Fifth resource

What do you think about a fifth resource? One that is optional – that is, you don’t really need it to win the game. It could be Knowledge. To gather it, you build Colleges; in them, you create Scholars, who go to the Town Center to “drop” the Knowledge.

In a way, there is already an optional resource in the game: Stone. You can win against your opponent without ever building fortifications. So, to what use could Knowledge be put? Maybe researching techologies… well, that was an obvious one. But, which kind of technologies? Clearly not the Age advancement, because then it would be essential to the game.


I don’t think knowledge is good resource for AoE or RTS in general.

Maybe a civilisation dependent 5th resource could be interesting like for example:
Piety for Teutons (or other Christians).
Generated by:
A building that is limited to 1.
Converting enemies.
Killing enemies with a special unit like Teutonic knight.
Owning relicts

You can only collect a max of 100
The more you have the higher is your resistance against conversion and the better your priests work.
You can spend the resource on temporary boosts like 25% better farms for a minute for 25 piety.

An idea to make Stone more useful/needed for offensive civilisations like Mongols:
Some siege weapons cost stone to build.
Those are better than the ones that don’t cost stone but you don’t have to rely on them.
Like catapult (AoE1 like catapults not AoE2 like ones) doesn’t cost stone but trebuchet does. You gain a bit more range when you invest stone countering the buildings the enemy build using the same resource.


The idea in itself sounds good, but it raises a few issues:

1st - Adding another “resource” would increase a lot the entry barrier and remove some of the simplicity of the game, which makes it so enjoyable and intuitive.

2nd - How would you manage it? With scholars? As a sort of monk?

3rd - Your thinking of it in terms of it being required to advance an age or just to research “better” techs? If it’s meant as a requirement to advance to the nest age you could be very well capping how fast you can advance.

If the idea were to be a general resourse, you would either need to have a base gain of knowledge based on time and/or exclude the first age advancement from that requirement or save that mechanic for the Castle age, in the same way you only build an university in AOE 2, and then you could create scholars from the university and have them gather in another building to “collect” knowledge like the did in rise of nations. In that way, you this resource could also be affected by raiding, forcing them to take shelter in the town center, preventing your opponent from gathering it.

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Has been talked about before, but I have grown a bit tired of just having four. I want one or two more resources to gather. I’m not a fan of gathering intangible resources in RTS video games (like knowledge, culture, etc.). I like seeing my villagers gathering tangible objects and carrying them to and fro.

Some brainstormed ideas. I’d just want one or two, not all:

  • Silver (another mine type)
  • Marble (a special mine or quarry)
  • Diamonds, rubies, gems (special, quite rare mines)
  • Hardwoods (special, rare trees)
  • Raw textile stuff (to make different cloth fabrics and such)
  • Etc.

And they could contribute in different ways… tech research, building/unit construction, wonder construction, etc. Things that will or could affect your military or economic power.


I’ve also wanted the ability to do late-game things to customize my empire when playing against the AI… when the game is pretty much over and you’re dragging it out for fun. I often want to make my empire look cool and personalized (build flags, paths, cobblestone paths, torches, cemeteries, aqueducts, fountains, pillars, etc. wherever I want), but we’re limited in AoE2 with just more of the same buildings we’ve made all game, walls, and towers. My idea would use assets that are already in the game, as there are a lot of 3D assets in campaigns that we never see in matches. I want to be able to use those assets as cosmetic things I could build in matches.

