Age 4, we have to talk (megapost)

Alright, this is going to be a super long post and let me start with my personal appreciation of this project beeing a thing and trying to tackle the RTS genre once more to which longterm fan I count myself towards.

My elo is constantly bouncing between 1500 and 1610 right now in AoEIV and I come from competitive scenes of other RTS games.
Masters 2 in SC2, CoH2 1v1, 2v2 top 10 with all factions for about 2 months a few years ago, loved playing 0ad.

As you can see, I enjoy getting a little bit deeper and more competitively into the games I play and am truly passionate about this.

Playing Age of Empires IV tho I can only summarize as beeing an absolutely to the core terrible experience.
Tons of shooting angles in which enemy siege can shoot you but you can’t fire back, pathfinding issues of units running it simply down, walls can’t be deleted in the most crucial situations to open up the fights for you.
Playing this game is just an overall completely terrible experience.

There are some conceptional issues, some obvious to the core imbalances and the increadibly disconnected respons by whatever developers are responsible for this mess.

Lets start with the imbalances:
And this is coming from a 1v1 perspective (yes I know that firelancers are an issue but since I don’t main teamgames that heavily rn I don’t feel comfortable in making big statements about them).
There are weekly posts on reddit about pickrate and Mongols/Rus are getting picked around 2/3 of the time.

I personally have a general winrate of 60+% against every civ, but a winrate of about ~20% against mongols.
And over half of my games I play against mongols for more than a week now, since everyone starts to get sick of it as well and join the abuse train now.

Look at the EGCTV youtube channel for example.
Since the “winner stays on” series nearly 2 months ago, Mongols only lost 2 matches while winning 13 (mongols vs mongols games excluded here).
Marinelord playing as Mongols = win, Marinelord playing against Mongols = loss.
Hera playing as Mongols = win, Hera playing against Mongols = loss.
Vortix playing as Mognols = win, Vortix playing against Mongols = loss.

You can check it out yourself here:

The only reason we don’t see mongols all the time is cause you cannot repeat civ picks in tournament games (if, only under certain conditions).

Ptitdrogo responded to the question if he finally got more comfortable with his recently played civs due to heavy elo increase in an interview, after he won the Castle Cup with PiG as his teammate, that he just started to pick and abuse mongols again.
Hera released a jester video about “how to become rank 1” with “I know it’s hard for some but just pick mongols is step one”.

Just today he uploaded one again:

Mongols are just leagues above anything else that you can play on anything but on pure water maps rn.

The game balance is absolutely terrible rn overall.
It’s basically Age of Mongols and Age of Rus.
The flat ressources that mongols get in early game through their bonuses with momentum, results in you basically starting 2 minutes late cause you have nothing to benefit from at this point of the game, while the mongol player doesn’t even lose a ressource gain lead when entering castle anyway due to the steppe +50% gold gain.
Meaning Mongols can be heck ton opressive and slowing you down by not delaying castle age time or eco growth or unitpressure at all.
Their civ bonuses are begging for reworks.

Usually when you play for something you compromise on another.
If english wants to push, their tech is behind.
If Rus wants to castleage rush, their push is nonexistent.
Mongols just can do everything at once.
Half cost with twice recruitment time due to double recruitment, no house tax, cheaper towers, auto stone trickle.
This is just breaking the game.

Overall the way the civ bonuses are balanced is all over the place.
Some benefit from better eco bonuses/flat ressources instantly at the start of the game, entering the game with more steam, some are way too conditional and only start to kick in in harder big eco transition phases (english/french).
This results in a game that is symmetrical at its’ core already, that certain civs are only allowed to do one single thing and nothing else to not fall behind even further (since they are behind by default) which means that there is no openness/creativity for the players to play out.
This makes the game feel heavily on rails and results in a really frustrating and just overall bad experience in more competitive play.
As English you HAVE TO longbowpush and drag the enemy into the mud with you or you are just behind and most likely will never recover the default timeloss that you have simply by playing english.

This results in each map only having 2-3 civs viable to play on, since their bonuses are either nonexistent in this scenario, or straight up bad compared to others.

Which leads me to the next topic:
Conceptional design issues

While I kind of touched the topic with the complaints about civ bonuses before already, I want to focus a little bit more on the gameflow.
In specific: Unitrotation when it comes to siege.

What issues do they have?
Usually when you bring a certain unit on the field it either heavily or slightly forces you to rotate your army depending on what unit you have.
He gets more spearheavy? Time to switch out your pure horsemen frontline with a little bit of barrack meat.
He gets more backline heavy? MAAs into archerheavy play or Horsemen vs Crossbowblobs.
He starts to spam MAAs? Better get some crossbows in the mix.
It’s a healthy design of action and reaction, adapting to certain situations by encouraging counterplay.

