How to Micro in Age of Empires 4

Image credit: Relic Entertainment, World's Edge

Age of Empires 4 is a Real Time Strategy game and, as such, involves real-time battles that can define the course of a match.

When fighting other players, using the largest army is not always a guaranteed way to victory. In fact, with a bit of knowledge of the game, you can learn what are the counter units in Age of Empires 4 and defeat your adversary even when severely outnumbered.

However, there is much more to battles than numbers and counters. Attack speed, area of effect, movement speed, positioning, and micromanaging units are all critical factors that can change the course of a battle.

Knowing how to move and position your units might help you avoid situations that would quickly obliterate your army, making it last for longer and giving you a greater chance to win.

Spreading out your units against siege weapons, breaking into a Spearmen defensive line with strong Knights, or even using Outposts while slowly advancing within the enemy’s territory are all good ways to face different situations that go beyond the basics.

So if you want to know how to micro units in Age of Empires 4, stick around cause this guide is for you.

What is Micro?

Micro is the term used in Real Time Strategy games that generally means the act of controlling units in order to make them do something other than they would when acting automatically.

For instance, selecting half of your army and making it target specific units is micro.

This term is used for combat situations, and it can be used even for massive battles that involve dozens of units, as long as you try to control the units to do something other than what they’d do when you just tell them to attack.

In contrast, ‘Macro’ would refer to greater, overall Age of Empires 4 strategy like building your Eco.

Focus Fire

This is one of the most basic ways to micro units, but it’s also one of the most effective.

When you attack enemy units, focusing on troubling units might be your best way to win. For instance, if your archers focus their shots on the enemy’s Men-at-Arms instead of their light infantry, your Horsemen might die too quickly.

Selecting a part of your army to target specific units might change the result of a battle significantly. If you manage to keep your Spearmen focusing on the Horsemen while the Archers attack the enemy’s Spearmen, your army has a massive chance of outperforming the adversary.

That is something you can do by selecting the units you want to micro, hitting the A key, and then clicking on the targets you want to take out first.

That also prevents your units from individually fighting other units, dividing their damage around, and being inefficient at taking down enemy soldiers.

Kiting

Kiting is a very known technique for Starcraft and MOBA players. It consists of walking back and attacking to hit as many ranged attacks at your target as possible without letting them get too close.

This technique is powerful when you use ranged units, and it is mandatory to make an English Longbowmen Rush work well.

To do it, you will want to have your ranged units selected, click to move back, and then attack. Repeat in a rhythm that does not cancel the attack but also doesn’t take long to start moving away once the attack happens.

Kiting is made exceptionally powerful if you know how to play as the Mongols and take advantage of their Mangudai unit.

Using Formations

Age of Empires 4 provides some pre-made formations that you can use to organize your army, and they can be pretty effective depending on what you want to do.

For instance, you can make a line of Spearmen that will protect your archers. You can also use their triangular formation to break in the enemy lines with a charging cavalry of Knights or Lancers.

Finally, there is a more spread-out formation that goes a long way in avoiding specific attacks by making your light units less vulnerable to area of effect damage.

Shortcuts and Groups

By pressing Ctrl and a number on your keyboard, you create a group that you can select any time by pressing that number.

For instance, you can press Ctrl+1 when selecting four Spearmen to turn them into a group that you can select at any time by pressing 1 again. Doing it will help you tremendously to quickly select certain units. Pressing the chosen number — in this case, 1 — will only select the units of that group you created, even if they are separated or too close to other units.

Not only that helps you to micro units that are in different areas of the map. You can create a large group and tie them to a number, then small groups to other numbers.

For instance, your entire army can be accessed when you press the number 1, your archers can be tied to the number 2, your Lancers will be on number 3, and so on.

That way, you can direct your whole army to a place, but if you need to reposition your archers, you can do that without disturbing the other units.

Final Thoughts

Becoming good at micro-managing units is something that only happens with a lot of time and practice. However, you need game knowledge to make the best use of particular units’ characteristics on top of the ability to control them individually.

Note that micro-managing units is not something you do only during combat. Taking a single unit out of Wood to build a House and sending them back to Wood also falls under that category. Microing your Villagers well is often required in rush builds such as the Mongol Horsemen Rush.

With time, you will learn how to control your units better and even combine different ways of micro-managing your military units, such as spreading out the archers while kiting, for instance.

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