Crappy Bronzing Revisited


The Art of Walling

Walling is an art form, or at least it was when I first started doing it (a nostalgia of sorts falls over the author). I do not claim to be the first to ever wall – in fact, I remember when I was of the opinion that walls were a total waste of food. But I can safely say that I was the first to walleffectively at a high level of competition (Top 10 Cases Ladder), and that more than a little of that influence helped end the insidious reign ofYamato (aka the Dark Side) at the top levels of play.
A number of people have told me that my walling is legendary. Lol. “Legend” is the right word – there’s more myth than fact behind this fiction. If you only knew why I was any good at walling …
Fear is your motivation. Ok, the cat’s out of the bag. The real reason I was really good at walling was because I was scared stiff. All those bloody Yamato with those discount-store variety Cavalry were just killing me all over. At that time I still didn’t know how to Fast Bronze – I was still doing 16 minutes while people were doing 14-15. I certainly was shore fish clueless. This was when the Bronze Rush was all new, and only DVT_Cool could do 13 minute bronzes. Oh, and Maimin_matty (Matty, if you’re reading this you still owe me some lessons – you promised!!) was still #1 and DVT_Cool was #2 – now if you can remember how long ago that was … you get the idea of what sort of ancient history I’m describing here:)
Anyway, stuck with all the evil Yamato (18 of the top 20) and not knowing how to Fast Bronze – I came upon the idea of keeping YamatoOUT. I had to learn to wall, and wall effectively – because I had no other choice. I didn’t know how to bronze quickly, I hadn’t discovered docking yet (this was a bit later) – basically, if I didn’t wall in on time, I was dead. You don’t know how hard my heart beat when I was walling against Yamato.
Yeah, so sorry to disappoint you guys, but you see CD is really quite human after all:) See – when he tells you he sucks, he sucks. He doesn’t lie.
And that – ladies and gentlemen is the secret of how to wall. Just be really scared and you’ll do wonders:) Ok ok, there’s more to walling than just fear:)
Explore your immediate area. Exploring isn’t all about following the water and finding the fish. In order to wall you have to explore the area around your TC too (30 tile radius). I usually do this in my first sweep back from exploring in one direction and towards the opposite direction. Note the lay of the land, any resources – gold, stone, forest, wildlife, berries, fish. 
Sometimes if I want to see how far a forest extends, I’ll grab a woodcutter and send him on a short walk to have a look-see and then put him back to work. It’s important that you know your surroundings intimately in order to decide how best to wall.
Section walling v Local walling. The best sort of walling is known as section walling, where you use surrounding forests and chokepoints (even if they are not nearby) to wall in a section of the map. The advantage of this is that you have a secure area in which to focus on production unhindered, and you are out of the range of enemy Archery units. Of course, in order to do this, you will need to have explored your surrounding area (30 tile radius from your TC).
The second type of walling, which should only be used as a last resort, is where you try to wall in just one resource – enough that you are safe from enemy hand-to-hand units, but not ranged units (e.g. when you throw up a wall around a gold mine). This is known as local walling.
As a general rule, section wall whenever you can, and use local walls only if you are pretty desperate.
What should I wall in? Ideally, it should contain:

  1. Your Town Centre.
  2. One untouched food source (it can be gazelle).
  3. At least one resource that you require. Gold for Cavalry/Composite civilisations, a medium-sized Forest for Chariot Civilisations and Stone if you plan to Tower.

