Out4Blood & El_Cap's Rise of Nations Strategy

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

MaximusX asks about Tactics at RoN Heavengames.

Strategy = Dictionary term: A plan of action resulting from strategy intended to accomplish a specific goal. In my words: a plan of action; if successfully achieved, that ensures completion of the main goal.

Tactics = Dictionary term: A procedure or set of maneuvers engaged in to achieve an end, an aim, or a goal. In my words: a course of action that succeeds in helping assure the means of an end.

In RoN, your goal is to win the game. In order to achieve this, you have to plan out sequences of actions that will give you an advantage over your opponent. If the completion of those plans are successful, then that will help ensure an easier victory. That is strategy. Now tactics are maneuvers which will make each plan of action you commit in your strategy more successful. For example, you use strategy to win a war, and tactics to help win battles in the war. Just because you've lost a battle doesn't mean you've lost the war.

Let me dumb it down a notch. It's a 1vs1 game. My opponent is Spanish, while I am the Maya. My strategy involves booming ahead of the other player and staying alive defensively and winning by a Wonder victory (watch my 1vs1 BHS games). My plan is to make it to Medieval as soon as safely possible, and build the Terra Cotta Army. This ensures me a standing army while I play my defensive game while continuously booming. Once I make it to Information Age, I build the Supercollider and the Space Program, and finally research World Government to instantly win the game by Wonder Victory. This is Strategy.

Let me dumb it down another notch. In order for my opponent to stop me, even though he knows what my plans are, he does Tactics #2, #7, and #9. Is that his strategy? No. His strategy is to stop my booming process by taking me out by conquest, or trying to outboom me. Those tactics are just things he can do to try to hinder my strategy, and help get his strategy to fall through.

Think of it this way... is rushing someone a strategy to win the game, or is it a strategy to lose the game? I've played games where I've rushed, took their Capital, and won. Other players have played me where they rushed, took my Capital, but lost. I've had games where I've rushed and failed to do anything but raid a little, and win later on. I've also had games where I've rushed people, failed, and lost. It's not because of the rush that people have failed or succeeded to win games, it's because they relied on it as their main strategy. No matter what, fail or succeed, rushing never ensures you of anything except that: even though it slows you down in the beginning, it has a chance of slowing your opponent even more.

On a side note: My brother used to play team games with certain people (I'll call them the Rush-Quitters), and all they would do is rush. If they didn't succeed, they'd quit. What's the fun in that? Why even bother playing with them at all, if the only time they played the whole game was if they were winning because their rushes were successful?

On another note (it's getting fun to rant): When I was playtesting the game at MS with the other playtesters, I'd lose a couple of games. Heck, all of us lost to each other. When you're testing, you're trying new things out, seeing how they work for a few times. Well, one of the "other" playtesters that helped us for a little while thought he was the best around because he had beaten the "original" playtesters in a few games. One of the games was against me when he was the overpowered Mongols with me trying a new strategy with the nerfed Aztecs. After that win, his ego went through the roof.

If I kept playing him for the "title belt" to see who was the best, it would have lasted forever. Plus, I had no real incentive to prove anything to anybody, while he did. That gives him fuel to play his best while I play with nothing to gain but everything to lose. So, I told him that I never play seriously except for money. He laughed. Hell, everybody did, basically saying that I was bullshit. All I said was, if he wasn't afraid, I'd play him for $20 a game. We'd bet $20, and the winner of each game would get the loser's money. I told him he'd never win a money game.

So, the first money game we played, he chose the Spanish, and I chose the Maya. Back then, both nations were overpowered more than they were now, and Spies were god awful! I edged out the win, and got a better feel for how he played. Ahhh.... twenty bucks... how nice!

Afterwards, he asked for another game. We chose the same civs. This time, I knew what was coming, and basically did my lame strat without the TCA (TCA was nerfed at that time). I ICBM'd him so bad, he called me a fag, lol. Wow, I got $40 in less than an hour... this was getting fun!

Although he kept asking if I'd play him again, we never did. And why wouldn't I? I'm always willing for free money. =)

The moral of the story is... even if I defended my title as the "best" playtester, all it would be doing is giving me stress. He had nothing to lose by losing, but everything to gain by winning. My strategy to defend the title was to play as few games as possible. The tactics to make this happen was by involving money and betting. The more times he loses, the less money he'll end up having, and the less confident he'll get to keep playing more. Not only that, he wouldn't want to challenge me as much after each loss, because it's $20 a game he'd be losing! Think about it. It's like my brother vs. the Rush-Quitters. They'll keep playing like they do, and keep thinking like they do, until something changes it for them. Now, if they had to play each game for money like I did, I'm sure they wouldn't rush, and if they did, they would keep playing until they knew for sure they'd lost. It's just the way some of us humans are, unfortunately.

