Originally written for the ESOC 2020 Winter Championship, I overhauled it for DE. This is a comprehensive guide that will tell you everything you need to know to play this game well. I reached Top100 Elo and even though I am not a top player, I know the basics which I now want to share with you.
I will assume you have rudimentary knowledge of the game (which, since you are on this site, you most definitely have), meaning you know what villagers, military, housing, production, technology and xp do. I will explain everything a good player knows and does to win the game. I will not present specific build orders, this guide is about more general concepts.
The guide has the following chapters:
4. Micro & Tactics
5. Mechanics & Hotkeys
6. Community & Tournaments
7. Conclusion/ How to improve/ Where to start
First you must choose a civilization, I recommend sticking to one main. Practicing with one civilization eliminates a lot of cognitive load and lets you focus on improving more suddle things like managing economy well and executing fast, instead of having to think about more trivial things like the strategy and units you want. I recommend France for this, because it is a Euro civ and the most straight-forward to play, but you can really chose any civ you like. There are two main reasons for choosing France:
1. It has good matchups across the board and performs decently on every map. If you are playing quicksearch (which I recommend), this is a good civilization to do so with, since you will never be in a hopeless battle.
2. Every other civilization has some innate wincondition, where you can just do one thing and win (either boom or rush mindlessly). As France, both these strats work less well, so you have to work more on your decision making, adaption skills, timing, micro, macro and strategy. If you win as France, you most likely outplayed your opponent. Other civilizations can, especially against weaker players, often get away with one "bot"-build in every matchup. This gives easy wins, but no learning experience.
To mix things up or to play in a tournament setting, you need a 2nd and 3rd civilization, here it is easiest to go with civs similar to your main. For example, I use Brits and Germans as secondary civs to my main French.
Not Decided yet? As of now (October 2020) the good civs in my opinion are Sweden, Ottoman, British, France, Germany and Spain.
If you're switching from RE or EP, take a look at the DE balance change list from RE patch: https://www.ageofempires.com/news/aoe3d ... ne-update/
2. Macro (the big picture management)
Macro is the big-picture management of your economy, in essence good macro means having the right resources at the right time and having lots of them.
1. Always have vills in the queue vills=eco=army=win. Obviously try to avoid idle villagers. Get the first vill in the queue at 0:08 gametime. Split your vills on food crates for this and only start the other crates and herding when the first villager is in queue.
2. Herding. Every 11 seconds you can herd a hunt, this means the hunt will run in the direction your villager took. This cooldown is also in place at the beginning of a game, meaning you have 10 seconds to kill a hunt before they run away. Therefore at start you
-gather for the first vill, queue him
-shoot (and only shoot) the first animal
-gather remaining crates, then split vills on hunts (and other resources when the build requires you to)
3. Always do something. Move explorer, build army, move army, micro army, herd Animals, build buildings, etc. You want to be busy all the time to advance your colony. Feeling overloaded is perfectly normal, just work on things as fast as you can.
4. Hotkeys. Hotkey important actions. See chapter 5 for my setup. Hotkeys speed you up significantly when you're used to them.
5. Shiftclicking. Shiftclicking is very useful to execute things faster, it lets you command a unit to do several actions after each other (for example a villager can build a house and go back to hunting without you having to watch the whole process). This speeds up things significantly.
Example: select vill/SHIFT-E to select house(see chapter 5)/place house/hold SHIFT while clicking back on hunt
6. Allocate villagers effectively and dont bank up resources. Villagers should always gather for a purpose. Dont just gather because you have villagers, gather for Musketeers, Hussars, an age-up, a building, etc.
7. Check your bank and villager allocation regularly, I'd say every 10 seconds is fine. Switch villagers to other resources when you're overgathering on one (for example you dont need 60% of your villagers on coin to produce muskets, 25% is enough).
8. Get market upgrades. Pretty much every civilization wants to have researched Hunting Dogs, Placer Mines, Steel Traps and Great Coats at ~8min. Gangsaw and Amalgamation are more situational, the age2 and age3 wood upgrade are for transitioning your economy to mills and estates.
9. Treasures are not only useful in the early game to speed up your build and give you something to do in age1, in later stages you can still get them for a nice resource boost or even get strong treasures for strong bonuses. Don't go for big treasures in the middle of the map (risky), only do it when you have a good read on your opponents explorer location.
