I know, I know, the "moderate AI is too hard" question gets asked all the time, but I haven't found a single useful explanation of how to actually do it. I've read dozens and dozens of suggestions that don't work, and not one that does. Maybe one that did help - build more Town Centres. But apart from that, pretty useless. Same old story, I can beat the computer most every time on Standard difficulty, but I don't stand a chance on Moderate.
I prefer to play with 175 Pop limit; I can do a lot better with a very low Pop limit, but I want to be able to win in a normal battle.
My usual method is to get food, get 20-25 villagers going, scout for Relics, move to Castle Age asap, grab the relics before the AI does, build Walls and Castles.. and wait for the AI to demolish me.
The AI is unstoppable. Even on those rare occasions where I manage to put together a full Imperial Age army with plenty of upgrades, it just hits with wave after wave of everything - Halberdiers, Two-Handed Swordsmen, Archers, Skirmishers, Priests, Light Cavalry, Knights, Scorpions and finally a conga line of Capped Rams. Oh, and of course those ***ed Trebuchets. Lots of Trebuchets. I can't get near the Trebuchets or Rams because they are always behind a massed swarm of troops and cavalry. If I send in 20 Knights, maybe one of them destroys a Ram; the other 8 or 9 Rams then proceed to plow on through.
I can continue to build more TC's and rebuild a camp, but it's just delaying the inevitable, I'm just being chased around the map.
Castles and Towers are worthless, Walls only delay the enemy, and no combination of troops seems hold out for any length of time. I get particularly irritated by the sight of my Catapults being destroyed; somehow the AI's Catapults stay safe and out of range of my Archers and Skirmishers, but my Catapults behind the "safety" of Walls on average get off 1 to 2 shots before being destroyed. I've had a massed line of 20 Catapults wiped out in less than 10 seconds; protecting them with Skirmishers did not a thing against Mongol Mangudai Horse Archers.
I've tried sending in a few troops to attack the enemy camp early on; the game before last that I played, I sent in about 6 archers and 2 swordsmen and killed about 20 Villagers. Made no difference at all. Most of the time my troops don't even get past the enemy camp perimeter; I'll send in all my troops - a puny band of a couple of dozen Spearmen and Skirmishers and maybe two Swordsmen, only for them to be instantly creamed by an army of 100+ much stronger enemy troops. The AI then counter-attacks sooner than it would have and so I lose sooner.
Is there a method that actually works?