Phoenician: A Guide for Better Play


Heaven’s Reference Pages

Phoenician: A Guide for Better Play

By Xx_Ram_Mars_xX

Introduction

Phoenicia is a challenging and exciting race to play. I have been playing them for year now. I have played them in all settings; using all popular strategy’s. Phoenicia can perform rather well on every setting; some better than others. They excel on all water maps, but I have found them to be exceptional on all map types with any resource setting or starting age. DM’s are a exception to the rule but in any real match setting Phoenicia can be a dominating force. My goal in this guide is to point out Phoenicia’s strength’s and weaknesses. I plan to write this guide for players of the intermediate level. This is because I am not going to talk about build orders or how to execute a particular strategy with Phoenicia. 
Yes, Phoenicia does require you to change things to exploit their potential when you execute a particular strategy. But I don’t see much worth in trying to point this out in great detail. The best thing for you to do is work with them. I might be slow but it took me a month just to get familiar and comfortable with them. You really need to “Know” this civilization in order to use them effectively. 
Phoenicia is defiantly a fast civilization in the hands of a person who plays them correctly. In the hands of someone less experienced they are no different then the conventional slow civilizations. This guide is geared to get you comfortable with Phoenicia a little quicker. And to realize their potential. 

Versatility + Knowledge + Speed = Victory

When I decided to pick a civilization to master. Or, use in most my games this is the formula I basically used. 
Versatility, I want a civilization that can hit the enemy with a variety of units effectively. And one that can counter the other players moves effectively.
Knowledge, I have to know the civilizations quality’s to the fullest extent. I have to know what my enemy is up to and react appropriately. This goes hand in hand with Versatility. 
Speed, The player who takes the battle to the enemy first usually wins. I need a civilization that is fast through the ages. As well as one to posses a serious threat in all ages. 
These are all important ingredients needed to be successful with your civilization of choice.

Wood Bonus

My Thoughts

All of Phoenicia’s speed and good economy come from one very small, overlooked thing. The wood bonus. As you know it allows +3 wood carrying capacity. But really it is much more than that. Most of which Gutter Rat does a excellent job of covering below. Now we all know that straggler trees are crucial in the early game. If you don’t have any stragglers or have to walk a long way’s to get them you will be very far behind. Because of the wood bonus Phoenician villagers carrying capacity is better suited to a 75 tree than a non-Phoenician villager. For example, A Phoenician villager will make 6 trips to clear out a 75 wood tree. On his last trip he carries 10 wood back from the tree. A non-Phoenician villager will do the same job in 8 trips and on his last return he is only carrying 5 wood. Also, Phoenician villagers actually CHOP faster then normal villagers. So, you are better matched to the 75 wood stragglers, you chop them faster and do it in less trips. That means you get that forest / sweet spot (hopefully) pit up faster and you are off to a fantastic start. 
I will turn it over to Gutter Rat for more explanation on the gathering rates. It is just not possible for me to even come close to this level of description. He did a fantastic job with this and rightfully so he should be the one to explain it. I have edited the information a bit so that it isn’t as long. And it doesn’t give you specific numbers. Also, this was Gutter’s analysis was writen before Rise Of Rome was released. Some numbers have changed in RoR. For those of you who have AoE the normal numbers are correct the Red Numbers are correct for RoR.

Gutter Rat’s analysis

The main item of interest in wood cutting is the wood gather rate. This is the amount of wood delivered to a pit or town center per unit time. The factors determining the wood gather rate are the following: 

  • tree size
  • separation distance
  • chop-down time
  • villager chop rate
  • villager capacity
  • villager speed

