The other day, I saw that Age of Empires II HD + The Forgotten was on sale for 7 dollars on Steam. Being a massive Age of Empires fan, I immediately bought the game to bring back some old memories. I saw that they added a new, better AI (or rather, that they ported it from Forgotten Empires: and immediately wanted to try it out! Back in the day, I was a decent AOE II player, but I had’t played several years, so I was somewhat rusty. Nonetheless, I remembered that the AI was pretty easy, even on the hardest difficulty, so I was pretty confident that I would be able to beat the new bots. This being said, I fired up Age of Empires and started a 1v1 game against a bot on hardest. To my surprise, I got absolutely obliterated… I lost the game in under 20 minutes. My conscience being unable to bear such an insult, I decided to hone my build order to be able to beat the new Age of Empires II AI on Hardest.

The Dark Age:

This is probably the most important stage of the game. Screw up during the dark age and you’ll most likely lose the game. This being said, it’s pretty hard to screw up once you get used to it.

  1. As soon as the game starts, queue up four villagers in your Town centre. Select your three initial villagers and build a house with them.
  2. Now, we need to find sheep as soon as possible. Use your scout to explore in circles around your Town centre, If you have nearby berry bushed, send your villagers there temporarily. Otherwise, use your villagers to explore.
  3. As soon as you find sheep, bring them under your Town centre and harvest them. Don’t forget to keep creating villagers. Your Town centre should ALWAYS be producing villagers or researches.
  4. Villagers 1 to 6 should go in to sheep. Once your seventh villager pops out of the Town centre, build three houses with him. Once he/she’s finished building the houses, send him into wood.
  5. The next two villagers should also go into wood. Start by cutting down the trees that are near your Town centre. We won’t build a lumber camp for quite some time.
  6. We now have a population of ten. Once scout, 6 villagers in food and 3 in wood. If you can, create an extra villager and send him in food, but if you’re short on food, research loom.
  7. Keep pumping out villagers and sending them in food until you reach a population of 20, you’ll then have 1 scout, 3 in wood and 16 in food. At some point around the 10th villagers usually, you’ll want to lure two boars. Also, if you have access to deer or shore fish, use it! Once your boars/sheep/deer are depleted, send four of your hunters into wood. Your other villagers should go collect food from the berry bushes.
  8. Once you reach a population of 20, continue creating villagers, but send them into wood. Create a lumber camp near the closest forest.
  9. As soon as you reach 25 pop, advance to the feudal age.

The Feudal Age

  1. While you’re advancing to the feudal age, build a few houses (3-4) and a barracks. If you’ve already found the enemy town, then you might want to build the barrack near his town.
  2. As soon as you reach feudal age, research Double Bit Axe and queue up a villager. This villager will go into food.
  3. Now, create four villagers that you’ll send into gold. We’ll need a decent amount of gold to get to castle age, and we’ll want to have enough to create knights.
  4. If you don’t already have a barracks near the enemy town, build one. Once finished, build an archery range and a stable.
  5. Once you’re at 30 population (1 scout, 4 gold miners, 12 woodcutters 13 in food), create another villager and send him into food. Then, create four villagers and send them into wood. Next, research wheelbarrow.
  6. You’ll also want to build a few houses for your quickly expanding population
  7. While this is all happening, you’ll want to start creating a few skirmishers of men-at-arms to harass the enemy. I recommend you build a tower near his gold mine or lumber camp. Don’t overdo it though, we want to get to the castle age as quickly as possible.
  8. When the wheelbarrow research finishes, you should be able to advance to the Castle age. If you decided to go really aggressive on the enemy, then you might not have enough resources. If you’re close, simply wait it out. Otherwise, continue pumping out villagers and sending them to your most needed resources.
  9. While advancing to the Castle age, you’ll want to continue harassing the enemy and building houses, but make sure to keep a good stockpile of wood (around 500). You’re gonna need it!

The Castle Age (and beyond)

  1. Once you reach the Castle age, research Bow Saw and queue up some more villagers. Send these into wood.
  2. Using a few woodcutters, pop down a new Town centre. This, with knights, is the main reason we advanced to the castle age so quickly.
  3. Create some knights in your stable (which should be near the enemy base) and use these knights to raid the computer’s lumber and mining camps.
  4. Continue harassing and creating villagers (assign them to the most needed resource) and you’re well on the way to victory! When you think the enemy is weak enough, start creating rams to bring down his towers/Town centre(s). He should surrender quickly enough ;)


Here’s a video I made of me using this strategy against the computer on hardest. I’m using the Byzantines for their cheaper skirmishers and spearmen, but this strategy works with any civilization:

Note: I made several errors in this video, yet still came out on top. Just goes to show how weak the AI is to early aggression.


That concludes this article, I hope you’ve enjoyed it and don’t forget to come back for more!


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