How to get the best out of the AI in custom game

I think most people know by now that the AI is broken, so until they patch it I’d like to share some tips I’ve learned for getting the AI to actually work in a custom game (skirmish). Don’t bother playing the campaigns until they fix the AI, they’re pretty much 100% broken. So, here is what I’ve learned.

  1. Set the AI (and yourself) to teams. If you leave every AI player on the “-” team (also known as no team) they will all attack YOU. They might fight each other when their units arrive at your base, but they will all go right for you. Better to put everybody on a team. Put you and one other AI on team 1, put two other AI’s on team 2, and so on. Or you can play with just 3 AI and each of you can be team 1, 2, 3 and 4.

  2. Never start in the nomad age. The AI performs very poorly on nomad age. Always start in at least the stone age.

  3. Never start with low resources. The AI will probably get their first 3 villagers killed and then unable to recruit more, or they’ll get 1 or 2 of them killed and then each new one they create will keep getting killed, meaning they spend FOREVER in the stone age. Always start with medium resources (500 food) so that the AI can recruit lots of villagers at the start.

  4. Never play on a map with water, not even rivers with shallow crossings. The AI cannot use transport ships, its villagers get really confused on water maps and they have to concentrate their resources and pop limit on both land and water. The AI can barely handle just land on its own, don’t confuse it even more by giving it water as well. I play on Highland or Hill Country map only because they have 0% water.

  5. Keep population limit to 50. I haven’t confirmed this myself but some people have said the AI doesn’t seem to go above 50 pop even when you set the limit to higher than 50. If this is so then don’t give yourself more of an advantage.

So to clarify - Put you and the AI on teams, start in at least the stone age, with at least medium resources, no more than 50 pop, and always play on Highland or Hill Country. The AI is able to function if you play with these settings, and can even give you lots of trouble in the late tool/early bronze age by rushing you with cavalry, swordsmen and catapults.

If anybody else has other tips please share them. Until we get the game fixed all we can do is figure out how to make the AI be somewhat alive (or play multiplayer but I don’t like multiplayer).

I don’t think the AI is 100% broken, but it is flawed. These are indeed excellent tips and they will help the AI for sure, also make sure you have the difficulty setting on Moderate at minimum (preferably Hard) for the AI to do decently.

Rip AI 1997-2018

My guess is that it’s the EXACT same AI that was in the original game. Which is very very dumb. I watched a game between two AIs and they did not go over 50, use the good old “tower around my base” tactic, no drop off points for resources, and very dumb management. I guess this game was somehow rushed, but come on, it’s 2018, AI should be the last thing the players should worry about. Yeah sure PvP is the key, but sometimes you want to beat the computer.

@VM9797 said:
My guess is that it’s the EXACT same AI that was in the original game. Which is very very dumb. I watched a game between two AIs and they did not go over 50, use the good old “tower around my base” tactic, no drop off points for resources, and very dumb management. I guess this game was somehow rushed, but come on, it’s 2018, AI should be the last thing the players should worry about. Yeah sure PvP is the key, but sometimes you want to beat the computer.

AI’s a pretty big deal for me since I don’t enjoy multiplayer in RTS games. Every game is just rushing and using whichever unit is most overpowered in whatever RTS you’re playing (for AoE it’s chariots) and using the cheesiest most OP tactics/exploits around.

Thanks for the advices! I will see how it goes ^^

I agree with the tips… except for tip 1. I want all the AIs to go for me otherwise how else will they have a chance?

