10 Age of Empires 2 Tips To Become Better

Getting better at Age of empires 2 could not be easier with these top 10 tips. You will not only learn new things but also climb ranked ladder as you have never imagined.

1.Use Hotkeys

If you want to get better at this game, hotkeys are the primary priority to consider. What are hotkeys? It is basically using your keyboard to build and play the game (not just the mouse). You can access and edit your hotkeys by running the game, click the gear button top right hand side

options for age of empires 2 definitive

Then click Option and Hotkeys. From there you can view what each hotkey does and why not edit some of them to suit you.

hotkeys for age of empires 2 DE
After checking out and editing your hotkeys, you should now start practicing them in “Editors”, create a new scenario and generate a random map and set all resources to 9999.

map editor age of empires 2 definitive edition

Then build economical/military structures one by one until you memorize them, It should take you a few minutes or less depending if you are a fast learner.

Practice One Easy Build Order

“The most complicated skill is to be simple.” – Learning intermediate or advanced build orders will certainly hinder your learning. it’s like a 7 year old asking to skip school and high school straight up to college. If you want to get better at any RTS game and faster.. You ought to start step by step and learn the easiest build chunk by chunk.

23 archers build order blueprint

Easy build orders such as 23 Archers or the Fast Castle Knight Rush should teach you the basics of running a good economy. The funny part is that the dark age economy is 99% similar to any intermediate or advanced build. So rest assured an easy build order will pave road for any build order out there. But most importantly force you to focus on your economy and that’s the whole point.


Keep practicing the same build order over and over (losing or winning doesn’t matter) – What matters is tracking and improving your feudal/castle age times. Yes! It may be boring at first but later… Trust me the outcome is yourself better than most players in your league.

Huns, Britons & Persians are beginner friendly civilizations and best for practice.
  1. Huns do not need houses saving lots of wood for military production and farms. Besides never getting pop capped.

  2. Britons consume sheep faster leaving your town center in constant villager production. It’s the best civ for 23 archers build order since archers are trained 20% faster.

  3. Persians set off with extra resources allowing constant villager production and a better dark age economy. Also access to almost the entirety of tech tree.

It’s up to you now – Do you want to master AoE2 the fast and right way or just try out random builds and slowly improve?

Follow-up yourself and ensure mastering the build order

First and foremost how do you know you really learnt that easy build order? Each build order has markers or timestamps that confirm whether you mastered the build order or not. Here is a list of markers to check against your build orders:

  1. Clicking Feudal Age with 22 population at 8:07 (Max benchmark). Or 23 population at 8:35 mins (Max benchmark).
  2. Have you researched economic upgrades as soon as you hit Feudal age?
  3. Do you have 12 to 14 farms before 15 mins (depending on build order)?
  4. Have you researched wheelbarrow at 16 mins to go up Castle faster. Or 18 mins to go up late with an economic advantage. Or no wheelbarrow with a vulnerable economy?
  5. Have you clicked Castle Age at 22 mins (max) or earlier?

What’s next?

You are ready to practice and learn intermediate and advance builders. Only this time you will find them more practical and easier than before.

I recommend Two Build orders:

  1. 5 Militias Drush
  2. Scout Rush

Use Visual Mods

Visual mods might seem like a stupid tip to new or beginner players – How could a visual mod help you out? – the answer is: a visual mod improves the gameplay experience.
Let’s a take a look at these extremely useful and must have mods:

A) Small Trees

Small trees for Age of empires 2 Definitive

This mod reduces the height of trees as a result you get a clear view of your lumberjacks and easily micro them for a better wood saturation

Why shouldn’t you use the original big trees?

The Original Trees makes it difficult for players to select and micro their lumberjacks behind those big trees. It is also frustrating to build walls using forest patches as you might miss a tile or two.

Mod download page

small trees age of empires 2 DE

Download Link: https://www.ageofempires.com/mods/details/790/

B) Advanced Idle Pointer

advanced idle pointer for age of empires 2 definitive edition

Beginner players tend to idle their villagers a lot. It is also the case of average/expert players and that does not mean they are inattentive player. It’s just that sometimes you would be staring at your idles but not notice them because your attention is directed somewhere else.

Hence the idea of this mod is to display an exclamation mark over any idle villager to alert you therefore less idle time and higher chances to win more games than before.

