Crappy Bronzing Revisited

Resource Equalisation

Resource Equalisation is accepting a slower Bronze by building 2-3 Bowmen at the start of Tool and sending them to disrupt the enemy economy.
Resource Equalisation is also strictly not a strategy per se. It’s more of an option you can utilise under the right conditions with any Fast Bronze strategy, and not necessarily just with Crappy Bronzing. It is an advanced concept that requires a little more coordination than usual and is not recommended for intermediate players (that doesn’t mean you can’t go ahead and read this though:))
Historically, I developed this concept as a stopgap measure against the Yamato Cavalry Rush. At that time I still had no idea how to Fast Bronze, and so needed something to nullify or ‘equalise’ my opponent’s speed advantage. Since then, I’ve learnt how to Fast Bronze myself, and this option has fallen into relative disuse. I still use Resource Equalisation from time to time though, both as a surprise weapon and when conditions are ripe.
What are the aims of Resource Equalisation?

  1. To bring the enemy economy to a standstill during the 2:20 it takes for the enemy to Bronze.
  2. To bronze by 14:30 latest.

What are the minimum conditions for Resource Equalisation?

  1. decent spot.
  2. fast Tool (9:00-9:40).
  3. working dock.
  4. Early exploration.
  5. wallable spot.

Understanding Resource Equalisation
The distinction between Resource EqualisationTool Rushes and Fast Bronzes:

  1. Both Resource Equalisation and Tool Rushes build Tool units at the beginning of Tool. Fast Bronzes only build Tool units after clicking on the upgrade to Bronze.
  2. Resource Equalisation builds 20 villagers plus boats, Tool Rushes build less.
  3. Resource Equalisation builds 2-3 Bowmen, Tool Rushes build as many Tool units as necessary.
  4. Tool Rushes have no intention to Bronze, at least not immediately. Resource Equalisation plans to Bronze within a reasonable time – it is a Semi Tool Rush.

Why Bowmen? Because Scouts and Scout upgrades are too expensive (even if you are Yamato) if you plan to Bronze reasonably soon afterwards. 3 Bowmen + Leather Armour Archers = 220 food 60 wood. 2 Yamato Scouts + Leather Armour Cavalry = 275 food. As you can see, you can get 3 Bowmen for 2 Yamato Scouts, and these Scouts have no Toolworking. Scouts also get cut down by enemy Bowmen, so Bowmen are best if you’re only going to build 2-3 Tool units.
Please note that this doesn’t mean that Yamato should never resource equalise – Yamato can still build Bowmen in Tool and go on to Composite Bowmen. This doesn’t stop Yamato from building Cavalry either – you can Bronze with 1 Stable and 1 Archery. In fact, cheap Cavalry makes it even easier to finish off what’s left of the enemy once you Bronze. This makes Yamato a deadly resource equalisers – you certainly don’t have to sit around waiting for Wheel (80s) before finishing the enemy off. (Shang will probably be the biggest pain though – argh, not another weapon for Shang!).
Disruption. Unlike all-out Tool Rushes, the aim is not to kill the enemy, just to mess up their economy. Target the enemy wood first, then food, then gold.
The idea goes like this – when you hit the enemy wood, the enemy can either stay and fight or run away. If they stick around – if your Bowman kills even one of the enemy villagers, you’re ahead because that is one less enemy villager working. At the same time, your villagers remain productive.
Bowman Rushes ceased to be vogue after players discovered guerilla warfare – run from the Bowmen, set up base somewhere else and then slaughter the Bowmen with Cavalry the moment you hit Bronze. With Resource Equalisationyou don’t care if they go guerilla – unlike Tool Rushing, you’re planning on Bronzing soon anyway.
Also, what makes Resource Equalisation different from Tool Rushing is the timing of the attack – because you build 20 villagers plus boats just like everybody else (unlike the true Tool Rushers), you usually hit the enemy at or about the time they go Bronze. Remember that Fast Bronzers are usually low on wood when they first hit the Bronze upgrade – even if they haven’t yet clicked on the Bronze button, they’ve usually already spent 300 wood on a Market and a Stable or Archery. That leaves them with 800 food, but no wood.
If you catch them with their pants down (quite possible if you arrive right after they’ve clicked on their Bronze upgrade), you may catch themwithout the 120 wood necessary to build a new pit. No new wood pit = no wood for gold pit = no gold. No new wood pit also = no wood for dock booming. Even if they are lucky enough to have 120 wood in reserve, you’ve forced them to spend another 120 wood, and that’s two less fishing boats for the enemy. 
It is for these reasons that I always advocate hitting wood first, then food and only then gold.
Basically, for every resource pit or granary you force them to abandon (until they can take it back in Bronze), that’s so much production lost. The longer enemy villagers spend running around or doing nothing, the more production the enemy loses. You don’t have to kill the enemy villagers, just prevent them from working.
“To obtain the greatest advantage with the least embroilment is one of the key arts of war.”