The tree size is either 40 or 75 Wood. All forests are composed of 40 Wood trees. The 75 Wood trees only appear as isolated stragglers. 
The separation distance is the minimum distance in tiles between the outer boundary of a tree and the outer boundary of the nearest storage pit or town center. To see the actual size of a tile, go into the Scenario Editor and hit Ctrl-B. To roughly estimate distances in a game, you can use the fact a single wall block is 1 tile square or the fact that town centers, military buildings, and storage pits are all 3X3 tiles in size. Note that a storage pit may appear a bit smaller than its actual size, which you can see by observing the outline box that appears when you click on it. 
Chop-down time is the time that a villager takes to fell a tree. A villager cannot gather any wood from a tree until it is chopped down. This time is 9 seconds for all civs regardless of any researched upgrades or civ bonuses. Using more villagers to chop down a tree reduces the time to 9 / (number of choppers). 
The villager chop rate is the amount of wood per unit time that a villager gathers from a felled tree while he is chopping. Researching the wood cutting technologies increases the chop rate. Phoenicians have an initial chop rate of 0.85 Wood/sec (0.75 wood/sec RoR), whereas all other civs have an initial rate of 0.55 Wood/sec. Each of the three wood cutting upgrades — Woodworking, Artisanship, and Craftsmanship — adds 0.20 Wood/sec to the current chop rate. Thus, researching all three adds a total of 0.60 Wood/sec to the initial rate. 
Villager capacity is the amount of wood that a villager can carry at one time. Phoenicians have an initial capacity of 13 Wood, whereas all other civs have an initial capacity of 10 Wood. Each of the three upgrades — Woodworking, Artisanship, and Craftsmanship — adds 2 Wood to the current villager capacity. Thus, researching all three adds a total of 6 Wood. Villager speed determines the time a villager spends traveling between trees and pits. Yassy villagers have an initial speed of 1.5 tiles/sec (1.3 tiles/sec RoR), whereas all other civs have an initial speed of 1.1 tiles/sec. Researching the Wheel adds 0.7 tiles/sec to the villager speed. 
Note that the manual is in error on the following points: 

  • Yassy villagers have an initial speed bonus of 36% (not 30%).
  • The Wheel adds 64% to regular villager speed (not 30%).
  • The Wheel adds 47% to Yassy villager speed (not 30%). (All of those numbers have been corrected in RoR)

As a result of the above villager factors, there are three groups of civs with respect to wood cutting. They are 

  • regular (no speed bonus, no chop-rate bonus, no capacity bonus)
  • Yassy (speed bonus)
  • Phoenician (chop-rate bonus and capacity bonus)

 

Analysis procedure

Due to the conflicting information available on gathering rates and villager speed (as well as errors and omissions in the manual) I ran timed scenario trials for all the above factors for each civ group and for every possible combination of wood cutting and wheel upgrades. I derived the wood gathering equation and wrote a Matlab program that plugged in the appropriate factor values for each civ group to create tables of gathering rate performance. I then verified that a sampling of 24 of the table entries, spread among the three groups, were within an error tolerance corresponding to my estimated timing accuracy. For timing, I used a hand held stopwatch while running the tests in single player mode (game time appears to correspond very well to real time in this mode). This gives times that are more accurate than what is possible using the game clock. 
Phoenician Wood Cutting: 
Although the wood cutting upgrades are generally more beneficial than the wheel, the wheel is more important than it is for other civs because the Phoenician’s chop-rate bonus causes pit-to-tree travel to take up a larger percentage of the overall gathering time. 
Phoenician gets more benefit out of 75 Wood trees than the other civs do. Before getting any upgrades, this is primarily due to the fact that the Phoenician’s capacity is better matched to the 75 Wood trees (villager carries 77% of his capacity on his last trip) than to the 40 Wood trees (villager carries 8% of his capacity on the last trip). As a result, the benefit actually increases as distance increases, whereas the opposite occurs for other civs. At all distances, a 75 Wood tree is better than a 40 Wood tree if it is no farther than the 40. Past one tile of separation, a 75 is better if it is no more than one tile farther than the 40. Past seven tiles of separation, a 75 is better if it is no more than two tiles farther than the 40. 
Phoenician vs Regular Villager 
A Phoenician with no upgrades has a 46% advantage over a regular villager for 40 Wood trees next to the pit. This advantage drops as separation distance increases since travel time becomes more significant relative to chop time. 
Interestingly, when both civs have researched woodworking, the Phoenician has a 32% to 33% advantage regardless of distance. This is because the Phoenician’s capacity is now well matched to the tree while the regular villager’s is not. The Phoenician’s advantage decreases as further wood cutting upgrades are researched by both civs. 
The Phoenician has a more significant advantage when cutting 75 Wood trees since chop time becomes more significant relative to chop-down time. The Phoenician with no upgrades has a 49% advantage for 75 Wood trees next to the pit. This advantage is less affected by distance because the Phoenician has a better-matched capacity than it does with the 40 Wood trees. The advantage stays above 36% until both civs research Artisanship. 

