The 23 Pop archers aoe 2 build order will convert you from a reckless newbie to bad-ass monster at the game. You will learn new tips you have never seen before and start destroying players in ranked queue.
Pros & Cons of 23 Pop Archers
Just like any other aoe2 build order, pros and cons are always there but the good news is that this build order is beginner friendly 🙂
- 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
- Less Economical early Feudal Age
- Relies heavily on Gold and wood
- Immobile units & relies on some walling
Best Civilization Picks For 23 Pop Archers
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 aoe2 build order:
|#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 AoE2 Build Order
Which Upgrades to Get On Archers First?
Before jumping into this classic AoE2 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 (High Priority)
Padded Archer Armor (Without this upgrade archers die easily against other ranged units)
Bodkin Arrow (High Priority)
Ballistics (High Priority)
Leather Archer Armor (Prioritize this against heavy Skirmisher play and Mangonels)
Thumb-ring (Prioritize this against heavy knight play immediately after you research Bodkin Arrow)
Bracer (High Priority)
Chemistry (High Priority)
Ring Archer Armor (Low Priority but strong upgrade against other ranged units)
23 Pop Archers Build Order
For this AoE2 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..
At Castle Age Research Complete: Upgrade The following
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 ?
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
- Never chase 3 or 4 scouts with 1 Spear (Unless most of them are low hp)
- Always send at least 2 spear-men with your archers to attack the enemy before castle age.
Q: Should I engage skirmishers?
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?
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?
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.
Micro Goals of 23 Pop Archers
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
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
@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
@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
@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.
- 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
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
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
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.
Greedy & Cheesy Versions of 23 Pop Archers AoE2 Build Order
18, 19 or 20 Pop Archers
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
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)
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.
Small Attack (6 – 8 Archers)
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.
Main Attack ( 12 – 20)
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.
23 Pop Archers is certainly a viable BO 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.
Other AoE2 build order I would recommend: Age of Empires 2 Scout Rush
*If you don’t own an AoE2 copy you can buy it at steam preferably.
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
I’m in love with this blog. Thank you so much for you work!!!
a great article! Thank you!
Glad you found it useful <3
Hey, Great read, thanks a lot.
Question, what do you do vs an opponent going quicker to Castle and playing scorpions ?I feel mangonels are ok to defend but a combinaison of scouts + knights quite hard.
I am currently at 1100 elo on DE.
Np! Excellent question! Let’s rephrase your question to what are the signs of an opponent attempting a quicker Castle timing? 1- Fully walled at 10 mins 2- Late to Feudal age (12 – 13 mins) means he’s doing drush fast castle or naked fast castle without any opener. 3- If you scout 5 – 7 farmers near his town center around 9 or 10 mins that means he’s attempting some kind of fast castle build. Now coming back to your question what to do vs an opponent going quicker to Castle and playing scorpions? *First solution: Stop him from mining… Read more »
My THANKS for you !!
Thank you so much! I’m learning a lot from your blog. <3
the best guide on the internet right now thank you dear sir i could not ask for more tips
why google is not showing this in top 1 link?? just mindblowing this guide
Great guide Gregstein, A question tho.. I usually lose in late castle or early imp because my main army is attacking in the center but a contingent of knights cavalier or paladins come to my town break my walls and idle all my eco, my army is immobile and he gets a lot of damage with that, any tips on what to do then?
Thanks Haris! When i’m walled up and playing against cavalry civs,my response is 3 archery ranges (or 4 archery ranges as huns) + Ballistics work wonders [mass archers or cavalry archers nonstop. That’s the answer to your question].And when I start dealing serious damage to the enemy’s eco and cut off his knights only then I start adding tcs to prepare for knight transition or siege push or an all in castle age. You’ll know what works best for you based on what the enemy has or is doing. If you overwhelm him with archers or cavalry archers he usually… Read more »
Wow! Awesome, I am really pleased that i got my answer in such a short time. Thanks. Will surely come here later for more guidance. Cheers.