23 Pop Archers Build Order Step By Step To Destroy Ranked Queue

23 pop archers

Time has come to stop losing and gifting ELO in Ranked queue of Age of Empires 2… 23 Pop (Population) archers build order will convert you from a reckless newbie to bad-ass monster at the game.

Pros & Cons of 23 Pop Archers

Just like any other build order, pros and cons are always there but the good news is that this build order is beginner friendly 🙂

 

Pros
  • Beginner Friendly & Requires Less Multitasking.
  • Counters and defends against Early Rush strategies such as Drush, or Men at arms quite nicely.
  • Can be deadly upon reaching Castle Age before your Opponent.
  • Higher Army count than your opponent
Cons
  • Less Economical early Feudal Age
  • Relies heavily on Gold and wood
  • Immobile units & relies on some walling

 

Best Civilization Picks For 23 Pop Archers

best civilizations to play archers with

While this build order is viable by almost all the civilizations of Age of empires 2 except [Spanish, Bulgarians]. It’s recommended to pick a civilization that excels at archers in the early and late phase.

I drew a table for top 13 civilizations you always want to pick to have a major success with this build order:

Rank Civilization Why? Tips
#1 Britons Archery Ranges create archers 20% faster. Archers get +1 free range at castle age and another +1 free range at imperial age. You are advised to commit to archers then mix in infantry to protect your archer line and siege (trebuchets, cap rams).
#2 Mayans Archers get a discount of 10% in feudal age, 20% in castle age and 30% in Imperial age. Unique tech grants archers +6 attack against buildings Plumed archers available at your castle building counter archers and eagle warriors. You can switch or mix in eagles or halberdiers if needed.
#3 Ethiopians Archers fire arrows 15% faster starting at feudal age. This civilization receives 100 gold & 100 food once they reach feudal, castle and imperial age. You are advised to protect your archers with siege or and infantry.
#4 Vietnamese Archery range units get 20% hp. Economic upgrades cost no wood. Imperial age conscription research is free. You are advised to transition to Ratan archers (tankier version of archers)
#5 Viking Wheelbarrow & handcart researches are free. You are advised to overwhelm your opponent with siege rams and Arbalests as soon as you hit imperial age. You get Berzerkers and champions which are one of the strongest infantry in the game switch to them or mix them in when needed.
#6 Aztecs Military units are created 15% faster. Villagers carry an additional 5 resources per trip. They start with + 50 gold. You are advised to switch to eagles to deal maximum damage and harrass.
#7 Huns This civilization do not build houses saving lots of wood earlier. Cavalry Archers are 10% cheaper No access to Arbalest at imperial age. However the upgrades benefit cavalry archers as well. Consider switching to Cavalry archers or Paladins or even Tarkans to counter enemy archers
#8 Malay Advanced to next ages 66% faster You are advised to switch to infantry when necessary.
#9 Chinese They get -10% in feudal age, -15% castle age, -20% in imperial age discout on all technologies and upgrades. Farms provide +45 food Feel free to transition into any army composition you see fit.
#10 Italians Advancing to next ages costs -15% Against cavalry heavy civilizations you are advised to build Genoese Crossbowman at your castles. Italians are a powder civilization and Condottiero is your best friend against powder civilizations.
#11 Incas Houses support 10 population. Farms are built 50% faster.  You are advised to switch to eagles or any form of infantry needed to counter your opponent.
#12 Khmer No buildings required to advance to ages. No mills/TCs required to drop food You can skip building a barracks then build two archery ranges straight up. Against archery civilization you must switch to elephants and or scorpions both.
#13 Celts Lumberjacks gather wood 15% faster. No access to Arbalest at Imperial age. You are advised to transition to siege and infantry post-castle age and imperial age.

Step by Step Instructions To 23 Pop Archer BO

Which Upgrades to Get On Archers First?

Before jumping into the build order I feel you must know which upgrades to prioritize over others. I have already posted a complete guide Explaining Blacksmith Upgrades .. I recommend checking that out for a detailed and illustrated explanation.

