Staffa’s longest

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Staffa’s longest

In an attempt to create the longest post ever, an accomplishment that will likely result in only replacing a previous post of mine, I have decided to spend the next 6 hours writing in general about strategy in RoR, someday my job might actually entail work, but that seems unlikely. I don’t expect their to be much new content raised in this post, but there are ever new readers who can take advantage of having old content re assembled in one post. Most of this is unstructered thoughts on esoteric concepts behind why I tend to win more often the lose against opponents who seem to know as much as I about the strategies behind this game.

To begin with, I suppose one most realize a statement of intent, such as, the intent of this game is to dominate your opponent in such a manner that you arrive at a victory condition before they do. The key here is that you arrive there first, which in essence is the key to the entire game, timing. Timing is perhaps the most misunderstood aspect of the game, it is the underlying principle of any strategy. To understand why timing is important, you must understand the source of its importance, I shall do that by example.

In a default game, you start with 3 villagers and a towncenter(TC). The villagers have an innate military usefulness granted by their ability to fight, 3 damage and 25 hitpoints(hp). Therefor the first and simplest strategy would be to build a villager and send your villagers(peons) immediately to the residence of your opponent. If your opponent started right next to you, this would in fact be the winning strategy(assuming his peons had no innate advantage such as summerian/assy/yam/palm would). As your opponent does not start right next to you, by the time your 4 villagers arrived at his home, you would be out numbered and villager fights are easily decided by numbers and you would lose horribly. The concept here is the timing of it, you start off equal, but in traveling to your opponent, the time it takes to get there affords your opponent the chance to grow stronger, thus your TC would almost have to be in sight of your opponents TC to afford this strategy any hope of success, else the timing of it will kill you.

The next step would be to first build a house and a barracks and attack with 4 clubbers and 3 peons, this strategy would also work if the distance involved was not to great. Again, if to much time is taken up traveling to the opponent the attack will fail as your opponent will be larger, and due to your raising military score, expecting the clubbers and likely prepared for it. With him not having to waste the usefulness of his own villagers through walking, he will naturally be stronger then you when you arrive.

This element of timing applies to any strategy and is largely dependant on the map. The longer it would take to travel to the opponent to launch an attack, the longer it will take before you can launch an effective attack. Thus the more time one should invest in building their economy before attacking. On the other hand, if your TC were for instance touching your opponents TC, it wouldn’t even pay to attempt to build a house as the peon fight will start instantly, thus any attempt to improve one’s economy will result in a loss.

The point is this, the size you should build your economy to is map dependant, the more distance between you and your opponent, the bigger you should build your economy before launching an attack. In fact, many maps such as contential/Mediterranean vary so little, that the size one should build their economy to is well known. For example, on a large Mediterranean 1v1, I hold that the size varies between 32-34, if you attempt to build less and attack sooner, you will find that by the time your forces arrive at the opponents home they will have achieved more economic strength and will be able to absorb your attack and retain their economic lead. If you attempt to build a larger economy, you will find that the opponents attack will arrive while you are still unprepared for it, and more importantly, arrive with enough strength to set your economy below their own. 

Timing is everything, another way of demonstrating that is by looking at when you launch your attack. As anyone who has sent a lone unarmed clubber against an opponent’s villager has learned, a lone clubber is no match for a hoard of villagers, on the other hand, waiting until you have 10 fully upgraded axers can also be flawed, as your opponent might by then have 8 tool archers, or simply enough wood saved up in the bank to relocate to some safe spot easily walled under cover of scout ships. Timing is everything, sending in 2 upgraded camels can devastate an economy if it occurs early enough, if instead they run into walls, by the time your transport dumps them off your opponents economy, which was twice as big, will now have 4 camels and some chariots of his own lying in wait. The secret to beating someone when their economy is just as well built as your own is in knowing when to attack. The concept of timing an attack is more complicated then simply knowing when to send your troops forth, it lies in knowing when to build the buildings, what buildings to build, and where to build the buildings. It lies in knowing when to bronze and get war gallies, or when to stay in tool and get tons of scout ships. 12 scout ships will beat the *****out of war gallies 1 or even 2 at a time with almost no losses on their part. You should also note how your opponent is playing, and realize that the ideal time for him to attack you may be different, if for instance he is going with a smaller economy, then you should prepare defenses while moving on with your bigger economy. Even if it turns out he doesn’t attack you, thus your tool age defensive units are wasted, you are still ahead econ wise, the mistake here was not you in preparing a defense against a weaker economy, but in your opponent not taking advantage of having arrived more quickly at a critical attack point. A point were his military gains a significant advantage over your inferior military, such as armed clubbers vs stone age civs. 

