I think all of us are familiar with the classic RTS structure of the interaction between Boom, Turtles and Rushes. But AoE3 has something a little bit more unique to the game, which is the ability to leverage tech at an alarming pace. In other titles, you’d generally consider tech based gameplay (like fast castle) to be more of a turtle strategy, always leveraging defensive structures and pushing to get to the lategame. Not that tech oriented builds are foreign to aoe2 or aom, but I think aoe3 is unique in the variety and strengths of such builds.
This basic guide is intended to help newer players who are unfamiliar with this playstyle get a handle on where these builds are appropriate, what they counter, and which civs do it best. It is not intended for high level players.
Firstly, Tech builds are quite simply where the goal is to advance in age as quickly as possible and leverage strong late age shipments to gain an advantage over an opponent. Perhaps the biggest component of a successful tech build is shadowtech units, which upgrade automatically in whatever age you are aiming for. This can include fortress age units like skirmishers or falconets, units which have age 3 base stats like falconets, or ones that shadowtech to every age like Spahi.
The most common is the Fast Fortress, usually spain is the classic example- jump to age 3, ship falconets, and defend with hand infantry, cavalry, and whatever units you can scrape together with your frail economy. The fast industrial is a less common strategy, but even more powerful when done correctly.
What are tech builds good against? Well any vanilla dutch player will tell you that a sleek ff absolutely knocks a boomy player onto the back foot, often with devastating results. Tech builds are a reliable way to counter economic plays. In the current meta, most players it seems are playing as greedy as possible and trying to invest very little into defenses- but so many of us are so experienced at holding rushes that its often quite trivial to defend now. Rushes have in many ways lost their spark. Nerfed jans, sepoy, aztec shipments, etc. But with good reason: those rushes were virtually unbeatable on tad and we all resented anyone trying to play otto in a 1v1.
Tech builds also have an advantage over all-in rushes in that they are able to handle turtle booms as well. Defensive structures mean very little when you have 4 morutaru at your disposal. As a general rule, tech builds are good against booms, turtle booms and turtles. They are very bad vs rushes. Tech builds are a great option for countering booms when your civ of choice doesn’t have a reliable rush, or are facing an obvious turtle boom. Remember, shipments are part of your total effective economy and if you’re able to ship 1600+ res worth of units back to back for a little bit, you can really put a dent in a boomers military mass and cripple their infrastructure before they can remass with their precious eco they value so much.
Without going into too much detail, I’m gonna list off a few of the civs that can do some really strong fast industrial builds, I think the ff civs are known well enough.
India is my favourite tech build civ. A reliable, yet greedy fast industrial, leveraging the power of urumi, sepoy, siege elephants, and great bombards. Doesn’t need a tp map.
France. An unexpected candidate, but a particular fast industrial was popularized by the legend Mitoe. Combining the 6 cuir shipment, the engineer ageup, 14 skirms, 2 heavy cannons and a spam of trained muskets, it makes for a formidable and well rounded army. Recovery with a big cdb shipment and factories is trivial and lets you stabilize very quickly. France is very flexible in age 4 and has no real trouble getting there safely.
Dutch. A bit of a twist since you’ll normally have some banks before jumping in age, but their church card is especially potent combined with the 2 heavy cannon, 17 ruyters shipments. Often a game ending timing with those guard muskets and stradiots.
Japan. Always a favourite. They have some really strong shadowtech units, the shinobi and yamabushi that can be trained from shogun tokugawa, as well as exceptional age 4 military shipments. Much more difficult to pull off but I’ve had great success with it.
Aztec. Can’t really not mention the aztec FI. really good vs turtles that sorta stomp out the classic rush builds. A mix of skull knights and infinite shipments of slingers, with a stacked firepit and tons of xp.
China. A great tech civ, their fast fortress is almost legendary and their fast industrial is no different. Massive banner shipments and shadowteched redcoats make for a strong power spike.
Ottoman. Legendary fast industrial civ. Spahi + Nizam for a double shadowtech. Nasty stuff
Russia. Phenomenal church card, engineer ageup and double heavy cannon shipments. just need to train a handful of cav archers for support and you can melt age 2 and 3 armies with a swarm of guard huss, goons, and 4 heavy cannons.