In a nutshell here is the correct order to upgrade your archers:

fletching Fletching (High Priority)

padded archer armor Padded Archer Armor (Without this upgrade archers die easily against other ranged units)

bodkin arrow Bodkin Arrow (High Priority)

ballistics Ballistics (High Priority)

leather archer armor Leather Archer Armor (Prioritize this against heavy Skirmisher play and Mangonels)

thumb ring Thumb-ring (Prioritize this against heavy knight play immediately after you research Bodkin Arrow)

bracer Bracer (High Priority)

chemistry Chemistry (High Priority)

ring archer armor Ring Archer Armor (Low Priority but strong upgrade against other ranged units)

23 Pop Archers Build Order

For this build order to be a success you must find 8 Sheep + 2 Boars. (If you are missing 2 sheep you can recompense the loss by having 6 foragers instead of 4). Just in case you lose more than 2 sheep check out my other guide on How to play without boars and sheep

Let’s get started..

Build 2 Houses With Starting Villagers Build 2 Houses With Starting Villagers
Move To Sheep Until 6 Shephards Move To Sheep Until 6 Shephards
House builders become shephards
1 New Villager Builds a Lumbercamp Near a Patch of Trees 1 New Villager Builds a Lumbercamp Near a Patch of Trees
3 New Villagers Go to Chop Trees Near The Built Lumbercamp 3 New Villagers Go to Chop Trees Near The Built Lumbercamp
Total of 4 Lumberjacks
Research Loom Upgrade At Town Center Research Loom Upgrade At Town Center
1 New Villager Lures Boar To Underneath The Town Center 1 New Villager Lures Boar To Underneath The Town Center
1 New Villager Builds 2 Houses In The Front 1 New Villager Builds 2 Houses In The Front
At the same time use Shephards to attack lured boar and feast it (stop consuming sheep)
1 New Villager Builds a Mill Near Forage Bushes 1 New Villager Builds a Mill Near Forage Bushes
At the same move the house builder from previous task to foragers
1 New Villager Lures Second Boar To Your Town Center 1 New Villager Lures Second Boar To Your Town Center
Use villagers on the first boar to attack the second boar.
2 New Villagers Join foragers 2 New Villagers Join foragers
Total of 4 villagers on Forage bushes.
3 New Villagers Go Under One Sheep 3 New Villagers Go Under One Sheep
Once boar villagers are done instantly feast on sheep
1 New Villagers Builds Second Lumbercamp (away from the first lumbercamp) 1 New Villagers Builds Second Lumbercamp (away from the first lumbercamp)
Then This builder chop trees nearby his camp
2 New Villagers Go to Chop Trees Near Second Lumbercamp 2 New Villagers Go to Chop Trees Near Second Lumbercamp
Research Feudal Age At Town Center Research Feudal Age At Town Center
As quickly as possible do the tasks below.
Move 3 Villagers From Sheep To Build Mining Camp Near a Gold Patch Move 3 Villagers From Sheep To Build Mining Camp Near a Gold Patch
These builders will mine gold automatically.
Move 5 Villagers From Sheep To Trees Near Those Lumbercamps Move 5 Villagers From Sheep To Trees Near Those Lumbercamps
Which Makes a Total of 12 lumberjacks (6 lumberjacks per each lumbercamp). Leaving 2 or 3 villagers under sheep when they are done assign them to nearby trees.
Build a Barracks At 40% Towards Feudal Age Build a Barracks At 40% Towards Feudal Age
Move 1 Lumberjack Forward To Build a Barracks and 1 House
Build a Barracks At 90% Towards Feudal Age Build a Barracks At 90% Towards Feudal Age
Move Another Lumberjack Forward To Assist Building the Barracks
At Feudal Age Research Complete: Build 2 Archery Ranges and 1 House At Feudal Age Research Complete: Build 2 Archery Ranges and 1 House
Use same builders to build the archery ranges. Assign another lumberjack or forager to build 2 houses. Once builders are done; Reassign one of them to wood and the second to farm.
Research Double Bit Axe Technology At Your Lumbercamp Research Double Bit Axe Technology At Your Lumbercamp
4 New Villagers Go To Mine Gold 4 New Villagers Go To Mine Gold
Making a Total of 7 Gold Miners
What's Next?
At this point; Focus to build farms with new villagers until 13 – 14 Farmers. But at 13:50 mins save up 150 wood to build a Blacksmith. In the process Do NOT stop queuing villagers and archers.
Build a Blacksmith Around 14:20 or 15:00 mins Build a Blacksmith Around 14:20 or 15:00 mins
Then continue Farming all the way to 13 – 14 farms. Do NOT stop queuing villagers and archers.
Research Fletching Around 14:50 mins Research Fletching Around 14:50 mins
Then continue Farming all the way to 13 – 14 farms. DO NOT stop queuing Villagers and Archers
Research Wheelbarrow Around 16:00 or 18:00 mins Research Wheelbarrow Around 16:00 or 18:00 mins
Build 2 or 3 extra farms with idle forager villagers while wheelbarrow is researching. DO NOT stop building Archers.
At Wheelbarrow Completion: Next 3 or 4 New Villagers Go To Mine Gold At Wheelbarrow Completion: Next 3 or 4 New Villagers Go To Mine Gold
Meantime DO NOT Stop queuing Archers
At 19:00 mins Stop Villager & Archer Production At 19:00 mins Stop Villager & Archer Production
Idle Your Town Center & Archery Ranges Until you acquire: 800 Food, 200 Gold
At 800 Food & 200 Gold Acquired: Research Castle Age Research And .. At 800 Food & 200 Gold Acquired: Research Castle Age Research And ..
Move 3 Farmers to Gold Mining. Continue the production of Archers
Research Padded Archer Armor Research Padded Archer Armor
This research costs: 100 Food
At 50% Towards Castle Age: Research Gold Mining Upgrade At 50% Towards Castle Age: Research Gold Mining Upgrade
This research costs: 100 Food, 75 Wood