I have a tip: Make your own .ai files. The build orders that come with the game are very weak. I have one called CheekyRomanLand that I test against the standard .ai files that come with the game (Roman because it’s a Roman civ AI file, Land because it’s for land only maps, and cheeky because… well its strategy is cheeky. It develops a strong economy early on (strong compared to the other AI files I mean… because it spends all its food on villagers until it gets to the Bronze age. An average human player would destroy it, but this AI is still better than all the others that come with the game) and then it spams towers and gets itself up to the bronze age and then floods swordmen into the enemy base while the enemy AI suicides its units on its towers. Even when it gets hit by enemy Tool units it always seems to have towers up already and the other enemy AI stupidly suicides its army to its towers… and because it didn’t build any military units itself it saves resources and gets up to bronze age sooner. Then it starts building army. Not only that, but because it spends no food on millitary in the Tool Age… it spends its resources on more villagers so even if the other AI manages to kill some of its villagers, before walking off into towers upon towers… it still tends to have more villagers and be stronger economically. The enemy AI tends to do more damage to its own economy by wasting all its millitary units than it does to my AI though).

CheekyRomanLand destroys all the standard AIs on hill country, and has a 100% success rate so far in more than 20 games I’ve tested it in on hill country vs standard AIs

If you like watching AI vs AI battles… create a custom map, generate it as a hill country 2 player sized map… and set the teams so both AIs are allied to you but enemies to each other (in the Diplomacy tap in the scenario editor). Then set yourself to post iron age so that the technology Writing is automatically researched, so you can watch both of their visions. Then set the .ai file to one of the ones that come for the game for one AI, and set the AI file to the one you created for the other AI. This way you can test your own AI scripts vs the standard ones.

Because map generations have luck to them, don’t just test it once (if you have the patience and enjoy watching the AIs fight each other)… after there is a victor, regenerate the map and test it again. Allow them to have rematches.

As a final note, if you don’t like your starting town center and three villagers taking up space, remove them from the map and place a tower in one of the map corner towers, out of the way of the play field.

And good luck testing your .ai files until you can get them to consistently defeat the default AI.

You can also customize .per files… but I always found that the default personality was strong and I’ve found custom made ones on the internet but it barely seems to make much of a difference. It’s just about how the enemy attacks with its units mostly. The default.per seems fine, as does the random.per (which is new to AOE1 DE)… the super aggressive.per is probably my favorite because then the AI is more likely to attack you more often.

If anyone out there knows how to make a .per file that’s any better than the standard .per files I’d love to hear about it. I mostly just find that the standard build orders are weak so I make those myself.

I made 8 AI files and the one I mentioned not only defeats all the standard AIs every time, on hill country 1v1, but it defeats all my other AI files too. And even the worst of them can beat the standard AIs sometimes. And on average most of them tend to win like 70% of the time vs the standard AI.

Although there are a few standard AI scripts that seem to be rather strong (just not quite the level of that one AI file I made)…the “Shang Cavalry”.ai file is a good one on Hill Country. Make sure you give them the Shang civ though!

If you’re even half decent at the game, you’ll still destroy it and be like “Well, that wasn’t very impressive”… but just try having it battle against the other AI files. The Shang is pretty decent compared to most of the other land map .ai files that come with the game. Also, Shang tends to be a great civ for the AI… because the villagers are cheaper so they tend to get stuck in the Stone age less. The Roman civ is great for AIs too… not only because of the available tower spam strategy that I mentioned above, because Roman towers are half price, but also because all buildings cost less wood so that also helps the AI get stuck less. So there’s another tip… the strongest civs for the AI are Shang and Roman. Failing that I’d pick Assyrian and Yamato for the faster villagers, Persian for the faster hunting, and Phonetician for the more efficent woodcutting. Basically, any civ with an eco bonus helps the AI at least a little bit. The babylonian stone bonus and the egyptian gold bonus don’t help the AI much as those resources are far less relevant to avoiding getting stuck, and wood and food are the most important resources to get an economy rolling. Also the AI tends to do this silly thing where it sometimes collects gold and stone in the Stone Age, so the AI often has more gold and stone that it needs early on anyways.

For this case you can set the same team for all AI players, but when you want a FFA with AI players (or for certain scenarios) than you don’t have an option for that, because of the current AI behavior^^ But there is in the PER the possibility, that the AI players don’t attack only the player with the most points. So maybe such an PER would do the trick (I don’t know, if it works)