  • These extra cosmetic things wouldn’t appear until you research a certain tech or a fifth age… and go ahead and make it super expensive to access. When you’re in late game and just having fun, having 50,000 gold or 100,000 wood on-hand is common in AoE2. Go ahead and make the fifth age cost, say, 30K gold and 50K wood, or something. It’s a ‘for fun’ part of the game anyways… and gives you reason to keep having fun clearing forests, mining all the mines on the map, and making 100 farms.
  • And, to circle it back around to your thread… to build some of this cosmetic stuff – which is not meant to add to your military or economic power; it’s just to make your empire ‘your own’ cool empire – having another resource or two could come in handy for this, too.
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A fifth resource is a fun idea, but I have to be honest, I wouldn’t want to see it in an AOE game. Personally, I think the first point made by @EagerMusician0 is spot on. Games are generally more enjoyable if they are relatively simple to learn but hard to master. The mechanics of AOE2 weren’t too difficult, but they allow for so many different game situations that you can play literally hundreds of hours and still improve. I would hate for AOE4 to become burdened by features/gimmicks, making the competitive side of the game inaccessible to those without a lot of specialized knowledge. In short, I’d rather learn about complex situations while playing a mechanically simple game, than have to learn many complex mechanics before I can even start playing.

On a related note, that’s probably my biggest concern about too asymmetrical civilization design. If being able to play competitively requires a deep knowledge of eight very distinct civilizations, that might hurt the size of the multiplayer community. Or, the added complexity of so many distinct civilizations may prove prohibitively difficult to balance. I’m hoping for the best, though :slightly_smiling_face:

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After AoE1, 2, and 3, though, I just feel most AoE players are masters of the resources already. Adding one more isn’t all the sudden going to make the complexity skyrocket. For newcomers, it may make it ‘slightly’ harder for them… but the benefits to long-time players seem tenfold to me and helps future-proof the game. Gives us more to learn and work with over the years. I’ve grown tired, relatively speaking, of only being able to gather food, wood, gold, and stone.

Labeling something as a gimmick is fairly subjective :slight_smile: , and I personally don’t think adding one more resource would be gimmicky. It all depends on how it gets implemented, I suppose. If it’s implemented with care and is in-tune with the AoE way, then all should be fine. This is the way.

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XP makes a nice resource, since you can get it from anything, and spend it on mercenary/allied nations units, like from the consulate on AOE 3. To reward those that are in a lot of action.

You’re right that one more resource may not be too difficult for newer players in of itself, but I am speaking more to what I see as a potentially damaging trend, in which the cumulative effect of additional core mechanics makes the game less accessible, or even less recognizable. That doesn’t mean I’m opposed to refreshing or expanding the gameplay generally, though. Contrast a fifth resource with the newly introduced ambush mechanic, which I am excited for. Someone that doesn’t know how to ambush armies from forests will still be able to play the game, but they can learn about the new mechanic through their own matches. If a fifth resource were added, that sounds like something that would have an impact on the way every game plays out. If it didn’t, if it were only gathered in a few specialized circumstances, then elevating it to the level of a resource that is displayed in the UI seems unnecessary. Further, the more specialized options, like diamonds, hardwood, etc., all stand out like a sore thumb when compared with the more general resources of food, wood, gold, and stone. They don’t seem to fit naturally, and they open the door to including all sorts of specialized resources, which again, I would be concerned about because of how they diminish accessibility, and how they stray from the AOE formula.

I don’t mind adjusting core mechanics if there is a good reason for doing so. Favor in AOM made a ton of sense as a way to bring mythological creatures into the game. XP worked well with the premise in AOE3, making players’ settlements feel more like colonies receiving support from larger nations. There were compelling reasons to include these resources because they were central to the settings of the games, and it made sense to have players always collect them. I don’t see a similarly compelling reason to add another resource to AOE4, and when in doubt, because of the accessibility issue, I would prefer if they left the system unchanged.

I respect your opinion, of course. I’m just voicing my concerns.

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The fifth resource is a fairly common reoccurring discussion in age games over the years. Usually population space is considered the fifth resource as units in a well crafted age game take up varying pop spots so you need to consider that in making your army.

It sounds more like a bonus. AOE is perfect with 4 resources.

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Population caps don’t do it for me as a ‘fifth resource.’ My mind doesn’t work that way. As well, if that is somehow weirdly widely recognized as a “fifth resource,” then I guess the thread’s title should be, “Sixth Resource.”