At Castle Age Research Complete: Upgrade The following

Crossbowman (Archery Range) Crossbowman (Archery Range)
Upgrades your archers to Crossbowmen with highers stats.
Bodkin Arrow (Blacksmith) Bodkin Arrow (Blacksmith)
Grants +1 Attack and +1 Range for Archery units, Towers and Castles
Bow Saw (Lumber Camp) Bow Saw (Lumber Camp)
Increases work efficiency and speed for Lumberjacks. You can delay this upgrade for a few seconds if you don’t have the resources needed.

 

Castle Age Options & Transitions

Now you must be wondering.. What Should I do at Castle Age?

Upon reaching Castle Age, you must make the wisest decisions depending on what your opponent is doing. And the best way i see fit to help you is Q&A approach.

Q: My enemy is going for a Scout Rush, what to do ?

Good usage of spearman to protect against Scouts

Good usage of spear-men to protect against Scouts

A: Scout rush usually hits your base at 12:30 or 13 mins with 3 – 4 scouts. You will need 1 or 2 spears at all vulnerable spots. For example I like to have:

  • Gold Miners guarded by: 2 Spears
  • Lumberjacks guarded by: 1 Spear at 12 mins then 2 Spears at 13’ish mins ( Use your villagers to attack enemy scouts along with your spears)
  • Foragers can be easily sent back to Town Center or use the same spears from your wood line.

Two Rules to follow in order to take less damage possible from scout rush

  1. Never chase 3 or 4 scouts with 1 Spear (Unless most of them are low hp)
  2. Always send at least 2 spear-men with your archers to attack the enemy before castle age.

Q: Should I engage skirmishers?

Skirmisher with fletching upgrade

Skirmisher with Fletching upgrade

A: You can engage only if they don’t have +1 Attack (Fletching) while you have it. To find out, click an enemy Skirmisher and check if his attack is only 2 (not 2 + 1) because 2 + 1 means he has fletching . See image below (You can use high ground and hills to gain an extra +1 attack when fighting enemy army)

 

Q: What If my opponent has many skirmishers while I’m going up to Castle Age?

Counter Skirmishers with Knights or Mangonels

A: At 50% Before hitting Castle Age, sneak in 2 villagers to build a siege workshop near your enemy base. Use Mangonels to land some good shots or scare him away. Meantime your Crossbows are picking off villagers. Or instead of building a siege workshop you can build a stable and make 2 knights to clean all the skirmishers.

Q: What if my opponent is fully walled since feudal age and has stables?

walled enemy

A: Stables usually mean knights play. To counter that you must decide whether you go for an all-in or economic style. I will explain them both:

All-in Style? (No additional Town Centers but continue farming and building army and villagers non-stop)

Build a second barracks once you click up to Castle Age and queue both archers and spears. Research Plate armor for spears. Once you reach Castle Age, upgrade to Pikeman and Crossbows simultaneously.

Go forward with your army and 2 villagers then build a siege workshop near your enemy base and force fights and take down military buildings using rams or Mangonels. Preferably ram down Town centers if you can. Most importantly never stop making army until you win or get significantly ahead.

Economic Style? (Add 2 extra Town Centers and prioritize economic tasks and upgrades over military until you have enough villagers to support whatever plan you have in mind.)

