It’s not a choice between the two, you can do both. Make your TC on the woodline on the edge of the map first, taking any initial sheep you find on the way, then take fish and hunt with a mill out on the map once you have enough on sheep. The wood you save from not making a lumber camp means you can afford the mill. Usually you can take enough hunt and fish before any enemy attacks, or if it’s a drush you can just fight it off with loomed villagers. I always get loom quite early on that map because boars can be unpredictably far away. Lots of sheep elsewhere on the map too, which you can scout with a villager in the early game and send back to the TC and also complete scouting for more sheep with a feudal age scout if you’re going for a castle age stable play.
I’m not convinced that the sheep eating strategy is good. I barly eat any sheep early and use them all for scouting, to find the enemy and the locations of the shore fish and hunt. When the TC is on wood the first other buidling can be a mill on shore fish, and I build more mills for more shore fish and hunt later. My preferred civ for the map is Japanese what makes this strategy more efficient, because mills are cheaper. But it can happen that 3-4 villgers on a pond get wiped out in feudal by enemy scouts. But you have so much food, that you can make your own military and attacking yourself is the best strat against such enemy aggresion.
How can you disagree with the statement that closed maps are fast castle maps?
I disagree rather with that fast castle maps are closed maps. If an open map is a fast castle map, it is still open, and it is still easier to attack (later) than on a closed map.
What fast feudal strategy can you use on maps like Arena which will win you the game?
On Black Forest you can send a sneak villager to the enemy side in dark age. That villager will be rather unproductive, but it can win the game.
So with open maps, you can either go aggressive feudal or you can wall up and try to go FC. Or you can drush and then FC. So there is the option there for aggression in all 3x ages on Arabia and proper open maps in general. Closed maps only have 1 out of those 3 options; that’s what we mean by lack of diversity.
Ok, in most cases open maps have more options in feudal age. But I have a working thesis: The later the age the more diverse it is, because of more units, buildings and technologies available. And the more diverse an earlier age is, the less likely is reaching a later age. So maybe the downside of a diverse feudal age is, that imperial age is often never reached. Best example is probably the lack of bombard towers in 1v1. I saw it only once in a pro game on Black Forest.
But imo there is a place for every map, closed maps lack options open maps have, but open maps also practically lack completely different options which closed maps can develop.
Dark age aggression is too limited because you only have the option of very weak militia who die to loomed villagers and TC fire and will severely delay your feudal age time.
For me it seems we have a heavy fast feudal meta, and I think that is quite annoying. A hoang militia rush should be more viable. From pro players I see only complains against Fast Castle startegies but not against Fast Feudal. Some little changes could be done to dark age like Militia gain +1 against buildings, Looms reaearches slower, a map with different food sources/placement, that make Fast Feudal more difficult.
And the only way to force aggression on those maps is with low skill cheese strats like laming hunt and walling in resources.
Yeah, such Sokotra-stuff should not be stronger than Militia imo.
There is no room in dark age for creative strategy because it is too limited by lack of military buildings, units and techs.
But strategy can be about different things. Looks at the map Greenland for example. There are no berries and I think only 1 boar, but a lot of shore fish in the middle only availabe for villagers and some additional shore fish all over the map also available for ships. So a good startegy is to mill the middle very early, because it is just the best food income. But this can create interessting situations with the opponent. Maybe it is a good idea to make very early infantry. And it is of course also an option to stay home or to dock. It is a map with dark age startegy imo.