Why am I so bad at this game?

So, I have a rating of about 900 RM and 1300 RM TG. Which is pretty low, I guess.

Now, my question is: why is that? I have been playing this game since the days of Windows 95 (though with a 15-year break lol). I actually don’t play multiplayer very often, usually I play the campaigns (I finished almost all of them in DE right now). I can easily win every scenario on Hard, almost always from the first try. I also have gold medals on all the Art of War missions.

I know all the DE hotkeys and I use them all the time. I never changed them though, so I just use the standard hotkeys.

I also use control groups (though not as much as I should).

I know all units and technologies, correct counters, etc. I also know all the civilizations, though not 100%. I couldn’t say whether or not Vietnamese have Heated Shot, but I more or less know the general idea of every civ.

I don’t really know build orders by heart, though I know what to do to get to Feudal Age without my Town Center getting idle. Of course, I lure boars and things like that. Though I often forget about relics.

I watch all SOTL videos and occasionally also the ones from T90, TheViper etc.

When I play, it usually goes like this:
A) In Arabia: my enemy rushes me in Feudal Age. Often I have already walled or I can quickwall, so they don’t do much damage, but because I have to focus on their rush so much, my Town Center or my villagers get idle, I get confused and after a while I get destroyed.
B) In Arena: my enemy doesn’t rush me but attacks me with a nice army in Castle Age or early Imperial Age right when I was planning to start building up my military. I crazily start defending, can hold on for 10 minutes or so, and then I get destroyed.

My main point is: I always have the feeling that my enemy is in control of the game, and I am merely defending against him. He has total map control and I am defending this little corner on the map where my base is.

During the game, I often notice my population isn’t even near 200, or I have way too much Wood or Gold while severely lacking Food (or the other way around). I also don’t know how many villagers I should have ideally or how many on each resource. Even when I have a fully-upgraded army, my opponent’s army is just much bigger and crushes me anyway. And if I use onagers, they usually kill more of my own soldiers than those of my enemy.

I don’t have the feeling that my enemy is that much better than I though, I often think “he’s making the wrong units”, “his trade is so vulnerable” etc. I just don’t seem to know how to exploit his shortcomings.

I don’t want to be a pro or anything, I just want to be able to crush my friends who are about as bad as I am lol.

Any thoughts?


I think you miss the execution of basic meta strategies. I can guarantee you have lots of idle TC/villager time in dark age. Multiplayer and singleplayer are almost completely different games.

why are you the person being rushed, and not your opponent? (‘rushing’ opponent faster isn’t always necessarily better, but you might want to question if you are constantly the one being forced to quickwall and such). I would go learn 22 pop scouts BO, simply keep practising until you can get 22 pop in < 10:10 (press f11 for an ingame clock) and have the economy to sustain scouts. Depending to civ, transition to archers or knights. (there are seperate BO videos for either transition, might want to check them out)

Arena is a bit trickier, but in the end it all comes down to basics. knowing a solid FC into boom build order will give you a massive headstart on lower rated players as well.

BO with a solid execution should destroy anybody up to 1200 ELO easily. Although that is easier said than done of course.

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Why would you go through writing all this when you know that you suck at buildorders and lack a gameplan?

You say yourself that you don’t play MP that often, well there is your answer.

And then there is a difference between playing purely for fun and doing deliberate practice, watching your recs, writing down your mistakes, grinding buildorders in SP ect.

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This is not really low, but pretty average. There is nothing wrong with having these elos. You know that 50% of all players is between 850-1150.

I think you will have more idle time then you will think. I notice this for my self as well. I thought i had not that much idle time, but sometimes i just had 1 minute of idle time in the dark age. That is really the difference between hitting feudal age at 10.00 or 11.00 for a rush.

This table shows you the perfect age up times. First column is your pop in dark age when clicking up to feudal age.

So if you execute some 27+2 FC with loom, you will reach castle age at 15:40 with perfect execution. I think if you tried such build order in a Arena game, you will probably in castle age around 16.30. That is my guess. My rating is about 1100 and i have still lots of idle time.

So have a look at your latest games and just check the amount of idle time by looking at this table.

Knowing build orders is kind of a requirement to get better into the game. It is all about gathering your resources as efficient as possible and spend them all and spend them wisely. A build order will greatly help with that. That being said. I also dont really follow strict build orders, but i feel i have a general idea of which resources i need at what point of time. You seems to lack the knowledge to know what resources you really need.

You know you can just move villagers from one resource to another? It is not like a vill is a gold miner, thus he needs to be a gold miner for the full game. You can move them. If you float Wood and gold and need food? Why dont you make some farms (you have the wood) with some villagers at wood or gold? If you lack gold and have to much food? Just take some farm vills and put them on gold. It is best to have almost non resources. Only exception is if you try to get some expensive resources. Something like getting to imperial age. It is all about getting just the right amount of resources at the right time. This is easier said than done.

