Agressive playstyles are better than defensive playstyles

To experienced players, this might seem obvious, but as a new player, I tried for so long to make towers and walls work, but they just don’t. During feudal age and before ballistics, their arrows are very easy to avoid and they don’t do much damage anyway, even when fully garrisoned. Against archers, I guess they’re fine, but against everything else, they are terrible.

Stone walls, on top of being more expensive than palisade walls (5 stone vs. 3 wood) and stone mining slower, also don’t build very fast. On any open-ish maps or open maps, they are nearly useless. Even rushing feudal, there is a 0% chance of walling up before the opponent rushes you.

Palisade walls are, of course, pretty horrible against the common men-at-arms into archers/scouts.

Idk, maybe I’m wrong and it’s possible to play defensively, but it doesn’t seem viable.

(Another problem with walling is how you’re cutting yourself off from resources and ceding map control. Space can also become an issue.)

Since the devs can just change the dials whenever they want to, I don’t think defense is bad by itself, just that the game isn’t balanced to favor it. Of course, aggro interferes with the opponent’s game while also protecting your own economy, while defense just does the latter. However, again, if the devs wanted to, they could make towers more powerful/ give TCs more range, make walls cheaper etc.

Anyway, those are my observations. If I’m doing something wrong, please let me know because I do prefer playing defensively, if it can work.

1 Like

playing defensively is generally stronger than playing aggressively, until Imp, fortifications (house walls, TCs) and usage of Monks/Siege > any army the opponent can send at you. It is possible to play aggressively and win in Feudal/Castle age but generally speaking the odds are against you, although it depends heavily on the civ matchup and map layout also (e.g. how many forward golds opponent has).

On Arabia it is also possible to fully wall before Feudal, you just need to commit more vills to it in Dark Age. Generally speaking it’s not worth it because walls are not cheap (a full ring of Palisade is something like 200w + the idle time of the vills building it), the reason you don’t see insta walls at high level is because of the resource loss that results from walling too early with too many vills.

Also MAA are hard countered by full walls. If you manage to full wall in time, 4-5 Skirms with +1 attack can defend the walls vs anything the opponent does. You might need to add more Skirms and/or the 1st armor depending on how many archers the opponent follows up with but generally MAA opening is a two-edged sword, it can do a lot of damage but can also hit a wall and set the enemy behind (the total price of the MAA play is generally 280f 40g 100w and normally also forces you to stay on 1 lumber camp if you want a fast archer follow up).

I would say in general stop overthinking things and focus more on improving at execution. While I appreciate the sentiment behind your post, there is no need for a new player to share their opinion about every single aspect of the game, this stuff has already been pioneered plenty and people are very aware of what’s balanced, what isn’t and what problems the game has atm (not many as it’s overall pretty well-balanced). There are tons of youtube guides about how to play out Feudal, how to play Castle age, etc. I would recommend someone like Hera on youtube as he has a lot of content in this regard and explains many things, such as the openings you can do in early Feudal, their strengths and weaknesses, when to wall, how to balance your eco and so on.

Overall your assessment about the fact that aggressive playstyle is easier to utilize is true until 1500-1700 elo, then people know how to boom under pressure and adapt more, and playing defensively becomes far stronger. At 2400+, after a brief Feudal skirmish (that is heavily dependent on how many walls each player sees by the opponent, the moment they see you fully walled they instantly stop making army), most players default into booming with minimal aggression/harass armies as reaching Imp and starting Treb production is generally stronger than anything you can do in Castle Age. Also, Imp armies are significantly stronger than Castle age army due to Imp upgrades being so strong (Cavalier with last armor destroys Castle Age Xbow, and Arbalest destroys Castle Age Knights just to give 2 examples).

If one had to pick a side, one would say that the game favors the defender too much, if anything.

