Assyria is one of the nations that new players often struggle with. They're tricky to play and that can make them frustrating. Here's what makes Assyria hardcore awesome: Forget the pillage bonus. It's one of those things that looks good on paper, but in practice, it stinks. It's literally the only Assyrian ability not worth talking about. The specific reason it stinks is that in practice, most players attack cities to capture them. You don't want to pillage tiles around a city you mean to capture and keep for yourself. The only possible way to make it work would be to bring a worker with you when you attack a city, bring enough units to selectively pillage and then have the worker start making repairs before they're destroyed. You'll get more in pillage gains than you lose in repairs but it's annoying micromanagement. Everything else about Assyria is absolutely badass. Let's take a closer look: First - Assyria is the only nation in the game that offers both the Hunters and Champions families. Two combat-oriented families gives you lots of extra training points and even on the hardest difficulty level, you'll have at least a few resources to jumpstart your economy. Hunters and Champions are both incredibly powerful in the early game and that gives you tons of options, especially when combined with the fact that your starting leader has the best stats in the game and an incredibly powerful archetype (An educated Zealot is a dangerous thing indeed). Taking the two combat oriented families is almost always a good idea, but the third family is dealer's choice though my preference is for the Clerics for control. The ability to get a super early religion is quite strong and the extra bit of discontent reduction shouldn't be discounted on the higher levels of difficulty. All that's a good start but there are two abilities that really make Assyria sing. Every time you kill a military unit, you get +2 orders and every military unit you produce (including your starting slinger) comes with the Focus I promotion. Focus I gives your units a 10% chance to critical (double damage) every time they attack. On its face, that doesn't sound all that impressive and in truth, a single unit with a 10% chance to crit isn't all that exciting, but that's not the point. Two promotions later, that same unit (Focus III) has a 45% chance to crit - even more if you've got a general with some Wisdom. Get 6, 8, 10 or more of those massed together and suddenly you've got a positively evil force at your disposal. That, combined with the order generation makes Assyria an incredibly efficient murder machine. Smart use of units that can damage multiple enemy units, paired with units that can rout can see you create an absolute avalanche of orders that will allow you to completely dominate the game. And if you're behind in tech, the higher crit chance helps you close the gap - your inferior units can still inflict impressive damage (crit), which buys you time to catch up. It gets better. While your army is mass murdering your enemies using their amazing "Focus Pocus" power, your siege engines (best and most powerful in the game) are making their way toward the enemy's cities. Once they get there, the enemy city is doomed. Two hits from a battering ram can take down the defenses of an unwalled city. Two hits from a tower can do the same thing to a walled city, and of course, your rams and towers certainly won't be alone. Some people bemoan their slow speed, but smart use of intercoastal waterway movement and forced marches (which you've got plenty of orders for thanks to your magical army) can get them into position with ease, and once they're there, it's the kiss of death for your opponent. Bottom line: The Assyrians are one of the toughest nations in the game. If you see massed Assyrians coming for you, you're probably already dead and just don't know it yet.