State of the AoE4 AI - December 2023

Greetings Ladies & Sires,

I’ve observed the behaviour of the AI after the Sultans Ascend major update and took enough notes to be able to write about it. Furthermore, I feel the urgency of doing this after witnessing its current status.
It’s not good, sadly… :disappointed:

This in the perspective of a 2 years release. There have been updates, important ones as well, but clearly there still are big issues in this department and I don’t think there’s much attention to it. The AI isn’t useless, it can be a challenge for less experienced player, but we’re far from that “deep learning definitive-challenge AI” that was anticipated… It’s fun but you can’t look too closely to it.

Beware, it’s a long one! :warning:

But first a few requests to the Devs.

Unambiguous Naming

Give more identifiable names to the AI players, at least something on the lines of “civ_name # A.I. difficulty”, exempli gratia “Chinese 2 A.I. Outrageous”, to keep the closest to the current formula. Maybe “Outrageous Chinese A.I. 2” sounds better. Still a mouthful.

Choosing randomly from 8 (at least) historical leader names for every Civilization would be ideal, followed by the difficulty in brackets, like “Genghis Khan (Hardest)”. This would also be in line with AoE tradition, so why not?

(Please add little Civ flags near player names.) - Thank you! :smiley:


Teach the AI to request and send Tributes to AI and human players alike.


Have the AI drop the ball instead of dragging the game on. Provide at least some base scenarios like:

  • Surrender when, in team games, you’re the last “alive” and there’s too big a difference in the teams scores.
    Being alive means having an economy and some production going on.
  • Surrender when, not in team games, you loose all Villagers, TCs and don’t have a significant army for one last desperate attack. If the attack fails, surrender. Especially for matches without Landmarks Victory.

Commands and Communication with other players

AI commands and other interaction with human players. With the right human, this could simplify the decision making. I noticed the AI reacts to the pings but that’s very basic.

I will report and discuss the issues I’ve found, not excluding the possibility of others I haven’t noticed. I’ve observed mainly the Hardest AI, some of the cheating ones too at first.

About the testing method

There’s currently no way to have the AI play in your stead, like it is in AoE2, so my presence as a player was mandatory. I used 2 work-arounds:

  • Side with one team, hide a unit in every allied capital TC and one in up to a couple Outpost in safe positions in corner of the map, or around the border. Then, since the AI no longer repair allied buildings, I torched my own TC with the this is fine cheat code (make it quick seemed to cause crashes). This minimised my presence.
  • Don’t side with any team, delete all starting units and use the anti-poke cheat code. The AI almost always ignored me, acknowledging I wasn’t a threat (had an insignificant score). This prevented a Landmark Victory but I could always check the replays to see when a player had actually won, if relevant.

In any case, after that I used another cup and let the game go on its own while I did other stuff. After the matches ended (or I terminated them because they were way too long) I analysed the replays, looking for interesting stuff.


In these games the AI is actually decent but not for its own merit. 1v1s are the simplest scenario, no team mates and only one opponent, also games tend to be much shorter. Hence, some of the AI’s deficiencies are mostly negligible.

The AI follows the same pattern: quickly ages up to Feudal, starts training troops and attacks when has enough while at the same time starts expanding with TCs to some degree, then ages up, and it sorts of repeats. This obviously if let be. Strategies like Fast Castle or Imperial don’t happen unless there are high starting resources.

That said the AI is good enough to keep the enemy under pressure as it will always prioritise training troops and attacking. This combined with a big economy, since it aims for at least 100 Villagers, is what makes it dangerous, despite the recklessness and inefficiencies.

Team Games

Sometimes last way too long, even 2v2. I saw even 10 hours games, along with several longer than 5. At best team games last between 1-2 hours.

The AI is much better at defending its allies than coordinating with them for an overwhelming attack, although it’s worse than before at recovering. Fights attract the AI players but that’s not enough to make serious coordination. Usually a team mate starts the attack and then others comes to help after the notification pops up, there’s no synchronised flanking or similar tactics, when attacks happen together it appears as just a coincidence.

Beside aiding allies under attack and protecting Wonders, the AI doesn’t seem to cooperate much. Fortification is individual (although sometimes I saw AI players put some in allied bases), I have no proof of exchanging resources (but could argue that doesn’t happen) and again I can’t see a pattern in the attacks other than following the “Ally under attack” notifications.

There has to be a whole other layer of cooperation for team games to really be so for the AI.


With 3 players usually the duration is decent, already with 4 it easily gets hours long. The issue is that AI players don’t know how to deal finishing blows for Landmarks Victory, can’t turtle effectively for a Wonder Victory or get hooked on quarrelling over the same 1 or 2 Sacred Sites. I noticed it did a lot of contesting a Sacred Site then moving to attack an enemy base, rarely accomplishing anything.

The AI should learn that the FFA world is very dangerous! Spread and protect the Landmarks, expand towards the border of the map and change its strategy. Many preset matches feature FFAs but there’s no dedicated logic.

Water Maps

As a general rule, the AI can’t play Water Maps effectively. This deserves to be its own matter.