Once you reach Castle Age; upgrade to Crossbowmen; Build a monastery and 2 Town Centers. Use monks to convert his knights or scare him away. If the enemy builds a siege workshop you also build a defensive siege workshop. Focus your energy on improving your economy and queuing more villagers.

 

If he commits to knights you can either build an extra archery range and a university to research Ballistics then start sniping his knights one by one. Or Switch to Pikemen to defend your base and go up to imperial age first. At Imperial Age, if you civilization has access to Arbalests it’ll be just easier to end up the game. Or Halberdiers Or Unique units or Paladins.. Whatever your civilization excels at use it.

The Economic Style is the universal go and safe against all civilizations. Feel free to use at every Castle Age.

 

Micro Goals of 23 Pop Archers

hit and run meme

The biggest mistake that beginners yet repeat every match-up is.. Wait for it… Focusing on Villager kills

While Killing a few villagers throughout the course of the game may set you ahead for several minutes… But honestly It’s not enough against an opponent that focuses on the objectives of his build order.

A very common example which I have witnessed while spectating lower tier players: They had an army lead and a score lead since 12:00 mins to 20 mins. They even got 5 or 7 villager kills but still lost in Castle age.

How? Why? They have been behind economically by 7 – 8 farms at 16 mins or over mining gold.

Without Further Redo let me unveil the secret goals of a 23 pop archers that no living pro has ever told you:

1- Do not randomly attack any resource

calculate your rushing abilities

Your every moves must be calculated and based on the strategy that the enemy is going for and based on current time.. Only then You choose which resource to attack first.

 

Against a Scout Rush

Against Scouts build order

@12:00 – 13:00 mins: Attack (1)Foragers and Farmers. If you can’t only then attack the (2)lumberjacks

@14:00 – 15:00 mins: Attack (1)Gold Miners. If you can’t only then attack (2)farmers. If you can’t attack (3)lumberjacks

@16:00 – 17:00 mins: Attack (1)Gold Miners. If you can’t only then attack (2)lumberjacks. If you can’t attack (3)farmers.

 

Against a Drush/Drush FC

militias dark age rush (Drush)

@11:00 – 13:00 mins: Attack (1)Gold Miners . If you can’t only then attack the (2)Lumberjacks

@14:00 – 16:00 mins: Attack (1)Gold Miners. If you can’t only then attack (2)Lumberjacks. (No value attacking farmers at this point)

@16:00 – 19:00 mins: Attack (1)Gold Miners. If you can’t only then attack (2)Lumberjacks. If you can’t attack (3)Farmers.

 

Against Men At Arms

men at arms play

@11:00 – 13:00 mins: Attack Gold Miners or Lumberjacks first or (2) Stone miners if found.

@14:00 – 19:00 mins: Attack (1)Gold Miners. If you can’t only then attack (2)Lumberjacks. If you can’t only then Attack (3)Farmers.

 

Extended Tips:

  • Idling enemy gold miners for a few seconds then running away with your army is better than getting 1 or 2 kills.
  • Killing 1 enemy gold miner is better than killing 1 lumberjack.

2- Force Enemy to Build defenses

force the enemy to build defences

Yet another trick to set your enemy behind is to force him to:

  • Build a defensive Tower ( Later in castle age he can’t build town centers which forces him to mine stone too and that is good for you)
  • Build Skirmishers & Spears ( The more skirmishers/spears the enemy makes the more delayed to Castle age he will be. Simply go Castle age faster for the win)

3- Keep fights away from Your Town

Fighting near enemy base

I can not stress enough on the cruciality of initiating fights or engaging fights while at your opponent base or away from your own base. That way and first of all in case things go wrong enemy units can’t rush into your base straight up in one glimpse of an eye. Then second You can split your army to cause chaos.

A little distraction

2 Archers behind a wood line

Put 1 or 2 archers behind his wood line somewhere it takes him time to reach while you attack gold miners or farmers. If he chases your army and ignores that 1 or 2 archers; at that point your 1 or 2 archers have overdone their work.

In case you have a bigger army, You rather split it to attack different resources than to attack one single resource.

