+2 Knights trigger me

I am in what I call “mid-elo”, although it’s still top 10, maybe top 5% of players, and in my elo it’s incredibly common to all-in Castle age Knights. I always go random, which ends up in me having a Xbow civ most of the time (there is a general consensus Xbow is harder to play than Knights). As a result, I need to be incredibly careful with army positioning, often Xbow civs like to 3 TC boom as 1 TC all-in is harder with Xbow civ than with a Knight civ. My opponent is 90% of the time some Franks/Berbers/Mongols player who all ins with Knights and as soon as he sees I am on 15 Xbow, he does +2 armor. +2 armor Knights stomp pure Xbow, but I am not a total noob and get the hint I should add a secondary unit.

Generally, this unit is Monks in early Castle age, and Pikemen later on.

The problem is that people at my elo have enough micro to not run into Pikemen, and I think overall even in mid Castle age, Pikemen are a BAD unit (in early Castle age it’s unanimously agreed they are, but I would like to argue in mid Castle, too). I do the “textbook play” of Monks into Pikemen if I see overwhelming amount of Knights, but I end up making it an even game at best. People just run away from my Pikes and switch into Mangudai or something.

Possible points to improve:

  • wall better: is it important as an archer civ to wall HARD? I am generally not a super strong waller, I wall to a degree but I like to defend with army more. As a cav civ, it generally isn’t important to wall, but on Archers, I generally get holes as soon as my woodlines run dry. These holes generally can lose me the game. Should I devote more attention to that?

  • Imp timing: generally Xbow civs win with timings vs Knight civs. The problem is that my macro isn’t always on point. You need to have precise eco management to afford Arbalest, Chemistry, University, a Castle and a few Trebs as soon as you hit Imp. The time window is there but it’s not big, and I’m not sure the Arbalest nerf was needed to begin with, because you often struggle to afford all upgrades even with some 80-90 vills (you need Arbalest, Bracer, Ballistics, Thumb Ring, Chemistry, a Castle and at least 2 Trebs to support your Castle Age Xbow mass). The list is long and I’m not sure it’s very feasible to afford everything. Meanwhile Knight player just has to run around, look for holes and seed farms. Seems a fairly easier macro cycle than Xbow civ one.

  • upgrades on Pikemen: do they matter in mass fights? Often I have a fight like 15 Knights vs 15 Xbow and 10 Pikemen, I feel this is a favorable fight for me but I end up winning it only narrowly. Could getting Pikeman upgrades make a difference here?

  • Monks: here I am often greedy and like to snag 1-2 relics as soon as I hit Castle age, with Xbow civ my standard play is to make 2 TCs and a Monastery right away. Should I delay the Relics thing to keep Monks at home and help defend? Is dropping 2x Monastery possibly ever worth it vs a guy who does +2 Knights right away?

Feel free to address my points but also to suggest your own, I would like to improve this aspect of my gameplay because I like going random civ and not 1 tricking something like Franks which I’m sure would boost my elo by 200-300, but I feel beating +2 Knight spammer is the biggest hurdle to me climbing atm.


I think you need to wall more not only to prevent damage, but also to control where the enemy attacks. Walling is very important when playing archers due to lack of mobility. You will still need to defend with army when the enemy breaks in, but if you wall properly you can compensate for your lack of mobility by forcing the enemy to fight your archers.

Holes are annoying and very difficult to avoid while doing everything else. The only thing I can suggest is spread vills on lumber camps better and check your woodlines before you start attacking the enemy. Plan your aggression around getting a hole and camp the enemy woodlines with your archers so you can take advantage of their holes. This is difficult at all but the top level.

Another thing you can do is make TCs to protect your vills. You don’t have to make vills from them if your strategy does not allow for it. Also consider forward castle drops to force the fight when you have enough pikes.

Hera has some [videos](How To Play Archer Civs Against Knight Civs - YouTube, Perfect 1v1 To Show Franks Are NOT Overpowered - YouTube, 1 Pro Tip Vs Each Civilization | Aoe2 - YouTube) on this topic that you can watch.

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I’m not as high elo as you, but I share the inclination to use slower units like archers/infantry/elephants. The issue is that knights are basically being better than anything else in castle age. I sometimes try to mass archers in feudal and get some pikes in castle to form a team.

The first problem is that both of these units require upgrades, while they can pump out knights in castle without any additional resource investment. This is not just the pike/crossbow upgrade, but also the bodkin arrow and the infantry armour upgrade. That is a lot of resources, while they can mass like 10 knights with that amount. Second is that knights+mangonel full counters pike+archers. If you send your pikes to take the mangonel, the knights will destroy your archers, and my micro isn’t good enough to take mangonel with archers.

