Age of Empires 4 Beginner's Guide: Everything you need to know as a beginner

Age of Empires 4 Beginner's Guide: Everything you need to know as a beginner

 Age of Empires 4 is just like its predecessor a complex real-time strategy game (RTS game), which combines military, construction and economic simulation with each other. To give you a good introduction to the game, we give you the most important tips and tricks that you should know about Age of Empires 4 in this guide.


In Age of Empires 4 it is in most scenarios about defeating your opponents. The military is crucial for this, but you can only use it if you keep your economy intact and make steady progress .

A flourishing economy allows you to advance through the ages, which offers you additional bonuses. This means that you can improve your units , learn new technologies and create other types of buildings, which in turn makes you tactically more flexible and efficient.

AoE4 can be played alone or in co-op against the computer or online against other human players . Alliances can be concluded with each other as well as all against all.

Depending on the selected scenario or campaign mission, different goals and victory conditions may apply: In most cases, these look like you have to destroy your opponent's landmarks or gain and hold control of holy places.

In other missions, on the other hand, your goal is to build a wonder of the world or to collect more points than your opponents within a certain time. With all of this, different tactics are required to achieve your goal.

Map and game world (Map)

There are very different maps (also called "maps") on which the players compete against each other. The battles can be carried out on land as well as on water. Depending on what type of card it is, different virtues and procedures apply in detail, which can sometimes differ massively from one another.

The map is covered by the so-called "fog of war" . Thus, a large part of the map is black for you at the beginning. If you explore this, however, the map is gradually revealed and you can see topography and resources.

The parts of the map that have already been revealed but are not directly in your field of vision are covered by a weaker fog. Enemies who move in this weak haze are therefore not seen by you. You must always keep this in mind.

The playable races and their differences

Something that clearly sets Age of Empires 4 apart from its predecessors is how much the playable factions differ from one another . There were always differences, but they were more noticeable in the details. In AoE4, on the other hand, these differences are much more serious.

In the base game of Age of Empires 4 there are a total of 8 different races that you can choose from. Thanks to their differences in the economic and military sectors, each faction also has different priorities and general tactics . There are the following peoples:

  • English: A rather defensive people who, thanks to their favorable fields, quickly ensure a stable economy. The robust walls and the long archers as a special unit are ideal for sitting out enemy sieges. Because of these prerequisites, the English are the ideal people to lead the first battles with them and to get to know the game better.

  • Chinese: The Chinese are very diverse, but therefore difficult to keep track of. Due to their numerous technologies, they are very flexible, especially in the later ages of the knight and imperial times. Once they have reached the imperial era, the Chinese "boom" very quickly and are difficult to destroy. Due to their playful complexity, however, they are less suitable for beginners.

  • French: The French are, so to speak, the counterpart to the rival English, as they tend to focus on aggressiveness. Their greatest strengths are the strong riders of the French, which they have at their disposal at an early age. The raw material dump sites are cheaper than with other peoples, so that you can lay the foundations for a stable economy early on. As well suited for beginners as the English, especially if you prefer to play offensively.

  • Holy Roman Empire: These people combine their strong infantry with powerful technology and religion. Relics bring additional bonuses, such as more gold or increased view of towers. Monks can bless fields to make them more productive. A very stable people, especially from the age of knights, which, however, requires a fairly broad understanding of the game and is therefore only moderately suitable for beginners.

  • Mongols: The Mongols play noticeably different from all other peoples. You don't need houses to increase your population limit, you have them right from the start. They can also load their buildings and move as nomads. With their fast riders and good archers, Mongols are ideal for an aggressive game. Defensively, however, they are very vulnerable, which is why the Mongols are only suitable for advanced players.

  • Rus: The Rus are characterized by their hard work and their opportunism. They are able to build proper fortifications early on in order to then continuously expand their economy. The Rus can produce additional gold in their hunting lodges, which is the backbone of their trading economy. The Rus aim to gain control of the neutral trading posts as early as possible, with their early armored knights helping them. Overall, however, the Rus are not very flexible, which is why they are only suitable if you know exactly how you want to play.

  • Delhi Sultanate: The central aspect of this faction is its technologies. Although these do not cost gold, they are developed more slowly than other peoples. However, this can be compensated for by the use of scholars. The Delhi Sultanate will only develop its true potential in the later ages and will take a while to get going. Therefore, you need strong nerves and a clear vision to play with them. Accordingly, the Delhi Sultanate is only suitable for advanced players.

  • Abbasid Dynasty: This is a very centrist people, as its most important bonuses are linked to the fact that you quickly erect as many buildings as possible next to each other around the House of Wisdom. This means little flexibility at the beginning, but an enormously strong foundation once you have reached the knighthood. With its camel riders, the Abbasid dynasty counteracts enemy cavalry excellently, which is an advantage in the defense against looting. The slow start require a certain basic knowledge of the game, which is why the Abbasid dynasty is only partially suitable for beginners.

The peoples not only differ from each other playfully, but also visually and in their respective names. Each people has its own look, so that they can be easily distinguished from one another, which creates its own charm.

