This is part one of the extensive gameplay report I have been assigned to do on Age of Empires. Even though my time for this game is up and I have already resigned from the Elite 4, I am still serving the community as a gameplay and strategy analyst. This report would deal with the gameplay methods and strategies of our team and the European Crusaders. This would be divided into two subtopics, strategy analysis and gameplay techniques we would utilize to implement those strategies. I would like to start by analyzing our own gameplay first with a detailed discussion of the outcome of our previous battles. I would list our weaknesses, potholes in defense and strategy, and if any, our strengths. Then I would proceed with the analysis of the opponent team in the same manner. After this all, I would enlist possible strategies we might take on in an attempt to do the impossible, which is to beat the other team. This introduction is intended to give you a guideline for the entire document. And the reason I am posting it as a blog post is only that we would be able to discuss it in more detail online.
The East Side BoyZ
First up is the East Side BoyZ. This team is composed of three mid-eastern (I detest that) civilizations; Saracens, Persians and Turks, with Persians being the better one in the imperial sagas, and Turks with their powerful offence. Saracens come into an advantage only when naval forces are required which is hardly the case we would be playing in the water. I would like to start by analyzing the Persians first.
Before I say anything, here is a quick overview of the civilization and what I cover in this issue:
- Cavalry Civilization
- Start +50 wood, +50 food.
- Town Centers, Dock 2X HPs; work rate +10% Feudal Age, +15% Castle Age, +20% Imperial Age.
- Team Bonus: Knights +2 attack vs. archers
- Unique Unit: The War Elephant: A powerful, but expensive elephant trained in warfare.
- Cavalry Civilization
- Extra Starting Resources
- Super Town Center
- Super Docks
- War Elephant
- Extra Starting Resources
- Pros and Cons
- Generic Strategy
- Sarmad's Strategy
- Key Improvements
- Team Strategy
- A few pages out of the history
- Generic Strategy
Persians in Gameplay
The Persians get a good early game bonus and some very nice progressive bonuses as they advance through the ages. Let's go over the bonuses.
Extra Starting Resources: Persian players begin the game with 75 extra wood and 75 extra food. With this bonus, the Persians can spend more time exploring or use it to get a jump on their competition by building more houses or villagers than the other player's can afford in the early game. This means you can build two more houses and one more villager than other civilizations right off the bat.
Super Town Center: The Persian town center has double hit points. In addition, it works faster, producing villagers faster than other civilizations' town centers. In the Dark Age, it provides no bonus. But in the Feudal Age, it builds 10 percent faster; in the Castle Age, it builds 15 percent faster; and in the Imperial Age, it builds 20 percent faster. The hit point bonus makes the Persian town center a little more resilient to early rushes, and the faster production means you can really crank out villagers at a fast rate. In the later ages, if you do suffer a setback, you can rebuild your work force faster than other civilizations.
Super Docks: Persian docks have double hit points and produce ships at progressively faster speeds. In the Dark Ages, there is no speed bonus, but in the Feudal Age, the dock works 10 percent faster; in the Castle Age, it works 15 percent faster; and in the Imperial Age, it works 20 percent faster. With this dock, Persia can quickly rule the seas, putting out more boats than its rivals. In the Feudal Age, it can also start trying to squeeze out fishing ships for a food boost.
Expert Opinion: Here is what designer Greg Street has to say about all the Persian bonuses. "Persians are a lot of fun in the first few minutes of the game because their extra resources give them a great deal of versatility. You can afford to explore a bit more before laying down that first mill or lumber camp or switch to a fishing ship strategy earlier. Fishing ships are not quite as effective as they were in Rise of Rome; due to their cost and build time, but a Persian player can offset this bonus a bit. The superior town center and dock have no effect in the first age, but do let you quickly ramp up to your full villager or fishing ship component in later ages. You can also recover from an attack quickly, provided you haven't blown all your resources on elephants."
War Elephant: The War Elephant is the Persian unique unit. The designers realize that the Persian elephant wasn't used in the time frame encapsulated in Age of Kings, but they are making an exception to include this powerful attack beast.
This is what Greg Street had to say, "This is one of those areas where fun wins out over historical accuracy. When we were first coming up with unique units for all the different civilizations, a lot of the units we came up with were fairly indistinguishable. A unique unit needs to be truly unique; not only should it look like nothing else, but it should play like nothing else in the game. Unique units are not the same as super units, like the paladin and arbalest. The Briton longbowman grants ability to his civilization, in this case absurd range, that no other civilization can match. Up until the point where we gave the Persians the elephant, there was no expensive but extremely powerful unit in the game except for the Teutonic knight. While it is true that Persia did not use war elephants much past the time period of the AOK Dark Age, once you see an army of elephants stride boldly into an enemy town, it is pretty easy to forgive the anachronism. Elephants elicit fear like few other units."
