Competitive Viability of AoE1

So i played a ton of AoE2 and we all know its a very good game casually as well as competitively.

But i never really played the first one vs. other players and only played the campaign and some scenarios, so i at least know its a very good game from a casual aspect.

But how does the first AoE play out in a competitive setting? E.g are there dominant tactics or unbalanced units.

So i wanted to ask what you guys think about the competitive viability of AoE1.

What would also be interesting to know is if the devs are putting a focus on aspects, like rebalancing (this is already confirmed), lobby features, strong netcode and an ingame matchmaking system.

It still is kind of played competetively in Vietnam for as far as I know. I’m not a total AoE pro but I felt that there are Civ’s who are better than others and there are rather useless units. Anyway they already announced that the Definitive Edition got a lot of balance changes like you already mentioned. I don’t really think it’s going to be a “big” competetive game in the esports scene or something like that though.

@UltimateTager said:

But how does the first AoE play out in a competitive setting? E.g are there dominant tactics or unbalanced units.

Personally, I think the game does fantastic in a competitive setting. However, i’m not sure how it compares to the other games in the sense that there are definitely dominant tactics and unbalanced units. It’s also heavily dependent on what game mode you’re playing.

For the “Random Map” setting, the game always favored mass archery and mobility so units like chariot archers which are available by the bronze age can be considered overpowered. That’s not to say that it’s impossible to counter players who use this tactic, but its a common one that usually produces good results. Considering this, the civilizations with good chariots and good archery tend to be the best ones.

Another flaw for the “Random Map” civilizations are those that are entirely dependent on gold. That means without gold, they cannot produce any viable units. These are the civilizations that usually don’t have the technology “the wheel” and it’s those civilizations that tend to be considered “bad” because they cannot:

-Benefit from the (30%?) villager speed increase
-Use chariots, a good unit that only depends on food and wood

So both Persia and Macedonian, gold dependent civilizations, tend to struggle when playing Random Map.

Ironically, in the death match setting, it’s the opposite in some cases.

Choson, a civilization that has poor archery early game, tends to do very well because they have excellent siege units and their Legions have DOUBLE HP compared to others. They also have great towers, a great stable, and great priests, units not normally used during Random Map.


Yes there are definitely dominant tactics / unbalanced units and civilizations, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t winnable strategies when facing them.

Some easy fixes would be to give each civilization the wheel, make certain civilizations less dependent on gold, and find a better balance between archery and infantry.

If players are assigned an “ELO” like in LOL, these map/gold/civ advantages and disadvantages could be used to balance matchmaking (essentially, handicapping).

The big problem with competitive play IMHO is metagame and dynamic design. If there is no change in the game design over time there will naturally develop stratification between the elite players and casual players. Pro strats dominate and too few new elements are added. There will be little room for “challengers.”

I think the best we can hope for is a decent multiplayer matchmaking system and wait to see what develops on the pro scene.

As far as I know, Age of Empires 1 is fairly competitive in Vietnam (it’s pretty much their StarCraft).
But there are many strategies that are clearly overwhelming compared to others. I’m not absurdely into competitie AoEx, but ZeroEmpire mentioned Chariot Archers and, indeed, I remember those being pretty much the best unit in the game.

Thankfully, the Definitive Edition seems to come with balancement changes so we should hopefully experience it as a fresh new multiplayer experience.

And finally, I think AoE 1 has something I prefer over AoE 2: it’s more fast paced. I remember playing it actively when I was younger and it felt pretty much like WarCraft when it comes to the pacing of the game (although not even close to StarCraft). Since there are no formations like other games of the series, micromanagement does take more skill too. I think it will be an enjoyable experience.

Depends on what style of game. Cho and Reg DM games are very competitive.

There are also plenty of limitations that can be put on competitive matches to artificially fix any pertaining balance issues.

I have a feeling balance patches will probably be part of the final game.