The games for Age of Empires were never real and always hid many finesses that are not immediately apparent from the start. This also applies to the fourth part. Nevertheless, there are a few tricks that can quickly make you a lot better. Accordingly, in this guide, we show you the best tips and tricks to get started with Age of Empires 4.
Using villagers properly to get the game off to a good start
The most important thing to know when starting a game in Age of Empires 4 is that the villagers are the heart of your game. They collect resources and build buildings that you can use either economically or militarily.
You should train as many villagers as possible right from the start and instruct your first villagers to collect food – it is best to slaughter the sheep one after the other next to the village center. Use your scout to find more sheep nearby and then send them to the village center as well.
Now you are expanding your portfolio by collecting other resources with your new villagers and erecting new buildings. It is best to always make sure that your village center is in operation. It should always be tasked with training villagers or developing technologies. Never let your village center sit idle.
For the villagers, on the other hand, it is also important that they always have something to do. Just standing around wasting time and potential resources. You can see at the bottom left on the blue button if and how many villagers are idle. If you don’t know what to do, let them build houses or collect raw materials.
Always remember that your villagers are easy prey for enemies. So you have to take protective measures. You do this by stationing troops nearby or by having your villagers work near buildings that units can billet. These would be village centers, keep or outposts, for example.
The shift key makes your life easier
With the usually so inconspicuous shift key, many useful things can be done in Age of Empires. Using them correctly is a good way of making some processes work automatically up to a certain point so that you have time to concentrate on other things as well.
For example, let villagers build certain buildings one after the other, depending on the order in which you want to see them erected. Select your villager, then hold down the shift key and then place the buildings in the order in which they should be built. According to your information, the villager then erects these structures.
By the way, you can do the same thing to set waypoints. This is very important and useful, especially for your scout. If you hold down the Shift key and then right-click the places you want your scout or the respective unit to walk along one after the other, do so without running directly to the last point. If you mark a semicircle like this, the unit runs a corresponding semicircle.
Especially when you send your scout out to uncover different hidden areas on the map one after the other, this is great because you don’t have to send him somewhere else every few seconds. You can also select these points by right-clicking on the minimap.
Set clever collection points
Logically, you can train units in production buildings such as the village center or in barracks and other military structures. But if you have selected this building, you can determine where the created units should go as soon as they have been trained.
You can use this militarily, for example, to have soldiers take up positions near your villagers who work further out in order to protect them. If you plan an attack, then you can have your troops gather near your enemy.
This is also economically worthwhile. So you can put your villagers created in the village center directly on a source of raw materials in order to mine them immediately. But here it is important to distinguish which type of gathering point you have set:
There are two types of collection points – one is gold and one is blue. If your rally point is gold or yellowish, this means that your units are gathering at the location selected with a right-click on the plain ground. However, if the rally point is blue, then it is also linked to an activity.
If you put villagers on a gold mine and you see the way there is marked in blue, then you know that your villagers will also mine this gold. If you want to put villagers on stone or sheep, but the line is golden, then you know that you have not really marked the respective raw material, but the ground next to it.
If you select an enemy unit or a wild animal like a wolf with a military production building, this means that your created units will immediately set out to attack the target. In most cases, however, this is not recommended when your enemies retreat into the fog of war, as the soldiers then no longer know where to go. Then they run to the last known whereabouts.
Establishes raw material storage areas
In order to collect resources efficiently, you should always have buildings close by in which you can store resources. There is a corresponding storage building for each type of raw material, with the village center serving as a warehouse for all raw materials.
- Mill for food: You should place a mill near berry bushes and huntable wild animals so that your villagers can put their food here. When the berries have been harvested and all wild animals have been killed, sow fields around your mill. Inshore fish caught with your villagers can also be placed in your harbor.
- Lumberjack camp for wood: It is best to set up a lumberjack camp right next to a dense forest and let your villagers cut the trees right next to it. Wood is usually broken down very quickly, so that the distance between the lumberjack camp and the trees quickly becomes quite large. Then build another lumberjack camp closer to the trees. What at first sounds like a waste of wood will save you a surprising amount of time in the end!
- Miners’ camp for gold and stone: Gold and stone both require the same raw material storage space. if you find gold and stone very close to each other at the beginning of a game, you should accordingly place the miners’ camp between them in order to save you having to build another camp, at least at the beginning.
If you are in the knight or imperial era, it can be worthwhile from time to time to build a new village center further outside of your own settlement, provided that you can find a lot of different resources close together. You then use these village centers to set up further bases and to have another place of retreat in the event of a serious enemy attack.
Initially, only select suitable upgrades
Especially when it comes to raw materials, their storage locations allow you to research new upgrades, especially in the later epochs, that make the extraction of your resources more efficient. With food in particular, it is important that you pay attention to what your primary food sources are, as there are several of these.
If you specialize in fields, for example because your people work very efficiently with them, as is the case with the English, then you should first concentrate on field upgrades. If you hunt hardly or not at all, the corresponding upgrades will not bring you anything and you can invest the gold more sensibly instead.
Incidentally, the same applies to the military up to a certain point! If you are offensive and want to play Rushs to put your enemy under pressure and weaken their economy, then it is worthwhile to first go for archers and buy upgrades in the forge that increase their damage.
If you prefer to play wait-and-see and defensive, then you should rather rely on melee units such as armed men to keep your enemies away from your villagers. So that they do not topple over immediately by a hail of arrows from the enemy, their armor should be improved , etc.
