Mild Steps Towards Real Empire-Building in AoE4?

There are two main directions I would ideally like to see explored more in AoE4 relative to AoE2, though I don’t consider them very likely given what I’ve heard so far. They are (1) more clearly defined towns and (2) some mechanism of town annexation.

Consider the word “Empires” in the series title. To me, an empire means having multiple towns and usually annexing rather than destroying any town whose defending forces you’ve defeated. On the first point, in my experience, most players’ entire territories tend to look like one big village. Obviously, you can have multiple town centers, but it’s not often clear where one town ends and another begins.

On the second point, the defeat of an enemy army doesn’t give you control of their territory, nor does just collapsing certain key buildings, like an original town center or central castle. Once you’ve killed off all hostile units and even razed any means of replenishment, you’re basically left with a bunch of defunct and useless buildings to either ignore or tear down. You’re not left with newfound control of a still functional town and possibly any remaining villagers, nor do you even get a raise in your population limit, for instance (since the enemy won’t be needing his population allotment anymore).

I think you could technically use a monk to convert them one by one, but that would be really tedious.

For a game that seems to pride itself on historical accuracy, these two broad features have always seemed to be the least realistic aspects. As I understand it, the Middle Ages were generally a period when a castle and/or fortified town determined control of an entire region around it, including the more rural infrastructure within. If any part of this “province,” for lack of a better term, was threatened, the local lord would send out troops from his castle to defend it. Take the main castle or hub by either killing or starving the defenders, and the whole area is now yours, including the existing structures and often even the people already living there.

I’ve seen some hints that AoE4 might be taking a step or two in that direction, so I’m eager to see what they come up with. For whatever it’s worth, if it were up to me, here’s how I might do it.

Define a radius around a town center or castle that is under the TC’s or castle’s protection. Maybe give it a default value that can be modified (within reason) by enclosing the desired area in walls. Make it so that if that TC or castle is destroyed by an enemy, every structure (and possibly every civilian unit) within its zone of protection automatically belongs to that enemy. Perhaps tweak the population limit to accommodate the player’s new serfs/vassals, since they’ve likely just acquired some extra housing.

This would likely require some balancing revisions, but something like this would achieve a basic improvement in historical verisimilitude and make the game more fully deliver on the empire-building implied by its title, but at the same time, little if anything else would change, so I don’t think the game would be too fundamentally altered. I welcome other opinions and/or ideas, though! This is mostly just fantasizing with a bit of speculation thrown in!

Much of this may just be my inner Sid Meier talking, but I think there’s at least one game, Rise of Nations, showing that it is possible to marry the overall structure of the AoE series (and thus most or all of the things we love about it) with one or two key enhancements inspired by the likes of the Civ series.


The idea of assimilating acquired territories was something that I really liked about Rise of Nations, so it’s fun to think about how something similar might work in AOE. Personally, I’d like a couple of options, each with its pros and cons. Razing buildings could grant a lot of plunder and guarantee damage against an opponent, allowing for hit and run strategies as a Mongolian player, for instance. On the other hand, capturing cities (or specific buildings?) intact could bring greater economic/strategic benefits, if one is able to maintain a prolonged military presence and resist any attempts to recapture the areas. With this distinction, you could even make razing buildings a function only served by specific raiding units that carry torches. This addition would circumvent the issue of having units with swords being able to take down buildings. Instead, most units would capture buildings in their vicinity by default, not attack them.

Based on the win conditions, though, it seems unlikely that capturing enemy bases will be an option. I think we will just have to destroy a set number of an opponent’s landmarks. If units are not capable of attacking stone walls, it might be the case that the city wall of your opponent remains usable after they are defeated, but that’s probably it. It does make me wonder what happens in team games, though. Once a player loses all of their landmarks, what happens to their remaining buildings and units? Maybe those could be given to the player that destroyed their last landmark?

As far as having more clearly defined towns goes, I’m hoping that the new trading mechanics will encourage players to expand and defend specific points on the map. The images we have seen of neutral markets (and, potentially, a neutral seaport) suggest to me that this might be the case. However, from the little I played of AOE3, I remember the trading posts in that game were also fixed locations, and I don’t remember the separate towns being particularly distinct. So, these locations may not be significant enough to affect how a player chooses to expand. Hard to say, but at least there is some potential for the type of growth you are talking about.

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I liked your idea, in fact, there is little to say like, I loved it, the truth is that the mechanics you are talking about is very interesting, the fact of losing cities is very interesting and would be a great implementation, but, I think it would look better in a spin off of the saga, given the case that the AOE you know it by the fact of building on what you had at the beginning is what you intend, apart from the fact of the Micro that is inside the game and given the case that it is a map Larger, with several cities, it is a problem for the bus since you would have to be everywhere at all times and that would make the game more difficult than it already is and also the fact that the fact of conquering already gives you an advantage very big, because for example, you dominate a rival city and suppose that there were all its resources, it simply cannot reestablish its army because it does not have the economy to do so, but if I would like to see it and a lot in some future game, good idea :blush:

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I like your ideas . Even if this doesn’t make into the game , someone must make a mod if possible that does this .

Since defenses are much stronger than in previous age games , there must be a huge incentive for someone to conquer a town especially in Diplo or FFA’s .Hell , even bring the concept of fealty (cut from AoE2) as an option to turn on in such games . If a player feels that he might lose , he can declare himself a vassel .
This would be more accurate and also encourage players to be active instead of turtling and hiding .


personally, I would not like to have such additions as they make the main gameplay more complicated.

