Age of Empires is my favorite video game series of all time. While this review talks about Age of Empires III, I’ve been playing these titles since the first AOE came out in 1997. Even AOE III has been around since 2005.

That’s a long time in video game years, but it is still a fun game enjoyed by people around the world. Truthfully, I don’t have much time for video games anymore, but I still have AOE III and the expansion packs loaded on my computer for when I need a little down time.

Age of Empires is a real-time strategy game where your goal is to advance your civilization (there are several to choose from) by guiding your settlers and soldiers to accomplish certain tasks. There are dozens of buildings that can be built to serve different functions, and dozens of individual units that can be trained or otherwise acquired.

Of course there are other civilizations out there, either controlled by the computer or by other people in online play. You have to compete with them for resources, but worse still they’re going to try to rub you out of existence. You’ll need to raise an army to defend your people and assets, and do some damage of your own.

AOE III is set during the colonial expansion period between the discovery of the New World and the late 1800s. You control civilizations like the Brits, French, Dutch, Germans, Spanish and Russians who, at the time, were bent on acquiring territory and bumping each other out of the picture. Each has different strengths and weaknesses, and different units specific to that civ.

The Complete Collection includes the Age of Empires III game along with the War Chiefs and Asian Dynasties expansion discs. With these expansion packs, you can control different Native American and Asian civilizations, and more game play maps and features are made available.

There are several modes of play: In Campaign you follow a set script where you need to accomplish certain tasks to advance the story. You can play online in head-to-head competition with other people. Or, you can play against the computer. You win when you get to the end of the story (in Campaign mode) or obliterate your opponents.

Succeeding at Age of Empires requires a great deal of strategy. You must manage the economy of your civilization while simultaneously building your army to defeat your opponent. Once your army is ready, you need to have a game plan for victory.

My AOE III Strategy

I usually set it to the hardest level and play three against one. I use the Dutch or the Brits most often. Sometimes I’ll use a Native American tribe if I’m up for a challenge and have a lot of time. European civilizations are more evenly matched, where the Native Americans require a whole lot of strategy to get around the firepower and technology of the Europeans.

I play 40-minute treaty games. I choose my civ and let the computer pick three of its own and the map. A treaty game is where no fighting is allowed (except for defensive buildings) during a certain time period. After that, all bets are off.

I immediately send my settlers (villagers) to gather resources. Economy is most important in the beginning. I clear all wood from the vicinity of my town center, and hunt out all local wildlife. Once I have some good open space, I build my walls and add more buildings to my town.

Walling up, or turtling, is a great way to protect your assets when the fighting starts. Double-thick walls prevent enemies from marching into your town and causing devastation, and give you time to react. Fortunately (though I don’t understand why) the computer never builds defensive walls in AOE III. But remember it’s three against one, so while I’m building up my town there are three other civs expanding their armies.

By the time there is ten minutes left in the treaty I want to have my army ready to go. I want several barracks, like eight or ten in all. I concentrate on infantry, and get as many upgrades as I can to improve their speed and effectiveness. With some civs it may be necessary to train cavalry to counter the opponents artillery, but Dutch infantry seem to move fast enough to get the job done.

Just before the fighting starts I’ll begin to call any settlers who are outside the walls of the city back in and have them build farms or plantations. I will also send a small contingent of 4-6 settlers to the far corner of the map. Their goal, once the fighting begins, will be to build a small outpost with barracks and an artillery foundry.

When the fighting begins the strategy is to beat back the initial surge and then counterattack. With three-on-one I’ll be facing possibly a couple of hundred units coming at me at once, so keeping my barracks pumping out new troops is super important.

If I can defeat the initial onslaught I will have devastated the armies the other civilizations have been building over the treaty period. Of course they will retrain more troops quickly, but if I can turn the tide in that brief period of time their towns will fall like dominoes.

It’s not always so easy, and different maps require slightly different strategies. Sometimes my town is destroyed and I’m reduced to a handful of troops running around the countryside conducting guerrilla raids and trying to reestablish a foothold. Sometimes I even lose!

Games can last for hours, and I only get in one or two a month these days if I’m lucky. But Age of Empires III is still a great way to relax and use my brain power to solve problems in another world besides the real one. Even after all these years, its still a blast.

