Basics - Choose the right tribe - Your army - Advancing through the Ages - Build the wonder - How to counter this strategy
Building a wonder means concentrating on defense and preventive attacks. In order to be successful, you should persue that strategy from the beginning on but try not to reveal your intentions. An elaborate defense consisting of many towers and walls plays a crucial role since you will not have many units that can stop attackers.
Wonder strategies are not that effective at sea maps because the islands are usually to small to build an elaborate defense there. Small maps are not predestinated for this strategy either. The ideal map is a huge Highland map where you can use the hills to build towers on them, taking advantage of their elevation.
Choosing the right tribeThere are several attributes and upgrades that are required to build a Wonder quickly and defend it well. The most important ones are:
ArchitectureThis lets you build your Wonder more quickly (in 2/3 of the usual time) and gives it 100 additional HP! Since building a Wonder takes forever, this upgrade is an absolute must.
JihadNormally this upgrade is pretty useless because even with Jihad, your villagers will be no match for any enemy. Your production will also be irreversibly crippled. Because you will mainly have villagers when building a wonder, it is crucial to get the Jihad upgrade before the attacks. This will turn your villagers into excellent Catapult killers, being very fast and pretty tough.
WheelThe Wheel and other resource gathering upgrades play a crucial role when stockpiling resources for the upgrades and the wonder itself. If you choose a tribe without these upgrades, you will end up with a production that is too slow.
The best tribesExcellent tribes for building a wonder are the Babylonian (double wall and tower HP, +30% stone mining make a perfect defense), Choson (+2 tower range), Egyptian (+20 % gold mining) and Shang (-30% villager cost, double wall hit points, best performance until Bronze Age) tribes. With the exception of the Shang, they all have Priest bonuses as well. Most of them lack strong Siege Weapons and Elite Infantry which you will not need anyway.
Of course you can also try this strategy with a different tribe, hoping to have the advantage of surprising the enemy. However, the Assyrian (no Architecture), Persian (-30 % farm production, no Wheel) and Phoenician (no Architecture) tribe are poor choices. Unlike the tribes mentioned in the first paragraph, their bonuses are mainly improved offensive units, so this makes these tribes good for a conquest strategy.
Your armyYou will not have the resources and unit slots to build many troops, so your army will consist of about 20+ military units only. So it is especially important that you choose them wisely. The rest of your army will be souped up villagers (with Jihad).
Hoplites and CatapultsBoth of these units should not be used unless you have spare resources. Hoplites are too slow to intercept incoming attackers, and Siege weapons are poor defenders either. Leaving these units away also means no Infantry armor upgrades and no Engineering, no Academy or Siege Workshop. Thus, you can spare food during the Tool and Bronze Age and wood later, giving you the chance to reach the Iron Age sooner.
Cavalry and Horse ArchersYou will need some decent Cavalry to destroy the Siege machines that will certainly be mustered to take out your wonder. Archers will kill any slow units (Phalanxes) guarding the Catapults. You should produce a few of both kinds of units. Chariots and Chariot Archers are a good option since they cost no gold. It may also be helpful to have a few War elephants at your disposal if you can afford them.
PriestsThey should not be used as a last resort against Catapults, but a defense against Elephants and Hoplites that may come. You will not be able to buy many upgrades so restrict yourself to few Priests with improved conversion speed and/or range and doubled HP. If you manage to convert a few enemy units, this may cripple the attack or will at least slow it down and give you time to get reinforcements that will hopefully crush the assault. Egyptian priests have the huge advantage that they can actually convert Heavy Catapults from a save distance. Use this!
Advancing quickly through the AgesThey key of a successful wonder strategy is that the wonder is built as early as possible, but not before your defenses are established. Because Iron Age units are much stronger, it is vital that you upgrade to the Iron Age as the first player and construct your wonder before the opponents can take advantage of the Iron Age unit upgrades.
