Monday, 29 October 2012

Dead! - Age of Empires 2: Age of Kings

The dictionary defines Empire as "an extensive group of states or countries ruled over by a single monarch, an oligarchy, or a sovereign state". However, when I hear the word 'Empire' I can think of only one thing. Star Wars. The Empire in Star Wars was huge. Sure, they were evil and killed a lot of innocent people, but man...did they get stuff done.

The Empire would be remembered for many things. It's ruler, who fired lightning from his nails. A right hand man, who used to be good, but went evil, but then became good again (losing his right hand in the process). And it's difficult to forget blowing up a planet and generally causing terror around the universe. This particular empire lasted a whole three films before it was brought down by a farm hand, a smuggler and some teddy bears.

I hoped that my empire, the Britons, wouldn't share too many similarities to the evil empire of Star Wars, but instead, be remembered for many great things. And I think it was...though the historians might question the 10,693 spare wood in my possession, as my empire fell.

As you may recall in my earlier post, I was playing 3 other computers on Hard mode. They were set to random nations and we were playing till whoever died first. It starts off well, I'm presented with a nice town centre, a few villagers, a couple of sheep and a scout. I set about chopping some wood down and getting a bit of lamb on the go. My scout heads off for a wander round to see whats what.

It's almost exactly how I remember it from my youth. Nice and smooth at the start, a few houses here and there. Get some farms on the go. Wood and Food is good, so lets get some stone. My scout, wanders round a bit more and finds a gold deposit too. All the major resources are coming in, and buildings are being constructed. Life is good for the Britons.

Then I see this. Takeda Shingen advanced to the Feudal Age. What! So soon? I've just put down a lumber yard to speed up wood chopping! It's ok, he must had more resources near by. Luck of the map spawn. Harald Bluetooth advanced to the Feudal Age. Teias the Goth advanced to the Feudal Age. WHAT! I'm being left behind after about 5 minutes of play. At least I know what empires I am up against I suppose.

I quickly put down a barracks and start pooling enough resources to get to the Feudal Age, it's what all the cool kids are doing these days it seems. I train some militia men, who all call out "un-datum" when I click on them, and I position them in a nice line, to ward off any scouts that might try and have a go.

It's a good move, as a few moments later a Viking Scout swings by and gets all up in my grill (my farms). I'm not having this, so I send Alpha Squad to go and rough him up. They hit him once, and he flees. What a wuss. I go back to building my housing project in the north west.

I hit Feudal Age and all my buildings update. They look way more Feudal now. I'm a total boss.

Not much happens for a while, I build some new buildings, get more wood. Build more farms. Then a gothic scout yellow. That can't be right? Goths wear black don't they? Who cares. Alpha Squad, deal with it.

Alpha Squad? Where are you? I check the base. They ain't there. I check the mini map. What the hell are you doing other there! Turns out they followed the Viking Scout all the way home, dodging a few towers in the process. Well, now I can see they have archers and a few troops. I should probably get my military up. I'll leave the goth scout for the time being. Come on home alpha.

Everyone else just hit Castle Age. I'm late to the party again. Only just built a port for Christs sake. I start training some archers and a few horse units.

Then I see more yellow on my map. The goths have come. Quite a few units arrive, all in bright yellow. Alpha get stuck in, whilst the archers fill them in from the back row. They can't be in a named squad yet. I only have two of them. Alpha suffers heavily casualties, but the goths depart.

Finally I hit Castle Age, and start getting my Castles and Church built. My resources are through the roof, most notably Gold. I can't spend it quick enough. Luckily, Monks only cost Gold, so I start spamming a battalion of them. Sure I have 40 gold left, but I now have 15 monks, who will chant and convert their way to victory. I don't know where Teias and his goths are, nor do I know the whereabouts of Takeda, so I make for Harald. I bring a few boats in, for back up and send my militia in at the front.

