Age of Empires 2 Strategy

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Age of Empires is a challenging game, especially when you play at high levels. For a long time, I tought it was impossible to win with the difficulty level set to HARDEST.

Indeed, to most players, it will either be extremely hard or downright impossible. In this article, I will show you a strategy that will give you the skill to finally beat the AI!
Note: If you're an unexperienced player, practice this technique on moderate-hard players before attempting a fight at hardest.
Tips: Use plenty of keyboard shortcuts to increase your productivity. (for more tips, check out our AOE 2 tips)

The Game Settings

This technique works quite well with just about any setting, But I usually choose Dark Age as your starting age, standard as you resource count and normal as your speed.

The Dark Age

The dark age is probably the roughest part of the game, and the least fun. It's also the most important when it comes to economy. You will want to build up the foundations of an efficient economy without taking up too much time. You shouldn't stay there more than fifteen minutes (based on the game's inbuilt clock) and should have 29 villagers before upgrading to Feudal.

  1. OK, so you start with 3 villagers - and a scout. The first thing you want to do is to select all you villagers and build three houses.
  2. While this is being done, select your scout, and set concentric waypoints around your base, in order to find sources of food as quickly as possible.
  3. Next, go to your Town Centre and queue up 4 villagers.
  4. Now, our three starting villagers should be finished with real estate, and you should have found a nearby source of food (forage, sheep, fish, etc.). If that source is forage or fish, then build a mill next to it. Otherwise, in the advent sheep, bring them to your Town Centre. Right now we will ignore deer and boar, because deer take up too much time, and board will kill your villagers. Note that all new villagers will also go in food, until you have ten population (9 villagers + 1 scout)
  5. When you have ten population: At this point, you should have enough foragers/hunters to support continuously creating villagers. Now you must continue creating villagers, that you will send in wood (10 total).
  6. When you have enough wood (60), take a woodcutter and make him build three more houses. When he's finished, send him back to woodcutting.
  7. Soon, you should have 100 wood, at this point, build a lumber camp close to a nearby forest.
  8. Continue creating villagers, and you will soon reach 25 population. At this point, the villagers you send will go into foraging/hunting.
  9. Be weary of depleting your sources of food, start creating farms around your Town Centre and Mill if you can.
  10. At 30 population: Create 5 last villagers, and send them in woodcutting.
  11. When your finished, you should have a population of 35 individuals. 1 scout, 14 farmers/hunters/gatherers and 20 woodcutters. There is no need to exploit gold or stone at this point in the game, wait for Feudal Age. You should be able to advance immediately. Otherwise, click the loom upgrade.

Feudal Age Research

  1. While our Town Centre is hard at work upgrading us to the next age, there are a few things we should do, mostly building. First of all, we've reached our population cap, thus we need to create more houses. Take a villager of your choice, and send him to construct about 2 to 8 houses.
  2. This will take a few moments, during which I strongly recommend you start organizing key buildings with hotkeys. Per example, assign 1 to your Town Centre, 2 for the mill, etc.
  3. Make sure the scout is still exploring.
  4. The builder should now be finished with the housing project, so build a barrack, otherwise, wait.
  5. Add a few reseeds (~4) in your mill. This will save time in the future.

Feudal Age

*IMMEDIATELY* when you get to feudal age, do these steps. Do not wait, otherwise you will lose precious seconds. Once again, I strongly recommend you use hotkeys, as they might let you shave off a decent amount of time.

  1. Queue up 5 villagers. These will be sent to collect gold.
  2. Research all possible resource upgrades that do not involve your Town Centre, (those in the mill and lumber camp).
  3. Build a mining camp with your new villagers.
  4. Once the camp is finished, upgrade your gold mining speed (if possible). When finished, do the stone research.
  5. Build an Archery Range, Stable, Blacksmith, Market and Walls with about 2 woodcutters.
  6. Once your five villagers have been create, make 5 more that will be sent into stone mining.
  7. After you're finished with creating villagers, you should have a population of about 45 (20 woodcutters, 14 farmers, 5 gold miners, 5 stone miners and 1 scout), and you should have enough resources to upgrade to castle age. Do so immediately.

Castle Age Research

Now might be a good time to start creating troops. I recommend around 10 cheap units, such as spearmen and skirmishers. Also, organize your new buildings with hotkeys and make sure you have plenty of walls. Build more houses and add some reseed to your mill.

Castle Age

  1. Create five more villagers and send them in wood.
  2. Take your woodcutters and have them building a second Town Centre.
  3. Do the resource upgrades.
  4. Build a monastery, and when finished, create monks to hunt down those relics. Note that this is not particularly important in team games, because trade is a much more efficient source of gold, but make a huge difference in a 1 vs 1 match.
  5. Build a university, a siege workshop and a castle.
  6. When your second Town Centre is finished, take five woodcutters and have them build (5) farms around this new Town Centre.
  7. Use your new Town Centre for all the upgrades we've overlooked at the Dark and Feudal ages, while your old one continues spitting out villagers. The next five should go into gold.

At this point, the game varies to much for it to be possible to use a constant strategy. You've now got a strong economy, hopefully a small army, and everything you need to thrive and win! At first it will be hard to beat a computer on the hardest difficulty, but with a bit of practice, and the use of a few tips, you should be able to do so in no time! Good luck!