If you have arrived in the age of chivalry and your economy is broad and stable, then you can gradually research technologies that you did not need so much so far, depending on your priorities.
Actively use your hotkeys
Hotkeys are essential for survival, especially when things get stressful and confusing! Hotkeys are small but nice abbreviations that make your life a lot easier. These are specific keys on your keyboard that lead you to a specific goal.
With hotkeys you select units, buildings and production targets such as other structures, soldiers and technologies. Most of the corresponding destinations are already assigned a hotkey – you can recognize this by a number or a letter in the top right corner of the button – but you can also create and assign your own hotkeys.
In the middle of the game you can do this very quickly by using the “Ctrl” key. For example, if you want to give your scout a hotkey right at the start so that you can quickly select it, no matter where it is on the map, you can do this by holding down “Ctrl” and then selecting key 1 – or whatever key you want.
If you now click button 1, your scout will be selected. If you have used the same procedure with some villagers but the number 2 or another number, you then select your villagers with the corresponding button. You can do the same with buildings. If you want to produce different units in quick succession, this saves a lot of time.
This is incredibly useful in the micro-management of your military. For example, if you have melee infantry, ranged combatants and cavalry, but want to use them differently in combat in order to make better use of their strengths, then you select your groups one after the other and equip them with numbers as described above in order to quickly select and command them can.
If you want to quickly jump back and forth between your marked target groups and keep an eye on them, this is also quick. For example, if you want to determine the location of your scout, which you connected with the hotkey 1, you simply press 1 twice in quick succession and your camera jumps to your target.
In the main menu you can also set your general grid hotkeys yourself if the ones suggested by the game do not suit you. Click on “Settings” in the lower right corner, then on “Control” and then on the button “Show control and reassign”. Now you can customize the hotkeys. Unfortunately you cannot (yet) define mouse buttons as hotkeys, only those on your keyboard.
Know your enemy: the knowledge of the individual peoples
Something that clearly sets Age of Empires 4 apart from its predecessor titles such as the popular Age of Empires 2 is the clear differentiation between the individual factions in the game. The respective peoples have always differed from one another, but these differences were more in the details, with most of the peoples playing very similarly.
In Age of Empires 4 this is now noticeably different. Not only do the respective races now have significantly more individual technologies and units, they play each other completely different in places, which means that AoE4 in this context is more similar to Warcraft 3 or Starcraft 2 in places.
The strengths and weaknesses of the respective peoples become noticeable early on, which ensures that you (mostly) have to use clear tactics from the start in order to be successful. While the English and the Holy Roman Empire already have good defensive properties at the beginning, this is very different with other peoples. That leads us to the next point:
Getting Started: Pros and Cons of Rushs
The respective people determine up to a certain point which strategy you will use or which tactics are available at all. In order to be able to implement the respective tactic correctly, it is important that you know the corresponding build order, i.e. the correct build order.
The Mongols, for example, can fall back on agile and flexible combat units very early on, but are an easy target defensively. Accordingly, attack is the best defense and you should act according to your strengths.
For the Mongols this would mean that you play a rush. That means you attack early. You don’t try to destroy the enemy base right away, but instead try to kill as many of his villagers as possible or at least keep them from working.
If the enemy loses villagers or cannot use them, their economy stagnates while yours continues to grow. In RTS games, a good start is crucial, as you develop exponentially according to your start.
So if you start well and quickly have a stable economy, while your opponent is only making slow progress, you have already left him behind in feudal times and can actually already close the sack. If you are effective, the game is over after 15 minutes and you win.
However, the rush is not a guarantee of victory: if the opponent is well prepared, your rush can quickly fizzle out, which means that you have thrown away a lot of resources for your military early on, which could actually strengthen your economy.
If the rush went wrong, then in most cases you have almost lost, depending on how well your opponent knows how to use this for himself. So in order to play a rush, you should know about the strengths and weaknesses of your own as well as those of the opposing people.
Analyzes and uses the environment
Almost even more important than in Age of Empires 2 is the use of the topography of the map, or the knowledge of the environment. You can use nature very well to your advantage, whereby it is important that you know about it early on:
If you send your scout out at the beginning of the game, it won’t just be to look for sheep with them. Also try to find out where the enemy settlement is and what natural and topographical conditions prevail between your bases.
If you mainly find forests and hills or slopes that are not very densely overgrown, then a lot can be decided militarily at this point. But it is important that you are here first and take possession of the battlefield in front of your opponent.
Plan an ambush
If you find a little densely overgrown forest between you – i.e. a place where you can walk through the trees but still have leaves on the ground – then this place is ideal for an ambush.
Post some archers here and some melee fighters in front of them. If their silhouettes are surrounded by an additional shimmer, this means that they are more difficult to see by the enemy. If you lure your opponent’s units to this point, you can now attack their flank from ambush and have a clear advantage in battle.
Differences in height bring the decisive advantage
If there is a hill between the respective troops, then you absolutely want to conquer it. If you stand above with your soldiers, then they have an advantage in a direct duel and defeat the enemy fighters, even if they may be nominally equally strong.
Especially for archers and other long-range fighters, it is a huge advantage to stand “uphill” at the top of the hill. This increases the range of your arrows, makes them more powerful and the enemy takes longer to reach you.
So if you keep an overview in battle and maneuver your troops up hills and slopes while your opponent is below you, you can still win if you are outnumbered. Conversely, this means that, depending on the case that your opponent is on top, you should rather avoid this fight, as it will be very lossy for you.
If you follow these tips and tricks, Age of Empires 4 will be much easier for you in many places.