Siege is the exact oposite of this concept.
Since conceptionally, the only thing that can touch siege in bigger unit compositions is siege itself, Siege units are always forcing to play with more Siege units.
This results in a siege race of siege with bodyblock frontliners around them, forcing siege with bodyblockers forcing even more siege with bodyblockers.
It’s a unhealthy concept that doesn’t leave alot of room for making good plays either and just gives the player with the healthier siegenumbers the win, cause they start to supress the enemy siegeplay, which is the only thing that can contest his siege…

Finally I want to get into the behaviour of developers that are responsible for the current situation:
It’s bad and I hold you accountable for that.

GiveUAnxieties second reason why he left the balance team is basically “we want to work on stuff and patch it, but we aren’t allowed to”.
He is basically explaining, that they have to wait for other stuff that has more priority to meet their schedules, so they can add their balance changes on top of the planned patch/deadline, and are not really allowed to actively work on and patch the game idependently in an efficient manner.

Viper made a big balance list at the first tournament and nothing of it, besides the big springald outcry, got touched so far.
We get absolutely no sign of any attempt to tackle any issues in this regard at all.
Quite the oposite:
Dead landmarks that are getting critizised since April like the Abbey of Kings systematically get completely ignored, the Age Insider profile we should’ve received on release date was still not delivered, communityfeedback of the camera zoom is getting lectured “no you don’t really want this, you can’t play like this” and some completely disconnected balance changes of horsemen nerfs absolutely noone can understand.
After changing certain mechanics like spear bracing or abasid tech location, the game gets super bugged and inconsistent and instead of reverting these untested patches until it’s ready and then patch it in, they leave the game broken and let everyone else wait for “bigger updates” to patch in a fix.
The responsible devs seem to live in an absolute dreamworld, completely disconnected from game and community, seemingly not willing to respond to issues that the game has.

I find myself tabbing out of the game more and more, playing more and more SC2 and other Age games again, just to get the feeling again how it feels like what I do in the game matters and how loosing without frustration/this to the core imbalanced “unfair” feeling feels like.
Which is sad, cause I really want to enjoy Age 4.

I got tired of trying to challenge myself and proof myself wrong, since anyone that laddergrinds for a week on a decent level is gonna notice the issues this game has instantly…
Still I queued up more and more day after day.

This whole situation reminded me of a quote by Einstein yesterday “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”
That beeing said, I continue to not recommend the game to anyone that asks me, still have a negative review up on steam and still, since april mind you, tell myself that it might get better at some point.

I’m tired of waiting, I’m tired to have any expectations at all.
Work on your game guys, it REALLY deserves better.

Best regards,
someone that actually cares.


My working hypothesis is that the major balancing problems boil down to the overall core design of the civs.

AoE4 hamstrings itself by giving every civ essentially the exact same core set of units (and buildings). Not only does this works against their goal of asymmetric civs, but it ironically also works against their goal of balancing the civs, too – a unified roster of units forces them to make dramatic changes in random places in order for the civs to feel different. It is always going to be super difficult to calibrate dramatic differences (being the only civ with a dramatically different power or a specific type of unit or even a specific type of unit available before anyone else has a counter to it).

I come from AoEO, which successfully has seven asymmetric, balanced civs. It does this by providing every civ with a diverse roster of units. While there are a handful of shared units (Villagers, Fishing Ships, Market Caravans, etc.) and a number of similar units with varying stats (Spearmen, Rams, etc.), the vast majority of units are unique. However, under the hood, every civ always retains a similar mix of unit types (infantry, ranged, cav, siege) and counters to them available at similar points in the game.

Comparing AoE4 with AoEO, AoE3 and AoM, one can see what AoE4 is attempting to do and why it is running into trouble. However, it is likely far too late for any drastic changes to the first eight civs. Hopefully any future civs will break away from the unified unit rosters.

I could launch into great detail about AoEO’s civ design formula, but that may be a bit of a tangent at this point.


Sorry Andy, but AoEO hardly anyone plays it and on top of that they have taken many years to try to “balance” different civilizations, as happened in AoE3.

The asymmetry, when it comes to many civilizations, must be limited to guarantee a balance that does not take years to be applied.


I play at the same elo as you and I have none of these problems. The actual problem is that you’re boring and uninventive and don’t want to play anything but a 40 minute macro game every game.

You know what kills Mongols and Rus extremely hard because they are extremely greedy? Stone tower rushes, English villager rushes, and ram pushes. You need to develop your own early game strategies and exclusively use them until the meta shifts away from this ultra greed based meta. Because that’s what it is.

Until you FORCE players to stop this ultra greed meta, you will keep feeling this way, so start killing them in the early game. It is very very possible to do, and if you don’t believe me we can play and I will kill you with these strats.


what did i just read?
you want someone to develop meta better than pro doing it?
How? share your “secret strats”

I have one: drop rating into low elo legend. No rushes. easy. solved.


Ever since the early promotional images for AoE4 in the year 2018, it looked like an unabashed Mongol fetish. Now it’s a broken, dying game.

Note also how BOTH East Asian civs are exactly together at the top and also how BOTH Muslim civs are exactly together at the bottom of the overall winrate for top players:

Who can argue that this is an extraordinary coincidence (of probability 1 in 1000)?

