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Rise of Nations Heaven » Forums » RoN General Discussion » What Sets RoN Apart From the Pack? (Thinking of Buying RoN?)
Topic Subject:What Sets RoN Apart From the Pack? (Thinking of Buying RoN?)
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posted 06-08-03 08:43 PM EDT (US)         
I'll list all the features i find "different" from other RTS's (though i played very little of EE).

  • Captureable Cities, and Cities as an important feature.

    In previous RTS games the TC simply acted as an economic center for gathering, nothing more. You'd build them anywhere you needed to gether resourses from (mostly locate them next to gold mines). That's all they were good for (or in AoK:TC, they were offencive weapons :P). In RoN, cities play a critical role in your empire. They are not resourse drop off points, they are much much more. Cities control your entire economy and how it develops. In order to get more food, you need more cities (only 5 per city). Lumber mill/smelter benifits only work in the city in which they are built, so you need a city at each major resourse location. They are also required for trade routes (which is how you collect wealth) and they are required to build universities (which collect knowledge). Most importantly, cities expand borders (which we'll get to later).

    Cities are also Capturable. Insted of simply destroying everything, like in other games, you can insted capture cities. Capturing a city pushes back the enemy borders and claims the territory as your own. In order to capture a city, you must get the city HP down to 0, then move in more infantry than any other military force in the area. After you "captured" the city, you must wait for it to assimilate before it actually becomes "yours." You can't use any of the buildings in it until it finishes assimilating (maybe 2 minutes or so). This provides a REALLY nice feeling of swinging battles back and forth over a city. First attack at it fails, 2nd succeeds, but the counter-attack comes in time to stop the assimilation and they re-capture their city, that kind of thing. This also creates an intresting strategic objective because capturing the capitol of your enemy will set off a timer where, if he doesn't capture it back, you will capture all his cities and he looses the game.

    I'd also like to take the time to point out the eye-candy that cities produce. Every caravan you create sets up a road between your cities. Every building you build in a city gets a little road to the city center. The roads and buildings all upgrade over the ages. It starts out as a light dirt patch, then a rutted dirt patch, then a cobblestone (i think?) then paved (in industrial i think? or modern). This really makes the cities look like CITIES. Looking over your nation you can see the cities all laid out, and the roads connecting them. It's quite a nice site...just before those damned germans come knocking at your borders again.

  • Borders and attrition

    Borders in RoN Work like this. Every city in the game creates a sphere of influence around it. The more influence a city has the more range of borders around that city.

    Known as "border push," this can be altered in a few ways. As you advance through the ages and get more buildings in a city, the cities automatically upgrade to Large (in medieval age) and then Major Cities (In the industrial age). The larger your city, the more border push you get.

    Your Civics research also effects your boarders. The more levels of "civics" you research, the greater your border push for your cities. We'll get to research lines later. The temple (and it's upgrades) also affect borders for cities.

    Also note that Castles/Forts (both are the same defencive structure, different ages) also push out borders (though not as much as cities). This makes them very strategic in their placement. Castles have their own line of research that increases their power/border push.

    Now, what happens when 2 borders come together? If your borders meet, and you both have identical "border push" strength at that point on the map, then the borders will be halfway between your 2 cities/forts. If, however, you have a stronger border push (due to location or research) then you will claim more territory.

    That's all well and good, but what do borders do? They have 2 major functions.

    1) You can only build inside your borders. You cannot build any buildings outside your borders. This means that if you want to capture that mountain or patch of forest or Oil well, you'll need to push your borders out and claim it (with a city or fort). This also forces a liner expansion. You can't build a city on the other side of the map, you need to build them inside your borders. This also stops the stupid "Forward building" you saw in every other RTS game, where buildings would be used as offencive weapons insted of defencive. Claiming territory ensures that you control all the resourses in that area, and the enemy will not be able to build/expand there.

    2) Attrition. Attrition is the slow loss of HP while in enemy territory. This represents units "not in supply." It is assumed that when in friendly/nutral territory that you will be able to create a supplyline unharrassed, so your units are always "in supply." However, when you enter enemy territory, you must bring along supply wagons to ensure that your troops stay "in supply." If your troops are in enemy territory and not near a supply wagon, they will slowly loose health. This is what happens to a combat unit as it goes long periods without food/water/equipment/replacement parts/cloths/etc. The combat effectiveness of a unit deteriorates when it can't get these things, and this is modeled in RoN in the form of attrition. Napoleon once said "An army marches on it's stomach."