Most of the times the first player or team to conquer all the Sacred Sites wins, possibly after a bit of contest. Wonder Victory can also happen. Landmark Victory is almost impossible, in an Archipelago 2v2 with Landmarks Victory the match endured 20 hours before I stopped it. The AI was completely stuck.

The reason Sacred Sites are by far the most common Victory is because the AI is, as a rule, bad at transporting units across the water. Since ships can’t contest the Sites (maybe they can if Sites are on the coast but still I highly doubt the AI could do it) the AI can’t react properly and loses. It usually has to face defences around the Sites as well.

In the late game, the AI gets extremely bugged. When reaching the Imperial Age, it basically stops moving troops, no more Transport Ships, and focuses solely on Warships confrontation, eventually stopping even that and keeping its fleet in dock, idle. Sometimes an AI player loses all of its Docks and doesn’t rebuild others again, effectively giving up the water (with wood still present, let me point out, so it’s not a lack of resources). Land armies stand idle near the coast, same as the fleet. With these premises it’s clear why a Landmarks Victory gets impossible at some point and why a Wonder Victory is usually a safe bet. Only a Wonder inconveniently placed near the coast would be endangered.

The AI needs to be much better at transporting units with ships, defending its water economy, invest much more on Docks and coastal defences, create useful colonies and to not eventually bug out.

A Broken Hybrid Map: Thickets
Probably due to some bug, the AI goes crazy on that map. The AI kind of treats it like a water map, fortifying the coast and establishing awful (3 Gold/Wood) “sea” trade rather than a much more profitable land one. It’s very active in the lake in the early and mid game, getting bugged with passive land armies and Warship battles in the late. Can’t pursue Sacred Victory because apparently can’t detect the central island. If the game doesn’t end in the mid term (usually doesn’t) the only way to conclude it is with a Wonder. Land armies moving to destroy the enemy Wonder usually get melted by the coastal defences on the lake they move along of.


By an AI defined as Hardest, I expect top-notch multitasking, even superhuman, and that doesn’t happen. In many occasions the AI seemed very distracted. This is also an abstract way of saying that there are certain things the AI could do but doesn’t, for reasons that go even beyond APMs and priorities.

Slow Reactions
So slow sometimes! Reaction to incoming damage to moving armies, burning buildings… I cover these things later as they’ve been matter on changes in the last patch.

Fishing Boats
Unresponsive to endangered Fishing Boats, these will often just stand there if there isn’t space in a nearby Dock. I’ve seen AI Fishing Boats ignoring completely an enemy Dock defensive fire, tried fishing right in its range and sank.


It may happen that the AI ignores free Relics entirely, focusing on aggression instead. It shouldn’t have problems in tasking even just a single Monk in collecting them all, especially if it has more than one and the space to fit all the Relics.

Doesn’t retrieve the Relics from eliminated players, an easy task. The victor could make sure all Relics are released once the opponent is eliminated.

Doesn’t reassign Relics in possession, relevant for the Chinese (Pagodas), HRE (Defences & Docks) and Byzantine (Grand Winery).

Victory conditions

The AI doesn’t seem to care much for those, I had a Wonder FFA where it obstinately refused to build one, going for Annihilation instead. Not focused enough on the win. Has a natural tendency to the Landmark Victory, but not too much, since it often fails at sniping Landmarks.

Sacred Sites

Awful at contesting and capturing Sacred Sites, usually it sends a big army to a Site, even if undefended, and then moves towards an enemy base, not always bothering to take the Site first. It wouldn’t take much to leave a Monk behind for a minute or sending one in, though the AI doesn’t do it readily. It fails at considering the right objective, or at the very least isn’t flexible enough with its unit management to do it effectively. Also, It wouldn’t take much to have just a Scout contest a undefended Sacred Site. Another silly thing is how it focuses on 1 or 2 Sites leaving the other(s) be, even if extremely safe. Just send a Monk and take it already! It’s free Gold if anything…

It appears to be less prone to fortifying the Sites than previous versions, but usually does to a certain degree. Unfortunately sometimes builds too far and on the wrong side, not covering the Site itself.

It ignores Sacred Sites entirely when they’re not a Victory Condition, loosing the chance of a passive Gold income. This is less impactful since the Sites Gold generation was nerfed but this behaviour has always been present, leaving Sacred Sites for the human players taking.


Can build a second one right after the first is destroyed (and keep trying), or not build any at all for a whole hours long game.

Random and Usually Bad Placement
Doesn’t know how to properly place the Wonder, ignores already built defences. Saw it placing one on the front of the base, although kind of near the border of the map, instead of a way better place amongst 4 allied Keeps. A particularly bad example of Wonder placement was when I witnessed an AI player placing its Wonder over its right ridge on Turtle Ridge. This also made me suppose that the AI uses distance in a beeline, not pathfinding, when placing a Wonder (and probably any building). The enemy destroyed the Wonder before its owner forces could reach it.

