Being fast is very important. Always try to do things as fast as possible so you can spend more time on other things which you naturally try to as fast as possible as well. Then there is three other things you can do. Learn hotkeys, speed up your mouse, and resolution.
THE MOUSE - I have mine on fastest speed and low acceleration. After much thoughts I have finally come to the conclusion that high acceleration is very hard to control and makes it tough to try to micro. HAVING acceleration on off is probably also decent but I want the little extra speed which I can get FROM low acceleration. That is changed in the Computer Controls. You can set scroll rate (naturally on highest) in the AoC options(where I hope you already have highest resolution). Scrolling with Arrow keys is not recommended as you then wont be able to do as much with hotkeys.
HOTKEYS - Learn all hotkeys. Preferably even change them to make them suit you even better. I myself have tried to keep them all at the left. Ill add my own hotkeys to this article soon. Feel free to use them or use them as inspiration.
RESOLUTION - AoC options where I hope you already have highest resolution. It is faster 'n you are able to see more of them map, which means better control.
RTS is really about being able to build up and maintain your economy while trying to kill your opponents with warfare-units. The economy is the key to it all. Often overlooked by beginners and as often perfected by experts. Therefore I recommend you to pay lots of attention to this article.
BOOMING - Dark and feudal age booming is simply to keep making villagers in the TC nonstop (except when researching new age or getting wheelbarrow etc).
In castle age you should try to mass multiple TCs and keep them building villagers nonstop. Ideal placement for TCs are to protect certain areas, be close to natural resources and especially then close to resources that you need at the moment.
In imperial age its basically just to keep replacing those villagers that u lose in the fighting. And keep spreading out over the map so you quickly can reboom in some area to make up for enemy killing your economy in a different area.
The ideal villager number to have is around 100-140. When HAVING 140 villagers you naturally cant mass as big armies as with a lower villager population, but you can keep spending and replacing your warfare-units.
BALANCING ECONOMY - I'm in feudal skirm war. I have 40 food, 300 wood and 400gold. Should I then go archers(that cost wood/gold) to balance my economy that way? Pure suicide. Skirmishers will kill the archers and then move in on my villagers.
Lets say u go skirms still... the results then will be a very late castle. There is something more that u need, economy balance.
Balancing economy for specified goals is imo maybe the most important thing in AoC. Its very hard to master. And u can always get better at it. A great economy balancer can do wonders.
Example: Skirm war in feudal.
What are the goals? To be able to maintain villager flow, to be able to mass your skirmishers nonstop. To be able to castle as quickly as possible while doing that.
So maybe around 22-23min you should be able to hit castle upgrade if you haven't done some walling and cut down on your skirm production much. Which of these resources stats would u want to have then?
Wood Food Gold
1.600 500 0
2.100 800 200
3.400 400 600
I think all of us would say alternative 2 because then you are able to reach ur goal of being able to hit castle upgrade. Notice alternative 3 has much more resources but they are not balanced and the player HAVING those resources will not be able to castle in a few minutes.
Once you have understood the philosophy of this it is just practice and more practice.
Philosophy of Economy balance: Balance your economy towards one or more goals. A good balancer with small economy can out produce a bad balancer with big economy.
What is micro? Micro is all the small stuff that you do, both economical and with warfare units.
When to micro?
When you have time for it simply. When there is nothing more important like making new villagers or moving your army. The border between what is micro and what isn't can be hard to tell.
Some micro techniques:
HOUSE BUG SCOUTING - Hit hotkeys for build+house and move it over an explored area. You will now notice that when you move it over an area where enemy has buildings or units it will turn red showing that you cant build there. You don't actually build the house. Just move it over the ground.
This naturally works with all buildings. I'd recommend palisades or houses for it though.
Use the house bug to find enemy forwards, know if he is going stone/gold or to find his army.
EFFECTIVIZE ECONOMY - Small things that added together can do a noticeable difference.
When mining gold or wood, try to not have the villagers bump INTO each other. Instead move them to a different tree or gold pit.
When villagers begin to walk too long FROM lumber camp to wood, build another lumber camp next to the wood.
BALANCE ECONOMY - When you want more food and have much wood. Build some more farms. If you have too much gold and want more wood move some gold miners to wood. I think you get the picture.
This is something that you ought to be doing all the time. With hotkeys it is done very fast and it has a huge impact on your economy and gameplay.
WARFARE - There are loads of things you can do here.
In feudal your scout gets +2 in attack as we all know. If you try to kill one of the enemies villagers chance is that he will just get help FROM his buddies and you will have to flee. That isn't the case if you attack one of the villagers that have low hitpoints (from boar catching etc), chances are big you will kill him before he can get rescued. Alone villagers that are building something a bit away FROM the other villagers are also good goals to attack with your scout. Attacking units with low hp is generally always paying off.
Lets say you have skirms+few spears vs. your opponents scouts and skirms. Add your spears and skirms to different #number groups or just double-click every time u want to use the sort of unit. Make the skirms attack his skirms while your spears attack his scouts.
This situation might sound a bit weird but it happens quite a lot for me and might give you some ideas for other things as well.
Your chasing away a your enemies cavalry with your own. Its a blur of units. Some of his are first... then some of yours and then some of his. Rather than just following the cavalry of his that are first in his line that are running before you (no point because you wont be able run faster than his) attack the ones in the back. Chance is that you will get in several hits on them that might even kill them.
When enemy is coming with mangonel towards your archers. Hit the hotkey for staggered formation and run away. If you got some cavalry, send them to kill the mangonel and then send your archers back.
Always when you think that the enemy army will win yours, run. Always when you think that you will win, attack.
Lets say enemy is coming with melee units in feudal (Men at arms, scouts, drush). Wall in your gold miners.
No matter what he is coming with. But if enemy army is bigger than yours, or if you got no one at home and he is approaching your wood. Make a wall FROM wood to the TC farms so that enemy army will have to walk thru your TC to get INTO your wood (so you can shoot at his army with your TC if he dares to move in).
A usual situation. Enemy has Men at Arms and a few skirmishers. Best thing then is naturally to have an army combo of skirms and archers as well. As with the spears and skirms vs. scouts and skirms situation you can earn much FROM hitting the enemy skirms with your own skirms and his Men at Arms with your archers.
But you should also use the "Hit and Run" strategy. Shoot at the Men at Arms. Then flee. Then shoot again. Then flee. Eventually you will kill all of them.
The "hit and run" strategy can be applied to many similar situations. Like disturbing villagers with your skirmishers. When he send them to attack your skirms, run away. When he goes back to work you attack him again etc.
1. Start playing much 1vs1 rated. Preferably Arabia. Use different strategies and perfect them. Learn and remember them, so that you wont mess up when you do them again. Playing in rated will get you tough opponents and will SHOW you what works and what doesn't = Experience.
2. After every game you win and especially after everyone that you lose ANALYZE what you did good or bad. What opponent did good or bad. And they keys to what ended the game. Remember it so you can avoid doing those mistakes again or remember it so you can do the good things again but even better.
Its not as easy to just play the game lots and eventually you will arrive at Koven's level. Play vs. the right opponents, ANALYZE your game and get information FROM other players thru recorded games or articles such as this one. That is what I call training methods to become good in AoC.