This is my second guide with the first one being about the basics of playing the game. Now, I'm going to teach you how to play the game on the hardest settings currently possible for Age of Civilizations 2.
Other AoC 2 Guides:
Seeing as I made the guide on how to play this game, I thought it made sense for me to challenge my skils at this game by playing it on the hardest settings possible. And, so far, after 10 attempts, I've finally figured out how to do it without dying before turn 200.
This is my current progress in my test game:
This is a game where I played as Tunisia in the Modern Day scenario. Of course, it was on Legendary difficulty with the AI being 4 times as aggressive. I've died trying this many times. Italy killed me, Algeria killed me, and Malta invaded. It's a difficult thing, but I managed to conquer the western coast of the Balkans in 100 turns, turn Tunisia into a rank 43 nation from a rank 88, and ally with Turkey, a rank 17 nation. How'd I do this and how can you do this? Well, it takes luck, but there is a lot of planning involved too. Let's get started.
New Game Screen
Hit that new game button, and choose a scenario. I suggest choosing one that has plenty of nations. The more enemies and possible allies, the better. So, no Emu War!
Once you pick a scenario, choose a nation. I suggest choosing a nation on the lower tear such as a Balkan state, Southeast Asian, etc. The bigger nations do have an advantage, even on this difficulty. However, they aren't safe if a million nations declare war on them.
Also, make sure you are not landlocked or have an easy route to the sea. This is necessary because you don't want to be forced to fight your immediate neighbors. I'll tell you why later.
After you picked a nation, click on the options button in the bottom lefthand corner. You know what's next. Set the difficulty to Legendary and the AI Aggressiveness to 400%. Now, you can start.
Turn 1-4 (Sliders)
These four turns are the most important in the game, and can not be wasted. Our goals during these turns is to establish allies, create barriers, and build your economy.
However, before you do that, we have to deal with the sliders. Despite what Isorrows said about the sliders, they're very important. You should invest the most into taxation because that's how you're going to make the most money for the early game. The next higher sliders should be economy and production. Your land needs to grow, so these will help. After that should be population and administration. Administration will always be your highest expense, so putting a dent in that cost will help alot. Use your last point on research and military upkeep.
Now, we can move on to the treasury tab. Set Goods and Investments to 15% and leave them there. Set research to 10% and leave it there.
Note: If you take loans, and you probably will, if you can't pay off your loans with what you get in income, the first thing that will decrease is your research. Always check that your research is at 10% after you take a loan. Otherwise, you'll get behind.
Lastly, tax your people as much as you can without angering them. There's a line that indicates that. Put the slider right at that line.
Turn 1-4 (Politics)
With that said, what you're going to do first is click around to your adjacent nations and any power nations that can easily attack you via the water or a land border. Every powerful nation, and I do me every, you will form a nonaggression pact with. Also form a nonaggression pact with every adjact country. Trust me, if you don't, they will declare war on you. There is no exception to this.
When you have established your nonaggression pacts, find the strongest nations around you who have a relations rating with you of 7+ or greater. You're going to improve relations with them, and in the next few turns, you are going to make them your allies.
I must warn you that this doesn't always go as planned. It is common that the countries that like you in the beginning of the game before wars begin will turn on you and hate you. This happened to me with France. France liked me originally, but it took only four turns for them to not like me and people asked me to fight France with them in a coalition (didn't do it cause this France was clearly led by Napoleon as they destroyed Germany). However, some nations will stay with you through thick and thin. Those, you must stick with also.
Note: Do not use all of your Diplomacy points. I made this mistake and it could have gone badly for me. Save at least 1.0 Diplo points for the next step.
Lastly, you need to save diplomacy points for the turns after 4. You see, those countries that do stick with you even though a few months have passed, you need to kiss up to them. Every enemy they hate, you're going to hate them too. Send an insult to the enemies they have to make them their enemies. You need a minimum of 3 to make extra diplomacy points per turn, so make sure you do this. Otherwise, you're going to be short on diplomacy points for several turns (Like I was).