Mod download page

Download Link: https://www.ageofempires.com/mods/details/2589/

C) Huge Number

Huge Number for age of empires 2 definitive edition

Huge Number increases the size of control group numbers making them easily visible. So you don’t want to be that guy that boxes his units every game and all day long then eventually his hand ends up unnecessarily exhausted. Notably, the higher your game resolution the smaller the control group numbers so players with glasses or without glasses would squinch their eyes to see those numbers.

Mod download page

Download Link: https://www.ageofempires.com/mods/details/1779/


Watch Recorded Games The Proper Way Explained

watch replays in age of empires 2 definitive

One of the biggest mistakes of watching recorded games is not taking down notes or grasp the reasoning behind a specific transition or unit choice. Sometimes you see a pro do Drush Fast castle but what you do not comprehend is why, when or what?

Throughout my journey of watching hundreds of recorded games I devised a 3-steps-method

Step 1: Answer WH questions

I’m sure most of you are familiar with WH questions. We studied those at school and here we are again employing them in a video game – Ironic!? I will jump straight to an example and answer these WH questions along the way to give you an idea how to process information from a replay.

  1. What map is it? e.g. Arabia
  2. What civilizations are they playing? e.g. Britons Vs Teutons
  3. How is their Maps, Open or Closed? e.g. Britons (Closed Map) Vs Teutons (Open map)
  4. Where the Britons Resource located at? e.g. Main gold is in the back
  5. What’s the Britons Population after clicking Feudal Age?

(Feel free to ask more WH questions to deeply analyze any playstyle or opening. However these should be enough)


Step 2: Extract The Build Order Timeline

The best way to learn a build order is to take down every little detail to mimic the build order to perfection.
A great and concise way of doing so is to take note of time as well as the task. Sometimes you can use population or any event as a timeline marker.

Take this Drush build as an example: [@ means (at)] @6:04: Build barracks
@7:05: Start creating Militias
@9:20 – 9:30: Hit enemy base with Militias
@32 Pop: Click Feudal Age (Scout + 3 Militias counted in)
@Clicked Feudal Age Button: Finish walling
@Feudal Age: Build Archery range & Blacksmith

@14:00: 12 built farms.
@15:00: Research Fletching
(Feel free to use the same structure or invent your own way whatever helps you memorize faster. If you are new to the game you may want to add more items such as how many farmers, gold miners, and lumberjacks.)

Step 3: Conclusion & Practice Time

This is the most crucial step!! From Step 1 & 2 you must come to a conclusion that the Britons player went for Drush Fast castle because his main gold was in the back and his map was easy to wall.

So should I execute Drush FC in any map generation? No, you may not (possible in an open map but risky).

What do you learn? Do NOT come to a conclusion by yourself. Let Step 1 WH questions conclude for you.

Now it’s about time to practice and practice makes perfect. No practice No progress! It does not have to be a ranked game, just a few casual practice games against the AI would do the trick.

What happens if you do not practice? In 1 or 3 weeks you’ll forget everything or a few things from what you watched.

CaptureAge has recently become free and is an advanced spectator/replay analyzer tool. It displays every little detail from any replays. Find a download link and a preview below

capture age screen redbull tournament

Play To Learn/Improve Your Game-Play (Not to improve your ELO)

“I will play ranked to improve my ELO.” – Stop thinking like that!! You will fall in the procrastinating trap as soon as you start losing a few games. Your brain will spread negative thoughts due to losing ELO. Keep your mentality detoxified from negativity to perform better.

Instead of focusing on improving your ELO, find your points of weaknesses or mistakes committed in previous games then concentrate 90% of your energy to fix those. At the end of the day even if you lose; your mentality remains intact for you have taken time to fix your gameplay issues.

Small Goals Trick (To Fight Ladder Anxiety & Be Efficient)

Do you feel nervous, shaky or your heart beats faster when jumping in a ranked game or playing against a pro?
Do 5, 10 or 20 push-ups to get rid of the shakiness.

It is totally normal for a human being to have feelings of excitement. That only says how much of an emotional human being you are; love and care about the game and its outcome.

Nonetheless.. You must overcome those feeling before the game begins so you can concentrate on the game income not the outcome.

Today, I will share with you the small goals trick to conquer your inner-fear.

First Step..

Rehearse some of these phrases at the start of the game:

“It’s just a game I don’t care”,
“My enemy is probably shitting his pants more than I do”,
“It’s a practice game I don’t care about end results”,
“I don’t care about ELO I want to improve this and that”.

Your brain cares a lot about the game and take it very seriously. Therefore that brain of yours visualizes and prioritizes the vision of unresolved small negative scenarios rather than fun and small positive scenarios notably due to emotion.

