The Franks (now known as the French) are a Western European civilization that conquered and inhabited modern day France, which was previously known as Gaul. They are primarily a defensive civilization, but can also be an effective offensive civilization as well. Their unique unit is the Throwing Axeman, who deal hand damage at range (their attacks deal damage according to 'armor', not pierce armor). Throwing axes were more popular than bows in the densely forested parts of northern Europe from whence the Franks came from, and they even take their name from their throwing axe, the Francisca. Their Castle Age unique technology, Bearded Axe, reflect this by giving their Throwing Axemen more range. The Frankish King Charlemagne started the tradition of using armored cavalry who became known as knights, and Frankish Knights fight valiantly with more HP and longer line of sight. Castles dot France, and the Franks have cheaper Castles to better emulate this. Finally, no castle with a knight as its lord is complete without peasant labor, and thus, Frankish farms upgrade technologies for free.
The Franks are a straightforward cavalry civilization, with a very strong cavalry and lots of Castles for defense. The Franks' infantry line is full, excluding the Eagle line units, with all the infantry Barracks and Blacksmith upgrades available. The Archery Range is one of the Frank's weakest points; while their Cavalry Archers do benefit from the civilization bonus giving them 20% more HP, they lack Arbalest and the following technologies: Thumb Ring, Parthian Tactics, Bracer and Ring Archer Armor. The Stable is very strong. Thanks to the Franks' 20%+ HP bonus for cavalry and their +2 line of sight bonus for the Knight line, the Franks have the best Paladins in the game. Additionally, all Blacksmith upgrades are available. However, the Franks lack the Hussar upgrade for the Scout Line and they do not have access to Camels either. The Franks lack Bloodlines, but this is negated by their 20%+ HP bonus for cavalry. The Frank's Siege Workshop is average, as they lack both the Siege Onager and the Siege Ram. Due to the fact that Castles are 25% cheaper, the Franks can build Castles for a more effective defensive system and to obtain map control. Their unique unit: the Throwing Axeman is a cheap short ranged unit that does melee damage with bonus against buildings and is notably weak against infantry with high melee armor, Onagers and archers using hit and run tactics. The Dock has all but the Elite Cannon Galleon available, nevertheless is worth noting that the lack of Bracer is a big negative for Franks' Galleons. The Franks get farms upgrade for free and foragers work +25% faster, rendering a fine economy, which is critical, since creating and upgrading cavalry units takes a lot of resources from the economy. Given that they can research Squires starting in Age of Empires II HD: The Forgotten, their infantry move faster. The Franks are countered by the Saracens and Indians in particular, because of their powerful anti-cavalry Camels. The Franks make a great civilization against civilizations like the Vikings, who do not have Camels or Halberdiers.