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This article is about the Age in Age of Empires II. For the Age in Age of Empires IV, see Dark Age (Age of Empires IV).


A civilization in the Dark Age

The Dark Age is the first and typical starting Age in Age of Empires II.

On most maps, every player starts out with three Villagers (except Chinese, who start with six, and Mayans, starting with four Villagers), a Town Center, and a Scout Cavalry. Because they have no access to mounted units, the Aztecs, Mayans, and Incas start with an Eagle Scout instead of a Scout Cavalry. In addition to those civilizations, the Gurjaras start with a Camel Scout instead of a Scout Cavalry.

Typical activities during this Age include exploring and scouting the surrounding area, finding and herding Sheep, and hunting animals including such as Wild Boars or Elephants and sometimes Deer. Several Houses usually have to be built during this time.

Note that in the case that the Scout Cavalry/Eagle Scout is lost it cannot immediately be replaced until the Feudal Age is reached. If the initial Town Center is destroyed, a single new Town Center may be built.

The Dark Age is followed by the Feudal Age.


The Dark Age offers very little in terms of technology and diversity among civilizations. Players should generally pursue rapid economic development, since their military options are extremely limited. Primary resources to gather are wood (for more Houses to support more Villagers and buildings to advance to the Feudal Age) and food (to create more Villagers and advance to the Feudal Age). Gold is only required if the player wants to perform a Dark Age rush or a fast archer rush, while stone might be collected for a future tower rush. About 19-21 Villagers is a good start for most civilizations, though some strategies can even stretch the Villager count to 16. Tasking the Villagers on the resources will depend entirely on the situation of the map, and the civilization used which will also drive the kind of strategy the player will perform. When tasking and creating Villagers, rapidity is advised. The player should try to use the Berry Bushes, Deer, and Wild Boar before starting to build Farms to save wood and collect food faster.

If the map includes fishing as a source of food, building a Dock and creating Fishing Ships is recommended since Fishing Ships collect food more quickly than Villagers, while also adding an extra production building to build an economy and freeing Villagers for gathering other resources.

Although the Dark Age leaves all players with little military capability, it is possible to rush players early with Militia. Such a tactic is not intended to kill Villagers, but to disrupt and delay the opponent's economy. Laming an opponent can be another good strategy, in which the Scout steals some Boars and/or Sheep and takes them back to the player's camp.

Available buildings[]


The Dark Age symbol

Civilian buildings[]

  • House aoe2DE House - provides +5 population room
  • Mill aoe2de Mill - gathering point for food
  • Folwark Folwark - gathering point for food which also provides +5 population room and gathers 10% food from nearby Farms (replace the Mill for Poles only)
  • FarmDE Farm - provides food (175 initially)
  • Lumber camp aoe2de Lumber Camp - gathering point for wood
  • Mining camp aoe2de Mining Camp - gathering point for stone and gold
  • Dock aoe2de Dock1 - gathering point for food from fishermen and Fishing Ships, creates and upgrades ships
  • AoE2 MuleCart Mule Cart - mobile gathering point for wood, gold, stone (replace the Lumber Camp and Mining Camp for Armenians and Georgians only)
  1. Since the Feudal Age, the Dock is primarily used as a military building.

Military buildings[]

Defensive structures[]

  • Outpost aoe2de Outpost - simple Tower; does not attack, but provides visibility in a large area
  • Palisade wall aoe2de Palisade Wall - hinders enemies for a short time
  • Palisade gate aoe2DE Palisade Gate - integrated into Walls, allows allies to pass (since The Forgotten)

Available units[]

Civilian units[]

At the Town Center:

  • MaleVillDEFEMALEVILLDE Villager - constructs buildings and gathers resources

At the Dock:

  1. In The Age of Kings and The Conquerors, the Transport Ship is first available in the Feudal Age, not in the Dark Age.

Military units[]

At the Barracks:

Spawned near the Town Center:

Available technologies[]

At the Town Center:

At the Mill:

At the Lumber Camp:

At the Mining Camp:

Civilization bonuses[]


Following the fall of Rome, western Europe entered what has been called the Dark Ages. This name was applied partially because so much of the Roman civilization was destroyed and replaced by a more barbaric culture. The name was used also because so little written history survived from the period that shed light on the events that took place.
—In-game section
AoE2DE Dark Age history
Following the final collapse of the Western Roman Empire in the fifth century, Western Europe plunged into an extended period of barbarity, lawlessness, and economic retreat that has come to be known as the Dark Age. The infrastructure of the Romans, including public works, courts, law enforcement, education, written records, coinage, and trade, largely disappeared. Germanic invaders from north of the Rhine and Danube Rivers substituted a tribal political structure based on loyalty to local strong warriors. A gradual recovery was fostered by three main influences: exceptional leaders who stabilized large areas, the Christian Church (operating from Rome and Ireland), which preserved and spread a modicum of learning, and revitalized economies based on agriculture (especially the wool and cloth trade).
Age of Empires II manual
Ages in the Age of Empires series
ReturnRome-AoEIcon Age of Empires
Stone Age Icon (DE) Stone Age · Tool Age Icon (DE) Tool Age · Bronze Age Icon (DE) Bronze Age · Iron Age Icon (DE) Iron Age

Cut: Prehistoric Age · Republic Age
AoE2-DLCicon-0 Age of Empires II
DarkageDE Dark Age · FeudalageDE Feudal Age · CastleageDE Castle Age · ImperialageDE Imperial Age
Aom original icon Age of Mythology
ArchaicAge Archaic Age · ClassicalAge Classical Age · HeroicAge Heroic Age · MythicAge Mythic Age · SecretsOfTheTitans Titan Age · AoMR Wonder Age icon Wonder Age
3Icon48px Age of Empires III
Age I tech tree aoe3 Exploration Age · Age II tech tree aoe3 Commerce Age · Age III tech tree aoe3 Fortress Age · Age IV tech tree aoe 3 Industrial Age · Age V tech tree aoe 3 Imperial Age

Revolution Revolution
GameIcon-AoE4 Age of Empires IV
GameIcon-DarkAgeAoE4 Dark Age · GameIcon-FeudalAgeAoE4 Feudal Age · GameIcon-CastleAgeAoE4 Castle Age · GameIcon-ImperialAgeAoE4 Imperial Age