Make Dark Age Great Again

I’ll go a bit off-topic since this is something that I think no AoE game has gotten right (except for AoE I). There are several approaches to what a “Dark Age/Age I” should be in an RTS game that’s at least partially based on history:

  • Your initial settlement/TC is the start of a whole new civilization (Sid Meier’s Civ games for example).
  • Your initial settlement/TC is a “branch” of an existing well-established civ (think Spanish colonies in America).
  • Your initial settlement/TC is the continuation of an existing civ that went through an actual Dark Age collapse.

All 3 approaches have their pros and cons. The problem with “historical” RTS like AoE is that unless you go all the way back to the Stone Age, you need to account for existing technologies at the time, like armor, bows, cavalry, etc.

Sci-fi based RTS can just create an imaginary tech tree and we can go along with it, but in AoE restricting cavalry, siege, archers, infantry, etc. to Feudal and up is harder to justify because we know they never went away in warfare.

I would make an RTS that instead of unlocking techs because you are “aging up”, you unlock techs because your settlement establishes more and more complex trade and production (think of a very simplified version of the Anno series gameplay). E.g. The first Spanish colonies in America didn’t have siege because they had no access to rope or a smelter so you need those buildings up first before you can have your first siege workshop and then a trebuchet. Similarly, scouts can become light cav and light cav can be upgraded to heavy cav if needed, provided your settlement has researched heavy armor and such. So in short, you start with a wide array of very simple, basic and unarmored units (sort of a diverse militia), but you can “tech them up” as you progress or combine technologies like light cav and archers to unlock cav archers.

I’m not sure if this would remove this initial period of no action but at least it would have more meaning than “save up 400f - 200g → construct a landmark → magically age up → cavalry magically unlocks”.


Agree, maps need to be smaller and age up times increased.

Unfortunately, Dark Age just isn’t exciting enough, but at least shrinking the map size allows for slightly shorter match length, a big plus for us old people. If we could just scrap DA, we’d be in the best of places for 25 minute average.

Just had a RM against France where i played China.

By 2 minutes i was at his gold with 2 scouts, harassing and idling the vills.

Took him 6 minutes to start aging up instead of 4 minutes.
He was feudel age at 8 minutes instead of 5.

First night show up at my base by 8 minute something instead of 5 minute something.

I had spears ready, and spears at his base, bows underway.

It’s alright if you want to stair at your villagers mate, but i prefer to do actually something in dark age which might win me the game.


As an Abbasid player i totally agree. I can’t even ramrush because people already arrive in the feudal age! meanwhile for getting rams up i could’ve gone feudal age twice.
I’ve also recently made a topic about the dark age.

Abbasid can ram, Mongols have horsemen, English have early manatarms, Rus have the ability to produce many scouts, Delhi priests can heal fast

in AoE2 you rush with militias…

FWIW, I find that Age 1 tends to be the briefest age no matter which of the Age games I’m playing. All I really get to do in it is get my economy started and maybe do a little exploring with my initial Scout. It doesn’t help that a typical game impels you to Age up as soon as you can so that you won’t lag behind the other players and/or AI.

Given how much I like “primitive/tribal” settings in general, it would be nice to have more to do in Age 1. Greater variety in military units at the beginning would be one way to go about it IMO.

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but this gameplay does not worth time

imagine going age up and you research man at arms, and now your group of militia are manatarms, imagine being goths and having anti building bonus. now you can kick ■■■ because the other player can’t do much against it. a goths manatarms spam is very powerful xD

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same ■■■■ for 20 years. sorry, the most boring part is dark age.
EW was fun, but EW was late for an year and now it’s mostly dead.

Although it get some highlights like 200 militia from Viper etc. but same thing through years. MBL playing chess, while in dark age.

and in aoe4 will be the same, if not already the same.

I had forgotten AoE1 locked units behind technologies. It makes so much sense from a game-progression perspective. I wonder why that approach was largely abandoned as more AoE games came out…

I’ve been hoping for quite a while that AoE5 will be set in a similar time period to AoE1. With a largely similar game, based on a modern gaming engine, it could be wickedly awesome.