The Byzantine civilisation in Knights and Barbarians represents the Byzantine Empire, one of the major powers of the early middle ages, and still significantly influential in later centuries, when its power had dwindled, but its prestige had remained largely untouched. The ByzantineEmpire was in the unique position of being able to claim to be a direct continuation of the Eastern Roman Empire. In fact, the Byzantines prefered to refer to themselves as Romans, and they took pride in being able to call Constantinople, the Byzantine homecity in Knights and Barbarians, their capitol. After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, Byzantium was keen to take over some previously Roman territories, which they did with some success, conquering southern Iberia and significant parts of Italy. The Byzantines even briefly held the city of Rome itself.
All things considered, the Byzantines hadn't fared at all badly in the power vacuum that was created when the Western Roman Empire ceased to exist. Soon however, it would prove impossible for Byzantium to defend its widely stretched empire against other empires that had started to come into prominence. The Byzantines directly faced the Rashidun Caliphate, to which it lost Egypt and the Holy Land, as well as its successor the Umayyad Caliphate, to which Byzantium lost its Iberian holdings, Sicily and all territories it had left in Syria. Meanwhile, the rise of the Franks in Western Europe proved to be another headache for the Byzantines. While the Byzantines and Franks never declared war on each other, Frankish conquests did make it very difficult for Byzantium to undertake any military expeditions to Italy, and when Charlemagne declared himself Western Roman Emperor, Byzantine ambitions in Western Europe were made completely impossible. The only empire of the early Middle Ages that the Byzantines faced with some success was the First Bulgarian Empire, situated directly north of Constantinople. Some Byzantine emperors were more succesful in facing
the Bulgarian threat than others, but judging by his nickname "the Bulgar-slayer", Emperor Basil II of the Macedonian dynasty, the Byzantine AI personality in Knights and Barbarians, was
pretty adept at dealing with the Bulgarians to the north.
After the death of Basil, and the fall of the Macedonian dynasty, Byzantium fell into a long period of decline. The Crusades brought some temporary solace, but eventually the Crusades would turn against the Byzantines, as Constantinople was sacked in the Fourth Crusade, and the Byzantines were left with nothing else than the Despotate of Epirus, a poor agricultural region on the Adriatic coast. The Palaiologos dynasty would attempt to bring the Byzantine Empire back to its former glory, but
didn't really manage to do so. Constantinople was reconquered under the Palaiologoi, but the empire was already standing with one foot in the grave. The Ottoman Empire would deal the final blow to the Byzantines, conquering region after region, until in 1453, Constantinople itself was conquered, and the Byzantine empire ceased to exist.
The Byzantines are part of the European civset, which means they get the Town Square and its Feudalism system, as well as the possibility to fire up a Revolution, and access to Royal Guard upgrades. The Byzantines start each game with 6 Peasants, 2 Crates of Food and 2 Crates of Wood.
The Byzantines have a choice of the following three religions:
- Orthodoxism (main religion): + villager units have more hitpoints, - villager units gather coin at a slightly slower rate.
- Armenian Christianity (reformed religion): + villagers and cavalry have increased line-of-sight, - villagers have fewer hitpoints.
- Judaism (outside religion): + villagers gather coin slightly faster, - Priests have fewer hitpoints, Priests move more slowly.
The Byzantines can choose any of these three regions in the Feudalism system:
- Trebizond, Gateway to the Orient: benefits the gather rates for coin and XP.
- Wallachia, Danube Lowlands: benefits gather rates for farming, as well as the stats of ranged cavalry units.
- Epirus, the Western Frontier: benefits the building of fortifications and the cost of aging up
The Byzantines can revolt to either of these three late medieval powers:
- Bulgaria : makes all units cost less resources
- Serbia: sends Serbian Hussar mercenaries
- Sicily: sends Gun Carracks
The bonuses of the Byzantines serve to make them the most defensive of all civilisations in Knights and Barbarians. However, they also give the Byzantines an edge in a strategy more focused on map control and raiding, if they so choose. The Byzantines are very coin-focused, and their bonuses accomodate for that.
- Byzantine Houses slowly generate coin by themselves
This bonus gives the Byzantines an edge in coin gathering, obviously, but
also makes it less harmful for the Byzantines to be cut off from
resources further away from their base, as their base itself will
continue to slowly add to their economy.
The Byzantines can advance in age using only coin
This bonus uses the coin gathering advantage of the Byzantines to make it
easier for the Byzantines to advance through the ages. Particularly in
Age I, this is a meaningful bonus, as the training of Peasants no longer
competes with aging up for food.
Byzantine Walls are stronger than those of other civilisations and all buildings except
Towers and Castles are built quicker for the Byzantines
This bonus gives the Byzantines an edge in defence, but also enables them to
quickly expand their base and build forward bases whenever necessary.
This then is a bonus that can aid both turtling and map control,
depending on how it is utilised.
Byzantine Cavalry Archers become available one age early and are stronger than those of other civilisations
This bonus gives the Byzantines an edge in fighting off enemy cavalry units,
as they can use both Spearmen and Cavalry Archers for this while still
in Age II, and benefit from the better stats of the Cavalry Archer as
compared to other civs in later ages.
The Byzantines get two free Tower Wagons every time they advance in age
This bonus is probably the most defining one for the Byzantines, and
provides them with two options, either to use these free Towers to add
to the defences of the Byzantine base, or to use them as forward
fortifications, defending valuable parts of the map and restricting
enemy movement. This bonus does not, however, raise the buildlimit of
- Man-at-Arms (Barracks, II)
- Spearman (Barracks, II), becomes the Doryphoros with a Royal Guard upgrade
- Varangian Guard (Barracks, III), unique to the Byzantines. Far more capable against infantry than the Halberdier it replaces
- Archer (Archery Range, II)
- Crossbowman (Archery Range, III)
- Akritas (Archery Range, II), unique to the Byzantines. More of a general purpose unit than the Skirmisher it replaces
- Fire Thrower (Barracks, V), unique to the Byzantines. Becomes available after researching Greek Fire
- Light Cavalry, disabled for the Byzantines
- Kataphraktos (Stables, III), unique to the Byzantines. Slightly more powerful than the Knight it replaces
- Cavalry Archer (Stables, III), becomes the Trapezitos with a Royal Guard upgrade
Artillery and Siege Units
- Sapper (Siege Workshop, II)
- Ballista (Siege Workshop, III)
- Catapult (Siege Workshop, III)
- Ram (Siege Camp, II)
- Mantlet (Siege Camp, II)
- Siege Tower (Siege Camp, III)
- Bombard (Siege Workshop, V), becomes available after researching Black Powder
Other Land Units
- Militia (Town Center, I)
- Lord (I)
- Peasant (Town Center, I)
- Farmer (Manor, I)
- Priest (Church, II)
- Bishop (Church, III), first has to be unlocked through the HC
- Dog (Manor, I)
- Fishing Boat (Docks, I)
- Cog (Docks, II)
- Galley (Docks, III), becomes replaced by the Fire Galley after researching Greek Fire
- Carrack (Docks, IV), becomes replaced by the Gun Carrack after researching Black Powder