The base age gameplay would probably be quite shaken by such additions, so maybe it could become an own mode (although empire war is already taken now, so that wont be its name)…

Regarding the general change towards wmpires, I think you see that well in the current, classic gameplay already:

the campaigns now seem to span much more time than before, not just following one leader, but multiple generations, so you play the formation of an empire.
The documentary style also strengthens that feel.
However the matches you play in age are merely battles helping to create an empire, they never were about becoming a huge empire in the sense of vasalls etc. So I do not believe they would change gameplay in that direction.
Also the ghost workers help thnking how it took ages to build up the small citys we construct in age.

To conlude, I dont think such empire mechanics would be part of an age game (maybe a spinoff?) at least in the main game, as they would be too complicated.
However they might find their way in as special mdes. After all, kingslayer, battle royale and empre wars all have some specific new rules making the base game more complcated, and these are in :wink:


There was a long time ago a game pretty similiar to AoE - Tzar: the Burden of the Crown. In this game every bulding had anon only hp but certain resistance. Your paesants could take off this resistance and a structure was yours. It was really simple.

We can imagine different ways to implemet “capturing of buldings”, but to be honest, the valor of AoE is simplicity.

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I for one would be quite happy with ideas like mine taking the form of an additional game mode, like Regicide or Empire Wars. It would satisfy people like me while also not ruining things for those who prefer a more classic style.

Hell, even in the Civilization series, where capture and assimilation of cities is a much more central function, just plain razing is presented as an option as well upon each conquest. When you defeat a city garrison, you get a dialog box that basically says, “Keep or raze?” It would be nice to have that same choice in a much more intimate game like Age, though likely not in the form of something as relatively detached as a dialog box.

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I wrote this a while ago but I never posted it:

We all have seen that there will be auto-generated streets around the town centers. Some think it’s only an aesthetic effect while others speculate that you will only be able to create new buildings facing these streets, in order to prevent stuff like house walling and give a more better defined town. If the concept of well-defined towns is exploited, it can lead to mods with more strategic and economic gameplay. How?

Say you build some barracks. It will be associated with the towncenter it’s connected to. Now, if resources are stored inside TCs, these barracks will consume food and gold only from the town it belongs to. Each town would have its own independent economy with its own 4 resources, and you would need to transport them with transport carts and cargo ships.

This, in my opinion, would lead to players fighting for control of space. Your cargo could be attacked and their resources stolen, so players would need to create safe routes. Water would become a safe and fast route if you are able to control it, making it more valuable.

In previous age games, economic attacks took the form of raiding villagers and attacking commercial carts/ships. Now, sieges would become a viable tactic. If you surround an enemy town, you can deprive it from, say, gold and then you would be able to neutralize it even if you can’t destroy it.

Speaking of which, if towns have their own resources and well defined buildings, it could be possible to create an ‘annexation’ mechanics. Real empires didn’t attack enemies just to burn their towns to the ground. Taking their resources and adding enemies to their own rank was a good incentive to raid an enemy town. Now, if you could annex a town by destroying its TC and replacing it for one of your own, you could keep all them resources and even military building. Or, if you don’t think you will be able to defend it, you burn it to the ground before your enemy takes it back.

I know it would be a very different game, that’s why I’m saying it would be nice for a mod.


I am going to add to this idea by taking what AOE 3 had with native allies but incorporate it into a town landscape, where certain areas would have Gaia allied territory to capture/ control for various benefits.

You would start with your town center and build a town, but someone where on the map may be a few of the following options, with vague and changeable qualities.

Armors guild- If allied to this part of the map, gives an armor bonus to heavy armored troops
Trade bazaar/ tournament fair grounds- trickle of coin
Deep well- gives a food trickle
Inn house/ pub- Gives population space and extra population
Hunters lodge- increased LOS and speed on brought terrain to foot troops.
Stone mason hall/ guild- Building HP increased and build time decreased.
Silver smith- cheaper upgrades and coin trickle
Bakery-- makes farms more efficient (food bonus)
Sawmill-- reduce cost of wood buildings
ancient tall tower-- gives extended LOS at tower for map control

Basically little city sites to build upon that spread the empire out for territory control and other strategic bonuses.

Some of these could be closer to others and further apart, and have other permanent techs to research and units to unlock while allied. They may even have a few other buildings to go with them to make them look like little villages and provide multiple bonuses. Some of these things could even have multiple sites such as a town well.

You wouldn’t be able to claim all the map at once, so would have to either rush for sites that may be lesser contested or fight for more important ones. until one controls the dominant part of the map and bonuses snowball for more decisive victories.

I dunno, could be fun!


Sound good, but does it work?
There was a game Spellforce 3. Map is divided in sectors, u have take control of sector by bulid outpost to creat other structures and gather res. Then, if u have a barrack and want make army, but in this sector there is no aal res needed, workers will bring the res from the other sectors. Sound autentic? Yes.

Attention, in the first expansion eco works like in other RTS games. Still there are sectors, but storage of res is “global”. In practice, the previus solution didn`t work. I know that this would be more autentic, but in games like AoE gameplay is more important.

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that sounds to me like stronghold 2 or even warlords mechanics :smiley:
I personally wouldnt like to see that in the ahe series, but as a mod/ special mode-why not

or as a campaing mission, they often had stuff like this in ceertain age 2 missions

As a Mod yes… I have never played those games… LOYAL AOE fan here.

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For real empire building experience I think it’s not possible with AOE4. It has to be open world MMO and being Stronghold like RTS mechanics.

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Apparently, they came really close to a kind of annexation mechanic in the development of AoE2, but it was ultimately scrapped.

Early Features Cut from AoE2
(The relevant segment is from 8:57 to 10:07)

I also like the “forced treaties” feature described immediately before fealty, where you would essentially bribe an enemy into a temporary cease-fire. It would certainly come in handy when I reach that point in a game where the AI just seems bound and determined to keep me on constant defense so I can barely if at all find the time to move those idle miners to a new source of stone, for instance (especially since I often find myself with considerable resource surpluses).