Fast Imperial


Fast Feudal? Fast Castle? Fast Imperial please! Aiming for a fast feudal age will do it on most open maps. Closed or resource heavy maps usually ask for a fast castle. But how about going for a fast imperial? Let’s see what it gives.


Under some circumstances you can skip feudal on open maps. Usually when there’s an abundance of resources or an easy to wall map. Maps that are closed by nature, like arena or black forest can take a step further and aim for a fast imperial. The purpose is then to make an army of cost effective units to overrun your surprised enemy.

Civs & Units

A fast imp is usually achieved in 20-22 minutes with around 30 villagers or more. This means you have a very narrow economical window to make units. Cavalry is excluded by definition because the accumulated cost of food and gold is way too high. The same story for regular infantry because they need a lot of upgrades to shine. Above that you’ll need siege to backup your units. The key is gunpowder. Hand cannoneers need no more than 3 upgrades and you can immediately make bombard cannons to back them up.

This leaves us 10 civs: Byzantines, Franks, Goths, Japanese, Koreans, Persians, Saracens, Spanish, Teutons and Turks. Let’s break them down in detail.

  1. Turks: Turks are definitely the best FI civ. They have better guns, free chemistry and a gold mining bonus. Above that they get free upgrades to hussar. Especially the chemistry upgrade is a plus because it saves them 100 seconds of waiting.
  2. Byzantines: Byzantines have a cheaper imp and therefore can start this time-consuming upgrade faster. They’re for sure the civ that can get to the imperial age the fastest. But what to do after that? Guns are the most obvious way to go, but unlike Turks they have to wait to research chemistry. Those 100 seconds don’t weigh up against their faster imp time. They also have cheap trash units and camels which can jump in later.
  3. Persians: Another civilisation from the middle east to top the charts. Persians have a faster working TC, so their bonus is a bit similar to the Byzantine one. This is the last civ in the chart to have a viable FI. We’ll run further down the list but from now on the effectiveness of a FI is only determined by its effect of surprise.
  4. Spanish: With faster firing gunpowder units (15% faster), Spaniards have an obvious bonus. But without any aging bonus they’re not so speedy at achieving it.
  5. Saracens: Their market bonus can help you compensate some resources. They’re a great civ for “combined FIs” but for a pure one they’re just a normal civ.
  6. Teutons: Their cheaper farms give you a good boost all the way through since fast impers usually suffer wood shortage. They lack camels though, but we’ll explain the strength of camels later.
  7. Franks: Their only bonus is the free farm upgrade, which obviously saves a good amount of wood, but it won’t make the cut.
  8. Koreans: Koreans have no bonus to benefit a FI. Not for a gun-based FI at least.
  9. Goths: Goths are the only civ without any real economical bonus so their FI capabilities aren’t anything special. Given the fact they can’t stone wall you must be guaranteed not to be attacked for 25 minutes.
  10. Japanese: They save a good amount of wood but this only gives them a very narrow advantage in aging up. Besides that they’re the only gun-civ not to receive bombard cannons. Which makes their FI quite useless. You could add rams but it’s not nearly as effective.

We will only consider Turkish FIs in the upcoming examples.

Strengths and Weaknesses


  • Surprise: The biggest strength is the effect of surprise. Especially on teamgames a FI can be a surprise. And if you attack a player who went for an all out boom, nothing can stop your path to victory. This is because bombard cannons tear through buildings extremely fast and hand cannoneers have very few counters in the castle age.
  • Response time: A well executed FI should give the enemy about 1-2 minutes to respond if he doesn’t anticipate. If you attack well, that should leave him without a chance.


  • Signals: on duels a FI is usually signalized by slower aging times. A 17-18 minute castle age is not-done on pro levels so at that point you have 4 minutes to come up with a response. Which is doable. If you can scout him out you may even signalize a FI in dark age.
  • Disturb the Peace: First units will come out at about 21-22 minutes so assuming you did a FC that gives you 5-6 minutes to launch an attack yourself. If you can wreak havoc on his town before he hits imp he’s most likely to lose.

