Community Forums > Games > Age of Empires > Tips to improve your Age Of Empires skill

Tips to improve your Age Of Empires skill


Group: Game Moderator
Join Date: 4 October 2007
Posted 29 January 2015 - 4:24 am
HOTKEYS for the english version of the game.

One of the major differences between "experts" and beginners is the ability to "multi-task" during the game. This means being able to conduct battles and scout while at the same time tending to your empire's economy and military production. In order to do this effectively, you MUST use hotkeys. Even if you set your screen scroll speed to maximum and have a wickedly fast mouse, you will not be able to compete with a hotkey user, all other things being equal. This tip explains ALL the hotkeys -- not all are in the manual -- and gives some advanced techniques on usage to help you even faster. However, I still cannot help you find our berries.

Hotkeys. I recommend you memorize and practice with the hotkeys for each buildings and the units they produce. This table describes building selection. To use the CTRL+ and ALT+ hotkeys, hold the CTRL or ALT button down and push the appropriate letter, then release both.
Building / Hotkey
Town Center H/CTRL+N
Barrack CTRL+B
Archery Range CTRL+A
Stable CTRL+L
Temple CTRL+P
Siege Workshop CTRL+K
Academy CTRL+Y

In addition to unit production, you can use hotkeys to control your villagers as well as other units. This table describes the unit order commands.

Action Hotkey Units
Build B Villagers(See below)
Repair R Villagers
Stop S All
Stand Ground D All Combat Units
Attack Ground T Catapult Units
Group G All
Ungroup U All
Heal E Priests
Convert C Priests

When commanding your villagers to build buildings, hotkeys can be used to speed the process. The table below gives useful building hotkeys to use in conjunction with the villagers' "B" hotkey. Holding the SHIFT key while placing the building allows you to build multiple buildings of the same type with one command. Note: this capability is now deactivated for the town center until you have build a government center.

Building/Structure - Hotkey
House E
Barrack B
Granary G
Storage Pit S
Dock D
Archery Range A
Stable L
Farm F
Tower T
Wall W
Market M
Government Center C
Temple P
Tower Center N
Siege Workshop K
Academy Y
Wonder O

To group units and control them, use the customizable group numbers. The following table illustrates. The # key refers to the number you assign a particular unit/building.
To... / Press...
Assign units/buildings to hotkey / Select units, then CTRL+#
Select group / #
Select group and center screen / ALT+#
Add units to group / #, then hold shift and select new units, then CTRL+#

Techniques. By grouping units into squads assigned to numbers you can control them more effectively. For example, you can put your catapults in the front on "1" and the infantry defending them on "2", then attack only with group 1. Group 2 defends. As the enemy charges your catapults, assign "1" the Stand Ground order(so your infantry do not get crushed by friendly fire) and attack with "2". Or simply have "1" retreat back through the line of infantry while "2" handles the enemy charge.

Another use is for scouting. By assigning scouts/villagers hotkeys, you can quickly select them to retreat from lions, give them attack orders or build outputs. This is much quicker than scrolling your screen or looking for them on the small mini-map.

Another use is to assign upgrade buildings such as a storage pit, granary, market, or government center to a #. These buildings do not have their own hotkeys, and in the heat of battle, when you want to research alchemy, it can be tough to remember where you built that darn government center. Assigning it to its own hotkey means you can instantly select the building and begin researching, all while still keeping your eye on the fight.

Finally, by selecting your military bases, such as archery ranges or stables and grouping several of them under one #, you can quickly churn out large masses of military units, all without leaving the field of battle. Just select the buildings you want(I recommend keeping them of the same type) and CTRL+# to assign them a hotkey. Now you can easily make more troops by hitting:

1 #
2 the hotkey for the unit you want
3 TAB to next build
4 unit hotkey, and so on...