In addition, the different factions each have their own special units and technologies that only they themselves have. In addition, units and technologies have different names depending on their culture , although their function is the same. This is how the Holy Roman Empire calls its priests monks, while the Abbasid dynasites call these imams. The same applies to the monastery and mosque, etc.

Village center, villagers and scouts

Most standard scenarios all start with the same prerequisites : These usually look like you have a village center at the beginning, as well as some villagers and a mounted scout.

You then use the villagers to collect resources and erect buildings. To have a thriving economy, it is important that you have plenty of villagers who are always busy. If a villager is inactive, this is indicated in the lower left.

As the name suggests, the village center is the central element of your settlement. In this you create villagers and scouts, and it also serves as a resource store. This means that the villagers can put all raw materials in the village center.

The scout, on the other hand, is a weak mounted fighter who can, however, see very far. You send this out to explore the area. So he looks for resources, peculiarities of the map and the whereabouts of your opponents.

Since the scout is not a strong fighter, you should not use it for the purpose of combat , but for exploration. The better you know the map, its resources and topography, the better you can plan your own tactics and anticipate those of your opponent and react accordingly.

What you also have to consider is the population limit . Usually this is a maximum of 200. This means that you can create up to 200 units. To completely exhaust your population limit and train units, you have to build houses .

Economy and raw materials (resources)

There are 4 basic raw materials in the game that you can and must work with in order to expand your economy and your military. These are food, wood, gold and stone. All of them can be mined by the villagers in order to be invested by you.

With your raw materials you can then create buildings and units, which you then use in a targeted manner. The whole thing is enhanced by technologies that you can find in corresponding buildings, such as military buildings or in civil institutions such as forges, universities and monasteries.

Technologies improve your units and buildings or increase the efficiency of your resource use. That is, the more technologically advanced you are, the stronger your units are and the more efficiently your economy grows.

Food and food sources

Food is a raw material that you gain by slaughtering and hunting animals and by harvesting bushes and fields. The raw material of food is essential to create human units such as villagers and soldiers . You also need food for many technologies.

There are 5 standard food sources that villagers can use. These are the following:

  1. Berry bushes: You will find berry bushes in some places on the map. You place your villagers on this, who then bring the berries to the nearest village center or the nearest mill. It is therefore worth placing a mill next to the berry bushes.
  2. Fields: Villagers can create fields, which they then harvest. The fields are usually sown around village centers or mills. Each field costs an amount of wood, which differs from people to people. The advantage of fields is that they are automatically sown again (if there is a corresponding amount of wood) after they have been harvested. That means: If you have enough wood, you can create food on your own.
  3. Sheep: You can find sheep on most maps. Send your scout out to actively look for them. Then send the sheep to your village center or to a mill. The villagers can then slaughter the sheep. You should let the villagers slaughter one sheep after the next instead of slaughtering all of them at the same time, as they lose their food points over time. This way you lose as few food points as possible.
  4. Deer and wild animals: You will also find deer and other wild animals spread out on the map. You can hunt deer to slaughter them and get food. Deer do not fight against you and therefore do not pose any danger. Wild boars, on the other hand, are very tough and attack the hunters. Although they bring significantly more food, they can kill many villagers. So only kill wild boars if you have at least 10 villagers on them. Wolves, on the other hand, will attack you without provocation, but will not bring you any food.
  5. Fish: If the map also shows bodies of water of a certain size, you will also find fish here. There are some coastal fish that can be caught by your villagers, but also deep sea fish that have to be caught by fishing cutters. For this you first have to build a port. Fishing cutters can also build pots, which work similarly to fields and cost you wood.


Wood is probably the raw material that can be found in the greatest number at least on most maps. You will find a lot of trees here, which either stand alone or close together. These can be felled and processed by the villagers, whereby the villagers either deposit the wood in the village center or in the lumberjack camp.

Wood is needed for many different things: On the one hand, wood is the basic building material for most buildings . This includes military buildings such as barracks and shooting ranges, but also civil structures such as simple houses, monasteries and universities.

You also need wood to create certain units. Especially units that you train in the shooting range need wood as the basis of their weapons. The same also applies to siege machines in the siege workshop such as towers, battering rams, rods, tribokes, etc. Accordingly, wood can also be used offensively.

One last point for which you need wood are of course the corresponding technologies . Especially technologies that affect building construction, siege machines and your ranged combat units require wood as a resource in order to be able to be developed by you.

Generate gold
You need gold for different things: On the one hand for different units. In addition to food and occasionally wood, more advanced military types also need gold. But this applies above all to race-specific special units or monks / priests. The same applies to special buildings

What you almost always need gold for is technology and new ages . Especially when you invest in new technologies - both military and civil - you always have to expect high gold spending. So plan ahead!