    Now, this makes for some intresting situations. Take out an attackers supply wagons and you will secure a large advantage. This also makes for some unique nation bonuses (russian winter and mongols -50% attrition). It also makes haphazerd strikes at the enemy ecnomy worthless. Previously you could send any couple of guys into the enemy main base and do a hell of a lot of dammage before their army came to stop you. Even then, if those units were cav, they could simply run away from your army, wait till you leave, and come back and do it again.

    Attrition stops this haphazard raiding, and makes raiding a less cost effective tactic (though it is still very useful due to the inclusion of a raiding unit line). Raiding is still very posible and very dammaging if done correctly, but it's not so damned easy to pull off. This forces coherent, large, deadly strikes that create much larger, more fun battles. You are fighting over CITIES and TERRITORY and not over who can kill the most villagers.

  • Unique Research

    RoN utilizes a very unique research setup. While there are a lot of various techs you can research in many buildings (to improve your economy and/or military), the main research is done in the library. This is the most important research. Everything else is trivial without this. The library has 4 lines of research, each with 9 levels (once you research all 8 levels of all 4 lines you unlock the "game ending" techs, one for each line).

    Military: Military increases your population cap by 25 (on default pop cap settings) at each level. It also upgrades your forts/towers. Most importantly, it allows you to upgrade your units, and makes the costs of all your military units cost less. The end game tech for the military line is "Missle Sheild," which makes it imposible for the enemy to send missles (nuclear or conventional) into your territory.

    Civics: Civics (as mentioned earlier) boosts the border push of all your cities/forts. More importantly it controls how many cities you can have at one time. Increase your civics in order to build more buildings. The end game tech for civics is "World Govornment," which makes all victory and assimilation timers instant (usually after capturing a captiol, or building enough wonders, or capturing enough territory, you must hold it for a certain ammount of time to win. This tech makes all those timers null and void). Civics also allows you to research more things at the temple.

    Commerce: Every commerce level increases the number of caravans you can have (the main way you gather wealth). More importantly, it increases your commerce cap. See below for more information about commerce caps. The end game tech for commerce increases all your commerce caps to +999 (the highest there is), and increases your resourse output by 25%.

    Science: Science is a very powerful tech, but no more imporant than any of the others. Science decreases the cost of all other techs (at the library) by 10% and increases their research speed by 10%. Science also unlocks many of the economic techs to improve your economy. Science works hand in hand with The end game tech for the science line is "Artificial Inteligence" which makes building of all units instant.

  • The "Fire and Forget" Economy

    RoN's economy is quite unique. It utilizes a "fire and forget" type organization. After you setup a farm it's setup forever, no need to come back and replant it. After you setup a mine it's setup forever, metal never runs out. None of the resourses run out actually. Which means you'll spend much less time relocating your economy and much more time concentrating on the battle. This kind of economy makes planning and efficiency pay off. It also allows you to ignore your economy once you set it up. The only thing you need to do the entire game concerning your economy is expand it. Every time you research Commerce at the library, you'll want to expand your economy.

    Which brings us to the intresting way in which you gather resourses in RoN. Insted of worrying about traval time for resourse gathering, the instant a civilian enters a resourse gathering building, it produces a steady stream of resourses. The base rate for most resourses is +10. +10 means that every 30 seconds you get 10 resourses. So every farm (with no upgrades) gives you an extra 10 resourses every 30 seconds.

    Now the 3 "main" resourses in RoN are Food, Wood, and Metal. These are produced similer to other games. Food is Farmed, wood is chopped down from forests, and metal is mined. To increase the production of a farm/wood camp/mine you build a granery/lumber mill/smelter. Now it's important to point out that these buildings ONLY increase the gather rate for the cities in which they reside. Also, you can research techs at each of these buildings that boosts their effectiveness. So while the granery starts out by "increasing gather rate of all farms in the city by 20%," Once you research agriculture it now "increases the gather rate of all farms in the city by 50%." By the end of the game these buildings will increase the gather rate by 200%. This means that you only need 3 cities *max,* with only 12-13 villigers on each (of these) resourses. This makes the late game military a bit larger, dispite the same 200 pop cap as in other RTS games.

