|This article is about the map. For the building in Age of Mythology, see Hill Fort (Age of Mythology).|
The players begin on top of a hill surrounded by shallow terrain. Before the Definitive Edition, their bases were fully walled with Stone Walls, similar to Arena and Fortress, and sometimes were walled with Palisade Walls. Since the Definitive Edition, each settlement is now walled with special Fortified Palisade Walls that can't be built or become available during a game (but are available in the scenario editor). Despite this, in the Definitive Edition the gates are just normal Palisade Gates. All startup resources can be found inside the player's walls, but sometimes, one or two herdable animals are out of the wall.
The start-up set of resources is almost standard, with 8 Sheep or 6 Cows, a herd of Deer, 2 Boars, and normal amount of Stone and Gold Mines, but there are no Berry Bushes near the Town Center of the players. Also, there are some small pockets of forest inside players' walls, and all resources are relatively much more close to the Town Center than in most maps, so players may delay creating Mills, Mining Camps or Lumber Camps.
When Hill Fort is played with teams, the entire team shares a position at the plateau, with each base walled on its own (however, if two walls from different players on a team connect to each other, they share the same continuous wall), and possessing its own resources.
Outside the player's hills, the terrain is mostly flat, with some small and medium sized hills scattered all around, and no cliffs. Wild beasts are present and scattered all around the map (except on the player's hills), as well as the Relics, and both come in normal numbers. Gold and stone outside the player's hills are of normal variance, pockets of medium sized forest can be found all scattered, and groups of 4 Berry Bushes each are present all around the map.
A Turtle followed by a Fast Castle and then by a Castle Age aggression is a recommended strategy. The hills provide a defensive advantage, as firing from higher ground has a bonus attack vs units or buildings on lower ground. The shallow terrain around the hill may also let players built Docks all around the hill, and in the particular case of the Malay, they can abuse this terrain feature in order to wall with Harbors in the Castle Age. Despite the walls being just Fortified Palisade Walls that are weaker than Stone Walls, they are still stronger than normal Palisade Walls. The Fortified Palisade Wall is affected by the Cuman team bonus, the Chinese unique technology Great Wall, and the Byzantine HP building bonus; however, as the gates are just normal Palisade Gates, these are weaker than the walls, so they are a weakness any opponent may exploit in order to breach the wall. Like other walled maps (like Arena, Hideout or Fortress), it is recommended to create a second layer of buildings or wall behind the pre-deployed one, as well as placing Towers and Castles.
Since the resources inside player's walls are scarce, players will eventually have to descend the hills to gather more resources. Booming early is probably not the best option, unless the player finds a location outside the walls with enough Berry Bushes and Stone or Gold Mines. In this case, they must enclose those new settlements with walls beforehand.
Rushing early is not the wisest option, unless the player focuses more on Archers and mix them with Men-at-Arms in the Feudal Age. An Archer-Men-at-Arms combo can breach the Fortified Palisade Walls in the early stages of the game. Usually, is better to skirmish the surroundings in search of early opponent attempts to gather resources outside the base.