AoE:IV is a new Age game charting new Age territory as it is. A fifth resource is far less damaging, if I may use that word, to the chemical makeup of an “AoE” game than AoE3’s playing cards, shipments, XP, a never-dying Explorer with a GoPro cam on, and resource gathering teleportation; as well as some other things that will, undoubtedly, be going into AoE4.

It’s a given that the AoE franchise has and will evolve over time. Capping the game at four resources is a bit arbitrary and becoming a tad trite. To me, it feels a bit like using a flip phone from 1998. We’ve had the same four resources for over two decades now… I can run circles around econ management. Like clockwork, every game, for thousands of hours of gaming time, I collect the same four resources, and apply the same four resources the exact same ways for years. As can most AoE players. It’s not hard. Similarly, I know how to use a smartphone now. I never would have wanted or expected flip phone tech to last forever. There’s no way it could ever indefinitely satiate our ever-growing needs, abilities to multi-task, and ever-evolving speed, capabilities, and attention spans as humans. Yet, here we are in 2021 with smartphones that allow us to do a zillion more things, and manage multiple things at once, with many complex and complicated interactions that could never be done with a phone in 1998. We’ve adapted, and we’ve evolved since 1998. Similarly, I’m ready for another resource to be added to AoE. I yearn for it.

To say going from 4 resources to 5 will all the sudden lead to 6, 7, or 8 (slippery slope fallacy)… or that it will make AoE less recognizable… or that the game will somehow automatically become less enjoyable, or so inaccessible that nobody except elite players and geniuses (for lack of better word) will be able to play it well doesn’t work for me. I don’t buy it :stuck_out_tongue: There would be no accessibility issue. Gathering silver and having it affect things you can buy is no different than gathering wood, stone, gold, and food. Variety is the spice of life.

Just as we will be able to adapt to an “ambush” mechanic, if that’s a confirmed thing, we can adapt to ‘silver’ being added as a 5th resource. It’s not 1998 anymore and I think humans can handle managing 5 rather than 4 resources pretty easily nowadays. We’ve evolved.

If gamers can keep track of like 16 different buttons, two analog sticks, and a touchpad on a controller to play Assassin’s Creed in 2021 – or the mess of buttons needed to play Fallout 4, Witcher 3, or Elite Dangerous – instead of the one button and stick the Atari 2600 controller had in 1980, I think we’re okay with adding one more resource to gather :wink:

I would prefer something more active to add than just another resource, imo.

4 resources + Pop is already good enough.

It could have a place in an optional game mode, depending on how important is this new resource for the match.


I don’t see my argument as fallacious in the slightest, and so long as we’re getting all philosophy 101 about it, you have multiple straw man fallacies in this very sentence, of which this quote is an example. You seem to be referencing my assertion that adding a specialized resource would “open the door” to the inclusion of other specialized resources, i.e., make their inclusion easier or more likely to occur. I think the truth of this claim is obvious; adding one specialized resource would make others less out of place than the first, and it establishes a precedent. I do not say that adding a fifth resource invariably leads to the inclusion of more, nor is the bulk of my argument against a fifth resource based on our feelings towards larger numbers of them. In short, the claim you reference is tangential to the thrust of my argument, and you’ve misrepresented it.

You also suggest that I claim the addition of a fifth resource would make it so

when I never do this. Again, you’ve intentionally misrepresented my argument.

As I’ve indicated in discussing the roles that favor and XP have played in past titles, I am open to the inclusion of other resources, so long as there is a compelling reason for it. My argument is not, as your response suggests, that AOE4 would be strongly damaged from the addition of another resource, or that players would be incapable of handling another resource. I am merely noting that the current core mechanics of the game are familiar to older players, simple enough to be learned by newer players, and have led to the creation of successful games in the past. If anyone wants to introduce a major change that makes the game less familiar to older players, more complicated for newer players to learn, and more unpredictable in terms of its potential for commercial success, then that person really ought to have a convincing argument for why their modification is an improvement.

