Make Dark Age Great Again

In Age of Empires 4 the Dark Age is treated as an age to get out of as soon as humanly possible. Any form of aggression is largely avoided, with the exception of the Mongols in some cases. This can make for poor viewing in tournaments; there’s almost no reason to watch what’s going on in the first 5 minutes of games. To put it bluntly, the Dark Age is largely a waste of time.

In contrast, the other ages provide a range of options. In particular, when in the Feudal Age or the Castle Age a strategic decision has to be made: should I stay in this age and continue with aggression, or should I age up to get access to better technologies and units? I think it would be cool if Dark Age were the same. This would expand the breadth of strategy in the game and increase the entertainment value earlier on in matches during tournaments.

Historically, the dark ages were a period of time spanning hundreds of years. They deserve to get better treatment in Age of Empires 4. Hence I propose some ideas to Make Dark Age Great Again!

  1. Increase cost of age up to Feudal Age from 400f+200g to 600f+300g
  2. Make the archery range available to all civilisations in Dark Age
  3. An “Early Archer” unit is available to all civilisations in Dark Age from the archery range. The Early Archer is a weak version of the Archer, with a short range.
  4. A technology upgrade is required to go from Early Archer to Archer, available in the Feudal Age.
    4a. The English are an exception, and automatically upgrade to Long Bow upon age up to Feudal Age.
  5. Mongols remain the only civilisation capable of building a stable in the Dark Age (remember that all civilisations still have access to the Scout).

If done right, I think these changes would open up opportunities for Dark Age warfare, and therefore would get the tempo of games going much faster, much earlier, making for a more entertaining experience for everyone.


great concept but i think that for now they should increase the cost of the age1 landmarks and give bonuses to early troops on dark age , now we are seeing early MAA push at dark age as the english , i wonder if they could do this with other civilizations…

IMO the best way to increase the lenght of the dark age is giving bonuses of exploration , hunt speed , etc…

@SavageEmpire566 , i reccomend giving a look at this topic , dark age its not in the best of its stages and i think that this concept is a good one . Indeed all of these changes can be done with balance so i think you should pass this to the balance team.



I think English are the only civ right now in the game, who provides viable strategy options in Dark Age, and you don’t really need to rush to Feudal (after the recent patches). It makes them fun to play early game, where it’s not micro heavy as Delhi or Rus, but still plenty things to do.
I would wish similar variety for the other civs as well.

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It’s not a waste of time. You scout. Collect sheeps. Plan where you’re gonna expand. Plan which resources you’re gonna deny for your opponent, and which will be easier to protect from your opponent. This fact combined with you giving historical context as an argument makes me think you probably just suck?


in aoe4 DE redbull will host tournament, were changes will be made to speed up the start. oh… you should wait 10 years for that.

PS it’s really ridiculous. how streamers sometimes say “first 5 min nothing happens… so time to tea or pee.”

I remember Dark Age Sacred Sites. Those were fun, I miss those times…


As I know Town Centers and Churches are contemporary. I’d like to have Churches since Feudal Age so Sacred victory would be at that age too. And university in Castle Age with some techs unavalible until Imperial indeed.

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Yeah I agree it would be good to bring back Dark Age Sanctity for Delhi. This would be another great way to improve Dark Age!

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Scouting and collecting sheep could be done in Feudal too. That is to say, we could literally skip straight past Dark Age as it stands now (maybe just start in Feudal with 20 vills). The way things are right now, the high level players get so bored in Dark Age that they go around harassing villagers with scouts, just to keep themselves amused.

Wouldn’t it be better if you could do those other things like scouting and planning, while also starting with some early battles? After all, battling is what Age of Empires is all about. I think so and it sounds like I’m not alone, but of course you’re entitled to disagree. I would just prefer you do so without needlessly insulting me. There’s no need for that. I don’t see why anyone’s skill level would affect the topic of discussion, but by all means look me up and decide for yourself. My gamertag is: mast3r NZ.

That’s not to keep themselves amused. It’s a strategy. Especially for french, which will want to damage as many vils as possible with scouts so the knights can 2 shot before smithy. Do you have a source for high level players being bored in age I? I’m plat too and I’m certainly not bored. But we are not high level, so maybe you can link me where high level players say this

It’s a fair point; I certainly don’t have any evidence and in hindsight I shouldn’t have phrased it that way. I’m reading between the lines while observing the behaviour of high level players in tournaments, and listening to commentary. I’m also drawing from my own experience as a long time Age of Empires player (especially in AoM and AoE3, where Age1 aggression is a non-factor).