Practical Example I

In this game from BCC3 we have a battle between [RVK]Cain and [RVK]RiuT. RiuT is Turks and Cain is Goths. It seems that RiuT tries to eliminate the weaknesses of an FI and in the meanwhile increase the strengths by playing mindgames. In BCC3 arena is always played on all visible. Which makes mindgames a lot different. Anyways, RiuT went to mine stone in dark age, which usually signalizes a castle drop. Cain noticed this and made a barracks in dark age to create some archers in feudal/castle in order to secure the arena and prevent a castle drop. RiuT was aiming for a FI however and just sold the stone for gold. He imped in 21 minutes while Cain had nothing but some archers and a boom going on. RiuT broke into Cain’s town soon and started to plunder his base. Cain tried to respond with archers but because bombard cannons have splash damage the archers were decimated in a blink.

Recorded Game


What did we learn?

A Fast Imp that comes unexpected will most surely lead you to victory. You can try to confuse your enemy by slightly modifying your buildup.

Practical Example II

Nothing stops you from going aggressive yourself. And if you’re confident with your monk micro skills, you can easily mess up a fast imper. I’m using a picture series of a game of Chinese vs Turks. Chinese have a good monkline. It’s a game of my own, so no record is included, mainly due to my silly start where I couldn’t find my second boar. The fast imp was executed in 22 minutes though, which is how any FI is done nowadays.

At about 20 minutes I start ramming the enemy. I know he’s going to imp at any moment now.

The moment my rams tear down his walls the Turk imps and the fun can begin. For me at least.

I immediately send my monks out to convert the siege shop and the archery ranges. I use my siege to catch fire and kill the first hand cannoneers.

I now have a converted bombard cannon, 2 ranges and still all my monks. My enemy soon loses his TC and another bombard cannon. He has no choice but resigning now. Battle report: I lost 3 units in a match that only lasted 25 minutes against a normally executed FI.

Because a rec is still worth a thousand pictures, I’d like to include a record between _MYST_IORI and CNA_ConquerorS (CNA_HS, HuaShuan) The game is between Turks and Aztecs, but any civ with good monks can pull this off.

Recorded Game


What did we learn?

Monks beat the crap out of a fast imp. If it’s a good aggressive one at least. Every civ with redemption (and possibly sanctity) can pull it off.

Practical Example III

But what to do if your forward fails? We’ll take the rematch between [RVK]Cain and [RVK]RiuT in BCC3 as an example. RiuT tries to forward with a castle but Cain towers his castle and kills all of RiuT’s villagers and makes him leave a half built castle behind. RiuT now had to come up with a new plan and this plan was knights. Cain imped in 22 minutes and started to pump hand cannoneers and bombard cannons. RiuT gathered knights in the meanwhile and launched a long series of attacks on Cain’s guns. RiuT lost a lot of knights but he kept on par with Cain’s guns. Which prevented Cain to gather a solid force. Cain tried to incorporate camels now to counter RiuT’s knights but he kept running instead of fighting. RiuT kept Cain busy all the time running around and by picking small fights he could avoid a big push. RiuT imped now and with cavaliers, heavy scorpions, halberdiers and bombard cannons Cain was forced to resign.

Recorded Game


What did we learn?

Knights beat guns. Only with a small margin but they beat guns if you can get a sufficient number.

Practical Example IV

Goths obviously have bloodlines, other civs are a bit more troubled but that doesn’t mean their knights don’t make the cut! In this game we have Japanese vs Turks, Japanese have one of the worse knightlines in castle age so it’s not the most obvious unit to make. But it’s their best bet nevertheless. Watch how DauT uses them to kill kkab in this BCC2 training game.

Recorded Game


What did we learn?

Knights beat guns, even if they don’t have bloodlines. And if your eco is strong enough, you can blend in skirmishers to absorb some fire.

