This is the start of the 1v1 basic strategy guide to help new players understand the objectives and advantages available to them to gain control of the game. One versus one is considered the pure competitive form of age of empires and mastering this form will also play into your skill in a teamgame, both are similar in many ways and different in others. Where in a one versus one scenario your enemy cant get aid from someone else or team up with someone else when they attack you or defend from you. 


The most important part of picking a good civ is to make sure it works with your playstyle, it’s always good to master more than one civ and play around with them all to understand their strengths and weaknesses since you will most likely encounter them sooner or later, at which point you will need to know what they are most likely to do and how to counter them 

One thing we will discuss later in the strategy part of this is how to play the maps, but i also want to mention that picking a civ that suits the map you are going to play is a very advantageous thing to do and should be considered strongly on maps with different unique quirks, such as a lot of hunt, water, or elevation. 

There will however always be a few civs that are in the meta and are stronger or weaker depending on the most recent patch updates. It can be a very good idea to try these civs out and gain an advantage with their relative strength. Although some maps make this differ with a dominant civ or a very weak civ.
However if you want to take a look into what the professional players regard as the top civ’s right now it’s never a bad thing to do, whilst keeping in mind that civ’s like the Chinese for example are very hard to use and takes time to master.
(Click on the image below for civ winrates on the diffrent maps)

Core Strategy

When it comes to one versus one strategy there are three key aspects to consider when entering a match

First one being to play the civ matchup, its important to think ahead. Consider what your opponent is going for and adjust accordingly. If your enemy is playing Goths for example and you have picked Mayans you should anticipate him to go for Huskarls to counter your Archers sooner or later and therefore choose a strategy that fits your purpose to avoid that from being decisive. In this specific example, your best bet here is to play very aggressive and keep him from getting a Castle up thereby impeding his production of Huskarls. This is a tough matchup for the Mayan player but can be won thanks to their strength in the earlier stages of the game. 

This approach can also be applied to the expected openings of different civs, where a Cavalry civ often opens with Scouts, its good to have that in mind and maybe wall your base in time so that the Scouts can’t do too significant damage to your economy. 

Second aspect is to play the map. This can be to either pick a civ suited for the map, such as if there is a lot of hunt, water or elevation to gain a bonus from your selected civ’s strength. But even if this is not the case and you are playing an arabia game for example there is still a huge benefit to play the map well, by taking control of key points such as placing a Castle on top of an elevated patch of land in front of your base or in front of your enemy’s base, gaining vision of your surroundings with outposts or scouting. It’s also important to find the neutral resources of the map so that you can use them or stop your opponent from using them. You could do this by raiding his villagers who gather out there or maybe pre-emptively place one or two units there so you can see if he goes there to take them. A good thing to do when you have map control is to build Outposts or Houses in the parts of the map you want to control.

Third aspect is to play your opponent. Information is very valuable in this game and knowing what your enemy is up to is a huge advantage to prepare counters or to exploit weaknesses in their gameplay, this is where scouting comes in. This part is very similar to the second aspect but its more focused on what your enemy is currently doing to combat your actions rather than controlling the area of the battlefield. This is often accomplished by scouting key aspects of your enemy’s base, such as spotting a Barracks being built in Dark Age can indicate that a ‘Drush’ is coming, or seeing him prepare a Market and a Blacksmith in feudal age can make u assume he is just about to click up to Castle Age. Another thing to help you with this is to learn the timings for certain builds, for example that your enemy reaches feudal age before or around the 10 minute mark can indicate that he is going for a Scouts build order, whereas a time around 12-13 minutes would suggest a Fast Castle build order.

Just knowing these things and thinking about what you can improve in your own gameplay will help you a lot when trying to figure out what to focus on.


For most of the game, players should focus on a gold unit as their main composition as these are more effective in dealing damage to the opponent’s economy (the exception being Scout Cavalry in the Feudal Age).

As the game progresses, players will tend to add in a ‘trash’ unit (one that doesn’t cost gold) in order to complement the main unit and deal with some of the potential counters from the opponent.

When you are starting to push your opponent’s base, it is generally vital to add Siege units in order to destroy buildings. 

There are some circumstances where you can produce two gold units for a short period but if the enemy can hold during this time, they are likely to have a big advantage when your gold runs out.

To find out more about the different strengths and weaknesses of the civilizations, please visit the Civilization Guides page

One of the most important aspects of Age of Empires is to get a good start, if you don’t already know build orders that suit you we recommend you to take a look at a few, good starter ones are “Straight Archers” and “Scouts into Knights“.