Agressive play might be fun for pros, but it's turning away newcomers

I have been trying to get two of my friends into this game recently. Watching them has made me realize how much I’ve internalized and how much a new player needs to learn just to get into “noob” level. There are several dozen hotkeys, units and counter units, build orders, and they need to actually do these things when playing live. And all of those is just to start out.

But, THE biggest hurdle I’ve seen for them is non-stop aggression. Even an early scout rush ends the game for these players, especially since they can’t quickwall/micro that well. Also, actually using spears to counter scouts takes some skill, as spears are pretty slow. You can literally just go to the other side of the base and you’ll find vils to pick off.

“BuT LeaRN To WaLL”
“GiT GuD”

Let me stop you before you say any of the above. I’m talking about people who I want to get into the game. If the learning curve is steep as a hill, they’ll just walk away and find something else.

Beginners want to play defensively and be safe. That’s just how it is. Most people aren’t able to be at 3 places at once, microing army and quickwalling while also maintaining a decent build order. That takes years of practice. Practice I can’t get most of the people to put in, because it is far too complicated and difficult for them. Most importantly, it is not fun.

Hera has already talked about this.. If most of you want to keep that skill gap, that’s fine. But I don’t think it’s good for the longevity of the game.

I would really want to give a few more defensive options to newcomers. Maybe make scouts weaker to TC arrow fire. More proposals are welcome. If you have experience getting people to play, please give me advice for that as well.

EDIT: I have seen a lot of comments saying the same thing, so I’d like to make a few things clear.

First, I’m working on the assumption that more people getting into the game is a good, and even a necessary thing. This is extremely important for the longevity of the game. If new players can’t easily get in, the game will be dead in another decade. If you don’t care about that, this is not the thread for you.

Second, If you have no experience in getting people to play the game, please say that. I’ve found that people with and without this experience have totally different opinions on the matter.

Lastly, I’m not advocating to drastically change the game just for new players. I’ve seen at least a few people take this thread as me wanting to rewrite the game for noobs. That’s not what is happening here. I am just looking for something that works. Even better tutorials and campaigns might help.

Thank you for all your advices, I’m trying them out and will tell you if they work!


How about just don’t play on Arabia.
Maps like Arena or game modes like Empire War exist for a reason.


Arabia is fine for noobs. Biggest mistake noobs make is trying to wall their entire base with enormous walls. Then inevitably they lose to drush or MAA or scouts who get in before walls are up. Or archers can just break through on a remote far piece of their wall. They just need to learn small resource walling and walling to their TC. Palisade gate the small walls if they don’t like deleting and rebuilding to let villagers in and out. Also put a tower up if their gold is forward.

Another huge noob error is not fighting with villagers against a drush or a few scouts with no upgrades.

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The thing is, if you get them into ranked and they make it through their first 10-20 games, they should reach a point where people normally play like that.


When I started I lost all my matches except:
-An instant surrender
-A really bad day, 10 villagers 30 minutes of play

How I always play (including child quite a lose loop against AI):

  • Do lots of M@A!
  • Attack the feudal.

I was 600 elo before asking the right questions and learning not to go down any further.
Otherwise I will have descended + low!
But I NEVER played walls and defense.
I know other 500 and + in my case (almost ready)
I agree that majority want to play city builder
It’s a shame, too bad for them.

So you want to punish try hardeur and pro scene as well as unconventional noob for the majority who already find happiness in FFA noob only?

I think the game is fine as it is, as the different AI-difficulties provide good jumps in challenge and once you’re able to beat higher difficulties AI, you can start fighting humans.
No matter how you put it, a person who is just starting out is not gonna stand a chance against someone who can execute any sort of early rush, whether MAA, scout or archer.
Learn the basics on easy AI, then move up to standard, and so on.
On easy you’ll never face any aggression from the enemy at all and even on standard the AI rarely attacks you.


I agree that early aggression is harsh on new players, bit I disagree with your solutions.

I think it is the same in most games. We must not forget that newcomers arent supposed to play against season
ned players, unless these newcomers are really good at another (RTS) game already. If I play, say DotA2 or CSgo or Starcraft against any of the 99% brst players, I think I will get stomped from the first minutes and wont enjoy it.

