Sick of all the feudal age warfare that is going on now? Or maybe you just suck at it like me and want to get away from feudal in good shape for once. Well I believe this is the strategy for you. I have found that when using this strategy, the focus of the game has shifted to the Castle Age.
This strategy is designed for 2v2 Arabia games, but there is no reason it can't be used in 3v3's and 4v4's. The strategy focuses heavily on teamwork
I came up with the basic concept one day when I pondered if it would be a good idea for a Teuton to build farms for his partner. As Teutons can build farms for 33% less, this should be feasible and it would really give one player an enormous economic advantage. My first thought was that the partner being built farms would be able to do a very powerful feudal age attack. So I mentioned this idea to Malice and he thought it was worth a try. We tried the feudal attack thing and it really didn't work out all that well, so Malice suggested that maybe we try it with a strong castle civ while still building feudal age units for fighting. The idea here is to keep pace with feudal fighting, but use the extra resources to propel yourself to a fast castle time and quickly overwhelm your feudal age opponent.
Our first estimate was that the guy going castle should be able to make it around the 22 min mark while still fighting off the flush. That is a little bit faster than the normal game and might give you a big advantage. Unfortunately, we couldn't quite get it going with Malice that night. The next night I tried it with ME_The_Boy and I discovered why it wasn't working. Malice just wasn't building me enough farms. I found that I needed 4-6 farms for it to be effective and fast. With Boy giving me that many farms, we managed to win our first two tries with it that night. Things were looking pretty good!
Since then l have done the strategy quite a bit with pretty good results. We have had wins and losses (see recorded games), but I think the strategy itself has put us in a good position. It can be countered pretty effectively if someone knows that it is coming. However, with most people doing skirmisher rushes as a default this strategy can really hammer on them. Knowing and using this strategy every now and then can really surprise someone though.
How to do it
Both players do a standard build that allows them to get to the feudal age around 10:30-11:00 minutes. Around 7 minutes into the game, the feeder (the guy who is supplying the farms) heads over to his partners towncenter. The easiest way to do this is to grab you villager and tell him to garrison inside your ally's towncenter. This is a very maintenance free version and it also lets your player clearly see when your vil is in his or her base as a flag will pop up on the TC. The vil is then ungarrisoned and begins laying down around 4-6 farms. The entire farm doesn't have to be built, just started.
After you have finished farms, have that vil build houses and blacksmith just to keep him busy. You can send him back home if you want though. The feeder's job from here on in is to stay alive and keep his opponent in the feudal age. This is generally accomplished by extensively walling and towering, so mine stone early and get palisade walls up. Of course, if they are not attacked they can defiantly move forward and attack their enemy to keep them locked in the feudal age.
The feeder's partner on the other hand is a strong position. They will want to conduct a normal aggressive feudal attack, but also begin to mine gold a little earlier. This gold combined with the food gathered from the farms will get them a fast castle time. In addition, they can build an archery range and approximately 10 skirms/spears in whatever combo he chooses (all skirms for archer rush, mix it up if skirm rush). While this is nothing special to do, they can then proceed to castle age and so far I have reached it anywhere from 18 min up to 21 min on successful tries. Once in castle, you can build either knights or Eagle warriors. I have been trying with Aztecs, and can get 3 barracks pumping EW from the instant I hit castle for basically the rest of the game if I feel the need to. The first 2 blacksmith upgrades are easy to afford shortly after clicking the castle button making those eagles even stronger. Also the gold mining tech is a pretty good idea to get when building EW as they do use up a lot of gold when building EW in mass. The goal upon reaching castle is to take out his enemies feudal age army as fast as possible. After that, be sure to ask your partner if they need help. If the feeder doesn't need help clearing out his own base, then immediately raid his guys town and take him off any gold piles possible. It is important to keep them off the gold so that they will (a) have a hard time getting to the castle age (b) have a hard time cranking out knights/ew once they do hit the castle age.
In effect this strategy makes the enemies go to castle to counter your castle age units, and it forces the game out of feudal much earlier than is normal in Arabia games in general.
As for build orders for whatever civs you may try to do this with, that's entirely up to you, I really don't use specific build orders on Arabia, it's more of a thing where I do it on the fly for the most part. I will be posting some recorded games of this plan in action, taka look you may find it interesting to see how well it can really work if implemented correctly.
There are some civs that can take advantage of this strategy better than others. For the feeder (the player who builds the farms), I would say the top choices are:
Teutons are a good choice because they have super good towers that hold 10 population inside of them, also Teuts have cheap farms; 40 wood rather than 60.
Huns are good because they do not have to build houses at all which means that they get 30 free wood every 5 pop which is a pretty nice. They should be able to afford a bit of extra wood for their partner.
Celts are good because of their wood chopping ability; this should also allow them to have some extra wood for their partner.
Additionally all three of these civs are very viable late game civs. In most cases this strategy should cause the game to go into the later ages for all players.
For the feeder's partner, more civs are usable IMO
Huns again because they don't need houses which when combined with the free farms from his partner is a massive savings in wood. Faster stables are a nice bonus for getting out a lot of early knights fast.
Chinese get their great start with extra vils, which is nice. Longer lasting farms and cheap techs are also great reasons why they would be an ideal civ to use in this strategy.
Aztecs get a great econ bonus in the plus 5 carry capacity. Combine that with fast building Eagle warriors, which are tough to stop in feudal age, and you have a winning combo.
Mayans get longer lasting natural res, which is nice. Also, like the Aztecs, they can produced Eagle Warriors who are tough to stop in feudal when they have upgrades going for them.
Mongols get a really fast start with lots of food if played right which leads right into a strategy like this. Plus if gold is a problem then you can always build those great light cav.
Brits are a possibility because they do have a decent star due to the sheep bonus. Additionally, they can afford a second tc for a good price so that they can boom faster of course. Unfortunately no bloodlines is a definite drawback, but perhaps some good Xbows soon after the spears start flowing from enemy rax wouldn't be so bad.
Byzantines could be a great choice for a couple of reasons. They can afford more cheap counter units to help defend themselves in feudal age, allowing for a better transition towards castle. Also if it would be possible to get a castle up in decent time then cataphracts are uncounterable while in feudal age.
Turks are a good choice because you can either avoid gold for the most part and do a fast light cav raid on them before they know what hit them, or they also mine gold faster than anyone else which means more knights.
Goths are a possibility but I'm not sure that they would work. They do get bloodlines which is great, so they could go with knights early on no problem, unfortunately no econ bonus means that they would not be so powerful as some of the other civs. But if you could manage to get a castle up in decent time then huskarls and spears would be a nice combo for raiding the enemy with.
Franks are another possible civ with basically free bloodlines which means food for 2 or so more knights, also the free farm upgrade certainly doesn't hurt, and it is entirely possible that they would be able to do some very fast castle drops on the enemy bases.
Well I have the feeling that if you did try it you could easily do a much more powerful feudal age attack than the enemy and still castle faster then him if you get farms built for you, the only problem with this would be that you may not be able to help your partner nearly as easily.
I think that 3v3 and 4v4 might also benefit from farm contributions. Perhaps if the middle guy(s) get farms built for him/them by the outside flushers, or vice versa it would make them much more powerful and possibly able to dominate the game early on.
I suggest everyone try to fool around with this strategy a bit and see what can work with it, and what definitely won't work with it.