The units will all be built simultaneously. This can be done even while in fierce combat. Just listen for the distinctive sound that tells you construction is complete, then repeat. You will quickly overwhelm your enemy with large numbers of units.

Walls. The quick and easy method to build a line of walls is to simply click and drag the mouse where you want the wall to stretch. Assuming you have sufficient stone, the foundation for the entire wall will appear and your villagers will begin the task of fishing. Walls cannot be built on water, trees, wild animals, units or existing structures. Wit a bit of practice, you can quickly lay down a line of defenses to protect your fledgling empire.

Farms. The quickest way to lay down multiple farms is to hold the SHIFT key while placing each farm. The designers have made it easy for you to begin farming in this manner. As each farm is built, the villagers move from farm to farm finishing them up, except one villager per farm stays behind to work the soil and collect food. To do this, grab a group of villagers, click "B" and "F", then hold the SHIFT key and place one farm for each villager. It's that easy. This way you can quickly begin harvesting food without tying up all your management time placing the farms.
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Group: Game Moderator
Join Date: 4 October 2007
Edited 29 January 2015 - 4:26 am by +KGB_Crazy
Tips I - Author: Praetor_Staffa

*Lions and Elepehants dont cross shallows.

*It is almost never right for your villagers to attack tool archers with +2 armor, about the only time it is right is when the archer sneaked in, and you just finished your walls so you are assured that no more will be coming, because if you fight back, you can be damn sure 2-3 more are comming, and then your gonna have to flee anyway, so what did you gain but a few seconds and a few dead villagers.

*Spread your houses and other illrelevant buildings around your area, when enemy villagers attempt to find a place to put military buildings near your area, they will find it much more difficult if you have much of your area lighted up by houses/barrecks. Not to mention each time they run near a house you have a chance of seeing them, making it much more periously for enemy villagers to float around your town's area.

*You can wall off any area in stone with houses, its very expensive, and very rarely usefull, but something you should consider if you only need 2-3 houses to wall off a big area. If a narrow pass borders water, you can build a dock+house to wall that off, very expensive, but you can always use the dock to fish. You can also build docks in shallows to block it, though this is used quite often nowdays, I only mention it for the few that might not know.

*Ballastics is imo, one of the must underappeciated techs in the game(for archer civs) Many think it only helps tiremes/catapults/helepos/bastillia towers. But in truth it helps ALL archers. Everything that shots will have a very good chance of missing a moving target, depending on which direction that target is moving reletive to the shooters, and how fast. villagers fleeing from archers at a slanted angle can ussualy get away with very few hps lost. Even if there are many archers. Unless you have ballastics, this tech changes
everything, villagers cant flee, caverly cant run past archers without suffering any hits, and cats can slaughter charging caverly.

*Chariot(HA) vs cavelry fights, caverly tend to attack one chariot, ignoring the others. Have the chariot that is being targted run away from the caverly that are trying to hit it. Your remaining chariots will continue to fire at the caverly, while the caverly chase uselessly after the chariot. If you find this happening to you, split your caverly and target each chariot individualy

*Either way, the archer comes out ahead simply because he can concentrate his firepower, and you can not.

*If someone walls off your Towncenter(TC), its as good as dead, I have walled off hundreds of TC's and have never seen the walls broken(once built) just delete your tc and build a new one somewhere else.

*The cheapest, fastest, and most surprising way past walls is with transports. Catapults are vastly more expensive, alert your opponant, and are very vuneralbe to ground troops. Transports are vastly cheaper, can usually flee the scene of battle via water, and the docks they require can also be used to build war ships and fishing boats. Siege buildings only take up room.

*Dont get me wrong, catapults have their uses, they are very effective at taking out buildings/leveling towns. And in chariot fights, a couple catapults on your side can be decisive, as your opponant either has to target
the catapults, which means moving in range, giving your archers more fire time, dance around the catapult's shots, which like wise gives your archers more firing time. Or die, which is just nice.

