Articles for July 2014

Advanced Age of Empires II Tips

Age of Empires II is a very hard game to master and there isn’t as much online documentation as other games. For this reason, I decided to write this collection of advanced Age of Empires II tips to help you guys (and gals) out! I hope you enjoy them!

When in combat, use the terrain to your advantage

You may be outnumbered, but if you use the terrain to your advantage, your army WILL win. Per example, always try and fight on top of a hill, your troops do more damage if they have the height advantage. Furthermore, castles and towers should be placed on top of hills when possible.

Also, try and use choke points to your advantage. Let’s imagine we have an army composed of forty arbalests and 20 champions. What you’ll want to do is to send the champions to the front, blocking the whole passage, so that the enemy cavalry can’t reach your arbalests.

Age of Empires - Using the terrain

Try and collect food from just one animal at a time

The second you kill an animal in Age of Empires, it starts rotting and you lose food. To minimize the impact of this, try and collect food from as few animals as possible. This requires a lot of micromanagement, but it might just give you that slight edge that’ll make you win the game.

Bring sheep/boar UNDER your Town Centre

If you kill a sheep or boar far from your Town Centre, your villagers will waste time carrying the food. That’s why you should always kill the animal DIRECTLY under the Town Centre so, when the villager’s full, he will drop the food instantaneously.

Age of Empires - Animals under Town Centre

Explore with your sheep

Vision wins games. The quicker you find your boars/deer/sheep, the better it is. Since you shouldn’t be killing all of your sheep at the same time, use the spare ones to explore. You’ll have much better vision of the area surrounding your Town Centre, and this frees up your scout to go find the enemy base(s).

When building a forward tower, surround it with palisades

This is especially useful in the feudal age, when you don’t have Murder Holes. Since towers have a minimum attack range, they are very vulnerable to men-at-arms and other melee units. As soon as they get to the tower, it’s helpless. The best way to counter this and ensure your tower does damage is to surround it with palisades. The enemy units will have to destroy the palisades in order to attack the tower, but this puts them in range of the tower’s attacks.

Age of Empires - Surround towers with palisades

 

This tower is just perfect. It zones off the player from both his forage bushes and his gold mine, while being on top of a hill and surrounded with palisades. If the enemy manages to build something like this in your town, you’ve lost. 

In water maps, invest heavily into gold and wood, then spam boats

I know many people who follow the same build order in land maps and water maps. Don’t do this… In water maps, you gain a massive advantage by controlling the waters. As soon as you start researching the feudal age, shift most of your villagers to wood and gold. Then, build a dock as quickly as possible and start spamming fishing ships with a few galleys. This means you’ll basically be creating two resource-producing units at the same time (villager and fishing boats). It’s equivalent to having two Town Centres in the Feudal age.

Don’t research all the available technologies right away

It can be tempting to research Town Watch, but you need to set priorities, especially in the feudal age. Some techs are essential, like Loom and Double-Bit Axe, but you might want to skip Horse Collar and Gold Mining in order to build an army as quickly as possible. This will also help you get to the Castle age quicker, where you’ll be able to boom your economy and pay for these upgrades.

 

That’s it for today, I’ll try and post more tips in the future. In the meanwhile, if you have anything to suggest, let me know in the comments section down below!

-Icosebyte

How to find the perfect Minecraft map

When I start a new build in Minecraft, I generally have a very specific criteria for what the map should look like. Per example, If I’m building a Egyptian city, I’ll want a desert biome with a large river that’s close to some temples.  Unfortunately, It can take a very long time to find such a place by just walking.

In this tutorial, I’ll show you a way to easily find the perfect Minecraft map, whether you’re searching for specific biomes, structures or just cool geography.

What we’ll be using:

To do this, we’ll be using a program called Amidst, which can be downloaded from this thread: http://www.minecraftforum.net/forums/mapping-and-modding/minecraft-tools/1262200-v3-6-amidst-strongholds-village-biome-etc-finder. What Amidst does is create a large map of what a Minecraft world will look like. The brilliant part is that, instead of actually generating the world, which is very time consuming even on high-end computers. Amidst creates it’s map using the biome information contained within the seed used. This makes for a very reliable estimation of what a map will look like in Minecraft, but for a fraction of the cost (metaphorically speaking).

Once Amidst is finished downloading, open it. It will ask you to choose a profile, simply select the one you play with and click okay.

Selecting Amidst' profile

You should now see something like this, not very interesting eh?

Amidst grey background

Well, let’s make it interesting! Go to File->New->From seed. This will prompt you for a seed. You can type one in the text box, or leave it empty to generate a random seed. Click OK.

Entering a seed

You’ll now need to choose the world type, select the one you want and press Ok once more.

Amidst map

Pretty nice eh? You can now move freely around the map to see if you find what you want, or create a new map by using the file menu or pressing Ctrl+N. Let’s say you’re satisfied with the map and ready to use it in Minecraft: go to the Map menu and click on “Copy Seed to Clipboard”. You can now open Minecraft and create a new world by pasting the seed!

Amidst map in Minecraft

As you can see, I’ve copied the “Thecomputerblog” seed in Minecraft and spawned, as predicted by Amidst, in a plains biome next to a forest and an small ocean.

