Players must constantly gather food for creating units, researching technologies, sending shipments, and advancing their empire through all the Ages.
There are various ways to gather food, all of which are listed here. If not stated otherwise, these methods are available in all games of the series.
- Main article: Berry Bush
Berry Bushes are typically scattered throughout the map in clumps at the start of the game. They are mostly used early on since they are relatively accessible, allowing a boost for growing civilizations. The advantages of Forage Bushes over hunting is that they are fixed in one location throughout the game and the food does not decay over time, making gathering food more efficient. Bushes usually do not last very long because they are not very common and do not replenish once they are consumed.
- Main article: Hunt
Other than gathering berries, hunting animals and wild game is the first way that a player can go about gathering food. During the early parts of the game, hunting is by far the best way to acquire food for one's settlement as the gather rates are faster than any other source of food. Animals can be found in groups all through the maps, when one is shot, the others will run in the opposite direction.
This can be useful, because with enough patience, the player can use their units to herd them closer to drop-off points. The major downside of animals is that they are non-sustainable and players will do a lot of traveling to get to find them.
There are animals in the game that cannot be hunted such as birds as well as animals such as Wolves which can be killed but do not provide food. It is important to note that in all Age of Empires games, the food content of an animal deteriorates over time; thus, ideally animals should be collected from by more than one Villager to minimize this food loss.
- Main article: Farm
Farms provide a steady amount of food that is easy to gather from because its placement is done by the player so the Farms can be placed at a safe and economically beneficial position (close to a drop-off point). Also, the gathering rate of Farms is comparatively high. In Age of Empires II and Age of Empires, the food held by Farms is finite, but the amount held can be increased by researching certain technologies.
The major downside is that Farms cost wood which is why, especially in the early game, other food sources should be used as long as they are available.
- Main article: Fish Trap
- Main article: Market
At the Market, gold can be traded for food, but for the exchange, trade fees apply. The resource exchange is unavailable in Age of Empires.
- Main article: Fishing
Fishing Boats, Fishing Ships, Caravels, and Villagers can usually gather Fish if there is a significant amount of water on the map. In Age of Empires III and the expansions, all forms of Canoes and the Marathan Catamaran gather slower than all other fishing ships.
Fishing is most effective in Age of Mythology because fishing spots contain an infinite amount of food.
- Main article: Herdable animal
Age of Empires II introduced the Sheep as a domestic animal, with more types of herdable animals being introduced in later games. Herdable animals can be found anywhere on the map as Gaia/Mother Nature units and when they come in contact with a player-controlled unit, they will fall under the control of that player. However, if the herdable animal subsequently gets in contact with another player's unit without a unit of their current owner nearby, they will immediately fall under the other player's control.
When tasking a Villager on a domestic animal, the Villager will herd them to the Town Center or the nearest food drop site and slaughter them one by one and start gathering meat, similar to a hunted animal.
Age of Empires III
Age of Empires III offers a wider variety of options to obtain food. They are explained below.
Politicians and Tribal Council
- Main article: Politician
- Main article: Tribal Council
Aging up brings its own benefits, including resource deliveries.
- Main article: Trading Post
Building Trading Posts is another way to obtain food, and produce around 120 units of a selected resource for free each minute by a Stagecoach, Trade Cart, or Train (144/min) at the Trade Route. Minor native civilizations may provide food bonuses otherwise unobtainable as well.
- Main article: Rice Paddy
Rice Paddies can be tasked to generate food and if they are, they provide a steady and unlimited trickle of food.
- Main article: Factory
Factories can be tasked to generate food and if they are, they provide a steady and unlimited trickle of food.
Huntable and herdable animals decay at a rate of 45.6 units per minute.
This table shows the initial gathering rates. Card and Consulate granted trickle rates are fixed and cannot be increased, though they can be stacked with other trickles available to that civilization. Trade Routes will vary depending on length and number of sites available; shown is the average one can expect on the majority of maps.
- Note: The gather rate for Coureur des Bois, and Cree Coureur des Bois is not a typo, they do gather slower from a Berry Bush or Cherry Orchard than a Mill. Therefore, Mills are always preferable to berries for anyone using them. On the other hand, Farms are inferior to berries for The WarChiefs major civilizations. Finally, Settler Wagons gather from hunts slightly faster than two Settlers or Villagers, though Wagons gather from crates much slower than two of those units.
