Real-Time Strategy all purpose discussion thread


I made two attempts to play Kohan, probably putting 6 hours into it each time. I heard great things about the game, but it failed to impress me. It looked to me that the low number of battalions you can control both takes away scouting and leads to a very few options available (if you play a skirmish). Alstein and fvarbel, what am I missing? I plan to give the game another try but I’m afraid to bounce off it again without a better understanding. Thanks!


Lately my personal taste in RTSs has been going towards the unusual single player type experience, AI War, Infested Planet, and Creeper World (if this is even an RTS), for example.


Of course Creeper World is an RTS! I think it’s indicative of the sorry state of RTS innovation that we wonder if a game can be an RTS if it doesn’t have troops and peons, and rushing (I know I’m putting words in your mouth, Warpstorm). It’s real-time! It’s a strategy game! RTS!


Agreed, Creeper World is definitely an RTS. No doubt.

Since I forgot to respond to this earlier, just wanted to say you nailed it. Rise of Nations is the best RTS ever made. Personal favorite would probably be C&C Red Alert, but that game was such a significant portion of my youth that I can’t help but love it in spite of its many faults. RoN is second place on that list.


Well, you always used one unit for scouting, unless you were Nat, in which case your combat unit scouted.

Battles were mostly trying to retreat your units to flank the enemy and hit their supports.

The game was a lot of fun as a proto-MOBA, with 3 vs 3 or 4 vs 4 (thought 3 vs 3 was best) MP battles. In some ways I’d call it a hybrid of MOBA and RTS.


Eh, [I]Creeper World[/I] is sort of tower defense too.


You make your own scouting units, with the scouting order, so you can cover ground better, this is more combat oriented, so makeup of armies is important. You can get some good comp-stomp going in this…

Its one of the greats.


Tower defense is a subset of real-time strategy, right?


I’d say so, sure. Downloaded many a WC3 TD map back in the day.


So the comments here indicate that a lot of gamers have moved on from core RTS games to other things like MOBAs, Paradox grand strategy, turn-based, etc.

One of the experiences that all of those replacements don’t offer is an epic battle or narrative arc in under an hour. Many of the core RTS games provide a Civilization-like experience of growing a massive empire, armies, and infrastructure from a tiny starting scouting force. All of that happens in a tight compressed time-frame of an hour or less. Very few other genres, if any, can offer that experience in that time scale. Core RTS titles may offer a full RPG upgrade progression, reaching the end of a research tree, building up a sprawling civilization, min/maxing a sophisticated economy, building an impressive city, fielding huge armies with elite or experimental units, or geographic conquest all in a tight game that can be completed during a lunch break.

That is one aspect of core RTS games that hasn’t really been duplicated or replaced by other competing games like MOBAs or the massive time commitment of a Paradox grand strategy. An aspect that I still find very compelling.


You could make a TD scenario for Ashes.


The thing is that I don’t typically get that epic feel from most RTS games. I’m not building a city or might military fortification, I’m just plopping down a handful of buildings in a certain order. The research trees in a 4X are often quite interesting and open up all sorts of options, but RTS it’s generally “do a bit more damage” or “have a bit more armor”. Boring. If you factor in building requirements for units you can think of that as part of a tech tree, but even then you usually just have a couple very short paths to take and it’s just a matter of what you build first vs second.

That’s kind of my problem with traditional RTS games. For my individual tastes, I really feel a lack of some sort of metagame or customization. I like a good skirmish mode but at the end of the day it’s just a skirmish. I do my battle and then I’m done. I can play again, but it plays out fairly similarly each time and it’s just a matter of getting better at executing.

I think that’s one area where MOBAs and the like are kicking the crap out of traditional RTS games. Each game can play out very differently based on what Hero you individually chose as well as your team composition. Strategies and tactics are going to vary widely based on the composition of your team vs the other team. In the case of Paragon (and I’m sure other MOBAs), each game further changes by how you build your Deck of equipment/upgrades and which Deck you choose to bring with you to a particular game.

I don’t have anywhere near that variety or breadth of options in a typical RTS game. It’s usually just scout and choose build order A, B, or maybe C. Then it’s just a matter of execution. Perhaps the very competitive like that it’s all about execution, but for me I’m left with very few interesting decisions and choices from game to game. It’s not a bad formula, but I think that well ran dry for me in the 2000’s. I’ve been there and I’ve done that, I want more now.


Thanks KevinC, that’s pretty much my feeling on the topic. Games that break from that formula, even slightly, are a breathe of fresh air. Games like Age of Mythology gives you a bit of space with the different gods, and Warlords Battlecry has Heroes, which help break of game a bit, and can make them a little more varied.

