I’ve checked currently some out of meta strategies with different civs. Lastly I found a fast archer rush strategy working most of the time because the opponents weren’t fully walled. If you go up with 18-20 pop (without loom(!)), most opponents don’t expect you building archers, because usually you like to get at least 22 vills for archers.
It only works with these Civs: Tatars (insane, explained later), Mongols (faster), Lithuanians, Mayans and Ethiopians.
The Key in this build is not to build a Mill or second lumber camp in Dark Age. Until Feudal your only food ressources are herdables and hunters. This gives you a nice powerspike because every farm is almost equal to 1 in military numbers. So if your opponent builds 8 farms, you can have 7 more archers. It works only with them because they don’t cost any food. When the time comes you have to build the mill and also farms then, but initially you don’t want to invest in this, just go full archers. Also 1 lumber camp is usually enough, only in peaks I had like 12 jacks which is of course not optimal, but handleable for 1 camp for a short time.
The amount of free food is why i recommend only using these civs, because they give you bonus food which you actually need to build your archers without having to build a mill.
This is why tatars are insane in this build, because they give you usually +700 free food. It is possible to combine this even with a drush, just going up 2 vils later and still have enough ressources for 2 ranges perma production. Also it is not common for tatars going full archers, so you might surprise your opponent even more.
The strat is going imeediately for the enemy woodlines. Without wood, the opponents can’t produce the counters to archers. Even if they sometimes get some skirms or scouts out (you usually arrive when they just hit feudal) and kill some of your archers, you always outnumber them because they invested in walling and farms, which you didn’t. When you cut them from their wood, at some point they just run out of it and can’t do anything against you. So they have to defend and can’t get aggressive themselves (this is why you don’'t need loom: in dark age you’re just around your tc, so drush against you has no effect initially (just research loom then and push back with your vills - up 1 vill later), later you have your archers to protect you).
Here are my recommendations with this build:
Mongols: 17(when lucky with the map)-18-pop up with lumb+mining: 2 Ranges, no blacksmith and eco upgrades until about vil 30 => at some point you have to build your farming eco
Tatars: either (1) 19-20 pop lumb+mining(19)or baracks(20): 2 ranges - blacksmith - 1 extra range for total of 3 with eco upgrades
or: (2) drush - 22 vils lumb+baracks:- 2 ranges - blacksmith with eco upgrades - here it’s hard to get 3 ranges ready in time, usually i will place farms before.
Ethiopinas: Like (1) but usually 20 pop with baracks (100 gold extra!) either blacksmith or 3rd range without blacksmith
Mayans: Should be like (1), somewhere in between tatars and ethiopians, haven’t played it yet, because your opponent may actually expect it.
Lithuanians: Like Mongols but with 18 pop and you can add either blacksmith (only bodkin) or eco uprgades
There are also some other civs which could be interesting, but they usually lack the extra food which makes it a weird transition where you need to relocate a lot of vills and might even stop producing at some point. With the recommendet civs and ranges you can make at some point a smooth transition and build enough farms to either going castle or just support your town center.
For me it was actually even easier to arrange my ressource production - because i didn’t had to build farms. They are the distracting thing. For the build the only things you need to know: 7 vills on food fpr tc, 4-5 vills on gold for range. remaining wood. Much easier than anything I played before.
It is also possible, aswell I never tried this, when food runs out just ignore it and go for even more ranges. This is truly all-in.
Aswell i recommend this only with tatars: you can reach up to 50 vills with it, 13 more than with most other civs.
I’m not sure if this is a possible new strategy or I was just lucky my opponents weren’t fully walled at this time. I know it is a very risky strategy and only viable for players which are able to push deer.
I don’t have a specific build, but usually it goes like this: just get enough wood in d to build your buildings in time - find alls your free food - all other vills on herdables, boar and deer. Sometimes with3, 4 or 5 vills how long it takes to lure them until the next one comes in. When going up, just all but 7 vills on food to wood and building the missing mining camp or baracks on the way up. Then immediately the 1st range and the 2nd just when you have the ressources which is usually 1-2 vills later. for each range you then need 4-5 vills on gold with eco upgrades.
I think the only viable strategy against this build is to wall in extremely quickly like mbl in kotd - and only if your opponent has access to backline wood. If he don’t he’s in big trouble. Then going full skirms.
But for this he has to expect it. Even towering the wood won’t work - you just hop under the tower - unless your opponent builds 2 - which is very unliekely. If he does so, he invested so much, it was worth it nevertheless you have to transit to castle age then.
Against full scouts you might have to retreat a bit and find good fighting spots, maybe even add some spears, but because your opponent can’t sustain the production like you, you’ll win the fight in the end and can pressure him then. Against skirms you’ll always have much higher numbers, so they are no prob.
This are my experiences with that build.
I would like to see some feedback, if this is actually a viable strategy for these civs or I just was lucky it worked for me. It worked best with Mongols and Tatars. Both civs, which aren’t considered “archer civs” and uptimes your opponent would actually expect scouts, not archers.