Presenting the TwentyGrid-hotkey profile

Ladies and Gentlemen, I hereby proudly present to you the… drummroll


Simply put, it’s the best hotkey-profile out there. Use it, learn it and win more games.


I want people to play with twenty control groups, though so that people can show off some more advanced gameplay.
Making it easier to strike in multiple locations at once whilst luring in five deer, dissolve the space conflict between unit control and building control.
I want to see this game played to the bone and this shall be my contribution to it.

modified grid-layout:

A keyboard-grid layout is definitely the way to go, but the DE-implementation starts of with them for building and build-menues but then badly breaks the pattern by using different hotkeys for “select building” and “select all buildings”.
The grid-pattern of course can’t be done perfectly, because some military buildings compete for the same letters as eco-buildings.
Nevertheless, once can get very close with not too many compromises.
The “select buildings”/“select all buildings”-hotkeys are ctrl/ctrl+shift:
Q barracks, W archery range, E stable, R siege workshop, T dock
A town center, S blacksmith, D market, F monastery, G university
Z mill, X mining camp, C lumber camp, V castle, B krevpost


The qwerty-row is as grid-like as it gets and is very intuitive.
The asdfg-row as well, except for the TC, which had to move there. But having the most important building on ctrl+a seems fitting.
The zxcvb-row might seem very odd.
But notice that mill, mining camp, lumber camp is the same order as the buildings are in the eco-build menu. The castle had to move a step to the right for that, but I’m sure it understands.
No idea where the Krevpost usually is, but it’s fitting right next tothe castle, since it’s a kind of castle.

twenty control groups:

Also I want to publically stake a claim on them here, since HD introduced them in 2.2 and then quickly took them away again, because they probably gave the devs some trouble.
Well, I don’t want them to be taken away from me.

backtick (aka the key to the left of 1)

The keys 6 to 0 are difficult to reach with one hand. Thus even playing with ten control groups is something most players shy away from, because control group 6 to 10 are practically out of reach.
To make this possible I moved the first control groups one key to the left.
Control group 1 is thus at backtick. That’s a bit odd, since now the key 1 corresponds to CG 2, but you get used to that quickly.

localization note

(and before my countrymen tune out)
For all my fellow Germans out there, we of course don’t have space for the silly backtick/tilde, cause us being a serious people need to do lots of scientific measurements all day, thus we have a ^/° next to 1, instead.
I’ll provide a layout for German-QWERTZ tomorrow. I have provided a German Qwertz-version, too. When I get around to it, I might even do AZERTY and Swiss QWERTZ.
Other layouts are mostly similar to the US-one, though this is easy enough to edit with:
If anyone else wants to localize this for their country, before I get around to it, I’ll happily host those as well, so that people can find an UltraGrid-version that works for them.


Everyone’s most favorite shortcut alt+F4 closes the game. However the row F1 to F4 is much more easily accesible than 6 to 10. So I assign the control groups 7 to ten to F1, F2, F3 and F5.
Now F5 seems really stupid. Having to move around the F4-gap. And I agree with that.
So until the devs provide an option to toggle off the Windows-side-alt+F4-shortcut, I recommend using this very simple AHK-script to remap F4 to F5:
insert link, explain each line/add comments, provide upload

Activate it before each DE-session and F4 will be your new best friend.

control groups 11 to 20

Assign to them by ctrl+alt+`12345F1F2F3F5. Now I’ve decided to make those alternative control groups to work a little differently from the control groups 1 to 10.

using control groups 11 to 20

I have completely removed the keybindings for “select” and replaced them with bindings for “select & center”. The reasoning is that the normal “select”-command is good for things like building-groups and the starting TC.

