Age of Darkness Final Stand: Basic Guide

The game has several major concepts and the guide will be broken up similarly. I’m not putting a ton of effort into making this guide pretty, and others are encouraged to copy information for their own guides. It also will probably fall out of date as the game is updated, but I’ve moved on to other games. But at the time of writing this, there is only 1 other guide, and it is missing a lot of information

First piece of advice I have for you is start on *easy* and beat it (including the final stand) before going on to standard. The balance is off (currently) and even very experienced RTS/Tower Defense fans like myself struggle with standard and higher without using “cheese.” This will also give you valuable insight into how the game itself is structured.


Base building and resource management

Tip: You can pause the game to give yourself time to place buildings or issue orders.

Unlike most RTS that favor tightly packed, gridlike bases, this game favors very spread out bases. Your eventual goal is to efficiently “light up” the entire map. Early on, place your food huts, & houses to expand the lit area. Unlit, but explored areas have a greyish tint over them. You do not need to light up the center of large obstacles like water, forests, and plateaus. If there’s a small corner that you don’t want to build a house, build a basic wall.

In the first few days, you’ll want to add a single basic wall between your building and the unlit edge. These single blocks will grab the enemy’s attention in a radius, and you can prevent your buildings from being attacked until it is destroyed when placed strategically. This will buy your army time to respond to any attacks from wandering units. Units periodically spawn in groups to attack your base. They also will sometimes “patrol” where they venture far (length of a farm radius or more) from their idle position, towards your base. They can turn back, eventually, if they find nothing to attack or have destroyed what they have found.

If your units aren’t healing, you’ll want to push out the edges of the map. Look for narrow chokepoints and resources. The chokepoints will be where you put your temporary defenses (early on) and eventually your fortified defenses (for death nights and the final stand). An ideal chokepoint has a narrow “funnel” that prevents enemies from spreading out and reducing the number of walls you have to build. It then widens up (the more the better) so you can place lots of towers.

There are two basic resource limiters, in addition to the accumulated resources, food and population. Food is gotten through farms and consumed by people and advanced units. It does not “accumulate” but prevents you from building more things requiring it if you don’t have enough. Population is gotten through homes, and likewise is used up by resource buildings, siege towers, and units.

The basic accumulated resources are Gold, Wood, Stone and Iron. Gold is used for everything and gotten by upgrading your keep, getting population, and near the edges of the map, gold quarries.

Wood is also used for everything, and gotten through lumber camps. I typically place 3 of these. The first goes near my base and unless I’m lucky only gets about 15 wood. If you get really lucky, you may be able to get away with 2 lumber buildings. Your goal is to get 50 wood per gather. Any number under that and you will frequently run out and be waiting for the next gather to finish. Eventually, you may be able to sell one of your lumber camps, although by that point, you probably don’t need to be micromanaging things, and you don’t want to screw yourself.

Stone is used by advanced buildings like the storehouse, upgrading the keep, T2 & T3 defenses. I build on every stone quarry I see. There’s actually less stone on maps than Iron, and it’s easy to run out when you’re spamming defenses in preperation for death nights.

Iron is used by T3 defense and T2 units. Early on, you’ll be severely limited and will probably need to build on every discovered iron tile, even if small. You want to build on these ASAP so that you can get the resources to tier up, which takes awhile early on. Later on, you can sell off poor production mines and rely off the large ones you discover.

Storehouses are super important. Every time your stone is near cap or capped, build another storehouse. By the end of a standard game, I will have 4 or 5. My first two are usually before the first death night. If your stone production is very poor, you will probably want to try a new map. Stone is only found to distances about halfway between your base in the outer edge. If there’s not enough, you will have serious problems affording the required defenses.

You cannot upgrade food huts, so don’t overly concern yourself with their placement. Make sure they’re getting 10 or 11 and drop it.

It’s a good idea to (eventually) completely surround your keep with houses. Since houses don’t perfectly frame the keep, I put my two barracks on either side to fill the extra width. This is also ideal placement for the final stand if your defenses fail.