    The 3 other resourses are Oil, Wealth, and Knowledge. Oil is gathered by putting a single villager on every oil well you can. Then you build oil refineries in your cities to boost production of ALL oil wells by 33% (and the effects stack).

    Wealth is produced by caravans and taxation. Taxation research is at the temple, and boosts your wealth income based on your territory. Caravans traval between your cities and increase your wealth based on a number of factors (distance and size of the cities, etc.). 1 Caravan per commerce level.

    Knowledge is Produced in universities. You train scholors in your universities to boost their gather rate. Knowledge is used in all library research as well as missle building/researching.

    Now about the commerce cap. You start the game with a commerce cap of +70. This means that if you have 7 villagers farming, you are getting +70 food per 30 seconds. If you have 8 villagers farming, you still only get 70 food per 30 seconds. If you had 300 villagers farming, you'd still only get 70 food per 30 seconds. Commerce cap is how fast you are allowed to bring in resourses. It represents the technology of the time being able to handle only so much resourse exchange. What good is huge ammounts of food when the only way to get it around is a hand cart? You go from +70, to +100, to +150, to +200, and wind up at +500 with full commerce research in information age. This also opens up nice nation bonuses and wonders. It stops the stupidity of the "villiger seconds" in other games. The entire economy of other games revolves around keeping the TC cranking out villagers. This game blocks that with commerce cap, and makes commerce planning and efficiency more useful.

  • Battle Tactics and Military Inovations

    The concept of Ramping Costs might have been in other RTS games before, but not very many popular ones. Ramping Costs involve a Slingers' base cost at say 20 food, 20 wood. After you build 1 slinger, now the next one costs 22 food, 22 wood. After 2 slingers maybe it costs 23 food 23 wood. After 5 slingers maybe 26 food and 26 wood. This ramps up until you get to 40 food and 40 wood (never exceeds double the base unit cost). Then when you loose your units, the price drops back down. (Note, the ramping applies to units of different types. So all barracks units count towards the ramping of the price of all barracks units. For Example, build an army of light infantry, and your heavy infantry cost will ramp up as well.)

    This does some nice things for balance. Because of the way RoN economy works, trying to price the units in the game would be really difficult without ramping costs. In the early game, your economy is so small. If they tried to price units based on this economy, then the units would be WAY too cheap in the later game. If they priced units based in the later game (with it's huge economy) then they would be way too expensive in the early game. Now they could have simply made military tech control the price of units, but there are other important reasons to keep this ramping cost feature.

    There is one problem that plauges almost every RTS game. THe problem of "The rich get richer and the poor get poorer." This is speaking of the fact that once a side gains the upper hand, there is VERY little chance of a come back from the lower hand. If you loose the first battle, you loose the game. With ramping costs, after somebody looses a battle they can get back in quickly (because their units are cheap again, they all got killed), while at the same time the person who won is going to have a harder time increasing his lead. This, along with other small handicaps (such as 10% cheaper age advancement for the people who don't age up first). Now keep in mind that NONE of these small bonuses will ever allow a lesser skilled player to beat a stronger player. It does, however, allow you to make 1 or 2 mistakes, and still make up for it later on. Many RTS games are a battle of "who makes the first mistake" and RoN tries to stop this trend.

    This is the same reason there's no "veteran" units in RoN. It only adds the advantage to somebody who's already won the battle.

    Ramping costs also works for buildings. So try to build 7 barracks and they get pretty expensive. Building 30 forts isn't posible, i've never seen more than 6, simply because the ramping cost is too high.

    Oh, and the major advantage of ramping costs: No One unit armies! It is extreamly inefficient to create an entire army of knights, or an entire army of heavy infantry. Ramping costs helps to force mixed armies as being more logical and useful.

    Seige is also very useful in RoN besides just against buildings. Seige gets splash dammage and becomes increasingly useful (against infantry) after gunpowder age.