Spread your villagers according to the build cost of the unit you are building. (eg. 75% on food and 25% on coin for Musketeers)
The gather rates aren't equal, food(0.84/sec) and coin(0.6/sec) gather faster than wood (0.5/sec). Use this to your advantage and get wood from other sources (700w shipment, Quartermaster age-up polititian or stagecoach if you have it), while gathering the efficient resources with villagers. 90% of the time after hitting II, if your units dont cost wood, you shouldn't gather wood, start only after ~10min for houses. You can see the gather rates of units in the Definitive Edition in the unit tooltip.
Strategy is about having a plan to win the game. Think about maximizing your economic and military potential while harming your opponents. Here I present basic strategies everyone should know, for a more fine-tuned and in-depth analysis check out "8.Advanced Strategy". There are 3 main plans you can go for:
1. Rush/Map Control Contain (attack the opponent early and damage his economy/slow down his aging and transition into denying him resources to gather from)
2. Boom (defend your economy early on and strike back with more army (built from superior economy) later)
3. Technology Advantage (defend your economy early on and strike back with superior units (Fortress/Industrial) later)
0. Age-Up Times
Age up to colonial at around 3:00 while building villagers constantly (don't idle TC). When your last vill pops out you should have 800f to click the ageup.
Fast Fortress strategies (Otto, Spain, China) click up to Fortress between 5:30 and 6:30.
Semi Fast Fortress strategies (France, Germans, Iroquois, Sioux, Dutch, British) click up to Fortress between 7:30 and 8:30.
Fast Industrial strategies click up to Industrial between 8:30 and 10:00.
In the Exploration Age, usually send 3v and only that.
In the Commerce Age, send villager shipments if you want to semi-FF or eco-game, crate shipments for infrastructure/massing/aging, military shipments when you're about to hit or defend a timing.
In the Fortress Age, mostly spam military shipments. crate shipments are good to fix mismacro, get arsenal techs or 2nd TC, but mostly later in the game (~15min mark).
In the Industrial Age, it is mostly the same as with Fortress, although when not under direct thread, Factories are good.
To win the game you have to kill your opponent. This doesnt mean you have march into his base, denying his villagers access to hunts can be enough to cripple his economy and make him starve in the corner. Hit him where it hurts, when attacking prioritze in this order:
kill army>kill villagers>kill rax/stable>kill houses>kill TC
The above order obviously depends on circumstances. Killing the army is also the riskiest thing to do, since you can get flanked or get units popped on top of you, so going for safe damage is sometimes preferable. For example, killing german houses is quite good (because of their population issues), while after a big fight killing houses doesnt do anything.
Look at the match-up and have a plan. You have 3 options: Boom, Rush or Fast Fortress.
Boom: Gets good eco (via shrines, Manors, banks), then pushes out for more resources to secure win.
Rush: Gets out many units early and pressures opponent, killing villagers and denying military production. Either wins or has to fall back, in that case set up contain and deny resources outside your opponents base.
Fast Fortress: Ages up asap to Fortress to use stronger military shipments and units to secure win. Works roughly like a delayed, stronger rush.
4. Build Order
Have a Build-Order(BO). This is a draft of your shipment progression and what objectives you have at particular points in the game. For example:
After clicking up to II build many manors, build Barracks upon aging and train units to defend, from wood shipments build more manors. After eco is strong 6musk come to bolster push-out.
During aging collect 250w for Blockhouse, send vills forward. Make musk/strel asap, ship cossacks to forward BH and push in. Kill vills/ solitary army.
Get market-upgrades and TP before hitting II for good eco. Make 5 Huss asap. Raid and distract with huss or defend rush. 700w to build houses+Rax+2ndTP. 700c to age up. Push with strong fortress units while also shipping military units.
Check out the Strategy wall for more detailed build-orders.
5. Unit composition
Here are good, tested unit compositions. This is not an exhaustive list but provides the standard compositions top players go for most of their games. They generally perform decent in any battle and dont have a hard counter.
RangedInf+RangedCav(+Handcav(+Cannon)), Musk+Cannon(+Handcav), Rod+Skirm(+Cannon(+Handcav))
Know which units are effectice in which age. Some units are completely useless unfortunately.
Try to rely mostly on these units only:
Cav(Huss, Uhlan, Cossack, Sowar, Coyote, Nagi, AxeRider, Kanya)
RangedInf(Crossbow, Longbow, Skirm, Yumi, Gurkha, Chukonu, Mace, Strelet, Abus, Cetan, Aenna, Jungle Bowman, ChuKoNu)
HeavyInf(Musk, Ashi, Sepoy, Puma, Pike, Carolean, Plumed Spearman)
Cav(same as Age2, plus Cuirs, ChinaCav, Spahi, Mamluks, Dogsoldier)
RangedInf(same as Age2 plus Cassador, Wakina, ForestProwler, Jaegers, Arkebusier)
HeavyInf(Changdao, Rods, Musk are best with cannons)
RangedCav(Zamburak, Dragoon, Musketrider, Riflerider, Cavarcher from Otto/Russia/Sioux are ok, Cavarcher from China/Japan are bad)
Artillery(all Artillery units are good except Grenadiers, unless you have Grenade Launchers, but it's still a memey strat)
Any unit not listed here is generally not worth making. I'd like this list to be exhaustive, so please tell me if you think it's inaccurate/missing sth.