You can improve the efficiency of farms by placing down basic walls on trees and then selling the walls to clear the tile. This can be done before or after it’s built. However, forests can’t be built over. Also, if those trees are in the radius of your lumber yard, it will reduce it’s efficiency. However, except early game, the food will be more important.

Don’t build towers or defenses (other than those single wall blocks) before the first death night. If you’re really concerned, at choke points you can place a single tower with a single archer in there (behind a single block wall). This will take care of most wanderers, and will buy you time for your army to get there to defend it.

Gold is very tight in the game atm, so building (and fully upgrading) houses is important.

Unlike most RTS, there’s no real “build order” with X number of Ys. Other than 3 lumber yards, you pretty much want as many resource buildings you can cram into a space, and one on every node.

Exploration, Day/Night cycle

As soon as you begin, you’ll want to begin exploring. Look for edges of large obstacles and follow them, trying to find narrow chokepoints. Remember to be placing buildings to try and light things up, and defensive wall “block” singles if you stop moving forward in a direction.

Early game, you’ll want to rush over and kill enemies that start attacking your buildings. To aid in this, make sure you kind of spiral away from your base, only going down narrow corridors if you can see a resource node you need, or after you’ve established your central base limits.

Enemies get harder the further you are from your base. In easy mode, you’ll see spear throwers, which is a sign you may have reached the next difficulty and you should focus on exploring other nearer areas. On standard, you’ll see the 4 legged “spiders” that shoot plasma. Your early units will very quickly die to these, so turn around if you see them. If you must kill one, I suggest taking all but your archers out of the area. Then micro your archers, careful to move them out of the damage circle that appears. T2 units are far more resilient to spiders.

Map “guard” units will eventually turn around if far enough from your units/buildings. The squads that spawn and attack your base will chase your units or start attacking your base.

Night will happen when the timer in the top right is completely full. Days are about 3 minutes long (standard difficulty). A message will appear about the enemies being more dangerous and better rewards. Ignore the “Better rewards” because it’s mostly not true with two exceptions (elite nightmares and a specific blessing you can choose).

During the night, enemies will travel much more quickly, making them much more dangerous, as they will more easily swarm your units, and are more difficult to run from. At night, “Elite Nightmares” will spawn. They spawn in areas visible during both the night and daytime. During the day, you can see white pillars in the middle of a blighted area. At night, red lightning will appear where the unit spawns, and the pillar turns black and glowing red.

Elite Nightmares should be avoided at all costs, especially if they are not very close to your base. The “spear thrower” elite nightmare is the easiest. The “spider” is midling difficulty. The colossal bloated corpse is the most difficult.

It is possible for elite nightmares to be pretty close to your base. If there is one, build a few wall blocks and one tower behind them. When night approaches, load some archers into the tower. Keep the rest of your army out of range. When a wall block or tower safely has agro, use your army to hit the elite nightmare. If the block/tower loses agro (usually when destroyed) have your army retreat until the agro is re-established on one of these buildings.

When you kill an elite nightmare, you get glowing red crystals. Early game, I would try your best to leave them on the ground for later. The reason is, you can increase their value with a specific blessing. If you do pick some up, it’s not a big deal, you can still advance without the small boost, albeit slower.

When the next morning happens, one of the green dots in the circle to the top right turns red. Once all the dots are red, a death night will happen.

Technology Tiers and Upgrades

To advance tiers and unlock better versions, you will be needing to build specific advancement buildings and upgrading your keep. They go like this:

T1. Starting Keep

T2. Wood Workshop and Braced Keep (note, farms and lodges require Braced Keep despite being researched in Wood Workshop. Therefore, if you can build the Braced Keep first, do so.)

T3. Workshop (reseached in Wood Workshop) and Reinforced Keep.

T3.5 Forge and Fortified Keep.

In the workshops and forge, you will have the ability to research more advanced buildings. Prioritize walls and getting to tier 3 over gates and towers. I rarely use gates, and while maxed out towers are great, they are not necessarily the best use of your resources when your income is limited. It’s very common to use T1 towers even mid game, or late game when stone and/or iron is out.

