Crappy Bronzing Revisited

The Aims of Crappy Bronzing

Over the 9 months since AoE was released, players have developed many different methods of winning, or strategies as we call them. Just to name a few, we have the Villager Rush, the Tool Blitz, the Tool Rush, the Villager Boom and the Fast Bronze – each of them with their own little variations, whether it be unit mix, timing or villager mix.
My variation of the Fast Bronze is known as Crappy Bronzing. It is crappy for two reasons – one, I often don’t know what I am talking about and two – the strategy is crappy. There are many better ones out there.
These are the aims of Crappy Bronzing:

  1. fast Tool (9:00-9.40).
  2. dock in Stone or Tool, plus 4-5 fishing boats before Bronze.
  3. A 12:30-13:30 Bronze on inland default with a fast civ, faster on coastal.
  4. A 13:00-14:00 Bronze on inland default with a slow civ, faster on coastal.
  5. Resources to continuously produce 3 Yamato Cavalry/2 Cavalry or 3 CA when you hit Bronze.
  6. Resources to villager boom when you hit Bronze.

Minimum conditions (anything less and your tool times, bronze times or resource level will suffer):

  1. At least 3 straggler trees (155 wood) not far from your TC.
  2. A sweet spot (fish or elephants/wood) for your first wood pit.
  3. Finding a nice stretch of water to dock by Tool Age.

Now before we go into the actual execution of the strategy, we first need to understand why we set those aims for Crappy Bronzing, and why it won’t function as well without those minimum conditions. If you understand the philosophy behind it, you will be better able to appreciate your strategic and economic position at any given time during the game, allowing you to react accordingly to unexpected events – and most importantly, to make the right decision whatever the circumstances.

a. Why a fast Tool (9:00-9:40)?
Please note that this is only a fast Tool with regards to Fast Bronzing. A 9:00-9:40 Tool is slow in comparison to Tool Blitzing (6:00-6:40) and Tool Rushing (7:30-8:10). The point here is that it is fast enough for you to set up defences (or an attack) against a Bronze Rusher and yet not so slow that you cannot adequately defend against a Tool Rush
The second reason is psychological. If you Tool before your Fast Bronzing opponent, you have the opportunity to attack first, and this threat, whether or not you act on it, puts your opponent initially on the defensive.
Third, it gives you more time to wall.

b. Why a dock so early (in Stone or Tool)? Why not in Bronze or later?
There are a number of good reasons to dock early. One question I am often asked is why a dock instead of another fish pit? The reason for this has a lot to do with where you place the dock. Crappy Bronzing uses the explorer to build the dock, and this is usually quite a distance away from the TC. Which usually means that you won’t be walking your villagers to those fish anyway. It allows you to take advantage of fish that are far away, and gives your explorer something to do. Putting your dock a little away from your TC also has the advantage that your opponent may not find your dock until it is too late.
Building the dock in Stone or on your way to Tool is also the best time to build it. Not only is your exploring villager productive, but s/he is unlikely to be found or attacked by enemy Scouts. Building a dock in Tool is dangerous – this is the time when enemy Scouts are actively searching for you and trust me, they’ll find your dock builder. Waiting till Bronze to build your dock also isn’t always the best option. If your base is under attack, trying to sneak a villager from your TC or out from behind your walls to build a dock is tricky.
Early docks are also insurance against Tool and Bronze Rushes. Having a dock up and running assures you a steady supply of food to replace lost villagers. You cannot possibly wall off everywhere – and it is likely that you will be forced to leave your foodmen outside the safety of your walls, and if these foodmen are your only source of food and they are massacred by the enemy, the future bodes ill for you. With a dock up and running, you have a way of getting more food even though all you’ve done is manage to wall in your wood. The bottom line here is it allows you to rebuild your economy if the enemy Tool or Bronze rushes you and does some damage.
A stronger economy. In order to achieve fast toolsCrappy Bronzing stops at 20 villagers. Certainly, opponents who go with 22 or 24 villagers will end up with a stronger economy. But because you can build boats while you Tool or at the same time you build villagers, your dock is effectively another TC, albeit one that can only be used to gather food. Basically, you can get the advantages of both a fast tool AND a 22-25 villager economy by using a dock. In addition, when you hit Bronze you can villager boom from both your TC and your already completed dock.

