Building & Defending Your Empire
Lesson 1: Learning to Scout Effectively
In step one, we discussed the basic strategy for Scouting: moving your Scout Cavalry around your Town Center (revealing the map in a circular motion) until you discover the resources you need. Now it’s time to go a little more in depth and ensure you’re prepared for a faster style of gameplay.
Each map has a variety of available resources and information that you must uncover as quickly as possible. Due to the random generation of each individual map and the difference between these maps, it will take some time to learn and understand–but this will come naturally as you continue to play.
Managing your early economy and Scout Cavalry at the same time can be a difficult task. Waypoint Flags are a great way to ensure your Scout Cavalry will keep exploring the map while you focus your attention where needed.
To set a Waypoint Flag with your Scout Cavalry, select your Scout Cavalry and hold down the ‘SHIFT’ key, then right click where you would like to place the first Waypoint Flag. Continue holding the ‘SHIFT’ key and right clicking the route you would like to your Scout Cavalry to travel. To place the final Waypoint Flag, release the ‘SHIFT’ key and right click the final destination.
Your Scout Cavalry will then follow the the Waypoint Flags in the order you placed them.
In this section, we are going to be talking about the Arabia map, one of the most common maps for multiplayer. It uses what is referred to as the ‘standard’ available starting resources.
On Arabia, each player’s starting area will spawn with:
- 8 Herdables
- 3 Forests
- 6 Fruit Bushes
- 2 Aggressive Hunt
- 4 Wild Hunt
- 7 Tiles of Gold
- 5 Tiles of Stone
Lesson 2: Starting Resources
These starting resources, which spawn around your Town Center are what you will want to identify on the map before scouting out to find your opponent. There are other strategies that rely on quickly scouting your opponent, in which case you already know what you need!
Though in your starting position you will have access to eight Herdables nearby, they will be found as a three separate groups. The first group of four will be near the Town Center, and two smaller groups of two Herdable will be located nearby, hidden by Unexplored Terrain.
Second group of Herdables to be taken back to the Town Center.
Third group of Herdables to be taken back to the Town Center.
A great place to construct a Lumbercamp and one of three surrounding Forests.
These Berry Bushes are perfect to help increase your Food income by constructing a MIll next to them.
First Aggressive Hunt
The first of Two Aggressive Hunt.
Remember! Aggressive Hunt will attack any Villager hunting it. This is perfect for luring it back to safety under the Town Center.
Second Aggressive Hunt
The second of Two Aggressive Hunt.
Though Food is collected faster from Wild Hunt than Berry Bushes, they are generally located further away from the safety of the Town Center.
If you’re confident taking the risk, place your Mill here instead of next to the Berry Bushes.
The main Gold on Arabia will always be 7 tiles and reasonably close to the Town Center.
The main Stone on Arabia will always be 5 tiles and reasonably close to the Town Center.
Lesson 3: Important Scouting Information
Planning Your Base
Once you have found your key resources, keep exploring the map until you have a good understanding of what your base layout will begin to look like. This will help with figuring out where to place defensive walls – which we will get into next.
Finding Your Opponent
Once you understand your immediate surroundings, send your Scout across the map to find your opponent. Generally, a good place to start is directly opposite your starting location on the map, then slowly move around the map about as far in as your Town Center spawned.
After identifying your opponent’s position, it’s time to find the locations of their key resources. This will be useful later in game once you begin raiding. The most important areas to find are their Lumber camps and main 7 tile gold, these are prime locations to attack!
Lesson 4: Your Opponent's Strategy
This is also a great time to start looking for enemy buildings that may hint towards their strategy.
If they are collecting Gold in the Dark Age, you can assume they will be training Archers.
Lots of Farms and no Gold Miners is a good sign they will be training Scout Cavlary.
If you see a Barracks before you have started advancing, they may even be training some early Militia to quickly raid you!
As Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition is a real-time strategy game, figuring out what your opponent is planning before they’re able to put it into action is a key skill. The more you play the easier this will get, and once you know what they are going to do, you know how to counter and prepare for it!
Lesson 5: Your Arabia Scouting Checklist
Here is your Arabia Scouting checklist:
All Herdable found – 8 normal or 6 if Cows
2 Aggressive Hunt found
Surrounding Forests identified
Main 7 tile Gold identified
Main 5 tile Stone found
Enemy Town Center Found
Enemy Town Center located
Enemy Resource Locations
Enemy Lumber Camp and/or Mining Camp located
Enemy military buildings discovered
Lesson 6: Defensive Structures
Building your base defensively is an integral skill in Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition. If your opponent cannot easily raid your economy, you will be able to control the match much more effectively. You can achieve this by using defensive structures and planning your base layout carefully.
Defensive structures are a great way to ensure your base is harder to attack, as they will attack nearby enemy units. Having these structures close to your economy will reduce the damage your opponents can do and may even stop them attacking all together!
The Town Center
The Town Center is the heart of your Empire. Here you can train Villagers, research key economic technologies and advance to the next Age. Villagers can also garrison inside the Town Center to protect themselves from enemies, they will even fire arrows at nearby enemy units while you have them garrisoned.
A fully garrisoned Town Center is a threat to all early Military Units and is a great way to protect your Villagers. Through you will only have one Town Center at the start of a match, more can be constructed once you reach the Castle Age.
Walls are a great way to defend your boarders and grant you valuable time to rally your defences when attacked. Palisade walls are available in the Dark Age at the cost of Wood, and Stone Walls become available in the Feudal Age at the cost of stone.
Constructing Walls around your base is the perfect way to stop an enemy attack in their tracks, preventing surprise raids or giving you the necessary time to prepare your forces.
Watch Towers are a defensive tower that shoots an arrow at enemy units, very effective at deterring early military units. Like the Town Center, Villagers can garrison inside these towers to shoot extra arrows at attacking units.
Towers are a great way to lockdown an area from enemy attacks and being able to garrison your villagers inside makes it harder for an opponent to raid your economy.
Despite these advantages, Watch Towers are costly and will prevent you from building more Town Centers when you reach the Castle Age unless you mine more Stone. Watch Towers are a great way to defend an attack you know is most likely coming that your military will not be able to control, but should only be constructed when necessary.
A Castle is the single strongest building in Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition. Enemy units will turn tail and run after seeing this mighty fortification and will require a costly investment in siege weapons to knock it down. Constructing a Castle is a great way to defend an area, ensuring your opponent cannot attack with low numbers or until they have constructed ample siege weapons.
A Castle can also train your unique unit and research unique technologies which vary depending on your chosen civilization. Villagers can also garrison inside, making Castles perfect for defending your economy.
Each of these structures helps to reinforce your base and make an opponent think twice before attacking.
Lesson 7: Walling
A common practice in Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition is to wall your surrounding area to ensure enemy attacks cannot reach your economy or cause any excessive damage. This will give you ample time to rally your forces and push back any invading armies before they can cause any real damage.
Walls take a long time to construct and need to be built early to be effective. Surrounding resources can minimise the number of Walls you need to place and the time your Villagers will spend constructing walls.
Utilizing your building placements can also minimise the time needed to fully wall your base.