The difficulty changed on us recently

Me and my nephew have been playing AoE III for the past few months as I’ve been showing him the game. I played it a lot years ago when it came out. I know the game pretty well.

When we started playing since he was new we played it 2v2 (always us VS. AI) on moderate. I can solo two moderates so it wasn’t an issue. I let the game drag out and kept letting him get familiar with everything. He is decent with Chinese now and we were wiping the floor vs 4 AI on moderate.
Then we started playing 2v2 on hard. It was tougher but we managed to beat them with some close calls. In the beginning, we played with a 20% handicap but started playing them without any handicap and could beat them.

For the past couple of weeks now, however, while we are getting better at the game, we are getting stomped HARD by the AI. Like there was an update or something. 2v2 hard we have 0 chance. They are attacking us with 100 pop armies with artillery before we are out of AGE II. It’s not even close now.
We went back to 2v4 moderate and it is no different. It is basically the same difficulty as hard now and we get stomped very early. Can’t even get walls up in time when attempting that tactic. We went down to 2v3 on moderate and still lost. This is all regardless of who the AI picks. We could beat the AI no matter who they had on moderate, even 2v6 before.

Is this some sort of bug? We did install an AI improvement mod at one point but are no longer using it. It didn’t make them any more difficult. All it did was have them make forts and other defensive buildings and make their attacks a bit more tricky but we still beat them. Now with it on or off we have no chance.

I’m betting we would lose 2v2 on moderate which I can normally solo with ease. I haven’t tried playing solo on my computer but I should be able to 1v1 a hard with not too much of a challenge.

Was just wondering why the difficulty changed so much and why the difference between moderate and hard is so extreme. Use to go from way too easy to pretty dang tough. Needs to be closer in difficulty. Anything past hard might as well say “impossible” in my humble opinion. I don’t know how you beat them on the harder difficulties without some very specific way to exploit the weakness of the AI which I don’t consider a real game.

Just wondering if anyone else has experienced anything like this before and if anyone knows of any mods that may fix the AI so they are not cheating but also not a push over. That’s if we can get this difficulty issue fixed anyway. I think no matter what difficulty we pick they are on one of the harder difficulties (past hard).

I can try being the host next time instead of him as he always hosts and see if that makes any difference.

I know we can just fight against real players but most would probably curb stomp us as he is still too new and if we fight noobs I would probably be too strong for them. Was waiting for him to get to my level before we started playing real players.

Thanks for reading and any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

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AI has been greatly updated over the last few months.

Particularly in teams. They coordinate attacks, target the weaker player together etc.

Hard AI does not cheat. But now it follows definite builds that are used by pro players.

I recommend giving yourselves a handicap till you find a setting you can enjoy.

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The AI is hit and miss. I often can solo 2 externe AI, other times i get steamrolled.

You are not supposed to be winning all games vs AI at higher difficulty anyways.

I think it’s very map dependent.

Although never has it happened to me in the recent few months that I could beat two extremes haha!

A Good player can beat the extreme AI easily, without abusing the AI with cheesy strat.

These kind of quotes ‘‘They are attacking us with 100 pop armies with artillery before we are out of AGE II.’’ suggest that you have not mastered the basics of the game.

I’d suggest you continue playing against hard AI, you will gradually improve and beat them easily. The gap between moderate (they don’t really play the game) and hard is considerable (it’s the same with AoE II DE).

8 random tips to improve

  • Train/make villagers continously until you reach the build limit (99 for most civilizations)
  • Spend your ressources
  • You should reach age II between 4-5 minutes. When reaching Age II, build a military building and produce military units by 5 (musketeer are an easy unit that only fears archer and skirmisher - and artillery later). If you can’t manage the gapless production of military units, you should change what ressources your villagers gather
  • Age II ressource shipments (especially wood) is a good way to jump start your economy. Obviously it depends of the civilization/strategy, but usually you only want to gather two ressources at once until you reach a higher count of villagers (and wood is slower to gather).
  • Don’t make mills and estate right away. These buildings are expansive and villagers gather ressources very slower compared to hunt/mine. Try to secure gold mines and hunting spots on the map, but don’t leave your villagers without defense.
  • Know the counter unit system (musketeer beat cavalery, cavalery beat skirmisher/archer, archer/skirmisher beat musketeer). You should always have at least two type of units to cover each other weakness (for example musketeer/hussards; skirmisher/dragoon etc.)
  • Don’t stay forever age 2/3. Unit upgrades are important to make your army better. If you are fighting age IV units with age II units, you have few chances of winning fights.Reaching a higher age also make powerfull home city cards avilable.
  • Know when to engage your army and when you should not. You are not helping your friend if you send 10 musketeer to a certain death to protect his barrack. It is difficult to know if you will win a fight (but you will learn while playing).