Seems like you are just to slow. Like i already said: I expect much idle time. Your enemy is just more aggressive and faster. At lower levels game are pretty much decided by who attacks as first, since no one really have the skills to defend. If you can execute a buildorder better, you can get the initiative. So you get map control and he will defend.

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I would go for “know your build orders” getting to feudal age 30 seconds earlier than your opponent means that you’re gonna be ahead and dominate feudal age. From that point is a snowball effect. AOE is a gsme of momentum, and the first momentum is feudal age (or dark age if you go for a drush) even if you do everything right after thatz if you have a slower start than your opponent, you’re pretty much done

Mechanics like that are indeed quite important, but I’d consider strategy the more basic part. So probably you should prioritize working on that. Meaning learn a couple of build orders and try to execute them.

Of course being greedy and defending is a valid strategy but arabia plays out rather aggressive so when you defend you should roughly know what you are working up to. Just booming up to imp most likely doesn’t get you anywhere, here. Also when you can execute several strats you have the advantage of being able to adjust your play according to your map. If you have a bad one and still make no army, it makes a lot of sense if you lose many games to feudal rushes. Just learn them yourself.

Although these are among the most popular content creators, they might not be always the best in terms of educational value about how to play the game. Maybe rather watch casted rated games. Or try explicit educational content, e.g. hera’s beginner to 2k guide.

Hard to generalize since it depends on your civ and the units you are making. Try to think about what units you are making and which resources you need for that. If you are making hussars in a late game scenario, for instance, you probably want to have 60+ farmers while when you play, say, Mayans you don’t need that many farmers because your army costs more gold and wood. Generally, assuming you are popped out, usually you’d go for 110-130 vils with 40-70 on food, around 30 on wood, 20+ on gold, some on stone. Just to give you a rough idea. It depends on the civ. There isn’t really an abstract ideal you just try to get to.

“Why am I so bad at this game?”. I have asked myself the same question. In driving games I’m in the top 0.1%. I’m not sure what my ELO is in AoE II DE, as I haven’t been motivated to play many multiplayer games, but I know I am roughly average at best. I believe that 1000 ELO represents a massively higher standard than the 50th percentile in driving games.

A 50th percentile player in driving games is absolutely terrible. To be at that level in driving games, you need to be fundamentally failing to grasp all manner of things about how to drive fast around a track. OTOH, in AoE II DE, even good players seem to regard 1000 ELO players as fairly solid and having a reasonable knowledge of how to play the game. If a top driver tries to drive in a race in a driving game with even a top 10% player, they will crash into them, as the lower standard driver will be so bad as to appear to basically randomly park the car on the track in front of them. They will never describe a top 10% driver as fairly solid and having a reasonable knowledge of how to drive, they’ll see their driving as utterly baffling.

As a test of my hypothesis that 1000 ELO does not represent what the average human can do, I managed to talk a friend into trying AoE II DE. He was ranked in the top 10% for SC2. He wasn’t able to get under 8 mins for the Early Economy Art of War challenge after many hours of trying. I’ve done it in 7:34, and I’d expect anyone even around 800 ELO to be able to do close to 7:30, given that the map is identical every time so you can just learn an exact sequence of actions. So that is someone who I would expect to still be far better than the average human, yet after hours of trying that Early Economy challenge, he was probably still at the standard of a bottom 1% ranked player.

The only way I can explain it all is that the AoE II DE rankings are highly biased towards only containing people who are performing much better than the average human. The average human probably gives up before playing 10 games, or doesn’t try ranked at all, or if they have played more than 10 games, they’ve probably given up and not played a ranked game in the last 30 days.

Does anyone know how many people have played AoE II DE at all? This would give an indication of what percentage of total players the ranked leaderboard represents.

Build orders are important as they are calculated mathematically to make you waste the minor time possible and efficiently distribute eco.

Even 900 elo player knows some of them now. So while you may win late game due to your knowledge if you start from imp, you lose early because of it and thus also late as your enemy is constantly producing while you have to fix stuff because you didn’t know where to place what.

Also might be you are slow on hands, try a few death matches.

You should plan what you are going to use early and use the aoe calculator (forgot the site) to check how much vills is needed where for that and try to execute it.

Would you mind posting a video to YouTube or a replay game file to this forum (renamed with .txt extension so you can upload it)? We could then offer more specific advice.

There also are many SC2 players who climbed the ladder quite fast because they are used to the RTS genre. On the other hand, your buddy might have got too used to SC’s mechancs and can’t "un-learn " them to play AOE2, just like I’ve seen people who had trouble learning Italian because they had learnt some Spanish first and they would keep having Spanish words overriding the Italian ones.

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This seems not really compareable: AoE II DE vs a driving game. The skills needed for both are pretty different. I dont think someone like TheViper or Hera will top tier at that driving game as well. You just need different skills in a driving game.