Practical Example V

Last but not least I’d like to share this game with you, it’s from an tournament where L_Clan_Chris and ThuG_RuKie played the finals. It’s a Turks-war on arena, so brace yourself for all the things that have been mentioned earlier combined into one thrilling game.

Recorded Game


Meso civs vs Guns

The Meso-American civs (Mayans and Aztecs) don’t have cavalry to counter guns, so they must come up with something else. Aztecs can rely on their powerful monks if they decide to do an early rush. But Mayans -who lack redemption- can’t choose that path. Their strength is in their cheap archers however. Especially in their plumed archers, which don’t die so easily to bombard cannons as regular archers. Meso civs must anticipate more than other civs though, so just sitting around and waiting for the FI to strike will make it a lot harder on them.


A fast imperial comes with a risk, you need to be untouched for about 23 minutes and hope your enemy is unprepared. If you can surprise your enemy or play some mindgames with him you’ll have a great chance on succeeding. If you face a fast imper, then there’s only one golden rule if you want to give yourself an easy time: offense is the best defense.

Written by Cysion

  • ICT Champion

    There’s a good fast imp build order on

  • Pikeman93

    I have a question – why are heavy camels so important in a fast imperial?

    If the opponent masses knights which are a threat to your massed archers/gunpowder, couldn’t you add some pikemen or halbs to counter them?

    • Cysion

      Well, heavy camels are made with Gold+Food, the same thing you need for your gunpowder units. (except the cannons). And since FI is the most obvious for Turks, they must go camels anyways =)

      It’s just a stronger combo than pikes+guns overall.

      • Pikeman93

        Ah I see.

        Would camels help get rid of those pesky archers? Whenever I do a Turk FI + gunpowder, my biggest fear is when the opponent masses together crossbowmen because crossbows counter gunpowder fairly easily.

        • Cysion

          Crossbows die horribly against a few bombard cannons :)

          Once you have about 4, he’ll have a damn hard time. You can check the recs above, or look for old kkab vs daut recs. Knights are still the best bet for every civ =)

    • BarneytheGreat

      If you do the FI as Turks, which is the most common civ for it, then you miss pikemen. You could use spearmen, but they don’t do that well, and you may as well just mass your hand cannons and stay in tight areas as much as possible, or go with camels.

      For me, the biggest problem with using camels is that is requires a stable, and you already have a minimalist economy. When you rush to the imperial, and need several hundred wood for a couple bombard cannons, it can be hard to scrape together another 175 wood.

  • raegan

    Omg I just realised that u took those pics from our TDTW Game. Sure a good example because FI vs Monks is the most mostest stupid fail ever and I learned it from that game. I was so unexperienced concerning games vs other arena players at this time, it’s a pain in the ass too watch this epic fail game 11… gg u

  • rishi

    A monk with castle age upgrades only, can covert a BBC from distance without dying.
    He wil get one shot which will reduce his HP to 5 from 40, but before the cannon can fire 2nd one it would be converted.

    btw I am [SCN] Elite_PaladiN

    • barbarossa89

      Cannons have an attack of 40, not 35. Only two ways for a monk to survive a direct hit are elevation and Aztecs.

      If you get really close, or monkrush him first, yay. But one shot kills most monks.

      • AKFrost

        I thought a monk with sanctity has 45 HP? Which means the OP’s post is correct even though he screwd up both cannon damage and monk hp…

        If I’m wrong ignore this message.

      • Cysion

        You’re right, AKFrost, Sanctity gives monks 45 HP (30+50%)

  • r. von fickn

    fast imperial? the only benefits i see could be into “no rush 45 minutes” matches, but into straight matches being imperial at 22 without any decent troop and any upgrade sounds masochist to me :) imho

    r. von fickn
    ageofrogliano clan

    • Cysion

      The maps where you could attempt a FI are indeed rather scarce. Arena is the most known example. Other than that it might be viable on closed maps. And FI+sling is 100% lethal.

