The Great Guide of Micromanagement and Macromanagement


New Member
Mar 4, 2010

In this guide I try to explain what micromanagement and macromanagement is all about especially in 1v1 perspective. The task is very complicated since the difference between micromanagement (micro) and macromanagement (macro) is often hard to tell. But my main point is that often micromanagement will take time off from your macromanagement and vice versa. This should be kept in mind when making decisions whether to micro or macro and how much you spend time microing or macroing.


I think micromanagement is very overrated these days. That being said I don't mean that it's less valuable than macromanagement. What is micro then? I think micro means doing relatively small things manually in the map/game which gain you the advantage over your opponent. Microing is about doing small things as fast and accurate as possible. I don't want to go very deep in this issue since I want to consentrate more in practical thins than theory. Here are few examples of micro:

  • Trying to maximize the amount of damage your units do and minimizing the amount of damage your units take. For example using hills to gain advantage over your enemy army.
  • Abusing counter units to your advantage. For example keeping skirmishers in front of your archers against pure archer+scout army. Relates to first example.
  • Taking care of idle villagers and early game not letting them get killed.
As you see micromanagement can be both economical and combat based. Although the micromanagement will be/should be relatively small in lategame with big economy since the achieved advantage is too small compared to time used and lost elsewhere. Here we come to the point that I want to stress a lot.

When to use micro?

The amount of micro compared to macro is very high in early game. Small mistakes can make big changes in economy balance and lose you whole armies which are slow and costy to make in early game. That's why you need to have great micromanagement in order to compete against best of the players. Even the greatest strategists will lose if they get too much behind in the early game. Of course sometimes a great strategist can put theirself in a position where they don't need that much micro but player with some skills can make him pay. If you want to get good, you need to have a good micro.

The current problem seem to be that IORI's forward era and current fanatism for fast feudal age advancing put micro in somehow superior position compared to macro. Abusing good micro can sometime make you pay a lot more than you win by microing. Daut is a good example of a player with great speed and good micro. He usually consentrate more in macro the later the game goes on thus achieving usually superb economy and good mapcontrol on the other hand Bling, Spring and Ertug are good examples of people who in my opinion micro too much.

How can they micro too much? If you start microing a pack of 10 xbow to kill 1-5 vills in a game where both players already have huge economies you are losing tons and tons of resources and work time compared to the player losing 5 villagers. While you spend 15 seconds to micro your xbows you could have been thinking about your next big steps, set gather points for raids, wall your economy off to avoid being raided or plan how to achieve mapcontrol. Those are big steps that win you games. Killing 5 villagers in lategame doesn't win you games.

How much to use micro and when that's up to you usually. But you should start thinking that when it's necessary and when it's not. Good mapcontrol for example save you a lot of trouble from microing since your economy is wide spread and working more constantly caus it's hard to stop well spread economy instead of an economy that consentrate in small place. Also your game strategy usually determine how much micro you need to use during the game. For example agressive forward require a lot of micro to get back the economy you lost while forwarding with 4 villages. That's tons of resources in even a small period.


Well, it's the opposite of micro. You consentrate in big steps in the game especially economically and map wise. It's more like general gameplay for that particular game. How you plan on expanding and working the enemy. How you plan to balance your economy and where. Here are few examples:

  • Balancing your economy to produce more food than other resources.
  • Placing a castle in strategical position to protect your early imperial age advancing.
  • Walling your farm economy to avoid being raided and get constant food flow to raid yourself.
  • Planning how to build and wall your map to not get devastated by your enemy.
Speed play keyrole in macro. If you have the speed then you are able to have more time in your hands. If you have speed you are able to do things like: fix your economy and produce army just by setting gather points, queuing units and moving through your economy to make sure there aren't much of idle villagers, without spending enormous time. All that's left after that you can use to micro and even more important -plan what you do next and how you will crush your opponent.

DauT is a good example of a player who have the speed and use the time he got left in macro. I think that one of good player primary goals in lategame should be putting yourself in a position where you put a lot of stress in your opponent and use the time advantage to macro. Note that this doesn't close away options like agressive push since you put your enemy in bad position where he need to have concern about taking care of his economy while defending your push, keeping his economy working while your is usually almost untouched. You have put yourself in a position where you have great advantage regarding macro.

To improve your speed you need to optimize your hotkeys. Plan your hotkeys so that you are able have most of your hotkeys on left side of the keyboards. I wont go into details since it would be a topic for whole new guide. Here's also a piece of text I wrote earlier considering both micro and macro:

Ralber said:
Maese Dreams, a couple of questions if I may: how do you balance the time between economy management and army management?, and could you tell us how do you set up your army for the fights to manage the dif types of units?
Dreams said:
Sir Ralber, thank you for your questions, I try to answer them as good as possible, although I reserve the right to be wrong.

If we think about optimal situation, then I usually control both my army and economy simultaneously with hotkeys. But usually when the amount of units and the size of your base grows, I usually do it like this:

I try to keep my armies on few hotkeys unless I am raiding hard, then I use multiple hotkeys. Usually for example when I raid I try to micro as good as I can, I try to put each knight hit one villager causing as much damage as I can without losing my knights (usually very hard). After I have done raiding/fighting I put my army in a safe place for a while, then I consentrate on my economy.

Now that you know the basic idea, I do this with feudal army too unless I have only small pack of army. With small pack of army I usually constantly hit hotkeys shuffeling between my army and economy. So it's pretty much 50/50 in a fast pace.