What I would propose for new comers:

  • Play against standard AIs, or easy AIs.
  • explain them what they are supposed to do: gather resources, make farms and army. and the pupos of th units.
  • after a few games, you can increase difficulty and play on maps like arena or fortress. You boom and they ask you for help when attcked. You can chat about life or olay weird compositions so that you dont get bored when playing a lower difficulty.
  • If they feel like it, they can try campaigns.
  • You can also play treaty 60, to let everyone peacefully boom and gather army

I agree though that there could be more beginner friendly maps like an Amazon Tunnel with 3 or 4 layers of wall per team and additional resources between each layer.

I think there is no point playing against people as long as you cannot at least compete with moderate AI.


I think a second learning campaign would be very helpful. William Wallace is for complete noobs and art of war is a series of exercises. I’d rather have something more like a campaign.

A second, much more difficult campaign with many more scenarios, that go over certain concepts and give you opportunities to try them out in a “real” game.

Goal is by the end you should be able to consistently beat the hard ai 1v1.


Yes, and it is not for beginners. Empires wars was explicitly made for pros, to quickly build up armies and fight for the entertainment of a crowd. To suggest that for beginners is… not helpful.

Arena is awful as well. You have no idea how much new players hate being castle dropped. Arena feels suffocating when that happens. They also don’t fight for relics, which is a plus I guess.

Amoung maps, the only ones I find good are Yutakan and Amazon tunnel. Yutakan is great because it is easy to wall, there is a lot of hunt, and it isn’t closed off and easy to castle drop like arena is.

A lot of you are missing the point here. “IF THEY DO THIS, IT’LL BE FINE” is not the point here.

Yeah, and nobody with a life would play 20 games just to lose over and over again. Everybody I know have better things to do with their lives.

This is the sentiment I’m arguing against. Honestly, it is not too bad for them, as they can find other games to enjoy. It’s too bad for AoE2 though, because that’s a player we could have had.

This is a person I could have played with. It is someone who could have entered this very forum, and got more people in. Yeah, no. It’s fine for them. We are the ones who are losing.

I’m not talking about seasoned players here. I’m talking about 2 new players, one of whom makes 4 scouts by like 17 minutes.

This is the only thing that has even remotely worked so far. Co-op campaigns are great. I just wish there were more of them.

Easy AI is fine, but it doesn’t teach them to counter scout rushes(Or any form of rushes for that matter. There is a rough spike there, which is my issue. The game gets significantly harder with rushes than without rushes.

Thank you for suggesting a good change. Yeah, something like this would be greatly appreciated.


You should honestly just start by teaching them very basic things. Play with them against lower AI difficulties and slowly increase them. They should be able to do a generic Dark Age quite decently before thinking about how to defend a scout rush. Once they are able to do a decent Dark Age, you can essentially act as the aggressor. Do a scout rush against them and review their reactions together. Also keep in mind that if they are playing against people of a similar level and they have problems dealing with a scout rush, chances are high that their opponent has idled their town center for the whole duration of the attack. In my Elo range, a scout rush is not particularly effective. This obviously takes a lot of motivation, which leads to my next point.

This is honestly just the nature of RTS games. However, I think you are making it seem way too complicated to them.

You really do not need any of these to start out. First and foremost, it should be fun. If you throw them into the game expecting them to learn all of these aspects at once, then they obviously have no long-term interest in playing the game. The problem with this is simple: the first impression matters. You throw them into the game, and the first thing they have is stress. What do they now think? That the game is stressful and not fun. What if you aim to have fun first and then teach them these aspects step by step? They will find the game fun, and even when things get stressful, they will remember that they had fun so far and that the current stress will not last for long.


I personaly would only show art of war to friends who already decided they like the game and want to improve at it.

I think hard AI is too hard. I got introduced to aoe2hd, and I really needed to grind tens of games to beat the hardHD AI. I dont expect everyone introduced to the game to start off with a grind. I depends on the gaming history.

I felt that you are taking about these new players getting scout rushed by minute 12. I call these scout rushers the “seasoned players”.

Agreed. If the player is already good at starcraft2 for example, you can explain the basics and throw into the game. If they are new to RTS, I would rather make a chill game vs standard AI and let them read the tooltips.


A nice new feature for MP game would be to be able to set a teammate as “observed”, and then you in game can see his resources and production queue. Then you can say “dont forget to queue up” or “you have plenty of resources, make more army”… And if they are interested in how you play, they can observe you and your 3 ranges xbow production.