An RTS that allowed me to mix up the factions a bit (either prior to the game starting or during the game) and allowed me to automate parts of the game would be great.

It would fun to focus on building an epic base, while my minions are set to harass or scout, and not need to baby sit them. Or plot out a battle plan, knowing that I’m building reinforcements and repairing towers without my intervention. It would be nice to look through my research, and decide to research large shields, because my enemy is strong on archers, rather than because it’s the next thing on the list, or have my siege tanks be particular effective against fast moving units, rather than have significant range.

Also, did anyone bring up Ground Control?


It will be interesting to see how well Meta units work. One of the problem with games like Starcraft are that individual units have special abilities that require micromanagement to use properly. Warcraft 3 attempted to get around this by making these abilities autocast; the unintended result being that big battles with lots of units were almost impossible to micro because so much was happening so quickly.

As far as single player vs multi player goes, it comes back to the origin question of all RTS games: why play anything other than chess? After all, chess is ‘perfected’ as a 1on1 strategy game, with a lifetime of depth and skill involved. What it comes down to is personality and creating a sense of verisimilitude with whatever historical or fictional world is being recreated. One thing i always love doing in RTS games, for ex., are using lots of groups of small numbers of specialist units spread across the map, making use of terrain and special abilities. Games like Act of Aggression let you do this with their infantry units and their myriad transport units, and the fact that buildings are everywhere and make excellent cover for infantry.

It’s interesting that one of the longest running RTS games has split the economic and military side of the equation into two parallel games: the Total War series. Total War games have by convention capped the maximum number of units available to players under their control at any one time to 20.


Fair enough, it doesn’t work for everyone. Perceived variation from game to game does depend on how much one buys into the fantasy that the game is selling.

A casual player (for lack of a better term) might see what looks like the same basic WWII combined arms battle over and over in Company of Heores, but fans will see a huge range of variation and subtleties between how different skirmishes play out on the same map. They can be radically different but won’t look that way to those where the core gameplay has lost its shine.

RTS games give me very responsive feedback on my research choices, build order, army composition and so on.

After several hours with Ashes of the Singularity I started gaining the ability to recognize the tells when I had fallen behind economically, when my army composition was weaker than my opponents, and so on. That feature may not be unique to RTS games but their informational feedback loop works swiftly and interestingly.



An RTS that allowed me to mix up the factions a bit (either prior to the game starting or during the game) and allowed me to automate parts of the game would be great.

As AntediluvianArk hints at, CoH does that (CoH 2 even more) both with faction choice (at least with expansions) and with the doctrines/commanders.

Basically, what I’m saying is CoH is the best.


A big reason why I passed on Ashes is that I had zero faith the Meta units system would work well long-term. It didn’t seem restrictive enough from my instincts honed from years of various competitive games.

On top of that, I have other games to fill my competitive itch. At this point it would really take a true spiritual successor to Kohan that kept the limited unit system to bring me back. Ashes just didn’t look like it filled that role.


If you have the time would you mind expanding on that? Specifically the second sentence where you refer to them not being restrictive enough and your problems with it.


It takes a bit. One thing I would do is skip the campaign. Play large skirmishes with big maps and lots of players, I thought Kohan did a pretty good job with 4v4. The AI is okay, but multiplayer is definitely better. And you most definitely need scouts in Kohan. Early game, those are you light horse units, later you might update them to have rangers, or move to dragoons with rangers. In the big battles versus players, I loved how battlelines would develop, and then players would try to build raiding forces that would go after weaker towns in their opponents flanks. The positioning of units was key, knowing when to retreat safely was huge. In many ways, it’s a much less fiddly version of Total War, or a multiplayer version of Shadow of the Horned Rat.

Kohan also has a lot of cruft. You could make a lot of choices that were just so painfully wrong, and the game would let you do it. Like, Settlers or Engineers in a support slot, or mixing cavalry with infantry – though dragoons + healers can work in a pinch if you went heavy cav without going heavy foot and found yourself backed in a corner, but new players always seem to stick horses with the footmen, and end up with a slow unit that is good at nothing, getting punished for because the game never really warns you that that is not a good idea. It was also easy to tank your economy.

But once everyone gains an understanding of how to play, it was one damn fined game, we played many an epic 4v4 back in the day.

A remake/reimagining, that was perhaps a bit more obvious with econ choices, and disallowed some of the more utterly stupid and pointless combinations of units would help greatly.


I was told you could control individual units. This means at some point micro was going to dominate in a big way. Not what I want. Kohan definitely had micro, but it was manageable minus some exploits which got banned in MP games like townstealing.