Age of Empires Series Wiki

Black Forest is a random map in Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition - Return of Rome, Age of Empires II, Age of Empires III: Definitive Edition - Knights of the Mediterranean, and Age of Empires IV.

Age of Empires[]


Dark Forest selection

With only a single road connecting allies, this forest remains an uncharted place. Creep through its darkness, fight in narrow passages, and push your enemies into the corners of the jungle from wich there is no escape.
Return of Rome description

This map was introduced in Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition - Return of Rome. It is called Dark Forest instead, but it is mostly the same as the Age of Empires II counterpart.

Age of Empires II[]

Islands of grass in a sea of trees. Follow the paths through the forest to find your allies and enemies.

Black Forest selection


Black Forest is very closed off due to the high volume of trees on the map. The combination of easily-walled-off chokepoints and very little space outside of each player's base means that fighting usually does not start until the late game. Often, pathways are cut directly through the middle of the map into another player's camp.

Start-up is standard, with normal amounts of herdables, Berry Bushes, 2 Wild Boars near, normal Deer, normal amount of gold and stone. However, unlike many other maps, sometimes small lakes with shore fishes appear near the starting locations, and several groups of three additional Wild Boars will appear randomly around the map. Sometimes, additional Berry Bushes can be found in larger maps. There are several open spaces within the dense woods that may contain Gold or Stone Mines, groups of three Wild Boars, Bushes, lone wild predators, lone Relics or nothing.

Wild predators are often a bit more numerous than in other maps and the number of Relics is standard.

As of Patch 1.0b, Black Forest cannot be picked in Full Random, Blind Random or Land Random.

It has the in-game map tags of "Land" and "Closed".

Viable tactics[]

As the open spaces are more constrained than in most other maps and wild predators are a bit more common than in most maps, an early strategy players may employ is to lure some of them with a Villager to the narrow points dividing teams in order to make it more difficult for an opponent to wall.

A turtle strategy works very well, due to the high amount of resources and the constrained open spaces. It is recommended that players trade wood for other needed resources at the Market. Black Forest is an easy map to wall; therefore, players should take advantage of this and wall early. It is wise to assume control of these passages to prevent other players from destroying the player's base. The nature of this map and the fact that most players try to wall up early this often leads the early game into a "walling war". Booming after the early walling is the most common tactic used by most players.

A peculiar strategy that requires a high level of skill and luck on this map is called the "ninja Villagers" which involves infiltrating a pair of villagers early on the opponent's side of the map, keep them safe from the enemies and wild predators, then make military buildings inside the enemy base and perform an early rush which the opponent may not expect from their side of the map. To properly perform this strategy, researching Loom is required for making the villagers less vulnerable to enemy attacks and animals, and gathering a reasonable amount of wood, gold and food for making military buildings and then spam units. Magyars, Mayans, Berbers, Incas, Spanish and Chinese are probably the best equipped civilizations for performing this (Spanish builders work faster, so they can make quick palisades to defend the infiltrated Villagers; Magyars Villagers kill Wolves with one strike; Berber Villagers move faster; Inca Villagers benefit from Blacksmith upgrades; and Mayans and Chinese start with additional Villagers).

Typical rushing tactics don't work as well as in open maps; however, an aggressive player has ways to pressure their opponent in Black Forest by attacking the walls with infantry in the Feudal and Dark Ages, and then follow up those attacks with siege units or units with attack bonus against buildings in the Castle and Imperial Ages. Because there is so much wood on the map, players that manage to infiltrate the opposite side or that have breached the wall, should target the gold piles of the enemies to cripple them. Once the player gets access to Onagers, Trebuchets and (for the Khmer) Ballista Elephants (however, in any case, the Onagers and Siege Onagers are the most effective siege weapons in cutting trees), they must use them to cut pathways through the forest for sneak attacks.

Because of the closed off nature of the map, deathballs are very effective, as raiding is very difficult and it is easy to restrict enemy movement.

If playing on a team, two players should springboard while the third and fourth should rush or make a heavy turtle.

