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This article is about the map. For other uses, see Nomad.
Nomad icon

Nomad is a random map featured in Return of Rome, Age of Empires II: The Conquerors, and Age of Mythology. "Nomad" denotes the period before the Dark Age and Archaic Age respectively. In both games, players do not begin with any buildings and need to build a Town Center in a location of their choosing before they can advance technologically.

In Age of Empires II, there are some maps with the same type of start, like African Clearing. They are differentiated in the map selection icons by using a Foot icon instead of a square to designate the starting positions.

In Age of Empires III and Age of Empires IV, Nomad is not a particular map, but is instead a setting that can be enabled for any map. If enabled, players will begin without any buildings and with just enough units to establish a settlement.

Age of Empires[]

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Nomad selection

Stranded on a hilly island with no Town Center, players must be quick to settle and expand as they compete for resources and limited space.
—In-game description

The map is mostly the same as the Age of Empires II version: a version of Coastal with a different start.

Age of Empires II[]

Your villagers begin scattered without a Town Center or Scout Cavalry. Will you build a town immediately or struggle to find the perfect location to settle?
—In-game description

Nomad selection


In Age of Empires II, Nomad is a map where players begin with three Villagers scattered and no initial Scout or Town Center, but each player has in their stock additional stone and wood to built it. Usually, two of the villagers are closer to each other than the third one, so players often place their first Town Center in an area between the two closest villagers.

The map consists of a large landmass surrounded by ocean, most of the the time on three sides. Occasionally, lakes and rivers and (on larger maps) even a sea may be present in the middle of the map. The land may feature temperate terrain with Pine Trees and grass, or desert terrain with Palm Trees and sand. Since players do not start at fixed positions like in other maps, resources like Wild Boars, Sheep, Berry Bushes and herds of Deer appear scattered all around the map as well as the Gold and Stone Mines, and animals like Wolves are absent from the map. Relics are present in normal numbers and there are a bit more on larger maps. Elevations of various sizes can be found all around the land; however, cliffs are completely absent from the map.

Viable tactics[]

Ideally, when picking where to build their Town Center, players should vie for a settlement that includes an abundance of every resource, but food and wood are top priorities, since without them the player cannot build Houses or train Villagers. For this reason, finding a secure location with enough resources early and creating the Town Center as fast as possible is of key importance. The player should try to explore as much of the map as possible with the one or even two Villagers, and also build a Town Center as soon as possible. If the player finds a Sheep early, they may consider to use it for scouting so all the Villagers can focus on building the Town Center. The same logic can apply after the Town Center is finished; this of course at the risk of losing the Sheep to an opponent. Making a Militia early is also useful for scouting on Nomad, but is very expensive considering the cost of Barracks too.

Building a Dock early is of key importance. Civilizations like Vikings, Malians, Dravidians, and Italians are very fast on Nomad because of their Dock related bonuses. The Malians and the Persians are very popular because they can create a Dock, a Fishing Ship and a House before they finish their Town Center, and this can boost their economy very early. The Spanish are also very popular because they can get their Town Center up earlier than other civilizations, roughly gaining a Villager advantage. The Huns are really unfortunate in this case, because they cannot afford a Dock with their -100 wood start, hence they are rarely seen in Nomad.

Previously, Villagers could simply attack the opponent's Villagers, which was very risky and often resolved on which player had the better micromanagement and how the elements of the map were positioned. Villager rushing on maps like Nomad was one of the two reasons why the Chinese and Mayan extra villager bonuses were modified to spam after the Town center was finished, the other being the Town Center being constructed much faster. Villager rushing was also the reason why the Aztec free Loom bonus was changed to +50 initial gold. However, the Villager rush in Nomad could still be employed by some other civilizations like the Berbers (whose villagers move 10% faster, so they can pursue enemy Villagers easily). Villager rushing was ultimately eradicated with a Treaty option, which set all players as allies until all of them got Town Centers up or upto 5 minutes in-game, whichever condition got completed first. Town Center drop was also eradicated by preventing players from building Town Centers within some specific range of other (even allied) Town Centers in the treaty mode.

In team games, players can build their bases very close to each other, trading availability of resources for safety. In any case, it is advisable that players on a team tell their team mates where they are placing their settlement or where they plan to place it, so they can plan further their strategy and logistic. If a player in a team game finds where an opponent is placing its Town Center, they must also tell that to their teammates.

