Age of Empires IV Victory

Gaming can lead to extremely euphoric moments that are hard to come by in everyday life. I’m sure everyone has had them at some point. Maybe it was getting down that raid boss with your guild after hundreds of wipes, being the last player standing in a battle royale, or possibly getting that extremely rare item that everyone is chasing. Whatever leads you to letting out a woot while pumping your first in the air, I had one of those experiences recently playing Age of Empires IV.

I was in a custom multiplayer match 4v4 Absurd AI on a randomly generated map. The generated map was good and to my south was forest and water which cut off about 30% of the map. The rest was fairly open but there were enough mountain sides and groupings of trees where we had a chance to wall up and defend if we reacted quickly.

I advanced to the middle of the map and got some walls up and started to defend my position. Trading routes went up for gold income and things were going smooth. The rest of the team was functioning well albeit one guy was struggling a bit but he was getting some help. Another player and I were working mid and while he was holding his own I was able to get a number of siege units up quickly. In case you don’t play AOE4 the siege I was using was a giant rockthrower (Mangonel) that helps down big groups of units and I also had a few cannons which are used to take down castles at a safe distance. Without siege there is no way to stop a big group of units diving right into you, especially if 2-3 of the computers team up and attack you at the same time.

So I started advancing south, extending my walls and pushing into one of the computer players. I was doing decent, got about half the base down but was at a stalemate. Although I was pumping units out quickly they had to walk a ways down and with that lag time I wasn’t able to advance although my siege were still up holding things down.

Then something unexpected happened. A player left. Thirty seconds later, another player left.

I was shocked. No warning, nothing. So I checked the map and the one player who was struggling was the one who left. As I advanced I felt the other three could easily handle whatever was happening up there. I had also noticed early on the player struggling sent peasants deep into friendly territory to rebuild, which is standard procedure if you can’t hold your starting base. Everything seemed normal.

The second player leaving is also no surprise. For some reason as soon as one person leaves another one always goes because they see no chance of winning. 3v4 Absurd is still as easy win so I never understand this but that’s ok.

So there we were, me and another player named Davoft. Luckily he started next to me and him and I had been in mid together. Although he was slower to build than I was he was holding his own. After the two players left my army to the South got overrun and wiped out, to the East where the two players had left our flank was now exposed and the computer had busted down the walls. Could we recover?

Davoft and I briefly chatted about not understanding what had happened and how the situation looked bad but not impossible. We first needed to regain control before we could decide on a path forward so we tabled the idea of leaving or staying and just adjusted. I stopped the southern assault with only a minor wall breach and a few barracks destroyed, Davoft was able to wall up and stop the attack from our East. There was still one thing that was preventing us from rebuilding quickly, trade routes.

You need a trade route for gold in the end-game of AOE4 especially when you are playing against 4 Absurd AI. For the moment my gold income was zero. When the players left and their buildings become inactive your trade units stop their route and no longer acknowledge that trading post. So Davoft had to go up North and build one, except there were walls in the way now. After breaking down the walls and re-establishing the trade route we could figure out our next move.

In AOE4 you can win a few different ways: Kill all enemy landmarks (e.g. key buildings), sacred victory (capture and hold certain locations), or build a wonder. Only two options were available to us because I turn off wonders against Absurd AI because they can build one quickly and it can be more difficult to hold while also having to dive deeply into enemy bases to kill it. Although we might have been able to kill all landmarks it would have taken a long time. Each player only can make 200 units including all peasants and trade units so you can assume between the humans making 100 offensive units each and the computer making 100 units each 200vs400 in a head on fight is difficult. It can be done but it’s painstaking advancing like that. Our only real hope was a sacred victory.

So I asked Davoft if he wanted to at least try a sacred victory. He’s definitely a level headed player and said he liked a challenge and was up for it. He would secure the North East site, I would get the South, and there was one in between we’d both defend. With a plan in place and trade route restored it was time to give it a shot.

The site was a little bit to the South East of my defensive position and located at the base of a mountain. It was actually a great place to set up defenses because it was protected from being attacked directly south and the enemy had to come from either the East or West and there was also a small pond and tree line nearby. It took be a bit to successfully attack the location and overtake the computer but I managed.

While I waited for my teammate to secure the North East site I started building defenses. If I left it open there is zero chance we would win. So I strategically built some walls that would funnel the enemy and allow my mangonels an opportunity to shoot over the walls at the grouped enemies. Now all we had to do was wait.

Things were looking good. I was getting hit hard in the South but I was able to push them back. We were feeling good and debating if he should send his troops down to help me but at this point I had it under control. Then he said something very amusing: “they’re mustering up for a big offensive or just plain dumb”. My response: “yup :D”.

I guess he saw the future because with about three minutes left things went really bad. Out of nowhere pink came from the East side with cannons and before I knew they were there my wall was instantly destroyed which left my mangonels exposed. At the same time orange and red were attacking from the West. It was a pinser attack and even with cannon towers and a castle pummeling the units and a constant stream of new infantry coming out of my barracks I was struggling. My teammate came down to help but it was too late and not enough. We lost the site.

Shortly afterwards we regained control of the site and decided to give it another shot. After all, we had gotten close to victory. I got my walls back up and started making modifications building multiple layers of exterior walls on the East in case pink did the same tactic. As time was ticking down at our second attempt at victory they didn’t attack me but instead attacked the North East site that Davoft was defending.

At first he held, pushing back the attack, but then a second wave from another computer descended on his troops. I quickly sent up all my infantry up North leaving my site only defended by siege and buildings. The computer was relentlessly attacking Davoft and took out his castle defending the site and was starting to neutralize the site which would end our path to victory. Luckily the computer was pushing away from the site and trying to push into Davoft’s base and left only a handful of units on the site. My units arrived, cleared it, and then the computer came back to duke it out. My troops won the day and chased what was left of the enemy army out and then headed back South. Davoft quickly got walls back up and units to the North.

Three minutes to go. One minute to go and another push was underway. From the East purple was at my wall, my siege towers ringing with cannon fire and I sent some troops out to meet them. At the same time though another attack was coming from the west so I had to recall half those troops and send them to stop that attack. Luckily Davoft had knights and quickly ran them straight into the eastward attack and I funneled my guys to meet the westward attack. The timer only stops when an enemy unit is on your sacred site so I didn’t want to risk that happening which is why I sent my units out to stop them given we were under one minute remaining.

The timer hit zero. Victory! We were both excited. We took a bad situation with two players leaving for no reason and stayed positive and stayed focused and we came out on top. Neither one of us could have done this alone, not on this map. Each of us played a pivotal role in the victory. We bother knew what we needed to do, we communicated well, and we were both experienced enough to understand the strategies needed to overcome our situation. It’s moments like there that really remind me why I play video games. It was pure joy.

By Matt

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