The elephant is available in the third age and can be recruited at the castle. As a basic unit, the war elephant is a slow but powerful unit. It has a lot of armor, a huge amount of hit points, and does a massive amount of damage. However, it costs a great amount of resources to make. It is strong against cavalry, swordsmen, crossbowmen, and is especially good at tearing down buildings. It is vulnerable to monks, pikemen, and cavalry archers. The upgrades to the elephant include upgrades to attack, armor, and speed. In addition, the Imperial Age upgrade to the war elephant gives the unit overall increase in hit points and armor and also gives the unit trample damage to all adjacent units.
Greg Street further comments on the war elephant, saying, "I almost never send my elephants out without three critical technologies: husbandry, faith, and upgrading the elephants to elite. Husbandry increases the speed of cavalry, including elephants. Faith makes your units more resistant to conversion - always a problem when sending expensive, slow units against an enemy. Upgrading the elephants to elite gives them the trample damage similar to that of Rise of Rome's elephants. War elephants can destroy most units and buildings with relative impunity. They have so many hit points and do so much damage, that even if an enemy can bring down your pachyderms; he can't defeat them all quickly enough before you have leveled his barracks, stable, and castle. Elephants are truly only weak to pikemen (who get bonus damage vs. elephants) and monks. I have also seen paladins, throwing axemen, and longbowmen defeat a horde of elephants if managed correctly. However, it can be quite difficult to produce a horde of elephants because they are so expensive. If an enemy lets you make 30 or 40 of them, he probably deserves what he is about to receive."
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
The Persians seem like a powerful civilization. Although historically, there is some question as to how they rate among the Age of Kings civilizations and even which Persia is being represented (the third- to seventh-century ones or the seventh- to 12-century ones?). However, the civilization in Age II seems to be created specifically to be a contender in gameplay. The Persians are above average in the early game, with their wood and food bonus, and become a greater force later in the game, with faster working docks and town centers and the mammoth war elephant unit. In addition, the Persians excel on either land maps or naval maps. The docks bonus really helps the Persians crank out ships. In addition, they have a good technology tree that lets them build a good range of cavalry, archers, siege weapons, and ships.
Unfortunately, the Persians aren't perfect. Their elephants are terribly expensive. And without the elephants, the Persians suffer in ground combat, with a lack of good infantry units. Moreover, they don't get the final upgrades to defensive structures like towers or walls. The Persians are vulnerable to an early offensive with quick attacking units like light cavalry and horse archers. In addition, the elephants are vulnerable to the prayers of monks or the long pole-arms of the pikemen. So there you have it, Age of Empire fans. Along with the Chinese and Japanese, the Persians make a triumphant return to Age of Empires II. History buffs can debate whether they truly belong with the other medieval civilizations of Age of Kings, but gameplay-wise, the Persians can put up a fight to all comers who challenge their right to be counted among the 13 civilizations in this Age sequel. Come back in two weeks when we unveil the Goths.
SMS: As a Persian
Well after giving an overview of the entire Persian civilization, I would like discuss Sarmad's gameplay technique, if there was any. But even before that, I would like to document how a Persian should play if he knows his civilization well. Keep in mind this is a general gameplay strategy for any generic game. It would be most useful in a Deathmatch tough but still applicable in other game types, including speeders like Score or Time limit games.
Generic Strategy: Well the Persians get a flying start in the game. With a +50 food and wood in stock and a Super Town Center, they can really get a head start in most scenarios, though they still are pretty week to attempt a Rush, especially of the Feudal flavor. Since they are a cavalry civilization, they don't get a good infantry. In fact there initial defense may be week until they hit feudal age and get walls and towers. The common opinion is that Persians are quite weak in defense because they don't have fortified walls or strong towers. This is true to some extent, they are week in defense but that is because they were never intended to go into defense. It is a total offence civilization, and in fact they equally stack up to any other civilization till castle age. Only the difference starts to show when they are getting towards the end of the castle age and into the imperial age, but by then, they are able to train one of the most powerful units in the game. And all they really need to do after that is to gather food to feed those mammoths and that's pretty much it. So, summarizing it all, the Persians should keep their heads low in a long running game until they are capable of training elephants in numbers. And they should be biased towards food and gold more than stone. In fact in team based games, they should tribute excessive stone to a civilization that can better utilize it, like the Turks on their bombard towers. The only time to go offensive would be when they have at least 25-30 elephants ready backed by husbandry, faith and mahouts is applied and they have been certified as elite. After that, there is pretty much no stopping these monsters.