Town CentersAs soon as you reach the Bronze Age, build a Government Center so you can build another Town Center. You will need 4+ Town Centers to get more and more villagers after the upgrade to the Iron Age has started. You should have a bunch (at least 35) of these guys when you reach the Iron Age so you can start your wonder soon. It is also important that you stockpile resources for the wonder and tower upgrades. Harvest resources like a madman! After all, you will need 1000 wood, 1000 stone and 1000 gold.
This is also a crucial feature of a good wonder strategy. When arriving at the Bronze Age, you should already have located your nearest enemy. Launch a quick attack with Chariots and Chariot Archers then, trying to kill as many villagers as you can (ignoring their army). This is of course also suitable with many other strategies, so nobody will yet know of your purpose. However, instead of buying many unit upgrades in the Bronze Age, try to reach the Iron Age quickly, leaving aside the less important upgrades. You will need all resource gathering and tower/wall upgrades of course. Do not build too many villages yet as this will weaken your army. With four Town Centers, getting enough villagers quickly will not be a problem.
Building the wonder
The right place for a wonderChoose the location where you build your wonder early (during the Tool Age if possible), so you can build many towers and walls there. An elevated position gives you tactical advantages, and it should be fairly obvious that if your wonder can be attacked from the sea by Juggernaughts, it will not last very long. Do not seal off that area with walls before the Bronze Age, for that will give away your intentions. Build the wonder in a corner or at least at an edge of the map. It is much easier to defend these positions.
Set up walls and the last towers during the late Bronze Age, before building the wonder of course. Your defense should consists of many towers and walls, arranged in at least two layers of walls with towers behind them. At least two Archeries and Temples and three Stables are also a must. Keep upgrading your towers and Cavalry during the Bronze Age. Get about 35 villagers when building the wonder. Be aware that then, the location of that building will instantly be revealed, so make sure you have a quick start (do not miss the Architecture upgrade) and a fully operable defense.
Get all important Iron Age upgrades
When building the wonder, it is also upgrade time. You should still have a few villagers (around 5) gathering the resources you need for the Guard Tower, Craftsmanship (both are very important) and maybe Ballista Tower upgrade. Of course the Afterlife (+3 conversion range) is also a must. All the other upgrades (Cavalry and Archer armor, Heavy Cavalry etc.) have a lower priority!
Maximize your armyAfter finishing your wonder, kill your villagers until you have 49 units in total (I assume that you have coordinated the process of getting many villagers with multiple Town Centers to get more than 50 units). Then produce units again, trying to maximize the number of units you can have (getting far past the 50 unit limit of course). Get the Jihad upgrade if possible. Send your Scouts or Horse Archers to look for attackers. Maybe you will find someone who is training Catapults without guarding them (not expecting an attack). Launching a preventive strike then works wonders :)
Make sure your horses are outside your walls and your priests inside. After all, the purpose of your Cavalry is to take out Catapults, and they can hardly do so within your walls ;)
The crucial time when building a wonder is first the build up phase where your wonder is very weak. So will your defense be. I have once lost a wonder to a few Catapults (only two came actually through) while it had only 160 HP :(
After finishing the wonder, attacks will typically occur after the first 1000 years have passed. Do not rejoice too early, for heavy attack waves will certainly follow.
Countering this strategyOf course a wonder strategy is not unbeatable, and there are many ways to prevent it from being successful:
- Good scouting will reveal any defenses before they are fully set up.
- Get Siege Weapons during the Bronze Age and launch heavy attacks to prevent players from setting up elaborate defenses.
- Keep attacking during the whole game to slow down the enemy's production.
- If someone starts building a wonder, try a preventive strike first with light infantry and/or Cavalry. If you can make it to the wonder, you can kill many villagers and slow down the construction of the wonder very much.
- Build a wonder yourself with more villagers. You can always check the enemy wonder to see whether he is ahead or not. Because no player will have strong Siege Weapons, this will guarantee a very dramatical match :)
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