The wood workshop can be sold when you finish researching everything from it. I personally skip ignite wall because it just doesn’t last long enough to make it worthwhile, especially later on. Early on, the gold is too valuable.

The next workshop must be kept or you’ll lose the ability to build certain buildings and train T2 units.

The Forge trains siege engines and researches Grand Ballista, which is currently super powerful.

The final Keep mostly is for extra income, storage space, and HPs. AFAIK there’s nothing that requires it.

If you have the resources for the next keep level, always level it.

If you get lucky and get nearby decent iron, try and “rush” T2 units. Having T2 units by the second death night is ideal. It’s not necessary, but ideal.

Unit Upgrades

In the bottom left, center left, there’s a small button with a number over it. The number is how many unit upgrades you can afford (up to 3 for 3 different types for up to 9). Each upgrade requires different resources and varies in how good they are. You can only choose one upgrade per tier, and it must be above, to the left, or to the right of the previous choice.

Tiers 1, 2 & 3 all have the same effect, but a higher bonus each time. Capstones have varying effects.

T1. Wood and Stone
T2. Much more Wood and Stone and/or Iron
T3. Much more basic resources and 5 Red Crystals
Capstone. Just 25 red crystals.

Tree 1: Archer & Arbalist

Vision increase, Damage increase, third option

Needless to say, Damage is the way to go. I’m not sure how good flaming arrows are, because I’ve never tried them. DoTs are usually pretty crud in most games because of how they’re handled (lack of stacking, units killed in one hit anyways, damage insignificant, etc). I have always used “Double damage in towers” because x2 damage is huge. The invisibility is worthless on death nights, which makes it worthless, period. I don’t even think it’d be all that useful in exploration, tbh.

Tree 2: Warrior & Sentinel

Melee Attack Speed, Regeneration, third option

I have tried both. Regeneration seems more useful since their purpose is to “tank” anyways. One thing I will point out is that Regeneration grows at a slower rate, so if you want to mix the two, pick Regeneration first and Attack Speed later. The attack speed bonus is literally doubled and tripled, whereas regeneration goes up by less than half.

For the capstone, I recommend “On kill, gain health.” Again, their purpose is to tank. Charging is often not ideal, as you want them to stand in front of your defenses or archers and not get surrounded, either. Unfortunately, even with attack speed, they’re unlikely to get kills, because of their lower damage.

Tree 3: Siege Weapons

Move Speed, Knockback, AOE

Move speed is again pretty useless on death nights. Both knockback and AoE are valuable. Generally, knockback will be more useful for keeping your defenses alive longer, and AoE will kill more units. I’m uncertain of how good AoE is on ballista, but I suspect it increases the number of enemies pierced.

For the capstone, I recommend stun. If your siege units are dying, you’re pretty screwed anyways. It’s better to not get to that point and stun is great CC (crowd control) in any game.

The Hero, XP, and Emblazened units.

You begin with a hero. If they die, they will come back to life in 120 seconds with full health and timers cooled down. This is also true if you use the red crystals to bring them back to life instantly.

Your hero begins at level 1 and can level up to level 5. Initially, they are pretty good. As the game progresses, they become less and less useful to the point of being nearly useless. This is because without support of enough other melee units to spread the damage, they will die very quickly. The hero get several abilities as they level. They also get better stats.

2. Enlighten: Nearby units (pretty small radius, T2 archers often are usually outside of it) get XP faster. It is a passive ability

3. Ignite Sword: Does extra damage for a time (unclear how long). Cool down 120 seconds

4. Cleave: Does a cone of damage. Good for eliminating tougher common foes quickly. The template is inaccurate near the start, where it appears to hit enemies a little to the left and right, next to your hero. They will not be hit. If you need to hit a specific enemy close to your hero, aim it directly at them.

5. Hero is capped.

Emblazened Units are exactly like XP and a single level up. It is the yellow bar under the unit. Higher tier units require more XP to become Emblazened, with siege units requiring the most. Once a unit is emblazened, they glow yellow, they cannot become horrified (the slowdown effect with the purple icon and “smoke”), and they deal double damage. All around, it’s a huge improvement.

