What I wish I knew when I started on the zone

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What I wish I knew when I started on the zone

By Blitz, with additional input from Sumerian Leper and Wedsaz.


I have helped teach RoR to five people in person and dozens online. After playing this game too damn much, and watching many others trying to learn it, there are a few things I wish I knew from day one.

1) Principle of Booming: If your Town Center is never idle through early Bronze, and you can make archers in early Bronze non stop out of at least three Archery Ranges… you have just become better than 80% of Zone players.

2) Understand how to “fix problems” and run to them. Sounds simple, but I have watched players lose games because they couldn’t protect econ from a handful of archers, or didn’t know how to counter small Tool attacks. Knowing how to fix problems quickly with the least amount of resources and time will jump start you towards becoming a good player.

3) Concentrate on more than one thing at a time. Boy oh boy how hard this can be when you are learning. You get a good sized army and you micromanage it to death while you don’t grow or manage your econ or make any more war units. Once your army is dead, you are vulnerable and are in a state of panic to get an army to defend against whatever just defeated your army.

4) All Zone players categorise players into two groups mentally (whether they admit it or not):

Expert= those people that are better than you.
Rookie= people that you can beat.

5) Aggressive players win games and defensive players whine, accuse, and lose. First one attacking usually wins games.

6) Villagers win games. How many you have, how well you protect, how well you can micromanage, how fast you can kill opponent’s Villagers, how well you explore early with them….all determine the outcome of game more than military units.

7) Iron Age warfare is overrated. Don’t go into a game picking civs that get a good Iron Age tech tree. Worry about the three other Ages and you won’t ever have to play Iron Age.

8) There is no substitute for experience. If you want to be as good as players that have played thousands of games, you’ve got to do the time. My two brothers and a couple friends have given up RoR once they realize they can’t be competitive with good players by practicing for a week or two. Experts have proven methods for solving any challenges. All games start with the pressure on inexperienced player because the longer the game goes on, the stonger the more experienced player will become. I have been in Stone Age more than once with Cavalry or Camels in my woodies and War Galleys at my docks and won against inexperienced players (why I was so slow to let that happen is a whole different story).

9) Know the civ’s tech trees and civ bonuses. Utilize the bonuses to get the most out of each civ.

10) It is just a game. I am ashamed to say that I have broken two mice and a keyboard in games that I was getting beat (a long long time ago). I expected to win every game. Now I play more for fun, and I have fun usually every game.


11.) I wish I had understood the concept of forward building. More times than I can count, I had Minoan Compies and STs in my town and I hadn’t even ventured outside of a 20 tile radius.

12.) It would have been nice to understand that Econ is the real game winner and not Military. In “Good Player” games, “most” of the time, he who has the strongest econ wins.

13.) The art of Tool Rushing. This is still something that I struggle with. I think that if a new player started of his RoR “career” with the idea that he is going to start fighting in Tool, he would have a huge jumpstart.

14.) How to take screen shots. Oh how I wish I could go back in time and take shots of Blitz’s and Leper’s early Zone days. Damn that would be a treat!


1. Also your single TC limits how fast you can make land Villies before bronze, which is where boat booming can provide an advantage – so long as it doesn’t take up more ‘land Villie time’ than the resources it brings back. I think that if you have to make twice as many warboats as FBs, the time spent chopping is greater than getting the same food from farming.

2. Used to do well with stopping bronze attacks, but I’m not used to tool warfare. Practice, practice, practice…

3. Never had any problems with that. I just managed my econ and made sure my military buildings were producing, the sheer mass was enough to carry the day on the battlefield.

4. Then I guess everyone on the zone is both an expert and a rookie from my point of view.

5. To be more precise, the first one to significantly harm his opponent’s *economy* wins. Yes there is a difference, and I won quite a few games against otherwise skilled opponents who didn’t know it. For example if you send a lone Clubber to start hitting the enemy dock several minutes before he fills up your town with 100 CAs, that doesn’t mean you’re assured victory; it’s the same thing if you send wave after wave of suicidal CAs to fight the enemy’s massed mino Compies.

6. Yes definitely. *nods in agreement*

7. If you’re looking at an early iron in a team game, you also need something *major* to get you there. A strong early attack to essentially take out one opponent, such as a roman tool rush for example.

8. Dunno, some pick these things up faster, or can take advantage of others’ experience to some extent. I learned that shang was faster by reading articles on GX AoE for example, and saved having to get clobbered 50 times by them before figuring it out. So it *is* possible to catch up, if you play, read, dream, eat, drink, and breathe the game for a few months. Sure you might not have as much experience as some of the old timers, but your new perspective can be equivalent once your playing skills are polished enough.

9. Been there done that. Added extensive lookups, searches, math, and testing to know power ratios between various military units, etc. Discovered some interesting things from testing, had to find the missing variables (frontage for example) and revise the formulas to take them into account.

10. Ah, well on broken hardware you’ve got me beat. The only thing I lost to AoE was a lot of sleep.


15) The bigger the team, the tougher the challenge. Winning 1v1’s is easy. Get right to 3v3’s and learn how to communicate early with partners. There are a lot of good players that lose a lot of team games because there is simply no teamwork.

16) Walling is a lost art. Many will preach it. It will keep you alive till Bronze. Nobody does it.