The Shang civilization do not have any special bonuses that are suited for combat. As a result, they mostly specialize in booming their economy while maintaining a defensive position on land maps from the Stone Age to the Iron Age. However, they can produce several powerful Iron Age units, including Heavy Horse Archer, Scythe Chariot, Cataphract and the Helepolis. They also have access to all of the Temple upgrades. All Storage Pit technologies are available to them, as well as all technologies from the Market. However, their lack of Ballistics, Alchemy, and Engineering can be disadvantageous, especially if the game focuses on prolonged siege warfare against other civilizations that specialize in producing siege weapons such as the Hittites and the Sumerians. They are also generally poor on water maps due to being unable to upgrade their War Galleys.
Despite these disadvantages, they make up for some of their drawbacks 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 not required to win the game. However, it should be noted that the Shang do have access to all of the top-notch cavalry and archers with the exception of the Elephant Archer in the game. The Shang is the only civilization that have access to both Cataphract and the Scythe Chariot upgrades. Despite having no military bonus, the Shang can make it up by massing Scythe Chariots and Heavy Horse Archers to deal with enemies. With the Villager cost reduction bonus, the player may consider performing the deadly Chariot Archer rush in the Bronze Age, which often results in a quick victory.
Like the Babylonians, 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 which is not their specialty. 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 WeaknessesEdit