The best build order in Age of Empires 4

Age of Empires 4 build order
(Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)

Finding the best Age of Empires 4 build order is hard. You need to gather resources, explore the map, and build an army before the enemy attacks. If you’re not fast enough or prioritize the wrong buildings, your empire won’t last long.

Whether you’re new to Age of Empires 4 or just need to freshen up your real-time strategy skills, you can use this guide to get a good start. Follow the steps as described below, and you’ll have your early empire up and running in a matter of minutes. 

Do keep in mind that the best Age of Empires 4 build order also depends on your strategy, your civilization, and circumstance. The build order as described below is created with a standard map, standard opponents, and the ‘beginner’ civilizations in mind (such as the English and the French). Feel free to change things to suit your personal playstyle! And if you're looking for help knowing how to rotate buildings in Age of Empires 4, we can help you there too, or with some more general Age of Empire 4 tips

How to start in Age of Empires 4 and your first build order

Age of Empires 4 build order

(Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)
  1. Start Villager production.
  2. Get all Villagers to collect food from sheep.
  3. Start uncovering the map with your Scout.
  4. Bring back three or more sheep.

Your first priority when starting a new game in Age of Empires 4, is to produce more Villagers. More Villagers means more hands to gather resources, and thus gain an advantage over your enemies. Note that your Villager supply is limited by time rather than resources: it’s easy to get more food, but you can only gain one Villager per 20 seconds. This is why you should click the Town Center and make a queue for extra Villagers as soon as the game begins.

Next, use a hotkey to select the idle Villagers waiting for your first command. Every second they remain idle is a second wasted, so get them to collect food from the nearest sheep as quickly as possible. 

While waiting for your first new Villager to arrive, use the Scout to uncover your surroundings. Your goal (for now) is to spot a gold source and bring back at least three sheep. Be sure to use the hotkeys to switch back and forth between the Scout and the Town Center without wasting time. 

Best Age of Empires 4 Dark Age build order

Age of Empires 4 build order

(Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)
  1. Build an extra house.
  2. Build a mining camp.
  3. Start mining gold (two Villagers).
  4. Put three more Villagers on food.

We’re only 20 seconds in the game at this point, but you’re already about to reach your population limit. So, as soon as the first new Villager arrives, make him build an extra house. This will expand your population limit to 20, which is enough to get you through the Dark Age.

As advancing to the Feudal Age requires gold, the next step is to select a new Villager and have them build a mining camp at the nearest gold mine (aided by the one who just built a house). 

It takes roughly 10 seconds for one Villager to mine 10 gold. Given that you already have 100, you don’t need any other Villagers at the mining camp for now. Put the next three arrivals on food supply (the sheep brought back by the Scout).

Advance from Age of Empires 4 Dark Age to Feudal Age

Age of Empires 4 build order

(Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)
  1. Build a lumber camp.
  2. Start gathering wood (three or four Villagers).
  3. Build a landmark (at least one Villager).

With 10 Villagers gathering food and two gathering gold, you’ll soon have enough to build your landmark. Although you don’t need it to advance to the Feudal Age, use the waiting time to build a lumber camp next to a forest and get the wood supply going. We only have 50 wood left from the starting supply, so it’s important to build the lumber camp before adding new houses. 

Do you have 400 food and 200 gold yet? Then use one Villager to start building the landmark to reach the Feudal Age. More Villagers would speed up the process, but it’s best to use them for your wood supply instead. That way, by the time your landmark is ready, you’ll have enough wood for military buildings.

Best Age of Empires 4 Feudal Age build order

Age of Empires 4 build order

(Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)
  • Build another house.
  • Build a mill next to berry bushes.
  • Build army buildings, start queuing military units.
  • Build farms.

Build a second house to avoid the population cap, and then use any additional wood to build a mill. If you place it next to some berry bushes, you can use the rest of your wood on military buildings (as opposed to farms). After all, the enemy may be planning an early attack and you don’t have any protection yet.

If your landmark is done, the Feudal Age offers several options for your first army. Don’t have a military strategy yet? Then you can just choose the Barracks and get some Spearmen. After you create the spearmen queue, you should build some farmland next to your mill. 

Best Castle Age build order

Age of Empires 4 build order

(Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)

You’ve got a steady food, wood, and gold supply, and your army is growing. From this point onwards, your Age of Empires 4 build order depends on your chosen strategy. Do you want a massive army? Or a smaller, highly specialized one? Do you wish to start raiding, or do you want to build a keep and play more defensively? It’s all up to you.

To give you some ideas on what to do next, the following build options are almost always handy:

  1. Advance to the Castle Age using 1200 food and 600 gold.
  2. Get upgrades for the army.
  3. Start mining stone.
  4. Start building walls and fortresses.
  5. Add a few more houses.

General Age of Empires 4 build order tips

Age of Empires 4 build order

(Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)

Finally, three final rules of thumb to always keep in mind while working on your Age of Empires build order:

  • Always minimize walking distance. This is why your first food source are the sheep right next to the Village, and why you should always build a mining camp or a lumber camp before you start gathering.
  • Age of Empires IV is a war game, but it’s difficult to get a proper army in the Dark Ages. This is why following the right build order to reach the Feudal Age is so important. A technologically advanced army is often a winning army.
  • You need to stop producing Villagers at some point. If you have all the resources you require, every additional unit you get should be military. The exact number of Villagers needed depends on your strategy; if you focus on growing economy and defenses, you’ll need more.

Now that you’ve got a head start, it’s time to invade some civilizations. Good luck!

Marloes Valentina Stella

I’m a freelance journalist who (surprise!) kind of has a thing for videogames. When I’m not working on guides for GamesRadar, you can probably find me somewhere in Teyvat, Novigrad, or Whiterun. Unless I’m feeling competitive, in which case you should try Erangel. You can also find my words on PCGamesN, Fanbyte, PCGamer, Polygon, Esports Insider, and Game Rant.