Castle drop is a tactic that is popular with players on the Arena map in Age of Empires II, where booming is at its finest, and springboard strategies are the norm in team games. It involves focusing the player's Villagers at gathering enough stone for a Castle, then advancing to the Castle Age and using said Villagers to construct a Castle, either for offensive or defensive purposes.
In general, this tactic can also be applied to other maps and Age of Empires games, but mainly in maps with many choke points (such as Black Forest) that often benefit such tactics. For example, a "Fort drop" can be executed in Age of Empires III on maps such as the Himalayas and in Age of Mythology, Castle Drops are ideal for maps with close quarters of fighting and/or restricted movement, such as Jotunheim, Marsh, and Vinlandsaga.
Forward Castle (offensive Castle drop)
On the Arena map, executing this tactic usually involves the player ordering Villagers to construct a Castle close to the enemy's base (preferably just outside the enemies' Walls), in order to put a dent to the enemy's economy by harassing enemy Villagers or to put a civilization's unique units into good use.
It is often preferable to have a good unit for ranged warfare, such as Longbowmen. An offensive Castle drop involves taking the fight to the enemy and keeping the pressure on their economy, and often has to be combined with a Siege Workshop, to rush enemies with rams (similarly, Monasteries can be used in order to rush with Monks and convert enemy Villagers).
It is an often advised tactic if a player has a lowly developed base, or if their civilization offers distinctive advantages to Castles and other fortifications.
Civilizations that often excel at this tactic include: 1) civilizations with units that can be trained rapidly at the Castle, 2) civilizations with strong ranged unique units, and 3) ones with bonuses for their Castles and/or builders:
- Berbers (Kasbah, Camel Archer)
- Celts (Woad Raider)
- Ethiopians (Shotel Warrior)
- Malay (Karambit Warrior)
- Berbers (Camel Archer)
- Britons (Longbowman)
- Burmese (Arambai)
- Chinese (Chu Ko Nu)
- Malians (Gbeto)
- Mayans (Plumed Archer)
- Mongols (Mangudai)
- Spanish (Conquistador)
- Vietnamese (Rattan Archer)
- Cumans (Kipchak)
- Bohemians (Mining upgrades are free, Villagers benefit from Sanctity)
- Bulgarians (Kreposts act as somewhat weaker but significantly less expensive Castles)
- Byzantines (Castles have +30%/+40% HP in the Castle/Imperial Age)
- Franks (Castles cost -25% stone)
- Incas (Castles cost -15% stone, Villagers benefit from Blacksmith upgrades)
- Koreans (Stone Miners work 20% faster)
- Sicilians (Castles are built 100% faster)
- Spanish (Builders work 30% faster, Supremacy is available)
- Teutons (Murder Holes free, Crenellations is available)
A defensive Castle drop usually involves the construction of a Castle to strategic points (mainly inside the player's base) in order to limit the enemy's offensive maneuvers, especially useful if the enemy has executed an offensive Castle drop.
- Often, a defensive Castle is constructed by a player that acts as a "spring" in springboard tactics, as they usually have a weaker early game military, and need to boom up to the Imperial Age in order to use their elite units, often including gunpowder units.
- However, such a tactic can also be used by a springboard player too, if their Castles do not offer distinctive advantages or if they want to focus on booming (for most of them however, it is usually more advisable to try a forward Castle drop rather than constructing a defensive one).
Examples of the first category include:
Examples of the second category include:
Encroaching enemy positions with fortifications, was an invaluable military tactic that often allowed standing armies to constrict enemies that fought in their own lands, where indirect approach tactics, such as Guerilla warfare often allowed them to wear them down and prevent them from fighting a pitched battle. Apart from offering an often uncapturable position, fortresses, especially castles, also provided a steady base of operations and a warehouse for armies' supplies.
For example, the Plantagnet King Edward I (1272-1307), also known as Edward Longshanks, decided on a strategy of building elaborate fortresses and castles in Wales in order to suppress the Welsh rebellion under Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, last sovereign Prince of Wales and ruler of Gwynedd in Northern Wales.
These castles, more sizeable than other Norman castles in England, were built as a network spanning across the northwest coast of Wales and were intended to intimidate the local Welsh Population into being subservient to the new English rule, while providing a power base against further rebellions. Eventually, the rebellion was crushed, with Llywelyn's head being displayed in London, as a punishment for traitors at medieval times.
But most important of all, the Welsh spirit had been crushed, with English castles guarding the territory, and until the rising of Owain Glyndwr in 1400, Wales was completely subdued to England.
Information taken from: Ancient Fortresses