Well, this is awkward. On the same day I discovered nobody had written a Have You Played for Diablo, I discovered another end-of-the-90s banger that, somehow, remained unreminisced-upon. That game was Age Of Empires 2 (the Age… of Kings!), and I felt like a vulture who’d just found a wheelbarrow full of burgers at the heart of a lifeless desert. So many classics to feast on, and all to myself!
And AoE2 was a proper wheelbarrow full of burgers, so it was. Unfortunately, Microsoft, well aware of this fact, managed not only to announce a definitive remaster of the game and its ocean of expansions while I was putting off writing this, but released the damned thing as well. In fact, I reviewed it. So, you’ll forgive me if I don’t repeat all the nostalgia I flooded my system with for that article, and instead tell you a quick, silly story about a game of AoE2 I played once.
It was around new year, and I was in Edinburgh, staying with some friends in their student house. We were playing a big ‘ol LAN game of AoE2, and despite turtling up and hoarding a ton of resources, I sort of... forgot to build an army, and got totally thrashed before I could really get my war machine going. Nevertheless, I survived with one villager and a ton of gold, and went to hide in the very corner of the map, surrounded by jungle.
I went dead quiet on chat, hoping everyone would forget about me. And somehow, as I built up farms and farms and farms and farms, they did. God knows how they didn’t notice me, but as they walloped each other through endless, monstrously wasteful wars of attrition, I was packed away in the corner, with my tiny, compact powerhouse of a city dedicated to one thing only: the production of elephants.
As the last three players fell into a sort of exhausted stalemate, I finally reappeared on chat with three words: “ur all… elephucked”. And so they were. My two hundred elephants, every villager sacrificed to give me the population space to build them (I like to think they consumed the meat of the final humans), swept out from hiding, and battered every building on the map to atoms. Everyone was so fatigued by then, and their economies so tapped out by hours of war, they barely put up a resistance. It was one of the few times I've ever won a multiplayer game, and I treasure it to this day.