The only reason you have given so far for including an additional resource is that you’ve grown bored with resource collection as it stands, so you want to complicate it with additional categories. If that’s justification enough for you, then there’s not much more to discuss. All I can say is that I would react unfavorably to the inclusion of an additional resource for such a flimsy reason, I doubt that other players would react positively to it, and I certainly wouldn’t make a costly, last-minute modification to AOE4 on these grounds if I were in charge of the title’s launch. It’s possible that people who have played

have become bored with the four resources, but I do not think they represent the majority of the players AOE4 is designed to attract. Moreover, unless the new resource were used in a particularly compelling way, I do not see the act of sending villagers to a different stone pile as something that meaningfully refreshes the experience of economy management.

Finally, your analogy with trading out a flip phone for a smart phone fails because, while technology has unquestionably improved over time, there is no guarantee that a change in the resource count would be received as an improvement by the community. In fact, I’ve given several reasons for why it might provoke the opposite reaction.

Again, I respect your opinion and your right to disagree with me on this issue, but I’d like to be disagreed with on the basis of things that I’ve actually said. I also feel like I’ve said enough to make my perspective known, so I’ll probably leave it at that. Given that four primary resources have already been announced, this whole discussion feels pretty moot, anyways.


Yes, 4 resources has become a little boring. A 5th would be more variety to both micro’ing resource gathering and the variance it adds to tech/structure building. A 5th would be impetus to devising an interesting, thoughtful, creative, and well-rounded solution. I’m thinking anyone proposing a 5th resource in the forums of AoM or AoE3 back in the day would have been met with staunch criticism from you… yet here you are defending them and using them as shining examples of 5th resources.

Truth be told, I’m merely proposing ‘some’ fifth resource; and saying/implying, “It could be cool, given the right thoughtful planning, integration, creativity, and implementation.” On the surface, yeah, it looks like I just want to task villys to a 5th resource. Not true. I want it smartly embedded in the game, just like you feel Favor/Culture and XP were.

I’m not getting paid to build out and create a project plan for implementing a brand new resource, so i’m not going to spend more time charting anything out more than I already have here and elsewhere. It’s for those closer to the game to chart out, if they want. I just ask that you try to keep a slightly open mind that cool solutions might exist that you haven’t thought of. You never know what ideas might exist, just like XP or Favor/Culture coming out of the blue and winning you over.

One idea I considered in the past is maybe opening up the 5th resource in a late age. It’s not my favorite thing in Civilization games to, say, have oil all the sudden appear on the map late in the game. In AoE something ‘like’ that ‘might’ work, though. Again, I’m not getting paid for this, so I’m not going to chart out the pros and cons, or brainstorm a bunch of resource alternatives or ways to implement them. I’m just keeping an open mind about it and hoping an expansion pack someday adds another resource, with a well thought out reason and system behind it.

Thankfully, Apple one day decided we didn’t need to be limited by buttons on a cell phone and got creative. I feel there is room for creativite ideas in AoE. And I, for one, won’t get overwhelmed by its inclusion. I’ve had years to get accustomed to the same 'ole 4 resources. One more to add more depth to the game won’t ruin me. And if done smartly and well, won’t ruin the game. On the contrary, would hopefully make it more interesting, and future proof it. Imagine 20 years from now if no more AoE games are made in the franchise, four decades will have gone by with the sammme fourrrr resources.

I appreciate your thoughts and discussion on this. Thanks!

Technically AoEIII has five resources, if you are playing the Asian Civs: Wood, Food, Coin, Experience and Export.