You can also learn a build order (which basically tell you what to do the first 8-10 minutes). But it removes the fun of bettering by yourself. For example, if I play with the french against the AI, I start making a TP with my explorer and I gather enough wood with my coureurs des bois (CdBs) for a house while the rest gather food from hunt. I send 3 CdBs from my home city, and I click age II with the quartermaster when I gathered 800 food. During the age II research, I gather enough wood for a market, hunting dogs, placer mines and the second hunting uggrade. Once I reach age II, I sent 4 CdBs and 700 woods from my home city. I build two houses and a military building from the 400 woods from the quarter master. My CdB gather food and gold. Sometimes there is some variation to this build order, but I could do it every time against the AI. It helps making a strong start where you can play the game with a solid advantage.

Have fun playing the game, and remember that knowing how to properly play the game will not make it funnier for you or your nephew. Learn it at your own speed.

It depends on the mood I’m in, map, civ. It’s easier on maps with lots of natives and easy defense terrain.

But as others have mentioned, beating the hard AI won’t work until you’ve mastered the basics.

In my case, hard and hardest I can do easily with any civ. Extreme however is difficult unless I really know a civ well, and have enough practice. It’s mostly because they always have roughly a 30% larger army, and if I do things like, say, chop wood for an extra TP instead of making units, I will certainly get run over.

si, se ha puesto muy fuerte la ia, tienes que llevar a cabo una tactica de defenza y despues golpe para romperle la crisma

The AI doesn’t seem real hard, they are decent early in the game to mid, but once you get late game they aren’t very hard. Me, my brother and a friend from work who is learning the game have beaten 5 AI opponents on extreme,

I didn’t think about it being map related! That could very well be the difference that I missed!

I don’t see how that’s even remotely possible. 1 AI on extreme will attack with 40 units plus 10 or so artillary before it’s possible to get to ACT III. Might be the map size though. If you’re playing on a larger map that could make it easier as it gives you more time.

It is still true that the AI is much better than before. It does do better on some maps over others, but I don’t know if that alone is the factor here.

I think you might be aging too slowly. the extreme ai usually gets to age 3 around 8 mins and attack around 10 mins if its an age 3 attack.

if you get to age 3 around 7-8 mins you should be able to keep up

I find its good to keep track of the game time. the ai has obvious timings when you start to notice it

This is what I do. I play dutch usually so it can differ a bit, but I put 5 of the starting villagers on food and one on a mine and produce three villagers putting them on the mine until I have 5 farming coin. Then I start putting the next villagers on wood. As soon as I’m at 800 food I’m going to AGE II and I always beat the AI there. Score and resources is always higher on timeline as well. I will have made a second house and a marketplace and trained wood cutting by the time I get to AGE II. For cards, I will have gotten the food trickle first then wood cutting 15% plus trees last longer. I then get 20% faster wood next. Main issue with dutch is always wood. I always have plenty of food and coin, although coin can get low when I’m pumping out military quickly at some points. I get banks going and get the cards to increase bank cap. Faster food production, faster military queue times, military buffs, all the improved resource cards that the dutch can make use of. I have been messing around with the 4 workers card in AGE II to get ahead on workers. Soon as I’m in AGE II I’m making two barracks and two stables soon as possible and making houses and banks as the wood is available depending on which I need more.
I start pumping out as much army as possible, 5 of each. I make a farm, keep putting more and more on wood and food and banks + factories keeps my coin coming in fast enough that I don’t usually need to make anything that produces any other coin after my two mines are finsihed.

I never stop making villagers and putting them on some resource until I hit the pop cap.

In the timeline I am always #1 in every stat. Score, units, WAY ahead in resources, military units, etc… I’m ahead in all aspects.

Age III I make a forge and get my units buffed and get a full pop army before I buff them from the barracks or stables or before I go to AGE IV. I’m usually defending hard by this point and in most games have walls and outposts surrounding my town.

Now, I used to beat hard like this no problem. I still have the highest everything in the timeline even when I’m losing now. They are hitting me from all sides with massive armies and their units are twice as strong as mine. I will have more units but by the time I get to where they are attacking my walls they are breaking through. Then by the time I wipe out that attack they are already through on two other places on my walls. I have my army split up into 3 or 4 hotkeys trying to defend all sides and have 8 outposts. They are usually beating me before I make it to AGE III now though so the walls and outposts are weak. If I don’t use walls they really clean out my villagers or at least make me put everyone in the town center and then destroy my houses so I have no pop so I can’t make any more miliary as they chop them down. They will have artillary in AGE II sometimes, which I don’t know how that is possible. Sometimes 5-10 artillary is the first thing they send. Then about 20-30 calvary will come in and about 30-40 regular units will follow, all attacking from different sides. Then there will be constant 5-10 pop waves of various units coming every 10-20 seconds until I die.

I think the map might be the main thing I wasn’t thinking of. When beating them I was playing on a large map, I forget the main one we kept playing on. Then my nephew swiched up the map and it’s a much smaller map now and resources are more scarce, especially starting animals and wood.

I read all your steps and for the most part I do them. I used to send the resource shipments but got away from that and been sending villagers instead. I might go back to the shipments. I don’t know all of the counter unit system yet but know the obiovus ones but some of the unique units they are sending I’m unsure of. Like they send tons of guys that throw fire sometimes. Or other units I’m unfamiliar with.

