PBEM AoW Deuce?

Okay, the Qt3 vote is in: chess is for queers and communists. Which explains why AIM has sent me thirty or fourty private messages challenging me to chess matches in the last 8 hours.

Someone even called chess a “simple” game, as though mastering any game with more possible move combinations than atoms in the known universe was simplicity itself compared to hammering the “Make Orc” button in Warcraft III.

Therefore, I bought Age of Wonders 2 last night and spent the evening working my way through the tutorial. Pretty cool - I figure after a weekend of playing the campaign I’ll be ready to get my ass kicked with the best of them.

So who wants to start a PBEM AoWII game early next week? A word of warning: I’m very competitive. Ask any of the crutch-shambling monopeds back in Boston who used to be my teammates in boyhood three-legged races. Their acquaintance with my competitive streak began at the moment I asked them to be my partner at a church picnic, and ended - inches before the finish line in the seconds before their vision faded - as I straddled their chest, surrounded by shuddering corpses and swinging a disembodied leg around my head while screaming a primal scream into the echoing sky.

I’ll spell that nightmare scenario out for you: to win a church-sponsored hopping race, I was willing to rip the femur out of my own prepubescent partner and use it to bludgeon the competition into goo. And that was when I was motherfucking ten.

The bottom line? Even if I lose, that time you dropped acid in the Hieronymous Bosch wing of the Prado is going to seem like a magical Teletubby adventure compared to the AoW2 apocalypse to come. Also - I should probably be partnered with someone who only has one limb to begin with. Rob Merritt, I’m looking in your direction. :)

Who’s in?

Someone even called chess a “simple” game, as though mastering any game with more possible move combinations than atoms in the known universe was simplicity itself compared to hammering the “Make Orc” button in Warcraft III.

Go owns chess in complexity.

The world’s second craziest cab driver agrees.

(Number one is this guy.)

Well, there is already one aow2 email game in progress. I would be into joining another if a few more people are interested. Also, Jason Lutes manages a list of semi-regular weekend online players, so contact him if you’d like to get involved. I feel obligated to warn you that your skills at cudgeling disabled school children will not likely help you in this game.

Hey Dr., I’d like to join your pbem game. I’ve got two others going, but AoW2 is the one game I can’t seem to get enough of right now.

Also, If you think you’d ever be up for a weekend online game, let me kow and I’ll put you on the mailing list. We try to get a game together once a week or so. AoW2 online is great fun.

[edit: Paxton is on it!]

Yeah. That was me. But I said something to the effect of how I suppose people can still enjoy chess’ simplicity and depth. The rules of the piece’s movements are, obviously, fairly simple, but there is near infinite depth in strategies and variations when playing.

That’ all. It wasn’t a knock on your chess where you sit in your fancy high backed chair with your smoking jacket and pipe chortling with your chums about how hopeless the common folk are with their silly hopes and dreams.

I actually was in the chess club and used to play often. So :P .

I would be up for a second PBEM game, as the current Qt3 game is progressing at a rather leisurely pace.

  • Alan

Okay, I PMed Jason Lutes my email address, so I’ll be joining in on one of these weekend AoW2 games one of these days. Also, it sounds like Jason and Alan would like to play if I set up a PBEM game. Any other takers?

This game is really charming.

I guess there is a game tonight which I’m going to try to take part in. A word of warning - I’m almost supernaturally terrible at this game, but still can’t get enough. I haven’t even been able to beat the first scenario yet - that motherfucking Yaka guy keeps on attacking my main city with fifty billion siege engines at once. So I’m going to let you guys massacre me tonight, in the hopes of picking up some pointers. Here’s hoping someone will take me under their wing and show me a trick or two.

Sure, we’ll take you under our wing… after ripping off yours and using it to beat you into goo.

The AoW2 strategy guide is the only one I’ve ever bought, and although it’s lacking in some areas I found it very useful in understanding the big picture. You might want to pick it up when you get a chance.

In the meantime, if you have any specific questions let us know, either here or in-game. We’ll see you tonight!

The difficulty of the first few campaigns is a common complaint from new players. you really need to be aggressive in this game, which i think throws people off. you can’t sit back and consolidate - you must take risks especially early in the game. also, resources (gold/mana/production time) are very limited - only build things you NEED. you can’t build everything. this is not sim city.

Trouble is that a similar level of agressiveness can get you killed early in a multiplayer game. That’s the downside of having no reload function. hehe

Advice? The ‘entangle’ and ‘web’ abilities are critical to success in the late game. Also, don’t wait too long to develop level 3 units.