Greedy & Cheesy Versions of 23 Pop Archers

18, 19 or 20 Pop Archers

18 19 or 20 pop feudal age

Some Civilizations get to Feudal age faster than the rest. For example:

  • Mongols: Can click Feudal Age around 18, 19 or 20 pop. Food is gathered 40% faster from Boars/Deers or any hunted animals .
  • Britons: Can click Feudal Age around 18 or 19 pop. Sheep and goats food is gathered 25% faster not turkeys or Cows.
  • Khmer: Can click Feudal Age around 19 or 20 pop then skip building Barracks to build double archery ranges instead.
  • Lithuanians: Can click Feudal Age around 18 or 19 pop due to +150 Dark Age food bonus.
  • Huns: Can click Feudal Age around 19 pop and since they do not need houses you will save up enough wood for Archery Ranges.
  • Malay: Can click Feudal Age as late as 22 pop yet They reach Feudal age 66% faster. And that counts as 20 pop.
  • Indians: Can click Feudal Age around 18 or 19 pop as villagers are cheaper to create.
  • Italian: Can click Feudal Age with only 435 Food around 19 pop

Sneaky Archery Ranges

sneaky archery ranges

The idea is as simple as it sounds. Send two villagers forward to build double archery ranges behind, right or left hand side your opponent. Be as stealthy as you can in order to catch your enemy off guard with an early 6 archers with Fletching.

If you are caught in the process of building the archery ranges well that could be pickle to deal with. Often the enemy will pull villagers to wall in your archery ranges or tower them. Or they can respond with an early Archery range and counter you with 6 to 11 skirmishers then go up to castle age faster than you.

In this situation, you are looking at one option:  Full Feudal Age war. Send 3 villagers to stone and build a stable then mix in both archers and skirmishers + scouts and build towers as soon as you bank 125 stone. To succeed with your Full Feudal war you must over farm and focus on Food and Wood resources primarily. Meaning..

  • Do not exceed 4 Stone miners
  • Do not exceed 4 to 6 Gold Miners

Benchmarks For Raiding Your Opponent

Tiny Attack (2 Archers + 2 Spears)

2 archers and 2 spears tiny rush

At 12:00 – 12:30 mins, This tiny attack is meant to stop an opponent from walling or idle his economy a little too early. It is most effective against a Scout rush build. Most importantly, DO NOT lose this tiny army trying to get 1 kill. We have discussed previously that idling enemy villagers is more worthy than killing 1 or 2 villagers.

Forget about Kills! Focus on Idling Economy.
Small Attack (6 – 8 Archers)

6 archers + fletching being researched

Around 14:30 mins, you should move out with 6 archers (+2 spears against Scouts play). You must focus this small attack on enemy gold miners but if you can not only then attack his lumberjacks or farmers. Do not over stay if the enemy has army of his own. Again it’s not worth to lose your army for 2 kills; However forcing him to hide villagers for a few seconds then run away is  mostly worth it.

Use Hit and Run tactics. Sneak your archers from different angles and corners. Get kills when you can. Try to keep your army as alive as you can.
Main Attack ( 12 – 20)

19 archers

By 17:00 mins, your army count should be over 12 archers and… Have you saved those 6 – 8 Archers from the previous small attack? That would make your army even stronger and larger in number. If necessary you can go for the Padded Archer Armor upgrade to improve the resistance of your archers against enemy units such as Skirmishers and Scouts.

  • Against a greedy and walled enemy you can split your army then attack from different angles as long as he does not have a scary army to cut you off with.
  • Against an enemy with a considerable army size or a combo of archers and scouts. You must be cautious not to walk into your death by shoving your army without scouting information about where enemy army is located. In fact I would recommend you to focus on idling your town center to save up enough food to go up to Castle Age. Once at Castle Age first; feel free to shove into your opponent base with crossbowmen and micro your way in.
Losing your archers before Castle age is a suicide. Rather wait to upgrade to Crossbowmen to deal maximum damage.

 

Final Tips

23 Pop Archers is certainly a viable build order in any tier or skill level. Just learn to do some efficient walling to be ready against the worst of it. Do not forget that the biggest point of weakness of this build is Gold Miners. Build your military structures in front of your gold mines and prioritize protection first and foremost to your gold miners. Then your Woodline.

One more tip, watch replays you lost and talk to yourself what you could have done better. Because next time you will react to those situation without second thoughts.

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Literally learnt tons of tips in 15 mins than I have watched of hours of youtube videos.I can not thank you enough for your effort and Im reading more of your articles as I do not get bored reading such well formatted information. I LOVE YOU GREGSTEIN

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I’m in love with this blog. Thank you so much for you work!!!