Friday, June 18, 2004

How to Lose at Rise of Nations

No, it's not about how to play a crappy game of RoN.

This post is about how to lose tenaciously and graciously.

Big Huge Games has an article entitled Die Slowly, which is a very good read.

What I hope to do is build a little on that article.

Something most people realize after a short time of playing, is that once you lose critical mass, you will have an incredibly hard time recovering. Critical mass is basically a large army backed by a rocking economy. If the enemy can crush one or the other, you will definitely be on the ropes. It is very bad to lose your army while defending your territory, since the enemy is right there at the gates. If you have your army smashed in enemy territory, you have a some time to recover your army before the enemy arrives to knock on the doors.

You find yourself in a bind, the enemy has sacked two of your cities and is rushing headlong towards your capital. Your army is gone, and your economy is in shambles. You know that it is just a matter of time before you go down harder than a 90 year old falling down the stairs. Now what?

First thing is, don't give up. Once your shoulders sag in defeat, you are done for. You will find that there may be many situations that seem hopeless, but it is possible to pull yourself out of the fire. As mentioned in the the BHG article, your allies are depending on you to die as slowly as possible. If you are playing alone, taking a long time to die can be a matter of pride.

The second thing to remember is, be courteous and polite. Calling someone a cheater is just rude, especially since every game be viewed in the replay. People won't want to play you if you keep calling cheat every time you start to lose.

After a deep breath, you should take stock of the situation. You'll likely have the city cap to build at least one city, maybe two... immediately start looking for a spot to set down a city. In your ally's base, or in an otherwise out of the way location you can reach. If you have a city that is under attack, but is not your capital or last city, you should move some of your citizens from this endangered city to your new city to jump start your economy. Your ramping costs for buildings and citizens should be lower, since you've lost some already. Build a market, a temple (you may need the push), a library, and a university. Build farms, a mine and wood cutting camps. Basically, get your people back to work as quickly as possible. Remember to build the granary, lumber mill and smelter to increase your output.

Meanwhile, back at your endangered cities, you should continue the resistance with what remaining troops you have. Ideally you would want to save up your troops in a secluded spot, then come charging out with a decent sized army, but you might not have the time to do that, I normally continue reinforcing the troops right at the front. Rotate troops and citizens in and out of forts, towers and cities. Basically you need to last as long as possible. You should try to prevent your capital from falling until you have had a chance to raze your senate building, and construct it at your new city.

And as much as you would like to build troops to counter what the army facing you has, you will be building according to what your economy is able to pull in. If what you need is cheap at the market, buy and sell to get it. If you have a stockpile of one or more resources, sell it off. Face it, any resources left in your bank when you die are wasted resources.

Another suggestion, if you have the resources, is to build a secondary line of defenses, away from the fighting, but between your new cities and the battle. Build troop production buildings at this secondary line as well. If you are able, start constructing a new army at this location, while keeping up troop production in the falling/fallen cities. A fresh army, even if half the size of a damaged one, can inflict lethal damage, especially if you can flank it.

Basically, one of you will win the grinding match. If you win it, go for your fallen cities quickly, before enemy reinforcements arrive. If you lose it, continue to expand away from the area, keeping your economy going.

Another thing that gets lost in the battle is... teching and aging. If you're able to age, do so. If you can afford to upgrade your troops, do so. These two things can turn the tide of battle.

Anyways, it's probably not new to experienced players, but I hope it can help the newbie players a little...

'Ats all for now folks, more later on.