A few questions about 1v1 by a new player

Hi, I am a new player at around 1150 elo and I am trying to learn this game intuitively without looking up any build orders or similar really, but there are many things that raise a question when I play:

  1. managing castle age economy is something I generally struggle with. Depending on army composition, you want a different number of farmers etc., for example, 2 Stable Knights is different from trying to mass Crossbow. Are there any empirical rules here? E.g., to get out 2 Stable Knights, you need about 20 farmers and around 12 on gold, or something like that

  2. I often struggle defending my villagers in mid-castle age and onward. When I watch streamers like DauT or Viper, I think the biggest difference between me and them is that they wall more tightly and have a lower villagers/TC ratio (in other words, most of their villagers in mid-castle age are always close to a TC so they are easy to defend). Any tips here? I feel that overall I tend to be too spread out around the map.

  3. I sometimes struggle to keep constant production of Villagers and especially units. My idle time regarding Villagers is highest in mid- to late-Feudal Age as I try to either have aggression or defend. My unit of choice production typically can have idle time in early Castle Age. Any tips here to have better multi-tasking, or is it something that comes with experience? I generally use control groups, 5 for all TCs and 3 for primary and 4 for secondary unit

  4. this is perhaps a bit more specific, but I recently gave up on maining all civs because I realized that build orders are unit-dependent, so it’s not worth for me to learn for example how to get out Mangudai as soon as possible (requires to go early to Stone) if I don’t plan on playing Mongols. Anyway, one of the civs I decided to main is Malay as I feel they have fairly interesting options and can be strong without necessarily being noob-friendly like Franks. Most of my losses with Malay have been to some high-mobility builds such as mass Mangudai, mass Tarkan, mass cav archer and so on. Are Malay naturally weak to mobility/cavalry archer civs? Intuitively I feel the only 2 counters Malay have to mobility are Halberdier (which requires you to chase down cavalry around the map inside your own eco, which I feel is a lot of micro for not so high reward), Skirmisher (which I feel is not an actual Cav Archer counter in 1v1s because Cav Archers can easily run away) and defensive Castles. Of these 3 options, I feel the only practical one in 1v1s is defensive Castle. Opinions here? I find that if I get to mid-Imperial Age as Malay vs say Mongols, I can’t win because I get picked apart on different parts of the map.

This is all for now, I might post more later, thanks in advance for the responses!

Survivalist did make a great guide about most of your questions. It has 4 parts:

He also has an app with useful info (based on your questions): https://aoe2-de-tools.herokuapp.com/ This app is useful as answer for question 1.

I like this approach. It is much better then just copying build orders. In the end you cant really play at high level without build order, but intuitively learning the game is for the me the best approach. For that reason these guides of Survivalist really stands out to me. Most other guides are more about learning build orders, but this guide is more about learning the game intuitively.

He has also other great guides, which might help you with intuitively learning the game.


First of all, you should make “Art Of War” campaign and try to get gold medal or silver at least.

2nd thing about your comment here, I respect your idea but without knowing some build orders you will really lose a big advantage, like knowing what is the meta or how to counter it, so at least just watch some videos about some build orders like m@a into archers and scouts into knights/CA.

After you become good in the openings and early game, start work in micro and macro and adapting the game play, and one of the most important things is scouting; scouting is really good and give you good informations about what your enemy gonna do.

About some guides, Hera did a build orders under the title (your guid to 2k ELO) I think this would help you too.

For generic knight civs you can basically go by the rule of 6. ( If you have the feudal eco upgrades).

You need 6 farmers for constant villager production from 1 TC.

You need 6 farmers + 6 gold miners for constant villager production from one stable. (Gold miners work faster then farmers…)

If you want all your newly created villagers from one TC to go to farms you need 6 woodchoppers to produce the wood for the farms.

You need 2 woodchoppers per 6 farms just to replenish them.

Example: you play an FC into knights build. You have 1 TC with 12 farmers and want to build more farms.
→ you need 4 woodchoppers to sustain those farms + 6 to chop the wood for the new ones.

Example: you want to play double stable knights. You need 18(=6+6+6) villagers on farms for both stable + TCs and 12(=6+6) on gold for the knights. You also need 6 on wood just to replenish your farms and another 6 on wood if you want to constantly make new farms with you next villagers.

Sounds easy doesn’t it?
The only issue is that you don’t have enough Vills for all those roles when you hit castle age. BUT your Vills were producing resources while you were going up to castle. You can use that to substitute.

Example: at the end of the feudal age you put 6 on gold. When you hit castle age they have been working for 2,5minutes without you spending any gold. That means you can produce knights from 2 stables for 2,5minutes before you spend your gold. After that you can only produce from one stable unless you tasked more to gold.

