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Just in time for a .. Timing Attack !

Pardon this terrible joke in the title !

Timing attacks are one of the most effective strategy in Age of Empire 3 DE, as they can often win games on the spot. But it’s important to understand how they differ from a Rush, both to execute them properly and to defend against them.


Timing attack vs Rush, what’s the difference ?

Rushes are all about speed. Hit before the opponent is ready to defend.

Timing attacks are not about speed, but building up into one deadly punch. Even prepared to face most types of aggression, your opponent will likely not be able to defend in that case, as the power spike you will generate will completly overwhelm him !

Often, timing attacks will first do sacrifices, often starting slower than other builds or being particularly vulnerable. But as soon has they come online, they can win the game on the spot.

They are a few timings that are usual timing attack windows in Age of Empire 3 DE :

  • Your opponent is aging up
  • You just aged up and you have a number of shipments and/or technologies that allow you to quickly gather a big army of high quality units

The notion of Power spike or Tempo !

It’s likely one of the trickiest things to understand about most STR games, and is especially true in Age of Empire 3 DE. Your time and resources don’t have linear returns over the game, depending on how you can spend them.

For example, one shipment of 2 Falconnets is the equivalent of 1000 resources. But if you can get them before your opponent can answer them, they can kill units or destroy buildings which total cost is far superior to 1000 ressources. So you can gain a lot of tempo by shipping 2 Falconnets early.

Same if you can ship or train Skirmishers at a point in the game your opponent is only able to train Musketeers, their value is drastically increased.

On the other hand, spending 500 ressources on a second Town Center generates almost no immediate value. Meaning you loose a lot of tempo.

Another example are church technologies : you have to spend 2 shipments to get the New Order Infantry and Topcu Corps unlocked and down in price (meaning you loose a lot of tempo), but then spending 1000 wood to get 15 Nizam Fusiliers and 600 food to get 3 Great Bombars is an insane amount of tempo back in your favor !

Big buttons works the same way, allowing you to generate a lot of tempo at a very specific moment.

A power spike is very simple a point in the game in which you will concentrate multiple high tempo plays in order to generate a huge amount of tempo in your favor !


How do i execute a successful timing attack ?

The most important thing to understand about a timing attack is once again the idea of tempo. You have to leverage your tempo advantage as fast as possible. Every seconds matters as soon as it starts ! You have one minute to win, do not waste a single second !

As for rushing, they are two things to separate here : the execution leading to the attack and the execution during the attack.

Leading to the attack is by far the easiest to train :

  • Find a solid Build Order online (or create one ! good luck !)
  • Launch a custom game, and practice the execution ! Your attack must hit on the timing you are looking for
  • As you practice the execution, practice the transition as well

During the attack is a lot more tricky and require experience, but here are a few clue :

  • Force the fight ! Don’t let your opponent run you around and don’t waste your time
  • Hit the most critical structures of your opponent
  • Protect your most important units as they are the one that will generate you the most value !
  • Prepare your transition plan in the background. You never know, you might not win

Of course, the more you practice, the more you execute a specific timing attacks, the better you will be at doing so !


How do i defend a timing attack ?

Timing attacks are way more tricky to defend than rushes. There is no one way to defend timing attacks.

But for every one of them, you need to things :

  • You have to know the timing attack is coming
  • You have to know how it’s executed

With knowledge comes power. As you know it exists, you will be scouting for signs indicating the timing attack is coming. As you know how it is executed, you can identify key requirements or weaknesses the build order has.

For example, the Piroshiki timing attack by Aussie_Drongo need the foward tower to ship units. It needs to gather the wood in transition for the church research and it needs an house to have enough population space to ship 2 Falconnets. Attack any of those requirements early enough and the timing attack is dead before being online.

And that’s really the key, disprut your opponent build up ! The timing itself is often to strong to beat. But in case you have to face it, identify and kill the most important unit of your opponent. Of course for that you have to prepare the right counter in advance, as the timing attack will often not give you the time to react at the last moment.


Hope this guide helped you understand timing attacks better, and how to win with or against them !

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