If you can’t wall in your TC or a secondary food source don’t worry – walling off just your gold or forest will do. This is the bare minimum.
How do I wall? The key to getting walls up quickly is to start on them early. The general idea is to be able to begin wall construction the moment your wall research is complete. You want to time the arrival of your wall builders to coincide with the time you complete your wall research. This way no time is wasted between research and construction.
Laying wall foundations. One of the benefits of exploring your immediate environs is to not have annoying black spots (even little ones) that get in the way of your walling. It’s time consuming (in terms of micromanagement) to have to walk a villager to uncover those black spots before you can lay down the rest of your wall. Try your best to uncover them in your initial exploration.
Use shift-BW. Laying down individual wall tiles is … a pain. Make full use of the multiple build feature. If you are walling next to a forest, make sure you scroll your mouse over the forest as well before you lay down your wall – this way you make sure that there aren’t any holes for the enemy to walk through later.
The wall (mirror) bug. This is probably the most annoying bug that can kick in while you’re building a wall. If you try to lay a length of wall with one of the wall tiles at the edge of the map, you will find that the computer will lay a wall across half the map for you. It’s a terrible waste of stone, and even if you spend your time deleting every individual wall, you only get half your stone back. This only happens if your wall tile is at the edge, so the way to get around this is to lay an individual wall tile at the edge, and use shift-BW for the rest of that wall. The bug doesn’t kick in if you place only 1 tile at the edge.
Use a minimum amount of stone to wall. This is for two reasons – one, your wall goes up faster and two, if you’re not mining stone, you can use that extra stone for wall repairs. Try and make use of natural terrain as part of your wall wherever possible – forests, water etc. Gold and stone mines also make excellent walls.
Use buildings as your walls. The first person I ever saw doing this was Krad – and come to think of it, he’s probably still the only one who can do it really well. Sometimes 150 stone isn’t enough to wall in, and you can make up for this shortfall by using a granary, a barracks, a market or stable as part of your wall. A line of houses does the job pretty well too. For more information on this, you probably have to apply to Krad, but if I’m not wrong it requires early scouting so that you already know where you want to put your first wood pit and then build housing for 9-12, 13-16, 17-20 etc in a line there. Buildings stand up pretty well against Tool units and by the time Bronze units arrive, you should have mined enough stone to wall the remainder.
Assign 1 villager for every 3-4 wall tiles. The key here is to be able to get your walls up in around 30s (from the time you commence construction) or less. Don’t put one measly villager on a long wall … get 5-6 villagers walling that spot … once the wall is complete, you can send them all back to work.
Make sure you complete your wall. Half-hearted walling is as bad as not walling at all. If you’re planning to wall, you must make sure youcomplete the wall. Spare as many villagers as you need to finish the wall, even if it means that your economy suffers in the interim. One of the worst things that can happen is almost walling off completely and then having one annoying enemy Scout knock 1 tile off your almost completed wall. And then 1 minute later, have the enemy run 2 Cavalry through. If you’re going to wall, make sure you finish the wall.
Is my area wallable? Try to construct a mental picture in your mind (harder if you don’t play 1.0 speed) about the area you plan to wall in. Maps can be divided into three categories:

  1. The dream forests. A few forests in a ring surrounding your TC with easily wallable chokepoints. Can section wall with 150 stone. In this case, there is no need to mine stone – just wall when the time comes.
  2. The Great Wall. One or more sections of the map is relatively open and will require a long wall. Can section wall with 250 stone. A little stone mining here will be needed.
  3. The barren wilderness. You’re stuck in the middle of nowhere, or you’ve got one small forest with no other geographical features to help you wall. Not possible to wall even with 250 stone.