  • Alan

Well go does own chess, and IMO is a far more interesting game.

However it has that annoying mirror-game defect in the basic game mechanic. Sure, at some point there may be an advantage in breaking the mirror, as it were, depending on the first player choice of pattern, e.g. ladders or loose ladders which meet in the middle of the board or something like that, but it’s deeply dissatisfying to me that the mirror game is possible at all.

Sure, but the mirror game assumes there is no handicap, and of course you shouldn’t overlook the importance of tempo.

  • Alan

As can clearly be seen in Hikaru No Go issue 16 the mirror game is easily defeated :)
I wonder how much more popular go has become because of that manga/anime.

Well, I still haven’t beaten fire1. The difficulty in this game is insane. I’d say the first level is harder than most RTS mid-game maps.

Things I’ve noticed:

  • Civilization-strategy need not apply. You’d better be very secure in your defenses before you even think about building shit like an Academy or a Wizard’s Tower 2. Pumping out low-level defensive and offensive units in the early game is the way to go. When I take over a city, the first thing I do is build a wooden wall and start pumping out a stack of low-level ranged units.

  • Going on the offensive is key in the early game. In the first ten turns or so, you are better off gathering all of your forces together and attacking every single city you can find. If you don’t, you’ll find those cities later in the game require a huge increase in resources to conquer, and they will be pumping out entire armies to destroy you.

  • All cities need walls. Today, I beat back an invading force of 16 shredders, beasts and catapults with a monk, two ground soldier, two ballista, and three shredders. At the end of the day, only the monk was left alive, but the city was saved, and the only thing that prevented Arka from wiping the floor with me were my 1 turn wooden walls. Ranged units + city walls seems to be a deadly defensive combo.

On the other hand, Jesus, Triumph, when are you going to finish programming your damn game? After I play for about thirty minutes, the hanging between moves approaches the thirty second mark. When I quit out of the game, the mp3s play on in the background for another 5-10 minutes. Jason Lutes, Paxton and I played a multiplayer game the other day that froze or crash twice within an hour.

Anyway, any other strategies or tips anyone can give me? There’s a big qt3 PBEM game coming up, and I want to be at my sharpest.

Some people have suggested that turning down the sound acceleration in windows to the “recommended” setting rather than “maximum” helps with the memory leak. i think it helped me, but i never rigorously tested that.

sounds like you are getting the hang of the game. one thing to keep in mind is the awesome power of spellcasting in aow2. Jason Lutes and I have a 1v1 game in progress in which he’s been schooling me on this fact. He’s got 2 priest heros who must have at least 20 casting points each, and a single big beetle to protect them. this allows him to cast “stoning” 3 times per combat round, which is absolute murder on those low level city defenders. frustrating as hell to lose a city that you thought was well protected to a 3 unit army in your own domain!

also, don’t get to spoiled by playing against the ai. as good as it is, humans are far better, especially at handling the tactical battles. i supoose for pbem it doesn’t matter since they are auto resolved, but for live games it’s completely different.

I finally beat fire1. Not much to note except that I kept all my cities well defended and kept on cranking out higher and higher level units while running my hero around the map, exploring, finding teleporters and gold. At a certain point, I realized that not only had I uncovered three simultaneous paths to getting to Yaka’s main city, but that I was probably strong enough to empty out all of my cities and launch a full-scale attack on him. Turns out I was right, and I ended up attacking him with 30 units simultaneously as he defended with 6. Although I did meet a sneaky party of twenty coming down one of the back-alleys to launch a backdoor invasion on my cities - he wiped me out, but was so far away from my cities that I decided to press onward.

Taking risks seems to be key to winning this game.

Pax, PBEM is auto-resolved? Is that an option, or the way it always is? I’ve already been in some battles that could have gone either way - I hate to think of that being decided by a coin-toss.

The way we’re playing, Human-vs.Human is auto-resolved since it would otherwise delay the game, but Human-vs.-Computer battles can be controlled directly.

  • Alan

yeah it’s always auto-resolve in pbem for battles against other humans. you still get to play out battles against independents. you definitely wouldn’t want another human to play out a tactical battle against your forces that the ai was controlling. obviously, playing tactical battles out by email would really slow the game down.

it works out pretty well, but you have to adjust your strategy. the ai is not very good about keeping important units alive, and seems to never retreat from tactical battles. expect to lose heros easily (this gives a big bump in value to the already strong life magic sphere, since it has resurrect hero).