How to play Highlands
"On the surface, Highlands may look very similar to Plains. It has the trademark flat elevation in most areas, similar to Plains. However, Highlands is not known for predictability."
Everything here is assuming you are playing 1v1 on Tiny to Medium map sizes.
The massive hills and mountains, if generous, will provide a path through. Nevertheless they can be continuous, forcing armies to take longer routes. At times, you may be generated with no wood or animals near. Gold mines and apple trees may be out of the initial LOS due to mountains nearby. All this can seriously hamper your start if you are not prepared (if there is a way of preparing for this).
How to play the map:
- The forests on Highlands are much thicker than Plains. They have a tendency to split armies which are not managed correctly. This makes scouting more difficult but walling much easier.
- The high hills give a considerable bonus to ranged units when attacking units of a lower elevation. It will be nearly useless trying to force an opponent off a hill without overwhelming force. If fighting occurs near hills, make sure to take the high ground.
- Against a Frank player, this map can become a godsend. Often you are surrounded by forests which are sniping posts for Frank archers. Be sure to get some ranged units or a tower up ASAP when playing against Franks. If you play as Franks, use the forests to raid enemy lumberjacks.
- Even on small maps, gold is abundant. With at least fifteen mines total, gold is in no short supply. Gold will often be placed very close to each other, so don't venture off too far looking for gold because it may be very close.
Highlands is one of the most random of maps available in Empires. Nothing really follows a set distance. The nearest gold may not be next to your nearest forest, causing the need for three Town Centers. Depending on how the map generates, there will be very little farming space. It is best to spread out and not to be confined within the initial surrounding forests. Build military buildings both inside and outside of the surrounding forests. The ones inside should function strictly for defense and support. Your units will be forced to go around large tracts of forests, slowing reaction time. If you are rushing, it will be a necessity to build beyond your initial forests, preferably to forward build beyond your side of the hills.
What not to do:
As stated before, do not confine yourself within your initial surrounding forests. There are plenty of gold mines out there, go grab one. You may get at most two or three gold mines within the starting area. This will not be enough if the game lasts long. Expansion is a must on this map, since there is so little room in the beginning.
Not stated before is over-hunting. Do not over-hunt as there are very few animals on the map. You get up to six or seven animals per person with a bear or two in the neutral areas (eight animals on a desert map with no bears). It is best you allow the animals to reproduce before hunting them. Otherwise, you should hunt all but one animal and let it reproduce.
Never station an army on low elevations if there are high elevations nearby. Always take the high elevation or face some high mortality rates. The bonus for units on a higher elevation against those on a lower one is not favorable and not worth the risk. Further, never try to force someone off a hill without a larger force or siege.