Keeping in mind that you start the game with 150 stone (on default resources), a dream forest scenario is pretty straightforward – simply wall in when the time comes.
Great Wall scenarios (250 stone) are a little more tricky – as they require you to mine a little stone. First off, before you commit to mining stone, try and make sure you are making full use of terrain (forests, water, mines etc). Sometimes if you reevaluate the situation in this way, you may find that you require less stone.
If you find that you need more than 150 stone to wall, this is how to go about getting it. On most maps, there should be a stone mine 15 tiles or less from your TC. If not, there usually is one within 15 tiles from your one of your storage pits. On your way to Tool, take off 2 villagers (from food or wood or one from each, depending on which you’re getting faster) and put them on stone duty. It’s alright for them to walk to the stone mine – you only need to build a storage pit next to stone if you’re planning to Tower or if it’s conveniently located to some other resource. Your Bronze time may suffer slightly (30s – 1 minute) but IMHO this is a small price to pay for security and peace of mind.
Sometimes stone is more than 15 tiles away. This is where you will have to make a judgement call – is this spot really worth walling? i.e. will I be able to wall in my TC, extra food and an important resource? And even if I can, can I control water access (if there is any)? Is my dock placed where it can easily intercept an incoming enemy Transport? The real danger about slowing down your Bronze too much by mining stone is that an enemy can Transport in troops before you get a chance to build your own Bronze military.
If the answer to both these questions is yes (or if there is no water) then you should consider assigning your first stone miner in late Stone or to assign 3 stone miners during the transition from Stone to Tool. Whether you use 2 or 3 stone miners, try and make use of buildings as your walls initially, so as to cut down on build time. You can complete the wall sections behind your buildings later.
Barren wilderness scenarios are the least conducive to walling. The philosophy underpinning this is that you shouldn’t bother walling if it will take more than 250 stone. First, you will have to mine extra stone – second, against a competent opponent, it will take too long to wall. So don’t waste your time trying to section wall. But even though section walls may be impossible, it may still be possible to wall locally. Wall in your most important resource and hope for the best.
If you can’t wall locally, or if your initial resource is too small (tiny forests spring to mind), your only other option is to find a better place to wall. You should already know from about 4 minutes into the game whether or not you’ll have to do this. In the process of your exploration then, you should be actively noting other spots, whether nearby or a little further away, that are more conducive to walling. In other words,consider moving your key production to an area that is more wallable. Abandon your TC and go guerilla. And wall wherever it is you relocate to.
Either that or aim to do something more drastic (often the best option). Abandon all intention to Fast Bronze altogether and go for a Villager Boom or an all-out Tool Rush. Fortune favours the bold.
Walling the shallows. Note that nowhere in the preceding three pages have I said anything about walling the shallows. The rule of thumb is this – section wall your town first before you wall the shallows. Only when you’re done walling your city should you worry about the shallows.
Why is this? There can be more than one shallows. Walling one won’t stop the enemy from crossing the other. Time spent meandering about on your side of the map looking for a second shallows to wall means less time exploring the enemy side of the map. Unless you’re using more than one explorer, you don’t have all the time in the world to find the enemy. Spending time on your side of the map gains you nothing – if you see a shallows and you’ve already found enough resources on your side of the map, cross. I even build my dock on the enemy side of the map sometimes.
Also, the earlier you cross, the less likely your forward explorer will be detected. A villager on the enemy side of the map is far more valuable than two on your side. So don’t stick around trying to find where all the shallows are … find the enemy instead.
The other compelling reason for not walling the shallows first is this – a competent opponent (I assume you’re not playing some clueless newbie or a natural retard like CDwill have crossed the shallows to your side already. By the time you hit Tool and wall, your opponent will already be busy setting up a Stable or an Archery on your side.
So unless you’re sure (by studying Achievements or otherwise) that no enemy villager has sneaked across to your side, wall your town first, and only then the shallows. Walls at shallows, if anything, only lull you into a false sense of security. Now all this doesn’t mean that you should never wall the shallows. Always wall them if you can – but your first priority should be your town.
Docking the shallows. This is an interesting use of a Dock to block the shallows. Basically, the idea is to effectively be able to wall in Stone Age, instead of having to wait till Tool. Built early enough, it allows you to Villager Boom with impunity from both your TC and your dock.
The first time I came across its use was through atsq, who used this tactic decisively against LofwyrDustyn recently popularised its use, and this tactic has just recently been written up by Methos and placed on Shai’tan (http://netleague.com/aoe/). You will find a full description of it there.
For the purposes of Crappy Bronzing however, I see a few problems with a “dock-the-shallows” routine. First of all, as pointed out before, there may be more than one shallows (or worse – in some maps, there aren’t any). And pretty often, you will find that more than one dock is required to block the shallows. It is true that this problem can be partially solved by using both a dock and a house (or three) but my biggest concern with choosing to dock the shallows has to do with timing.
Unless you start pretty close to the shallows, chances are you’ll only find it a little later. But assuming you do find the shallows early, can you afford the wood to dock? In the great majority of maps (we’re talking default resources and inland/coastal), you’ll only be able to build a dock (without slowing down your production) as your 3rd/4th building. In fact, even assuming you placed the dock as your second building, the earliest you could do it would only be by your 13th villager. Not to mention the serious drawbacks it would have on your economy by not having a functional wood pit first.