|Grazing (card)||3 food per minute per Sowar and/or Zamburak, 6 wood per minute per elephant (including Brahmin and War Elephants)|
|Shrine||6 coin, wood, and 8.4 food per minute per Shrine (20 maximum, 168 food/min)|
|TEAM Sumptuary Laws (card)||12 coin, food, wood, and 6 export and experience per minute|
|Canoes / Catamaran (fish)||13.2/min per Canoe or Marathan Catamaran (finite source)|
|Sumptuary Laws (card)||18 coin, food, wood, and 9 export and experience per minute|
|Toshogu Shrine||21 coin, wood, and food per minute, and increases regular shrine gather rates by 33%|
|Huntable||50.4/min per Settler/Villager, 62.4/min per Coureur des Bois/Cree Coureur des Bois, 102/min per Settler Wagon (finite source)|
|Fishing Boats / Ships||40.2/min per ship (finite source)|
|Farm||30/min per Settler/Villager, 37.2/min per Coureur des Bois/Cree Coureur des Bois, 60/min per Settler Wagon (10 maximum, 300/min, 372/min, 600/min)|
|Berry Bush / Cherry Orchard||40.2/min per Settler/Villager, 49.8/min per Coureur des Bois/Cree Coureur des Bois, 80.4/min per Settler Wagon (finite source)|
|German ally (Consulate)||75/min as long as they remain an ally|
|Trade Route (stagecoach/trade cart)||120/min per Trading Post|
|Herdable||120/min per Settler, 75/min Villager, 150/min per Coureur des Bois/Cree Coureur des Bois, 240/min per Settler Wagon|
|Factory||330/min per factory|
|Porcelain Tower||180 (Colonial), 270 (Fortress), 360 (Industrial), or 390 (Imperial) food per minute depending on the Age in which it is constructed.|
|Mill / Rice Paddy||40.2/min per Settler/Villager, 50.4/min per Coureur des Bois/Cree Coureur des Bois, 80.4/min per Settler Wagon (10 maximum, 402/min, 504/min, 804/min)|
|Crate (all)||460/min per Settler/Villager, 600/min per Coureur des Bois/Cree Coureur des Bois, 900/min per Settler Wagon|
Age of Empires III also offers the option of Home City Cards and native shipments as a means to get extra food. The WarChiefs, and The Asian Dynasties allow alternative native shipments, new cards, and Consulate shipments. Once selected, food arrives in the form of crates, huntable herds, or trickle effects to the shipment point, which by default is the Town Center. Settlers, and Villagers must work on the crates and huntables to unpack or harvest them to add to the food supply.
- Civilization differences
- The Lakota, minor Lakota, and Cheyenne shipments of Bison, and Haudenosaunee Deer are not herdables, but rather spawn a new group of huntable animals near the Town Center (Lakota, Haudenosaunee), or native settlement (minor Lakota, Cheyenne).
- Only the Klamath can send crates of food in The Warchiefs.
- Every civilization can ship 300 Food card infinitely in the Exploration Age.
- Every civilization may ship both the 600 Food and the 700 Food cards in the Commerce Age.
- Every civilization except the Ottomans may ship the 1000 Food card in the Fortress Age.
- The Dutch, Portuguese, Spanish and Russians may ship the 1600 Food card in the Industrial Age.
- The Ottomans may ship and share TEAM Silk Road card which will increase all the food, wood and coin shipping containers above from 100 to 130 among allied players as well.
- Every shipment card can be unlocked among the New World Trading Cards in the consequent order as listed below.
- Nanban Trade requires 450 export.
- Native shipments require a Trading Post on the appropriate settlement.
|Icon||Name||Effect||Home City level||Age|
Ships 300 food
|Lakota Hunting Grounds||Spawns 12 Bison
|Cheyenne Hunting Grounds||Spawns 12 Bison
|Klamath Huckleberry Feast||Ships 100 food for every 2 minutes the game has lasted, up to 30 minutes (1,500 food)
|TEAM 6 Bison||Spawns 6 Bison
|Forest Mother||Spawns 9 Deer
|9 Bison||Spawns 9 Bison
|TEAM Sumptuary Laws||Trickle of 0.2 coin, food, wood, and 0.1 export and experience per second for the rest of the game
|Sumptuary Laws||Trickle of 0.3 coin, food, wood, and 0.15 export and experience per second for the rest of the game
|Colbertism||Trickle of 1.5 food per second
|Ships 600 food
|Ships 700 food
|12 Bison||Spawns 12 Bison
|15 Bison||Spawns 15 Bison
|Food Crate||Ships 500 food
TEAM Silk Road
Crates will contain 15% more food from now on.
|Food Trickle||Trickle of 1.5 food per second
|Nanban Trade||Crates deliver +25% resources and Trade Routes generate +50% resources and XP.
|Ships 1,000 food
|Ships 1,600 food
The following cheat codes instantly grant the player food:
- Age of Empires: pepperoni pizza (+1,000 food)
- Age of Empires II: cheese steak jimmy's (+10,000 food; +1,000 before The Forgotten)
- Age of Mythology: JUNK FOOD NIGHT (+1,000 food)
- Age of Empires III: medium rare please (+10,000 food)