|“||Sometimes, the best defense is a good offense.||”|
|—Sun Tzu, The Art of War|
Rush refers to a military strategy emphasizing rapid build-up as early as possible.
If a treaty is in place, early rushes will be negated.
To implement this strategy, the player should focus almost exclusively on building troops to harass the enemy economy in the shortest possible amount of time. However, in order to build these troops some basic economic build up is required. It is commonly used to counter the boom strategy or the turtle strategy if the enemy is unable to get their towers and walls up in time although it should be noted that a successful turtle can easily repel rushes. Another variation of the rush strategy is Blitzkrieg, which is a far deadlier version and is more effective than other rushing techniques but is more costly.
A rushing player will typically have a weak economy in favor of a strong military, ideally most rushes are executed within the first seven minutes of gameplay (even less versus human opponents). The longer a match draws on without the rush inflicting significant damage, the more likely it is that a rushing player will not be able to seize victory due to their slower economy.
Age of Empires
There are three especially popular rushing strategies in Age of Empires: rushing in the Tool Age with Axemen, rushing in the Tool Age with Slingers, and rushing in the Bronze Age with Chariot Archers. However, other units can also form the basis of rushes, including Bowmen and Cavalry.
Some civilizations boast certain bonuses that allow them to perform better as early Rushers, at land or water. They typically include discounts on individual unit lines and/or economic or military bonuses that kick in from the Stone or Tool Age:
- Axeman Rushing Candidates
- Slinger Rushing Candidates
- Chariot Archer Rushing Candidates
- Other Rushing Candidates
Age of Empires II
An effective rush requires rapid economic growth in the beginning of the game then focusing on the military. Gathering resources quickly allows for military units to be created early on.
As noted in Rushing the Enemy, scouting before a rush is important as it allows the player to adjust their rushing tactics based on the enemy's situations (e.g. the enemy is walling up their town or forgot to close off a chokepoint), as is the constant training of Villagers to keep the economy stable in case the rush fails.
Depending on when each civilization's economical bonuses start to shine, there are different types of rushing that allow individual civilizations to use their advantages:
In the Dark Age, Militia are the only military units available but should be created in order to create the basis for an army in later Ages. A Militia raid in the Dark Age is known as a drush (Dark Age rush). Civilizations that can perform this kind of rush better than others include:
- Aztecs - Start with 50 more Gold, which allows for more Militia to be created without mining additional gold. Also benefits from Villagers carrying more resources and military units being trained 11% faster.
- Celts - Lumberjacks work 15% faster, a helpful economic bonus. The ability to steal herdable animals is another raiding bonus.
- Goths - Infantry are 20% cheaper in the Dark Age. Villagers also get an early bonus when attacking boars and carrying more food when hunting. Loom being researched nearly instantly effectively works as an minor bonus to Villager production, freeing up Town Center time.
- Huns - Despite starting with 100 less wood, the freedom from building houses frees Villager time and resources.
- Lithuanians - Start with 150 extra food, giving them potentially the fastest Drush.
- Incas - Benefit from having doubly effective houses and an extra Llama for food in the early game.
The Persians (with their double hit point Town Centers) can perform an unusual rush called the "douche" by deleting their Town Center and placing it next to the enemy Town Center. In the original The Age of Kings, the Teutons often performed the Teutonic Town Center rush (with their increased range), but this gave them such an unfair advantage that it was nerfed in The Conquerors.
In the Feudal Age, (flush) more units are available and can begin harassing or killing enemy Villagers to disrupt their economy. For rushing, the focus should be on cheaper units so greater numbers can be created to overwhelm the enemy. Variations of the rush in the Feudal Age, largely depending on each faction's focus, include: Tower rush (attack with Villagers and Watch Towers), Scout rush, infantry rush, Archer rush. An example, the Ethiopians, a civilization highly vulnerable to drushes, can put their free Pikeman upgrade, Age-up resource bonus and extra rate-of-fire for Archers into good use and launch early flushes of said units. Likewise, the Burmese can abuse their boosted infantrymen and their free Lumber Camp upgrades to flush enemies with Militia or even Archers (who fall flat late game for them).
- Tower Rush Candidates
- Incas - Have a Stone discount to make Towers cheaper. Villagers also benefit from Blacksmith upgrades, making them less vulnerable to enemies. This is on top of their earlier free Llama and better houses. (Starting in 2019, a Tower rush with the Incas, whose Villagers benefit from the Blacksmith's infantry upgrades, is often referred to as Noboru rush.)