Defending the Wonder
In the past, the AI used to fall in the trap of only protecting the Wonder, leaving its base open to Landmark sniping. As of now, that doesn’t happen anymore and the AI is even capable of keeping an offensive going. Maybe too much though. Undefended Wonders are common enough to lead to a big waste of resources, when combined with horrible placement (front of base, slightly flank, why not…?).

To rub it in, defence works are rarely on point. Sometimes, there’s not a single Outpost around; other times, you get a couple of Keeps but without guarantee of ideal placement though, at times they get built those few tiles too far to be useful.

Bad Routing to Enemy Wonders
Even though the AI it’s good at scouting, it never, to my knowledge, pursues the path of least resistance when targeting enemy Wonders. This is the main issue it has when dealing with them. AI armies can, and often do, encounter an enemy base and attack it, with all of its defences, when they could and should avoid it to reach the Wonder directly. Again, the good scouting the AI makes allows for a better planning of the route to the Wonder-ful target.

Battle Behaviour & Unit Management

This is the most noticeable subject. Regrettably, there are still a lot of deficiencies like passiveness, from occasionally but needlessly reforming formations while in battle or idling completely (especially siege units), or
inconsistent behaviour, from “cowardice” (retreating way too early) to heedlessly charging in under multiple Keeps without siege units (that may come on their own a minute later…). I witnessed ridiculous things like Trebuchets strolling by an enemy Keep and getting exploded by it. It got depressing after a while :frowning_face:. Often enough, the AI looks like a panicking bronze player when managing troops.

Suicidal and Unfocused Raiding
When attacking the enemy base, the AI has an habit of running around under TC fire trying to kill things, especially Sheep (it hates Sheep), and even Ramz can fail to focus the TC and other defensive buildings. After that, Houses or Mills (to name a couple) can get more attention than production buildings or, more importantly, landmarks. The positive thing is that it’s actually idling someone, though there are better ways to do it.

Unafraid of Defences
It’s generally too careless of the enemy defences fire. Doesn’t stand off and wait for siege units to do their work, all-ins even when it has Trebuchets. May even have Bombards destroy a useless Mining Camp before the Keep that’s firing on the troops. There’s no such thing as priority.

They got Keep, I got Torch!
Attacks Keeps with infantry armies, even mostly comprised of ranged units, with no second thought. The funniest thing is that it eventually wins. That says a lot on the AI recklessness and the effectiveness of Keeps. They should build a few Rams and enter them.

No Walls, No Rams
It’s not exactly like that but Rams (and Cheirosiphons) are very rare. Considering how Rams have changed (and how humans love/loathe them) AI players should learn to use them more often, in particular when they have bonuses.

Doesn’t Drush
Some Civs have an innate talent for Dark Age Rushes, the AI completely ignores that. There should be a chance for the AI to carry out a drush, more so with those certain Civs.

Misses Raiding Opportunities
Often is so focused on hitting the enemy base, non necessarily successfully, that lets happy communities of enemy Villagers scattered around the map… happy. Should be capable of mustering raiding parties and hit those idyllic farming villages or trade routes. They get always scouted and are easy targets.

No Forward Bases
The AI doesn’t build forward bases to keep the pressure up, its armies always come from and return to the main base. Should known when and how to do it, could unlock a constant flow of reinforcement.

The French may happen to do it by accident if they place a Keep somewhere near an enemy base, as they will try to exploit their recruitment bonus.

No Aggressive Fortification
Kind of linked to the previous point, this could be a debatable one, but personally I expect the most intelligent AI to be capable of carrying out a strategy like this, if it sees it fit. Tower rushing, permanent siege with Outpost and/or walls enclosure or just a strong point to keep a foothold.

Relics in Battle
Sometimes the AI brings Relics in battle but it never ever even attempts at Conversion. Evidently the Monks carrying the Relics are inadvertently included in that army before they could deliver it. Relic carrying Monks should be prevented from being included in an army, unless there’s an idea of using Relics for Conversion, but the AI as to learn that beforehand.

Passive Siege Units
Not rarely, siege units will stand idle in the heat of battle. Other times, most often in an enemy base, they will pack-unpack-pack-unpack-pack-unpack… and so on, without attacking.

Siege Units don’t Actually Try to Outrange Defences
I saw them retreating at times, but usually never enough. Anyway, it matters little when the rest of your army is running in to get a boiling oil shower.

Siege Units Never Repaired in the Field
Instead of campaigning on until they break, sometimes siege units could get fixed by Villagers, before going up to the base (where they can actually get repaired).

Siege Units don’t Deploy by Default
When armies stop, their siege doesn’t deploy, with the result of not being able to fire until attacked (or not fire at all).

Rarely gets stuck on Sacred Sites and doesn’t react to attacks on the main base.


The AI is quite good at keeping an eye on the enemy base, but Scouts don’t follow enemy armies for interception or anything like that. In general I don’t believe there’s much consequence to what is being scouted, e.g. if a trade route, a lonely Monk or a TC is found, nothing happens.

Early Scouting
At the beginning, the Scout doesn’t make a full circle around the base to find the nearest Sheep and re-explores too much.

When looking for Sheep, if they get “spooked” by other Scouts, they can explore the same area again, instead of looking somewhere new.

