Dutch are the best turtle civ in the game and actually makes this strat a viable one (before in most RTSs turtling was never a very effective strat except for stopping rushes but you'd lose so much momentum that even a good rusher could surpass you in resources/military and you would lose anyway). The only civs you'll have problems with is French, Russia, and Spain, and only if certain elemnets are used in correct ways.
French Heavy Cav is too effective against Dutch and it will be an uphill fight against a good Currisuer masser... The Currisuers are simply too powerful for Ruyters to handle unless you outnumber them 4:1, Currisuers also slaughter skirmishers like they weren't even on the field. French are the hardest to play against as Dutch (or just about any other civ)
Spain's Lancers make it extremely difficult for Dutch but not nearly as bad as Currisuers, skirmishers will die fast but no in the same volume as they would to Currisuers and ruyters can handle lancers pretty well, but if the spain player goes fast fortress and whips out the lancers before you get to age 3 expect some major losses.
Russia's Heavy cav make turtling a dangerous thing. The Oprichniks are cheap extremely mobile siege and will annihilate buildings so a turtler will just set himself up for a fast defeat by leaving all his buildings near each other
Now that you are aware of what will beat you, you can now learn the basics of an aggressive turtle.
I start out with 3 vils on crates and the rest on gold, once all my gold crates are collected I take 2 of the 3 vils and put them on the mine (some people like to have 5 on a mine but in all honesty 6 will allow you to queue vils faster and help you get your miners collecting other resources quicker, 5 vils you will have miners mining until you age, 6 you will have 30-50 seconds of free time to have some miners collecting other resources and there is hardly any risk of idle TC time) I leave the last one to collect the wood and food crates.
With the remaining 1 vil I send him to chase hunts closer to my TC while I send newly trained vils all to my hunts (it is very important to age times that your hunts are attacked in a way that they move closer to your TC, it can shave off as much as a minute off your aging time to have hunts closer to your TC).
Once I have 17 vils payed for (I also use the 3 vils card in age 1) I take off 3 of my miners to either hunt (if I fear a rush) or gather wood, once I have 800 food to age I take all but 7 of my food gathers and put them on wood. with my first 100 wood collected I build a market and research gang saws and great coat (just in case I am a little late aging great coat should be researched before I age in case raids come).
Right as I hit Colonial I send my 4 vils card and set them to gold. I should have enough wood to build a barracks, and very shortly after I'll have enough wood for my first bank by gathering the 500 wood from aging. It is very important to start building banks early with this build because you don't want to be cut off from other mines by "smart" players that think Dutch can't continue without mines (a horrible mistake that usually costs many "smart" players the game). Once the barracks is up you need to start training skirmishers right away, I send over my "Fencing school" card when I really think I need my skirms out extra fast or if I did something stupid like got a slow age time.
I like to build houses in an array order with banks and outposts to break up my enemy's ability to keep his troops in formation, you do this because it gives your small defensive force a longer life span due to the enemy not being able to focus fire on your skirmishers with all available forces, this build style also slows down melee forces by A LOT and enables you to easily pick them off.
All vils trained from colonial (after the initial 4 vils from your HC shipment) go to food and wood to keep producing banks, more on wood than food. The more you have on wood the better, sometimes I have 9 fooders, 18 wooders, and 7 miners which combined with the 4-6 banks I build in colonial gives me such a gold boom that I can buy resources easily to help train more units or build more buildings. Don't forget to research all wood gathering tech at the market as soon as you can, the extra wood will help you greatly in your adventure.
By about 8-10 minutes you should have about 10-20 skirmishers and spend no other resources unless you need to. If you need pikes to defend a cav onslaught then by all means spend it!
Once you have 10 skirmishers start hunting enemy vils. 10 skirms will kill a vil in one volley, you will easily kill 3-4 vills in a raid with skirmishers and if you are attacked with cav simply bump and run your ass back to your base. If you are raided don't hesitate to garrisson your vils, it's a lot worse on your economy if you lose vils than if you aren't collecting resources for a few seconds. Don't try to rescue your vils with a fighting force, don't leave them there to die either, call them to your TC or outpost (which reminds me you should ALWAYS build a new outpost anywhere you are resourcing! not doing so is stupid and noobish... there's nothing like losing 10 hunters to 5 cav raiders...)
You should start moving vils to mills as soon as hunts within a reasonable distance are gone, this ensures you aren't raided to death while hunting (though somethig I've been doing lately is setting traps where I have a vil go kill a few huntables and leave my army in that area to lure raiders into their deaths makes for fun strategy while booming 4tw.
Now you have a jumping economy, and enough resources to advance to age 3, use the faster age politician and while you're advancing you need to start a constant nonstop pumpage of skirmishers, you can literally have 100 skirmishers by 20 minutes and still hit age 4 by 25 minutes but instead shoot for having 50 skirmishers (or a mix of skrimishers and ruyters) by the time you hit age 3. This will allow you to take a major offensive because no one will have enough "decent" troops to stop your huge skirmisher force and since you only have to age for your skirmishers to upgrade to vets you have a huge battlefield advantage.
Things to remember in age 3! Build an aresenal ASAP and ship your advanced arsenal card for more skirmisher upgrades, combine this with as many skirmisher cards as possible and you have basically created an army of imperial skirmishers in fortress age.
