Friday, June 04, 2004

Thrones & Patriots: The Iroquois

I've given the Iroquois a couple of shots now, and overall, I dislike them.

It's handy to have +2 food per wood chopper, as I mentioned in an earlier post, you can get your first city to +100/+100 food/wood if you try. But I seem to have problems collecting enough resources.

The healing ability is rather nice, especially when you are playing a defensive game near the beginning. When combined with one of the green side governments, this ability allows you to fight a very long defensive game without losing scads of troops doing so.

The scout's ability to move through forests, as well as having a larger line-of-sight, makes the Iroquois scout very useful. You can move to your enemy's cities, and hide out of sight in one of the larger forest areas.

I'll have to play the Iroquois a number of more times before I make a final decision on them. I don't believe I'll play them much, maybe if I know in advance I'll be playing on a largely forest map.

Thrones & Patriots: Governments

Governments, and the Senate, are new features found in Thrones & Patriots.

The Senate allows you to switch your capital to another city, by building the Senate at the city you wish your capital to be. You need to be in control of your current capital in order to switch capitals.

Being able to switch capitals is a godsend, you can move your capital to a safer location, at the back of your lands, or perhaps hidden inside your ally's territory.

The different governments are also quite useful. There are two "sides" to the governments, the red side (Despotism, Monarchy and Socialism) and the green side (Republic, Democracy and Capitalism). The red side provides a lot of military bonuses, where as the green side provides economic bonuses. Each of the lines gives a new unit, a hero general which provides additional bonuses to the general's normal powers.

Despotism makes military research and barracks units cheaper, and provides the Despot unit. The Despot gives supply, LoS and plunder bonuses.

Monarchy includes the bonuses of your previous government (either Despotism or Republic), and makes stable units faster and cheaper to build. The King unit provides siege, supply and cavalry combat bonuses.

Socialsim includes the bonuses of the two previous governments (Despotism or Republic, and Monarchy or Democracy) plus makes factory, dock and airfield units cheaper and faster to build. The Comrade unit gives supply, combat and assimilation bonuses.

Republic increases your economy cap, and the Senator unit gives healing, as well as bribery and building defense bonuses.

Democracy provides the previous government's bonuses, as well as making non-library researches cheaper. The President unit provides production, building and healing bonuses.

Capitalism provides the two previous government's bonuses, and gives +100 oil as well as a 500 oil bonus. The CEO provides healing, defense and range bonuses.

Now, once you have chosen a specific government type, you cannot change that choice, but when the next opportunity opens to choose another gov't type, you can choose from either side of the line. So you can choose the first red gov't, and the second green, and the third red. Or any combination possible. Each nation type out there can benefit from at least one of the government types, or the hero general units.

Personally, I choose the government types to cover weaknesses in my game play, if I am suffering economically, I choose the green side of the line usually. If I need a military boost, I choose the red. I have had to use the ability to change capitals at least a half-dozen times, so I've found it quite useful.

Thrones & Patriots: Wonders

The new wonders in the expansion for RoN are quite powerful, especially the Hanging Gardens. The knowledge bonus granted by the Gardens is worth fighting for, since it's available in the same age as the Pyramids and the Colossus, and that's when you get your universities. As well as a bonus to knowledge, the Gardens decrease the Lumber Mill, Smelter and Granary research by a whopping 66%. The Germans might well consider building this wonder, which enhances one of their bonuses.

The Red Fort is a massive fort, with incredible border push, and an astounding healing rate. The Fort resists air raid damage, has many hitpoints, has a larger garrison value than regular forts, increases all forts hp by 33% and all fort upgrades are free. Fantastic!

The last wonder, the Forbidden City, is a wonder that counts as a city. You place it wherever you could place a regular city, and it doesn't count against your city limit. It can produce citizens, and do anything else a regular city can. I haven't tried yet, but I wonder if you can move your capital to the Forbidden City, by building the Senate at it's location.

