|“||A build order is a series of actions that you perform to execute a certain strategy. In this challenge mission, you will learn to master one such build order. Can you outperform your friends and earn a medal in this particularly difficult mission?||”|
Fast Castle Age is one of the two possible third scenarios of The Art of War in Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition. As the name suggests, it takes the player's skill at managing an economy into another level by introducing the concept of build orders. In this case, the player will learn the common "Fast Castle" build order designed to reach the Castle Age quickly while spending as few resources and population as possible.
A good commander must learn to be decisive in war. Hesitation or mistakes can mean the difference between victory and defeat. Just as a soldier practices his spear thrusts, so too must a commander learn to be efficient and repeat tasks until he knows them by heart.
Sun Tzu says: 'A clever fighter wins his battles by making no mistakes. Making no mistakes is what establishes the certainty of victory, for it means conquering an enemy that is already defeated.'
Few generals make it this far. Let us see if you are one of them.
One of the most common strategies in multiplayer games is the Fast Castle Age. Today, you will learn to execute a particular build order for this.
A build order is a set of instructions to be strictly followed in order to generate the most efficient gameplay. They are quite common in multiplayer games, so research them in your free time.
First of all, it is very important to never leave your Town Center idle. Check your Town Center regularly to see if a villager is being trained. If not, use the "Go to Town Center" hotkey (default 'H') to jump over to your Town Center and click the Create Villager button to train or queue up another Villager. If you do not have enough food, force your villagers gathering food to drop off their resources. Use the rally flag in your Town Center to tell your Town Center to send new Villagers to a resource or construction site on completion, or when garrisoned.
When villagers are newly created or when they finish a task, they can go idle. Keep an eye on the idle indicator on the top panel and click on it or use the "Idle Villager" hotkey to cycle between idle villagers and send them back to work.
Remember: build orders are a great way to get better at the game, but do not forget to strategize. Not one game is the same, so you will often need to think outside the box.
- Train a total of 27 Villagers. (only 26 are required for the player to advance of ages and trigger victory)
- (subsequently) Advance to the Feudal Age.
- Build 5 Houses.
- Advance to the Castle Age.
- Build 2 Lumber Camps.
- Build 1 Mill.
- Build 8 Farms.
- Build 1 Mining Camp.
- Build 1 Market.
- Build 1 Blacksmith.
- Research Loom.
Note: with the exception of researching Loom, all these objectives are listed as main objectives in the game. However, they are not strictly necessary to win the scenario and are instead recommendations on how to reach the Castle Age as soon as possible.
- For more information about how to properly gather from Sheep and on how to lure Boars, check out the 'Early Economy' challenge.
- Exploring is very important in any game. You should immediately look for the two Boars and eight Sheep in the vicinity of your Town Center. After that, you need to find your Forage Bushes, your main Gold Mine, and the nearby herd of Deer. Most standard random games have 2 groups of Stone Mines and 3 groups of Gold Mines in total, so you should look for those as well. After that, you can start to search for the enemy players.
- You should use your most damaged Villagers to build Farms. That way, they are close to the Town Center and safe.
- You can see what tasks your Villagers are assigned to by cycling through the minimap mode.
- Age of Empires II: DE has introduced mixed queuing. This means that you can queue both units and technologies at the same time. Be sure to make use of this feature.
- Another feature that the Definitive Edition introduces is multitasking by using the Shift hotkey. For example, if you build a House while having a Villager selected and then Shift + right click on a tree, the Villager will go chop that tree immediately after it has built the House. This is a good way to avoid idling your Villagers, but will also take some time to get used to. Other uses for this feature include managing your Villagers gathering from Sheep or hunting Deer.
- In this challenge, you will be able to build a Market and a Blacksmith. These two buildings are the cheapest and therefore the fastest way to advance to the Castle Age.
- Skipping the Loom research is risky, but will allow you to advance to the next ages more quickly and speed your pursuit of a gold medal.
Your scouts report:
We have not gathered any information yet. You must instruct us to explore the surrounding region.
- Gold: Complete the scenario in 14 minutes
- Silver: Complete the scenario in 17 minutes
- Bronze: Complete the scenario in 20 minutes
Follow the voice-over's instructions, deviating as little as possible from the build order that they describe. Timing and precision are very important for the purposes of earning a gold medal, and situations like being unable to find every Sheep within the first couple of minutes will make acquiring a gold medal nearly impossible. Queuing Villager tasks and setting up the Town Center rally point correctly will minimize Villager idle time.
The build order offered in the scenario is as follows:
- Queue up four Villagers at the Town Center. Use two starting Villagers to build one House and the third Villager to build another House, and explore with the Scout
- Send the first six Villagers to harvest Sheep
- Send the next four Villagers to construct a Lumber Camp and chop wood
- Research Loom (if necessary)
- Send the next Villager to construct a House and lure a Boar
- The player should have finished harvesting 5 Sheep by the time the Villager luring the Boar gets back to the Town Center
- Send the next three Villagers to construct a Mill and gather from Forage Bushes
- Send the next Villager to lure the other Boar
- The player should have finished harvesting the first Boar by the time the Villager luring the second Boar gets back to the Town Center
- Send the next three Villagers to gather from Forage Bushes
- Build another House after the second Villager is trained
- Send the next six Villagers to chop wood
- Have the second Villager construct a second Lumber Camp
- Build another House after the fourth Villager
- Send the next three Villagers to build a Mining Camp and mine gold
- Research Feudal Age
- Use one Villager to construct a Blacksmith and two Villagers to construct a Market
- Send the next two Villagers and the foragers (once the Forage Bushes are depleted) to chop wood
- Research Castle Age
The tasks of the Villagers in order is therefore:
- 1–6: Sheep, Boars, Sheep, farm
- 7–10: wood
- Loom (optional)
- 11: House, hunt Boar, Sheep, farm
- 12–14: Forage Bushes
- 15: hunt Boar, Sheep, farm
- 16–18: Forage Bushes, wood; House after # 17
- 19–24: wood, # 20 builds a second Lumber Camp; House after # 22
- 25–27: gold
- Feudal Age
- 28–29: wood
- Castle Age
While the hints mention that skipping Loom is risky, this is actually not the case as there are no enemies, so the player just has to be careful when luring the Boars. Also, since the player will have more leftover wood than food or gold, the Villagers chopping wood should construct the last two Houses, Blacksmith, and Market.
- The build order presented in this scenario is by no means universally accepted. One of the best professional players in the world, TheViper, disagrees with it, as pointed out in this video.