Additional Information

Here is some additional information on tests that I ran in RoR.
A phoe villager will clear out a 75 wood tree in 100 seconds, and a non-phoe villager will do the same job in 136 seconds. This way you can see how that chop rate bonus and capacity bonus really effect things. Now it is true that Phoe villagers don’t have as much of a advantage on the 40W trees but it is still helpful. A Phoe villager will clear out a 40W tree in 53 seconds, and a non-Phoe villager will do the same job in 73 seconds.

The Tech Tree

The versatility of any civ is told within their tech tree. From this you can deduct what units to use when to achieve your goals. Here is where we take a look at them age by age. 
Phoenician

  • – 25% Elephant cost
  • +65% Catapult Trireme and Juggernaught fire rate
  • The wood bonus

 

Tool

Phoenicia gets all units and all technology’s in tool. But then again who doesn’t? Some might argue that Phoenicia has a slight advantage here with bowman and the wood bonus. I can agree with that to an extent. The idea is that you have extra wood or less villagers on wood. So a faster tool time or a good tool time with good amounts of wood to make a couple of ranges and even a stable to tool rush with. It actually works quite well. I have used Phoenicia in Brushes and blitzes and they work great. The thing is no one really expects a tool rush any more and they certainly don’t expect it from a Phoenician player. Big reason why it works so darn good. 

Bronze

Phoenicia is missing just one technology in bronze age. Architecture, it’s nice to have but not really a necessity by any means. But other than that they have all units and techs up to that point. So you are gaining versatility here; however their is nothing special about their units. The Composite bowman don’t have extra range like Minoian. Their Chariots are not stronger than Egypts. What you see is what you get. It is just that in bronze age, is it enough? I believe it is. I will take the ability to use chariots, Composites, good priests, cavs, hopolites, chariots, broads or short swords men, and Stone Throwers. Well, who really uses some of these units but the fact is that Phoenicia has them and the enemy better think about that or loose. Keep the enemy off balance. 
Here is my general plan with Phoenicia in the bronze age. Usually, I will have at least probed the enemy with a bowman on my way to bronze. Near their town I will have at least 2 Archeries and 1 stable. I will make a scout and I also have at least 1 range at home. I start out with cavs while I get upgrades for composites. I am not using all that extra wood for Chariot Archers so I can plop down a ton of ranges near the enemy. As well as a few siege workshops. The nice thing about this is that the enemy more than likely is used to seeing the enemy stick with one type of unit. More than likely the enemy will be producing some Chariot Archers to do battle and dance with them to counter my cavs. About this time the composite / Stone Thrower army moves in. Maybe a few more cav to flank or whatever. But what I am getting at is the versatility that in my opinion is so incredibly important. Sometimes I’ll switch from Chariot Archers to Compies… or any number of things. I’ll also use hopolites and cav armies. I am almost never one dimensional. I can’t stress that enough. 
I will use the above plan about 4 out of 10 games. So, it is not that I do this all the time. As you know countless other things will persuade us to use other strategies or use different units. Go into a game with set way of doing things and you are dead. 