Missed Sheep
They don’t always pick up Sheep in their LoS. If that’s what they’re looking for, they should!

Sheep Handover
AI doesn’t make Sheep handover between Scouts, it could help with the risk of losing them exploring the enemy base.

What you even came back for??
I witnessed Scouts get back to their base with 1-2 Sheep but they didn’t drop them off.

Foolish Scouts
Sometimes they get waaay to close to enemy armies. And die.

They can get too close to enemy defensive buildings even after Spyglass is researched. And die.

Unprofessional Scouts
The AI doesn’t Professional Scouts, rather runs Villagers out to the Deer (and then farms there). Surely the AI hasn’t multitasking problems with retrieving Deer with Scouts every now and then.

Late Game

Useless & Idle Villagers
Doesn’t have an efficient economic strategy for the late game, when resources are either depleted or inaccessible. Even if it does have one, the result is dozens of idle villagers kept there wasting population space. Should learn when its best to delete some of them, if they are useless. Also, should focus on heavy farming and especially trading, where possible.

Victory Strategy
Happens to get stuck in chasing only one Victory Condition, be it Landmarks, Sacred or Wonder, though the latter is harder to tell. This often results in very long stalemates, resolved only by sums of coincidences. The AI should be more flexible in pursuing various Victory Conditions, even at once, recognising when one isn’t taking anywhere at that moment.

Building Placement

Base Building
While it appears the AI does have a general idea of where the front of its base is, it isn’t consistent in the placement of its building. It has little concern where specific buildings are placed and many special ones are handled with the normal behaviour, thus wasting or limiting their bonuses. It’s usually compact and defensible, buildings tend to be grouped together but it lacks a bigger view, a real plan.

The most awkward placement choices are the Landmarks ones. They don’t seem to receive special consideration, can be placed on the front of the base, even if they’re economic (e.g. Grand Winery or Twin Minaret Medrese), or far far away (e.g. Palace of Swabia, King’s Palace or again Twin Minaret Medrese). Landmarks should be treated differently from normal buildings, accordingly to their possible special function, and placed in more defensible positions, when possible.

Useless Economic Buildings
Something that prevents the AI from achievement optimal base building is not knowing when it’s best to delete the useless economic buildings to free up space. This is particularly relevant in the case of Lumber Camps as several are made per woodline, taking up a lot of space, leading to debatable building placement, even affecting good Wonder placement. Inactive economic buildings could be considered as free space when trying to place a building, and deleted when the decision is made. A special check is needed for the Chinese, as they have to consider uncollected Taxes.

Safe TCs
Building TCs on resources around the map makes sense in the early to mid game, but when those are depleted the new ones should be mostly kept in the main base, with no more than a couple for backup. Relates to farming as well.


I noticed a tendency at getting housed in the transition to the Feudal Age.

Anyway, the AI is too strict on where to place Houses. Building in the base is not always possible but the AI forces it. This could also mean more time walking. Houses needed in a pinch should be placed the nearest to the tasked Villager.


Normally isn’t very good at it, never makes more than one Market so can’t properly trade boom. Trade routes are rarely optimal and many Civ specific bonuses are ignored (like Malians’, French’s, Mongols’). Even when lacking in Gold income there isn’t always a good response of training more Traders. Sometimes the AI seems to forget to rebuild the destroyed Market and all Trader go idle indefinitely.


Usually it’s pretty good but considering how easy it is to place farms for a human player, the AI ones should be mostly perfect. The bigger problems are another 2 though, linked together.

Isolated Farmlands
When collecting food around the map the AI places Mills, in the right places. Although in the late game, it uses those far and away Mills to farm, leaving farmers extremely vulnerable and even risking falling in a efficiency trap if the Mill is destroyed, as the farmer will keep farming there and going back and forth to the nearest (but hardly close) Mill/TC. A behaviour best to be avoided.

Lack of Dedicated Space for Farmlands
The AI avoids building new Mills for farming and uses the existing ones and TC as written above. A sounder tactic would be planning safe zones in the main base where to place extensive farmlands in the late game. Now it relies in building new TCs in basically random location and putting farms around it. Without TCs, there’s no farming. Actually it does make Mills near Farms, but it’s very rare.

The only exception are the English, they always keep one Mill in the base (and only one) to correctly exploit the farming bonus.

Farms built around unusable drop-off buildings
Happens in 2 cases: incomplete TCs or destroyed drop-off Landmark.

Sometimes the AI places a new TC, probably just for farming, and starts farming around it before it’s completed, causing long distance farming, not necessarily for a short while, since TC builders can be scattered by attackers and the completion suspended indefinitely.

In the second case, it’s usually worse. Repairing a destroyed Landmark takes a lot of time with only 2 Villagers (the AI never tasks more) and there’s no guarantee it gets through. The AI makes the mistake of not prioritizing the repair of the drop-off building, or doesn’t care for its existence in general.


The AI doesn’t have an effective strategy for recovering from base destruction. This is in the scope of Team and FFA games, notably those without Landmarks Victory.

