Age of Empires II Strategy Guide: Abridged Version

Age of Empires II is an award-winning real-time strategy game published by Microsoft back in 1999. The purpose of the game is to command one of eighteen unique civilizations through different periods of time on a journey for conquest. I was hooked on this game throughout middle school and spent many afternoons guiding Genghis Khan’s Mongol hordes through eastern Europe or building Aztec defenses to withstand the assault of the Cortez and the Spanish. As time passed, real-time strategy fans were lured over to Blizzard’s Starcraft series or it’s successor Age of Empires III and an old fan favorite became forgotten.

What made Age of Empires II great was the historical relevance of the game. Age of Empires II was set in the medieval period when Europe was under the influence of the Roman Empire, the Middle East defended it’s land from the crusades, the east Asian empires battled each for dynasty supremacy, and South America was pillaged by the west. Renown stories of William Wallace, Joan of Arc, and Atilla the Hun were brought into a more clear historical perspective.

The beginning of my fifth year of college, I revisited this game with five other friends to bring back a sense of nostalgia and it quickly became a small addiction. The game was easy to learn and play but once you were matched up with other humans, each civilization’s strengths and weaknesses became apparent. I have in no way mastered the game compared to professional players but I do understand the strategies that can be used to get the best results.

This guide will give you a quick idea of how the game works and easy strategies to use when playing single-player or non-competitive multi-player.Also, I have uploaded the game manual for a more detailed explanation on How to Play.




The game works off a system of economy. Villagers are needed to gather resources. To produce villagers, construct buildings, or train an army, it’ll take specific amounts of resources to carry out the action. The four types of resources are wood, food, gold, and stone. You want to start collecting right away when playing a match. The more resources you have early on would allow your civilization to grow and advance quicker.

Wood can be obtained through any type of tree. Have villagers build lumberjacks to increase speed. There are usually countless forests and only rarely do wood become hard to find.




Food can be collected through many means including  farming, hunting game, fishing, shepherding, and foraging berries. Everything besides farming is good for early-game because it is readily available however limited.




Gold is the most valuable resource. Each map has only limited gold and almost every military unit and technology requires gold. Gold can be mined by villagers and increase speed if mining camps are built nearby. Another option is to capture relics and place them in monasteries. They will generate gold at a slow rate and there are usually five of them scattered around the map.




Stone is very limited when compared to the other three resources. Not many things need stone but Castles requires 650-800 making it a valuable resource.





There are over twenty different types of buildings but the important ones produce villagers and military units. Towncenters produce villagers. Barracks produce infantry like swordsmen and pikemen Archery Range produce Archers and Calvary Archers. Stables produce cavalry units. Siege Workshops produce siege weapons like rams and catapults. Monastery produce monks. Castles produce unique units. Docks produce fishing and war ships.


There are four ages: Dark Age, Feudal Age, Castle Age, and Imperial Age. Advancing to the next age lets you build different buildings, create more powerful military units, and research more valuable technologies. In order to advance, there are required buildings that must be built first.


Units are divided into eight categories: Villagers, Infantry, Ranged, Cavalry, Siege, Monks, Gunpowder, Naval. Every Team has a unique unit as well. Below are the basic information you need to know on how to obtain specific units.

Infantry: strong against other infantry, spearmen good against cavalry, created at barracks

Militia => Man-At-Arms => Long Swordsman => Two-Handed Swordsman => Champion

Spearman => Pikeman => Halbadier

Eagle Warrior => Elite Eagle Warrior

Ranged: strong against slow units and monks, good for defense, created at Archery Range

Archer => Crossbowmen => Arbalest

Skirmisher => Elite Skirmisher

Cavalry Archer => Heavy Cavalry Archer

Cavalry: Strong fighter, Camels good against other cavalry, weak against spearmen, built at stables

Scout Cavalry => Light Cavalry => Hussar

Knight => Cavalier => Paladin

Camel => Heavy Camel

Siege Workshop: Strong vs. buildings

Battering Ram => Capped Ram => Siege Ram

Scorpion => Heavy Scorpion

Magonels => Onagers


Bombard Cannons

Below are a list of the 18 civilizations available with a list of their advantages and disadvantages in the game with some historical background on their unique unit. Understanding the type of warrior always made me enjoy the game more.





















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