Here’s how to pull off the ‘Fast Castle’ strategy in Age of Empires II: DE

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Age of Empires II, the classic real-time strategy (RTS) game, has been remade and released in a Definitive Edition for its 20th anniversary. New artwork, new animations, and new civilizations are included, but some strategies are still paramount in winning matches. Let’s take a look at the “Fast Castle” strategy, including how it works, why it’s effective, and what to do once you pull it off.

See our Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition Ultimate Beginner’s Guide

An RTS for the ages

Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition

A lot of game for the asking price

Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition manages to make the classic RTS feel new while not straying away from what made the game great in the first place.

The Fast Castle strategy aims to get your civilization to the Castle Age in less than 17 minutes. Along with the powerful upgrades and buildings you receive in this age, you should have plenty of resources at your disposal to begin creating military units or to continue booming your economy.

The Fast Castle strategy is certainly not foolproof, and it’s not going to work in every game. If you’re rushed by the enemy, for example, you’ll likely have to modify your plan to defend your base. Still, if the strategy can be pulled off, it sets you up for a strong mid and late game against any opponent.

Once you reach the Castle Age, you essentially have two reliable options. You can continue to boom your economy if you’re not being threatened, or you can begin producing knights to harass the enemy.

What you need to do to Fast Castle

There are multiple versions of the Fast Castle strategy out there, and you can certainly take these steps and mold them to your liking, especially if you’re playing a civilization that comes with certain economic benefits. However, these are the basics to help you get to Castle Age in less than 17 minutes. Most civilizations start with three villagers and a scout, which is what we’ll focus on here.

  • Immediately queue up as many villagers as possible in your Town Center (TC). You never want to let your TC idle.
  • Your scout should be on the move, searching out domesticated animals (like sheep) and wild animals (like boars) near your TC. Immediately send any found sheep to your TC.
  • Send two villagers (1, 2) to build one house. Remember to save room for farms around your TC.
  • Send the other villager (3) to build a separate house.
  • The new villager (4) created should begin harvesting sheep under the TC.
  • Send villagers (1, 2, 3) to harvest sheep once houses are built. Try to always harvest one animal at a time to avoid wasting food due to carcass decay

Upon completion of Feudal Age research, you have a couple of logical options to thrive in the Castle Age. If you’re interested in producing knights, you’ll want to build a stable and blacksmith. If you’d rather boom your economy because you’re not feeling threatened by the enemy, a blacksmith and market is a better choice.

  • Pull three berry harvesters away and build a blacksmith and your choice of second Feudal Age building.
  • Send new villagers (28, 29) to mine gold for knights or to chop wood for booming.
  • Research Castle Age at your TC.
  • Research Double-bit Axe at your lumber camp.
  • Research Horse Collar at your mill.

Quick-glance summary of Fast Castle steps

To easier follow while in-game, here are the basic steps in an easy-to-read format.

  • Villagers (1, 2, 3) build houses then harvest sheep.
  • Villagers (4, 5, 6) harvest sheep.
  • Villager (7) builds lumber camp.
  • Villagers (8, 9) chop wood.
  • Villager (10) builds house then lures boar.
  • Villagers (11, 12) chop wood.
  • Villager (13) builds mill on berries.
  • Villagers (14, 15, 16) harvest berries.
  • One boar harvester lures in second boar to TC.
  • Villager (17) builds house then harvests berries.
  • Villagers (18, 19) harvest berries.
  • Villager (20) builds house then builds lumber camp on new treeline.
  • Villager (21, 22, 23, 24) chop wood at new treeline.
  • Villager (25) builds mining camp.
  • Villagers (26, 27) mine gold.
  • Research Feudal Age.
  • One lumberjack builds barracks.
  • Villager (28, 29) mine gold or chop wood based on strategy.
  • Three berry harvesters build blacksmith and stable or market based on strategy.
  • Research Castle Age.
  • Research Double-bit Axe at your lumber camp.
  • Research Horse Collar at your mill.

What to do when you reach Castle Age

Once you’ve hit Castle Age, you should already know whether or not you’re going to continue booming your economy or if you’re going to begin producing knights to attack the enemy. In any case, you want to continue creating villagers — also research Loom if you haven’t already at some point — and be sure to build enough houses to support your growing population.

If you’re going all-in on knights, build at least another stable for faster production. Blacksmith upgrades for cavalry are available, but be sure you don’t sap your economy by researching them too soon. Continue building farms as wood allows, send villagers to mine gold, and consider mining stone if you plan on building multiple extra TCs or a castle. You want to keep your economy balanced, so if you notice a considerable surplus of one resource coming in, you can move villagers elsewhere.

If you’re booming your economy, build extra TCs in strategic locations, and continue producing villagers from all TCs. Research economy upgrades, and don’t forget to trade with allied players at their markets. You’re going to be attacked at some point, walls or not, so plan on building up a military sooner rather than later.

When does the Fast Castle strategy work best?

The Fast Castle strategy works best on land maps where you don’t have to worry about a naval military, and it works best if you’re left to your own devices. Keep in mind you won’t be able to Fast Castle in every game, and you’ll likely be interrupted at some point by aggression from the enemy.

A Fast Castle is especially potent in team games where you’re positioned as the “pocket” player. This means you’re in between a couple of allies, tucked away from the violent frontlines. This gives you more time to boom and produce units without dealing with pressure, and your allies will benefit from any resources you can sling their way as they defend the homeland.

And if you’re tower rushed by Koreans in the Feudal Age while you’re busy getting set for a quick trip to Castle Age, forget everything mentioned here. Send villagers to mine stone, build defensive towers, and start praying.

An RTS for the ages

Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition

A lot of game for the asking price

Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition manages to make the classic RTS feel new while not straying away from what made the game great in the first place.

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