One of the primary reason a clubber rush is so effective is because the military units can be built while tooling, then upgraded with tool age upgrades while being sent forth. Thus two economies, both run pretty much the same, one builds 10 clubbers while upgrading to tool, the other does not. At tool, arrived with an equal econ and an equal time, the clubbers are sent in with armor and perhaps attack upgrades, while the defender lays down an archery, the clubbers arrive upgraded and the defender finds himself unable to build enough tool archers to fend off the attack, even though he arrived at tool just as quick as his opponent. The timing here is critical, if the attack is even a minute later, the defender could have 5 armored tool archers, which will slow down 10 axers enough to prevent them from doing much damage. The peons are fairly safe from the axers for awhile, as if the axers concentrate on the fleeing peons, they will die rather swifty to the archers, if the axers concentrate on the archers, the archers will die, but new ones will appear, and the peons will be able to build more archeries and the battle will quickly turn in favor of the defender. Obviously the attack might mix slingers in, but the defender can counter slingers fairly easy with peons/axers of his own. 

Being the first to bronze means nothing if you are the last to attack, I once had a partner in a team game who, upon my informing him of my resigning due to my imminent death pointed out to me that I had bronzed last, and he had in fact bronzed first, thus I must suck and he must rule. That I had wiped someone out totally in tool, and he as yet had not achieved a single kill with his iron age 2 hour long sim city exercise deterred him not at all in thinking his fastest bronze time was of some use. The point being here, if you are rushing towards something, you need to realize that the opportunity presented by achieving something first is limited to your ability to do something with it. If you are in tool a good 2 minutes faster then your opponent, your economy will be so much weaker that if you do not do significant damage to them quickly, you will soon be fighting a lost cause. 

Another big topic is resource management. Managing your resources so you have what you need to do what you want. Ideally you should never have a large amount of resources stored in the bank, the concept being that its better to have 10 more fishing boats bring in food, then to have 500 wood doing nothing. On the same line, its better to have 5 more scout ships then to have 600 wood sitting idle as your 10 fishing boats are sunk. The thing to consider here is that you need enough docks to produce the boats to defend your fishing, if you have only 2 docks and your making enough wood to produce 4 boats at the same time, then you are limited by the number of docks, not your wood, and you will acquire an excess amount of wood that is being wasted. Any time you have significant spare resources, then you are not utilizing your resources effectively, this even applies when you have 100 peons and 60 military units, and your pushing the 200 pop limit, obviously its not really humanely possible to make better use of your resources and your econ will likely produce massive overflows, but that doesn’t mean its not theroticly possible. You do need some spare resources to deal with the unexpected, when 5 chariot archers appear in your supposed safe home, you perhaps need to quickly lay down a couple ranges to build some horse archers and some stone to wall quickly wall off your peons safely. Reserves are good if they are minimal, they also allow for a more fluid game play, rather then waiting for the resources for a minor upgrade, you just click on it and move on, not wasting time waiting. An obvious example of resource management is with a gold dependant civ such as yamato or minoan. When you intend to fight early in bronze on land with these civs, you need to manage your resource gathering to include gold pretty early else your land attack will be delayed by the lack there of. Less obvious examples include being in a pitched fight with your opponent, beating them back slowly on the sea, having 5000 spare wood due to your massive wood based econ to win the sea fight, when suddenly your opponent irons and the game is quickly lost as his tiremes make quick work of your wood reserve. The problem here is that your opponent took 2000 of that wood you had gathered and turned it into food/gold and ironed. Sure you were winning the ship fight, but he managed his resources better and while having a much smaller reserve of resources, made better use of them. When you think about the need to start ironing when you have 3000 wood and 800 food, then well, you could have ironed quite some time ago with no effect on your military output if you had managed your resources better. Your ironing, and intend to use scythe chariots in iron, you should perhaps attempt to gather a fairly massive reserve of wood while ironing to prepare for the upgrade and resulting need to build lots of stables/chariots. Nothing like research scythe chariots to run out of wood and have tons of gold food just sitting idle while your 3 scythe chariots per minute get massacred by the enemies horse archers.

Another topic, concentrated fire, which is the notion that 10 units can kill a 55 units of the same type, if they kill them one at a time. This means that if your dock is under fire from 10 ships, you will need to build 55 ships from that dock to remove them, if you attempt to remove them via this, your a lunatic. This method of concentrated fire caries over into many aspects of the game, its the reason that 50 chariot archers will defeat 50 cavalry, even though 1 cavalry will defeat 2 chariots. The chariot archers can concentrate their firepower, thus killing one cavalry off while the cavalry have to spread their fire power out over many chariots. Its the reason 15 slingers can massacre 30 villagers with no losses, even though 1 villager can kill 1 slinger easily. This simply means that it tends not to pay to fight an opponent when they have a bigger army, it would be preferable to run and gather the larger army before re-engaging. Such on water, when the opponent has 3 scout ships hitting your dock, and your dock builds a scout ship, it is far better to run the scout ship away and gather an equal or preferably a bigger force before fighting. If the number of ships hitting your dock is such that you cant run away before it is sunk, then it would be better not to build ships there at all, and rebuild docks elsewhere to raise a competing force. And likewise, when on the other side, its wise to attempt to prevent your opponent from building docks elsewhere to prevent them from raising another force.