Once the players finished the construction of their Town Centers, things start to become more interesting. Sometimes players from opposing teams selected locations too close to each other; sometimes one teammate realizes that the opposing team placed their settlements around him, isolating the player from the team; sometimes teams or players are more or less dominating one side of the map. Depending on how players placed their settlements, the strategies will have to be adapted. Usually, if a player is isolated from the team, that player becomes the primary target of the opponents, since this way, they can get rid of the player, so the other team can get numeric advantage and more map control.

Rushing strategies can work on Nomad, depending on the distance between the bases. Natural resources, especially Stone, on Nomad are plentiful and matches on Nomad tend to end soon, so trash wars are very rare on this map. If the players are very close to each other, players try to get to Feudal Age as soon as possible to perform a Tower-rush. If they are modestly far, a fast Castle into Knight-rush, or Castle-drop into Unique unit play is seen. If the players are very far, the player perfer turtling and booming.

Viable civilizations[]

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  • Civilizations with bonuses regarding Villager raw stats: Berbers and Koreans for example.
  • Civilizations with bonuses for Fishing Ships or Docks: Vikings, Malay, Japanese, Italians, etc.
  • Civilizations with extra starting resources: Persians (+50 food, +50 wood), Malians (+63 wood from wood savings on Town Center and Dock), Lithuanians (+100 food), and Dravidians (~40 wood by having 1 free House).
  • Civilization with strong Tower-rushes/Castle drops: Spanish (faster builders, great unique unit), Koreans (faster Stone Miners, free Tower upgrades).
  • Special mentions: Vietnamese (can spot enemy first Town Centers as soon as they finish building them), Burmese (can spot Relics since the beginning of the match, which can facilitate players to select a location), Khmer (do not require to unlock buildings and farmers do not need to drop off food on Mills or Town Centers, enabling them to place much more freely).
  • Dishonorable mentions: Huns (not needing houses is really strong for Nomadic starts, starting with less wood on hybrid nomadic maps like Nomad itself makes them fall behind significantly). Civilizations with weak Castle Age military and civilizations without mobility can also struggle a lot since rush distance is often large and players often do not fight on land before the Castle Age.


  • As revealed by Ensemble Studios employee and Age of Empires series designer Sandy Petersen, the Nomad map style was originally included in the original The Age of Kings, but was removed due to lack of balance from the Chinese being present. A fan asked Petersen where the Nomad start was, but he revealed that it was removed, later admitting that they could add it back.[1]
  • The Huns are the only civilization with a specific bonus for Nomad-type maps: The first Town Center spawns a Hunnic Horse

Age of Mythology[]


Nomad map in Age of Mythology

Your Villagers start scattered with no Town Center. You'll need to find a Settlement to occupy during the time that combat is prevented.
—Map description.

Nomad in Age of Mythology is very similar to its Age of Empires II counterpart, however it is instead depicted only as a semi-arid land with no rivers or lakes, and ocean on three sides of the map. There are many chokepoints in the land, as there are neat numbers of cliffs, and decent amounts of mixed oak and palm forests.

Once again, each player begins with three Villagers (two for the Atlanteans) randomly scattered around the map, the game starting at nightfall. Norse players however start with three Ulfsarks instead, as Gatherers cannot build.

By the time the game begins, a special Ceasefire is cast, and as it draws to its conclusion, the sun rises. Huntables in this region are typically African, including Baboons, Elephants, Giraffes, Rhinoceroses, and Zebras, and there are also plenty of stray Goats, and some Berry Bushes. Fish are present in the waters, and include Mahi-mahi.

As Town Centers can only be constructed on top of abandoned Settlements, players are more limited as to where they can construct their own settlements compared to Age of Empires II. Atlanteans have a huge advantage in this map as their villagers can start to collect resources since the beginning of the game, Oranos have the most advantage in the map as this major god can see the location of all abandoned settlements.


  • This map is the only one in the vanilla game to alternate between unique lighting modes; the starting lighting is "Night", and as Mother Nature's Ceasefire goes on, the lighting alternates to "Dawn".
  • Nomad is one of the two maps where Mother Nature casts a god power, the other being Open Fields.
    • The Ceasefire never occurs during a Treaty Match as no player, including Mother Nature, can cast God Powers during the treaty's duration.
  • Due to an oversight by the Forgotten Empires team, Peasants do not have their construction speed increased during the Ceasefire.
  • The shape and map balance elements of Nomad in Age of Mythology is based upon Coastal from Age of Empires II.


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For maps used in high-level tournaments, see liquipedia.