This strategy, a variant on the much more common 4-Bank FF, was invented by Parfait. The basic concept is to take advantage of Dutch’s great Bank bonus, while going to the Fortress age quickly to exercise both an economic and technological advantage. For the first 7 minutes of the game, you’ll be focused on playing defensively. After that, this is different from most booming strategies, as you’ll unleash your military power full force and stop investing so heavily on your economy.
A good goal for this strategy, and what I perform in the attached video, is to get 18 Skirmishers around 8:15. The beauty of this strategy is its flexibility. You’re far from limited to building Skirmishers; you can do a variety of unit combinations once you hit the third age, including: pure Skirmisher, pure Ruyter (it works surprisingly well), Skirmisher + Ruyter, Skirmisher + Halberdier, Skirmisher + Hussar, Ruyter + Falconet, Ruyter + Hussar, and Halberdier + Falconet. Amazing! The farther the game goes, the more you’ll want to increase your unit variety, but as you hit fortress I don’t recommend building more than two military buildings total.
Gather your crates and start scouting. Because you have two scouts, there is no excuse for not finding your 2nd hunting patch early, and starting to herd it towards your town center. You’re not going to have any military to protect your Villagers early on, so you need to have your Villagers gathering resources in a place that’s hard to attack (read: next to your TC).
The Dutch eco can seem tricky in the Discovery age. How many Villagers should you have on Food, how many on Gold? It’s simple: You’ll want to advance to the second age with 16 Villagers. You start with 7 Villagers, your 1st card will be 3 Villagers, so you’ll need to train 6 Villagers. That means you need to gather 600 Gold in Discovery. You’ll always start with 300 Gold in crates, so your objective is to gather 300 Gold from a mine with constant Villager production. You can usually do this with four Villagers at the start of the game onto the mine, although five can be good too. As soon as you’ve queued your 6th Villager put everyone on Food.
Go out and get treasures. The nice thing about this strategy is that any treasure will do. You can use Gold for Villagers, Food and Wood for Banks, and more XP for a faster boom. Another key element is finding what your opponent is doing. Try to deduce what strategy they’ll perform by looking at what resources they’re gathering. Try to find any Villagers that might have gone to make a forward Barracks. The more information you have about what your opponent is doing, the more quickly and intelligently you will react.
Get Your Eco Ready for Banks
Age up to Colonial with the 400 Wood Politician. When you hit the 2nd age, you’ll want to have exactly 300 Wood and enough Gold to queue one or two Villagers. Depending on your starting Wood crates, and treasures you’ve gathered, you’ll need 4 to 7 Villagers chopping Wood, 3 to four mining Gold, and the rest hunting Food. As soon as you have 300 Wood, take your Wood choppers and put them all on Food. Practice this a couple of times to see how it works, and you’ll be able to adapt to whatever resources you’ll need.
As you advance, gather your 400 Wood immediately. You should have enough Food to build two Banks. Build them ASAP. Your 2nd card will be 700 Wood. You’ll be able to send this in the first moments of the Colonial age. As you get your Banks up, put all of your Villagers on to Food to gather for your next Bank. Task several Villagers to the 700 Wood when it arrives and build your 3rd Bank. With your left-over Wood, build a house, a market, and then research the first Gold mining upgrade.
Build Your Town Intelligently
In my experience, it is best to build your banks in front of your town (Unless you are playing against Spain who will crush your banks with the 2 Falconet card. Against Spain I suggest using your TC, perhaps with Colonial Militia, to do what it can against those Falconets). Don’t build them way out in front, just in front enough so that they create pathing problems for enemy military and act as large walls to protect your Villagers. Place your houses and market behind your town because they have fewer hit points. Place military buildings according to what your enemy is doing: if they’re aggressive, build back, if they’re not aggressive, place them at the front of your town.
Head up to the Fortress Age
At this point, you should have 3 Banks and 20 or so Villagers. Your 3rd card will be 700 Food. You’ll want to distribute your Villagers such that you can advance to the Fortress Age as quickly as possible. This means putting most of your Villagers on Gold, as 700 Food goes a long way towards getting the required Food, while you’ll also need Gold to make Villagers. You should have 22 Villagers by the time you have enough resources to advance. Age up with the fast-advancing politician.
Get Your Military Going
As you start advancing, you’ll want to keep roughly the same Villager distribution as you had previously, although you might want more Villagers on Food depending upon what unit combination you’ll be doing (you can also research hunting dogs at this point). Do not put any people on Wood. You gather Gold at such a fast rate that it is actually more efficient to buy Wood at the market until it costs 132 Gold for 100 Wood. This way, you can quickly get up a Barracks and some houses (or whatever military building you want) and start making Skirmishers (or wait until the 3rd age to get Ruyters, Halberdiers, or Falconets). As soon as you get a moderate military mass, start pushing. You’ll have a very strong economy and a good set of military shipments and options to go with. If you’re doing pure Skirmishers, choose 8 Skirmishers as your 4th card, and make Skirmishers from your Barracks.
This is not nearly enough cards to fill up your deck, so you’ll need to figure out what else is useful to you, depending on the civilization/map matchup and how you like to play.
Schooners (if a water map)
Military Reforms (increase Halberdier Speed)
3 Fluyts (if a water map)
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