Empires Wars is a fast-paced game mode in Age of Empires 2: Definitive Edition where players start with 27 Villagers and a Scout, Loom is already researched, a Barracks and a Blacksmith are already built, and a Mill, Mining Camp, and Lumber Camps are all already built, too.
There are also fewer starting sheep and no wild boar to hunt.
Whilst there are small variations to the above based on the map or the Civ you’re playing with, these default settings mean that traditional Age of Empires 2 build orders go out the window, and instead we need to look to specific Empire Wars build orders to help us achieve victory.
The biggest difference by far with an Empire Wars build order is that you’ll be going to go into military production straight away rather than merely working towards an eventual army.
In addition to this, because your opponent will also be creating military as soon as the game begins, walling your base becomes harder — or at least a more urgent matter.
Please note: as there is no Empire Wars meta established yet, and some mathematical decisions are yet to be established in terms of the best timing to do certain things, this guide is still evolving. For now, we’re providing you with the advice we can and we’ll return to update at a later date.
The beauty of Empire Wars is that you start with 27 Villagers that are auto-assigned to chop wood, mine gold, and harvest from farms, and you have a few Villagers that start around sheep next to your Town Center.
This means that the majority of a regular build order is already handled for you and you only need to adapt your build depending on two main things:
- Whether you want to opt for Scouts, Archers or Eagles
- How quickly you wish to advance to the Castle Age
Point 2 on that list is effectively an alternative way of asking “how much Feudal Age aggression do you wish to apply?” or “how big of an early army are you going to create?”
Because situations change extremely quickly in Empire Wars, following a strict build order is never going to work. Instead, you need to know the fundamental things to consider depending on the route you wish to take in a game.
Regardless of the build you wish to go for, the first thing you’re going to do in every match of Empire Wars is queue 2 Villagers and take the sheep under your TC using the 6 Villagers that spawn there. You can use newly created Villagers to create farms, as long as you have the 60 wood to do so.
The other thing you’ll need to do is scout your opponent as quickly as you can to see what units they’ll be creating.
Other than the above, you’re going to have to make an immediate decision at the start — are you going for Scouts, Archers or Eagles (if you’re a mezo Civ)?
You will need to make a decision on this blind, i.e. without seeing what your opponent is up to first. If you wait to scout their buildings before deciding to try to counter them, you’ll already have fallen too far behind and you’ll get overrun.
Empire Wars games really can be that fast and frantic.
You probably won’t want to research Horse Collar until you’ve clicked up to Castle Age, but you might want to get Double-Bit Axe depending on your strategy.
Once you’ve decided which starting strategy you’re going for, you’ll be able to start adapting your build. You will use 3-4 of your starting Lumberjacks to build your military production buildings.
If you’re going for Archers or Eagles, you’ll need to put a larger focus on walling your base compared to Scouts as you won’t have the mobility to defend yourself.
If you’re starting with a Scout opening with stables, the first thing you can do after the standard beginning is to move your Villagers away from gold — you’ll need gold to advance to the Castle Age, but you won’t need any for unit production.
In fact, you won’t need gold for any upgrades either — armor and attack upgrades both only cost food, and your Eco upgrades only cost food and wood.
Your gold miners can be moved onto wood, farms, or can be used to build your stables, houses or walls.
As you’ll need a larger food income to support the production of Scouts, Villagers and increase your food float to get to the Castle Age, you’ll need more farms early and therefore you’ll need more wood to create them. Researching Double-Bit Axe as soon as possible is therefore worthwhile.
When going for an Archer opening, you should create 2 Archery Ranges (or just 1 if you’re a civ with large starting Eco bonuses, such as the Vikings) and you’ll also want to create a Spearman from your barracks in case your enemy opts for Scouts. If you manage to spot an enemy stable early whilst you’re scouting, you should also add at least a second Spearman.
As you’ll need all of your wood for creating Archers, you can delay Double-Bit Axe (and Horse Collar) until after you’ve clicked up to the Castle Age so you can focus on spending all of your wood on military units.
Whilst Archers don’t have the mobility of Scouts and take 5 seconds longer to create, it can be easier to mass them. This is because Scouts cost food whilst you also need food to create Villagers, whereas Archers cost wood and gold, meaning it’s easier to produce from 2 Ranges early compared to keeping 2 Stables and the Town Center all running at the same time.
Fletching is an essential Blacksmith upgrade to research before you ever engage with your units.
For an Eagle opening with Aztecs, Incas, or Mayans, you’ll want to create a second Barracks and also assign 1-2 additional Villagers to mine gold.
You should place a large focus on walling your base as Eagles lack both mobility and range that Scouts and Archers have, though Mezo civs have still proven to be incredibly strong within Empire Wars.
If you see that your opponent is opting to go for Archers, don’t overproduce on Eagles initially — focus on walling and getting to the Castle Age with just enough military being produced to keep yourself alive.
Getting the Eagle armor upgrade from the Blacksmith is something you should opt for in the Feudal Age.
The final decision you’ll need to make relatively close to the beginning of the game is if you’re dropping a Castle as soon as you reach the Castle Age.
It doesn’t need to be a forward Castle — maybe you’re playing Spanish and want to get Conquistadors on the field as soon as possible — but it might be part of your strategy to build a Castle as soon as you possibly can.
One way to do this is to get 8-10 Villagers mining stone as soon as you’ve clicked to progress to the Castle Age.
As long as you’ve built a Market, you can then sell a little bit of wood when you arrive at the Castle Age and immediately send your Stone Miners to build a Castle.
If you’re not planning to drop a Castle as soon as possible, you shouldn’t mine stone until the time is right. Instead, you can use your 200 stone to build 2 Town Centers, or sell it at the Market to turn into more military.
It’s worth noting that it’s very hard to immediately begin booming from 3 TCs in Empire Wars due to the speed of play. Therefore, selling at least 100 stone can be a very viable strategy to pile pressure on your enemy.