This is a very important and underrated part of the game. @Mitoe explains it very well and in great detail here: viewtopic.php?f=29&t=16172&p=341259#p340917
In short, the most important things to scout for:
-Treasures that help you speed up your build (for example food treasures for faster aging, wood to complete the house chopping earlier or coin for a faster FF)
-Check your opponents deck (which age does it focus on, is it an agressive deck/ a techy deck/ a greedy eco deck?)
-When opponent ages up, what is his first military building (where is it, if it's aggressive, it will probably placed on a resource location (hunt/mine or both))? Scout the age-up politian and his first shipment
-Afterwards, scout where his army is located, what unit-types he is making and where he is gathering resources (so that you can raid/pressure in appropiate spots). To see where he is gathering, you should scout the entire map quite early on. You can see dead hunts in the fog of war, so spotting hunting locations is easier than mining locations.
-what you scout should influence your decision making, so think about what you have seen
8. Advanced Strategy
Take a look at @[Armag] diarouga 's excellent strategy guide: viewtopic.php?t=17643
4. Micro (the small picture management) & Tactics
Depending on your skill-level, what you can do with your army differs. Therefore I have listed micro skills in order of increasing difficulty, as well as some useful tips at the end.
Conscript (900-1100 Elo)
Learn the unit counter system. Heres a quick rundown on what counters what (>> means counters):
Ranged Infantry >> Heavy Infantry, Ranged Cavalry
Heavy Infantry >> Melee Cavalry, Ranged Cavalry
Melee Cavalry >> Ranged Infantry, Artillery
Ranged Cavalry >> Melee Cavalry, Artillery
Artillery >> Heavy Infantry, Ranged Infantry
Ranged Infantry are Skirmishers and Bowmen. Heavy Infantry are Melee Infantry and Musketeers. The Cavalry definitions are self-explaining. Culverins are a special type of artillery, they only counter other artillery and ships. There is also pseudo-cav, which are Infantry of Natives that behave like cavalry (Coyotes, Rattans, Chimus). If you're unsure, hover over the units picture to view a small description of its type, what it counters and what it is countered by. Also check out the unit statistics, as damage modifiers, range and speed are explained there.
There are 3 types of damage (Melee, Ranged and Bombard) and 2 types of damage resist (Melee, Ranged). Resist of 0.2 means that 20% of ranged damage is negated. Only Artillery, Ships and Abus Guns deal bombard damage, this type of damage ignores both types of damage resists.
Speed and range is another consideration. While Heavy Infantry counters Ranged Cavalry in theory, it only does so in melee. A good player will just kite with range and superior speed.
Masterseargent (1100-1300 Elo)
Army should be organized into control groups. I use:
ctrl-1 for Ranged Infantry
ctrl-2 for anti-cav (pikes or goons)
ctrl-3 for cav
ctrl-4 for artillery
Attack-move your control groups and you're done.
Captain (1300-1500 Elo)
Position your army well and estimate whether you should take a fight and retreat/attack accordingly.
Positioning means flanking with cavalry (from the opposite side where his anticav is) or putting ranged units in chokes between trees/coinmines/buildings so they cant get meleed well or sniping units at the edge of his army with skirmishers (only poking in without committing to a fight). Most of the time you want to block an enemy cavalry charge with melee units. Units attack units closest to them, so good positioning makes them attack the unit they counter automatically (because you positioned them closest to that unit). Now you dont have to manually click every unit to attack its counter, this is a big APM(actions per minute) saver and much more important than micro at lower leves.
Scout when possible.
Colonel (1500-1700 Elo)
Use the pull trick.
Manage cav units individually, this means pulling targeted ones back so the melee-anticav has to walk.
Raid when possible.
-A good trick when a fight is coming up is to park 2 cav units on top of your opponents hunters, chances are good you're gonna get 10 free villager kills.