So that is how my opening is, not saying it’s the best or that I’m not doing something wrong, but it was working just fine for me and I do beat the AI according to end game timeline. The one area I know I can greatly improve in is when I’m being attacks and I’m having to control my militray going around and stopping their randomly angled attacks, I’m not spending my resources and they build up to quite a bit while I’m trying to fend them off. Then when I’m losing militray I will produce more military with the resources but not doing much else at that time. They keep attacking and will advance ages and buff their units while I am just trying to survive their attacks and never have time to do anything but defend and produce military units. At least that is what is happening latetly. Their 30 man army will beat my 60 man army, but in AGE II I can only make 2 normal units and 1 calvary with the dutch so it’s not like I have a lot of choices on what to make. I usually select both barracks and make 10 of each unit and the click on both stables and make 10 of that unit.

I will never have the resources to get out of AGE II as they continually attack and beat down my units despite my greater numbers and resources.

This was not happening before. I could beat 1v1 on hard and easily beat 1v4 on moderate. Now I get crushed vs even 2 moderate. It’s so much more difficult. They attack much much sooner with a much larger army and much tougher units and never ever let up. They have never done that before. The only thing that is different is the map and map size.

Anyway, I really appreciate the feedback. Any improvements to what I said I do would be appreciated. If there is something that could be improved in my early steps or if some of the cards I mentioned are weak and I shouldn’t get them, please let me know.

Sorry I made this so long and appreciate your time in reading all this and helping me. I’m thinking maybe the map is what is making it harder but would it make THIS much of a difference? Or did they improve the AI this much recently? I’m confused at why the game got so much more difficult. It really seems damn near impossible all of a sudden. I could always record a game and post it on YouTube for more clarity as to what is going on.

Thanks again!

I’ll tell you this much… I beat the AI to AGE II. I start getting attacked around 30 seconds to 1 minute after I hit AGE II. It never stops until I lose at that point. The AI will eventually age to III then IV while I’m still trying to defend in AGE II and III. This is only how it is recently. I will have more everything than the AI. More resources, units, military, score, etc… he will beat me to age III and IV now but before recently I would beat the AI to every age. On hard, even before, I would only just beat the AI to AGE III but would beat it to all other ages by a bit all while having more resources and units, etc… I would beat it on hard fairly easy with some tough defending around age III before. I mean for years back long ago and then as recently as a couple months ago up until just 2-3 weeks ago. Now it does this super early attack with large armies and never stops and their units are stronger than mine so they defeat me. I’ll try to get a recording of it. My nephew has stopped playing the game now because of this. It went from us winning most of the time to us not even having a chance and it’s not fun losing the game so harshly each time. I will try a solo match and see if it is really hard still or if it is back to normal. If that is the case maybe it has something to do with him hosting? Some kind of bug maybe… It’s either that or the maps make a HUGE difference. I’ll do some more testing and see what happens.

it used to be that way for me (on hard anyway) up until recently. I could beat hard with a few civs, especially dutch. But like I said something is different and now hard is basically extreme and honestly even moderate seems to be too difficult as we lost 2v3 moderate. I could solo 4 moderate by myself so easy it was pathetic before. Could probably have beaten a whole map of moderate by myself. Not even a challenge, but these last few times on moderate they came at us the same way they do now on hard. It seems like every difficulty is just extreme now. Going to try to play solo and see what happens. If it’s not like that solo then must be something to do with his computer when he is hosting or something.

I’ve never even tried to beat extreme. I usually have a fun time beating hard AI. I think one step past hard gives me a real challenge and I usually lose to that, even before recently, but I didn’t play on setting beyond hard as I know they basically “cheat” with handicaps. This is night and day different with the same civs, same difficulties but different maps (which I didn’t even think about that mattering until someone mentioned it below). So unless it is the map making it that much harder for some strange reason, I’m not sure what is going on yet. I’m sure I have room for improvement… probably a lot of room, but I could beat a hard 1v1 before and now it’s not even a fight. I get so very wrecked it’s silly.

Thanks for the advice. Maybe it is just that it’s been improved that much since we been playing recently. That is a possibility. It just such an extreme difference in difficulty. They attack much much sooner with a much larger and much tougher army and never stop attacking. I’m usually just been in AGE II for a minute before the attacks start and I do beat them to AGE II with more resources. Doesn’t matter though, they attack from all sides and they are simply stronger than me and I eventually can’t keep up and lose. Never used to be like this. Might be some kind of bug or maybe it’s cause of the different map. I will test more and see what happens. Thanks for the reply!

I just played a solo skirmish on hard, just a 1v1 using Texas map… might as well been on easy. Wasn’t even a challenge in the least. Maybe it is the map we been playing on making them 100x harder for some reason or some bug with my nephew hosting in multiplayer… I could of crushed 1v2 or even 1v3 on hard right now… wasn’t a moment where I didn’t dominate them. I don’t know what is going on in our multiplayer games.

It depends on the AI. Some will boom, some will FF, some will play a long age2. For example, the Germany AI will almost always time you with a FF and a very large army around 8-9 mins in. This is how a real player would play.

The french AI will boom and be less aggressive. So in the end, the match up matters.