So, of the 10 Tactics I listed here, you cannot win the game soley because of doing them (except if you play noobs with my Kamikaze rush, or raid them so well that they quit). Because of that, they can never be strategies, but only tactics.

Here are the 10 Tactics you can practice or use:

Tactic 1: Kamikaze Rush
Some might consider this a strategy, but it isn't unless your opponent is totally undefended and unprepared. This tactic is to slow down your enemy's economy by either taking one of their economic cities (mainly the Capital), or causing them to overbuild on defenses.

Tactic 2: Raiding
Raiding is almost the same tactic as rushing (basically it's watered down and less of a risk)... slowing your opponent's economy down while yours goes unhindered.

Tactic 3: Caravan Suicides
When you are being raided, and your Caravan is about to get killed, delete it before it gets killed so your enemy does not get +50 Wealth for killing it.

Tactic 4: City Exchange
This is a very risky maneuver, and you can't actually plan it until one of your less important cities are being attacked. What you do is let your opponent take your city, even though you have a larger army. When your city is taken, you quickly build another city for free without having to research another Civic upgrade at your Library. Then, you walk up with your army and take it back. Having an extra City just to build another University or create a few more Caravans can help you immensely.

Tactic 5: Taking Out Supply Wagons and Siege
A tip I previously wrote about using Generals in conjunction with Light Cavalry to take out Supply Wagons and Siege is on this site. This will not work if the enemy has ranged Heavy Infantry. Basically, if you see that they don't have a Scout with their army, you use the Ambush ability with your General. If there is a Scout, you use the Force March to speed your Light Cavalry to take them out.

Tactic 6: *Flanking With Spies
Spies have gotten badly nerfed in the game, however, there are a few uses besides using Counter-Intelligence on one of their Libraries. If your opponent is attacking you far from his border, flank behind his initial army with your Spies and start bribing his reinforcements. Good players will run their troops back to their base in order to not get bribed, buying you more time to fend off his main army. If your opponent is smart, he'll have a Scout or two going back to stop your Spies. Use your bribed units if you have any to kill the Scouts he sends your way. *The recorded game shows this maneuver in actual play during the BLUT tourney.

Tactic 7: Sieging and Besieging
When a city is being besieged, place towers and/or a fort behind the City. This helps buy you some time, and your enemy has to build a few more Siege, leaving less resources on actual military personnel. However, if your opponent does this to you, focus on the City first, and once the City's Hit Points are down to zero, have one of your siege to keep bombarding it, and your other Siege to take out the towers and fort placed further back.

Tactic 8: The Heavy Fisherman
On maps with open fishing (meaning there's only one main body of water), many good players will go heavy on fishing. However, don't do this yourself. Make sure you have at least 10 Farms with Granaries producing your Food, and go light on fishing. If you're going to fish heavily, you'll need to keep spending resources on a Navy to defend them. What you must do is send a few ships to raid his fishing ships, just to get your opponent to start thinking about building a fleet. Meanwhile, you're booming up to Gunpowder Age (because of Siege ships starting in the Gunpowder age, you can't totally neglect the sea, and you trying to take out your enemy's docks before that is foolhardy at best), and pressing an attack on your opponent's city on land. Then, start going heavy on your Navy to wipe out his Navy, his Docks, his fishing, and his Food, Wealth, and Timber income.

Tactic 9: Superficial Military Buildings
Usually very aggressive players will delete their Military Buildings that were far inside their territory to save a few timber on building newer ones closer to the edge for quicker reinforcement. However, it's unwise to do this if your opponent is just as aggressive, and if you're either the Aztecs, sometimes French, Mongols, Romans, Spanish (for Docks) or Turks.

Tactic 10: Dumbing Down with Aircraft Carriers
I use this tactic all the time when there's water in the map. You have to at least be in the Modern Age, and you need Aircraft Carriers. At this point, Knowlege is crucial, and so is Timber and Wealth. Once you upgrade your Fighter jets at your Airbase, you use the Fighter Bombers that are in your Aircraft Carrier's to take down your opponent's defenseless Universities and kill the Scholars.

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