Age of Empires 2
How It Came Back Into My Life
I first played Age of Empires 2 as a kid and it hooked me to the Middle Ages so bad that I actually wrote my Master thesis on ‘La Hire’, the most beloved hero from Joan of Arc’s campaign. Who was that man, for real? I wondered.
Fast forward to 2018 and my father invites me to join a multiplayer AoE2 game with some colleagues of his. I have no idea what a build order is. I send my scout to my allies and don’t scout my own resources. I send my villagers around my base to find food, wood and gold. My Dark Age early economy is a total mess but my late game is mostly about spamming halberdiers and heavy camels to counter paladins so that my father and I eventually win. We got our asses served to us the next game, though. My pride was hurt. I started to study AoE2.
There and then started my long journey into an online community that I didn’t know existed. First I typed “AoE2 strategies” on YouTube, hoping I’d find a video or two. It spiralled out of control and somehow I ended up binge-watching T90Official Legend Videos series: Fastlob, Blue-Coffee, Rubenstock, Hoang. All the good stuff! As I’m writing those very words I’m keeping an eye on the Nili Apartment Cup III tournament being casted live on Twitch, as Dave (aka Vicious_Marauder) and Nili_AoE comment on Daut and Mr. Yo 1v1 on day 2.
I slowly delved into the AoE2 community by watching Resonance22 Break the Meta series, Spirit of the Law numerous statistic video essays and ZeroEmpires classic match-ups commentaries. I was amazed how alive the AoE2 multiplayer community was. I was working nights back then. It was hard on both my body and psyche. I had no proper social life. I couldn’t visit my relatives as much as I wanted. I felt isolated and the AoE2 community helped my power through.
Why Do I Write About It?
I observed however that there were no proper historians within the AoE2 community or at least no historian invested into deconstructing the historical concepts and resources depicted in AoE2. Why do Britons gather food faster from sheep? Why do Franks benefit from extra HP on their cavalry units? Why does every game start in ‘Dark Age’? Is there any historical merit behind any of those gameplay design? AoE2 does have an in-game encyclopaedia with historical entries and Bill Gates thought to market the Age of Empires series as an educational project. However, as Joseph Staten states, the Age of Empires series was mostly build on the back historical fictions instead of academic monographies or dictionaries.
Originally I thought I could create a full-on kind of crash course on AoE2 and medieval history. I started a Twitch channel, created an account on AoEZone, went on Reddit… I soon discovered that you can’t improvise streaming and that video editing not only requires a much better computer than I actually have but also a crap load of time. However, I tend to quickly lose interest in my projects if they take too much time to complete and I didn’t feel like I’d find much support online. I also only wanted it to be a hobby and nothing more (that’s why you won’t find any donation bull-crap banner on my Twitch channel). It meant I couldn’t focus on my AoE2 crash course history as much as I could have wanted for it to be really successful or meaningful. That’s why I ended up opening a blog, this blog, to still keep the project alive for it is much easier and less time consuming to write about video-games and history than it is to video edit and YouTube spam about it.
Eventually I took my time to bring my project to reasonable proportions. What could I achieve? How rewarding would it be to me? So there it is. I’m not giving a proper AoE2 Crash Course History but I’d like to hand out my AoE2 Notes. I play the game on my spare time. It sparks my interest in various historical topics. I have the intellectual means and tools to dig into those topics and see what’s what. I scramble it down on paper. I relay it to you.
Hope you can enjoy it!
Latest Blogposts about AoE2
I found myself faced with my childhood hero, Étienne de Vignolles, also known as La Hire. I knew him because he stars in Age of Empires 2—the video game—next to Joan of Arc for the Battle of Patay. I couldn’t believe my luck. I told him how much I admired him. He asked me how I knew him. I told him about Age of Empires 2. He was confused at first but I think he got it somehow. I took my chance and asked him a few question.
‘Domina’ belonged to the words that were shortened and gave ‘domna’ (a word already used by native Latin speakers in the 1st century AD). It would later turn into ‘doña’ in Spanish or ‘dame’ in French.
Before AoE2:DE was released, the Incas were the #2 civilization by win rate on Voobly. It’s a great civ to start up with and learn how to adapt your strategy to your opponents.
Joan of Arc never was a formal military leader. Moreover her military “career” was far too short for her to prove herself as an autonomous leader. However, she showed promises and at that time women could lead armies.
Age of Empires 2 is a Real Time Strategy game that works on a very simple principle: the more ressources you have, the more military you can produce. You just can’t ignore the free food boars represent. You need it. How to get it, however, is another matter… for which I’m fully prepared to go on for a bit and boar you with details.