Iron

Iron age used to be a problem. And here is why. Phoenicia only had four “Super Units” Those being the Juggernaut, Ballista Tower, Centurion, and Legion. And no iron age armor upgrades, except the shield. No Siege craft so even your slingers are limited in range. The most common units to see in Iron age are Cataphracts, horse archers, heavy horse archers, ballistas, helepoli, and heavy cats. All of these can give phoe trouble. Or at least they used too. Now with RoR things are a bit different. As it was before phoe could hold up in iron ok. They were able to still give the enemy trouble but really vs. hittie or summer it is too difficult with equally matched players. You better get those enemies in bronze. Now in RoR Phoenicia gets some new toys in Iron. The armored Ellie and Scythe Chariot. The nice thing about the Scythe Chariot is it dishes out massive damage, and causes area damage too. They are cheap to produce and with the wood bonus even cheaper. The upgrade to get them is not that expensive considering the extra wood Phoenicia is likely to have. Also, the armored ellies are just ferocious vs walls and towers. 
Pre-RoR Phoenicia did not have a good peon killing iron age unit. Chariot archers won’t cut it if your opponent has Horse archers. Composites certainly don’t help against Horse Archers. However a Scythe Chariot is just awesome at peon killing. With area damage Peons fall in 4’s and 5’s. It is amazing to see what just one Scythe Chariot can do to a group of enemy wood cutters. The SC can also handle horse archers fairly well. Once they get close enough. A big complaint people had against Phoenicia in iron is the micro-management of the slow hand to hand based units. Centurions, elephants, and elephant archers. This force is certainly a force to be reckoned with. Obviously the SC helps out here. But some problems remain. For instance “Dumb-o’s” are dumb. If you leave them alone for just a little bit they’ll do something stupid when you are not looking. They don’t have the best range of sight, so after the buildings are destroyed or whatever they will stand their and pretend to be a normal elephant. (Pre-domestication) They also have a nasty habit of turning back on you when you are not looking a bunch of priests walk up and your elephants are quickly the enemy’s . Another thing I don’t like is when you are not around and a elephant is attacked it will go after the unit. That’s good right? Not when it chases that unit into an ambush! One of the reasons why I don’t use war elephants much. Elephant archers on the other hand are your unit to counter all other archers. Plus, they have better AI. They peon kill pretty good if you maneuver them right. Use your elephants like a moveable killing wall. 
The thing is you need to be proficient using these units and it is hard to do. In iron age the world is probably blowing up around you, and you have a lot to do. You can’t watch them all the time. But you can do a few things to help control your dumbo’s. I would say that would be escort them with some fast units. Chariot Archers or Scythe Chariots. Preferably, Chariot Archers… they have good AI so they can help out the dumb gray tanks. Also, they help take care of that nasty priest problem. Speaking of which always take at least 4 priests with your elephants. You can convert them back should they turn on you, and lets face it. Phoenicia’s elephants are cheap, but still not THAT cheap. A priest with medicine can heal the elephant in no time at all and back in battle he goes. While we are on this topic. Phoenicia gets full priests. Be sure to use the group functions often. I might sound a little harsh on the elephants. But actually I love em. Probably my favorite unit really. Their shock factor is excellent. How many times have you seen 10 war elephants come marching into town. Then scramble thinking “How am I going to deal with that!” 
Well, maybe it is just me but I have been down that road. Elephants are tricky to use… and require a high level of micro-management. But when done right it sure is great! Something to keep in mind is that next to Shang. Phoenicia is a great Booming civ. I have hit iron with them at 17mins, but I know some people can do better. The thing is why boom to iron if when you get to iron you don’t have a dangerous unit immediately at your disposal. Such as Horse Archers. You can toss out some elephants but even thought they are cheaper; they are still not cheap enough. If you iron in under 20mins it’s not to likely you will have 1000 food laying around to pump out a few elephants. Plus with the slow speed villagers can run away. If you use elephants and some Chariot Archers that will help. But it still is a bronze age unit, the only thing that will make it better than any other Chariot Archer is that you can get alchemy and another wood upgrade. But with no Iron age Armor or attack upgrades I don’t think a iron boom with phoe is a good way to go. But they can do it fast! 
I would prefer to make a great bronze army and usually hit iron at about 30 mins. I can usually have 4 ST and 15 CA and hit a 30min iron with out breaking stride. Just one example of the many combinations of units but whatever the combination. I find if I need to I can iron at about 30mins. The Phoenician economy can really roll. 

Now What?

When playing phoe for the first time or in the early stages of trying them out. Give yourself time to get comfortable with them. Try everything! Brush, Blitz, Push, Probe, Fast Bronze, Power Bronze, Power Up, and boom. You should find after a bit of practice you can do all of that well; if not excel in some areas. It is easy to overlook that bonus when you play them. If you find yourself with more wood than you need adjust things so it works. The big thing is just practice with them. I wish I could say just do this and this and you should be fine. But in AoE that just doesn’t cut it. 

Credits

Special thanks to: 
Gutter_Rat 
ThumP 
Celestial Dawn 
The Shia’tian Clan 
The Shia’tian Forum 

With out these folks there is no way I would be as good of a player as I am today. Many Kudo’s to all of you.