To level your units faster, you can send already emblzazened/maxed units to help defend your base and only explore with your ones that you still need to level. Sentinels don’t level very well, so if you have enough of them, you can split them up into their own army (ctrl+ click the number shortcut you want) and send them to explore seperately. Your archers can still explore if you have enough of them to kill units before they reach your archers. You will still have to watch them carefully.

There is a blessing that gives your units 25% emblazened at dawn. It is one of the best blessings, especially if you get it early on. However, even at the 2nd to last crystal, it is still very, very, good.

Defense Building

Early on, you will want to do very little beside placing singular “agro” blocks for wandering enemies and spawned attacks (described in the building section).

Don’t bother with gates as part of any permanent defense strategy. But placing a low tier gate in a problematic spot for normal enemies can still be helpful during regular days/nights.

Ideal defense locations have a long, narrow path. A 3 wide spot is best, and it is best if it then opens up very wide. Bonus points if you can even place things a bit to the side (behind the invulnerable map barriers), of this choke point.

T1 defense strategy for death nights (Standard, easy may need less):

3 to 4 rows of wooden walls. No gates. Once the night is over, you can sell walls to clear a path. If you desire a gate still, you can place one (I’d stick to T1, maybe T2 if it becomes a problem…

4 to 5 T1 towers Position the towers right behind the last wall. Double click the towers to and set a “rally point” far enough back that archers exiting a destroyed tower will move behind your other defenses/melee units. As a note, archers can enter/exit towers in an empty diagonal square, so you can put tower “packed” in/behind other towers, as long as there’s a diagonal open space.

Put your melee units and any archers not in towers behind the towers. Until the enemy breaks through, you want your archers as far forward as possible so they can start shooting enemies as soon as possible.

For permanent defenses, it’s better to place ballistas, or emblazened units, than train non-emblazened units and fill towers.

Upgrading towers is a lower priority than walls and building ballistas. Because the cost for upgrading ballistas is currently broken (as of writing this 10/25/2021), I recommend only building grand ballistas as much as possible.

Later defense strategies will follow a similar pattern. More information will be described in the death night section.

Death Nights, Blessings & the Final Stand

Once all the “dots” in the upper right-hand corner turn red, an announcement will happen at dawn that a “Crystal has become unstable.” A crystal will then be revealed on the map, and you will have to prepare for a “Death Night.” Death Nights are a horde of enemies that follow a very specific path to your base, attempting to kill your keep and everything along the way. They are FAR more difficult than exploration and require insane defenses. On easy, there are 4 death nights before the final stand. On standard there are 5. Once all the death nights have happened, you’ll see an announcement to “Prepare for the final stand” and get a timer for a little over 16 minutes. The day night cycle is stopped (it’s effectively at 16 minute long day).

For death nights, I recommend immediately saving the game when the crystal is revealed, as you may totally miscalculate where to put your defenses. If you want to “cheese” things, you can save right BEFORE the crystal is revealed, and save-scum until your desired crystal becomes active.

It is every difficult to correctly determine the path the enemies will take. Generally (but not always), the path will not have prolonged very narrow sections (3 tiles wide). It will generally be from the side the crystal is at, but they’ll often be 2 potential spots they’ll travel to. You’ll just have to guess, and reload from the previous “morning” save you made before building your defenses, if you’re wrong.

Death nights last until all the enemies are killed, no matter how many minutes it takes. As of right now, there’s an occasional bug that causes the “night” to end prematurely. All monsters will continue to spawn, but during the day, and the counter will disappear.

When a death night is announced, you will *probably* have to send your units back to base almost immediately, especially if they’re at the opposite side of the map.

The first death night defensive strategy is described in the “Defense” section.

When the enemies spawn, a skull icon will be placed on the minimap and travel with the front of the horde.

Advanced Strategy: Try and carefully watch this path, even going so far as to drawing a line mimicking it on a piece of scratch paper. Later when you’re preparing your final stand defenses, you’ll know where the route is.

