Age of Empires Series Wiki
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Turtle strategies typically involve the massing of armies and/or economies behind fortifications. "Turtling" is most common counter to rushes.

Age of Empires[]

Whether or not a player turtles depends on certain factors, such as the stage of the game, and the civilization's bonuses. Also, it depends on whether the map features enough chokepoints, to minimize the cost in stone of defensive structures.

Either way, players that intend to turtle should gather as much stone as possible, as apart from the walls and towers themselves, their unlocking researches (accessible from the Granary) also cost stone. It is also imperative to research Architecture as quickly as possible, as the hit points of structures are increased, while the construction time is decreased.

The utility of turtling inevitably diminishes when siege weapons start rolling on the field, especially Heavy Catapults, but it can still be useful when preparing to build a Wonder, with the defensive structures existing to delay the enemy for as long as possible, until it stands for two thousand years, and the player wins the game.

Preferred civilizations[]

  • Babylonians - Their walls and towers have +60% hit points which, combined with their stone mining bonus, is especially useful for defensive purposes from the Tool Age to the Iron Age.
  • Choson - Their towers have +2 range, meaning that a fully upgraded Ballista Tower can match the range of the Helepolis and the Juggernaught, and easily destroy them in a matter of seconds, decreasing the likelihood of large rushes in later games.
  • Shang - Despite lacking the Ballista Tower upgrade, they do have the Fortified Wall upgrade, and their walls have +60% hit points, as the Babylonian ones. Apart from that, the fact they receive cheaper Villagers (costing 40 food instead of 50) can assist in building structures faster, as well as in stone mining, necessary for most building-related technologies.

Age of Empires II[]

Building walls and towers can significantly impede rushes by the enemy in the Feudal Age and even in the Castle Age walls can slow down an enemy with siege. However, in the Imperial Age the tree-clearing Siege Onager and powerful anti-building weapons such as Trebuchets and Siege Rams become available, reducing the impact of defensive structures and causing the best defense to be good offense. Therefore, turtling should be used only early game to defend from a rush while you build for the later stages of the game which require more offense.

The effectiveness of turtling largely depends on the map, with closed maps such as Yucatán favoring this strategy while open maps such as Arabia have the opposite effect.

Turtling works best with defensive civilizations such as the Byzantines, who have one of the strongest walls in the game and the highest hit points for buildings, as well as having access to all defensive buildings such as the entire Watch Tower line, and the Bombard Tower, as well as their powerful Castles. It also works great with Teutons, who have +3 range for their Castles, as well as having all defensive structures in their technology tree.

Preferred civilizations[]

  • Byzantines - Increased hit points of buildings and structures makes them less susceptible to sieges and enemy rushes. Most of their defensive units are provided with a special discount.
  • Chinese - In The Forgotten expansion, the Chinese get Great Wall, a technology which increases the hit points of both Towers and Walls by 30%.
  • Incas - Their 15% stone discount on all buildings enables them to build walls, Castles, and towers, at a lower price. Villagers benefit from Blacksmith upgrades so they are harder to kill and their two unique units, the Kamayuk (ranged melee anti-cavalry unit) and the Slinger (ranged anti-infantry unit), are cheap and powerful counter units that can be used defensively.
  • Koreans - Their ability to gather stone faster allows them to build up their defenses quickly, and their towers are automatically upgraded. In addition, their unique technology Eupseong gives their towers +2 range (matching the range of Bombard Cannons and non-Elite Cannon Galleons when fully upgraded), allowing them to attack units from further away and take the enemy down before they get too close.
  • Mayans - Their team bonus makes walls significantly cheaper.
  • Spanish - Due to a weaker early game and 30% faster building, they are essentially forced to turtle against rushers, before using their full strength at later stages at the game. Thankfully, this building bonus allows them to construct fortifications more quickly, and save time needed to prepare defenses.
  • Teutons - The Teutons wield many bonuses suited for defensive strategies from middle to late game. The healing range of Monks and Tower garrison capacity are doubled and their unique technology, Crenellations, increases Castle range by 3 (to match the range of Bombard Cannons and non-Elite Cannon Galleons) and allows garrisoned infantry to fire from defensive structures.

Age of Mythology[]

Major gods[]

The following major gods are well suited to a turtling strategy:





Minor gods[]

These minor gods also provide advantages that benefit turtling:






Of all major god choices, probably the best turtler/defensive god in Age of Mythology is Gaia (thanks to powerful defensive and economic bonuses and access to three minor gods who provide turtling advanatages), followed by Hades, Isis, and Shennong, all providing substantial defensive advantages, while also having access to some of the above-mentioned minor gods who favor defense and turtling.

Age of Empires III[]

It is of debatable use in Age of Empires III, finding success with some (especially when mixed with Boom elements) while others swear off it completely in favor of other strategies (especially those giving early map control). Against AI opponents it can prove very effective as well as entertaining.

Turtling is effective in maps that have closed spaces or large areas which can be easily defended, such as a Free-for-All map like the Caribbean, as strategic placement of Outposts and ships can defend from major attacks. Maps such as the Bayou are not advised to use this tactic due to the lack of land this map provides. However, large groups of siege units such as Grenadiers and Mortars can easily destroy walls, so multiple layers are recommended if facing against a human opponent.

Preferred civilizations[]

  • Aztecs - Have the ability to build Nobles' Huts along with their War Huts which have improved stats. They also have a card (stone towers) to increase the range of the War Huts and Noble's Huts by 6, so then they have 30/46 (Anti-ship) range, equal to a Fort with Revetment. Obtaining Town Ceremony can greatly boost defensive structures allowing for a very effective turtle.
  • Chinese - Due to their ability to call upon the Great Wall of China card to convert their walls into very high hit point structures and the ability to quickly amass armies and garrison their Villages.
  • Haudenosaunee - Have the ability to quickly amass buildings thanks to their ability to produce Travois and its availability for ranged artillery makes for an excellent defense.
  • Japanese - The design of its military favors late game development as their units becomes increasingly strong when fielded in later ages when they have access to heavily upgraded Daimyos, Shoguns, Hatamoto Samurai, Samurai, and Ashigaru Musketeers.
  • Ottomans - An early combination of Outpost shipments as well as a fearsome variety of artillery makes them very difficult to attack once walls are placed up.
  • Portuguese - Possesses strong cards that boosts wall and building hp. Organ guns are also very effective when placed behind walls. Their ability of Town Center expansion allows for economic map control early on if the enemy is lax on their scouting.