A detailed walk-through with illustrative images to help guide you perform a decent Scout Rush into Castle Age Knights. Following this you will accomplish:
- 10 minute Feudal time
- 6 Scouts
- 20 minute Castle time
- Economy for 2 additional Town Centers
- Keeping two Stables producing Knights
Getting Started - The First Minute
The very first thing you want to do when starting a game, is to quickly queue 4 Villagers in your Town Center starting just before the Loading Screen goes away, for optimal time. In my case, using HD Hotkeys I press A 4 times.
This image illustrates a typical start, with two villagers close together and another villager further away. After queuing your Villagers, follow up by building House 1 with the two villagers closest together, being Vil 2 and 3, and then House 2 with Vil 1.
Once you have started building your Houses, send 2 Sheep under your Town Center, while using the other 2 Sheep to scout around your Town Center as illustrated, to help find essential resources faster. Hotkey your Scout to 1 as you send it off exploring, as you will be using it constantly for as long as it's alive. Keeping it alive is incredibly valuable for finding resources to be used later on and to see what your Opponent is up to.
- Red: Villagers.
- Blue: Good spots to place your first 2 houses, always 3 tiles or more from your Town Center.
- Green: Scouting patterns.
Shepherds and Lumberjacks
After filling Vils in the queue, built your Houses and sent your Sheeps and Scout to explore, send your initial 3 villagers to one of the two Sheeps under your Town Center, as well as the next 3 Vils in queue, for 6 total.
Send the next 3 Vills to a good woodline to build a Lumbercamp.
Luring the First Boar
After putting 3 Vils on Wood, send the next Villager to shoot a Boar once before sending it back to the Town Center. As the Boar is under the Town Center, have the Vils gathering from the Sheep shoot the Boar, thereafter garrison your Boar Lurer before it dies, if the Lurer's HP is low garrison the Vil first but make sure to have the rest of the Vils ready to shoot so it doesn't go back. Don't take unnecessary risks.
While the Lurer gets the Boar, queue one more Vil to the Sheep, to later help shoot the Boar for 8 Vils total including the Lurer.
Mill - 14 Vils on Food
After getting 8 Vils on the Boar, send the next 4 Vils to Berries, but before building a Mill, build a House, remember, always 3 tiles apart to fit Farms around later.
As your 1st Boar decays till it has around 160 food, send one of the vils gathering from it to lure the 2nd boar. It varies sometimes if you should go sooner or later for perfect timing to avoid idle time, but 160 is a nice general rule of thumb, leaving a little leeway.
Once you have 4 Vils on Berries and 8 on Boar, queue 2 more Vils onto Boar for 14 vils total.
At 16 population you can select a low-HP Vil from the Boar to build a Farm and build a house with the 4th Vil going to Berries.
Build a 2nd Farm with the 2nd low-HP Vil at around 18 pop. Send the next 2 Vils to the 1st Lumbercamp and the last 2 Vils to build a 2nd Lumbercamp preferably on another Woodline.
At this point you should have:
- 5 Vils on 1st Lumbercamp
- 2 Vils on 2nd Lumbercamp
- 4 Vils on Berries
- 2 Vils on Farms
- 8 Vils on Boars/Sheeps
Research Loom before Clicking-up to the Feudal Age at 22 population.
Clicking-up to the Feudal Age
After Clicking-up to the Feudal Age, send 3 villagers from Boars/Sheeps to the 2nd Lumbercamp, so that you have 5 Vils on each Lumbercamp.
Send 2 Vils forward from Sheep to build a Barrack and a House before you're half-way Feudal age, so that they're up just in time to immediately build a Stable once you reach the Feudal Age. As you're about to Reach Feudal Age, send another Vil from Sheep or whichever Vil is closest to the front to help build the Stable.
Feudal Age - First Minute
Once you advance to the Feudal Age, immediately build a Stable with 3 Vils, as you want to produce Scouts as quickly as possible to gain an edge over your opponent.
Thereafter research Horse-Collar and Double-Bit Axe as soon as possible. Once Horse-Collar is researched, repeatedly add Farms as soon as you accumulate 60 Wood.
Use 2-3 Vils to wall, make sure to never wander too far off with the wallers as they can be sniped by a Scout, so keep them close to other Vils or use your own Scout to protect them.