c. Why not shore fish all the way (instead of docking) and go for 12:00 bronzes?
This is a good question, and deserves a careful answer. It is a well-known fact that if you shore fish all the way (assuming you find enough of them), bronzes in the high 11s and low 12s are possible. Fish like these are usually found only on coastal maps. Now, I play very little coastal, mainly because coastal maps are highly irregular – skewed wood or gold distributions, or one player starting with several fish and the other none. It is one map where starting position can immediately decide the winner.
But putting that sad fact of coastal maps aside (and why anyone with common sense would want to play on Coastal), let’s assume that you do find several pockets of shore fish. Wouldn’t it be better then to go for a really fast bronze and take out the enemy than to dock and use that as insurance? After all, the only person who’s going to be doing the attacking is you.
There are a number of reasons that force me to disagree with this position. First of all, your opponent is likely to already be walled in – in which case your 30s to 1:00 speed advantage is likely to be nullified. And in which case you’ll have to build a dock to Transport around anyway. Since you’re likely to have to build a dock, why not build one and make use of it in the first place?
Second, your economy without an earlier dock is weaker. You are dependent on new fish pits and shore fishing for your food supply. If your opponent even counterattacks and kills your fishermen, your food situation (for the immediate future anyway) is screwed. Fishermen also make great targets for scout ships. 
Another thing to keep in mind is this – you can only villager boom from your TC, while your opponent can villager boom from both his dock and his TC. Even if you built a dock in bronze and started building fishing boats, you are essentially playing a game of catch-up. The whole purpose of bronzing quicker than your opponent is to give yourself a chance to strike early at the enemy at the risk of allowing your opponent a stronger economy. If that initial strike fails or is nullified, you have basically put yourself in an inferior position.
So the bottom line is – always dock if you can. You’re likely to need the dock anyway – whether to Transport, disrupt opponent’s fishing or to boat fish yourself.

d. Why are straggler trees so important?
To state the obvious, if you don’t have enough wood near your TC you will have to cut trees further away. This will increase the time for you to take to build your first wood pit and slow your Tool times accordingly. Why 3 straggler trees? Usually, you’ll have one tree that gives you 75 wood, and two others of 40 wood each, for a total of 155 wood. Added to your initial 200 wood, you have enough to build your first food building, a wood pit and housing for 12-16 people.
Anything less than this (or 3 trees of 40 wood each – ack!) will mean that the time for you to get your first wood pit will be slowed, and this will slow down your Tool times.
Now why does delaying your first wood pit slow down your Tool times? This might be a little tricky to explain, as it is slightly conflated with the idea of productive villager time. But here goes.
There really is only one maxim as far as Fast Bronzing is concerned, and that is – “The faster you get 1300 food, the faster you bronze.” Hence shore fish, and as many villagers on food as possible. However, the rate at which you get food is not only a function of the number of villagers you have on food, but also the amount of productive villager time on food. Put differently, it not only matters how many villagers you put on food, but also how early you put them on food.
To give an example, let’s compare the difference in production between your 1st, 14th and 23rd villagers, assuming you stopped building villagers at 24.
Berries gathered by 1st villager = .45 (gathering rate) * 21 (no of new villagers built) * 20 (time to build 1 villager) = 189f by time 24th villager is built.
Berries gathered by 14th villager = .45 * 10 * 20 = 90f by time 24th villager is built.
Berries gathered by 23rd villager = .45 * 1 * 20 = 9f by time 24th villager is built.
As you can see, the sooner your villagers are put on food, the more food you will gather. The longer you wait to put your villagers on food, the longer it will take to get your first 500 food.
But of course the picture is never so simple – food sources are finite and it is not possible for you to bronze just by putting all your villagers on your first berries (they will run out). You will need to start on a second food source in order to Tool. So the sooner you get your second food building, the faster you Tool and Bronze.
This is where your first wood pit comes in. If your first wood pit is by a sweet spot, it’s also your second food building. The sooner you get it the better. Even if it isn’t by a sweet spot, the sooner you get your wood pit, the sooner you’ll be able to get your second food building going. This is why it’s important to have at least 3 straggler trees near your TC, any less and your Tool time (and hence your Bronze time) will suffer.

e. Why aren’t gazelle/wood considered sweet spots?
Two reasons. Gazelle take a lot of micromanagement to kill, and rot a lot faster than elephants. The time you spend grouping your villagers and individually killing each gazelle is time lost watching your explorer and fine tuning the rest of your economy. They are also gathered slower than shore fish. So unless you are Persian, I wouldn’t consider gazelle/wood as a sweet spot. Expect your tool time to suffer.
Ok, that’s basically it – I’ve dealt with the whys behind the aims and minimum conditions for Crappy Bronzing. On to the execution.

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