Difficulty archer rushing the AI

I’m pretty new to the game and I’m trying to learn to archer rush, but I can’t get it to work on hard or higher. I’ve watched replays of my games, and the problem appears to be that the AI just cranks out skirmishers as soon as they advance to feudal. By the time my crossbows arrive, they’re ready for me. They don’t even have elite skirmishers when I arrive… just a lot of regular ones.

Sometimes I win the initial fight, but I still can’t do much damage because they just keep cranking out skirmishers from their 3+ archery ranges and because they’ve got a tower or two. That’s enough to keep my surviving crossbows from doing much damage, and eventually I have to retreat when they start building mangonels or something.

It doesn’t go down that way in the (2-3 yr old) videos I’ve been trying to imitate. Is the AI patched to be more resistant to archer rushes these days? Or am I just moving too slow or doing something else wrong?

The AI is improved over time, so it is more difficult for that reason.

Just some question:

  • Which build order do you use?
  • At which time did you got to feudal age?
  • How many idle tc time did you in dark age?
  • When do you attack? How much archers do you have?

Normally you can deal with skirms by adding scouts. Another option is going castle age. Since the AI is using food for skirms they will be slower to castle age. Then go knights in castle age.

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From my latest attempt:

  1. This build order from an old Hera video:
  2. Feudal around 10:30.
  3. Not sure. Unfortunately, I saved and reloaded the game, so I lost that part of the replay.
  4. Attacked at 24:30 with 32 fully upgraded XBows.

I saved right before the attack and tried a couple variations. If I fight them head on with no micro, I just barely lose the battle. On my best micro-heavy attempt, I had 12 left (injured), which caused a bit of mayhem before the the tower and then some knights finished them off.

With the modern meta, you probably want to get 3 archers with ######### at the enemy base by 12:30 at the latest. Going up with 18 vils to Feudal should be able to do that. In Castle Age, you can always add mangonels to kill their skirms, their mangonels, and their towers (although you have to be careful when doing that, and abandon the attempt probably if they get guard tower).

I should probably note that I’ve tried variations on this, including attacking in feudal with just a few units. It always goes down more or less the same though-- however much I build, they’ve got a comparable number of skirms.

That’s quite an old build, for straight archers, I would normally go more like:

  • 6 on sheep
  • 3 on wood
  • 1 to get first boar
  • Push a deer
  • 3 on boar + deer
  • Send one from boar whenever the first boar is below 200 food (not a new vil).
  • 4 on berries
  • 1 on wood
  • Loom, then Feudal Age
  • Send one villager from food under the TC to the lumbercamp you already have, and 5 more from food under the TC to build a second lumber camp
  • Try and avoid killing more sheep for now, send vils onto straggler trees when boar and deer finish.

And then between 50% and 60% of the way to Feudal, build your barracks with one vil, two vils if you leave it a bit late. At about 70%, build your mining camp on gold, but only if it won’t delay the range. Once you hit Feudal (should be at 8:50 if you do it perfectly with 0 idle time), drop one range with two vils straight away, the mining camp if you don’t have it, and get 4 vils on gold. Then make a blacksmith as soon as you can, research ########## and hit them with about 3 archers. If they overdose on skirms, don’t be afraid to drop a stable and make some scouts, but don’t get any upgrades for them. Also, whether or not you fight skirmishers depends on their upgrades. If they have ########## you can take the fight with roughly even numbers (just don’t be outnumbered) and micro. If they have ######### and armor, only take the fight if you have a significant numbers advantage. Otherwise just try and avoid the skirms. Also try and research double bit axe as soon as you can in Feudal, but don’t worry about Horse Collar or Gold Mining until you’re going up to Castle Age.

Anywhere the censor hit me, the technology is:


you probably want to get 3 archers with ######### at the enemy base by 12:30 at the latest.

I’m about a minute behind this. I’m guessing that’s just too slow for it to work?

Not at all. Just avoid their skirms, and go after the vils. If you can’t get any damage, don’t throw your army away, try and hit the Castle Age powerspike with Bodkin, Crossbow, and Ballistics if you can afford to pick it up.

What i’d do is try to do damage early to keep the Ai at bay, don’t just stay at home and wait until you have like 30 or more crossbows, that’s not gonna work. Another thing i like to do when i play vs the Ai ( extreme) is to go archers and make a few scouts/ light cav/ eagles/ knights, depending on the civ, but don’t let the Ai scout it. So the Ai will keep making skirms, and then you show up with the scouts and archers and the Ai is done for.

If you let the Ai scout all your base it will adjust its strategy to counter yours every time, just like a real player would do.

Your build order is a bit outdated by the current pro standards, ### ### #### to beat the extreme DE.

Your main mistake seems to be not attacking early on. You dont need 32 upgraded xbows. Just go with 2-3 archers to the enemy and start harassing them. Just continue with expanding your army to harass then.

If the AI has start massing skirms to counter you archers you can do multiple things:

  • Retreat and hit from a different angle
  • Add scouts to your army
  • Go to castle age and upgrade to xbows. You will be much quicker to castle age and with the tech upgrade you can beat the skirms.

There are probably also other options. You can also switch to knights in castle age, depending on your civ.

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I did it! (only vs hard, but still, first time) Thanks all for the advice! :slight_smile:

I used TheConqueror753’s build and arrived with 2 archers at 12:00, at which point there were no skirms waiting. Kept trickling in units after that, trading off with the enemy’s emerging units as needed. Advanced to castle age really late, but it was over by then anyway.


If you’re generally losing in early castle age, the key thing you’re missing is a forward siege workshop to make mangonels. That way you can flatten skirms with a few badda-booms then your crossbow can go ham.

Practise the build with Ethiopians. You can go up with 19 pop due to the wood and gold bonus and their archer line fires faster. Free pikeman upgrade is also huge vs. knight civs and they have arguably the best siege in the game. Mangonels vs. skirm is always a good shout.