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Age of Empires / Rise of Rome / Definitive Edition
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Topic Subject: Hurdle #1: Villager Control (Ungodly long)
posted 05-20-99 11:05 AM ET (US)   
I have tried to edit this smaller for the last hour, and it keeps losing meaning. Sorry. You will just have to read it or go on to another thread.

We have all (most of us, anyway) practiced the first 12 minutes of the game against the computer enough times to make it second nature. There are many players who can do that very well. However, for many, that's where the proficiency ends. There are many pieces of advice for how to proceed from here, but putting sometimes contradictory snippets into a coherent game plan is easier said than done. I want to focus on just one aspect of the midgame, villager control.

One part of villager control is seeing the big picture. What resources are required for your overall strategy? And more importantly, in what ratio? This is really the toughest part of villager control, as you have to mentally add up all the resources you need for your game plan. This is a simple linear function, but is made more complex due to the varying collection rates through the ages. Take for instance a minor scout/slinger rush on a land map. 900F(18 peons), 500F(tool), 125F(armor), 100F/50S(stone mining), 480W(2 granary, 2 SP), 525W(3 barracks, 1 stable) = 1625F/1005W/50S. If you want 3 scouts and 9 slingers, you need an additional 660F/90S, for a total of 2285F/1005W/140S. Unless you got really jerked around by the random gods, berries are 90%+ efficient, so you need 5100 Villager-Seconds(VS) for food and 1800 VS for wood, i.e., 75% of your villagers' time should have been on food, 25% on Wood. This is a little simplistic, because it does not assume that you want to do things like wall, tower, scout or get the woodcutting upgrade, but it gives a basic framework. As you get the massive offsets of the ages out of the way, villager assignment becomes much easier. Farming is 100% efficient, and woodcutting 80%, so to supply your needs of constant CA production from 4 archeries (6 CA/min) requires 10 farmers and 9 woodcutters, and 1 additional woodcutter for farms. As Staffa pointed out in his post some time ago, resources sitting in the bank represent wasted villager-seconds. Try to balance your production with your needs.

Efficiently convert your only real resource, villager-seconds, to the resources you need. Common wisdom tells you that if you have a gold-dependent civ, get villagers on gold early, maybe even in Stone. Big mistake. No civ needs gold prior to Bronze, so wait until you have completed the Gold Mining upgrade. I believe neilkaz pointed out that 3 villagers with gold mining beat 4 without, so use those villager seconds to your advantage. If you have average luck, you should have been able to do a wood-gold pit by mid-tool, and can pull all the miners you need as soon as the Gold Mining upgrade is complete. Minimize your walking. It's just wasted time. Stone Mining is nice, too, but unless you have a guardian angel, you need to be walling or towering as soon as you hit Tool, so you have to live with some inefficiency here. Woodchoppers should never walk more than 6 tiles each way, 9 after getting the wheel. This represents the 60% efficiency mark, i.e., 60% of the time is getting resources, 40% is wasted dropping them off. I personally try to keep them above 70% efficient, and find that the extra resources for SPs or TCs is quickly made up. I make it a rule to check on choppers at least every 3 minutes to make sure that they are still reasonably close, and haven't quit chopping for some stupid reason. I find it easiest to steal one of my hotkeys and group all the current resource buildings together so I can tab through them quickly.

Everyone seems to have mastered queueing up villagers as soon as Bronze hits, but don't seem to know what to do from there. I can't tell you how many times I have come into an enemy's town, or viewed an ally's town with writing, and seen 3 or more peons standing around the TC. Don't make peons unless you have a plan for them! You have got to get them working, or you have just wasted food. Get used to using the middle mouse button, and listen for those Villager Complete sounds. That goes for boats, too. I have won games I should have lost because someone didn't clear a path for his fishing ships to get to his docks. Another fine point is where you build your peons. If your games are like mine, you have stripped everything around your TC. That site should only be used to build farmers for the TC and your granary, as otherwise you lose too many villager-seconds to walking. Pop up TCs near all your work sites as you can afford them and create villagers there. You will shave many villager-seconds.

Beware of shifting too many villagers too quickly. Ideally, you should be able to shift them one or two at a time. I have won too many games in which I was outclassed because enemy peons were running from task to task, wasting valuable villager-seconds that were needed for materials for defense. The only exception is needing many gold miners once you get the Gold Mining upgrade. This will have to be done en masse.

Lastly, send builders with your army. 4-6 should be sufficient. They should be one step behind your army. I usually make them build 4+ military buildings, 4 towers and one TC near the front at an abandoned gold mine. Generate peons and military at this outpost and strip the gold. Once the miners are done, move them to either some close trees or follow the army. If you have to retreat, the enemy has the choice of destroying the buildings or leaving an outpost between his van and his town. Without STs, this will buy you a minute or two, a good deal for 800W/600S.