For fights in feudal age I usually number ranged units as one group, cavalry as one and spears as one if needed. I don't count that much on hotkeys when managing army. I usually separate skirms from archers with shift click and then drag skirms in front of archers, this will save me time when I move my whole army and this will also reduce the possibility to missclick (for example: if I separate my archers from skirms with hotkeys, then I might miss either group when I am close to enemy army and try to dodge, this might lead to losing all my archers or skirms). This is definetly a underused feature but very important in feudal wars when you have mixed army of skirms and archers. It's extremely effective when fighting classical scout/skirm/archer combo.

And one important point: before I engage in a fight, I always try to choose the spot so that I can run to a hill or move to a hill while fighting to gain edge over my enemy. This is when I consentrate heavily on micro with my army, I basically forget my economy for few seconds.

I hope this answered your question and if it didn't, please make more detailed question. And there are also differences between army types (water units, lategame unit combos)
I also think that nothing improve your speed better than playing some death match. You get faster at making decisions, faster at running basic things in your town and propably some new nice tactics too.

Some tips about micro

* Here are few of my favourite micro trics that are under used among players compared how easy they are to use.Microing navy and ranged units. When you go to war with a patrol (with big armies it's a must) take one unit from the side of your army and move it between both armies absorbing the fire from enemy army. When done right you can have significant advantage compared to your enemy before he notice it. This only works when enemy hasn't done ballistics. Very under used with land armies.

* WIth archer+skirmisher army place your archers behind your skirmishers to shoot possible cavalry in early feudal war. This way you will protect your weak archers from enemy ranged and cavalry while skirmishers absorb the fire and archers behind them do most damage. It also works with many other unti combinations, only imagination is the limit.

* In knight war making enemy knights run after your low hp knight while hitting them with your other knights or just make them follow you and fight his army that is now low numbers. Same with militia, scouts and few other units.

* When fighting in your own base against mostly skirmishers use villagers to gain advantage over crucial fights. Villagers will absorb the fire from your skirmishers or at least make him spend more time in microing his own skirms to hit you with volleys. You can use this time to raid him with scouts for example.

* Use the force and try to guess which unit of yours he is going to volley. Then do the same thing as in example 1 and absorb the fire into that unit while hitting him with full power with your other army.

* Early navy fights withdraw low hitpoint galleys from the fight to be repaired or take them back to the fight. At least if he doesn't keep attention to it you might get a "free" galley when you don't lose it and he doesn't realise to hit it.

Harry aka poZ_Ivan said:
monk trick that i doubt many people know and is hard to explain - if u are converting a unit and it runs out of the line of sight of the monk and stops making converting noise, as long as u dont click anywhere else except for the next unit (or even the same) u want to convert (no matter how long the monk isnt converting) then it will have its 'current wolololos' near full and will use this on the next unit

so say 2 knts run at your monk and u convert one of them and the other player is lucky and guesses which one it is and runs away with that one, then click to convert the other knt (dont click the ground or move the monk in any way) and the convert will be built up from the start - even if the first knt goes out of sight and the monk has stopped making noise, as long as u dont click the ground then the monk will carry-over its built up wololololos, making the 2nd convert basically instant
navisangha said:
Farms on the right side of your TC produce food faster.
Decide if you want to plant them there or safe from forwarding.

Harry said:
Woodcutters can cut diagonal trees (behind lc) early on to improve their spread after the trees are gone - great for fish booms
Post your own ideas and thoughts and I will add them to the back. Someone who is graphically gifted could make small slideshows of the micro tricks too. Add your own ideas!!!


Active Member
Aug 6, 2010
So many tnx :smile:
BtW, i dont get this SHIFT think...could some one explain??..i mean...when he says "I usually separate skirms from archers with shift click and then drag skirms in front of archers, this will save me time when I move my whole army and this will also reduce the possibility to missclick"--..just dont get it...i thought shift was only to put routes.
Aug 5, 2010
Once you select your army of different kind of units, the thumbnails of each will appear in the bottom toolbar, Im pretty sure you have realized that before. Now that you hold shift and click on one of these icons, all the units of the kind you choose will be selected from the previous selection.


Active Member
Aug 6, 2010
Apr 19, 2011
Nice article dreams, some interesting points there.

In my view, one of the most important things to master in AOC is how to spend your time wisely. No one is infinitely fast, and everyone has to sacrifice one thing in order to concentrate another. Watching expert recs on viewlock (or even live if you're lucky enough) can give you some valuable insights about the top players. For example, I remember Halen in his prime would enter into a key battle, then immediately switch back to his economy and make sure everything's ticking along smoothly. In fact, many top players do this, including Daut. You could argue that they know the game so well that there's no need to check the battle, since they know they're gonna win it anyway, but in practice this isn't the case at all. That is to say, sometimes (or even mostly) it is simply a mistake to enter into a key battle and then not pay close attention to it. It probably sounds ridiculous to criticise how some of the best players use their time, but instead of looking at it as a single mistake, I think it's rather a glimpse into their general time priorities - in this case, that macromanagement is overall more important to them.

Of course, there are also plenty of successful players who focus much more on micro, though in my experience they tend to play aggressive rush strategies. The first example that comes to mind is Kmkm (won WCG 2001 with a rush that everybody knew was coming!). If you don't watch your battles against him then you'll also probably end up resigning at 15 minutes with no army, so it really depends on the game as to where your priorities lie.

It's also interesting to note that it's often not the quickest players on keyboard/mouse who are the most effective at either macro or micro. Much of their time is wasted with ineffective or repetitive clicking, when they could be doing something more useful. I think the real trick is to be discerning in how you spend your time, rather than trying to be super quick.

Just my 2 cents!


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