The irony is, this game is very symmetry yet still unbalanced at the same time. When you give everyone basically the same units roster, it’s all boil down to eco bonus. And when you gave everyone the same eco bonus, it’s practically the same civ


for info: check more modern info.
\Civilizations | AoE4 World


This is the correct high elo, top players data.

I kind of disagree and agree here.

I think the main issue is the uneven civilization bonuses.

While mongols with double recruitment and no house tax slow the enemy down and speed your own game up, and rus hunting cabin gold trickle + hunt flat ressources give you substential time in early game that villagers don’t have to work for (which is an increadible speedup at a point in the game in which you have barely any villagers to gather stuff with), other bonuses like english or french start to kick in when you are deep in the game (15minutes+), making you fall behind by default.
(Not like the rus 20% food gathering boost across the board on top of the gold mechanic isn’t a stronger bonus to begin with).

This results in some civs simple starting with speed and momentum, while others don’t.
This baselayout forces desperate attempts by english/french for example to get something done in early game and drag them down to your lvl, cause they’ll always outrace you in anything you are doing due to the uneven basic eco concepts behind the civs.
And since the baselayout of the game is still completely symmetrical, this leads to just flat out time leads you will never be able to compensate anymore.

The civ bonuses can be assymetrical, but they are just simply not balanced when it comes to tight 1v1 gameplay at all.


Andy you have been on this forum for longer than most people and I think we all know the rules…if a game is “nOt As PoPuLaR” then any single aspect of its design is a bad one and cannot be accepted.


This is absolutely not possible, since due to the flat ressource benefits mongols have for example, they’ll always be able to bring more to the table than you.
Not needing to build houses, cheaper towers, auto stone trickle for tower emplacements, free units/time with double recruitment will always give you an edge in early game, no matter what you do mongol can do it better.

Turns out that these bonuses matter alot more for early pressure than cheaper eco techs or cheaper/more efficient farms.

Which is the reason why the game is imbalanced at its’ core.
Some bonuses matter alot more than others, and on tight 1v1 maps you can press these bonuses that give you an auto lead really tightly into your oponent.


The total number of people who play a game is completely irrelevant to whether the civs in a game are or are not balanced. Compared to AoE4’s civs, which I understand are widely considered quite imbalanced to the point that certain civs are being banned from competitive tournaments, AoEO has never had balancing problems remotely similar.


Big true.
Only cause the game is smaller, doesn’t mean that the bigger game is automatically inferior in any shape or form.

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Oh OK I guess all those games of me beating top 250 players doing what I just said were an illusion. I hope I run into you on the ladder so I can smash you.

I’m looking forward to it. Consider that Cammy is at least at the same elo or probably higher, I expected it will come down to civs

You are the one that is disagreeing with the stats on this one, not me.
Look at the tourney results, as I’ve posted above mongols have a 90+% winrate in the EGCTV tourney games in the past 2 months (mongols vs mongols excluded).
Look at the pick and winrate.
Look at what hera, ptitdrogo, viper are saying.

I am pointing everything out here to show a pattern, that it’s not just a “trend” or “l2p” issue rn, but there is general consensis with data to back it up, that mongols are overperforming really hard.

That doesn’t mean that the players behind the civs can’t fk up or can’t improve in their gameplay.
But saying that it’s just a l2p issue/ git gud mentality is you positioning yourself above all these pro players and tourneys and raw numbers, not me.


OK and what I’m saying is people are unimaginative and are not coming up with a solution. In the history of a game like brood war, there were plenty of things thought to be completely broken and unbeatable for very long periods of time. Given time and experimentation all of these things were solved without patches. Even today the meta still shifts in brood war and revolutions in matchups still happen.

Here’s a thought specifically for Mongols. What happens if you place a stone tower directly on top of the ovoo? You should try it and see how it goes. If you develop a tight build you can have the tower up 30 seconds after hitting age 2. Now the Mongols player either cannot double produce, produces and takes huge damage on every unit spawn, or attempts to move to another ovoo putting them massively behind. What does this cost you to do? 4 villagers on stone until you get 245 stone, to potentially end the game.

Every problem people complain about with Mongols is directly related to the ovoo and how it snowballs the game. But nobody is taking the time to think how they could shut down the ovoo.

Now I know you’re already going to say this is nonsense because you are set in your ways, but hopefully some other players will read this and start getting some easy wins this way.


You waste your 4 vills and 245 stone to build a tower on the ovoo and the mongol player just laugh at you and move to the next stone place. Or kills you in the meantime with his own towerrush.
Unless you are rank 1 (and even if you were) you can’t convince anyone that mongols aren’t completly op. The devs also said that they want to adjust powerlevels in such a way that the other civs are as strong as mongols(which implies that mongols are the strongest civ so far). Maybe you countered a player who doesn’t really know how to play them and now you think that they are balanced???


Just destroy the ovoo.