I’m sure you’ve seen streams from top players where they spam needless clicks early in games just to keep their hands warm and their APM up. And how often do we see observers during tournaments just follow along with a scout not doing much? If we could have more meaningful battles right from the beginning it would better to watch and better to play, wouldn’t it?

As you say, value can be garnered by using scouts for harassment. I’m suggesting we add more value, and more depth to early-game strategy. If the implementation were done right I don’t see any downsides. Indeed, you haven’t yet suggested any negative consequences, or reasons why you don’t like the idea. As a matter of fact, it isn’t at all clear that you don’t like the ideas I’ve proposed. I’m just guessing you don’t because of the rather negative attitude.

I will always welcome constructive criticism. With a proper discussion we can put the ideas under the microscope and discover if there’s something worth pursuing or if it belongs in the bin. So do please, if you would like, elaborate on how exactly you feel about the ideas.


I like to needlessly click too, and I started doing it in starcraft II. Start-phase is a bit shorter there, but it’s still there. It’s kind of a chill warmup part where I mentally and physically prepare before the insanity begin. I like this period. Maybe from a viewing perspective it would be more interesting if things started earlier, but from a gameplay perspective I dont think so. When it comes to viewing… I think the aoe casters still have some way to go. They could be discussing the map and possibilities and problems it bring. And they can be discussing the players. Or they can just banter. I don’t know how familiar you are to them, but the best casting duo I’ve ever seen is artosis and tasteless. The chemistry and dynamics between them are amazing. They can make any game fun to watch

Dark Ages is not boring at all, it gives you time to find the deer and fruit trees next to you, as well as scout to learn about your opponents. It has so many things to do, you can’t say scouts are useless just because they don’t attack the enemy, the same thing applies to the dark ages. It’s not a conflict-oriented time period, but the information you get through it is the cornerstone that lets you decide where the Feudal and Castle Ages are headed.


I was thinking about this the other day. I think dark ages is missing a unit. There needs to be a counter system in dark so you can have viable fights that aren’t game ending because of the low damage but could leave teams with an advantage going into feudal if they catch the opponent going all in on fast feudal. The counter system could be:

  • Scouts
  • Pikeman
  • Additional unit whether something entirely different that could become useful in later ages (skirmisher), or a special research for villager damage so they can be useful for fighting, or early unarmored men at arms type unit, etc.

Scouts > New Unit > Pikeman > Scouts

TC damage might have to change to scale by age to help as well.


I created a very similar topic in the past and nobody seemed to care. I’ve been saying it all along that aging up should be a way to unlock further techs and not something you simply rush through, as it feels right now.

Historically, the dark ages did not simply delete all the military units coming from the Classical Ages. The Dark Age should give you access to a relatively obsolete but varied army and techs. Archers, militia, light cav… even chariots, ballista and other classical units could be added.


in aoe2 in Dark Age you spend time to place house around ur base. although it still long and mostly useless.
But here it’s worse… just collect 400+200, landmark near the TC (cause protection) and click up.

Other ■■■■ like exploring do not really matter. Can just start game at “explored” position. Because in 5 minutes it will be 100% explored, because scout have no other value.
Imagine how better it would be to give rus a choice: either kill deers or explore map. (can compinsate gold +20 per deer).
if you make start settings: start at feudal with 15 vils + explored map… will be almost the same.

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This! Thank you. Can we at least have a way to upgrade scouts to light cav? If I don’t go for professional scouts, I end up with useless units that I have to kill off to get back pop room. Castle/Imp scouts are useless and don’t throw that whole stealth forest vision at me, it’s mostly a gimmick and outposts are way better at that.

At least make them monk killers or something. Separating scouts from light cav was one of the dumbest decisions made in this game.

As someone who’s never played SC2, the only time I’m ever tempted to watch it is if Artosis and Tasteless are in commentary :grin: It’s definitely something we lack but AoE4 is still very new; it’ll come with time.

Anyway it sounds like you mostly just like things the way they are now so I guess you won’t be tempted with the prospect of more Dark Age play.

Some cool ideas. Maybe they could be used for a new civilasation, to give it a bit more of a classical feel.

Please no more early game rush options. I think the first age should be used for scouting the map, finding resources and learn about the opponent as @Nanshinner said.

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