The Franks are an offensive civilization that rely primarily on their heavy cavalry for combat.
Their knights and related units receive a bonus 20% hitpoints, making them even tougher than they already are. While 32 extra HP might not seem like a big difference on a unit who already has 160, it allows them to survive five hits from a Halberdier instead of four. Farms are also much cheaper to start up, as the upgrades are free. Another major opportunity would be their exceptionally cheap castles, which cost 25% less than regular castles. This allows them to build a powerful defense earlier than other civilizations. While the Franks may have an easy time building castles, their unique unit, the Throwing Axeman is not the best choice of units in head to head battles, as they are somewhat fragile and their attack is nothing special. However, they do have some advantages. They, along with the Mameluke and the Kamayuk possess the only ranged hack damage in the game. This allows them to easily destroy Battering Rams from behind a wall, removing the need to send out forces.
In contrast with their cavalry, their archers are fairly weak, missing most upgrades and technologies. Also, despite their powerful heavy cavalry, the rest of their mounted units are average. They lack the Hussar upgrade and cannot build Camels. Their defense is somewhat weak, missing most tower upgrades.
The Franks are fairly average until the Castle Age. They get their Farm upgrades for free, which gives them a small boost in the early ages. Typically Frank players should go for a Fast Castle, followed by a Knight Rush.
Their Knight line is indisputably the best in the game, and their Knight Rush is highly effective. Due to cheaper Castles (488 stone instead of 650) they can easily make a forward Castle to limit the opponent and give the Knights a fall-back option. Throwing Axemen are good for taking out Rams from behind Walls or attacking through a logjam of enemy troops protecting the ram, but they're not useful for much else. Franks are extremely predictable and any competent foe will keep Spears and such on-hand, so a Frank player must try to micromanage the Knights well. Bombard Cannons are also useful for opening up cramped bases so that Paladins can maneuver more easily.
On water maps, Franks have an average navy, and should use their cheaper Castles to gain an edge.
Strategy changes in The ForgottenEdit
Throwing Axemen are a little bit more useful in The Forgotten expansion; the upgrade to Elite Throwing Axeman cost 100 gold less than in previous versions of the game. Their Axeman are faster because they get Squires. Their economy get an early game improvement with their new civilization bonus that makes foragers to collect food more quickly from bushes. Maybe the most important improvement for the Franks in this expansion is their Castle Age unique technology Chivalry, which improves the stable work rate by 40%. Franks are already good with heavy cavalry, so with these new tech they can spawn paladins at a greater rate; this technology plus Conscription enables the Franks to produce cavalry at a +86% speed rate, and it also works with the Huns team bonus (in a team battle) furthering this rate to a total of +123% creation speed for cavalry units.
Strategy Changes in The African KingdomsEdit
Throwing Axemen are slightly faster. Also, the Knight HP bonus now applies to all their cavalry, including Cavalry Archers, making a Scout rush a more viable tactic during Feudal Age and the Cavalry Archers more useful. It should be noted that building Cavalry Archers and Scouts is very suboptimal, as the HP is still pretty low in comparison to their respective cavalry units with Bloodlines (72 HP as opposed to 80 HP) and the fact that the Franks lack the important technologies for Cavalry Archer rushes (Parthian Tactics, Bracer, and Thumb Ring).
As a Cavalry oriented civilization, Franks benefit greatly from team bonuses that boost cavalry, and particularly the Knight line units. As previously mentioned, the Hun team bonus will add creation speed to the stable, enabling to the Franks to spawn their formidable Paladins even faster. The Persian Team bonus is also helpful, as this furthers the capabilities of the Paladin when facing archers. Also, both of these civs benefit from the Frank team bonus, giving their paladins greater line of sight (which is normally very short).
The paladin is a common target for monks, since it lacks the conversion resistance that other cavalry units feature, while also being a powerful unit by itself, so having a Teuton as an ally is good, since paladins are the backbone of any Frankish army.
Franks also benefits from economic team bonuses in regards to the farm production as they already have farms that upgrade automatically. The Inca team bonus enables them to create farms faster (and also, the Franks can cover the Incas' lack of cavalry), and the Chinese team bonus adds more food for each farm.
Mayans also make great teammates for the Franks, as they can play as a board for the franks in springboard tactics. Also, Mayans have an economic bonus of generating more resources from nature. This applies to stone mines, so this bonus, combined with the Franks' cheaper castles, means that the Frank player will almost always have a castle to defend a location. Also, Franks can cover the natural lack of cavalry of the Mayans.
Rise of the Rajas introduces four competent Southeast Asian allies, all geared up with tanky Battle Elephants as fine meatshields. Among them, the Burmese and the Vietnamese might have the best synergy with any Frank players: the former reveals and shares locations of the relics to them at the beginning, which allows them to snatch nearby relics rapidly to secure the bankroll for their knights, in exchange for far-sighted Cavaliers with Manipur Cavalry upgrade; while the latter offer Imperial Skirmishers as anti-halberd and anti-archer measures, or a key component of late-Imperial domination, together with a handsome bankroll via Paper Money and resilient foot-archers with suppressing firepower, in exchange for extra support from "French Quartet" composed with real Paladins, Throwing Axemen, Hand Cannoneers and Bombard Cannons. Range boost from Khmer allies also renders Frankish Heavy Scorpions lethal but "friendly-fire-free" monk-snipers or archer-slayers, while far-sighted docks gifted by Malay allies also prove useful to build up a defending armada with high vigilance.