Remember to keep building Houses as part of your wall, always think practically when building Houses.
Massing Scouts and Building Economy
Keep making as many Scouts as you feel you'll need, remember to scout your enemy so you don't get surprised, and so you know where to strike with your scouts. In this tutorial I'll be making 6 Scouts. Though if you don't want to invest in that many and would rather opt for a faster Castle Age, you can make 4 scouts and 2 less farms, sending VIls to Gold earlier, for a 1 minute faster Castle Age.
Keep repeatedly adding Farms as soon as you accumulate 60 Wood until you have 14 + 4 once the Berries deplete, assuming you go for 6 Scouts, if not, 12 + 4.
By now you should be fully walled, and send the wallers to build a Mining Camp on Gold. You want to have 7 Vils on Gold before researching Wheelbarrow, and build a Blacksmith before Clicking-up to Castle Age.
Clicking-up to the Castle Age
Build a second Stable to produce Knights from once reaching the Castle Age. If you plan on using the Knights early you can research Bloodlines while advancing so that it won't steal valuable Knight Production time once in the Castle Age. Also research Blacksmith upgrades- Scale Barding Armour and Forging.
Castle Age - First Minute
Start queuing your Stables with Knights. Try not to queue more than 2 Knights at a time as it will allow you to keep the Vil production going as well as affording important upgrades.
Research first Bow Saw as soon as possible and then Chain Bardning Armour, these two being the most important upgrades. You should later get Heavy Plow and Iron Casting once you can afford it.
This Build Order should be strong enough to get all the upgrades in a decent time all the while keeping both Military and Vil production going.
Castle Age - Options
As you can see from the previous Image, you have a lot of wood, so from this point you can decide if you want to focus more on Economy or Military.
If you want to focus on Economy you drop 2 more Town Centers and Boom, prioritising Vil production from all Town Centers, though this may slow down your Knight Production or their Upgrades.
If you want to focus on both you add one more Town center and a third later as your Economy catches up, this will allow you to keep both Vil and Knight production going as well as all the upgrades.
If you want to focus on Military you stay with 1 Town Center while adding more farms and more Vils on Gold, adding 1-2 Stables and even a forward Siege Workshop. Of course you don't have to go only Knights, that is just for the sake of this Tutorial. Though you can produce counters to say Pikemen, by massing Scorpions, or even focus firing Mangonels if you Micro well enough, which is also the best option against Crossbows. Building a Monastery is also an option, for Relics and healing your Knights.
Castle Age - Scenarios
For 1 VS 1 all Options are viable, in Team-games however it depends on what strategies your Teammates are going for, the map and your position, whether you're a flank or a pocket player.
As most open maps where you would consider going Scouts into Knights are similar to Arabia I will be referring to it.
When playing as a Pocket in Team-games where the Flanks are the most vulnerable to being doubled, it's usually best to take a aggressive stance making many scouts to help your flank push or defend early on, or raid the opponents' economy. Be sure not to be too late to Castle Age, as the opponent can very quickly turn the table cleaning your forward with a few early Knights. If the opponents' pocket reaches the Castle Age before you, it's best your flank pulls his army back and is sure to have fully walled while you had the initiative, so that he can safely mass his say Archers till he reaches the Castle Age so he can upgrade them to Crossbows with reasonable numbers and you too can come aid with Knights.
When playing as a Flank, it can be a good idea to wall even earlier as you're at risk of being drushed, keeping you from fully walling followed by a pocket Scout rushing you, denying you vital resources. So wall quickly and get up to the Feudal Age fast, and even though you're a Cavalry Civ and would want to go into Knights later, you should consider going Archers instead of Scouts as your pocket will most likely go Scouts, as he has a longer distance to send units and Scouts are the fastest.
As you're in a lot more danger as a Flank, you should be prepared to stay in Feudal for a while longer than a Pocket, so don't fall behind in Military and get squashed. You can go Knights later as your Pocket builds forward to switch into whatever would compliment your knights. So when you do reach Castle Age and want to Switch- rearrange your Economy adding more Farms.
In Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition you can now actually Choose what kind of position you want to Spawn in based on the colours/numbers, Odd numbers like 3 and 5 will land you as a Pocket, so pick one of those if you intend on playing Cavalry.