This topic died out a little and I initially hoped to discuss some strategies where players go for an early p2(before 70 population) with or without mercenaries which are separate cases. I would also like to add a 4th option. Option 4: The phase 2 blacksmith attack upgrades give +20% attack. The phase 3 attack technologies give +15% attack. The phase 2 blacksmith armor upgrades no longer affect cavalry. Instead cavalry now gains +20% health (or +25%) with the cavalry health upgrade.