Turn 1-4 (Economy)
Nextly, you're going to build up your economy. From the words of LegendofTotalWar, you need a strong economy to wage war. In this game, you're going to be going to war as little as possible, so those gold coins need to go somewhere. Stockpiling money will be for a later date when you're getting ready to go to war. However, for the next few turns, likely going to turn 15, you're going to pour money into your provinces.
Here's how I usually do it:
- Don't invest into capital because it's already going to be the wealthiest city (If it's not, move it).
- Find the provinces with the most population besides your capital and whatever their average economy is is how much you're going to invest into those provinces until they reach it.
- Whatever the development is in your capital, that's how much development your other high pop provinces should have.
Here's a quick overview of how the economy works in this game: Based on how much population you have in a province, they affect how much money the economy makes (The static modifier). The economy in turn becomes more efficient based off how high the development is (the incremental modifier). Take that into mind when you're choosing where to spend those few thousand coins at the beginning of the game.
After you invest your entire stockpile, you're going to keep doing this until you start preparing for war, which won't be for a while.
Now, things are heating up. Over the next 5 to 10 turns, you should see at most 50 wars start. If you're apart of that beginning 50, start over.
What you're going to be doing for these next few turns is continuing what you started in turns 1-4, but during these next 44 turns, you have to accomplish three things: form a defensive pact with your strongest ally, create a BENEFICIAL alliance, and expand.
This is necessary because surprisingly, the AI listens to logic. If you are friends with the biggest, baddest guy in town, they won't mess with you. You need to have a defensive pact with the strongest person you can get so people don't declare war on you. Quite frankly, you can not win a war on your own in this game. It's not possible.
Quick Example--I noticed that when I went to war with Morroco (Well, they went to war with me), I had sent two armies across the Mediterranean, one right after the other, to attack the same province. My idea was that the smaller army would attack first, lose, but weaken the army so that my larger force could invade. What happened was that the first force was around 734 units, and Morroco stopped it with a force of 757 units. It was an interesting coincidence, but when I attack next turn with my army of over 1000 units, they had slight over 1000 units and won again!
Needless to say, you can not invade provinces on your own because the AI on this difficulty will simply raise just enough units to stop you because they know how large your armies are.
Back on topic; keep kissing up to a powerful nation until they force a defensive pact with you. That should keep you safe for a bit longer. If not, you still have those nonaggression pacts.
I am sorry to say, but it is likely that you will only get ONE ally during this period of the game. There will be no Tripartite (spelled it incorrectly but that's okay; English is broken). Because of this, choose wisely. Or, if you choose the wrong person, kick them out of your alliance and find a new senpai.
I'm not joking. You need an ally, and you should have picked out several potential options at the beginning of the game. They won't all reject you. Once you have an ally, you can call them into wars to help you. They aren't necessary in every situation, so don't invite them to every war party. Just keep them there if you need them.
This is the hard part. All of this stuff is hard, but this is the hardest part! You can not declare war on your own. I told you one reason why above; the AI will counter everything you do. The next reason why is because you require 100% wargoal to win any war. There is no taking a few islands and then making a peace deal. If you're fighting, you must fight to the end. That means you have to choose every war, battle, and army wisely. If you don't you'll lose everything. Believe me, if you lose your initial army, there's very little coming back.
So, to expand, you have to first stop investing in your economy and stockpile money. Do not build armies until you are about to move out, and do not move your initial army until you are ready to move out. Moving units costs money, so don't do it.
Meanwhile, you need to be on the watch for one of three things: a coalition invite, a nation engulfed in war, or a war declaration on your nation.
Coalition- This is a dangerous option if you don't investigate who you are attacking. First off, there are two types of coalitions, one for smaller nations to gang up on a larger nation and one for destroying an already suffering nation. Don't every go for the former. If you go for the latter, make sure that country is actually at war with other nations, is being occupied, and IS ABOUT TO LOSE. Don't join the war until you see that they are about to collapse. Their capital better be gone and more than half of their nation occupied. Otherwise, they'll attack you and destroy you. Also, try to attack from their weakest provinces. Losing the least amount of units is important too.