So that’s how to find the perfect Minecraft map without wasting hours of time exploring! I hope you’ve enjoyed this article and don’t forget to come back for more!

-Icosebyte

How to beat the new Age of Empires II AI on Hardest

The other day, I saw that Age of Empires II HD + The Forgotten was on sale for 7 dollars on Steam. Being a massive Age of Empires fan, I immediately bought the game to bring back some old memories. I saw that they added a new, better AI (or rather, that they ported it from Forgotten Empires: http://www.forgottenempires.net/) and immediately wanted to try it out! Back in the day, I was a decent AOE II player, but I had’t played several years, so I was somewhat rusty. Nonetheless, I remembered that the AI was pretty easy, even on the hardest difficulty, so I was pretty confident that I would be able to beat the new bots. This being said, I fired up Age of Empires and started a 1v1 game against a bot on hardest. To my surprise, I got absolutely obliterated… I lost the game in under 20 minutes. My conscience being unable to bear such an insult, I decided to hone my build order to be able to beat the new Age of Empires II AI on Hardest.

The Dark Age:

This is probably the most important stage of the game. Screw up during the dark age and you’ll most likely lose the game. This being said, it’s pretty hard to screw up once you get used to it.

  1. As soon as the game starts, queue up four villagers in your Town centre. Select your three initial villagers and build a house with them.
  2. Now, we need to find sheep as soon as possible. Use your scout to explore in circles around your Town centre, If you have nearby berry bushed, send your villagers there temporarily. Otherwise, use your villagers to explore.
  3. As soon as you find sheep, bring them under your Town centre and harvest them. Don’t forget to keep creating villagers. Your Town centre should ALWAYS be producing villagers or researches.
  4. Villagers 1 to 6 should go in to sheep. Once your seventh villager pops out of the Town centre, build three houses with him. Once he/she’s finished building the houses, send him into wood.
  5. The next two villagers should also go into wood. Start by cutting down the trees that are near your Town centre. We won’t build a lumber camp for quite some time.
  6. We now have a population of ten. Once scout, 6 villagers in food and 3 in wood. If you can, create an extra villager and send him in food, but if you’re short on food, research loom.
  7. Keep pumping out villagers and sending them in food until you reach a population of 20, you’ll then have 1 scout, 3 in wood and 16 in food. At some point around the 10th villagers usually, you’ll want to lure two boars. Also, if you have access to deer or shore fish, use it! Once your boars/sheep/deer are depleted, send four of your hunters into wood. Your other villagers should go collect food from the berry bushes.
  8. Once you reach a population of 20, continue creating villagers, but send them into wood. Create a lumber camp near the closest forest.
  9. As soon as you reach 25 pop, advance to the feudal age.

The Feudal Age

  1. While you’re advancing to the feudal age, build a few houses (3-4) and a barracks. If you’ve already found the enemy town, then you might want to build the barrack near his town.
  2. As soon as you reach feudal age, research Double Bit Axe and queue up a villager. This villager will go into food.
  3. Now, create four villagers that you’ll send into gold. We’ll need a decent amount of gold to get to castle age, and we’ll want to have enough to create knights.
  4. If you don’t already have a barracks near the enemy town, build one. Once finished, build an archery range and a stable.
  5. Once you’re at 30 population (1 scout, 4 gold miners, 12 woodcutters 13 in food), create another villager and send him into food. Then, create four villagers and send them into wood. Next, research wheelbarrow.
  6. You’ll also want to build a few houses for your quickly expanding population
  7. While this is all happening, you’ll want to start creating a few skirmishers of men-at-arms to harass the enemy. I recommend you build a tower near his gold mine or lumber camp. Don’t overdo it though, we want to get to the castle age as quickly as possible.
  8. When the wheelbarrow research finishes, you should be able to advance to the Castle age. If you decided to go really aggressive on the enemy, then you might not have enough resources. If you’re close, simply wait it out. Otherwise, continue pumping out villagers and sending them to your most needed resources.
  9. While advancing to the Castle age, you’ll want to continue harassing the enemy and building houses, but make sure to keep a good stockpile of wood (around 500). You’re gonna need it!

The Castle Age (and beyond)

  1. Once you reach the Castle age, research Bow Saw and queue up some more villagers. Send these into wood.
  2. Using a few woodcutters, pop down a new Town centre. This, with knights, is the main reason we advanced to the castle age so quickly.
  3. Create some knights in your stable (which should be near the enemy base) and use these knights to raid the computer’s lumber and mining camps.
  4. Continue harassing and creating villagers (assign them to the most needed resource) and you’re well on the way to victory! When you think the enemy is weak enough, start creating rams to bring down his towers/Town centre(s). He should surrender quickly enough ;)

 

Here’s a video I made of me using this strategy against the computer on hardest. I’m using the Byzantines for their cheaper skirmishers and spearmen, but this strategy works with any civilization:

Note: I made several errors in this video, yet still came out on top. Just goes to show how weak the AI is to early aggression.

 

That concludes this article, I hope you’ve enjoyed it and don’t forget to come back for more!

-Icosebyte