I really like the japanese civilization in AoE2. They are not the go-to civ for any scenario, map or match-up. Their strongest suit, the infantry, is considered second best to aztecs and maybe goths. Their navy is considered 3-4th best after the vikings, huns and persians. They are not the best, yet they are pretty good all-around. I think the main reason they are underused is because how unbalanced the game is towards infantry in castle age. The knights and crossbows combination is just too strong and I have yet to see a game with long-swordsmen. I think that’s enough for introduction. I will leave analyzing civilizations and units for a different time. What can be done with an infantry civ?
Now, when I play random civ and get japanese, I have no idea how to play them most of the time. Do I drush + fast castle into crossbows, or feudal trash push (skirmishers and a few spears) then knights? There is no best strategy with them. Or at least I don’t know any. Their infantry attack bonus can be used to do a not so common man-at-arms rush. I came across an article on aok heaven, which described a 23 pop build. But I thought it was too slow. The opponent could do a 23 pop archer build and by the time I got to enemy base, he will already be up and doing archers to counter. So I was glad that I came across a game played by Vinchester and NorthernLion. It was very short, but very instructive. What Vinchester did was a 21 pop man-at-arms and probably tower rush if NorthernLion didn’t call gg so soon (sorry for the spoiler).
The build order goes like this. I am writing this after I tried it a few times, so it might be different from what Vinchester did in that game:
- at start 2 vills 1 house and 1 vill 2nd house
- 1-6 villagers go to sheep
- 7 build mill then berries
- 8,9 to berries
- 10 house + boar
- 11 berries
- 12 lumber camp
- 13-16 wood (last one builds a house)
- 17,18 sheep/boar/deer
- 19 – mining camp + gold
- 20 – gold
In grouped form, so that it is easier to remember (at least for me):
- 6 sheep
- 3 berries
- 1 boar
- 1 berries (4 total at the time the boar gets in)
- 5 to wood (lure second boar in the meantime)
- 2 food
- 2 gold
- economy balance clicking up 5 wood, 2 gold, 4 berries rest on food near town center – re-balance based on what you are going to do next.
This build should get anybody comfortably to feudal age. Before clicking feudal enough wood should be available to put down a barracks and start training militia after clicking up. By the time feudal age is reached you will have 3 militia marching toward enemy base. If done right feudal age is reached before 9:50 game time. Based on the map you have two options in my opinion. Either go forward and towers, or build an archery range right away and do skirmishers (since they counter the only counter to man at arms in early feudal = archers).
Unfortunately this build can only be done with japanese thanks to their half-price lumber camp and mill bonus. But still pretty interesting and could surprise anybody.