Comments? Questions? Critiques?

Keep your stick on the ice.

[This message has been edited by Thorfinn (edited 05-20-99).]

posted 05-20-99 11:28 AM ET (US)     1 / 12  
Villager-Seconds??? What's next, the quarterly budget for the Minoan Fishing Fleet? (jk) (lots of smileys)

Very interesting post. I disagree with you on one point: When to begin Gold Mining

You are correct in saying that you should not begin mining gold in Stone. That (IMO) would be moronic. However, Gold based civs should begin mining gold late in tool. I would recommend that non-Chariot civs put three vils on gold before Bronze as well. You have no use for gold before Bronze, that doesn't mean that you should wait to start building your stockpile up after you hit Bronze. You may ask. "Wouldn't it be better for my villagers to be on food or wood at that stage of the game?" You've got to play your own game, I guess. But you should be thinking ahead. You need gold for Cav's and Camels; archer upgrades; seige weapons; priests; Hoppies; barracks upgrades.

If you are playing a non-Chariot civ, I also recommend that you get the gold mining upgrade ASAP (as Neilkaz and Thorfinn have pointed out). Otherwise you are wasting time and being inefficient.

An idle villager is a waste of 50 food (35 Shang)

Again, Nice post Thorfinn

[This message has been edited by Scarab (edited 05-20-99).]

posted 05-20-99 11:39 AM ET (US)     2 / 12  
The only inconsistency I see here is that you seem to be suggesting that farming is a good way to get food because it's more efficient... The way I look at it is every 2 farms is worth 3 fb's. And the fb's can continue to bring in food beyond the set amount a farm has and they don't waste villie seconds which could be used gathering more wood for more boats for more food for more villies I don't think I've farmed on any non-hill country map where I wasn't in the position where I should be losing the game (meaning I had nowhere that was safe to set up food gathering and I've lost the seas) in a month or so. There's probably an exception or five, but I'm generalizing

As far as gold goes, I've heard a lot of conflicting advice about this. From my point of view, the earliest that I'll mine gold is late tool... at times I put off mining gold until I'm bronze relying more on wood and gold based units till then (aka if you're building massived amounts of chariots, why mine gold)

posted 05-20-99 01:28 PM ET (US)     3 / 12  
Excellent post about an under-noted, yet crucial, topic. Although I've long since broken myself of the habit of mining stone early (if at all), I still, on occasion, mine gold sooner than I should - a safety net, if you will, for when I bronze (I prefer to have camels ready asap, and I might forget to swarm the gold mines at the appropriate time).

Thanks, Thor! (BTW, when are you ever on the zone?)

posted 05-20-99 01:51 PM ET (US)     4 / 12  
Scarab, you are absolutely right about mining prior to getting to Bronze. I am sorry if I did not make myself clear on this. I'll have to reread and see where I can clarify. What I meant was that you should wait until the Gold Mining upgrade is complete. One market built with multiple builders means that you should be able to have Woodworking and Gold Mining by 1:56 after getting to tool. (0:06 for construction, 1:00 for Woodworking, 0:50 for Gold Mining). If you were able to tool pass, you still have over 20 sec to mine. Not a lot, but 6 miners should get you about 75 gold by the time you get to Bronze, enough for Writing. If you are intending to Bronze rush with gold troops, you would want to start a little sooner, or maybe construct another market and give yourself another minute of mining time, although it will cost you 250W to do so, and you probably don't have the food required either, 800(Bronze) + 120(Woodcutting) + 150(Gold Mining) = 1070F. Suffice it to say probably not going to happen on a land map by anyone of my caliber.

fangr, you are also correct, assuming an appropriate water map. I used farms primarily because I had already discussed the berry efficiency (well hunted critters are only about 80% efficient, due to the time spent micromanaging hunters up front, and the need for some villagers to wait for the others to catch up) and fishing boats are darned hard to quantify with respect to efficiency. So much depends on the exact placement of fish, when you notice that the fish are gone, whether you can place a cut-off dock, etc. That, and I was trying to stick with the example of land maps, i.e., hill country, and with few exceptions, I am farming by the time I can make CA. If anyone has pointers about playing Hill Country without resorting to farms, I'm all ears!

[Gotta remember to refresh. I didn't see armagedn's post. I will probably be on Friday night, sometime around noon on Saturday, and hopefully Saturday evening. My *mgliumph* X2 modem seems to be having problems giving me anything other than red pings, although the pings from anywhere else seem great! Go figure. BTW, I'll be on as _Phlogiston.]