- Koreans - Stone Miners work 20% faster. Villagers have +3 Line of Sight, valuable for placing towers in strategic locations and avoiding danger. Later, Tower upgrades are free, and Towers can also get improved range from an unique technology starting in the Castle Age.
- Sicilians - A variation of a tower rush involves their unique building, the Donjon (also known as the "Donjon rush"), which can be built in the Feudal Age like a tower, but it is stronger. In addition, the player can train Serjeants from the Donjon to further apply pressure to the opponent. This is considered a "high risk, high reward" strategy, as the Donjon is a very expensive tower, costing 175 stone unless the player mined additional stone to build additional Donjons.
- Scout Rush Candidates
- Franks - Though they lack Bloodlines, their 20% HP increase for cavalry arguably makes up for it in the meantime, having a lesser effect in exchange for being free and not requiring Stable work-time. Meanwhile, faster Foragers and free Farm upgrades give more food for building Scout Cavalry.
- Huns - Stables work 20% faster. Do not need to build houses.
- Khmer - Can skip building a Barracks and immediately build a Stable instead, saving the equivalent cost of a Stable. Their farming bonus also slightly increases the amount of food available.
- Magyars - Scouts are 15% cheaper and get offensive Blacksmith upgrades like Forging for free.
- Sicilians - Their Scout Cavalry take 50% less bonus damage from enemy Spearmen, allowing their Scout Cavalry to win effective trades against enemy Spearmen.
- Infantry Rush Candidates
- Goths - Can create 25% cheaper Infantry with +1 damage against buildings in the Feudal Age.
- Japanese - Infantry have a 33% faster attack rate starting in the Feudal Age. Economic buildings are cheaper, saving some wood.
- Slavs - Supplies is Free, effectively lowering the food cost of the Militia line. Farmers work 10% faster and military buildings like the Barracks provide 5 population space, meaning less Villager time and wood needs to be spent building Houses.
- Vikings - Infantry have 10% more HP in the Feudal Age. Wheelbarrow is free, giving an early economic boost in the Feudal Age.
- Archer Rush Candidates
- Britons - Archery Ranges work 20% faster. Shepherds also work quicker, giving more food quickly and allowing for a faster Feudal Age, or alternatively allowing the Britons to devote an extra Villager to collecting wood in preparation for the Archer Rush..
- Ethiopians - Archers have an 18% faster firing rate. Receive 100 food and 100 Gold upon entering a new age, enough resources for a few units or an upgrade such as Fletching.
- Koreans (Definitive Edition only) - Their archers cost 20% less wood (5 wood saved per unit) and archer armor upgrades are free, saving 100 food in the Feudal Age alone.
- Mayans - Have economic bonuses from the extra initial Villager and longer lasting resources. Archers are 10% cheaper in the Feudal Age.
- Sicilians - Their archers and Skirmishers take 50% less bonus damage from Skirmisher bonus damage, allowing them win archer trades with the opponent.
- Vietnamese - Their Archers and Skirmishers have have 20% more HP, allowing their archers to trade efficiently with other archer civilizations. In addition, their economic upgrades do not cost wood, allowing them to produce more Archery Ranges and Archers.
In the Castle Age, siege weapons become available as well as powerful upgrades and new units. This allows for the siege of enemy towns and the building of Castles, which if built near an enemy town can disrupt them even more by preventing Villagers from moving out to gather resources as well as allowing for the creation of a constant flow of units to attack the enemy (this tactic is known as a Castle drop). A Saracen rush version is a Castle Age rush of Monks due to their refund after death. This is known as a smush (Saracen Monk rush). Another popular Castle Age rush tactic is a Knight rush. Being able to slaughter most units and having little effective counters, they can dominate in the early Castle Age, until of course their counter units, unique units, and siege units come into play. Two examples of civilizations that can utilize a Knight rush are the Berbers (thanks to their cheaper Stable units) and the Franks (especially with Chivalry-boosted Stables).
- Knight Rush Candidates
- Burgundians - A variation of this strategy is the Castle Age Cavalier rush, where they can research the Cavalier upgrade in the Castle Age. Plus, their Stable technologies are 50% cheaper, allowing them to hit their power spike in the early Castle Age. This results in a slower rush, due to the Cavalier upgrade's long research time, but a Cavalier-based rush can be very powerful.