*Combined firepower is very important, 4 chariots will kill 8 chariots if they can kill the 8 chariots 1 at a time. Thus when your military buildings are being guarded by an opponant's army, its usualy unwise to attempt to
build units there, as they will be taken down with brutal swiftness(this only applies when your vastly outnumbered, buildings compared to enemy units)

*Now, to contridict what i said above, its not always unwise to build military units at buidings that are under heavy fire. You can flee the unit creating distractions for the opponant you may buy your villagers time to flee, build new mliitary buildings/walls, or support a relief army that is on the way. Also, when having trouble taking out an opponants town due to the size of his army, I like to entice him to attempt to remove my military buildings, he will charge with a massive army, which my 8-12 defenders will attempt to defend, and die doing so, and while i keep pumping more units out, he starts to concentrate on that fight, and the buildings he is trying to destroy, while a second army of mine is now playing "Who can shoot the most innocent defensless villagers and run away like cowards before their army
returns" The neat thing about this trick is that the opponant wont even realize his town is under attack untell your buildings are gone, and his town is empty, a fair trade imo.

*And remember, no one is unbeatable, the map, and more importantly, the decisions that are made on too little information play a crucial role in determining the outcome. The simple choice of which way to explore
first can be the difference of who wins and who loses, and there was no way to know which way was the right way. The best we can do is to make the decisions most likely to succede, while remembering that they may not be the right decisions for this specific case. This is what is called playing the odds, and even the best odd's players lose sometimes.
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Group: Game Moderator
Join Date: 4 October 2007
Posted 29 January 2015 - 4:27 am
Tips II - Author: Praetor_Staffa

*Plan your economy ahead, this is crucial during the stone-bronze phase, if you find yourself lacking easy food and decide to start dock fishing, realize that this will cost massive amounts of wood and put the woodcutters that you will need on it early. Same if you decide You will need to farm. If you want to put down 3-4 ranges/stables during tool, make sure you have enough wood to support it. And remember, anytime you enter a new age, food is at a premium, upgrades are expensive, and you want to be able to build the new mlitary units and more peons. Thus try to get a good ready supply of food when you enter a new age. And NEVER let your food supply run out leaving you with no incoming food. Unless the game is all but over, you will be amazed how fast your food will run out when you have no new food coming in. Always keep food coming in somewhere, in fact, this goes for all resources that you might need.

*Economic upgrades are very important, assyrian players should research woodcutting while bronzing, or if they are staying in tool for a good long time, they should research it as soon as possible. During bronze, you should research the bronze age wood cutting tech as soon as possible(after wheel) Gold tech should be researched before or soon after you start mining gold, these techs improve your villagers ability to gather resources, thus making them faster and more effective, which translates into a larger economic base in the long run, and wood techs improve ur range.

*villagers with siegecraft can in moderate numbers level towers quicker then catapults, this is another under used tech, and it doesnt cost gold, which can be crucial as gold can get scarce, while food is freely aviable.

*If your peon is being chased by another peon, there are many tricks you can use to avoid being caught. You can try to circle around a lion and hope the lion triggers on the chaser, this does work quite well, as if your carefull about where u put urself, it will almost always go after him and not you. You can try to put a tree between the two of you, this is very hard with lag, but if done right the peon will lose a couple steps on you and fall behind, and if he isnt watching you can be far off before he catches up again. You can attempt to fight him on a hill, gain an elevation advantage, and you gain more damage, this has worked for me, was really cool cause i had fewer hps at start and I managed to win it.

*When building military bases in your opponants town, put your peon next to a forest wall, the waters edge, or the edge of the map, or near a pile of stone/gold so that when you build the building you will be mostly surrounded by other things, and if you suspect peons might notice you building it, start building walls on the 1-3 holes left that a peon might be able to walk in through, thus you can then safely finish the building while his peons stare angerly at you from the other side of your wall. I do this almost every time now, and it has proved usefull. Usualy requires 10 stone and a few seconds biulding up each one a few hps.