I take down Harald's outpost with ease and stroll into his base. The towns folk flee, as I start attacking his housing district. No soldiers yet. He must be fighting someone else. PERFECT. I destroy a few houses and start attacking his Barracks. Then a wave of green appears. Harald is not happy. His axe wielding army march from the south. I'm feeling pretty confident, so I hang around and start trying to convert his team to the Briton way of thinking.

It's a massacre. I convert maybe two viking warriors...but lose all my militia and archers. Monk squad cheeses it back to base, through the forest. That's when I meet Japan. Takeda sends some soldiers past my Monks and fights the Vikings! Wow! He totally saved me. What a dude! I click on his units, and it says neutral. He cleans them up with ease and disappears into the fog. I head back to base, to reform Alpha Squad.

Not much happens for a 15 or so minutes. A few random encounters with the goths, but nothing to write about really. I reach Imperial Age about 30mins after the other teams do. I have about 5,000 wood, but I'm spending it well.

Then I don't really understand what happens next. Harald and Takeda both arrive at my door. Takeda has brought all his samurai and begins to slaughter my towns folk and farms. Harald deals with my castle (which fell very, very quickly - oh he had a trebuchet...) and then takes out my Church. One of his priests runs off my relic too, the cheeky bugger. I don't know how to react, all my units need gold now, as I upgraded them. I don't have enough food and my houses are being destroyed. I have 7,549 wood.

Despite my towns folk firing arrows from the town centre, the samurai destroy everything. I look at the map. I have a small group of villagers that are far away from the bloodshed and I move them to the very corner of the map. I can finally use some of that wood. I rebuild my town and start cutting down the forest to make room for more buildings.

Then it hits me. There was one aspect of AoE that completely passed me by in my youth. WALLS. I never needed them! The Easy Computer never sent units to my base. I start my economy up again and then build a palisade wall around my new home. I check back to my old home. It's just full of Samurai slicing everything up. I thought we were neutral Takeda.

There's a small forest which I need to clear in order to get a castle up, so I can build some trebuchet to start this comeback. I train more villagers. More. MORE. Then some enemy trebuchet turn up. And then some samurai. It's over. They even toy with me. Destroying one bit of my wall at a time. Once the walls fall, the samurai enter and slaughter everything. I have 10,693 wood in stock.


It turns out Takeda was the bad guy. He constructed the "Death Trebuchet" first, and I think that was decisive. The graphs at the end show that he was the best in the game: he killed the most, spent the most, built the most and razed the most. He was good, he saved me from Harald. Then he went bad and murdered my main town peoples. Unlike Darth Vader, there was no redemption for Darth Takeda. He killed many innocent lumberjacks. What a bastard.

I did enjoy my time playing Age of Empires 2, though there were a few quirks getting the graphics properly setup. Sure, it lacks some of the RTS mechanics we all know and love, but it's still a really fun game and I would recommend picking it up if you are a fan of RTS games.

Though if you want to win, I would suggest you play like Takeda did.

I bet he built walls...

Playthrough: 27/10/2012
Difficulty: 3 x Computer - Hard
Time until death: 2hrs 52mins.
Biggest Fail: Converting a viking just as a ballista opened up on him.

Biggest Waste: Wood.
Most under appreciated structure: The Wall.


  1. Amazing! Who would have guessed the strategic importance of walls!

    1. I can think of so many famous strategic walls too. The Great Wall of China, Hadrian's Wall, Wallander...

  2. I've never seen a castle or old town with walls around it. I call nonsense on this game

    1. They seem pretty OP. I reckon they were nerfed later on.

  3. I always built walls. I always built a LOT of walls. It was much more important for me to have a pretty base than a functional one.

    1. I so miss RTS games with good walls. I love turtling and base building, but developers seem to hate it! Building a lovely fort is one of my favourite past times.

      Ah well, back to Stronghold HD!

    2. Walls were KEY. You could fill towers with workers and end up with an extra 50 archers! You can wall off areas of woodland as your own. Man I don't know how you can play with out them.

    3. I'll be fine by the time C&C comes round. I'll be laying sandbags down like there's no tomorrow!