Rivers is a map in Age of Empires II.
Players are isolated by narrow rivers; numerous shallows must be guarded at all cost. - Map description
Rivers is a semi-aquatic map, highly similar to Highland. This map features a land with multiple rivers dividing the region, with all players being divided by rivers, whose lands are accessible by shallows. What makes it different from Highland is that sometimes a surrounding sea appears, shallows are a bit more frequent, the rivers are a bit narrower, and some islets form at the center of the map (which may contain Gold or Stone Mines, wood or nothing), there are no cliffs, wild predators sometimes come in pairs instead of being alone (which may make them more abundant than in Highland when this happens), and instead of scattered herdables on the map, there are additional herds of Deer (or equivalent) with 4 Deer in each one. Sometimes when the map is generated on a winter setting, the shallows are frozen which blocks movement for naval units.
The start-up for every player is the standard one and the number of Relics is normal.
Most of the strategies that works on Highland may also work on Rivers as well.
While a Turtle strategy focusing on defending the shallows may seem as a good idea, as the rivers serve as a natural barrier for the land troops, it is usually not recommended to wall these, as players may pragmatically choose to build Docks and embark armies with Transport Ships instead. However, placing buildings near the shore just in order to get sight of the coastline works fine to notice an early landing. To defend the shallows from incoming land troops, it is usually better to just place towers or a Castle near it, and patrol those areas frequently.
Rushing tactics work fine on this map, but most of the time, those may require as mentioned previously, to create Transport Ships, and start the attack from areas the opponent doesn't have enough vigilance.
Turtling tactics can also prove to be useful, thanks to the forests there, but in this case the player must think the defense in concentric circles, protecting the inland by connecting the forests with walls and the riverlands with an army, Castles and towers trying not to leave any blind spots near the shores, especially at the shallows. Following a turtle with an economic boom is very viable and it will require the use of Fishing Ships for better results.
Despite the fact that the map is mostly land, using the navy has surprisingly good results in both defense and offense.
Usually in the middle to late game the shallows become hot spots for battles, so players that have access to units that deal splash damage, a special ability like ranged melee damage or trample damage (units like Onagers, War and Battle Elephants, Cataphracts, Demolition Ships etc.) should use them largely to get an advantage as the units there tend to clutter.
Unlike Highland, the central islets on the middle of the rivers usually offer steady sources of gold, so the players that get control of them may get an economic advantage over their rivals. Those islets also may become hot-spots for battles in the middle to the late game.
When the map generates pairs of wild predators, it is in theory possible to perform a Wolf rush; but in this case it is not practical to try that unlike on Gold Rush, as the rivers are an obstacle for animals to cross. When the map generates a surrounding sea the strategy becomes more "island-like", as players can invade their opponents with Transport Ships from more fronts. When the setting of the map is winter, it is the other way around, as the frozen shallows are unpassable for naval units, so rivers become more "lake-like" and so the possible strategies on the map.
Civilizations that have advantages in Highland:
- Civilizations that are efficient both on land and sea: Spanish, Koreans, Berbers, Vikings, Japanese.
- Naval civilizations: Malay, Vikings, Italians, Portuguese etc.
- Civilizations with good defensive bonuses: Byzantines, Incas, Koreans, Teutons,
- Civilizations with bonuses regarding Fishing Ships and Fish Traps: Malay, Italians, Japanese.
- Civilizations with bonuses for hunters: Mongols, Goths, Mayans