This gets a little more complex once you factor in upgrades but the rule of 6 gives you an helpful overview…


Here it is. With this tool

Well TCs are an important defensive building, their placement is an important key for defence. You should try to plan which resources (woodlines, gold mines, stone expecially if you plan unique units) you’re gonna need and secure them if they’re exposed. Other defensive buildings, such as walls, castles, ecc can be placed aswell to secure the map. It’s worth noting that the way you need to defend also depends on yours and opponent unit compositions, and your characteristics as a player aswell. For example if you have a slow army composition (such as archers or siege-based) and opponent have cavalry you can be exposed to counter attacks or raids, while if opponent have archers he’s more likely to attack on one spot in the late game, but can potentially harass your woodlines from behind and might be harder to wall him out bc he can range repair villagers. On the other hand, if you’re a slow player or you struggle with multitasking you might need to rely more on walls, while if you’re a quick player you can rely more on quick walls investing less on defences.

In general, defence require experience and knowledge of your skills. Watching your recs will help a lot to identify your mistakes and what you could have done differently when you got punished.

Yes hotkeys are the key, a lot of experience and feeling for the game is needed as well. It’s not something that’s easy to do though, at 14xx I still tend to have consistently idle time on my TC in feudal.

As a random civ only player I can assure you this is not true at all! To play almost every civ (on arabia) you need just 2 build orders: scouts (20 or 21 pop) and m@a into archers (21 or 22 pop). You can learn those builds on a civ without early eco bonuses such as byzantines and then adapt to other civs (for example in my 21 pop m@a build order i generally put 6 on sheeps, 3 on wood after and add the 4th of wood only after 1 additional villager under TC food source and one on berries, in order to be able to gather the food to click up at 21 pop. With civs with dark age food bonuses, such as britons, franks, italians, what i do instead is to put immediatly 4 on wood in order to be able to afford a farm while I’m going up to feudal). Once you get familiar with this approach, you can comfortably play every civ and expand your build order pools with drush BOs, and different BOs if you want to play other maps (FCs on arena or closed map, hybrid maps BOs, ecc…)

I disagree with this info. It is much better to first learn why things works and second on perfect execution. Just doing a build order without knowing why you do things wont help you at all. In the end you still end up with build orders, but it isnt the first prio. There is a reason why build orders are explained in the third part of the guide of survivalist. Many players make the mistake of just copying a build, but when things goes different, then the dont have any idea on how to react.

exactly. build orders are great, but without knowing why and how they aren’t going to do you much good. especially when your opponent does something that requires a response build orders fall out.

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thank you guys, I don’t wanna respond to everyone individually but rly helpful typing going on in this thread, thanks a lot.

1 question that perhaps got missed out but kinda irks me: the Malay vs Mongols thing: do Mongols have an advantage late-game? Is this something that would even matter in my elo (1150), i.e. if I get to late Imp without having a substantial advantage, I am at a disadvantage civ-wise?

I do agree that I should know build orders (I know a generic 21-22 pop Feudal but not much else), but also that improvisation can be important.

Otherwise rly interesting stuff, especially the replies regarding the Castle Age economy, rule of 6, links etc. ty.

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Probably yes, but that’s quite true for most civs bc mongols are a late game powerhouse. Malay can become competitive with mongols if you manage to prevent or whittle down his mangudais mass and secure your farming eco, that you need to spam your late game units (trash 2hs, halbs, maybe elephants). If mongols manage to keep his mangudai mass alive + speedy rams and hussars it’s really tough to deal with them.

The most important thing to do when you’re up against a mobile civ as a civ with bad mobility is wall your flanks. Seriously without a doubt, the most important thing. Once your opponent can’t raid you easily, you can negate their mobility with a structured push. Malay are excellent for slow, structured pushes, with their extremely efficient Elephants, FU arbalest/halb/skirm, BBC, and trebs, they should be able to find a good answer to most compositions and push in so long as they’ve got their economy well-defended.

If you’re up against Mongols, it’s of vital importance you keep them out of your economy and try to take efficient trades by forcing them to fight in treb wars. If you can kill ~8 Mangudai with skirms while they dive for your trebuchets to snipe them, that’s a great trade and you’ll be netting resources in the long run. In the lategame, their trash is is weak and your trash, even lacking strong cav, is solid due to the option of Forced Levy.

Once they’ve gotten their Mangudai mass, Malay are definitely at disadvantage, but you should still have the options to take efficient trades and whittle down the numbers so long as you prevent raids so you can keep your numbers on the front. If they run out of Mangudai, Mongols are practically dead.

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thanks, this helps.

In order to not open another thread, here are 2 more questions:

  1. I normally use Attack/Move to move units around, but I see a lot of pros use Patrol instead. Are these 2 commands even different when it comes to moving to a position (Patrol clearly makes them go back after a while, while Attack/Move doesn’t)?

  2. I feel that by now I have a good grasp of Archer gameplay and I’m trying to learn 20/21 pop Scouts. In spite of the damage I seem to sometimes do with Scouts early on, I feel that the opponent eventually still manages to mass a big Archer army in spite of the damage and I struggle to defend when we are around 30 pop both. Are Archers inherently stronger than Scouts/Knights in the early game? I feel that compared to Knights, they require so few upgrades and are much easier to mass.