-Learn how to treasure micro from @Interjection 's excellent video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AwQwY8WDdF8 (note that if you move your explorer back the exact moment you shoot, you will also get the kiting effect)
-You can garrison and ungarrison villagers through your tc to make them walk less, more detail in this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0vPpV4llNfc
-You can give units a temporary speed boost, via pulling. Watch @Kaiserklein explain it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-kirKd7VzVQ
-Split fire: select a part of your ranged units, click an enemy unit (they shoot), then press the control group for all the units and click another enemy unit (the half that hasnt shot yet shoots). This gives more firepower and you can make it even more detailed, selecting a third, then a second third, then the control group, etc.
-Superior micro: watch the worlds best micro player break down what he does and why he does it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P2LhWg5z4Kg
Either you have more troops or he has more troops (or your units counter his units or vice versa). If you're not sure, scout with Native/Explorer/Weak Units.
When you have mil-advantage push in where it hurts: catch his army, attack his hunts, siege his forward base. Prioritize in this order: killing army>villagers>rax/stable>houses>TC
When you have mil-disadvantage: avoid fights, raid villagers, have a plan to get military advantage later (eg. boom or ff).
5. Mechanics & Hotkeys
You dont have to get too fancy with hotkeys yet, but getting used to them and hotkeying the most important actions is useful. Here is my essential hotkey set-up:
SPACE find group of idle villagers
E find TC
W build villager
F find Explorer
D build Barracks
S build Stable
CTRL-E build House
CTRL-D find all Raxes
CTRL-S find all Stables
If feeling good with this, you can add A-S-D-F as build commands for military units (A Crossbow and Curassier, S Pike and Hussar, D Dragoon and Musk, F Skirm for the respective buildings).
You see there's no find military hotkey because all military should be control-grouped as soon as built and rallied to appropriate locations. Never forget about military units.
Dont worry if you misclick often in the beginning, hotkeys take some time to get used to, but will become second nature eventually.
After having basic hotkeys down, you can work on your mechanics. This comes down to speed of execution and switching attention. Improvement comes from deliberate practice (you must focus and force yourself to try to be better). Speed of execution is muscle memory, switching attention is the art of doing several things at a time without messing things up/ forgetting about them. For example, you should be able to herd a hunt, micro a treasure, ship a shipment and escape your native scout at the same time. The reason for this is you are much faster than your in-game units. To do it succesfully you have to look away when a unit doesnt require attention. This means dont watch your villager waddle to the hunt, crackshot a guardian instead. Dont watch your explorer walk back from the treasure guardians, move your native scout and click your shipment. Then you can come back to the other tasks, finishing them in the same (in game) time, but having accomplished more. To know what to do, you need game knowledge and mini map awareness. Try to look at the minimap for ~1 second every 10sec. This habit should speed up as your rank improves. You do this to notice and react to raids, notice his army pushing in, notice finding a treasure and generally having a clue for what exactly is going on in the game.
6. Community and Tournaments
1. After you played enough games in quicksearch, your expected winrate is 50%. Dont fret about winning or losing, focus on having fun and find victories elsewhere to keep your spirit up (e.g. I consider a smooth BO execution a win, an explorer I managed to hunt down age1, a rush I managed to repel, a raid I managed to get off, etc.).
2. Say hi & gl hf at the beginning of the game and gg (if your opponent played well gg wp) after a game.
3. Post on the forum here, people are (mostly) nice and considerate, so don't be afraid!
4. Join the ESOC discord to find players, discuss the game and have fun! https://discord.gg/nyqM7Mq
5. In my opinion, being active in the community is fun. You find people to play and talk with, and in general doing activites with other people is more fun than being a lone wolf.
1. Mentality. Many players of many skill levels are in the Beginner Division, so it can happen you get stomped in a game or you just sweep through. Dont let it affect you, only focus on the game in front of you. Dont think: i can never win/this is too easy, you can get surprised!
2. Be nice. Everybody is here to have fun, winning is secondary. Say gl hf and gg in each match
3. Scheduling & punctuality. Schedule early enough and be punctual to your match, so everything goes as smooth as possible.
4. Be considerate. Sometimes things happen in life, so dont be too harsh when people are inpunctual/ other things happen. However, if you feel something is wrong, you can always contact Tournament Admins for support (I recommend via Discord)
5. Record games. You need the recorded games as proof that the series happened.
DE allows for easy access to mods, two i recommend are Aizamks Legacy UI fixes and Eaglemut's Less Blurry Graphics for better visibility and accessibility.
7. Conclusion/ How to improve/ Where to start
Focus on Macro and Strategy (Hotkeys help with this). Work on always knowing whether you should fight or avoid battle, and move appropriately. Having a good build-order and always spending resources gets you very far. When I started playing I got to pr20 almost instantly because I had a good build-order and solid macro from reading guides/watching vids. My micro was abysmal, but that didnt matter as I had double the opponent's army.