I appreciate the reply, but I’m not aware of what has or hasn’t been pioneered, which is why I made this post. I don’t want to generalize, but I noticed over here, on steam and reddit that people don’t really like answering questions. Pretty strange, to be honest, but I guess pvp games often have less friendly communities.

You are wrong, because you think of “playing defensivly” the wrong way.

If we look at top players, the ones having an aggressive playstyle are probably lierrey and yo. The others play rather defensivly, most notably the Viper.

However, that does not mean they wall up and wait. It means they pick a strategy where they do not have to do damage early on and still can win the game. 20 pop archers is a defensive opening, because the military mostly has the job to stop the enemy maa rush. Even 19 pop scout is played rather defensivly today by most players, with the scouts doing just that - scouting - and keeping the enemy in his base until you’re walled, but rarely engaging straight on.

If you want to understand that playstyle, id say you should play the byzantines. They are insanly good at defending by spamming cheap counter units. Enemy goes archer? Just kill him with skirms. Enemy opens scouts? Add spears, wall up, pressure with spear archer. Enemy goes 2 stable kts? Defend with cheap camels.

As Clausewitz said, defense is the stronger mean, but offense has the stronger goal. Winning at defense is easier, but does not win you the game. So eventually, you will have to go on the offense.


Yeah, when I think ‘play defensively’, I think of walling up and not making units, relying only on buildings for defense.

makes sense but outside of really casual games i don’t see that in any real capacity, just my experience

Btw for an example of what i was talking about, you can watch TTL Finals game 3.
Viper opens 2 mil drush, which you could see as aggression, but not much happens.
Hera opens scouts, but he hardly fights with them. See at 57:30, he could attack 2 villagers with 2 scouts but he knows he will just lose HP and doesn’t even bother.
Hera just runs around with his scouts, viper defends with some walls and spears.
Once hera has a bigger army we see some aggression, but this aggression is just scouts bashing down houses, nothing else. The first real fight only happens at 1:03, about 20min IG time, and its not versus villagers but just Viper trading away army before castle age upgrades. After that, its right back to defending behind walls.
The first villagers die only at 1:05, and once the TC goes up, the area is defended again and Heras army has to retreat.
The game gets pretty crazy from there on because Viper starts to throw army into Heras eco over and over again, but I think that opening really shows how a defense without towers and even mostly without palisades can work.

1 Like

No surprise then if you can’t get that to work. Even the most defensive civ in the game -Byzantine- has not only a bonus for the building, but even a discount on counter units.
Buildings alone won’t take you anywhere aside from GG


But guys, I want to play AoE II: Tower Defense Edition

Appearantly there are different ways of thinking about a “defensive” playstyle.
I don’t think we should call either of them “wrong”.
But the TO has a point in saying that AOE2 in it’s current design disadvantages players witt a “griefy” playstyle.
At the same time we actially have maps like Arena that solve that by just giving you a very trong base that allows you to boom kinda “safaly” behind.

I think in the way the game is currently setupwe just can’t have that kind of “defensive” playstyle be competitive as it would make the pro games very boring.
Cause defence wins championships. Was always so will always be like this.
So if we would give defensive tools that are competitive at mid elo, the pro games would immediately converge to pure defense battles noone would wanna watch.

But probably there could be an addition of a gamemode or map that’s designed to make that kind of defensive play more competitive.

But guys, I want to play AoE II: Tower Defense Edition

Imo towers are good but not in the early game. Booming has imo a higher priority in Aoe2 than Defense, but once you get closer to the Population cap or your civil population goal then Tower become more valueable. They protect against raids and slow enemy pushes down. It is important to get the upgrades on the towers.

Regeardings walls, I think they are not good. They function as a prison for your town, cost ressources and need to be patched all the time if wood lines are involved. The opponent also need just some petards to get through. Overall not good on most maps imo. You want to expand your town instead of sitting behind walls. There are some maps very you can lose villigers too easily in feudal age tough. Imo the answer is to make a lot of military yourself for defense and aggression. It is just how such maps work.

1 Like