*Going into a game with the intent to do a specific strategy is normaly a good way to pracitce a specific strategy, but neccesary the best way to win. You should tailor your strategy to the game being played, some strategies work better on some maps then others, and this isnt so much depedent on wether or not your playing inland, but what your maps ends up being like once your in the game, and also what your opponants/team mates end up doing. Also, practicing iron rushing on a map ill suited for such a strategy is fruitless, as you are not learning how to iron rush in a good iron rushing situtation.
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Group: Game Moderator
Join Date: 4 October 2007
Posted 29 January 2015 - 4:28 am
Learn how to TRADE correctly in aoe - Author: FWH_Foistie

I have listed my conclusions and recommendations first so that you can refer back to them at a later date for a quick summary. Information supporting these conclusions is found in the main body of the text.


1. Never build more than two trading ships for EACH ally or opponent you trade with. If possible, trade with more than one ally or opponent using two additional trading ships.

2) Never upgrade the trading ships to merchant ships, unless you are traveling a great distance.

3) If possible, always trade food first, wood if you must, and never trade stone for gold.

4) Build your dock as FAR AWAY as you 'safely' can from the dock you expect to trade with.

5) VERY IMPORTANT: Make sure you and your trading partner DO NOT have additional docks closer to each other (in between your trading docks) or you will only get gold credit based on the distance between these closer (non-trading) docks.

6) Try to trade in a straight a line as is possible (avoid going 'around curvatures in the land'). Bottle necks (created by land or too many boats/ships in a tight space) will cause your traders to stop and sit idle in the water.

7) Make sure you have no 'idle' trading ships waiting at his dock. If you do, you are either too close to each other, you have built too many trading boats, or you have run out of food/wood to trade with. An idle trading boat has a built in penalty as described later.

8) Begin trading as early in the game as possible. In ROR, that means early tool, given the amount of food you can also obtain from fish. Not finding that first gold pile becomes less crucial. Understand that trading creates NEW gold. It does not 'steal' gold from you, your ally, or your opponent.



The minute the game begins, any dock (yours for trading with others and others for trading with you) begins with a gold 'ticker' starting at zero. If you click on any dock, you can observe the gold ticker as it accumulates this gold. Every second which passes adds one unit of gold to the gold ticker up to a Maximum of 100 units of gold. The ticker stops at 100. If you trade for gold, the ticker is reduced by the number of gold units you 'load' onto your trading ship. This gold ticker is then replenished (one unit per second) until it once again reaches 100 units of gold. This represents how many gold units are available for trading for that entire particular ALLY OR OPPONENT RACE.


Your trading boat can carry up to 20 units of a commodity (food/wood/stone) in its cargo hold. When you port at the ally/opponents dock, you will receive up to 20 units of gold, IF the units of gold are available (to be explained further).


Remember that 20 units of gold you loaded into your cargo hold? This is NOT how much gold you eventually receive credit for and can actually use in the game. These 20 units of gold increase or lose value depending on how far you travel to get it. Think of it this way. At your dock, you have loaded 20 units of food onto a boat. Let's call them 20 'crates' of food. You then trade them for 20 crates (units) of gold. Each crate has a dollar value which changes based upon distance. For example: A crate of gold has a certain value in the United States. Transport that gold crate to Europe, and it now has a new value. Travel another distance to Russia and your well traveled crate of gold takes on still a new value.

In AOE/ROR, the further you travel, the more valuable your gold crates in your cargo hold become. Ultimately, you will receive 'true' gold value of anywhere between 7 and 75 gold for each round trip your trading ship makes depending upon the distances between YOUR dock which is closest to HIS closest dock. The amount received is based on the number of tiles away, etc. But let's just say, if you put your dock right beside his, you will receive just 7 spendable gold pieces and you have wasted your time. Try longer distances and you will see how it works. The simple rule of thumb is, place your dock as far away as you 'safely' can. I say safely as the trade route must be protected from enemy attack.