- Berbers - Knights are 15% cheaper in the Castle Age.
- Franks - Though Bloodlines is missing, the 20% HP bonus for Cavalry makes up for this, growing more effective as Knights are upgraded in the Imperial Age. Frank Knights have +2 Line of Sight, reducing a major weakness of the Knight line. Franks also benefit from faster Foragers and free farming upgrades.
- Huns - Stables work 20% faster. Houses are not required, saving wood and Villager work time.
- Lithuanians - Benefit from +150 starting food. Knights gain +1 attack per Relic held in a Monastery.
- Persians - Town Centers have an increased work rate starting in the Dark Age, which only gets faster over time. Knights deal +2 damage to Archers.
- Sicilians - Their Knights take 50% less bonus damage from Camel Riders and Pikemen, making their durability against anti-cavalry damage comparable to a Cataphract.
- Monk Rush Candidates
- Aztecs - Have all Monastery technologies, each of which also add +5 HP to Monks. Start with more Gold, and Villagers carry more resources. The bonus that grants extra Gold from Relics also rewards players who focus on Monks.
- Burmese - Monastery technologies are 50% cheaper, with only Heresy missing.
- Saracens - Madrasah indirectly reduces the amount of Gold spent on Monks.
- Slavs - Their unique technology gives Monks extra armor and they have almost all the Monk upgrades.
- Battle Elephant rush candidates:
- Khmer - Their Battle Elephants move faster, allowing their Battle Elephants to close the gap on fleeing enemies. In addition, their Castle Age unique technology, Tusk Swords, makes their Battle Elephants even more deadly. Plus, their farmers do not need to drop food, making it easier for the Khmer to pump out Battle Elephants.
- Malay - While their cavalry is considered to be the worst in the game, a Battle Elephant rush strategy should be considered in the early Castle Age because their Battle Elephants are 30% cheaper, making them cheaper than Knights. In addition, they can advance ages faster than most civilizations, allowing them to develop their economy more or initiate said rush sooner.
- Cavalry Archer rush candidates:
- Huns - Their cavalry archers are cheaper, allowing them to train more cavalry archers than other civilizations. In addition, the Huns can save a lot of wood for cavalry archers since they do not need to build Houses, making them one of the best cavalry archer rush civilizations in the game.
- Tatars - They get Thumb Ring and Parthian Tactics for free, allowing the Tatars to go for a cavalry archer rush immediately. In addition, their cavalry archers are more durable thanks to their unique technology, Silk Armor.
- Turks - While it requires a Castle, the Turks can go for a cavalry archer rush thanks to their unique technology, Sipahi, which adds 20 more HP to their cavalry archers. Their gold miners working faster can also help with the cavalry archer production.
- Mongols - Their cavalry archer attack faster, allowing more damage output for their cavalry archers. In addition, the Mongol Mangudai is a strong cavalry archer with very low frame delay and bonus damage against siege weapons (although this requires massive investment in Castles to maximize Mangudai production).
- Vietnamese - Their cavalry archers have 20% more HP, making their cavalry archers potent despite lacking Parthian Tactics in the Imperial Age. In addition, the Vietnamese save wood for their cavalry archers with economic upgrades not costing wood.
On maps like Archipelago and Islands, players can perform a pure Galley and Galleon rush (known as the grush), while the counter to a gush is a Fire Ship rush, a fire rush. If a player decides to grush or fire rush, it is recommended to target all Docks before moving to attack inland. When gushing or fire rushing, the players should bring some Archers in Transports to land after softening defenses. Civilizations that excel in such tactics are mainly the ones with great naval bonuses and preferably a strong economy to back up their navy.
- Naval Rushing Candidates
- Berbers - All ships move 10% faster.
- Byzantines - Fire Galleys attack 25% faster. In the Castle Age, Greek Fire increases their range.
- Malay - Can save wood spent on Farms by instead building Fish Traps with infinite food. Docks also have 100% longer Line of Sight, making them more initially useful.
- Portuguese - All ships have 10% more HP, and warships cost 15% less Gold. This gives Galleys 12 more HP while costing 5 less Gold, while Fire Galleys gain 10 HP and cost 7 less Gold.
- Saracens - Galleys attack 25% faster. Markets cost less wood and give better rates.
- Vikings - Docks are 15% cheaper (saving 22 wood each), as are warships in the Feudal Age. Wheelbarrow is free.