Unit counters, as most people know, every unit tends to dominate one unit, and is dominated by another unit. Catapults massacre towers, towers massacre archers, archers(in large numbers) massacre stable units, stable units massacre catapults. Or the best example, priests own elephants, elephants own chariots, chariots own priests. Helopis in large enough numbers own EVERYTHING but catapults, which own helopis worse then priests own elephants. The point here is that a single unit army is always beatable, usually by a cheaper army composed of that units counter. Even scythe chariots are owned by academy units, and they are the closet unit to being a single unit unkillable army. One would point out helopis own scythes, which is true, but not in cost. Mixed unit armies are the way to go, they have a stronger ability to deal with different types of opponent, and are harder to counter. Also, they tend to compliment each other, as earlier pointed out a cavalry as a single unit is stronger then a chariot archer, but massed chariot archers will defeat massed cavalry due to concentrated fire. Mixing the two units together allows you to take advantage of both their strengths, and cover each others weakness, you can still concentrate your fire power with 5 chariots and 15 chariots archers vs 20 chariot archers, the 5 chariots are stronger then the 5 chariot archers, and the opposing 20 chariot archers will die rather easily to the cheaper, and stronger mixed army. Some might point out that the mixed army requires more upgrades, but that notion isn’t really true, as 5 + 15 only requires the attack upgrade which costs the same as the archer armor required by the non mixed army. If both sides mix armies, then you require more upgrades, but then its balanced thus irrelevant.

Some civs also counter other civs, if you don’t believe me, try playing Egypt against Macedonia in an iron dm. Both civs are considered strong dm civs, with more Egyptians played in dm then Macedonia, but Macedonia was created to wreak havoc with Egypt and the fight is no contest.

It is hard to believe how vulnerable non chariot civs are to priests, as most civs played have chariots, this weakness is not well known, but if your in a random civ game and your opponents lack chariots, consider priests as a powerful counter to anything they have.

Most know the importance of keeping up with villager flow at the start of the game, its the first lesson most newbies learn when starting out. How to keep building villagers continously from your tc at the start of the game, the need to locate and quickly find a food source and place enough villagers on the food source have enough food coming in to never need to wait to build villagers. Most know that in general you shouldn’t have more then the minimum number needed on food to maintain villager flow, the reason being that the more you have on wood, the faster you will have your pit and then dock built, the faster you will then get fishing boats, and the sooner they will gather food for you, and the sooner you will have an even bigger economy capable of doing even more. The idea of expanding your econ in tool and bronze and even iron seems lost on many people, though the reason for it is based on the same concept, the sooner you build your econ big, the sooner you will reap the rewards of having a bigger econ with a larger and better army. This idea has to be balanced with the notion that over booming to say 100 peons in stone won’t work, as for one thing, it would probley have been faster to get to 100 peons by bronzing getting gov center and building 10 tcs to get to the 100 peons, but more importantly, because you will cross a certain point in building your econ where it is now better for your opponent to stop building his and attack yours, and you will be illprepared for this. Having discussed this early, I will no get to the point. The point is that you should continue improving your economy in tool + by getting upgrades building more peons/boats, building the gov center and more tc, and even more peons while balancing the needs of your military to keep your economy safe and wreak havoc on your opponents economy. Many players build their 30- 40 economy bronze and stop, they fight fierly for the first 5 minutes of bronze, but then are overwelmed by their opponents expanding economy. Certaintly they have the advantage in the early fight as the resources their opponent spent to improve their economy is instead funneled into their military, but this advantage is quickly erased by time, and overwelmed by the opponents larger economy. The problem here is that the difference spent in the bigger military is not enough to overcome the enemies military. It is in essence the same concept as discussed earlier. For instance, sending 3 clubbers to the opponent early in stone does not pay because by the time the 3 clubbers arrive the opponents 10 villagers have no trouble boning them to death. To take the example to water, it does not pay to not get the wood upgrade, build an extra scout ship, and attack with 4 scout ships instead of 3, by the time the 4 scout ship actually travels to the enemy, the enemy will have 3 scout ships in defense, and 2 more on the way(you also have 2 on the way, but back at your own docks, thus for a few seconds you have the advantage, which disappears quickly as the enemies new ships pop out, thus the fight is rather evenly matched, with you have more total ships, but the ships actually fighting being about equal. The extra wood cutting is starting to provide extra wood, his extra wood will soon allow him to build more ships faster then you, and your advantage will disappear and soon turn into a disadvantage. The travel time between the two forces affords the defender the ability to move some of his resources into economy while fielding an equivalent force, the extra resources fielded to economy will eventually allow the defender to field a larger force, while still providing some resources to econ improvement, which will soon eclipse the smaller economy on all fronts. 

Thus we come to positional war fare, the fight for control of land, raiding, the idea of keeping your opponents military in check while disrupting their economy. Tis ok to fight a losing fight against the opponents military if you are disrupting their economy with raids on a second front. Tis ok to attack the opponents fishing fleet and run away when their larger fleet, comes, chasing you back to your own docks where your new ships returns the advantage of the fight to you, thus back and forth does the sea battle wage, with the winner being the one who keeps the fight competitive while improving their econ the most.

Ah tis a fine balance between military and economy needed to win, and a good sense of the tempo of the game, and the timing to take advantage of the tempo.