As an example that everyone can probably relate to:
When you are in the middle of pushing in deer, you don’t want to center your TC. If you do the deer you were chasing in the beginning might have already gotten away. But you also have to keep villager production up. So how to do this efficiently? Assign the scout to control group 11 and the TC to group 1. When you are in the middle of a boar lure you can produce more vills, without having your view disrupted. When something distracts you, alt+` brings you back immediately to your scout.

menues/pause/save game/other stuff :

Everything accessible with the left hand alone, of course. No more excuses to be laconic in FFA-Diplo.

notable omissions:

  • appending to CG 11 to 20 and stuff like “select 11 to 20” and “select & center 1 to 10”
    • I don’t want people to stumble over mostly useless functionality, to make this layout easier to learn
  • Map-Grid-triple-toggle (or troggle), I recommend using “Zetnus Grid Mod” instead
  • toggle gametime, no reason to ever turn this off
  • toggle statistics, no reason to ever turn this off
  • toggle extended tooltips, no reason to ever toggle this in-game

how to get it:


the Hotkey-file:

Alternatively get it via:

Get AutoHotKey and the script to be able to properly use control groups 10 and 20.
Otherwise it’s optional.
Alt+F4 can’t kick you of the game, until you hit “yes”, so it’s not a big problem,
if you’re uncomfortable with AHK.
AHK: (get version 2, that’s what I tested with)
download page
Script: (remaping F4 to F5, plus all 7 modified F4-presses to the F5-equivalent):


In the folder “C:\Users[yourUserName]\Games\Age of Empires 2 DE” find the folder named with a very large build-number.
At the moment it’s “76561198351380172”. Not sure if this will stay like that or it’s that for everyody.
Then simply paste TwentyGrid.hki into the profiles-folder.
Start the game and select the layout in Options>Hotkeys>select in “Hotkey Profiles”.

Install AHK and run the script before you start playing. In the bottom right you can exit the script,
once you’re done playing and miss using alt+F4.

If this page should be inaccesible you can always get everything at my GitHub-repo, too:
GitHub - DavidGretzschel/TwentyGrid: The best hotkey-layout for Age of Empires 2.

Modifier-group overview:


nothing set, ugly conflict with building and unit creation;
not sure if this can be changed for the better. I do like the idea of not using modifiers for building-select like in SC2-core (add links), but not sure how to do this without some bad tradeoffs.


create CGs `1…5 (control groups 1 to 6) "…F1, F2, F3, F5 (control groups 7 to 10)
select building according to modified grid


select-centering alternative CGs, `12345 (is cg 11 to 16) F1, F2, F3, F5 (control groups 17 to 20)

q idle vil
w all idle
e idle military
r all visible land military
t all land military

a Normal
s Eco
d Combat
f Flare

z back to last view
x Healthbar triple-toggle
c toggle team colors
v all idle tradecarts


creating alternative cg (control groups 11 to 16) F1, F2, F3 F5 (control groups 17 to 20)

q Menu
w Options
e pause game
r save game

a diplo
s chat
d objectives
f tech tree

z restore zoom level
x buffer for avoiding Toplo-maneuvers
c buffer for avoiding Toplo-maneuvers
V delete unit
b delete all the units, no mercy


append to CGs `1…5 (control groups 1 to 6) "…F1, F2, F3, F5 (control groups 7 to 10)

ctrl + shift:

select all stuff (see modified Grid-layout-notes)
space “select all military buildings” (this is on by default and I dont mind it)

alt + shift:

nothing. I want to get wasd-navigation on it, so I can click things with the mouse and move with the keyboard,
but I run into trouble there (have yet to make a bug report).


does not work as a modifier and I’m very sad about that!

German Qwerty layout. Tested it out. Works as advertised. Z and Y switched. ` switched with ^-deadkey. Which isn’t correctly rendered in the inbuilt viewer nor in the online-app, but it works anyway.

download it from here:!AnW9DTwVxi8MhqsACOQkYvqKPvy-3g?e=fElWzh
on the repo:

or from aok-hotkeys:

Been playing a lot more and adding the new “select all military”-hotkeys that didn’t exist at the time of writing. Some of the things here don’t make as much sense to me, anymore.
Will probably make a new version this year.

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