Overwhelmed Nation-This is the best option. In this case, you would have spotted a war on the worldmap that you can easily intervene in. Such a situation would be if the nation is cut in half by occupied territory and you can get to the weaker half of that nation before the original attacker can. Go for it, always. Just don't send your army out too far because war can start at any minute.
War Declared on you-This is a bad situation. Depending on what nation it is, this could be a simple challenge or a time to rage quit. Say, if France or Italy declared war on you (both happened to me) and you're a minor nation like Tunisia, you might as well give up. They will never accept a white peace no matter how many times you destroy their invading army. And you can't invade them because of them always countering your army no matter how large the force is. Even one province minors are dangerous because they can concentrate all of their units into one province instead of multiple. Really, this is a very situational disaster, but this could be the end of your game, especially if this happens before you have an ally or a defensive pact. So, the best option is to not go for this and prevent it at all cost.
Either way, before turn 50, you will need to have conquered at least 2 provinces. Those two provinces will greatly increase your income and put you onto the path of success.
Turn 50 +
Keep expanding, but only when you are 100% sure you will win. This is the critical question you need to make every turn. Every battle and war matters because recruiting units is expensive, and every coin could have gone into your economy. Make every war count, and don't expand too quickly.
Master knowing how much to spend on assimilation and when to assimilate a province. You need to balance your budget as much as possible and make your money stretch. Once you get the hang of that, you should be able to stockpile more money for future wars.
Also, feel free to use loans, but I suggest only using them for building armies. Using them for buildings (which you shouldn't be buying anyway unless it's a port) is stupid. Using them to make more units right before you go to war or right before you get attacked is a great idea. You can have multiple loans at one time, btw. Just don't go crazy and go into debt *cough*, Greece).
Besides growing land, make sure you stay on top of politics. Know who your enemies are, and turn the enemies you don't want into neutral countries. Make nonaggression pacts with them and keep them off your back. Only have enemies and allies you want. You control what's going on now.
Around this time, you should be getting into the rhythm of how this works. You attack nations when they are weak and are now noticing what nations are weak enough for you to attack on your own or with an ally. Still, you are being cautious and building up your military.
Maybe soon you'll win the game via research, but domination is still possible. Really, you're surviving until the inevitable happens...
Turn 200 (Total War)
Around this time of the game, you will be engaged in total war, hands down. Something will have happened; you could have attacked a nation by mistake because their units were in the province of someone you were fighting or nations that were afraid of your growing alliance is no longer scared, and they attack you.
Needless to say, you won't die. You've grown too strong at this point to die, and really, your allies should literally carry you through any war you're no already winning in. However, every war you get into prevents you from building up your economy, focusing on research, or planning out who you want to attack. War also prevents you from creating more alliances and getting a grasp on what's really going on.
This is when the game becomes a slog, and the weaknesses in this great game really start to make you angry. Winning a war is easy, annoying at times when the ai sends a small army of units to retake land when they've already lost, but you can manage. It's when wars keep happening right before you want to stop that this becomes annoying and makes you want to stop playing.
To combat this, save often so you don't have to live through silly mistakes that end up making you not want to play further. Also, stop accepting coalition invites at this point as they are a waste of time. If you are not controlling what wars you're starting then you're doing something wrong. Always stay on top and take a break when the constant wars are starting to annoy you.
Final Steps (Turn 500-1000)
Now, you've come to the point in the game where you should be a massive nation. If you're not #1 in the world, you should at least be in the top 5. When this happens, your goal is no longer to conquer land. You're going to lower your investment and goods to the line and put research to 50% or higher. You're going to keep raising the percent over the next few turns while maintaining your army and making sure you don't get invaded. Your goal is to make 20000 research per turn (This amount is shown on the bottom left of the research slider) and keep raising your research level until you get to 1.0
You have to win via research victory, because it is likely you will not be able to become stronger than the strongest nation's armies. Even the nations lower than you in rank still have the advantages of the higher difficulty on their side. It is best to expand as much as you can with your army until you get to rank #1 or #2 and start pumping money into research.
I also suggest that you try to form unions with your allies. Sometimes they will accept, and it could possibly double your land. If it doesn't work, simply keep using them to fight your wars while you grow in research. Soon, you should win.