Age of Empires Series Wiki
Strategy turtle prev

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 AoE 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 AoE Choson - Their towers have +2 range, meaning that a fully upgraded Ballista Tower can match the range of the Helepolis and the Juggernaut, and easily destroy them in a matter of seconds, decreasing the likelihood of large rushes in later games.
  • Shang AoE 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, Siege Rams, and Bombard Cannons become available, reducing the impact of defensive structures and causing the best defense to be good offense. Additionally, turtling by nature grants the turtler very little map control outside of the player's base, thus making long-term resource access more difficult. 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 Black Forest favoring this strategy while open maps such as Arabia have the opposite effect.

Preferred civilizations[]

  • Byzantines AoE2 Byzantines - Increased hit points of buildings, especially their walls, helps them hold a location. Most of their defensive units are provided with a special discount. Free Town Watch and Town Patrol means that enemies can be spotted earlier, and a discounted Imperial Age gives them a great power spike to make a push while on the back foot.
  • Chinese AoE2 Chinese - With their Great Wall technology, the hit points of their towers and walls is increased by 30%.
  • Georgians AoE2 Georgians - Their units and buildings receive -20% damage (-40% instead of -25%) when fighting from higher elevation. Their defenses are solid, having all defensive upgrades available except Heated Shot and Bombard Tower, and their Castle Age unique technology not only increases the attack for their Castles and towers, but allow their towers to deal pass-through damage akin to the Scorpion line. Additionally, it takes less resources for the Georgians to repair buildings thanks to their team bonus.
  • Incas AoE2 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 AoE2 Koreans - Their ability to gather stone faster allows them to build up their defenses quickly, and their towers are automatically upgraded. Their -50% wood discount makes their archers, Skirmishers, and Spearmen better for countering rushes. 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 AoE2 Mayans - Their team bonus makes walls significantly cheaper.
  • Spanish AoE2 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 AoE2 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[]

The following gods are well suited to a turtling strategy:

Civilization Major god(s) Minor god(s)
GreekPortrait Greeks
EgyptianPortrait Egyptians All
NorsePortrait Norse None
AtlanteanPortrait Atlanteans
ChinesePortrait Chinese

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[]

  • Flag AztecDE 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.
  • Flag ChineseDE 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.
  • Flag IroquoisDE 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.
  • Flag JapaneseDE 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.
  • Flag OttomanDE 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.
  • Flag PortugueseDE 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.
  • Flag MalteseDE Maltese - They have the best roster of defensive buildings, having acces to Commanderies, Depots, Hospitals, and Fixed Guns. Also, they have a lot of options in their Home City Cards for improving all defensive buildings.

Age of Empires IV[]

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Strategy pages in the Age of Empires series
Blitzkrieg · Boom · Build order · Castle drop · Containment · Deathball · Indirect approach · Map control · Micromanagement · Rush · Sling/Springboard · Support · Tower control · Trash pile · Turtle
Age of Empires
ReturnRome-AoEIcon Age of Empires Assyrians AoE Assyrians · Babylonians AoE Babylonians · Choson AoE Choson · Egyptians AoE Egyptians · Greeks AoE Greeks · Hittites AoE Hittites · Minoans AoE Minoans · Persians AoE Persians · Phoenicians AoE Phoenicians · Shang AoE Shang · Sumerians AoE Sumerians · Yamato AoE Yamato
RomeIcon The Rise of Rome Carthaginians AoE Carthaginians · Macedonians AoE Macedonians · Palmyrans AoE Palmyrans · Romans AoE Romans
AoE2Icon-ReturnRome Return of Rome Lac Viet AoE Lac Viet
Age of Empires II
AoE2-DLCicon-0 The Age of Kings Britons AoE2 Britons · Byzantines AoE2 Byzantines · Celts AoE2 Celts · Chinese AoE2 Chinese · Franks AoE2 Franks · Goths AoE2 Goths · Japanese AoE2 Japanese · Mongols AoE2 Mongols · Persians AoE2 Persians · Saracens AoE2 Saracens · Teutons AoE2 Teutons · Turks AoE2 Turks · Vikings AoE2 Vikings
AoE2-DLCicon-1 The Conquerors Aztecs AoE2 Aztecs · Huns AoE2 Huns · Koreans AoE2 Koreans · Mayans AoE2 Mayans · Spanish AoE2 Spanish
AoE2-DLCicon-2 The Forgotten Incas AoE2 Incas · Indians AoE2 Indians (legacy) · Italians AoE2 Italians · Magyars AoE2 Magyars · Slavs AoE2 Slavs
AoE2-DLCicon-3 The African Kingdoms Berbers AoE2 Berbers · Ethiopians AoE2 Ethiopians · Malians AoE2 Malians · Portuguese AoE2 Portuguese
AoE2-DLCicon-4 Rise of the Rajas Burmese AoE2 Burmese · Khmer AoE2 Khmer · Malay AoE2 Malay · Vietnamese AoE2 Vietnamese
AoE2-DLCicon-5 The Last Khans Bulgarians AoE2 Bulgarians · Cumans AoE2 Cumans · Lithuanians AoE2 Lithuanians · Tatars AoE2 Tatars
AoE2Icon-LordsWest Lords of the West Burgundians AoE2 Burgundians · Sicilians AoE2 Sicilians
Dawn of the Dukes icon Dawn of the Dukes Bohemians AoE2 Bohemians · Poles AoE2 Poles
AoE2Icon-DynastiesIndia Dynasties of India Bengalis AoE2 Bengalis · Dravidians AoE2 Dravidians · Gurjaras AoE2 Gurjaras · Hindustanis AoE2 Hindustanis
AoE2Icon-ReturnRome Return of Rome Romans AoE2 Romans
AoE2Icon-MountainRoyals The Mountain Royals Armenians AoE2 Armenians · Georgians AoE2 Georgians
Age of Mythology
Greeks Greeks HadesIcon Hades · PoseidonIcon Poseidon · ZeusIcon Zeus
Egyptians Egyptians IsisIcon Isis · RaIcon Ra · SetIcon Set
NorsePortrait Norse LokiIcon Loki · OdinIcon Odin · ThorIcon Thor
AtlanteanPortrait Atlanteans GaiaIcon Gaia · KronosIcon Kronos · OranosIcon Oranos
Chinese Chinese FuXiIcon Fu Xi · NuWaIcon Nü Wa · ShennongIcon Shennong
Age of Empires III
3Icon48px Age of Empires III Flag BritishDE British · Flag DutchDE Dutch · Flag FrenchDE French · Flag GermanDE Germans · Flag OttomanDE Ottomans · Flag PortugueseDE Portuguese · Flag RussianDE Russians · Flag SpanishDE Spanish
3WCIcon48px The Warchiefs Flag AztecDE Aztecs · Flag IroquoisDE Haudenosaunee · Flag SiouxDE Lakota
3ADIcon48px The Asian Dynasties Flag ChineseDE Chinese · Flag IndianDE Indians · Flag JapaneseDE Japanese
Age3DE Icon Definitive Edition* Flag SwedishDE Swedes · Flag IncanDE Inca · Flag American act3 aoe3de United States · Flag MexicanDE Mexicans
The African Royals Flag Ethiopian aoe3de Ethiopians · Flag Hausa Hausa
Knights of the Mediterranean Flag ItalianDE Italians · Flag MalteseDE Maltese