After your first death night and each thereafter, you’ll receive a blessing. I describe them below in order of usefulness in the next section.

After your first death night, I recommend exploring and pushing your light towards the crystal, eventually reaching it. You will need a good number of T2 units before actually being able to reach it and clear it, which will probably be after your second death night.

Once you have reached the edge of the map, place defenses on either the left or right side of this line, then proceed to clear the map in the other direction (clockwise or counter clockwise) being careful to light up every single bit of it with tons of farms and houses and torch/fire towers. If you can’t spare the iron, or you’re only lighting a small patch, stick to the basic version. Try to put these fire towers in “out of the way” spots in sharp corners or dead ends, to decrease the chances of them being attacked. At this point in the game, you’ll be covering every inch of the map with farms, houses, and nodes, completely disregarding the path of *broken* crystals. They won’t be attacked again until the final stand, and at that point, it will no longer matter.

The second crystal

The defensive strategy follows the same as the first crystal. However, upgrade the final row of walls as high as you can. If there’s room close to the wall, add more T1 towers. If you have resources left over and the research done, build ballistas, or upgrade *some* towers. Make sure you actually have the archers to fill them. Always upgrade all towers to T2 before proceeding to T3. Don’t forget to set your rally points!

The third crystal

If you’re playing on standard, this is where things get a little crazy. Ideally, you will have at least 3 layers of fully upgraded walls, followed by a full layer of upgraded towers. You may need as many as 8, depending on room for ballista towers. Behind those towers, leaving one cell open for archers to climb in and out of the towers, you will want to build a few ballista towers. 3 is what I’d say is minimum. After fully loading the towers with archers, have your remaining archers stand in this space between the towers and the ballistas. Only move them if a tower is about to fall. In that case, move them behind the ballistas *then* (not before) move your melee and hero in to engage the enemy. If you have only 3 layers of fortified walls (not 4), then use a lower tier wall for the 4th layer, even if it’s the bottom level. Every little bit helps.

You may have to continue building and upgrading close to or during the death night. For this reason, make sure you build walls first, then towers, then ballistas, resources permitting. If you’re tight on resources, build lower tier towers. Your 3rd ballista may go up just before or during the death night, because they are so costly and easily wipe out your gold.

Whenever enemies are pushed away from your walls, hit the repair button. It’s a lot of resources, but ultimately it can mean less is destroyed during the death night, which will be a net gain. Likewise, if an AoE enemy is attacking your walls, hit the repair button right after it’s attack impacts. If you do this early and often enough, the costs don’t get too high and it’ll save structures, especially those very expensive grand ballistas.

The fourth crystal

The strategy is the same as above, but this time, you’re going to start permenetly packing your T2 archers into towers. After your first row of maxed towers is completed and filled, start filling the normally “vacant” row with towers and filling them. This will mean building two towers at a time on each side, filling them with archers, etc. This is assuming you have built grand ballistas behind them (leaving a corridor towards the wall). Even if you have “trapped” archers at the end of the death night, that’s fine, you’ll need them there for the final stand, and you should be pushing over 100 archers soon, anyways.

The fifth crystal, same as above, jamming as much in as you can in the space you have. If you have resources to spare, put grand ballistas IN FRONT OF your defenses, encircled in walls, but not stopping enemy movement. Some enemies will stop and attack them, and they will be destroyed, but it’ll buy you time. You can also skip the walls. Ideally, you can put them in positions outside of the path, just barely in range of the units, so they draw off groups of enemies instead of being totally surrounded.

The final stand
The last event. You have 16 minutes to prepare for all rifts to attack at once. The defenses don’t change. Once you’ve jammed in everything you can, you want to pump out sentinels and flamers. These will respond to when one of your defensive sections fail. Not if, but *when.* Also, don’t worry about your farms, houses and quarries you’ve placed all over the map. They’ll be attacked and destroyed, but it’ll no longer matter. Generally, some of your defenses will succeed in staving off the horde from their crystal. As soon as the last enemy is dead, retrieve all your units there, selling towers if needed, and send them over to assist your sentinels.