What was your favorite Age of Empires title?

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  • arcacia Apr 15, 2014 @ 12:59 am
    I love this game. It's been one of my favourites since the first one! <3 I have this collection and I am addicted.
  • EricDockett Apr 14, 2014 @ 8:22 am
    Thanks for all the positive comments everyone, and thanks for LOD Squidoo! I have to admit I'm very surprised, and I was so busy over the weekend I didn't have time to really look at it until now.
  • ibidii Apr 13, 2014 @ 12:22 pm
    Congratulations on Lens of the Day! I don't play games as I am legally blind. But my kids do and they love the games. I will ask them to look at your lens.
  • thatgrrl Apr 13, 2014 @ 11:46 am
    I have the AOE games too. I think it is II which I like best. The game was simpler without the extra steps of getting shipments from the home base. (I kind of forget what they call it all now).

    Anyway, do you remember Civilization, Majesty, Sim City, Stronghold, Settlers and the Caesar series of games too? Caesar was my favourite city building sort of game. It's been a really long time since I played any of them.
  • EricDockett Apr 14, 2014 @ 8:19 am
    I've played Sim City1, 2, 3, and 4. That's another of my favorites! I also played Caesar 3 and liked that one a lot.
  • d-artist Apr 13, 2014 @ 10:40 am
    Congratulations on LOTD! I've never played these types of games...seems that you enjoy them a great deal.
  • shaheer-asghar-awan Apr 12, 2014 @ 7:18 pm
    I love strategy games and 3rd person games like Commandos and Age of Empires, this lens remind me my old gaming enthusiasm.
  • Merrci Apr 12, 2014 @ 6:30 pm
    Congratulations on Lens of the Day! I've never been into games though they look fascinating. I did enjoy your review still! It's a great review.
  • sandy-zoom Apr 12, 2014 @ 5:26 pm
    i love this game
  • StephenJackson2012 Apr 12, 2014 @ 5:17 pm
    Love Age of Empires, stumbled across your review and now I think It's time for me to load up AOE again :D
  • Mac33 Apr 12, 2014 @ 3:50 pm
    Always enjoyed playing AOE II. Haven't tried AOE III yet. Good strategy tips.

    Congrats on LOTD. Well deserved, this is one of the better lenslets I've seen.
  • Apr 12, 2014 @ 2:48 pm
    Very good review. Congratulations on getting LotD!
  • Cari_Kay Apr 12, 2014 @ 2:02 pm
    My son LOVES these games! I'm going to share your review with him. Thanks!
  • athomemomblog Apr 12, 2014 @ 11:51 am
    I love Age of Empires and have played all of them, too. Great review. Now I want to dig my game out again and play.
  • Charito1962 Apr 12, 2014 @ 9:00 am
    Sounds interesting! I like games that have to do with history.
  • srk4you Apr 12, 2014 @ 8:46 am
    I have played AOE3 but AOE is still my favorite. However, I like the idea of home cities and the new modern civilization but when you have too many kinds of troops, fleets and buildings and can only play 2-3 times per month, you can't focus entirely.

    Like you, I love spending hours on AOE. :)
  • esmonaco Apr 12, 2014 @ 7:43 am
    I haven't played many games lately, and I'm not familar with this. Very nice review, and Congratulations on LOTD!!
  • mojo_007 Apr 12, 2014 @ 7:10 am
    I currently play AoE3 but loved the second one better.
  • dogface Apr 12, 2014 @ 5:44 am
    AOE III is a good game, but I think that AOE II is still my favorite... Especially the new HD version. :)
  • AnnaMKB Apr 12, 2014 @ 12:30 am
    I don't really play games anymore, but I do still have AoE II, Age of Kings. The graphics don't really work on the computer I have now, but it's still playable. Nice to blow off stean every once in a while. :-D
  • tim-bader-982 Apr 07, 2014 @ 4:25 am
    Despite never having been good at RTS games, I have fond memories of Age of Empires (sorry, can't remember which one!) when I still played games on PC - I'm an Xbox man these days.
    Great review, one of the best video games reviews I have seen!

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