Strategy? What strategy?

black white and brown chess board game

Age of Empires 2 is a “real-time strategy” game that has been popular among players for decades. Over this time, players have had the chance to determine game-winning strategies. A good player will know the strategies available to them, consider their civilizations’ strengths and weaknesses, and determine how best to respond to their opponent’s strategy. Look no further and read on to learn all about the standard Age of Empires 2 strategies popularised over the decades.


Booming is a strategy that involves focusing on economic growth and resource gathering, allowing you to build up a strong economy and military. The goal of this strategy is to have a strong economy throughout the game so that you can create a larger army that can defeat your opponent.


  • Strong economy: A strong economy means that you will have more resources to work with, which will allow you to build up a larger army and better defend your base.
  • Outlasting your opponent: If you can build up a strong economy, you will be able to sustain your army for longer, which means that you will be able to outlast your opponent.


  • Slow start: Booming can be a slow strategy, as it requires you to focus on gathering resources and building up your economy, rather than attacking your opponent.
  • Vulnerable to rushes: Because you are focused on building up your economy, you may be vulnerable to rushes from your opponent, who can catch you off guard and end the game before you have a chance to fully develop your civilization.


A Rush is a strategy that involves sending out military units to attack your opponent as quickly as possible, trying to catch them off guard and deal economic damage to an opponent to give you an economic advantage. The goal of this strategy is to end the game quickly or deal economic damage before your opponent has a chance to catch up.


  • Economic advantage: If exercised correctly, your rush can get your economy significantly ahead of your opponent’s economy.
  • Ready for battle: By attempting a rush, you field some military units that can assist in defending your base.
  • Quick victory: If you can successfully rush your opponent, you can end the game quickly and claim victory.
  • Catching your opponent off guard: Rushing can catch your opponent off guard, and prevent them from developing a strong defense or economy.


  • Risky: Rushing can be risky, as it requires you to invest heavily in military units and attack your opponent, rather than building up your own defenses or economy.
  • Capable of being countered: It is sometimes the case that your opponent already has the counter unit to your intended military, in which case you have invested into making the building and units for no good reason.

Fast Castle

Fast Castle is a strategy that involves quickly advancing to Castle Age in order to either boom, by building multiple town centers, or rush an opponent with superior military (usually knights or crossbowmen).


  • Technological Advantage: By advancing quickly to Castle Age, you will have access to superior technologies, which will make your economy more efficient, or your military units have better blacksmith upgrades.
  • Early control: If executed correctly and without suffering early aggression, you can either dramatically out-boom your opponent, or pile on the military pressure with knights/crossbowmen and mangonels.


  • Vulnerable to early aggression: You cannot make any decent amount of military which will assist in defending your base if you choose to fast castle. You are basically confined to walls and defensively placed buildings.
  • Lose all map control: Because you are focused on executing a fast castle build order, you cannot have military control “no-mans-land”. You generally give up additional resources and presence.


Turtling is a strategy that involves heavily fortifying your base and relying on defensive structures and units to protect yourself while you build up your army. The goal of this strategy is to create a strong, impenetrable defense that will allow you to withstand any attacks from your opponent.


  • Strong defense: Turtling allows you to build up a strong, well-defended base, which will be difficult for your opponent to penetrate.
  • Time to develop: By being well-defended, you will have time to develop your army and resources, which will give you an advantage in the later stages of the game.


  • Slow start: Turtling can be a slow strategy, as you will need to focus on building up your defenses and gathering resources, rather than attacking your opponent.
  • Vulnerable to rushes: Because you are focused on defense, you may be vulnerable to rushes from your opponent, who can attack you quickly and end the game before you have a chance to fully develop your army.
  • Flawed to siege: Usually, trebuchets, bombard cannons or siege rams will destroy any player that spends time turtling.
  • Villagers mine stone: Where villagers are collecting stone, they are not collecting resources necessary to acomodate for a stable economy. As such, your opponent will usually have a healthy economy capable of out-producing you.

Full Feudal

A Full Feudal strategy refers to a player being hyper-aggressive, advancing to Feudal Age and piling on the pressure with no intention to advance to Castle Age, but rather using those resources for additional military and technology. This usually is a high-risk, high reward strategy, as you either convincingly kill your enemy before they have a chance to react and defend, or you end up with a much worse economy and stuck in Feudal Age while your opponent is well into Castle Age.


  • Early advantage: By investing into Feudal Age military, you can overpower an opponent trying to Fast Castle or Boom.
  • Speed: A Full Feudal strategy is fast-paced, allowing you to quickly devastate an opponent’s economy.


  • Risky: A Full Feudal strategy is a high-risk play style. If you do not do serious damage and end up killing many of your opponent’s villagers, you may as well resign, as you will always be trying to catch up economically.
  • Vulnerable to counter-attacks: If the enemy is able to mount a successful counter-attack, you may not have the economy to adapt.
  • Inferior to Castle Age units: A standard knight without upgrades generally kills three scouts. It is not hard for a player to deal with your Feudal Age military if they are able to get some superior Castle Age military of their own out.

Wonder/Relic Victory

Building a wonder or obtaining all the relics is another strategy available, however, it cannot be used in ranked matches. For either strategy, you would focus on a healthy economy and turtling. For a Wonder victory, you would need to be in Imperial Age and build a wonder, and for a Relic victory, you would need to obtain all the relics. Upon either of these, you will see a pop-up determining the number of in-game years. Keep the wonder up/keep possession of all the relics in your monastery until the end of the countdown and you win the game.


  • Your opponent is in the hot seat: Your opponent has to get access to your wonder/monastery and destroy it before the countdown ends. This can often be stressful to an opponent.
  • Defenders advantage: As the one building the wonder or the monastery where the relics are stored, you are able to make it as defendable as possible. Also, as it is likely in the heart of your base, you will have your military buildings there and can reinforce much faster than an offender.



  • Time-consuming: Wonders can take a long time to construct, and you will need to focus on gathering resources and building your economy, rather than attacking your opponent.
  • Extremely obvious: All opponents are notified when you start building a wonder.
  • Vulnerable to rushes: If your opponent rushes you while you are building up your economy or your Wonder, you may struggle to defend and build the wonder.

Relic Victory

  • Unrealistic: Most games, and especially against the AI, your opponent will take at least one of the relics, making this impossible unless you recover the relic.

Next Steps

These are but some of the strategies available to a player in Age of Empires 2. The trick is knowing which strategy to use, and why. Consider the above in light of your civilizations’ bonuses. For example, the Teutons are amazing at turtling, as their castles have extra range, whereas the Magyars, with cheaper scouts, may be better at rushing an opponent. To better your odds in the coming games, get to know and understand the strengths and weaknesses of each approach above.

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