The most popular way to start a game is at the Stone Age (with a Town Center and three villagers). In this case, you will have to find food soon, because you have only 200 food, just enough for four villagers. The first building is a house, which should be built as soon as possible. However, do not build your houses around the Town Center. You can later use the Town Center as a Granary and build farms around it. Depending on what you find (animals or berry bushes) and on the distance of your first food source to the Town Center, you should build a Granary or a Storage Pit first. Also start chopping wood with one villager (choose the first tree near the Town Center).
1. Never place an opening until your going to use it. Keep your walls completely sealed up around your "city". Destroy them later (with the DEL key) when you are ready to leave with troops. (You get the stone back anyway).
2. When leaving your fortified area, never leave by the following two examples:
Groups of your units get caught up in my fact that (by the AI's limited foresight) they think they can go around the real opening to a perceived opening to the left and right of the real opening. Thus either slowing down their exit process, or stopping all together.
X X TX XXX you enemy XXX TX X X XXXXX TX enemy X XXXX you TX X X
The best way to exit your fortified area is the (on the second example) reverse your and the enemy's positions (and of course moving the tower placement). This way, your troops are funneled through the opening, instead of encouraged to try exiting through the sides of the breach in the wall (where they are no openings). And, enemy attacking units, get caught up in the above mentioned problem, slowing down any siege.
Larger units cannot pass EASILY through one-tile openings, I have found, and you can make a wonderfully selective membrane by placing single wall individually, with one space between each, at your entrance...xxxxxxxxxx x x x xxxxxxxxxxx x x x x x xLet me make clear that its not a perfectly impermiable wall - elephants can with LOTS of clicks get through one at a time, so make it a two tiered defense.xxxxxxxxxx x x x xxxxxxxxxxx x x x x x x x x xLike so, and it just makes a killing zone that few can get through - playtesting made my opponent so frustrated they prefered to hit against the side walls than face this maze. It should not hinder movement as much as it does, but it DOES....try it next game you play. One thing though - this blocks YOUR chariots and elephants too, so keep that in mind.
Building tactic - Villagers and priests can reach between the cracks in walls that touch at the corners (and sometimes even reach through walls that touch at the edges). This is handy for example if you wall in your island, you can still send ships into shore and have a repairman villager on the inside of the wall reach through the crack and repair the ship (outside the wall). Bad news - It also means enemy priests can reach across a wall and convert your tower. So think twice about putting a tower directly adjacent to an external wall. (It also means that you cannot get a villager to the external wall to repair it because the tower is in the way.)
Placing buildings usually just requires some common sense and thinking. Never just place the building where the villager is standing because you are too lazy to look for a better spot.
If there are any hills or cliffs in any reasonable distance from your town, always build a tower or two there. Your tower will be able to scout a much larger area when elevated and you would also have an advantage in battle. Any elevated unit will have a 25% chance to do 3x damage on enemy units. To make sure the tower can stand undefended for a while, place some walls around it. Any missile attacking units may then be taken out while the grunts work on the walls.
Another important aspect is that you would have created a strategic point. Enemy units entering the area will naturally attack the tower and most will have great trouble destroying it. You will then have time to gather your forces for a counterattack.
If the hill is large enough you should also consider placing the most important buildings on top of it and put a wall around that part of the town, defending it heavily.
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