Here's a cruel twist: Let's say you are trading a long distance from dock 'a' to dock 'b'. Without thinking, you build a second (or third, etc.) dock much closer to the ally/opponent you are trading with (or he builds a new dock closer to you). You will now receive 'true' gold value based on the distance between YOUR CLOSEST dock and HIS CLOSEST dock, even though you are using 'other' docks to trade with which are further apart.

Here's another twist: The amount of gold credit you actually receive and can use in game play is determined by distance based upon the 'shortest distance between two points' and not by how far you really traveled. For example: If you are at 12 (Continental map) and you go 'around the cape' at 3 and trade with someone at 5, you have traveled a very long distance. But the gold calculation is based on the direct line from dock 'a' and dock 'b'. In this case, the direct line is across the land, not around the land.


Idle in the water: If you are on inland or narrows, your boats can clog up in tight spaces (hitting each other or other ships) and they will then sit there until you see them and get them moving again. Therefore, try to trade on straight stretches of open water.

Idle in the water: Your trading boat carries 20 units of a commodity if it is available. For example, if you are trading food, and you run out of food (lazy peons didn't build new farms), then your trading boat will stop trading and will sit there, dead in the water until you get him going again.

Idle at his dock: How long your trading boat has to wait at his dock depends on how many units HE has available to trade (0 to 100 on his gold ticker). Example: If he has 60 gold units available and your boat arrives, your boat will immediately trade 20 commodity for 20 gold units and depart immediately. But if HIS dock only has 8 units of gold to trade, you will wait 12 seconds at his dock until his ticker gets up to 20 units at the rate of 1 unit per second. You remember that gold ticker (in the dock) that ticks up to 100 units (one per second) and represents how much gold a given race can trade? If that ticker depletes down below 20 gold units (too many trading ships arriving too quickly), then your trading boats will sit and wait at his dock until new gold units are created (one per second) in a sufficient amount to load the cargo hold of your boat with 20 units of gold.


The trading boat that you BUILT LAST is always FILLED FIRST at his dock. For example, let's assume that you are trading with just two ships and one of your ships is at his dock. Now, let's assume this was the VERY FIRST trading ship you built earlier in the game. This ship currently has 15 units (of 20) of gold loaded into his cargo hold. Your second trading ship (built later) arrives at his dock. Surprisingly, the Second ship (built later) now takes priority and begins to load gold into its cargo hold while the first ship (with 15 units of gold) just sits and waits until the second ship is fully loaded and departs. Quite a pecking order. Now, compound this if you have built three or more ships (a big mistake) to trade with just one ally/opponent!!! You will always have ships waiting at his dock, some will be half full, AND some will NEVER leave his dock due to the continuously arriving (younger) ships.


You want to create a situation where you have just enough ships whereby one is always arriving and the other is departing without having your ships wait at his port. If you want to get into the math, that's fine. But simply put, two is almost always the right number of trading boats to use per each race you trade with. Any more is not only a waste, but will decrease efficiency and productivity.

Think of it this way. If it takes you 40 seconds (quite a distance) to make a round trip from your dock to his dock and you are using three ships, then in 40 seconds you can take 60 gold units (20 gold units x 3 ships) from dock to dock. Remember his gold ticker counts up to 100 and replenishes his gold at 1 gold unit per second. His intial 100 units minus the 60 you took now leaves him with 40 units of gold available for trading. Your next wave of 3 ships will return in 40 seconds which allows his dock to increase to just 80 units of gold available (20 less than before) when you make the next trade. After this trade, he now has 20 units of gold (80 minus 60) and will replenish to a total of 60 units of gold when you arrive the third time. This third trade wipes out his total gold supply (60 minus 60 = 0) and from here on out you will have one trade boat waiting at his dock for the rest of the game.