The following civilizations have great rush capability:
Age of Mythology
The following major gods are well suited for a rushing strategy:
The following minor gods are well suited for a rushing strategy:
- Leto (Kronos)
Age of Empires III
Rushing allows a player to gain control of the map and its resources, and also to restrict opponents' access to them. An ideal rush succeeds if it is well timed and strongly backed. Thus, with a successful rush strategy executed, the enemy will starve and eventually will give up. The main objective is to attack the enemy as soon as possible, that is, within the Commerce Age. A good rush deck typically consists of the basic Villager cards and while possessing a heavy number of resource crates, unit shipment cards and unit upgrade cards in the Commerce Age with little focus on economic cards. Scouting before a rush is important as it allows the player to adjust their rushing tactics based on the enemy's situations (e.g. The enemy is building a military building to defend himself or trying to directly reach the Fortress Age), as is the constant training of Settlers/Villagers to keep the economy stable in case the rush fails. There are three types of rushing. They can be classified as:
- All In
- Economy Focused Rush
This rush strategy, as the name suggests, focuses mainly on building military and attacking the enemy as early as possible. Although this may not give the best outcome on the economical side, it allows the player to catch the enemy off guard if perfectly executed. It involves shipping military unit shipments first most of the time. The best examples are rushing with Ottomans, Russians, Lakota. The Ottomans are considered to be one of the best rush civilizations due to the availability of the Janissary, a strong Musketeer unit, and the Abus Gun, a strong Skirmisher unit, in the Commerce Age. However, these units are expensive and their Settlers train very slowly even though they are free, thus the Ottoman economy falls behind while rushing. Similarly, The Russians are also strong due to the large number of military units consisting of Musketeers, Strelets and Cossacks which they can train in a few minutes, but their Settlers can be only trained in a batch of 3 for 270 food; hence, the player has to sacrifice their production for a very short time, to consecutively train military units. This affects the Russian economy negatively due to the lack of Villager cards, but still allows the player to gain map control, swift advantage over opponent in military and similar. Lakota does not require any Houses since they already start with 200 population. This allows the player to only focus on building their military units, especially their strong cavalry units such as Axe Riders and Bow Riders, and also their infantry. On the other hand, All of their military units are food-heavy, so their nearby food sources run out quickly while rushing, which starves them for a long time.
Economy Focused Rush
This rush strategy is a slower but safer strategy due to the availability of additional options if the rush fails. Setting up a perfect economy before building military units is the purpose of this strategy. It involves upgrading gather rate of Villagers by researching technologies at the Market, sending Villager cards, Resource crates initially followed by military unit shipments most of the time. This lets the player maintain a good economy while rushing, and thus it always has good backup plans and is adaptable into any kind of situation. The player is able to make many decisions with ease (e.g. Whether to reach Fortress Age after rushing to gain technology advantage, or to continue being aggressive in the Commerce Age). Best examples are rushing with British, French, Indians and Japanese. All of these civilizations are able to set up their economy initially using special houses such as Manors, Shrines etc. or by sending Villager shipments or their equivalent such as 4 Coureur des Bois, 5 Settlers, Foreign Logging etc. A well timed rush with a mass of Musketeers and Hussars can be unstoppable when executed by British or the French. Similarly, An Indian mass of Sepoys and Gurkhas or Sowars or a Japanese mass of Ashigaru Musketeers and Yumi Archers or Naginata Riders can be very lethal for the enemy to face. Even if the rush fails, the player is able to adapt to age to the Fortress Age or to focus on rebuilding the army.
The main intention of this strategy is not to attack the enemy directly but to make sincere attempts to cripple the enemy's economy to gain an advantage, and then using that advantage to launch an attack. While raiding is already one of the objectives in every game, it can also become an essential part of a rush strategy. Best examples are raiding with Germans, Lakota and basically any civilization with a decent cavalry or shock infantry unit. Germans get free Uhlans from Home City shipments. They are very effective at raiding. This allows the player to just reach Fortress Age to gain technology advantage or to prepare an army of decent mass, simultaneously while keeping the enemy busy. Similarly, Lakota can raid efficiently with their Bow Riders, which are specialized light cavalry units with no negative multiplier versus Villagers. Raiding is not exclusive to cavalry units. It can be done with Infantry units such as Musketeers. They can be primarily used to siege Trading Posts, Special Houses such as Shrines and Torps (which is also considered as raiding). However, the player has to be more attentive while raiding with them because they lack speed and might get caught by enemy units.