The AI doesn’t prioritize the safety of its remaining Villagers, instead focuses on creating an army if it has production available. Although not completely wrong it misses the idea of laying low and recovering. The AI should try to restart the Villager production as soon as possible, building a new and hidden TC and/or attempting to restore the capital one. Not having flexibility with farming makes recovering even harder, complicated by the fact that AI team mates won’t help with resources or repairs.

Generally behaves like a headless chicken, Villagers run around aimlessly or freeze on trivial stuff.

For instance, there was a Ottoman AI player left with 1 Villager. It had a Relic in a Mosque and a Market but all that Villager did was standing idle full of food, gathered from a Sheep, that she couldn’t drop off anymore. She should have repaired the Capital TC with wood acquired through Relic and Market. If she did that the AI player would’ve had a good chance of coming back, since it had several Military Schools still standing.

There’s a whole array of dysfunctional behaviours that hinder a successful recovery (ill-spending Wood, not re/building TCs first, not building drop-off buildings, going in dangerous areas…).

Doesn’t Migrate / No Backup Base
Although with the Landmarks system migrating can never be forever, in team games building a new base near an ally could turn the tides of the game. The AI should learn this, create a fully fledged base in a safe place from which restart production, before trying hard to rebuild the original one.

Forever Halted Repairs
Can happen that the repair of Landmarks isn’t resumed after a failed attempt (tasked Villagers died or Wood ended). This can be fatal.


Excessively Delayed Textiles
The AI usually gets this tech very late in the game, after its done producing Villagers and despite losing many of them in attacks. I get delaying the tech but this is borderline nonsense.


Civilization Specific Notes

I gathered notes on things that regard aspects exclusive to Civs.

For a summary, there are a few recurrent issues:

  • Active Abilities are not used.
  • Landmarks are not exploited to the maximum.
  • There’s no special consideration for some Civ bonuses that should override common behaviours.
  • Easily fails at optimal base building when required.

The AI is bad Civ player, for most Civs.


  • Sometimes does long distance Gold mining in the Dark Age.
  • Aqueducts aren’t always the shortest possible and don’t try to connect the nearest points of 2 Cisterns, relative to each other, but the South-East side. Sometimes the connection fails and the AI doesn’t react to it. On the opposite, following several destructions the network can get a bit complicated.
  • Doesn’t use Akritoi Defence.
  • Saw the Grand Winery built on second Berries or Deer. Risky.
  • Doesn’t take full advantage of the Border Settlements technology.
  • Doesn’t use Triumph, Trample, Shield Wall or swaps weapons on the Varangian Guards.
  • May be the only Civ that delete useless Lumber/Mining Camps, supposedly to make room for the Aqueducts and Cistern.
  • Eager to use mercenaries but may end up rallying troops from a Trade Post on the other side of the map.
  • Should be making more Cheirosiphons, are quite the rare sight. Wastes Palatine School potential.
  • Could double layer Farms around the Grand Winery, making sure for Cistern coverage.
  • Not too keen on making Greek Fire Trebuchets.
  • The Foreign Engineering Company seems to be fairly rarer than the Palatine Schools.


  • Can’t use the Shinobi properly, fails camouflaging and is often sent in suicide missions.
  • Never combines the Kura Storehouse with double TC for the farming bonus. Not mandatory but a good tactic to be considered.
  • Builds Farmhouses near Food sources even if doesn’t need to, when housed.
  • Can put the wrong type of Bannerman in an attacking army, like a Yumi Bannerman with 8 Samurai.
  • Sometimes stops training Shinobi (for the better?).
  • Happened to bring Yorishiro in battle, probably in the same way Relics are brought.
  • Buddhist Monks aren’t very proactively debuffing enemy units.
  • I witnessed a Shinto Priest stuck trying to put a Yorishiro in a University and a Farm, went into a loop and no other Yorishiro was placed.

Abbassid Dynasty

  • House of Wisdom placement and base building for the Golden Age doesn’t show much wisdom.
  • When building the Economic Wing, Fertile Crescent isn’t gotten right away, wasting resources.
  • Even after Fertile Crescent is researched, there no big expansion going on. The AI doesn’t spam cheaper Houses to increase the Golden Age level early, no double or triple TC. I’ve seen Abbassid AI players that didn’t go for the Economic Wing expand earlier than those who did. I developed the feeling that for some obscure reason the Abbassids expand later than the other Civs.
  • Doesn’t research Fresh Foodstuffs easily, even if it has several TCs. The AI gets it eventually but way too late. It hit its Villager cap before doing that, it’s silly at best.
  • The Imams don’t use Conversion after researching Proselytization.
  • After researching Grand Bazaar, the secondary resource is always Food, never Wood, even when it lacks.


  • Desert Raiders only use Melee mode.
  • Tower of the Sultan is too hesitant and wastes time moving back and forth, which is bad since it’s so slow. May be related to the siege units defence behaviour.
  • Doesn’t use the Siege Carpentry active ability.
  • Doesn’t maximise the Golden Age level, never saw more than level 4.
  • Doesn’t use the fire attack on the Manjaniq.
  • Never saw the AI making the Trade Wing with Advisors.