      But it’s a fun and popular tactic nevertheless, no matter how risky it is.

  • FrozzenFlame

    After you downloaded the rec. you unzip it using zip or win.rar software and put it in your savedgame folder in age of empires.

  • _sTeKaTa_

    why I cant download rec :@ I download and cant Opened : [ what program I need have to watch the rec ??

    • rizwan

      man get winzip or win rar..then do extarct file u downloaded and then copy past in save games

    • tHe_VaGaBonD

      i recommend using 7zip :P

  • John_Mendl

    Byz Imp doesnt get researched faster. Its just cheaper. Only Persian Imp gets researched faster.

  • CarlosFerdinand

    Imo small boom+ mass xbows also kills fi, as long as u start producing xbows early enough. Dont let the turk gather relics as much as possible, and when you have enemy on defence for a while, ease off to go imp and arbs which owns pretty much everything turk makes. Best done with maya and brit, although most civs with arbs can do it too.
    Cysion, id like to play you on arena/as well as other maps soon, what about this weekend?

  • Jaraldo

    haha you guys have to remember…cys pretty much is a monk! His micro is too powerful for any normal thinking 17xx-18xx arena player :O 11

    FI rocks btw ;)

    • greenwolf

      if we try to hit bbc first hc will surely kill our units
      micro & send knights directly to hcs & after hcs dead kill bbc easily
      dont send very less army in overconfidence , which i do most times :(

      jalrado is 17xx?

      • Jaraldo

        Maybe Unofficially 11. (1650ish atm)=(. If I went whore stile I know I could do it :p

  • MrDanish177

    Good job Cysion! Very detailed and nicely explained! Better than I could’ve done in a video I guess, haha! Keep up the good work with this site! If you want me to advertise for the site on my channel, just write me on AocZone :)

  • abt knights

    one of my friend told , he used byz fi & do heavy camels instead of hand cannoneers

    • Cysion

      Heavy camels? Hm, interesting. Don’t know the strength though since camels die to pretty much everything :p Although it may work as a mindgame against guys who prepare knights. Interesting input!

      • greenwolf

        i hate boars outside walls
        chinese better to do knights vs fi

        heavy camels beat knights in no time , byz have them for something like 38 food 41 gold

  • greenwolf

    you included that hualian cup rec in this?

    2 forages isnt weird , i seen many times in arena
    but in arabia not possible
    i dunno proper FI , usually 32 pop & 21 – 22 mins good imo

    what steal hunt?

    fulgore stole chris’ boar at 2:42 min

    • Cysion

      No, the hualian cup rec isn’t included. I had a rec of my own where a Turk did FI (better than myst_iori) and lost in 25 minutes against my own Chinese monkrush. So an Aztec monkrush only makes it easier :D I could add it later for reference though.

      And stealing hunt isn’t allowed in BCC3 on Arena map, I should’ve clarified it’s only Arena ;)

    • Cysion

      I added the Hualian Cup record now :p

  • :)

    The first : [RVK]Cain vs [RVK]RiuT is a fun game: )
    Canons rape there.

    I’ve some remarks. Normally in arena :

    -U take 4 the nearest sheeps
    -Then u take all sheeps outside your walls
    (In second, they took further sheeps in their walls instead).

    -Weird : blue had 2 berry bushes (the 2nd in north edge)

    -At ~20′ blue monk nearly died stupidly but he was lucky 11.

    -Blue sucked at killing his unique own hussard.

    • Cysion

      The rules of BCC3 state that you’re not allowed to steal hunt nor sheep. So the order of finding sheep doesn’t really matter, as long as your villagers can start eating fast.

      Extra berries are very common on arena: every player has a random number of bushes (1 or 2)

      And about the hussar: sure it was stupid but no one is perfect ^^

      • :)

        Ok, ok thx for these precisions.

        I almost never make guns. They are slower to produce than elephants. In DM, you make them very late (after making cav, infantry,..) because you can be flooded easily even by a champ rush.