This is really important, for most bugs and confusions regarding mods not working as expected are related to this.
If you subscribe to a mod, steam downloads a zip archive without an extension to your game\mods folder. If it does, you should be able to see an entry called 'AoE workshop content' in your steam download tab. Wait until it is finished.
When you start your game the next time, this mod archive will be extracted while the intro is playing. If the size of that data is larger, this can take some time, so to be sure you don't miss some mod data ingame, don't cancel the intro too early. I experienced that no data is extracted after the chess video starts, even if there is data left... In that case just start AoE one more time (and so on if needed).
Steam seems to limit the amount of active mods, I experienced no subscriptions were taken into account after using 30 mods, until I unsubscribed some.
If you want to uninstall a mod, unsubscribing only tells steam not to take a mod into account when checking the game directory next time. So nothing will change only from unsubscribing.
To reset your game data, you have to verify your game cache.
For every game you have installed, steam has a list which files belong to the installation package.
When verifying, steam checks your game directory against this list and deletes every file on it that has been changed (including changes you did yourself without any mod beeing involved).
So you now have a) missing data, and b) if a mod contained additional files, like a readme, a scenario or something like that, these files aren't touched by steam and will remain.
At the end of the verification, steam will redownload all missing files (and reinstall the modded variant in case a file is linked to a mod you are still subscribed to).Files that will remain
- all non-terrain graphics
- all rms, scenarios & campaigns
- parts of soundtracks (in case they have more than 20 seperate track files)
- parts of taunts
- mod archives
As listed above, the mods archive file the mod was extracted from, is also an additional file and remains.
So in case you unsubscribed from several mods, your mod folder gets crammed pretty soon.
This can lead to AoE messing up what mods you are actually using, causing bugs and missing mod data ingame.
For this reason, if you don't use a mod anymore, don't just subscribe to another mod overwriting the old one, but uninstall the old one first.
So when uninstalling a mod, you should do the following:
b) delete the mods archive file
c) delete all additional files you don't want to further use (for the 30 mod limit perhaps you just want to unsubscribe from a map but still use it)
e) verify your game cache
1.3 A mod stopped working
If a mod suddenly disappears, this often is related to a game patch that was installed.
These patches just overwrite all present files they contain, regardless of them beeing modded or not.
But AoE doesn't check a files status automatically, so you now have a file that is reset to its default despite AoE still thinks it is modded.
To get the modded file back, you have to reinstall the mod, just verifying your game cache is not enough.
So you need to fully uninstall the mod (see above), and then resubscribe to it and install it again.
In case you had mixed some mods by overwriting one with another, this may mean you have to reinstall several mods to get your install order back working.
1.4 Mod organization
As you can see, the mod organization of AoE isn't the best and there won't change that much in the near future (I spoke to a dev of Skylabs and they didn't even know how buggy the AoE mod system is. But they don't have plans right now to rework this part.).
So beside doing this stuff manually, there is only one solution for now - my mod manager
. It allows you to organize your mods, really uninstall them, reinstall whole mod setups, install just parts of mods and much more.