  • Can’t use Supervision, Imperial Official are merely for Tax collection and in the late game are sometimes kept in garrison.
  • Uses the TCs as drop-off instead of economy buildings, losing on Taxes. Farms around TCs first, rather than Mills, with the usual behaviour.
  • Doesn’t properly exploits the Imperial Academy Influence.
  • Granaries are often exposed, placed like Mills.
  • Builds multiple Pagodas but doesn’t store Relics in them, even if Monasteries are destroyed.
  • In practice, can’t unlock the Ming Dynasty, because it never builds walls and doesn’t build a segment with the purpose of building the Great Wall Gatehouse. So, the AI stops at the Yuan Dynasty.
  • Doesn’t research Dynasty techs at the Spirit Way.
  • Doesn’t use Imperial Spies at the Imperial Palace.
  • Researches Pyrotechnics but doesn’t make Handcannoneers, prefers Zhuge Nu by a long shot.

Zhu Xi’s Legacy

  • There isn’t an optimised use of Taxation and Supervision with the initial Imperial Official, as expected.
  • Meditation Gardens placement seems random.
  • Shaolin Monks don’t use Body of Iron.
  • (The Temple of the Sun is always on Divine Haste.) - No more.
  • Regarding Zhu Xi’s Library, the vastly more picked techs are Advanced Administration (right away when built) and 10’000 Bolts. Other techs can happen but definitely more rarely. I’ve seen Yuan Raiders and Imperial Guards in action.


  • Builds an in-base Market even if it has the Chamber of Commerce, like it hasn’t one.
  • Doesn’t usually take full advantage of the Royal Institute to get those Imperial Age techs early. Can research the unique techs in normal buildings instead of the Royal Institute, giving up the 30% discount.
  • Never researches Merchant Guilds and never toggle Traders to different resources.
  • Builds the Guild Hall but doesn’t use it, which is particularly sad since it’s the most picked Castle Age Landmark. Always on Food but never collected.
  • Royal Cannons don’t use Artillery Shot.

Jeanne d’Arc

  • Keeps a Villager idle in the beginning of the game (around 30 seconds).
  • Peasant Jeanne isn’t prioritised when constructing buildings.
  • The Constructing the Kingdom bonus isn’t exploited when Jeanne is idle in the base.
  • Doesn’t use Return of the Saint, even with plenty of Gold available.
  • Uses Divine Arrow as much as she can but never Holy Wrath.
  • Doesn’t use the Rally Call ability often, there seems to be only a window when Jeanne is in her base, outside of that it’s not used. She should use it basically on cooldown, as it’s free resources, and also when in an enemy base, to reinforce.
  • Jeanne is moderately suicidal, her ranged version doesn’t kite. Seen facing large groups of enemy by herself, getting defeated.
  • Doesn’t train Companions from Keeps.
  • Doesn’t use Valorous Inspiration. Never chooses Field Commander either.

Holy Roman Empire

  • Relics are often placed in Monasteries, even though there’s a certain preference for the early Outposts. There’s a definite lack of assessment of what defensive structure could be the best suited to host a Relic. Furthermore, Relics are not moved again until the building holding them is destroyed.
  • The Aachen Chapel placement leaves to be desired, both in aspect of economy and defence. Seems casual. Also, where’s that 48 Farms Aachen?!?
  • Making the Meinwerk Palace doesn’t stop the AI from making, and using, a Blacksmith.
  • Builds the Burgrave Palace but prefers using normal Barracks.
  • Making the Reignitz Cathedral doesn’t stop the AI from building two additional Monasteries (as usual). Also it doesn’t care placing it in vulnerable positions.
  • The Palace of Swabia is always placed far from the main base. Although this makes for an important backup TC, it’s undefended.
  • The Elzbach Castle (rarely chosen) isn’t placed with criterion. Can end up in isolated position, not benefiting any other buildings, thus wasting big part of it.
  • Prelate Inspiration strategy isn’t well organised. Rather than spreading the Prelates around groups of Villagers, the AI keeps the Prelates together and has them running from one group of gatherers to another.
    When inspiring warriors, there doesn’t seem to be a special reasoning, the main difference from other Civs is a higher number of religious units, so Prelates keep doing Monk stuff, inspiring troops in the process.
  • The AI doesn’t prioritise putting Relics in Docks on Water Maps.
  • Doesn’t use Emergency Repairs, ever.

Order of the Dragon

  • Doesn’t prioritise the Burgrave Palace for infantry training, missing out on the discount.

Delhi Sultanate

  • Delhi Scholars tried putting Relics in a destroyed Dome of the Faith and got killed before the repairing was completed. There was space in a Mosque nearby, that’s where those Relics should have went.
  • Keeps Scholars garrisoned even when there are no more technologies available for research.
  • Doesn’t build the base to optimise the Scholar Influence. Usually Delhi Mosques are kept close to each other, like other Civs.
  • Doesn’t use Efficient Production.
  • Doesn’t take full advantage of the Tower of Victory, not every Barracks or Archery Range in the base is reached by the Tower’s influence.
  • Doesn’t Garrison Scholars in the Palace of the Sultan.