Civilizations that have advantages in Black Forest:

  • Civilizations with good defensive Bonuses : Byzantines, Incas, Koreans, Teutons, Spanish, Chinese, Mayans, etc.
  • Civilizations with good late game bonuses: Turks, Byzantines, Teutons, Spanish, Portuguese, Italians, etc.
  • Civilizations with good Siege Workshop Units (especially Onagers, as they can cut trees enabling them to attack from behind): Ethiopians, Celts, Khmer, Koreans, Chinese, Slavs, etc.
  • Archer based civilizations: Britons, Mayans, Vietnamese, etc.
  • Civilizations with bonuses regarding huntable animals, especially aggressive huntables: Goths, Mongols, Mayans, etc.
  • Honorable mention: Magyars (their Villagers kill Wolves in one strike, which enables them to sneak Villagers more easily on the opponent's side), Sicilians (their Donjons can secure narrow chokepoints since it's a stronger version of a tower that can spawn Serjeants, and their farm bonus have long term effect due to the abundance of forest), Bohemians (the Hussite Wagon's ability to absorb incoming damage for their backline units makes it easier for them to secure narrow chokepoints and pathways).

Among all the civilizations listed above, the Celts are probably the most favored civilization on this map, as they not only have great Siege Onagers, but also cut trees faster than any other civilization in the game.

Civilizations that may struggle in Black Forest:

Age of Empires III[]

This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it.
Eu black forest mini

Minimap of Black Forest

Welcome to the iconic Black Forest in Southern Germany! Densely packed trees form natural barriers and force players to fight in narrow clearings. Small pockets of resources appear all over these Württembergian lands. There is no trade route here, but the royal houses may reveal a path to victory through the thicket.
—In-game description

Black Forest is a random map in Age of Empires III: Definitive Edition - Knights of the Mediterranean. It has two variants, Black Forest - Arena and Black Forest - Forest Nothing.

Native Settlements[]

Age of Empires IV[]

Dense woods makes this map difficult to traverse.
—In-game description

Black Forest is a random map in Age of Empires IV notable for its heavy forest cover and narrow passages connecting opponents' bases.


Black Forest is a closed map where players or teams begin in clearings on opposite sides of the map surrounded by forests. Each clearing will have a single small pond, regardless of team size, and multiple exits leading to narrow pathways through the forest that connect the two teams. Throughout these passages lie resources and other map elements. There are 2 Sacred Sites that - depending on where they are placed and how the pathways snake through the forest - can either be contestable or more favorable towards one team or the other,. There is always one Trade Post at the very center of the map, which may have its own clearing. It's position, combined with the fact that Traders may have to walk a circuitous route to get there, make trade highly undesirable on Black Forest. While map generations attempt to place the standard number of Relics the sheer amount of forest will often result in one or more of the Relics not spawning, or being completely blocked by trees. Especially in 1 vs 1, some map generations can also cut off large sections of the map, making it artificially smaller.


The amount of wood on this map needs no introduction. The lack of the standard circular forest within range of the starting Town Center means that the initial woodline may be farther away, but once tapped, it is unlikely to ever run out. And while this map has the 'extra wood' tag from the game, it could very well have the 'extra gold' tag as well, with the majority of the gold on the map (including the starting gold) being Large Gold Mines. The amount of forest that blocks mines from spawning makes the exact number of Gold Mines highly variable from generation to generation, but the 1 vs 1 spawn is usually 4 large mines and 2 small mines, and the number of mines approximately doubles with each large map size, for somewhere on the order of 32 large mines and 16 small mines on 4 vs 4 (although as few as 8 small mines has been observed). Except for on the large map size, there are fewer Stone Outcroppings than usual on this map, with 0 to 2 large outcroppings on 1 vs 1 (with ~4 small outcroppings) and 2 vs 2 (with ~8 small outcroppings), and 3-5 large and ~12 small outcroppings on 3 vs 3. For some reason, the amount of Stone balloons on 4 vs 4 to around 16 large and 24 small outcroppings. As with Gold, the exact number is quite variable. The food spawn on the map is lower than many. There is only one medium starting Berry Bush patch per player, and the Boar and Deer spawns are standard. Both Deer packs will spawn within the player's clearing, making them closer than on most maps. Finally, the small pond will always contain 3 Deep Water Fish, regardless of the number of players, and have Shoreline Fish all along its edge.


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