So how can you reverse the order of visions in your brain from small negatives-positive (———+) to small positives+negative (+++++++++-)?
Second Step..

You simply need to put small goals in your brain before/during the beginning of the game. Small goals are the small mistakes you did in the previous games. And in the next game try to fix them one after another.

This example will illustrate step 1 & 2:

In the previous game (Mistakes):

  • Your TC had some idle time
  • You lured the second boar late
  • You didn’t find all 8 sheep

In the next game (Fix Mistakes):

  • Ensure your TC is making villagers
  • Lure the second boar earlier
  • Find all your 8 sheep

Fixing those small goals (mistakes) ==> For every and any small mistake you fix you are building up a positive momentum in your brain which boosts and inflates positive signs over negative signs. End results: Your brain visualizes Positives over negatives (+++++++++++-) <== positives is ruling over negatives and self-confidence is boosted.

View Experts Games

Viewing games from an expert point view is one of the best ways to learn new mechanics and decision making. You can simply find them on Twitch Directory for Age of Empires 2 or access this hand picked list of Top tier Pros:

Hera :







Twitch is a great source to observe players executing build order, defending an attack, balancing economy. All in front of your eyes.

Play Other (RTS) Games

Sometimes you start losing focus or throw games easily so that’s usually a sign of boredom or exhaustion. It would be best stop grinding age of empires all day  and take a break. Play other RTS games for a change.

Games that truly resemble Age of empires 2 & I personally enjoy:

I promise you that you will experience new mechanics and ironically get better at Age of empires 2. These games are not only fun and extremely similar to AoE2 but also will increase your reaction time and attention to little details.

From my personal experience, and back in Voobly days I used to be 14+ but then after taking a break I started playing SC2, EE2 and Caesar3 then a month later I was the first among my friends to make it to 16+ then later 18+.

Stay Hydrated & Foods

Water: Does Dehydration impact your gaming performance?

brain is 75 percent water

Did you know your brain is about 75% water?[1] And when It’s functioning on a full reserve of water you will  be more focused, think faster and experience greater clarity and creativity, additionally the removal of toxins from your brain and supplying essential nutrients work at higher rate.
A fully hydrated brain exchanges nutrients and toxins faster ensuring better concentration and mental awareness.

How much should you drink?

sipping water while gaming

There is no way to know how much an individual should drink, but having a bottle nearby to take sips of fresh water constantly is the smartest thing to do.


Nutrients in food are not only essential to survival and health but also a metric to excel in your daily activities. Both physical and mental activities are involved when you are gaming. These types of foods are recommended to boost gaming activity:

Omega-3 Rich Foods (Mental Boosters)

Mackerel Atlantic Best Fish For Brain

  1. Salmon
  2. Mackerel (Best)
  3. Sardines

Protein Rich Foods (Physical & Stamina Boosters)

Hard Boiled Eggs Best Source of Protein

  1. Eggs (Best)
  2. Chicken Breast
  3. Spinach
  4. Tuna
  5. Peanuts

Energy & Vitamins Supplier Foods (Energy Restoration and Boosters)

Bananas Best Energy Food for the brain

  1. Bananas (Best)
  2. Oatmeal
  3. Lentils
  4. Any Omega-3 Rich Fish


Have Fun

I can not emphasize enough the criticality of Fun. Games are supposed to entertain you. So If you take age of empires too seriously you will enter the circle of procrastination. Where you start visualizing yourself winning a game beforehand. And failing to do so may trigger particular behaviors such as anger or boredom. Such behaviors will have a profound impact in your next games.

How to have fun in Age of empires 2 ?

Create some excitements in your life before you play age of empires online. So what cheers you up the most? For me ordering electronics or going out with friends lightens up my mood. Now suddenly winning a game in AoE2 is less important than receiving my order or meeting friends.

An alternative approach would be to play AoE2 and focus at improving something in your gameplay. I talked about this previously in Tip#6: Small Goals Trick that way even if you lose you main goal was to improve this and that not win the game. And Remember that losing is an opportunity to improve nobody on planet earth is born with a winning syndrome.

Here is a replay proof from TheViper back in the days when he was a noob just to prove a point.

“No matter how hard you work, someone else is working harder.” ~ Elon Musk, entrepreneur

[1] https://web.archive.org/web/20200303090704/https://shcs.ucdavis.edu/blog/archive/healthy-habits/your-brain-h2o

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