But still, I think its important to note that all resources in AoEI&II have their own basic role:

Wood: Basic Building and Naval Unit Ressource
Food: Basic Land Unit Resource
Gold: Advanced Unit Ressource
Stone: Advanced Building Ressource

Outside of wood, which often appears, whenever a basic resource that is not food is needed, there are only few exceptions to this pattern:

AoEI: Wonders(gold), Slingers(stone)

AoEII: Wonders(gold), Bombard Towers(Gold), Feitorias(Gold)

Another resource would need it’s own place and role to fulfill. Things like silver would be a terrible choice, as both are mainly for currency, this can be seen alone by AoEIII, where gold was renamed to coin, which could also be gathered from silver mines.

The other resources AoM&AoEIII use, have their own roles:
Wood: Basic Building and Naval Unit Ressource
Food: Basic Land Unit Resource
Gold: Advanced Ressource
Favour: Mythical and Hero Ressource
Wood: Basic Building and Naval Unit Ressource
Food: Basic Land Unit Resource
Coin: Advanced Ressource
Experience: Shipment Ressource
Export: Consulate Ressource

Though it is to know, that they play a bit more loose with the resources, that they kept.

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Right, silver isn’t the best example. I’d, ideally, just like another raw material. Surely, the middle ages used more than food, wood, gold, and stone to get by? How about iron, lead, or graphite/carbon? Everything wasn’t made of gold, stone, and wood.

Yeah, coin wasn’t my fav in AoE3. Admittedly, I’ve played a lot of AoE3, but it’s becoming more and more a distant memory – so nuances like ‘coin’ aren’t at the top of my mind. I remember not liking that gold and silver mines went to the same resource (coin); and the eventual plantations (coin farms) and banks weren’t fun for me (auto-coin, engage!.. after it already wasn’t even necessary to drop off gold/silver at mines). Sadly, I’m not a fan of Experience and Export either. The latter are not like tangible raw material type of things; even “coin” isn’t, which the concept of was also a downgrade to me from ‘gold’ and ‘stone.’ As well, XP auto-depositing into my account through banks, trains, and the homeland was auto-pilot mode, too. (No thanks :smiley: )

I’m looking for something out on the map that I physically task villagers to go collect and bring to drop sites :slight_smile: Sorry if I enjoy that menial aspect of AoE, but the management of that is fun for me. But management in terms of gathering and their impact on tech/bldg/units/age-ups, etc. – as well as gathering before the enemy does, protecting them for enemy invasion, and the like.

It’s not that I don’t like doing the four resources in AoE1/2; it’s more that I just wish there was at least a fifth tangible raw material that I have to manage all aspects of. Another layer of interest to the game. Instead of advancing to Castle Age in AoE2 costing, say, 800 food and 200 gold, what’s wrong with adding, say, iron to that mix somehow.

Thanks for the breakdown of all that regarding past games!

Yeah, iron would be a good fifth resource. It could be part of the cost of Swordmen and Knights.

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Humn… in order for it to make sense in the game context, it would be best for that resource to make an appearance in Castle age (or at the vert least exclude dark age).

The way i see it you can think of it in a few ways:

  1. Make it a replacement for gold in the standard gameplay, reserving gold for techs and maybe UU.
    If we think of this in historical terms, Knight fought for gold and used their own weapons, so the King (player) would only pay for him with rations (food) and gold

  2. Add the iron requirement for anything with more than +1 armor.


Since I like gathering gold early on (its gold color is visually appealing, and it’s a mainstay of AoE), I’d far prefer doing something like #2. I like that idea.

Iron could also be a requirement for an upgraded form of cannonballs, and/or a new unit that is heavily reliant upon iron (whether it be seige-oriented, or just a heavily-armoured unit, or more damaging weaponry like stronger swords).

I can’t remember how recent in time AoE4 will get, but in a quick Bing search, it seems cannonballs started off being stone, but were iron by the 17th Century

Maybe making it a requirement for anything gunpowder and either removing their gold cost or heavily reducing it… and for level 3 units, Paladins, Champions…

Or if we wanted to be more radical, create a new “class” of units…

My only issue with this idea is that having units that require 3 types of resource could make it too difficult to use in practice.