On the Road to Expert 9: The Ripple Effect

Article written by DaRq_DarkJihad
Originally published on 11-17-1999 ; updated on 08-17-2014
Tags: Basics Archives

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Also titled: Sacrificing time for villagers.... You might want to try downloading the file later as it appears that my site is down (but NOT on my computer... it looks like one of the routers is down... its pretty bad when I can't access my own site from my computer :-) ) I was down for a little while this morning because I upgraded to Service Pack 6

In Age of Empires and Rise of Rome, Age times were everything. In AOK with the Advent of the attacking town center they are not. Though it seems many people avoid it, I think the dock boom is even MORE viable in AOK than it was in ROR on watery maps. Delaying your feudal and/or castle and building more villagers and boats can be a powerful strategy on some maps.

The name of the game is the ripple effect. More villagers earlier means more resources later means more villagers later too. Its like dropping a little rock vs a big rock into a pond. The little rock is the rush and the big rock is the boom. Initially it takes more effort to lift and throw the big rock, and even then the ripples from both rocks are nearly the same. But as the ripples go out farther they also spread faster from the bigger rock, and in the end that big rock moves a whole lot more water.

What this means in AOK is that a good strategy can be delaying your feudal or ESPECIALLY castle to boom more. Heres the idea: You start with your initial villagers, but make sure to loom at the very last second, you want more vils working early. Put everybody after your initial 7 vils on Wood, and build a second lumber camp late in dark. Get that dock up ASAP and pump boats, preferably to ocean fish. Make a second and a third dock and pump boats from those as well. Feudal when you get enough resources, but try to do it fairly quickly. Hopefully you're bigger than your opponent, but even if you're not you should be soon. Keep pumping those boats.

Heres the trick now thats different from a regular boat boom. Once feudal, get wheelbarrow and double bit axe and make some more villagers and generally keep expanding as long as possible. You want to feudal at a decent time because at a certain point, going feudal and getting the economic upgrades is more valuable than the extra villagers. Also you can have some kind of defense. If somebody else castles start your castle upgrade (and make some spearmen), otherwise try to target your castle for 21-22 minutes with 60-70 villagers and boats. The key here is the ripple effect. If your opponent can't equalize in time (by killing more villagers than the difference between) you have the advantage (just like the boom in ROR) but in AOK with rush defenses its all that much harder. It seems like Castle booming is in vogue today with many players. Even if they manage to equalize the number of villagers with multiple tcs and mad booming in castle, the ripple effect will ensure that your 70 villagers that came earlier in feudal & dark are worth much more than his 70 that just started gathering. The moral is Time is irrelevant, boom like mad until you know you can't get away with it anymore. Don't do this on a map like highland or arabia you'll get maimed. On the other hand on a map like Migration or Islands boom for all you're worth.

By the same token this ripple effect means falling behind early is catastrophic. Watch this game and see how no first sheep and delayed berries on migration cause me to go 3 villagers behind. Doesn't seem like a lot does it ?? But watch the resource levels and see-- it was killer. Combine this with Out4blood using this for all its worth, and booming like a madman before and DURING feudal and castling after me. His economy simply tears me apart. This game is a cases team between Alliance and Bruce Shelleys Merry Men (out4blood + matty vs darq_darkjihad + darq_fx)

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Added by Blue_Myriddn

Good points as always. A couple additions to the boat boom are:

1. Civ choice

2. Protection

3. Map considerations

1. CIV CHOICE: obviously some civs are going to be able to do this more easily than others. The obvoius case is the celts. Wood bonus = more early wood = easier time keeping boat flow going. Other canidates include the vikings. Cheap docks = cheap boats b/c of wood savings and also you can get a second/third dock up and pumping earlier. Also the free wheelbarrow is pretty handy for getting the wood operation going. The final benefit of the vikings is that they have great infantry so this will probably be the core of your army. Since infantry use alot of food (which you'll be getting from your boats) and no wood I think the benefit there is apparent. Persia should be good with fast producing docks and TC's, but honestly I haven't played much Persia and have little to say. I guess all that food would be handy for those hungry elephants you might wanna produce. The Japanese are my personal pick for this since the boats work faster and are a little tougher. Plus the cheaper gathering sites mean that setting up a second lumber camp is much more practical. If folks remember from ROR, a second lumber camp makes a big difference in wood income. Once you get more than 10-12 villies on a forest, efficency goes way down. The Japanese also have great infantry so you might as well use them. Poor civs for this strategy in my opinion are the Brits. Despite being quick on the jump with the sheperd bonus they have no inherent wood bonus. Personally, I would fast castle with the Brits to utilize the cheap TC and then boom there. Plus since british archers are great units, they're going to draw on your wood income. All this spells bad boating. Other lousy canidates include the Tuets and the Chinese. These two civs get great farms, so I think you are better off going with land based food. Getting the farm upgrades is easy with the Chinese (due to 1/2 price techs) and for the Tuets 40W farms and a TC that keeps everyone away sorta sums it up.

2. PROTECTION: On water maps, it is fairly common to make either a fishing boat to use as a scout or a few warships. If I am scouting around and run across a big mess of fishing boats, you can bet that I am going to send over some ships to sink them all. In AOK, fishing boats (fbs) are even more fragile and it doesn't take much to sink them. A few warships in their midst will decimate ALOT of wood real fast. So if you are going to put that much wood on the high seas, you may want to consider defending it a little. Defense can be as simple as making a few warships to engage the enemy while running your fbs to a safer spot. In fact unless you want to rule the seas (fat chance of that since your are probably going to be castling later than everyone else), this is probably the way to go. Thinking along this line of logic also lets you see how the Vikings and Japanese are great canidates for this strategy since the Vikings get cheaper warships and the Japaneses ships are a little stronger (giving you more time to run them away)

3. MAP CONSIDERATIONS: Aside from the no brainer of needing signficant water for this to work there are things to consider with certain maps.

- Migration: this may not be the best idea, since gaining control of that center isle can be key. Early castling and getting a TC up on that isle can be more beneficial than a later stronger economy IMO. Of course if you can work things out with your partner where you boom and he grabs territory than this may work. Plus side to migration is that fishing is safe since most people don't worry about amassing a big navy and the islands tend to be fairly remote. DarQ_DarkJihad:I disagree here, I think migration is excellent for this if its normal or larger map with the extra resources you can take the island if need be, but usually there will still be a large enough place to land and start building...

- Baltic/Medit: Probably a good idea since the position of the water is so obvious. Although you will definatly have to consider defending those ships, because the sea often becomes a big battlefield. - Team Islands/Archpegio/Islands - great place for this strategy. Limitations of land space can make mass farming hard to do. One thing to consider is to focus your fishing operation on the backside of the island (ie. away from your opponents). This has two benefits - harder for them to get to your fbs & can provide early warning to the enemy trying to sneak onto your land.

- Continental - another great map for this. Fbs are usually really safe on this map, since few build an early navy. Plus if you do get hit by an early castle and have to relocate your operation, relocating your food is one less thing to worry about.
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