Questions from a Returning player

Ok I decided to start playing this game now. I played several thousands of AOE2 games 20 years ago back on the zone, then played SC2 only for the last 10 years. So I have forget 95% of how I played AOE2 even though I guess general RTS skills will carry over from SC2.

  1. What are the dominating strats now? Back when I played skimisher wars in feudal age was common even though you could go fast third age as well.
  2. What are the most popular civs now? I mostly played Byzantine, Saraceen (market trading) but sometimes Brit/Teutons or Franks.
  3. At what time should I go to feudal and castle age?
  4. When should I get loom? So much time has gone that I can not even remember if this upgrade existed when I played.
  5. Is walling popular? Back when I played everyone was playing 1v1 Arabia and if I remember correctly it was mostly noobs that did a lot of walling.
  6. At what age does the game usually end?
  7. I am trying to recreate my SC2 hotkey setup but in a AOE2 setting. Is it possible to set up camera location hotkeys?
  8. How many Command Centers (Town Halls?) do you get in the third age before you advance to the fourth age?
  9. How much supply in workers should you have before you max out?
  10. Do you usually hotkey your military units based on army role or do you just hotkey them based on which army they belong to?
    I mean something like infantry on 1, archers on 2, cavalry on 3, siege units on 4 etc?

I’m going to try and answer as vest as I can:

  1. Skirmisher wars are long gone. Popular strategies include:
    Dark age rushes to attack the enemy early and buy yourself some time to go fast castle.
    M@a into archers


You can use this site to keep track of what is popular and what isn’t. Tho you don’t need to only tryhard with the top tier winning/popular civs, since you have a lot of RTS experience random would be better for you to explore all the variety the game has to offer.


Take a look at this to have a rough idea of what is possible, but you don’t need to know all times by heart to start playing.

4.Usually on Arabia you take loom just before clicking feudal age, but if you can also research it if you happen to be accidentally pop capped to keep your TC working. Mayan and Chinese need to research it right at the start. On closed maps such as Arena you are much safer from the enemy so you can skip loom for a while to keep growing your economy.
(and yes loom has always been in AoE2)

  1. Walling is way more popular nowadays, using palissades and houses early, and as the game goes on you can complete your wall with your production buildings. That’s why scouts and drush are so popular, they can strike before the walling is complete. However people don’t transition into stone walls that much, probs because they prefer to keep their stone for TCs and castles. Still a good idea in the late-game.

  2. It depends (answer to a lot of questions in AoE2) Most of the time it’s either in castle age or in imperial age.

  3. I’m not too sure to get what is a “camera location hotkey”. Hotkeys such as “Go to building X” “idle villager” or “idle military” do move your camera around so that the hotkeyed item is in the center of the screen.

8.Then again, it depends. Usually you go to imperial age when your eco gives you enough surplus to pay for it, so you would usually have several of them going into imp, unless using specific strategies in specific conditions.

  1. For a 200 pop game the optimal number of villagers is around 120. You can go over this limit if you don’t have a lot of military yet and delete villagers later.

  2. Both are good ideas, depends if you want several groups harassing the opponent from different angles or if you want to make a more focused assault where you need each unit type to do its role efficiently.

There are multiple strategies:

  • Drushing (make 3 militia in dark age and harrass enemy)
  • Feudal aggression: Scout rush, archer rush, M@A rush (into archers or towers)
  • Fast Castle (fast third age).

The meta tends to be more macro oriented then it was in the past. I also think it is more defensive. Much more walling then back in the past. Also build orders are really a think. I havent really played in the zone, but i have seens some games. They were pretty much full feudal. Now the game is more about getting to the next age.

Balance is pretty good at this stage. We also still get balance changes. Many players (at least at the top) will prefer random in most games on the ladder. Lower rated player much more prefer pick civs. The balance also changes with every (about) monthly update.

Depends on your strategy and civ. CactusSteak2171 already give you a table with perfect up times.

A scout build is mostly 21 pop (20 vills + scout + loom) as up time for feudal. So in this case you will reach feudal at 9:40. For archers or some M@A build you will need a bit more vills, so you arrive at 10.xx in feudal age. Some civs have bonusses, so they can up with less vills and still have the res to pressure opponent.

For FC builds: Many are like 26+2. On maps like Arena you can even skip loom. So you can hit castle age around 15.xx. But if you go for feudal aggression, you will stay a bit longer in feudal. How much longer depends on the game. Dont expect to be in castle age before 20 minutes if you go for some feudal aggression.

If you are bad in luring boars without loom (if you loose vills to this action), then take loom before the lure. Otherwise do it at the end of the dark age. You can now queue techs. So after the last vills in dark age you can queue loom and instant add feudal age in the queue. Since you have experience with RTS, i think you will quickly learn how to lure the boar, so i would advice not to do loom before the lure.

There are some exceptions:

  1. Playing as mayas: They start pop capped. In the time you build the house, you can research loom at the start.
  2. Playing Goths: It research instantly, so you can also start with this tech, so you have it instantly.
  3. On some closed maps you can get away by delaying loom. If i play on Arena, i most likely research loom somewhere in the castle age, since i am sure the enemy cant harrass me before this.
    There might be more expections.

Just, even the pros tend to wall nowadays. It is much more about not getting behind in eco then getting ahead in eco. The game is much more defensive and walling is also part of this. You can also use buildings as walls.

At lower levels you might end games in the early games. But at higher levels, games tend to go on to at least castle age. Dont be surprised if the game goes late game, to post Imp when gold runs out. This also depends a bit on the map. Closed maps tend to go up to higher ages. Open maps can be finished more quickly

I am not really into hotkeys, but you can have a look in the options. You can see all the hotkeys.

Depends on your strategy. In most games you will have 3-4 Town centers. But on some maps you can also go for a fast imp strategy and you go up to the last age very quickly and just use 1 TC. Also there are some 1 TC all in strategies in castle age. In such games you try to win with just 1 TC or loose the game. You most likely dont hit the next age.

And in the end we also have Cumans, who can already build a 2th TC in feudal age and do a feudal boom. You might not want to add even more TCs in that case.

In the end it all depends.

120 out of 200 is a good guide for most civs. If you see you start flowing res, you can always delete some vills. Or if you still lack resoures, then add some more. In the end the most common answer to these kind of questions is: It depends.

Do what you like the most. Both are fine as long as you know what you do.

If you are playing a civ that starts with an extra villager pick it up immediately and if you are playing a generic civ, pick it up before you advance to feudal.

Building 2 extra Town centres is the norm.

It depends, in competitive games either Castle (3) or Imperial age (4). But it may end in feudal if you are really good at rushing.

My method for Imperial age is 1 for unique units, 2 for cavalry, 3 for archers, 4 for Infantry (unless you are playing an infantry civ in which case it is 3) and 5 for Trebuchets. No hotkeys for siege unless you are Celts, Ethiopians or Mongols.

It is recommended if you have plenty of stone if not save up for castles. Palisade walls are occasionally used in Dark (1) or Feudal (2) age. Walling is not recommended for Goths and Cumans.

Flank players should do feudal aggression with Scouts or Archers and pocket players should boom and try to go for knights.

It’s reccomended to do this before you lure the boar as the goths.