  • Places Farms around TCs. What a bad English player…
  • Rarely goes for the Abbey of Kings but when it does you can see how suicidal the King is. Should have more care of him, so to support the troops.
  • Doesn’t exploit the ranged attack of Villagers.
  • The King’s Palace is placed far from the base like any other TC, undefended. Prefers the White Tower though.
  • Builds mostly the Wynguard Palace. But never uses it.
  • Doesn’t use Longbowmen Palings or Volley abilities, even if it does research Arrow Volley.


  • Bad placement of Houses and Mining Camps around Pit Mines, often placed a tile too far.
  • Musofadi use Stealth but are usually in the company of other units. Musofadi-only war bands are an accident, could be used more.
  • Reaches the Cattle Age with the Grand Fulani Corral but the Ranches aren’t always in it’s influence.
  • Cattle can stand idle near a Granary waiting to be harvested instead of going inside a Ranch in the mean time, even when the Grand Fulani Corral is built.
  • When trading, the AI doesn’t use all the Toll Outposts it can.
  • Builds but doesn’t use the Griot Bara.


  • The capital TC placement can be better, it’s placed as fast as possible, instead of the best place around.
  • Can build way too many Pastures and doesn’t rally Sheep to a drop-off building like the capital TC they gravitate around. Eventually this leads to idle Villager and a full stock of Sheep scattered around a vast area.
  • Makes a Market even if it has the Silver Tree, luckily trains Traders mainly from the Landmark.
  • Builds new Gers instead of moving them.
  • Steppe Redoubt doesn’t relocate.
  • Khan is reckless, dies too often.
  • Trade routes aren’t yammed properly.
  • Doesn’t research Improved versions of technologies, even with stone availability.
  • The White Stupa isn’t properly considered as an Ovoo, nor does a Prayer Tent after Monastic Shrines is researched, concerning its Influence.
  • Mangudais aren’t microed properly, don’t kite enough and don’t avoid fighting ranged units. They can be much more hazardous than this.


  • The AI can get stuck in the Dark Age, definitely a bug.
  • Always builds a second Market after ageing up with the Sultanhani Trade Network. Doesn’t ungarrison the initial 2 Traders nor garrisons more.
  • In some occasions the Twin Minaret Medrese is placed in unlikely positions, near food sources far from the base.
  • Base building ins’t optimised to exploit the technology buildings influence the best. Often redundant Blacksmiths are built or some military buildings get left out. This can affect the Mehmed Imperial Armoury and the Istanbul Observatory.
  • The Imperial Council area of effect isn’t considered properly both when placing it or new production buildings.
  • Doesn’t unlock Siege Crews, ever.
  • Vizier Points spending seem to be similar between AI players, especially the first 3 points.
  • Sipahis never use Fortitude.
  • Mehters only use Attack Drums and don’t try avoiding damage.
  • Janissaries don’t repair siege engines in the field.
  • Doesn’t enhance trade with Keeps but matters little because the AI extremely rarely builds the Sea Gate Castle. I only saw it once in who knows how many Ottoman Imperial age ups.


  • Doesn’t always use the Wooden Castle or TC Influence for the Wood bonus.
  • Doesn’t use the Golden Gate tickets.
  • Builds several Monasteries, as usual, even if it has the Abbey of the Trinity.
  • Able to place the High Trade House in places without trees, like it’s a common Mill.
  • Researches Wandering Towns but doesn’t use Rams.

The Sultans Ascend Changes


Although now the AI doesn’t send Villagers on suicide missions, it avoids repairing allied Landmarks completely, not even the capital TC, which now prevents allies without living Villagers from recovering. This even when it would be safe to do. Besides impeding allied recovery, every AI player has to do it on its own, slowing down the process. So the AI doesn’t help team mates repairing even if they’re out of wood completely.

The choice of Villagers tasked with the repairs isn’t optimised, the AI often picks Villagers far away instead of the closest, even idle ones.

The AI is able to spend all its wood stopping the repair of critical buildings, including Landmarks. It happened that the AI was unable to quickly rebuild its capital TC for that reason, actively building Houses, military buildings and Farms (around the destroyed TC by the way).

Never tasks more than 2 Villagers for the repair. Should have a sense for when it’s best to send many more, like saving a Wonder or rebuilding the capital TC in absence of others.

Can give up on repairing the capital TC, leaving it nonfunctional.

Market Placement
It took a while before I could witness this, so for sure the AI doesn’t do it as much as it should. Happily keeps 30+ Traders on 10 Gold routes for an hour and a half instead of building a better and still safe Market. The minimum would be just placing the Market on the opposite side of the base relative to the other Trade Post, doesn’t even do that by default.

Regarding the placement, it’s not bad. The AI doesn’t update it’s trade as the game progresses and gains or loses map control, kind of like it used to be for holes in the walls. Apparently doesn’t build more than one Market, so if it already has one, won’t place a better Market until the existing one is destroyed.

Idle Villagers
It may even be that the situations when this happens have been reduced, but still happens all the time, eventually.