A better example would be: If it takes you 40 seconds (still quite a distance) to make a round trip from your dock to his dock and you are using TWO ships, then in 40 seconds, you take 40 gold units (20 gold units x 2) from dock to dock. His initial 100 units minus 40 units (first trip) now leaves him with 60 units of gold available for trading. Your next wave of two ships will return in 40 seconds which allows his dock to fully replenish his gold units up to a maximum of 100 units. This means you are trading in an equal amount to the amount being replenished to his dock/race and your boats will never wait at his dock. Don't let the fact that his dock once again has 100 gold units mislead you. If he can't replenish up to 100 units before your return, then eventually you will have a trade boat waiting at his dock. REALISTICALLY, EVEN WITH TWO TRADING BOATS, ONE WILL BE WAITING AT HIS DOCK AS MOST OF THE TIME THE ROUND TRIP TRAVEL TIME WILL BE LESS THAN 40 SECONDS FROM DOCK TO DOCK.


Well, so you can win the long iron game! You can generate a ton of gold if you do it right. Think about it. You start trading early, over a great distance. Assuming the 40 second round trip scenario, you would probably get the full amount of 75 'usable' gold times two ships or 150 gold every 40 seconds. Assuming you have been trading for just 30 minutes with only one ally/opponent, YOU WILL GENERATE 6,750 IN 'USABLE' GOLD (30 minutes equals 1,800 seconds divided by 40 seconds per trip equals 45 full trips times 150 gold [75 gold each from 2 boats] equals 6,750 in 'usable gold). Hey, even if you trade far less efficiently with two ships, it becomes obvious that you can still generate tons of gold.


Trade boats travel at the rate of 2 squares per second. Upgraded Merchant Ships travel at the rate of 2.5 tiles per second (per the manual). Who cares if they are faster but arrive too quickly and have to wait? The upgrade is not worth the cost, unless the trading docks are very far away.


Food: When farming, 75 units of wood converts into anywhere from 250 food to 475 food (depending on how many farm upgrades you have). You can buy a lot of gold with 250-475 food as compared to wasting your wood.

Wood: It's a non-renewable resource which can be converted cheaper to food or used in your war efforts. Trade with wood only if you are very short on food and have a ton of wood collected. Use discretion.

Stone: Once stone is depleted from the land, it is gone for good. Use the stone for walls, towers, etc.


It's not really as hard as it sounds. Just follow the conclusions listed at the top of this analysis and you will find an unexpected gold bounty when you need it the most.
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Group: Standard Membership
Join Date: 6 July 2007
Posted 18 March 2016 - 1:04 am
+KGB_Crazy wrote:
Learn how to TRADE correctly in aoe

1. Never build more than two trading ships for EACH ally or opponent you trade with. If possible, trade with more than one ally or opponent using two additional trading ships.

I find this incorrect. in 3x3 huge map size, 7 trade boat per ally so that's 21 total trade boat for 1 side. Lets say u can have all ally to get 7 trade boats or, in another case, 1 person can get 14 for both ally and another person do 7 for your dock. To do this you can have your dock at 1 side then another side both ally dock next to each other. You need your dock 3/4 of distance in huge map to receive most benefit out of it.

I have tested this and confirms.
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 [N W O]Neymar_JR

Group: Standard Membership
Join Date: 21 May 2014
Posted 27 April 2016 - 12:24 am
I find this incorrect. in 3x3 huge map size, 7 trade boat per ally so that's 21 total trade boat for 1 side. Lets say u can have all ally to get 7 trade boats or, in another case, 1 person can get 14 for both ally and another person do 7 for your dock. To do this you can have your dock at 1 side then another side both ally dock next to each other. You need your dock 3/4 of distance in huge map to receive most benefit out of it.

I have tested this and confirms.

yes, you are right. The trade can hold more than 2 trade boats easily. It is all about the distance.

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