Team games differ from 1v1s in that you can focus on a single unit composition (alongside Siege). Each player on a team needs to prioritise a different role and focus on a different main unit depending on the size of the teams.
In team games, it is vital that players wall their bases (either individually or create team walls between their bases) as they will not be able to defend against two opponents with complementary unit compositions.
In standard Age of Empires 2 games, each player is limited to a population of 200 units, shared between their economy and military units. Each player therefore needs to specialise in order to use their population more efficiently.
In a 2 player team, it is sensible for one player to prioritise Cavalry and the other player to prioritise Archers.
In a 3 player team, the two players on the ‘flanks’ should go for Archers while the ‘pocket’ goes for Cavalry.
In a 4v4 game, the two players on the ‘flanks’ should still focus on Archers with both ‘pocket’ players producing Cavalry.
Normally, it is the flanks that should focus on adding in Siege units as the game progresses unless the pocket civilization has a particular bonus for Siege.
The ’pocket’ player should begin the game with a Scout build order. If they are aiming to shift aggression away from their base and give them an opportunity to create a team wall, a quicker up time may be more suitable to ensure earlier production. If they are walling their base individually, it can be more desirable to go up to Feudal Age after an extra villager as this will ensure their economy is slightly more stable but they are likely to be slightly behind the production of the opposition’s Cavalry player. This would be negated if they are staying defensive at first as the opponents will need to travel across the map to reinforce their numbers.
Often, the priority in selecting a ‘pocket’ civilization is one that has access to fully upgraded Paladins (or in the case of Indians, Imperial Camel). This list contains the civilizations (in alphabetical order) that have these but there are still other options that may be suited to specific situations.
Cumans, Franks ,Huns ,Indians ,Lithuanians, Magyars, Persians, Spanish, Teutons
The Archer players on the flanks have a little more flexibility in their build order selection depending on strategy selection – which may be influenced by their civilization. They may choose to go for a ‘drush’ or Man-at-Arms into Archers build order if their opponent is near to them or if they have a particular civilization bonus that would justify this.
The priority in selecting a ‘flank’ civilization is one that has access to fully upgraded Arbalest or a strong Cavalry Archer. This list contains the civilizations (in alphabetical order) that have these but there are still other options that may be suited to specific situations.
Britons, Chinese, Ethiopians, Incas, Italians, Japanese, Mayans, Malay, Mongols, Saracens, Tatars, Vietnamese, Vikings
The ‘pocket’ players need to utilise the mobility of their Cavalry and support the ‘flanks’. The Archer Players should be cautious in moving out of their base alone as they may be exposed.
In a 2v2 game, it is common place for the two players to spend much of the game moving their armies together, only separating to raid their opponents’ economies.
In a 3v3, initially the ‘pocket’ may accompany one of the ‘flanks’ while the other ‘flank’ plays in a more passive manner. If this is the case, communication within the team is important to inform the passive player the location of the enemy armies. Once this is known, they may choose to remain at their base, building their mass of Archers to be upgraded, or push out to the opponent on their side. The main scenario they are trying to avoid is getting exposed to a 2v1 situation whilst travelling across the map and losing their army in an unfavourable trade. If this were to happen, the other members of their team will be forced to play passively themselves to make sure they are not completely overwhelmed. As the game develops, through Feudal Age and into Castle Age, the three players from each team are likely to converge and work together more closely to push back their opposition.
In a 4v4, the majority of the game is played as two 2v2s, with one ‘pocket’ working in conjunction with their ‘flank’. Again, later in the game, the team may begin to work as a more cohesive unit, trying to push through the opponents’ defensive lines.
Communication in team games is vital to ensure success. Right at the start of the game, teams need to coordinate their strategies, in a 2v2 especially, this will be about which player will focus on Archers and which will start with Scouts. If both players focus on the same compositions, they will be easily countered by their opposition. When scouting, players can use the Flares in the game to ‘ping’ the location of the opposition. They should also indicate if they intend to wall their bases and use ‘pings’ to indicate the locations if they are intending to team wall between their bases.
Once the players have armies out, ‘pings’ should be used to alert your teammates to the location of your armies as well as that of your opponents. You should also inform your allies about the enemy’s army compositions.
If you are starting to be pressured by your opponents, it is important to notify your allies if you are beginning to be overwhelmed. When I was a newer player, I wanted to try to cope on my own so my more experienced teammates didn’t consider me a burden but in a team game, coping in silence even if you are able to survive can set your economy too far behind. Asking for your ally’s help, should not be seen as weakness and coordinating with your teammate is an important aspect of team games.
Team games are often decided by the ability to continue producing the primary composition. In Imperial Age, each player’s access to gold will be declining but in team games, the players can use trade in order to have continued access to gold. Trade carts cost gold to produce initially so each player needs to ensure that they can afford to invest in trade while they still have access to gold. Players should look to establish markets on their way up to Imperial Age. Markets should be placed as far as possible from their team’s markets (providing it is safe to do so) in order to maximise the gold per trip. With such a long distance for trading, the Caravan upgrade is crucial as it increases the movement speed of Trade Carts, therefore increasing your rate of gold collection. The main way to prevent the opposition from producing is to destroy some of their trade carts. Without access to gold, a player cannot reinforce with their main composition. Once this happens, the game is likely to snowball out of control and the team without trade will find it difficult to hold against the onslaught.