Of all the maps available in Age of Empires 2, Arabia is the most popular. In the competitive scene, Arabia is consistently the starting map of nearly every tournament map pool, and Arabia has never left the Ranked Map Pool since Definitive Edition launched.
Many new players struggle playing Arabia. Arabia fundamentally encourages players to be aggressive, and a passive player will usually fall behind.
In Arabia, each players town center will always have the following resources surrounding it:
- 8 Sheep – 4 close to your town center and 2 groups of 2 sheep within 11 tiles of your town center;
- 2 Boars;
- 6 Berry Bushes;
- 3 or 4 Deer;
- 8-tile Gold Mine;
- two 4-tile Gold Mines;
- one 4-tile Stone Mine; and
- one 5-tile Stone Mine.
Naturally, there is plenty of wood, although if the game becomes late, map control can be used to deprive a player of wood.
There will also be neutral 2-tile Stone Mines and 3-tile Gold Mines located around the map.
In a 1 vs 1 game, there are 5 relics generated at random around the map, although where more players are added, additional relics are added to reflect the number of players.
You must be military-minded when playing Arabia. Matches on Arabia can be fast-paced and aggressive, and this is a map where you are punished when you play passively.
Although it is undeniable that economic management wins games, when learning the ropes, there is no better map to practice all-in Feudal or Castle Age wars, such as one town-center strategy, than Arabia. A one town-center play may catch an opponent unaware as they may find they are unable to produce the military to keep up before their economy kicks into gear. Simply the costs of building and producing villagers from multiple town-centers are so resource-consuming that a person making a one town-center play can always out-produce the military of an opponent on multiple town-centers.
Typically in Arabia, players attempt to undermine another player’s early game with some early aggression, which would then snowball into a victory. This is very different than the strategy on Arena, for instance, where it is common to fast-castle into a boom, or fast-castle into a smush. In Arabia, players may make a few scouts and kill an enemy villager or two, and then go into the Castle Age knowing they have the better economy.
Best Arabia civilizations
Civilizations that excel most in Arabia are those that are consistently able to take or make an advantage and snowball that advantage, rather than a civilization that is highly capable in the late game. The reason for this is clear – the civilization that is king in the late game but mediocre in the early and mid-game will usually lose the match before being able to access their advantages.
The following civilizations feature an advantage that is abused in 1 v 1 Arabia:
The Aztecs determine a match by their economy and their faster military production. Aztecs can outproduce you early, as they can outproduce an opponent and swing battles and eventually the game in their favor.
Primarily due to the extra range of their archers in the Castle Age and the ability to maintain production of archers while throwing down Town Centers and booming, Britons snowball a match in the early Castle Age.
If you can manage their awkward build order with little or no idle time, you will always have a villager lead with the Chinese. This advantage starts immediately in playing the game, and it is easier than ever to tech into a counter to an opponent due to cheaper researches. Further, they can play into fully upgraded Arbalest or Cavalier, which are the two powerhouse units for 1 v 1 Arabia.
The Franks take their advantage in Arabia by both their food economic bonuses and their beefier cavalry. In the late game, they have a powerhouse unit in the game by arguably the best paladin in the games which assist them in raids, and in taking map control to place their cheaper castles across the map.
The Lithuanians feature a smooth scout rush owing to their extra food on starting the game, which assists a player in taking map control early and retrieving the relics. Where Lithuanians keep up with an opponent’s economy and have taken a few of the relics, they are undeniably the better civilization. Even without relics, Lithuanians feature faster skirmishers that accompany and protect their knights from spearman.
Like the Chinese, Mayans take a villager lead immediately on starting the game. Their economy is only made stronger by an economic bonus making all resources last longer, which benefits them at every point in the game. Mayans often sit back and play defensively until they have mass-produced crossbowmen, but they can just as seamlessly play aggressively with a drush or men at arms into feudal archers.
With the best economy bonus in the game, the Vikings take leads without pressuring an opponent. Vikings typically wall up and play defensively until the late Castle Age, where they have such an economic advantage they can spam Crossbowmen or make a fast Imperial work.