“Most common game; you choose the settings and victory conditions.”
—Age of Empires II description
Random map is the primary game mode throughout the games of the Age of Empires series. In the mode, the player starts out with a map randomly generated for each game. The overall topography of the map remains the same on each map type, with different landscapes and landforms on every corner of the map. The size of the map and the number of players affect the generated terrain of the map.
The Age of Kings features 14 random maps. All maps are square, and can be generated in one of several different sizes. The Forgotten introduces a new LudiKRIS size that is not available in the original game.
The Conquerors introduces 8 new random maps to the game. Additionally, a new category of maps based on real locations around the world is introduced. The geography of these maps are of fixed size and the layout will always resemble its real-world counterpart. However, resources are randomly distributed around the map every time they are generated.
Ensemble Studios also created additional custom maps for The Conquerors that were originally available for download on the official website. They were later included with Patch 1.0c, Gold Edition and HD Edition. The filenames for all of maps are prefixed with "ES@" to help players find them during multiplayer.
Canals A network of canals creates a spider web effect as they try to connect every player’s starting town.
Capricious Starting food, gold and stone might be at normal levels, in short supply, or in abundance. Starting trees will always be the same.
Dingoes Villagers shepherd their flocks while avoiding rampaging wild animals. Lots of sheep, lots of wolves, no Scout.
Graveyards Control weed-choked graveyards packed with scary trees and abandoned buildings that conceal resources and ancient relics.
Metropolis Control three Town Centers, three sets of villagers, three Scouts and three sets of resources!
Moats Each player’s town is surrounded by a narrow body of water with several land bridges for access and moats narrow enough for ranged units to fire across.
Paradise Island Start on a tropical island with your enemies. The map is loaded with fish, boars, and berries. Find the three relics at the base of the volcano in the center, but beware of the guardians!
Pilgrims Your starting island may be small, but there is a whole new world to discover! Hop in your Transport and race your enemies to the new world!
Prairie Food is often scarce and there aren’t a lot of natural defenses, but your two Scouts can cover a lot of ground.
Seasons Based on the 4 seasons in a year, with a 25% chance of loading up a Winter map, Spring map, Summer map, or Autumn map.
Sherwood Forest Multiplayer only. Your town is surrounded by forests, yet you can walk freely through them. Use your hunting wolf to scout the terrain or for sneak attacks on your enemy’s villagers.
Sherwood Heroes Single player version of Sherwood Forest. Start out with some familiar heroes.
Shipwreck A few bruised villagers and their waterlogged sheep stranded on a desert island.
Team Glaciers In the frozen north, each team must defend its own hunk of ice and snow against frequent enemy raids. Bad weather makes ships and walls rare, though strangely, this has led to a bumper crop of deer.
The Unknown Everything is random. Everything. From the moment the game starts, you have to scout (with a random number of Scouts, of course) to figure out whether you are on an island, a mainland, or inside a clearing of trees.
The Forgotten introduces 12 standard random maps, with many featuring a unique variation on standard gameplay. Three additional maps are also available only for Capture the Relic mode, as well as an option to randomly select between these maps.
Acropolis Battle on the barren slopes of your base as you defend your hill and conquer the enemy's.
CtR Monsoon One of the three most challenging Capture the Relic maps. There is only limited space to build on as most of the map is covered in endless marshes, which in the coldest seasons turn to ice. The relic stands in the centre, enclosed in a sacred grove of trees.
CtR Spiral One of the three most challenging Capture the Relic maps. The center of the map has been engulfed in a spiral of deep waters and the only way to reach the relic is to follow the current in long and treacherous circles.
Age of Mythology features 23 different random maps, and all can be generated in normal or large sizes. For the first time, maps can differ in shape and dimensions, such as being rectangular instead of square. Age of Mythology: Tale of the Dragon introduces a new giant map size that is not available in the original game.
Two of the maps, Black Sea, and River Styx, were released as preorder bonuses for the game, and are included with Age of Mythology: Extended Edition.
Acropolis Players start with high resources on plateaus with resources in the valleys and around the edges.
Alfheim Forgotten Relics and terrible beasts hide between the craggy hills.
Anatolia The cold desert beyond the Mediterranean is carved by cliffs and gorges that protect Gold Mines.
Archipelago This sun-swept island chain may isolate players at random.
Age of Empires III has 17 random maps, with two of the maps being added to the game through patches. All maps are available in standard size, with only five specific maps available in a large size. The Asian Dynasties adds another four maps with a large version.
Hispaniola was introduced with patch 1.05. Unknown was introduced with patch 1.07. A bonus map, Winter Wonderland, was released online by Ensemble to celebrate Christmas, but has never actually been included with any release of the game.
The WarChiefs introduces 8 new random maps. Ozarks was introduced with patch 1.03. Plymouth was released online by Ensemble to celebrate Thanksgiving, and is only included with Age of Empires III: Complete Collection.
Andes The Inca can prove a powerful ally, but watch out for the warlike Huari.
Araucania Fight along the western coast of South America.
California A wide variety of terrain, from beaches to mountains.
Northwest Territory A land of cool, lush rainforests, magnificent mountain ranges, high desert plains, rocky coastlines, and rivers teeming with salmon.
Ensemble Studios held a random map contest in 2007 for Age of Empires III: The WarChiefs, of which the prize was to have the winning map officially included into the game. The winning map would also feature a special building in the centre that would be named after the contest winner:
RF_Gandalf won the contest with the map Dakota Badlands. The contest ended too close to the then-upcoming patch's release for the map to be included with it. But despite Ensemble's assurances that Dakota Badlands would come with a later patch, the map was ultimately never included for unknown reasons. The map file contains disabled code for spawning the special building in the center, but enabling it does nothing as the building itself was never patched into the game.