You also know this game is already 20 years old and many players have played this game in the past for years. The use of easy to access build orders and streams also makes it pretty much accessable to learn those build orders and get a general understanding of the game.

You also know that 1000 elo is considered as pretty noob-ish by higher rated players? They wont call them fairly solid. My own rating isnt far higher, but i still think most 1000 Elo rated players are not that good. I still consider myself as noob. I really wont decribe myself as ‘fairly solid’.

Just being quick in microing doesnt mean you know what to do. That just need some time. In the past many of great SCII players has proven that they also can advance at the ladder very quickly. I would be really surprised if a top 10 SCII player is about bottom 1% at AoE II. That just cant be true in my eyes. Just give such player the correct build order and he would get gold for Early Economy pretty easy. I also think just with 1 good build order, he will be in no time around 1300 Elo at the ladder. Maybe even higher. I really cant believe this story.

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All right guys, thanks for the advice, it helps a lot! I’ll practise more and learn some good build orders. Do you have any particular build orders to recommend?

Here a game I played as Huns and lost against a certain Nobleza. I see a few big mistakes here:

  1. I hardly did any scouting.
  2. I didn’t stone wall the northern side and forgot walling after cutting the trees, so he would massacre me over there at the very end.
  3. I stayed on one TC and stopped villager production way too early.
  4. I didn’t make the right units, I kept producing knights where I should have made archers or pikemen against his knights and light cavalry against his monks.

That’s what I know went wrong. I wonder what other mistakes you see? Advice is really appreciated!

For example, he attacked my palisade walls quite early with a scout rush. I kept some villagers nearby so I could build walls behind it when needed. However, this way I idled those villagers. How should I have done this? I played as Huns so building houses wasn’t possible. Should I just stone wall everything as soon as I hit feudal age?

Also, I went to his base with two knight after that, I destroyed a palisade wall but he quickwalled with two houses. If this happens, what should I do next? Destroy another palisade wall to keep pressure?

All advice is really appreciated!

I have not time to watch the rec (maybe i do it at a later moment), but i can help you already with one question:

These are some decent ones i would recommended. There is even a mod to help you to learn this build orders.

Dont try to learn them all. Just focus on some. Dont start with the civ specific ones. Just stick to the general builds for the civs. So if you want to use scouts, just focus on the 22 pop scout rush, not on the 18 pop Mongol scout rush.

For open maps i suggest the 23 pop archer rush. In the current state archers seems the most dominant unit. You also could try 22 scouts, but maybe your enemy is already fully walled and you cant do much damage. Some Man at arm build is also possible, but most lower rated players are terrible in doing damage with M@A.

For closed maps i suggest the Fast Castle (FC) builds. FC into boom is if you dont expect any pressure. Otherwise you can go for something like FC into knights or FC into UU. This kind of depends on your civ.

I dont thinkn you need to look at the other BOs when you try to learn the basics. Those are for another moment. If you can execute this build orders very well.

I almost never stone wall. I consider it as a waste of time and a waste of stone. There are some exceptions, but i most games i dont relay on stone walls.

Build order is the one thing, but you need to read the game.

  1. Observe enemy behavior, which unit he goes for and build counter at right time
  2. He sees your unit, he probably go for counter unit, like you have Knights, he goes for pikes, u need to go for skirms or Archer next.
  3. Map control, put your castle or TC next to gold or stones outside. He will go for this place to.
  4. Know your civ well to be flexible eg go for Monks or onager when is needed and not only Knights
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this right here is solid advice. you need to react to your opponent instead of just following a blind build order.
you can’t just try to fast castle if your opponent is gonna pressure you with archers, it just won’t work well.

Top 10% not top 10. I gave him a video of myself doing it sub 7:40 and explained exactly what he had to do and why. Maybe I’m wrong in my belief that a 600 ELO player could do it sub 7:40. To me it’s much easier than a random map because it’s so easy to find the sheep and boar.

I wouldn’t expect them to necessarily be top tier, but they understand how to work out game mechanics, and that should get them quickly to top 1% standard in a driving game. Top 1% in a driving game is quite a low level where people have easily identifiable defects in what they’re doing. A difference vs AoE is that the errors are more things that people can easily consciously change. You can tell an AoE player that they need to never get housed, for example, but it’s sufficiently hard to actually do it that even top players get housed. In a driving game, though, you tell someone they need to enter a corner from 30cm left of where they are, and it’s very easy to fix that.

That’s kind of my point. The average human hasn’t been playing the game for years, and won’t start playing the game now and suddenly be at the standard of someone who has been playing the game for years. Because the ELO system measures relative performance, not absolute, the standard of a 1000 ELO player (50th percentile) should drift upwards over time. I reckon if any 1000 ELO AoE II DE player invested the same amount of time into trying to become good at driving games, they would very easily be much higher than 50th percentile standard.