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Boohoo. “People playig the game makes it harder for other people to play the game!!! we should change the game so its easier for new guys!!!” Literally 101 how to kill your community. Just have them play black forest or arena seriously


This is an excellent idea. I often want to see how well they are doing, to give them relevant advice. It would be cool to not have to look at their monitor for that. Especially when that is not always possible.

Maybe don’t take this so personally. You can do better than your knee-jerk reaction. I believe in you.

Oh, and read the comments here. That might help you see the context.


Yes, the game can be intense, I often beat top-100 players in other RTS games, and I found ranked games to be difficult. But it’s still hilarous when you’re the one with the good ideas :joy:. I have a positive winrate in my first 20-30 ranked games (by a narrow margin). I learned how to defend in Feudal, and then go forward with Knights+pikes+castles. Sometimes I struggle against archer rush civs though, like Mayans or Britons. If you don’t invest massively in Feudal, it can be hard to deal with. Yet if you do invest, and nothing happens, then you are behind to Castle Age. Optimizing a build order can be complex…

I guess the problem is that at a basic ELO level, the game requires a lot of skill. In other RTS games (like BFME2), you could go very far in the ranked ladder with basic skills.

Maybe you could try giving new players free palisades at a lower ELO, or making a new game mode where you only have builders, and mills/camps spawn AI-controlled villagers to harvest. This would free the time of new players to focus exclusively in military tactics.

At the same time, you could add map objectives, like neutral treasures, to make sure that building armies in Feudal doesn’t make you fall behind economically, and make the game more dynamic.

Games like Dota or LoL can be very complex, but this also keeps people engaged (with milions of daily users). I guess the key is to keep people engaged in a fun way, with a gradual learning curve.

What about adding guides to the game with decent build orders? (and maybe highlights to keep track of them?)

Yeah, I didn’t fully explain myself.

I would still keep william wallace. That’s great for people who are brand new. At that point you’re free to do whatever you want. You want to play in a noob lobby, or skirmishes against the easy ai, or the campaigns that’s fine. In fact that might be preferable. Go and enjoy the game, get familiar with the units, the techs, the civs. Even if you’re 300 elo, being more familiar with the game in general would be helpful.

If at some point in the future you feel comfortable and want to seriously improve you can start the second learning campaign. I don’t have any fleshed out outline or anything in mind, but I’m pretty sure you’d want more than six scenarios. Let’s say 12 for the sake of conversation.

So over the course of 12 scenarios you slowly improve as each scenario is designed to encourage you to improve on some fundamental. It’s still a aoe2 scenario, not an art of war exercise. As an example off the top of my head, a later scenario you have to defeat your archer/camel civ opponent but the archer civ is given like three mangonels that defend their base. It’s suggested you go fast castle into knights before they can get into the castle age and produce camels. you have autonomy to play scenario how you want but you have to play at some minimum competence or they’ll get to castle and you’ll be at a disadvantage. Scenarios like that.

So you go through those 12 scenarios, and you’ve learned all the fundamentals, (eco, counters, openings, basic single player and team meta, etc.) but it was the easy ai. It’s then suggested you replay on moderate then hard. I think the easy ai wouldn’t scale too much. During the easy run through you don’t even know all the fundamentals. Know that you have gone through once, now you can be expected to put it all together and improve upon your performance.

That FC into knights scenario I mentioned before. IDK exact times, but on easy the ai gets to castle at 30 minutes. at moderate 25, on hard 20. something like that. So you aren’t trying to go from 500ish to 1500ish in 6 scenarios, but 20, 40, maybe even 60 scenarios based on how long your tutorial campaign is.

So running through the second learning campaign on easy improves you from 500 to 700, moderate from 700 to 1000, and hard from 1000 to 1500. Something like that.

What I like about the idea of a campaign is that 1) the narrative and how it’s tied to the gameplay can be very engaging. 2) if you’re engaged your more likely to stick with a learning campaign than not. 3) if you’re engaged enough to stick to it long enough to see improvement, you’ll be even more engaged to continue.

As an aside I think Japanese would be a good civ. They’re jack of all trades and aside from hybrid maps, their eco bonuses aren’t that big. I think it’d be useful to have at least one hybrid map to learn about water, but you’re not relying on their fishing speed bonus to carry you to better performance. their UU is decent, but not mangudai good. I think something vaguely like shogun: total war could work. It’d be a lot of japanese mirrors but they’re jack of all trades, and you couldn’t game the bonuses. you’d just have to be better than the ai. Though I think we could see some appearances from mongols, koreans, Chinese, maybe even vietnamese in certain scenarios to show off other units and playstyles and to help shake things up. I know it’d be somewhat anachronistic but it could work. The Byzantines could also be a decent jack of all trades choice but they have a more defensive style, and I think generally speaking, noobs don’t need help being defensive.