Build your fort near your TC, a lot of people forward build their forts but unless you've already won the game a forward built fort is just a really pretty target for age 4 mortars, since you are booming to get to age 4 you will have the mortars to kill his fort fast and since your army is either attacking or at your base with your vils/fort there is usually no way that an enemy player can kill your fort in age 3 while you can get to age 4 train 5-10 mortars quickly and kill an enemy fort while you lure his army away to another part of the map by heavy raiding with either a large volume of cav or a mass of skirmishers!
Now the point to get to age 3 and have such a huge force is so you can quickly get up to age 4! You will have a good run in age 3 with your skirms but age 4 is nearly guaranteed victory if you get there soon enough! Once you hit age 4 you get a dicounted skirmisher upgrade (600wood 600gold) for gaurd skirmishers... It's pretty much GG then, you will have hugely powerful skirmishers with ruyters as support. Train 5 mortars and a couple culverins once you hit age 4, now you have the power to level armies and buildings with ease, send your factory cards asap and set one to food and one to coin so you have constant ability to train skimishers. 3 mills, 8 banks, 2 factories, and the rest of your vils on wood and you have basically an unraidable economy that is concentrated in one compact area. This allows to you focus on 2-3 places at most instead of worrying about your wooders being here, hunters being there, and miners way over there while your army is right over there... get the point
When you get old like me and lose some focus being about to focus on a few places instead of several is key to helping victory, it just so happens dutch plays perfectly into my low focus style of playing, I can spend less tie worrying about vils and more time with my army micro so I can make my better more expensive soldiers pay for themselves before the enemy can counter me.
Here are things to look for as Dutch,
Players will try to train more cav against you, if you micro well enough you won't have much problems against cav, just remember if you are being attacked by cav at your base run your skirmishers around your TC while having 10 vils garrissoned in your TC firing on the cav, it may slow you down a little but in the end you have all your skirmishers left and all your vils while they lost half or all their cav in a fruitless raid.
Crossbows are decent against skirmishers so be careful, if you are against higher number of xbows then run away to your base and start building a stable. Musketeers are fodder for skirmishers so don't worry about them, if they get in range of you then run your troops back and fire from distance, don't get into a knife fight when skirmishers have no knives
French vils will bounce your skirmisher's rounds off their thick hides so think about sending 3 hussars to raid french vils.
Don't forget to raid every game! if not you will fall behind a little, not much but any disadvantage for you is an advantage for them.
Try to make a huge cav raid in fotress age when you have enough resources to supply a cav force of about 15 Hussars, that will hurt an enemy economy badly.
Use Envoys! they don't cost pop and are cheap as crap! in age 3 their huge LOS and cheap cost will allow you to scout the enemy resource spots and allow you to plot your raid!
Just remember that you are in a shell but not invincible, if there is water near by make sure you have control of it (with your huge wood economy and your gold income you should be able to control the water with no problems at all) monitors = base killers and shell crackers! don't let them crack you!
A good turtle deck won't have many military unit shipments but the 3 hussars card is a must have in any deck! 3 hussars can raid for you or slaughter a dozen or so xbows.
Get as many skirmisher cards as possible and research any tech that will help make your skirmishers stronger, faster, cheaper, and train faster. Skirmishers are the life blood of the dutch, don't stop upgrading until your skirmishers can't be upgraded anymore, shoot for every new age asap and quickly get the barracks upgrades. This will make your already strong skirms MUCH better than your enemy's, and since you can outnumber his cav forces 3-1 in terms of cost and effectiveness you will be able to stop most cav forces (french cav just pwnz though... you need ruyters against french and you need a lot of ruyters...).
The whole point of this strat is to make your opponent think he is winning and thus make him play sloppier than normally, it's also designed to make your enemy take map control, you don't need map control as dutch, so allowing your enemy to have most of the map gives you much more room to raid him. Just don't let him wall you in!
Over all you will spend many fewer resources than your enemy will, you will be able to do more with your army because you will have any area you choose to attack while you know exactly where your enemy will be comeing from all the time. Being in one place means he can only attack one place... a lot easier to defend.
When going from age3-4 get the gold politician, and once you are in age 4 research merchantilism at the church and use your shipments on the factories. heavy cannon seems nice but having 2 factories UBER fast in age 4 without holding on to your cards in age 3 is a lot better
You don't want to camp for too long and you want to try and stay very aggressive always, keep raiding, keep sniping lone soldiers, keep his need to spend resources high while yours is low. If you have moderate micro you can have a 3:1 kill/loss ratio during most of the game, it won't be until you are stronest in age 3-4-5 that you will be able to really stick it to the man and have open battles, but until then defend your ass off and boom yourself stupid.
Dutch are a very versitile civ, but their best strategy is to stay in one place and attack with overwhelming powerful units when the time is right.
I tried to be as comprehensive as possible and it's a pretty damn long article so if you are having problems playing as dutch, even if you don't use my strategy you will find many interesting Dutch features and pros/cons in this article!
If you have questions ask, i did a lot of back and forth while writing it so I may have left something out that isn't explained enough or seems to be missing stuff if so let me know and I'll fix it add stuff and let you know the methods to my madness
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