Long distance gathering
Still happens sometimes. Although the bigger problem is with Farming, as the AI wants to build TCs too badly for that, when a Mill could do.

Offensive Behaviour

Targeting Priorities - Counters
It’s not obvious that units will focus targets they deal bonus damage to, I’m not seeing Horsemen flanking to reach Archers or any of that.

Targeting Priorities - Buildings
Still big issues here. Defences or a garrisoned capital TC still get ignored too often. Even if the AI is just trying to soften up the enemy it makes sub-optimal decisions in targeting leading to insufficient outcome. Keeps and TCs actively killing allied units can’t come after a House or Lumber Camp.

Engaging Dangerous Enemy Buildings in Path
Happens to fail at that or react way to slowly, taking significant damage before retaliating. Usually happens more if the buildings are far from the enemy base, the planned target, supposedly.

Defensive Behaviour

Better Wall Placement
Haven’t seen a wall yet. Tried rushing, the IA collects (lots of) Stone but doesn’t build Walls. Eventually constructs Keeps and fortifies Outposts but Walls? Nothing. Gotta be bugged. Pre-patch I could get the AI to wall up. This is rather annoying since I could just raid the AI to death and couldn’t get an appropriate response.

Improved Fallback
There’s another similar issue that I suppose it’s related to this. The AI sometimes tries to rally at the Landmark TC while it’s still up but the base is flooded by enemy troops. This leads to the invaded AI player units trickling in and getting slaughtered without even fighting back before reaching the TC.

Smarter Route to Target to Repair
Villagers do avoid danger zones!

Patch 9.1.370

Better Merging
I’ve noticed AI armies tend to be bigger, in general. It can still happen that smaller motley crews are sent for an attack, with debatable results. Keeps to leave siege units behind quite consistently.

Zhu Xi’s Legacy - Temple of the Sun Bonuses
The AI does change them now, but I’m not sure about the logic. I’ve seen that Divine Vitality is quite common.


They won’t fix this game.
Its been here for 2 years, and nothing improved dramatically.
Instead, we got this horrible Joan civilization.
It is better, to wait for the next AOE game and hope a different company makes it.
Relic is not suitable for making AOE games.
They are destined to fail and will end real soon.

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Unfortunately the AI behavior will not change fundamental as the developers do not give full access to AI files. At the moment AI can be modified superficially, but it does not change anything drastically. Unfortunately the AI behavior in AoE 4 is rigidly programmed. There is a mod that improves the situation, but it can not solve all the major problems of AI. Also the AI doesn’t use most of the abilities of units and buildings . The AI is pretty limited at the moment.

Mod Mods Single - Age of Empires
Mod theme Jakcie A.I (Actual AI improvements) - #85 by JakcieChan1178
Thread discussing AI in general The AI is terrible - #183 by VisionedTuba52
In my main thread I described all the bugs I found in the new patch .

By the way you can get the AI to play instead of yourself and you can test the AI.
It’s easy to check. You must first install the mod Mods Single - Age of Empires 1 ( AI Battle) and then select the mode (where you select modes like Nomad) then set the command 1 if you want to be played by AI (AI takes control of the player, it is a cooperative mode with AI) or set the command 8 but then you disappear from the game at the beginning and only AI vs AI plays. This way you can check both directly AI script and observe from the side. I think you will find it useful :slight_smile:
By the way there is also a speed increase in the lower right corner of the screen (near the minicart) so that the testing process was much faster.
And if you want to play in co-op against the AI do not put cheater difficulty because the AI that will play in co-op with you will not have bonuses cheater difficulty and the enemy AI will have bonuses.


AI only

You can also use any AI mod remove and play with the original AI.

Me and @JakcieChan1178 are trying to improve the AI in every way we can .

I have also sent a lot of bug reports to the developers but many of them have not been fixed. Let’s hope that in the next patches the AI will be improved.

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Frequent patches and the devs’ concern for improving the AI was already reflected.

This thread is quite comprehensive, surely they take note.

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Thank you for taking the effort to collect this data and adding your input. I hope taking a clinical approach will bring major improvements in less time.


As the author of the ai mod that op likes to post about. I would say that compared to before, the ai has turned from actually broken to playable with the patches given. the devs are not non existant when it comes to ai, they like to at the very least add tiny stealth changes every patch and has greatly improved it from release which was actually terrible. Compared to what I do with my ai mod (xml value additions and changes) they have a way bigger workload with the ai. Even though I wish for more ai updates and mod tool updates, I understand that the actual gameplay and its bugs has to take priority. Luckily, with the dlc and the game finally being in what I call an actual “release”, they have done more with the ai than ever before. I will cheer on the devs on what they do with the ai in the future.


Thank you for your work!

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Just bought this game a few weeks ago and I play only PVE against AI alone or with a friend of mine.
What we noticed is that the AI just retreats, true cowards they are. And this makes the whole match completely boring. That AI just keeps retreating and letting its units die. Only the first 15 seconds they fight, then retreat and repeat the same thing again. They really need to give some motivation to the AI, and remove that coward characteristics from the AI.

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Thank you for this post.