Also, and IDK what they best way to incorporate these would be, but I think it’d be extremely helpful if creators in the aoe2 community made accompanying videos that tied into the subjects presented in the scenarios. Imagine for example, you had your opening animatic, the scenario begins with your objectives, and in the hints, instead of/in addition to, a paragraph of tips, there was a link or embedded video with SOTL, ornlu, T90, hera, viper, Cysion, somebody who was explaining the ins and outs and whys.

I think not only could you go into more detail that’d be so clunky to try to go into with the narrator and prompts, but it’d introduce new players to all these members of the community. Hopefully they’ll click with at least one creator, and go and watch more of their stuff when they aren’t playing the game. If they become a better player cause they watch every video in SOTL’s library, cool. If not and they just give him more views, also cool. Also I think it gives us as a community a chance to welcome new players. Some random scottish guy explaining the plot to you is fine and dandy for the narrative, but having someone like Hera briefly open a video and saying how much he loves the game, how excited he is you’re learning how to play better, basically personally welcoming you into the community, before explaining the thing his video is about I think would be so cool. I also hope it’d have a very sincere and grassroots feel to it as well. It’s not some actor reading off a script. It’s an otherwise random guy who’s been playing for 10-20 years sharing with you their favorite game.

You’d even be able to have different versions of each video that went into more details to give you more help with increasing difficultly levels.

Lastly I’d re-tool art of war to be higher level exercises. Stuff to help improve your micro, actions per minute, stuff like that.

I know that was kinda rambly lol.

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Theres a skill gap there if noobs are playing scout players who can run around the base sniping vils

Noobs need to play other noobs who look back to their base. Leave their scouts chasing a vil that made it to the TC and they all die to tc fire 11

Have them play vs ai until they learn the game. Moderate, hard etc. Once they win Extreme Ai they are ““ready”” for multiplayer.

If they can’t be bothered to play vs Ai to learn, then just play multiplayer and lose a ton until they find their level. Maybe learn some easy build order too.
If they can’t be bothered to play and lose to find their real elo, then maybe play something else.

I don’t really see what can be done to help new players. You can always play lobby instead of ranked, but then good players pretending they’re noobs will infiltrate the lobby and kick their asses anyway. So just play ranked, pick an easy civ and play. Can also watch streamers, like Survivalist and Hera, they give great tips and stuff for new players.

I feel their pain, i’ve been through the same thing with PUBG, but after a few hundred hours i’m the one kicking ass instead of getting kicked. It takes time, AoE2 even more so.

Maybe this is the biggest hurdle. You dont really need all of these things if you just get started. Not everyone should start as a pro. You will always has new players that start the the bottom. That is just how every game work.

It is easy to put your own skills on new players. Ofc you will be much better. You already have been playing this games for a long time. Expecting everyone to be as good as you is a mistake.

Also: not everyone wants to become a pro. So not being as good as the pros isnt really an issue to me either. Match making is a good thing: After an initial search of the system to found your skill level, you end up playing against equally skilled players. Being aggressive or defensive doesnt really matter at that stage anymore.

The biggest hurdle might be the time until someone ends up at their true elo if you are a true new player without prior understanding of the game. It might means you have to loose 10-20 games before you end up at the right skill level. After that initial stage you end up with equally minded players.

I bet many players on ranked cant win against the extreme AI and that is completely fine. They will be matched against others who also cant win against the extreme AI.

I have seen estimates of an elo of the extreme AI between 800-1200. Let just pick 1000 as base. This means your idea means half of the ranked player base should not be allowed to ranked anymore.

That sounds as a really garbage idea.

You would be surprised. At an ELO of 1000, there are already players who can execute this strategy well (not perfectly), and players who can defend against it. Sometimes people just try to rush Castle Age and fail. Building Feudal army in Age 2 can delay your Castle Age timing, and create a losing game, so it’s not that simple.

I think it would be easier for new players if there were neutral camps, so they could recover some of the army investment by clearing the camps, and have better Castle Age timings to defend later in the game.

What is the community stance on neutral camps?