Sarmad's Strategy: Well, I hate to say it, but Sarmad's current strategy, which he has used till now, has pretty much been in the opposite direction. He tries to fortify himself and remains fully defensive even though he has the potential to go offensive. This, I am afraid has been one of the core causes of most defeats. His other problems include that he is easily intimidated and therefore bullied into giving up his resources which he should be fighting for. He also always seems ready to tribute to allies if he has even a little more than the required stockpile figures. He does go offensive but only if he sees his allies going offensive. He has also been noted to resort to diplomatic settlements so that he may not be attacked until post imperial which in most games is too late.
Potholes: Well, I think I already mentioned enough potholes there but I guess I still have to mention more. Well in his current strategy, the only think that seams to work is survival to near finish of the game, that is, he is usually successful in securing his safety till his allies are buttered and there is no one left for the enemy to kill. Plus he is also suspected to have made alliances with the other side secretly to ensure his safety. On top of that giving up his rights on his resources leaves him pretty much cornered and therefore even though, he survives to the end, he is defeated the moment he starts the game.
Key Improvements: Well the best thing would be to scrap the entire current strategy and go for a new one. I would recommend focusing on the basic needs than the desires, that is, aim to jump ages as quickly as possible to get to the late castle/imperial sage to unleash his wrath upon the northern invaders. Another benefit would be to keep as low a profile as possible, by not getting to be the center of attention and avoid trouble. This still doesn't mean that he should give up his own rights. The proper way to do that is to fortify a small area until elephants are available. Since Persians have Super Town Centers and Super Docks, building villagers and ships is a lot faster than other civilizations. Fishing ships should be a main focus in water based games, since food is the prime ingredient for the mammoths. And finally, know when to go offensive.
Team Strategy: I am just giving a public interface for the team here not a full coverage of the strategy, just the bare inputs and outputs required. Well in early stages of the game, the Persian should be looking forward to inputs a lot more, because frankly, he needs protection until he gets the war elephants. So he his team mates should always keep extra units around for his protection or should permanently assign some units at his base. It can also go in the opposite way though, the Persian can garrison his units in an ally's camp and sit under fortified walls until he thinks ready, but this is still not recommended. I still urge that after an initial protection, the Persian should be able to go on his own. He should have about 5-6 castles around for team based matches to generate more eles in parallel, so that way he would be able to produce 6 elephants at the time of one. But that would also be heavy on the pocket. He should not bother about towers and should let the allies take care of things like that. In the end the only concern should be to lay low until he can fully unleash his wrath.
A few pages from the history: Well my memories of the past games are vague and I don't remember a lot. But I will still document what I remember. As far is the subject of my most successful games with Persian allies, it goes back to the days of the first semester about two year from today. Back then, elite mammoths backed by bangin' bombards were the only thing needed to wet Xubayr's missionaries' pants, not to mention his. But those days are long gone but still I can remember a few games in which this strategy has worked and we were able to defeat or nearly able to defeat the opposition. And that includes Sherkhan, Liquid Snake, and though his name is not worth mentioning here, Ali. In a more recent encounter, actually about at the time of writing, I was able to defeat a team of a Byzantine and Teutonic foe with a Persian ally at moderate difficulty. He was also shy at first but after seeing my bombards into action, he also decided to join in and sent about 10 elite beef bags into the battle. Though there assistance was not required as I already had an army of 173 with 20 bombards, 83 cavalry, 22 infantry, 38 cavalry archers and 10 monks, plus a couple of villagers to go around to set up castles and towers on the fly and to fix up the bombards between battles. Well that is almost pretty much I still remember while having a Persian ally.
And this concludes today's episode of the Age of Empires: The Road to Victory. Stay in touch for the next installment. We will be analyzing Xubayr MA and his gameplay strategies (I know it sounds boring but, stick around). And since I am around, things are bound to get more interesting then they usually are.
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All names and references are either taken from GFDL compliant sources or are taken with prior consent of the property owner.
This document cites various facts and findings revealed by Gamespot.com.