AoE2 Intro: Chess analysis

Have you ever watched the Age of Kings intro and wondered if it’s real chess? It turns out there’s a serious game going on, but can it be improved with a rigorous chess engine analysis?



Background music from Epidemic Sound:

Game: Age of Empires II Definitive Edition, or chess(?)


  1. Well regarding their relatively high historical accuracy (compared to other games of that period) it wouldn’t be a big surprise if they actually accounted for the historical rules…

  2. I am not into chess… but it's different if it's aoe2 chess 🙂

  3. 2:16 is that an Agadmator reference in a Spirit of the Law video? 😂

  4. I have the exact type of chess set they use!

  5. This is so nostalgic. I'm 14 and played aoe2 first time with 8. It makes me feel so weird.

  6. I've been playing this game since the 1999 demo and I never thought I would see a serious analysis of the chess game in the intro. I thought the moves probably didn't make any sense as they were just there to provide a background to the action.

  7. King1: Yo! Just got this new game called chess, never played it before wanna try?!
    King2: Nice! I backed this game but haven’t received my package yet. Let’s give it a try!

  8. great video but if we're going by the rules where the queen can only move one space diagonally then there's an issue.

    In this older variant of chess (shatranj from the middle eastern/asian region) we have:
    – queen (called the vizier) moves exactly 1 square diagonally at a time
    – bishop (elephant) moves exactly two squares diagonally at a time jumping over the first like a knight (but you in this game it moves one square at a time in a move from f2 to g3)
    can't have one but not the other :3

    other interesting differences were no castling possible, pawns cant move 2 spaces the first time, no en passant, pawns only promote to a queen (so that bishop being there on b1 is still awkward (plus there is no way to go from the furthest rank where you promote all the way back to b2 moving exactly 2 diagonal spaces at a time afaik) …

  9. Chess doesn't have my favorite unit. A Triple Layer Wall Maze.

  10. I didn't even know that I needed to know this, but I so did 😮

  11. I was always a bit annoyed that the starting pawn corresponds to what looks like to be a knight, then the actual knight is represented by a whole bunch of them.

  12. Chess Kings' Ratings:

    Older King:450
    Younger King: 500

  13. tag Eric rosen or Gotham chess to this so they can do an analysis

  14. Well, this was pretty disappointing xD. I mean, I always thought this intro had super deep chess moves in it but never really cared enough to analyze it, and now it turns out they were both a pair of noobs hahaha.

  15. There was even an uncut version of the original intro cinematic present in the beta versions of AOE II.

  16. There's also one more explanation about the awkward placement of the pieces. They may were playing FischerRandom (before it was cool).

  17. firstly: calling the person at the end of the intro who is wearing a crown a soldier… not very math-y
    secondly: i think there is a rule that actually exists but nobody enforces that on full moons bishops and knights should swap

  18. The “bishop” at b1 is actually not a bishop. It’s a knight!

  19. I think it is pretty funny how the chess game being used as an analogy for combat in Age of Empires demonstrates two lords who are both absolutely terrible at chess.

  20. Hi SOTL, do you know about GO the board game? When AOE tower rush or castle drop happens, I always think how similar the both, as a showcase of map control and giving pressure.

  21. The guys in the video were told to make only one or two square moves to make it more cinematic. A large move over the board would look too messy and force a camera angle where there are too many details ,)

  22. I like to think they're playing this mysterious new game from India and have no idea what they're doing

  23. Ben Finegold!! Thanks Spirit, you are great and amazing

  24. a soldier crying and dropping a piece…. its the green king dropping the king piece.

  25. We should show it to Hikaru, let him tell us what he thinks

  26. La cinemática representa 2 pésimos jugadores que se divierten con el juego. XD

  27. Well. It's said that even a mediocre player today would be a grand master in the middle ages. This should reflect it.

  28. Is it possible they are playing Fischer Random? That can explain some weird set up of the board.

  29. This is even better if you are a serious chess player and/or watch chess youtube.
    I see the Finegold reference at 8:58

  30. Have you ever considered doing chess analysis?

    Honestly this video is good.

  31. El video que necesitaba meu deus manooo TANKIU BROOOO

  32. So basically they're playing chaturanga?

  33. actually that soldier is the king who played black in the chess game

  34. the soldier you mentioned crying in the beginning is actually the younger king, showing he eventually was the one to win but at a cost

  35. The starting position for White is awful in this setup…Rc1 Checkmate is threatened…it is whites turn though so his next move kinda determines everything..
    EDIT interesting so the queen cannot defend that square in this version of chess?

  36. Weird side fact: the "bishops" in the cinematic are actually the Rooks of the famous Lewis Chessmen set. They are Viking berserkers biting their shields….

  37. This cinematic was so unbelievably epic when I saw it for the first time… then again, that was about 20 years ago.. time sure flies quick. Needless to say, it still holds up incredibly well to this day, it conveys the message perfectly while giving the whole cinematic a deeper meaning with the final king drop, and the complete shift in music, from fast-paced heroic to sudden sad whimper… just perfect

  38. 0:42 the soldier looks more in this cutscene as the white king the losing or getting checkmated getting defeated in war or taking surrender if you see he has the crown. After King takes rook queen takes king why would they play with the rules of not moving a king because is checkmated you can take it as if it is romantic taking a piece even if it is checkmate after succumbing to the pressure.

  39. It's a nice comparison but one thing that always bugged me was the rook was originally the rukh which means chariot. Them building a tower makes sense as the newer pieces would often be represented by a tower, but in 1000-1200 that'd still be a chariot.

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