Thanks for the comments, guys!

Keep your stick on the ice.

[This message has been edited by Thorfinn (edited 05-20-99).]

posted 05-20-99 04:14 PM ET (US)     5 / 12  
I have been having quite a bit of trouble with this lately. I have gotten to the point where my main problem is having too much wood. I can't find more berries, or animals, so I have to keep pumping fishing boats. The problem that I have with fishing is that I often can't find enough fishing spots in a timely manner to accomodate all of the boats. Once tool, I always produce a scout ship to help, but even then it can be difficult. As a result of the excess wood, I often put a villager on gold as the tool upgrade is finishing. I have begun to farm, but I seldom hear of people farming before late bronze. Any suggestions?
posted 05-20-99 04:19 PM ET (US)     6 / 12  
Farming is your answer. When playing hill country, I'll put up farms as soon as my market is in place. Four or five farms (more if you can) sound like a possible solution.
posted 05-20-99 04:22 PM ET (US)     7 / 12  
I believe that stone mining, whilst not always crucial (sometimes you have enough stone to wall in completely from the start), is necessary if you want to build towers and walls. Thorfinn was right in saying that if you have protective neighbours, this isn't so important. I like to put one or two on stone whenever I get a chance so that I can build up my towers.




<Josh the Great

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I am currently ICQ Online Indicator

[This message has been edited by Josh the Great (edited 05-20-99).]

posted 05-20-99 04:56 PM ET (US)     8 / 12  
GREAT post !!// Thorfinn.. it really is a pleasure to have some one else here who can analyse economic apsects of this game the way I can... neilkaz...
posted 05-20-99 07:36 PM ET (US)     9 / 12  
Just two comments: One, you're right, you should be watching your tc, if you've got the food to queue up four vils you should have another tc instead..... Two: Farms are good, as a phoenicia on a watery map i can't tell you how many times I've gone on to crush my enemies because I threw up 3-4 farms at 20 minutes and ironed 5 minutes ahead of them.......
and the question : WHAT middle mouse button, LOL wish I had one.
posted 05-20-99 08:08 PM ET (US)     10 / 12  
What an interesting post !

It puts some stats on what we all manage mostly in our heads. Its gunna make me put more thought into the work I get the vills to do.

Unlike Shadow I usually end up with a surplus of food and no wood. It is incredibly frustrating to have 960 food and still not enough wood to build a second tool building. Fbís are my main source of food (except on hill where berries/hunting then farms are the main sources). Shadow why donít you use 1 FB at each dock to do some fish scouting (just like a vill).

In most games I always end up with an abundance of 1 resource which shows, as Thorfinn suggested, that I am not putting the right vills on the right resource. This is much harder to do than it sounds.. Towards the end of stone it always seems I have heaps of wood. Could be as much a 600 before hitting the upgrade. During the upgrade I usually build 2-3 rax and other pit and FBís. Then Tool hits and all the effort I put into late stone to get food has bumped me up to 600-700 food almost enough to bronze. So I whack up bronze buildings.. Market .. forward StableÖ doh no wood ! Shove granary guys onto wood but lose valuable seconds when my tool rush could go bronzeÖ also no wood left for wood chopping upgrade.

If I change my strat and go more on wood early it seems to hurt my bronze time too much and make my tool rush weak ! There must be a good medium.. oh well back to the practice board.

I am doing my maths right now.. Although all my calcs go out the door when 8 slingers walk into my town at 12 mins.

Most I put on stone is 1 vill in late stone this gives plenty of stone for slingers and walls.. I never tower (I have a warped view that this is defeatist.. although I have seen a magnificent tool rush where this guy put a tower on each gold mine (reveal map) ). I always have 1 vill on gold in Tool and switch to 2 in late tool. I donít know how many times those 2 camels at the start of Bronze have saved meÖ but itís a lot. I rarely use the gold mining upgrade and from what you are saying here this is a big mistake.. Iíll certainly grab it in future

posted 05-20-99 09:09 PM ET (US)     11 / 12  
My problem, likes Steve's, is I always have an abundance of food in early bronze. I will often have 1000F but very little wood. I get upgrades ie wheel and archer armor. I usually play a chariot civ because I like to save gold for iron age. I queue up a bunch of vills and put them on wood, but i always seems to be scratchin' around for wood. Once i get enough wood, my econ picks up.
posted 03-25-00 03:10 PM ET (US)     12 / 12  
up!! yayyy!!
Age of Empires Heaven » Forums » Age of Empires / Rise of Rome / Definitive Edition » Hurdle #1: Villager Control (Ungodly long)
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