Any opponent you face will use the Dark and Feudal ages to
scout out your town and possibly even attack. The good
players will pinpoint your key resource spots, gold and wood,
for a later attack. Some don't wait and will attack you in
late dark with militia (then upgraded to man-at-arms in
feudal) or they'll get you with an early feudal archer rush.
This article will detail certain steps you can take to
diminish your enemy's reconnaissance and prevent their early
attacks from hurting you much.
Dark Age Tactics
Should I wall? In certain circumstances yes and others no.
Let's start when it is disadvantageous to wall.
One such time is when playing on arabia maps. Here it
will take you an extreme amount of time and resources to
wall the "fields" between the small patches of trees that
surround your base. Don't try it. You're much better
off putting radars (explained later) up to alert you of
the oncoming enemy.
Definitely do not wall on island maps. Instead of
cornering yourself into a small walled up section of your
island, expand and scout your island well so every inch of
it is visible with no fog. If you stay within your walls
and you don't see your enemy trannying over the game might
be over quickly.
Here's some situations where you do wall.
It's always a good idea to wall your shallows very early
on continental and highland maps. If you can get it up
before the enemy scout passes onto your continent, you've
cut off their exploration at least until feudal. Warning:
You'll be good until feudal but do NOT rely on this small
segment of walls after the enemy hits feudal because
they'll just tranny over a few vills where you aren't
looking. Continue to scout well, both land and sea so you
can prevent this.
If you play black forest maps, definitely not my favorite,
but if you do, walling the small pathways is vital. Many
players will send a few forward builders early in Dark to
your part of the map because they expect walls and they'll
try to sneak in before you get them up. Wall very early
on black forest.
On mediterranean maps wall the shallow strips of land at
the top and bottom of the map or put a ship up there to
block and monitor any forward builders.
When playing on coastal or baltic maps, if you've got a
good position to wall (lots of forest) go for it.
Many players will debate that walling is a waste of time
while others will say it can save you early on. I wall only
if I have a good spot or shallows or small strips of land as
mentioned above. Watching some of the expert recordings,
you'll see that some wall and some don't. For example,
maimin_matty usually makes it a goal to house wall and
players such as atsq rely on building placement and
House walls? Sure, why not. There are many benefits to
house walling. For one, they have 900 hitpoints as apposed
to the palisade's 150. Also, you're going to need those
houses and often house walling prevents that horrid sound
and message "You need to build more houses". Also, you can
use other buildings like barracks but it will cost you in
wood. When walling the shallow strips of land on medit
maps, house wall it and place a dock on the shore tile where
you can't place the last house.
How should I scout? Good scouting often separates an
advanced player from a mediocre one. Knowing where
resources are on the map, good walling or clutch spots to
take advantage of, and where your enemy is located. Here
are some things to keep in mind while you scout.
Just like in the old AoE days, use the circle waypoint
system around the circumference of your town. This will
usually locate your berries, sheep, and hopefully a boar
or two. Once your scout finishes the task, have him go
around your base again, expanding your search and
exploration. When you've located everything you need
(resources, walling spots), go off in search of the enemy.
Many players place "radars" around the map to monitor
enemy action. These "radars" are usually houses placed at
key spot to get rid of the fog of war. Later, when the
player researches town watch and patrol, these small
houses can see very far and can be very helpful in seeing
what the enemy is doing. Even early on you can catch
small bands of enemy units this way. The key here is
expansion and marking your territory across the map.
Do not use sheep as scouts. Their LOS (line of sight) is
horrible, similar to a relic's, and they'll be captured if
the enemy scout happens upon them. Save your sheep for
food. A good number of sheep makes your Dark economy run
When you find your enemy, it is VERY important to scout
out their gold and woodies. This will be vital when you
send in your first units into the enemy's base. Go
straight for these two groups of villagers or attack them
on both fronts if you can. See how far the mining camp
and lumber mill is away from the TC so you can know when
to pull your units away. Knowing how the enemy base is
set up separates good players from advanced players, no
question about it. Pick which is better: the player who
attacks a house on the outskirts of the enemy's town
because that's the only red dot that shows up on the map
or killing four out of five of the enemy's gold miners.
What if I see enemy forward builders? Hunt them down at all
costs. Usually it will be two or three villagers which can
be dispatched with one villager and a trailing scout. Do
not ignore these forward builders because it will hurt you
badly later on.
Should I chase the enemy scout? Don't chase it with vills if
the scout is at full health. What happens in many games, is
the alert player will watch the enemy scout near the TC and
will garrison his sheepies (usually 4-6 vills) and shoot at
the scout. Killing that enemy scout is very important
because it cuts off all their Dark age exploration. Be sure
not to let this happen to you, losing a scout can really put
you at a disadvantage early on.