Thomas Cleary (commentary) on Sun Bin, The Lost Art of War.
It is in this respect that you’ve resource equalised the enemy – you’ve made the enemy lose production with minimal expenditure on your part. It doesn’t matter if your opponent has Bronzed before you, he is 2:20 poorer in production.
This is of course the best case scenario – sometimes you’ll only be able to disrupt the enemy for a short while before the enemy builds Bowmen of his own and retakes his facilities. In this case, so long as you manage to kill at least one villager per Bowman and if you succeed in chasing the enemy off his wood pit for a short time, you’ve done sufficient damage to get an equal return on investment.
This is also why you build only 2-3 Bowmen – apart from wanting a decent Bronze time, this is also about the time it takes for your opponent to start mounting some sort of defence. Once your opponent starts trying to retake his base, you don’t want to keep building Bowmen and slug it out. No, go Bronze and finish the job you started.
One other advantage of Resource Equalisation I should mention is this – if the enemy Cavalry or military are busy trying to retake their town, the enemy isn’t in yours. And I might add, if the enemy is a Chariot civilisation and doesn’t wise up and build Bowmen, retaking their town is going to take another 80s (Wheel research time). This assumes they even have the food and wood to get Wheel and then build a Chariot/Chariot Archer.
Not too tricky a concept, but one you must understand completely if you plan to make it work. 

Why Bronze by 14:30 latest? Why Bronze at all?
One thing you must realise is this – Resource Equalisation (20 Villagers) comes a little late for a Tool Rush (16-18 Villagers). The advantage of a Tool Rush is that if your opponent is silly enough to spend all available resources and go Bronze, he’ll have practically nothing left.
Resource Equalisation, on the other hand, only hits the enemy at the 10:00-10:40 mark. This is late enough for your opponent to have started a boat fishing operation and possibly also have the necessary 120 wood to relocate. Don’t muck around with an all-out Tool Rush at this stage – if you fail to sufficiently disrupt the enemy economy, you’re going to be in serious trouble when the enemy hits Bronze. No, plan to Bronze and don’t commit to more than 2-3 Bowmen.
In order to follow up on your gains, you also need Bronze reasonably soon after your opponent. This is why you should try to Bronze by 14:30 latest. Too slow and you allow your opponent the opportunity of getting his economy going once again.