Basically every mistake I have seen from playing/watching beginners is adressed in this guide. To find out what you can do better, watch your replays and analyze. In a game, pick 2 or 3 things you focus on to improve.
Dont fret if you can't do everything I listed here yet, these are the things you should be working on to improve. I'm pr26 (1400 elo) now and am still struggling with many of the things listed here.
If you're looking for more resources, check out the Strategy Wall (strategy-wall), the legacy Strategy Wall (viewtopic.php?f=29&t=9169) and the ESO Community Links(community-links.php)!
Improvement beyond a certain level (I'd say ~1400) requires dedication, focus and willpower. Check out this thread (viewtopic.php?f=29&t=21612) to see top players explain how they got so good. However you should gauge whether the time and effort spent to improve is worth it compared to the value you get out of it. If you play the game for recreation, getting better won't necessarily improve your recreational time, it might even make it worse.
If you have suggestions/corrections/more tips please let me know!
P.S.: When getting beat by OP stuff or supposedly lame strat (AbusGun, Russia All-in, ChinaFF, BritVC, GermanFF, Sioux Warchief, Iro) crying in chat/on ESOC helps manage stress tremendously.
"fix your macro" is diarouga's foolproof way todeleted_user wrote:This is good advice, and if it's followed, the player will become a captain at minimum.
agreed. user should be warned for misleading titledeleted_user wrote:This is good advice, and if it's followed, the player will become a captain at minimum.
If mastered, yes you will be captain, however starting from pr10 these are the things you should have in mind and should be working on to improve.kami_ryu wrote:agreed. user should be warned for misleading titledeleted_user wrote:This is good advice, and if it's followed, the player will become a captain at minimum.
No need to improve micro though. Your musk huss control vs russia is superbQosashvili93 wrote:Good thread for me too
When he loose india vs spain age 2 war, that mean he need to improve his microaligator92 wrote: No need to improve micro though. Your musk huss control vs russia is superb
As I said its result work of years, day and night, day and nightaligator92 wrote:No need to improve micro though. Your musk huss control vs russia is superbQosashvili93 wrote:Good thread for me too
Sad u didnt see my skirm goon falc god micro
no Mobbing pls, I feel offended if you dont stop i will ask to banChallenger_Marco wrote:Fuck off bruh,who do you think you are?pingiu wrote:@Dennis234 this might help you so you can stop doding
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krichk wrote:For some reason, you want the world to know that you're brave enough to challenge Challenger_Marco
The official "RE" patch is quite broken in regards to balance. So after ASC 2015 tourney, the wish for a better patch developed naturally. The only reason why this patch isnt used more is because many people dont know it. I have only heard positive things from people about ep, and more will be coming on now due to the tourney. Also it is very easy to switch between patches and play on both of them whenever you like. You should try it out!bepsi wrote:This is indeed a very fine intiative. Lately more people are logged in to the ESO servers than I've ever seen since I begun playing this game . Yet the only vivid AOE 3 community to my knowledge staunchly refuses to capitalise on this and continues to push an exclusive ESOC patch agenda (in essence a rogue patch that will never garner the respectability of officialdom), catering to no more than a few hundred players. I feel that a golden opportunity is missed here and that the enterprise as such should try to embrace the interests of the community at large.
Learn a generic build order for some civ. There are good guides online here to start learning. Practice versus AI so you know the generic villager allocations required for good macro.
Start using hotkeys and control groups for as many things as possible. It's not a bad idea to change some of the hotkeys.
Now you have the two basic things down; you know a decent strategy as starting point and you've acquired the basics of mechanics. Start playing games with your single strategy; while doing so you will get more familiar with your strategy and its potential shortcomings and you will start to understand the civs. Meanwhile you're practising and improving your mechanics and hotkey usage.
Slowly you will get good at micro and macro and you will gain more insight in the strategies of aoe3. This should get anyone to 1st lt minimum.
I'd say that a 1st lt has decent mechanics and decent strategies. However, he still slips in macro, doesnt have great micro and doesnt understand which strategies to use for which match up. Learning more about what strategy to pick versus certain civs and slightly improving the mechanics gets you to captain/major.
Practicing a new build 2-3 times vs ai just to get villager allocation and timing down is a very good idea, i've done it often myself.RefluxSemantic wrote:I'd personally go for this three step plan:
Learn a generic build order for some civ. There are good guides online here to start learning. Practice versus AI so you know the generic villager allocations required for good macro.
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