Feudal Age Tactics
Should I build any towers? Towers still aren't nearly
effective as they were meant to be in Age of Kings. Sure
you can garrison vills in them now and they can kill those
pesky man-at-arms and archers in Feudal, but towers become
almost useless in castle and imperial age. I only build
towers in two circumstances, one is when I'm rushing, which
isn't the point of this article, and the other is:
..protecting your gold. Make a habit of putting a tower
up within a few tiles of your gold. This will keep any
forward builders away and can buy you time in Castle if
you find you're gold miners are being raided by knights.
If you don't have control of your gold deposits in the
game there is no question you will lose.
What about outposts? You can actually build outposts in dark
but I'll put them in here after the tower analysis. The bad
thing about outposts is that they cost stone. If they just
required wood to build they might be a good option but I
wouldn't advise wasting your initial stone given to you on
outposts. You're much better off building "radar" houses as
Should I go back and layer my walls with stone? If you find
the enemy continues to attack one section of your house or
palisade wall system, it would probably be a good idea to
build a layer of stone walls behind the houses or palisades.
The reason to do this is not to keep the enemy units out
(they will inevitably breach your walls at some point), but
to delay them to buy you time to make the right force of
counter units. If you've got shallows or small strips of
land then I'd say layering with stone walls would be a good
choice. Just remember two key things about walls:
1. The longer the game goes on, the less effective those
walls will be
2. Walls are not to keep enemy units out but to delay them
and buy time
Any good upgrades that would help? Two come to mind which
would help in your early defense, those being town watch and
Town watch will increase your LOS and is fairly cheap, so
it's a good choice. It will increase not only unit LOS
but also buildings so if you've got houses around the
perimeter of your base, you won't have much fog of war
near you. If you've got time to get this it's a good idea
but other players will pass it up. Many of the experts
will research the wheelbarrow, make 2-4 vills, and
advance. One possibility is researching wheelbarrow,
making two or three vills and then getting it.
Fletching will increase your TC range and the tower by
your gold if you make it. It's very useful if you're
coming up against archers in feudal. The farther the
range, the more shots you get off before the enemy gets to
you. Simple logic and it really pays off when you add
bodkin arrow and bracer later on. The extreme scenario of
this is a Teuton TC with all these range upgrades in
imperial age. As you can see it's not a pretty sight, but
it wouldn't be with any civ's TC.
What about military units? Again, this is just an article
on defense so I'll only explain precautionary military
actions here. There are two types of feudal defense units I
would recommend, these being the counterunits:
After watching over fifty recorded games I've come to a
conclusion that making three or four spearmen in feudal
can prevent a lot of hardship in early castle. The reason
for this is the current trend of players to send in raids
of knights to harass your gold miners and woodies.
Spearmen are cheap and they do their job well. I'd
recommend making a small group of them in feudal every
The second is the other counter unit, the skirmisher. I
recommend it only if you're coming up against archers
because they're a waste against everything else. If
remnants of your enemy's early feudal rush still exist,
pump these cheap critters out and they'll do the job.
Similar to spearmen, these units are very cheap. Again,
make them only if attacked by archers.
One other point, is if you're being attacked with militia
or man-at-arms. There is not a counter unit to infantry
so you will have to combat them with your own infantry or
with TC fire. I usually try to lure the infantry in with
a sole archer and once that loses its effectiveness I'll
take my own infantry in.
What about building placement? Building placement usually
comes more into play in castle and imperial age when you can
place TCs and castles near each other to optimize garrison
fire. There's still things you can do in dark and feudal to
help control the map.
Some players build protective lines of buildings to shield
their woodies. For example, if your forest is in the
shape of an "L", build a line of buildings to protect your
If you've got the option of a large forest which is a
screen-lengths away and a small forest about 10 tiles away
from your TC, plop that lumber mill by the smaller forest.
The reason being is its proximity to your TC. If you go
for the resources far away and the enemy attacks your
vills there, you'll lose a few on the run back to the TC.
The closer your vills are to your TC, the less likely they
are to be attacked.
Going back to one of the first points of this article,
expansion and sight of the map is essential. Don't go
building clumps of houses and buildings because they look
pretty. I used to be guilty of this and after the game
was played out, I'd look at the revealed map and see my
opponent sprawled across the map while I concealed myself
in one corner. Spread out your buildings and decentralize
your base. Your enemy will often attack low priority
buildings if you do this and their scouting is bad.
Conclusion - I hope this guide sheds some light on the issue
of dark and feudal age defense. There's a lot more to
discuss but this should give you a few things to integrate
into your game. All things discussed in this article have
been things I've picked up in my four months of playing the
game and watching game after game of the experts playing.
Hope it helps and happy gaming.