This Article is written by Ptee and edited by Jupe
If you’re active in aoe2 community, you’ve probably heard build order this, build order that and so on forth without realizing what it actually is in depth. So here is an explanation of what a build order is.
Let’s say I give you a task of getting out 3 man at arms in the lowest amount of time possible in game, without idling TC. Now you go into singleplayer game and start figuring out how to do it, you try and try over and over again, finally you reach a point where you know how to do it and you end up with something like 22 population then feudal upgrade and distribute the villagers correctly and produce the militia during uptime and get the upgrade instantly in feudal age. Build orders are this exact thing written out, simplified, tuned into a format where villagers move between resources as little as possible.
What is the benefit of build orders? Do you want to reinvent the wheel again? Do you want to try to be Albert Einstein and figure out the theory of relativity on your own? How many of us are actually capable of this? Not many. Progress in any field of science is built on top of past discoveries, refusing to copy from others and learn from written out guides is just idiocy.
22 population archers build order (arch), man at arms (maa), dark age rush (drush), scouts, 20 population archers, fast castle (FC), Fast imperial (FI) and many other build orders exist out there. In general all of them have a goal in getting up at a certain age for certain units and techs as fast as possible.
Which one is most beginner friendly? Depending on what sort of maps you like playing, open maps scouts or archers would be easiest for new players. Closed maps are generally more FC oriented and you’d have to learn a variation of FC build made for xbows, monks, knights or boom (booming means adding extra TCs and growing your economy rapidly).
Which one is best for learning? If you are starting in AoE2, any agressive build order for open maps will do, however try to stick with one strategy in the beginning; Archer rush, Man at arm rush or Scout rush. We have in-depth classes for all of those build orders here at our site!
Later on once you are very familiar with a build order and think you are an expert at it, you become comfortable with adjusting the builds lightly and the concept of build order becomes more or less irrelevant, even if it’s at the core of your gameplay still. High level players who claim they do not use builds, do have a backbone to their openings still and just have a lot of optimizing going on so it might not look anything like the set in stone build orders. This optimization comes with experience and experimentation on trying to improve something that is already good.
And finally, after you have learned your build order and gotten the units out, what then? Obviously openings have follow ups and you can transition into archers or skirms out of drush or maa, or you can race to castle age. This is dependent on other factors like civs, map generation and how you are using your units from the initial timing the build order gave you.