Next to stone, gold is the raw material that is seldom found in the game. Nevertheless, there are 3 standard options (some races have even more options) to generate gold . We list them here for you:

  1. Gold mines: Gold can logically be found in gold mines, which can be mined by the villagers. They deliver the gold either to the village center or to the nearest miners' camp. Gold mines look like large boulders with yellow veins running through them. Most of the time, at least one of them will be near your starting village center.
  2. Trade: If you have one or more allies in the game, you can trade with them. For this you need either a market place or a port. In these you can train market carts and / or trading cogs, which you then send to the marketplace / port of your ally. This is how you increase your gold. With the corresponding technologies, you can still adjust the trade relationship.
  3. Relics: You can find relics in some scenarios and campaign missions. You can collect these with a monk and bring them to your monastery. If you are in possession of a relic, it will constantly generate gold for you. The more relics you have, the more gold is generated.


Stone is a special raw material in this sense, as it is just as rare in its natural occurrence as gold, but can not be increased in any other way. While you can increase gold through relics and regular trade, the situation is different with stone: you can only get stone through quarries.

Quarries look like gold mines, but are more dull and not streaked with yellow veins. Similar to gold mines, in most scenarios you will also find at least one quarry near your starting village center .

You need stone for one thing above all else: defensive buildings . Especially when you are in the last two ages, stones become increasingly interesting for you. With these you can erect special buildings for specific races as well as keep, sturdy stone walls and defensive towers.

If you play defensively, stones are absolutely important! You won't last long with defensive wooden structures, while stone walls are just designed for that. If you enjoy the castles and town planning, then you should do well with stones.

Apart from the building types mentioned above, you will of course also need stones for specific technologies. Technologies that upgrade your buildings also need stone as a resource. All in all, stone is the raw material which (for most peoples) is least needed and only needed in later ages .

Commerce, marketplaces and diplomacy

Already mentioned in the gold section, marketplaces and ports are additional ways of generating resources. This works via barter, with gold being the default currency. This means that you can buy other raw materials with gold , while you can also sell them for gold.

The standard ratio of gold to other resources is 70 to 100. This means that if you sell 100 units of food you get 70 gold. For 100 gold you get 70 food, wood or stone. So it's not equivalent. However, national bonuses and special technologies can screw up this ratio, so that you can also achieve a better ratio.

You can monitor trading with other players via your marketplace. This means that you can specify here which raw materials are traded and what the ratio looks like here. You can also send tributes to the other players here . This is very important, especially when you play in a team.

However, you can not only trade with other players, but also with the neutral computer. In the game world you will find some independent marketplaces on which you can set your dealers . However, the opponent can also use them, which is why these marketplaces are usually fiercely contested.

Military and combat units

All races have the same standard military buildings: these are the barracks, the shooting range, the stable, the siege workshop and the keep. In these you create your combat units. It looks like this:

  • Barracks: In the barracks you create melee infantry. That means that you train spearmen and swordsmen here.
  • Shooting range: Here you train your standard ranged fighters. In most cases these will also be infantry units.
  • Stable: Here you train your cavalry, whereby their armament and armor can vary. There are light and manoeuvrable units on the one hand and armored units on the other, each with different tactical advantages.
  • Siege Workshop : This is where you create your siege weapons such as siege towers, rams, rods, tribokes, etc. These are extremely important if you want to destroy the enemy base - especially if it was fortified with stone walls and stone towers.
  • Keep: The keep is a building that can defend itself with arrows. If you also manned him, he will shoot more arrows. The keep offers different bonuses and peculiarities depending on the people. You can either purchase special technologies here or use the keep as a multifunctional barracks, in which you can train almost all units.

Each unit type has its own strengths and weaknesses, so that it can counter other units, while it is countered by third unit types themselves. A total of 6 standard categories are distinguished. We summarize the general principle here for you:

  1. Light infantry: This has an advantage over light cavalry.
  2. Light ranged fighters: These cause general damage among your opponents and should therefore be safely positioned behind your melee fighters.
  3. Light Cavalry: These are the fastest units in the game, so they are good for raids and rushes. In addition, these are the counterattacks to the light ranged fighters.
  4. Armored Infantry: These are resistant to enemy damage, especially arrow fire.
  5. Heavy ranged fighters: Most of these are crossbowmen who counter the advantage of armored infantry. Their fire is so strong that it penetrates even enemy armor.
  6. Armored Cavalry: Armored riders like knights are ideal for an onslaught, as they cause high impact damage. When two armies clash, you can use the armored cavalry to break through the enemy ranks.
In the end, this means that you have to be aware of the strengths and weaknesses of your units so that you can counter your opponent accordingly, while you prevent yourself from being taken out. In big battles, better micro-management is the most important thing.

Technologies and improvements (upgrades)

Most production and farm buildings offer technologies with which you can increase their efficiency or improve the units trained in them . This means that you can ensure that your villagers mine stone and / or gold more quickly in the miners' camp, while you can upgrade your respective units in your barracks.

This is expanded to include civil engineering structures such as the forge and the university. In these you can acquire technologies that additionally armor your units or increase their damage. The same applies to some buildings.

Especially when the game enters the "endgame phase", the better technologies often tip the scales , as they ensure that quality often triumphs over quantity. So it is of little use to have as many units as possible in your army if your opponent's troops are smaller, but much better trained.

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