When should you Resource Equalise?
You should resource equalise only if you have a decent spot and are on track for a Fast Bronze. Never resource equalise with a bad spot. With a bad spot, go for an all-out Tool Rush instead.
It’s funny, this – Resource Equalisation (if you read my little spiel about its history) was originally designed to make up for a slow Bronze. 5 months ago, when I first thought of the idea, people were just beginning to Fast Bronze. As a consequence, Fast Bronze economies were not very strong and were highly dependent on the 2:20 spent Bronzing to gather enough resources to launch an initial Bronze attack. If you hit their food or gold during this time, they were pretty much screwed.
Today, it might look like Fast Bronzes have not improved very much – Bronze times are only slightly better. Unfortunately (sigh), the reality is far different – Bronze times may not have changed very much, but resource levels at all stages of the game have skyrocketedVillager Booming the moment you hit Bronze used to be an impossibility months before, but with Docks and better resource management, people are getting faster Bronzes with more resources. Hence the saying, “It’s not when you Bronze, it’s what you Bronze with.”
It’s because players are now getting food from multiple sources – shore fish (or berries) and boat fish simultaneously, the idea of crippling the enemy just by hitting their food becomes a nullity. It’s wood you’ve got to go after now. And … because of the ridiculous resource levels we’re seeing nowadays, you’ll often find that the enemy will have enough resources to both Bronze and (eventually) fight your 2-3 Tool units off.
Consequently, unless you catch the enemy with his/her pants down, the best you can hope for is to slow your opponent down. Therefore, it is important that you Bronze reasonably soon after your opponent in order to follow up on your gains and deal the death blow to the enemy. This means that you can’t have a bad spot that will only yield 800 food in the short term – you need at least a decent spot that will give you about 1000 food in the short term. This is why a working dock becomes very helpful – it will help you afford the extra food in the short term.
The other reason you need a decent spot is because you need a fast Tool. This is because competent opponents always wall nowadays and well, if you Tool slow, you’re hardly likely to reach your opponent before his wall goes up. This again makes resource equalising with a bad spot a no-no.
In fact, because of enemy walls, you should sometimes resource equalise even if you’re likely to Bronze 12:30 and under. In fact, the better your spot, the easier it is for you to afford the overhead for the 2-3 Bowmen, and the sooner you’ll Bronze and finish off the enemy. I think that in the right circumstances, it is better to resource equalise and have an average Bronze time than to get a super-fast Bronze time that you can’t take advantage of because of enemy walls.
I am often asked, “CD, do you ever Tool Rush?” – and my answer is, “Not unless I have a good spot.” Now you know why. Nowadays players are getting so good at resource management that unless you have a good spot (or your opponent has a bad one) or if you’re playing Shang,Tool Rushes are pretty much suicide. This of course assumes your opponent builds his first Archery next to his woodcutters – opponents who like to take risks and build at the enemy are Tool Rush bait:) Make them sorry:)

Early exploration and walling
“What enables the wise sovereign and the good general to strike and conquer, and achieve things beyond the reach of ordinary men, isforeknowledge.”

Sun Wu, The Art of War.
A decision to resource equalise has to be made early – because it involves departing from routine. You can’t wait until you hit Tool and thenonly decide you’re going to resource equalise.
Why? Because you’re going to be using 2 villagers as advance explorers, and not just 1. By the time you click on the Tool upgrade, you’llalready know your Tool time and whether you have a decent spot. If you make a conscious decision at this stage to resource equalise, then grab a villager off food and join the first in search of enemy wood.
It is imperative that you find the enemy wood by the time you Tool. Note the location of the enemy wood – is it easily wallable? If not, you can quietly build your first Archery nearby. If the enemy town is easily wallable, you’ll have to try and sneak inside to build that Archery (this is not so good).
The reason you use 2 villagers is that if the enemy notices one of them and starts chasing you, you can run the first towards the second and use both of them to beat up the pursuer. Even if one of them dies, your opponent is likely to think that he’s gotten your only explorer. The other reason is that it takes 2 villagers only 20 seconds to build an Archery – quick enough to get it up in an enemy base before the enemy detects and interrupts your construction. Try not to let your opponent discover that you’re building an Archery though – it spoils the surprise somewhat.
Time of first attack. Your first Bowman should hit your enemy at about 10:00-10:40 (60s after you Tool – 20s to build Archery, 30s to train Bowman, 10s to reach enemy).
“All warfare is based on deception.”

Sun Wu, The Art of War.
Mask your attackDon’t research Leather Armour Archers until you’ve started training your first Bowman. It takes 30s to research Leather Armour Archers, which is the same time it takes to train a Bowman. If you research armour the moment you Tool, you might give your opponent possible advance warning of your attack. On the other hand, if you research armour at the same time you train your first Bowman, your Technologies and Largest Army go up together, giving the opponent only 10 seconds warning before the first Bowman reaches him.
Chances are your opponent won’t be looking at Achievements during this time anyway – he’ll be too busy watching his resources so that he can click on the Bronze upgrade the moment he gets 800 food. The devious among you will note that this minimal warning trick is applicable to any sort of Tool Rush (Scout/Bowman build time is 30s, all Leather Armour research time is 30s, Toolworking is 40s though) – this is why I’ve been saying for quite a while now that Achievements has its limitations.
10 seconds isn’t a lot – and at this stage of the game, your opponent will already have committed to building his first Stable or Archery. This is why you should always build your first Archery next to your woodcutters (unless you’re resource equalising) – building it at the enemy side means that you leave your base totally defenceless. Remember – if the enemy hits your wood and you’ve already spent your second batch of 150 wood on a Market, it’ll be a while before you get another 150 wood to build an Archery in your base.
Now, what’s to stop an opponent from building Bowmen of his own and sending them into your town? Two things:

  1. Don’t build your Market or second Tool building immediately. Wait until you’ve almost reached 800 food. Remember that you are spending 180-220 food on Bowmen the moment you hit Tool – you won’t have enough food to Bronze immediately anyway. This way, if the enemy walks into your Town, you can plop down a second Archery.
  2. Wall. Too many people wait till they click upgrade to Bronze to wall. If the threat of being resource equalised by Yamato doesn’t scare you enough, nothing will. Wall the moment you hit Tool so that while you’re busy resource equalising the enemy, the enemy doesn’t counter by resource equalising you. This would be too funny:)

Managing the battlefront. Your first Bowman should not be gung-ho and walk right into the middle of the enemy woodcutters, or at least not immediately. Even with armour, 8 angry woodcutters sort of hurt. Get him to snipe at the enemy woodcutters and act as an annoyance at the periphery. Bowman 1’s job is primarily to stop walls from going up.
“Crushing force is due to timing and control.” 

Sun Wu, The Art of War.
Once Bowman 2 is complete, then send Bowman 1 right into the middle of the enemy woodcutters. If you time this right, Bowman 2 should arrive in the fray just as Bowman 1 is surrounded by angry woodcutters. Oops, 2 Bowmen – time to run. The cool thing about timing this right is that you don’t lose a Bowman to villagers and the enemy villagers stick around of their own choice long enough for you to maximise damage with 2 Bowmen.
“He will win who knows when to fight and when not to fight.”

Sun Wu, The Art of War.
At about this time, one of three things will happen:

  1. The enemy will stick around with villagers and fight because he has no choice (or is stupid) – he doesn’t have the 120 wood to set up shop elsewhere on the map. Either that, or you’ll see them frantically chop wood. Have a nice time slaughtering.
  2. The enemy will build Bowmen of his own for defence. Kill the first one that appears, and then try to kill as many villagers as possible.Build a third Bowman. If your opponent is low on wood, he won’t be able to build Bowmen as quickly as he’d like. Get as much out of this advantage as you can. If Bowman 3 falls in battle though, don’t bother building more – you should already have caused sufficient damage.
  3. The enemy will flee. This is the most probable scenario – shore fish by at least a little wood is not uncommon, and your enemy will simply relocate to the nearest fish/wood pit and start chopping again. Take 1 Bowman and follow them. If you lose them, simply follow the shore – this is where the enemy usually places his fish pits. If you find an enemy dock, take out the boats if possible.

Bowman 2 should start circling through the enemy town, looking for signs of enemy production. Kill any berrymen or gold miners you find. Circle back to the first wood pit to make sure the enemy has not come back to it. Stay there (or at a gold pit if you find one).
The thing to remember here is that you don’t have to kill the enemy – just try and keep the enemy villagers running for as long as possible.
What are your 2 explorers doing? Well, you’ll only be needing one from now on – so send one of them back to work. The other can build fresh houses or buildings as necessary.
Wall the opponent’s TC. If you have sufficient stone left over from walling, wall your opponent’s TC. This will put a severe crimp on your opponent’s ability to Villager Boom in Bronze.
Go Bronze the moment you have the resources. Go for Bronze so that you can finish off the enemy. Aim to hit the Bronze button by 12:10 latest. Do everything else as normal, and as discussed in Hitting the Bronze Upgrade
There is one thing you should do different – while the normal practice is to build your military buildings together if possible (for easy grouping), don’t build your second military building next to your first Archery – build it a fair distance away.
Why? You must remember that your opponent is going to Bronze before you – and their first reaction after killing your Bowmen will be to find your Archery and pound it to dust. Having your second Archery or a Stable next to the first is only going to expose your troops to the risk of being outnumbered the moment they are completed (just imagine your first 3 Chariot Archers winding up next to 3 Cavalry).
By building your new military buildings away from your first Archery, your strategic advantages are twofold:

  1. You know precisely where the enemy troops are. You can then avoid them and attack the enemy villagers instead.
  2. You have a fresh staging ground which your opponent has yet to find. And if your opponent takes his army away and leaves your first Archery alone (because he has to fight your other troops) – you can once again stage troops from your first Archery.

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.” 

Sun Wu, The Art of War.
Such is Resource Equalisation. Such is the Art of War.

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