Psychological Manipulative Tactics

Article written by Socvazius
Originally published on 08-22-2000 ; updated on 08-17-2014
Tags: Military Archives

Most players only use typical fighting techniques(rushing, gushing, etc.), but there is a different way to play that is relatively useful, if used with the typical techniques. The use of psychological manipulation is very useful, as you can trick your opponent rather easily. Granted, some of these strategies could cost a rather large amount of resources, they can make your opponent bang his/her head on the computer in frustration.

1. Taking advantage of civilization stereotypes: Most players are rather stubborn in that they will focus on one strategy and will not stop, you must use this to your advantage. Usually the opponent will be this stubborn when he/she realizes that you are a civ that "specializes" in a certain line of units(Viking: Infantry, Persians: Cavalry, etc.) He/she will mainly only use the counter to the unit that he/she expects you to employ in battles(Persian: Pikemen, Viking: Archers), so you already know what he/she will build. What you need to do is build a complete opposite to the units that your opponent expects you to use(Viking: Heavy Cavalry, Mongol: Heavy Infantry). Usually the opposite to the stereotypical unit is the counter to the counter of the steriotypical unit, so you will easily destroy your enemy's army. Although powerful if pulled off, using this strategy is rather risky, because your opponent may anticipate your strategy and build the counter to the "radical" unit that you are planning of creating.

2. When approaching your enemy, set your army to staggered formation: Along with protecting yourself from scorpion and magnonel fire, when your army is in staggered formation, it looks much larger than it really is. When you have large units like cavalry, the army's size is exaggerated even more. The use of your looking larger than it really is, is that your enemy might get frightened and may run away. Even if they do fight, they may be in a frenzy to fight off your army, which means that the amount of extra troops that your enemy might train could severly slow down his/her economy.

3. Attack your enemy on two fronts: (Note: This strategy is best used with an ally, so you will not have to switch from one part of the map to another.) Accumulate 2 armies, and situate them on either side of an enemy. First attack with one army, and when a large portion of your enemy's army is defending against your first army, attack with your second army. Most likely, your enemy will have sent all of his/her army to the other side of his/her territory, so one half will be nearly completely unguarded. This will make it much easier for your second army to break into the city. Eventually, your enemy will be forced to send his/her army to defend against your second army, allowing your 1st army to break through the city much easier. Just with the time your enemy's army takes to get across his/her territory will make it much easier for you, but it may also greatly confuse your enemy, giving you even more time.

4. Distract your enemy from his/her economy: This strategy is rather useful in the start of the game, using your scout. Although it takes a bit of micromanagement, you can use gather points on your town center, in order to save you some time. Using the scout, attack one of your opponent's villager. If it attacks, run away. Most likely, your enemy will have to send villagers out to kill your scout, in order to stop your harassments. Because he will be focused on your scout, some of his villagers may be idle. Another economic problem that the enemy will have is that the villagers that are trying to kill your scout cavalry will not be gathering villagers.

5. Houses look like unpacking trebuchets: When you have reached the imperial age, you will have access to trebuchets. Just that fact will frighten your enemy. When your army has reached the outside of your city, lay down several houses, but don't build them. By some strange quirk, unbuilt houses look like trebuchets unpacking. In a frenzy, your enemy will send Cavalry, so kill them with pikemen. With the enemy's cavalry decimated for, pull out your real trebuchets, as it will be easier to hack away at the defenses. If you are lucky, your enemy will think that your real unpacking trebuchets are houses, so he/she might not attack. If he/she does attack, simply defend with your army. This strategy will save you some time, which is vital for RTS games.

6. Villagers can be very power vs. buildings: In the Imperial Age, research sappers, which will give your villagers a +15 attack vs. buildings. Keeping them fairly guarded, these sappers can demolish building rather quickly. If your enemy is generally an "angry" player, the fact that lowly villagers are razing his/her city may infuriate him/her, making him/her think less clearly. Although this doesn't always work, it works well when it does.

7. Verbally confuse your enemy: This is the "strangest" of these strategies, but it works rather well. There is several ways to confuse an enemy, be it saying gibberish, etc. If you say something like "Am I you for me seven turtle", your enemy might be confused greatly, there is no need for me to say why. You can also tell your enemy what you are "planning" to do. This will get your enemy to think if you are insane to tell him your strategy, and if what you said is true. Because he/she will be thinking about what you are going to do, his/her economy and military might slow down.

8. Distract your enemy with buildings: If your enemy is about to attack you on land, quickly build several cheap, relatively strong but quickly built buildings, such as houses, all over the area of land between your enemy and you. When your enemy reaches your "distraction" buildings, most likely he/she will attack them, moving from building to building destroying them. (Be sure not to have 1 type of building, because your enemy might figure out your strategy.) Since the enemy has been busy razing your buildings, you will have saved time to strengthen your defenses and reinforced your army. Another good use for the "distraction" buildings, is that they can "tell" you how far away your enemy's army is, and what the army is comprised of, which allows you to defend much easier, telling you the counters of their army.

As said in the introduction, some of these strategies can cost a large amount of resources, but they can give you a significant edge against your enemy.