During all this time, your opponent could also have infiltrated your side of the map already.
I do not recommend docking the shallows for Crappy Bronzing. Even if I wanted to build a dock, I wouldn’t build it at the shallows. The whole idea of docking away from your TC is to ensure that your opponent doesn’t realise you have a dock or that your opponent doesn’t find it until it’s too late. Docking the shallows just advertises “Look! This is where I’m getting my food – please attack!”
Remember, these comments are just for Crappy Bronzing – docking the shallows may well be a good tactic for other strategies and certainly is a good one for medium or high resources.
Coast walling. I know some players do this, so as to render enemy Transport landings useless. It’s an interesting use of walls to say the least but unless you have excess Stone, are defending a Wonder or have nothing else better to do, it is usually better to build a dock and control the waterways instead. Walling the coast takes up too much stone and too much time. Against Cavalry, I’d rather get a few Priests and have a little fun when the enemy lands. Against CA, all that extra stone would be better spent on Towers. Just thought I’d mention it, out of completeness.
Preventing infiltration. One of the biggest nightmares you can have when section walling is an opponent sneaking a villager through before your wall goes up and building military in your town. When you’re sending a villagers out towards wherever it is you plan to wall, you will usually uncover sufficient fog to be sure that no enemy has sneaked through. However, if there is a section of your base which you haven’t checked recently, send a villager to investigate. In this way you ensure that no enemy is building in your town.
Offensive walling. Heh. This can be really entertaining:) If you’re executing a Tool Rush and your opponent is decides to go guerilla, wall his TC. You only need a wall 1 tile thick around the TC to stop your opponent from Villager Booming from that TC once they hit Bronze. Very fun! And highly distressful for your opponent:)
The second sort of offensive walling usually happens in Bronze (or later). This involves section walling other parts of the map, continuing to wall off new sections until you basically control or able to restrict access to the entire map. The idea here is to make sure the opponent has no place to run when you finally bust open their town. Whatever villagers they flee with will run into your walls and will be easy pickings for your military. Once you cordon off an area you also have the peace of mind that the enemy will not be setting up a new base there. It basically makes what might be a long game shorter, drastically reducing the chances of an opponent making a comeback.
The other advantage of dividing the map into little sections, or compartments is that if you set up new TCs within these compartments, each TC has its own self-contained defence. If one compartment falls, the rest of your economy continues to function.
A less ambitious approach may simply be to wall off all the gold or stone on the map.
Walling against Chariot Archers. The good thing about section walling is that properly done, your production is safely out of range of enemy CA. The key thing to remember if you’re planning on chopping or mining anywhere near your walls is to wall further out – so as to nullify enemy range.
If your opponent is going heavy on CA (Assyrian), or you can’t wall as far out as you would like to, seriously consider building Towers.
Towering 1001. I was supposed to write a guide to Towering as part of Crappy Bronzing but I still haven’t gotten it to work perfectly yet so here’s a short guide. Watch Towers blow so make sure you upgrade to Sentry. A Sentry Tower is basically an unkillable non-Assyrian Chariot Archer.
You only need 5 stone miners and 1 Tower builder. With 5 stone miners you get 150 stone every 80 seconds. The key thing to remember here is that while you build the Tower while the rest are mining, so by the time you finish building the first Tower and walk to a new spot, you’ll have another 150 stone to build the next Tower. It takes 80s to build a Tower, halve that if you are using 2 builders. If you research Stone mining, you need only 3 stone miners.
Wall as well as Tower. This is crucial. Smart opponents will go round your Towers, and try to attack your unprotected rear. Wall off the easily wallable sections so that the only way the enemy can come in is through your Towers. Towering is usually the best solution if your flanks are easily wallable but there is a wide open area in the centre that requires a Great Wall. If you’re playing against Assyrian, you might consider not walling that (since you’re mining stone anyway) and go for Towers instead.
Place your Towers in a matrix. Towers are not useful by themselves – place them so that their fire overlaps – perhaps about 8 tiles apart. A matrix of 4-5 Towers will take down any Chariot Archer or Composite Bowman that comes its way.
You have time to Tower. Assuming the Assyrian Bronzes at 13:00, it takes another 80s to research Wheel and 40s to train a Chariot Archer. The earliest Chariot Archers will hit you is 15:00. Assuming you start mining stone by 10:40 (a 13:00 Bronze), you should be able to put up 3 Sentry Towers (plus Walls) by 15:00. A fourth should shortly be on its way.
Build Bowmen to support the Towers. This is VERY important. The whole idea of Towering is to be able to make the transition to Composite Bowmen (alternatively, you could just use Towers as extra defence and build Chariot Archers of your own). While you’re waiting on your 4thand 5th Towers, build 4 Tool Bowmen. Bowmen + Sentry Towers = Death to the first 4 Chariot Archers that try to attack you. If the enemy insists on trying to suicide on your villagers, let him pay the price. You will usually come out ahead.
Don’t stay at base and defend. After you’ve upgraded to Composite Bowmen or once you have Chariot Archers of your own, go after the enemy base. The longer you sit around at your base, the more likely your opponent will wise up and start building Stone Throwers. After initially mauling the enemy forces, take the battle to the enemy.
That’s it I think – you now know as much (or as little) about Walling and Towering as I do.

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