Going for the ‘Fast Imperial’ build order can catch your enemy off guard if you execute it correctly.
However, this strategy should only be used in very specific circumstances.
Typically, a Fast Castle strategy is more effective, and players don’t have to risk too much in the process.
If you can wall yourself easily and have plenty of resources, it might be worth trying to pull this one out.
If you want to try it, here’s an easy Fast Imperial build order for Age of Empires 2.
- Starting villagers build two houses then go to sheep
- 3 villagers on sheep
- 4 villagers on wood
- 1 villager lures a boar
- 2 houses + mill + 4 on berries
- 4 villagers build two houses and 1 mill, then go to berries
- 6 villagers on wood
- 5 villagers on sheep
- Build 12 farms with the villagers on sheep and berries as those are depleted
- 4 villagers on gold
- Start the advancement to Feudal Age
- 2 villagers from wood to gold
- 2 villagers build Blacksmith, 1 market, then go to gold
- Start the advancement to Castle Age
- Use foragers to build 2 farms
- 2 villagers build monastery, 1 siege workshop, then go to gold
- Advance to Imperial Age
When to Fast Imperial
The biggest strength of this strategy is the element of surprise. If your enemy doesn’t anticipate it, a well-executed Fast Imperial should only give them a couple of minutes to respond effectively.
Additionally, you can take advantage of their slower army production and weaker defense in the early game and create a cost-effective army with hand cannoneers and bombard cannons.
Fast Imperial is a high-risk, high-reward strategy that requires a narrow economic window and a focus on gunpowder units.
However, there are many weaknesses to this strategy. In duels, a Fast Imperial is usually easy to notice, giving your enemy time to prepare a response.
Furthermore, a Fast Imperial puts you at an economic disadvantage. You will be lagging behind in resource gathering and production compared to more standard build orders.
If you want to counter a Fast Imperial build, the best approach is to adopt an offensive strategy and attack your opponent before they can amass a large army of cost-effective units.
By doing so, you can disrupt their game plan and prevent them from overwhelming you with their powerful army.
If your adversary is going for Fast Imperial, they are counting on you not touching them for a while. They might have walled their most important structures and isolated themselves.
There is a chance they have built just enough defensive units to scare you for long enough, so it is important to scout early and keep being aggressive if you think they are actually trying to pull off a Fast Imperial.
A Scout Rush can be one of the best ways to make your adversary panic and give on this. It might also be more than enough to disrupt his economy and make the Fast Imperial not worth it anymore.
The Best Fast Imp Civs
Although you can try to go for a Fast Imperial strategy with any civilization, some are definitely better than others.
When it comes to this specific tactic, especially in maps like Arena, these are the top three picks for a Fast Imperial attempt:
Byzantines: They have a cheaper imp and can get to the Imperial Age the fastest, even faster than the Turks. Although they lack free chemistry, they have cheap trash units and camels to supplement their army.
Persians: With a faster working TC, their bonus is similar to the Byzantine one, making them a viable option for an FI. However, from now on, the effectiveness of a FI is only determined by its effect of surprise.
Turks: Turks reign supreme when it comes to FI strategies. With better guns, free chemistry, and a gold mining bonus, they have all the tools needed to succeed. Their free upgrades to hussar and saved waiting time on chemistry only add to their power.
Other Build Orders to Learn
Learning the recipe for this build order is important, but only if you can work with it and improvise in case something else happens.
In other words, it is good to know how to Fast Imperial, but only if you know what to do in case your enemy surprises you.
Another use for learning such a strategy is learning what can cause it to go wrong. That is crucial in case someone is trying to use this very build order on you so you can disrupt it.
So learn all the basics and maybe an Archer Rush build order, too.
However, be ready to adapt on the fly. Recipes only take you so far.