Overall, these new wonders aren't unbalancing and are fairly decent in what they grant in the way of bonuses. They add something new to the game, especially the Forbidden City, and work to lessen the competition for building wonders (since there are more wonders to build).

Battle Tactics, Part One(a)

I've decided, in retrospect, to talk about the other stances, since I've been convinced of their usefulness.

Hold ground forces your troops to stand their ground, and not return fire even if fired upon. Defensive stance is similar to Aggressive, except that your troops will only stray a short distance from their original locations. Good for defending an area, without worrying too much about troops getting lost, or straying far enough away to get picked off one at a time. Raze stance is like aggressive, except that your troops will target buildings as a preference over other targets. Raiding is, again, like Aggressive, except that economic targets take precedence. Citizens, caravans, merchants and resource gathering buildings are usual choices.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Battle Tactics, Part One...

A few notes on micromanaging your troops in the heat of battle.

First off, it's extremely useful to assign control groups to your armies, allowing you to manipulate them at the quick touch of a button. I tend to use the numbers 1 to 5 for cities, production groups, and libraries. I use 6 to 0 for actual fighting groups. For the most part, I'll assign 0 to my largest combined army, 9 to an auxilary, and 8 to any navy I might have. If I am using just one large army, then I might assign 0 to it, 9 to the artillery in that army, and 8 to commandos.

However you end up assigning the control groups, having the main units of your army in control groups allows you to coordinate your attacks on the enemy. Consider an attack on a city. You'll need your infantry nearest the city, in order to capture it. You'll need your artillery to remain out of the line of fire, but able to pound the city down. Your scouts are needed to reveal spies, snipe critical units, and destroy buildings like towers and anti-aircraft placements. By assigning a control group to the entire attacking army, you can send the army forward as a group, each unit protecting the other. After you've moved your army to attack, you can select your artillery group, and assign it to siege the city. Since the group is already moving as part of the army, it'll stop at a safe distance, and begin setting up for seige. While the attack gets into high gear, you can select your group of scouts and have them move forward to snipe and sabotage (or more if you're in the highest ages). Consider assigning another control group to light cavalry, and you have a group you can quickly move to attack problem areas or units of high value (supply wagons, generals, revealed spies).

The best thing of all about assigning a control group to your main army, is that you can keep your army together in a coherent formation. As a battle carries on, your army will get spread out, losing its effectiveness. You will want to continously bring your army back into formation as you move forward (or retreat) in battle. An army in formation covers it's ass. You know of the saying, "Divide and conquer."? It is especially true in Rise of Nations.

There are two other ways to manage your army's effectiveness. The first is stances. There are several stances, but I will concentrate on two. All have their uses, but these two are used most by me. Aggressive stance will enable your army to attack anything that wanders nearby that is not friendly. All units will attack targets of opportunity, each unit seems to go first for units that are weak to it, and if you're not paying attention, your army will become dispersed chasing enemy units all over the place. The second stance I favour is stand ground. This is espcially useful in gunpowder age, where you'll have plenty of units with ranged fire. Units told to stand ground will stand and fight anything that gets close, but they will not leave formation. Melee units will remain in formation, taking fire, but will attack if a unit gets within their melee range. I switch to aggressive when on the attack, and use attack-move to keep my army moving forward. When I've just captured a city, I switch to stand ground to stabalize the area, and keep my troops massed to prevent the city from being retaken too easily.

In Part Two, I will continue with army formations.

Monday, May 31, 2004

How to find mountains in the fog...

I've found that if you use the signal feature (INSERT), and click on the black areas of the map, mountains show up. They cause the ripples from the signal to be slightly distorted in one way or another. By quickly flashing around your starting city, you can find any mountains nearby, and place your second (or third) city near the mountain.

As my friend Mark has just pointed out to me, if you are in a co-operative game against the computer, or a group battle against another, a less annoying way to find the mountains is to build a building. But before you place it down somewhere, move it around on the screen. It will show the contour of the mountain as you move it over and around the mountain.