New Hardest AI—Did the Devs Forget About Masteries?

I’m a pretty casual player but have been able to make it to level 14 with a number of civilizations (English, French, HRE) recently. I made the joke seeing that the Hardest AI level was going to improve in the next update that I should hurry up and get to level 15 before the update.

Well I wasn’t sure when the update landed and tried for level 15 (1v1 vs Hardest AI) and I got absolutely clobbered in the first 6 minutes. It wasn’t even fun. I resigned for the first time ever and looked at their setup. They had three armies: 1 attacking me (recently reinforced), another reinforcement on the way and an army at home. How am I ever supposed to beat that?

I saw in another thread that the AI now cheats, which I completely disagree with. If this level is to stay, I agree is should move to Insane.

What I wanted to add to the conversation is that the Mastery aspect of AOE:IV should either be adjusted if the new AI is not moved to Insane, or the highest level needs to be a different challenge.

No one is going to be able to complete Level 15 Mastery anymore because of this change.

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step 1 water map
step 2 build wonder

It is extremely trivial to complete the mastery.

Set map to explored, set resources to max, start the game and immediately build production buildings, spam whatever melee/siege units you want and A-move them to the enemy base.

I had the same thoughts as you, but it came out that the way I play them still works.
Water map, max resssources, 4th age, immediately build wonder and then castles along the whole coast. The only difference from earlier is now, that you should fasten up building the castles because the first strike seems to come earlier. As soon as the whole coast is fortified, the AI wont even try to attack really.

If you want to play a “real” match, again start with max ressources, so the AI doesnt have any advantage by harvesting faster.

No worries need to be had: Age of Empires IV - Season Four Update Preview 6.0.878 - Age of Empires