
Aztecs have a very effective five Militia Dark Age rush (drush) as they get Loom for free, and military units create faster. A standard drush consists of three Militia, so Aztecs get a large advantage here, especially when the opponent is also drushing. In a 1v1, Aztec players should almost always drush, as it is one of their key advantages and makes up for potential struggling later on.
Aztecs have a powerful economic advantage because of their Villager carrying bonus, and if the player choose not to drush, this combined with the extra gold can make a large economic difference. This helps make up for the fact that Aztecs lack Scouts in the Feudal age. In the Castle and Imperial Age, an aztec player must use Monks, Eagle Warriors, Jaguar Warriors and Champions as needed. Monks can deter Cavalry charges with proper support, Eagle Warriors are great against Archers and for raiding, and Jaguar Warriors can easily defeat other Infantry, especially Champions who have a bonus against Eagle Warriors. The player must mix Siege Onagers and Siege Rams in its army for better results.
Once in the Imperial age, an Aztec player must focus on gold production (relics are good because of the Aztec team bonus) and mass-produce large numbers of Garland Wars boosted Elite Eagle Warriors for raiding. If the opponent is using lots of heavy Cavalry, the player must make Monks to convert them, as Cavalry can quickly overrun Eagle Warriors. The main strength of Eagles is their speed and resistance to arrow fire, allowing them to run under Castles and Town Centers with impunity. It is important to not let the game drag on too long, as there is very little Aztecs can do in the Post-Imperial Age.
Aztecs should try to keep their feet dry where possible, as they have indisputably the worst Navy in the game. Lacking Galleons, Cannon Galleons, and Demolition Ships, their only hope is to take over the water before the foe can get the Galleons upgrade. On primarily sea-based maps, it is vitally important to control the water from early game, since War Galleys stand no chance going up against an army of Galleons. Fire Ships are good for taking the water and holding it, since Aztecs fortunately get Fast Fire Ships and all the relevant technologies.
If the player is forced to go defensive as Aztecs, he or she must use Monks and building walls. Lacking Masonry, Architecture and Hoardings their Castles go down extremely fast, and should never be relied on for defense.
The Aztecs main foe would be civilizations that utilize heavy cavalry and good pound units to a great extent, like the Spanish or the Persians with hand cannoneers and Paladins doing formidable damage against Aztecs' infantry (in addition to the lack of Halberdiers to deal with strong Paladins, although the Aztecs can easily punish the Persians due the Persians lacking Heresy). The Aztecs, like many Native American civilizations, will struggle against the Byzantine Cataphracts due to the anti-infantry nature of the units in addition to their cheaper Skirmishers and stronger archery line should the Aztecs try to counter the Cataphracts with archers. Aztecs will however find easier to play against archers' civilizations and other infantry civilizations, like Goths.
Strategy changes in The ForgottenEdit
Despite the loss of their free loom bonus (replaced with +50 gold at start), the Aztecs are still a good rushing civilization. Their new unique tech Atlatl Improves the range and damage of their Skirmishers, making them one of the best Skirmishers in the game.
Strategy changes in The African KingdomsEdit
The Eagle Scout is now available in the Feudal Age, meaning Aztecs have the option to spend their 50 extra gold on two eagle scouts instead of a five milita drush. Eagle scouts have a very long build time in the Feudal Age, but Aztecs partially circumvent this with their 15% faster military production. Despite being very expensive, the eagle scout is an impressive unit in Feudal Age warfare, countering Archer, Skirmisher, and Spearman lines (in total cost but not taking into account gold scarcity later on). Considering their counter, the Militia line are very rarely seen in Feudal, that mostly leaves Scout Cavalry as their only contender.
Aztecs also looks to have good match-ups against the new civilizations. The Jaguar Warrior counters all the infantry a Malian opponent can field. Berber knight rushes are handily dealt with by powerful Aztec monks. The Portuguese will struggle to get their gunpowder up and running before being overwhelmed by Aztec aggression. Ethiopian archers are still ineffective against eagles, and their free pike upgrade avails them little.
In team games, Aztec players should generally try to play in the pocket position (between two allies), since in this way they can perform an economic boom and serve as Springboards in Springboard tactics. They are however not ill-placed in the front line either, because of their good rushing abilities. As they lack cavalry and a strong navy, it is preferred that their ally must have cavalry and good navy in order to cover their natural weaknesses.
The Aztec team bonus allows allied monasteries to produce more gold from collected relics. This gives to the entire team an edge, especially in the late game when the gold becomes scarce. This bonus makes an excellent synergy with other bonuses to gold collection, and also the Indian Sultans technology. A Portuguese ally will have little trouble with gold in the late game. A Spanish ally will add +33% gold from trade for the whole team.
The Aztecs greatly benefits from team bonuses to infantry such as the Goths' (+20% faster barracks in addition to the faster Aztecs' faster military production), and the Italians' (Condottieri available for defending infantry and buildings against cannons). The Slav team bonus allows to the Aztecs to save some wood or get more population space and this can prove useful even in a Drush.
An alliance with Byzantines makes the strong Aztec monks even more useful by increasing their healing speed. Allying with Britons will prove useful since it will ease the creation of a large amount of Aztec skirmishers, which are improved with the Atlatl technology. Last but not least, allying with Berbers will add the Genitour to their Archery Range, which makes it possible for the aztecs to have a cavalry unit. The Genitour is also counted as a skirmisher and will benefit from the Atlatl technology.
The Chinese team bonus of 45 more food on farms adds to the Aztecs hidden farm bonus.