Age of Empires 4 carries over a few mechanics found in previous series titles. Grouping, or putting units into control groups, is a great way to manage actions and movements without having to select all units in a single area by double-clicking or drawing a box around them.
Grouping comes in handy during combat, especially when you want specific unit types attacking from the high ground or flanking vulnerable portions of an enemy army. You can have groups of cavalry run-down footsoldiers, for example, or have longbowmen rain arrows from above with two quick clicks.
To create a control group, select the units you wish to cluster together. Once you’ve done so, hold CTRL or SHIFT and press any number 1-9. You can do this with the numbers across the top of your keyboard or with the Numpad hotkeys.
Now these units are in a single grouping, and you will see a small number above each unit, designating their cluster. You can also see the group, its number, and how many units are assigned to it by looking at the icon on the middle-left side of the screen. Hovering over that icon will show its unit make-up.
Lastly, you can also jump to specific groups across the map by double-pressing their corresponding number. Tapping the number once simply selects the grouping.
Things can get a bit pesky since two batches can have the same number assigned to them, defeating the purpose of the mechanic completely. So how do you remove them?
To remove units from a control group, deselect the units you want to remove (only selecting the units you want to keep in the group), and hold CTRL and press the corresponding number. This will remove the group number from the deselected units.
To delete a control group, you must dissolve the group entirely. Click a blank spot on the map, then hold CTRL and press the number assigned to the group. The number above the units will disappear, meaning the grouping has been dissolved.
There is no limit, outside of the population cap, on how many units can be in a single group, though it’s best to build clusters based on strengths and strategy. Otherwise, there’s no real reason to use the function. On anything lower than intermediate difficulty, it’s just as easy to bombard your enemy with a single, massive army unless you’re playing for practice.
And that’s really all you need to know about control groups and groupings in Age of Empires 4. Now you have one more strategic tool in hand to turn the tide of battle, or to just better manage your villagers with hotkeys. For more tips, tricks, and help, consider heading over to our AoE 4 guides center.