On top of all this, they can send out knights to raid my eco while my army lacks that mobility. Either I am not good enough, or knights are a much stronger unit than they should be.


This helps. How about when the Knights player adds in Mangonels or CA? Then they can harass your woodlines and basically prevent you from taking wood ever. Wood I am noticing is like the most crucial resource in the game, if you are taken off wood even for 1-2 mins, your eco suffers greatly because you delay stuff like E.Skirm upgrade, Ballistics, reseeding farms and so on.

In any case, you suggest to HOUSE wall the heart of my economy correct?

The TC suggestion helps. Generally when people see forward TC, they add Siege immediately but still I guess I should be making my TCs forward, I often make them in the back also due to those pesky Arabia hills that prevent you from having the ideal TC spot basically always.

I am fine with them being strong, the issue is that they also seem incredibly easy to play. They can run left and right and outmaneuver Pikemen and if they meet 5-6 Pikemen only, they can just take the fight and have an incredibly favorable trade.

Bodkin and Xbow upgrade definitely feel harder to afford while hitting competitive Castle times, Xbow might have been OP in 2400+ elo but in an elo like mine, it feels if anything, Xbow is worthless to play.

Yes this is the old explanation why Pikeman sucks in early Castle age. They generally suck in late Castle age too, imo, but that’s a discussion for another thread I guess.

Mangonel micro is 1/2 luck and 1/2 skill, generally if you are getting raided somewhere else at the same time, chances to slip go up drastically. In any case, you should force yourself to learn how to beat at least 1 Mangonel with 10-12 Xbow, it’s incredibly important to climb imo. 1 Mangonel + 1 Scorpion, or 2x Mangonels are definitely harder but I’d say with equal micro on both sides, 12 Xbow vs 1 Mangonel, the Xbow player should come ahead every time and lose only 2-3 Xbow on average.

I’m also starting to become frustrated at Knights, they are basically immune to TC once you get +2 armor, they trade OK vs their main counter unit (Pikemen), but they are also incredibly easy to micro which is the part I find most annoying.

In any case, main thing that makes Xbow hard to play is also that if you are caught out of position, you likely lose your whole army, and you can’t run under the TC even with the Imp variant… so you always rely on Rams/Trebs etc. to have a chance at attacking while Knight player always can take map control generally for free more or less.


So, here are the things I think which knights have going for them:

  • You get them immediately up on reaching castle age. No research and no upgrades necessary
  • Far more mobile than all castle age units except light cavalry and maybe camels
  • With the armour, can run under TC and even castle fire without getting destroyed
  • Can go against a significant number of archers, even with micro
  • The only solid counter in early castle age is monk, which you can run away from
  • Trades well against pikes and camels in early castle age
  • can break palisade walls, and houses. With a mass of ~12 and up, can even take down a tc.
  • Pretty much nothing can instantly kill a mass of knights, unlike archers or infantry
  • If low on health, can run away and heal with monks / run into defensive structures for protection

And these are the downsides:

  • Monks are a huge problem because they can basically remove one of your units and gain one, but you can run away if you are careful/accompanied by light cav
  • Short line of sight compared to archers and infantry, again solved by adding one or two light cav
  • Costs significantly more gold than archers or infantry, and a bit more food than infantry (without supplies)

Now that I think about it, this is pretty broken. Compare this with the infantry or archer line, all of which require upgrades, are slower, and can be killed en masse by onagers/scorpions. If you have knights, there is literally no reason to go with any other unit unless your opponent has strong camels (like gurjaras)

l, generally if you are getting raided somewhere else at the same time, chances to slip go up drastically. In any case, you should force yourself to learn how to beat at least 1 Mangonel with 10-12 Xbow, it’s incredibly important to climb imo.

I’ve done it with 8 in practice (scenario editor). I can do it fairly consistently in the editor. But when in the game, I usually get scared and pull back. The last couple of times I tried, I got destroyed. Gotta practice and try more, ig


I proposed a time ago reduce crossbow attack and KT PA in -1. Thoughts?

I proposed a time ago reduce crossbow attack and KT PA in -1.

Then knight just slightly nerfed vs Building (Because it is same as crossbow vs Knight also no change in melee fight) and crossbow nerfed against every other unit? Archers even need more nerf while we cannot see much Ethiopians or Vietnamese pick in tournament these days?

Exactly. And maybe an indirect buff to CA Civs… maybe archer-line upgrade cost’s nerf could be reverted, or traslated to bodkin arrow and bracer (to compensate de CA indirect buff).