When your hero dies, revive them immediately with whatever red crystals you have. That’s the only thing they’re good for, anymore.

“Grand Ballista Cheese”
If you hear about this, the general principle is focusing 90% on grand ballistas, especially placing them in places they can take “pot shots” at the passing horde path without them being easily reached by whatever units they do agro.


Described in order of usefulness. This section is liable to change as the game balanced is changed.

1. Every morning, units gain 25% emblazoned.
This option is first because it’ll guarantee almost all of your units will be dealing double damage, including very difficult to level siege units, and it tends to be rare. You usually will only get the option once per game, if at all.
2. Emblazoned Units have a 10% chance to deal double damage.
Again, damage is very important. It’ll speed up exploration, increasing your resources. It’ll help on death nights.
3. Resources picked up off the ground are doubled. This one is also rarer. This will increase POI rewards and more importantly, red crystal rewards. This lets you upgrade your units fully faster, and later gives you free hero resurrections.
4. Units killed at night drop resources. Especially if you end up with the above blessing, too, this will net you tons of resources on death nights, and a fair amount during exploration, including red crystals. Make sure not to pick up resources when you’re at/near cap, especially in the densely packed areas after death nights. Spend a bunch first, then pick *some* up, rinse and repeat.
5. Construction costs are reduced by 15%. Arguably better than bonus resources, but doesn’t apply to units, upgrades, red crystal costs, and researches. This will allow you to build more towers, walls, grand ballistas, and more will always be needed.
6. Units at below 25% health deal 50% more damage. This is just a slight boost, but for death nights and careless exploration, it can be the difference between winning and losing a close battle.
7. Building vision range increased by 30%. This helps “lighting” the map, and reducing resources expended. One disadvantage, though, is that it doesn’t increase the range that flame towers remove horror, and so you’ll have areas without this benefit.
7. Construction speed is increased by 15%. This isn’t significant enough to be usable to “react” to problems. As long as you start right away, you can place and finish building your defenses before a death night starts. Only slightly useful for the resources earned right before and during the death night for placing extra grand ballistas and such… if you’re not busy microing.
8. Red Crystals are revealed one day early. This is circumstantially useful, but mostly early game, when you should be picking other blessings. It does nothing *during* the death night, which is why it’s near the bottom of the list.
9. Increased Champion XP. NEVER EVER TAKE. Your champion will easily max out at 5 without this long before the game is over. Your champion is also just not powerful enough to justify wasting a blessing on this.

Victory (by the numbers)

Not including games I stopped abruptly because of a dislike of resources or the map layout, here’s games I’ve played and won or lost, and approximate details on them, as well as things I didn’t do well enough, learned, or did do that helped me succeed.

Easy (Victory)
~6 T4 towers and 1-2 GB per crystal, triple layered fortified walls

Standard (Loss on Death Night)
~6 T4 towers and 1-2 GB per crystal, triple layered fortified walls
Failed to employ strategy of place farms all over the map and fully lighting map, and not building enough storehouses.

Standard (Loss on Death Night)
~8 T4 tower and ~3 GB per crystal, quad layered fortified walls
Underestimated last crystal, economy was better but still weak and hit stone cap too much. Failed to start building up defenses in all locations quickly enough. Failed to micro towers (enough) to target and kill the bloated corpses. Almost won, with a few crystals being completely eliminated, but enemy punched through two of the 5, and reserve forces were too small.

Standard (Victory)
~8 T4 tower and ~5-6 GB per crystal, quad layered fortified walls, extra wood walls placed anywhere they might help.
Had a dozen ballistas and flamers, and over 100 sentinels in reserve, did not need them.

Mostly killed all bloated corpses before they reached defenses. Had 3 extra ballistas off to the side of the army path, where 2 crystals armies combined before hitting my defenses. Helped for awhile before being destroyed, approximately half the night. Had much better defenses for 3, 4, & 5 crystal and was able to reuse a lot of towers.

Veteran (in progress)

Thanks to Kaivian for his great guide, all credit to his effort. you can also read the original guide from Steam Community. enjoy the game.

Post Author: Robins Chew

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