  1. Attack move perform similarly to Patrol overall. The main differences are as follows:
  • When using attack move, the units will stop and remain idle at the end location, whereas patrol will return them to the location where the patrol command was issued and continue walking that line. Patrol is used a lot for setting up tight formation packing for archers or simply keeping eyes on an area with your scout.
  • Attack move finds an initial engagement a bit sooner, so if you patrol where there are enemies nearby, you’ll have a bit of a delay before they’ll select and engage targets, where Attack move will attack sooner.
  • Patrol is slightly better in the long-term for unit pathfinding, melee units tend to get stuck slightly more often using Attack Move.
  • X pop scouts are all about map control. Get the early aggression out, then when you don’t think you can do any more, use them to scout the map or cut off reinforcements. Your speed means with practice you can keep eyes on an army and still not get hit by it, so you should get no surprises.
  • Archer mass is really strong, but very vulnerable. Mispositioning against cavalry means you lose your mass and have to restart, and a military reset is really bad news for archers since they need a mass to be effective.
  • As scouts against archers, you can either go heavy in feudal with scouts and full upgrades and try to kill the Archer mass, or you can go light in feudal and go for a faster castle age for Knights to clean up and take an edge.

The advantage of Scouts can be found in either of these routes, by either killing the mass and making him start Castle Age without military momentum, or by beating him to Castle age and attempting to use the tech advantage to seize an initiative yourself. Neither of these approaches are wrong, they both have merit in the right situations, and having the more mobile army allows you to make the call as to which plan you like better.

ok ty, this helps. Should I transition into Skirms if I see 8+ archers for example? Or keep making Scouts? I know the answer is “it depends” on stuff like Bloodlines for example also, but overall I feel investing heavily into Scouts sets you back hard in terms of Castle Age time.

You can literally do whatever you want. Maybe your opponent is berbers, and you don’t want to lean heavily into castle age knights knowing cheap Camels are right around the corner? Maybe your opponent is Britons and you really don’t want to leave them with map control starting in castle age and allowing them a faster expansion onto a spot they want to protect?

Skirms are a better switch if your opponent is unlikely to get value from a cav switch as well (like vikings) or if they just don’t get cav (meso) but it can be used generally. More rationally, I think in cases where you aren’t seriously outnumbered you’d rather use your sight advantage to sneak Archers and try to hit woodlines. Skirms are a defensive-minded unit, so if you commit to them you really need to be successful in preventing damage and killing archer numbers because they delay your castle time and they’re terrible on the attack.

As for high scout numbers delaying your castle age, that is also very true. The fact of the matter is, if you commit to scouts in feudal with good upgrades and clean up the numbers, it’s okay if they beat you to castle age. If they get reset on archer mass, they won’t have an army with which to push out and threaten you with the tech advantage. So long as you have the military momentum, your opponent can be an age ahead of you. That’ll stall time for you to match him in the next age and normalize the game.

The reverse is also true. If your opponent has the military advantage but you get to the next age sooner, you’ll have the technology advantage you need to overwhelm his numbers and set the game back to relative parity. Pick a plan and go for it. Minimize losses, get damage in where you can, seek to find an advantage that’s unique, and play that advantage as best you can. Whether that plan is focusing military momentum or focusing a tech edge, either plan can work so long as you play it well.

ok ty. I think in my elo I leaned into a playstyle that I sort of learned (I think my strongest strategy is Archers opening into fastest Castle possible but I think that’s also the easiest way to play the game), and now I don’t understand these intricacies. Apparently my Scout play was initially good but it sounds like I missed up on the follow up, either make more Scouts, or make Skirms, or wait for the opponent to do something. It’s fairly complicated for me to do all these things at once while I’m still struggling with remembering to queue Villagers and balancing economy appropriately. But thank you, this advice rly helps.

Ngl, I’m slightly exhausted by this game because there are so many things to control, for example I recently had a game where I was Mongols (I pick civ but go Random if the opponent is Random also and I got Mongols as random), I think I did many good things until Castle Age and I got Mangudai out fairly rapidly, but then my Stone and Food economy got messy, my Villager count got weird and I had rly low number of TCs defending and got raided. I ended up winning but balancing stuff like that, knowing where to put defensive Castles and NOT going off Stone after you get first 650 stone is stuff I struggle with and can lose u the game (I was on 2 TCs whole game and got to 115 villager high so rly hard to defend).

The discussion on Skirmishers is interesting also, I feel this applies to all counter units as well, so for example if with my Mangudai play I had managed to take my opponent off Gold (which I didn’t because I don’t have the insight/on the spot thinking for that), I wouldn’t have faced mass Byzantine Camels which made me win in Imp and not in Castle due to high numbers.