    Flanking Dammage is a real nice tactical modifyer. Hitting the enemy from their side gives a 100% bonus, and from the rear gives a 50% bonus in attack power. This makes cavalry extremly useful in their traditional role. Their advantage is their mobility, so moving around behind the enemy is their best strategy (combine with ambush for extra points!).

    Generals, Spies, and Commandos add a good bit of strategy with their unique abilities. Commandos can scout "invisible" units and can snipe enemy generals/supply wagons. Spies can bribe enemy seige and place informants in enemy buildings. Generals can "hide" their troops with ambush, or entrench them, or even create decoys to draw enemy fire.

    Unit Balance is really great, planes are useful, but not the uber-weapon of doom. Nukes are POWERFUL, but have their drawbacks (nuke embargo and armagedon). All lines of military units have their own purpose and function, and the RPS element isn't so overblown as to cause anoyingly stupid situations (1 pike taking out 10 cav).

    Large Scale battles and epic scope are a commen occourance in RoN. 90% of battles are revolving around capturing/defending a city. These kind of battles are much more fun than the ones in other games where the attacker is simply sending suicide attacks at the enemy economy. You need to have forces left in order to defend the city, so you can't win by suiciding, you must win decisivly and defend your captured territory.

    Forts and Towers Work exactly as they are suposed to. They act as barriers, but only, insoforth as you defend them properly. A castle/tower is not going to stop the enemy, but it will delay him, and give you advance warning of where he is going to attack. The time it takes the enemy to knock down your castle/tower with seige is extra time for you to prepare for the attack (get flanking units in place, setup entrenchments, etc.). They also work well at the rear of a city to prevent capture (forts count as 10 "infantry" and towers count as 5 in terms of capture).

    This game just feels so much more refreshing and deap and the battles all feel like your actually doing something, like strategy and thought and planning MATTER. Your not just reacting, your creating the situation, setting up the flank, sending ambushed cavalry around behind the mountain to hit the enemy seige/supply. Your using your commandos to snipe enemy generals. Your pulling back behind fortifications when you can't win the battle, your sending raids to the enemy economy, planting spies in enemy territory. Then hitting him with cannon, upgrade to artilery to pack a larger punch. Get the oil economy started and upgrade to tanks before the other guy. get some bi-planes up to stomp his ground forces.

    Play to the advantages of your nation. Each nation in RoN has very unique bonuses and that makes all of them (all 18 of them!) play different. Mongols are great at tearing through enemey economy. Germans are a great blitzkreig nation. Boom an age above your enemy then grab one of his cities, then boom above him again, grab another, repeat. The mayans and russians are great "Counter-attack" nations. let the enemy come to you and use your superior defences to lull him into a trap where his forces get toasted, then counter-attack while he is weak. Use the english economy to beat him up with superior numbers. use the bantu extra citis to choke his territory. Use the Inca gold to trade your way to victory.

    This game has so much depth that is just not aparent until you really play it. Multiplayer is a a blast, and support is amazingly good (devs post in the community forums, how often does that happen?). It is no clone of EE or of AoK. It stands alone, a step above the rest. Inovations such as "smart villagers" and drag-select filters, or auto-grouping units and auto-transports all add to the game. So much less tedious micromanagement!

    The game has it's bad sides of course, but there are few (some bugs, few and far between). Some would like even more options in the multiplayer setup, some would like a better multiplayer server. Nothing makes the game any less what it is.

    This game is the kickstart the genre has needed for a while now. It's not as jaw-droppingly original as the first WC or the first C&C, but it's close.

    Check out Tales of Legend, a Rise of Legends Community Show!

    [This message has been edited by Bridger (edited 06-25-2003 @ 03:56 PM).]

  • AuthorReplies:
    posted 06-09-03 10:23 PM EDT (US)     26 / 33       
    I think that some of us are just natural proof readers. Like TEN I seem to be able to see every typo and grammatical glitch on a written page ( but I've also learnt that it's not always a good idea to point them all out... ).

    Curiously, this ability doesn't work on my own writing (I can spell, but I'm an atrocious two finger typist).

    The only sure way to proof read your own work is to put it in an email. Just AFTER you hit the send button, you'll fleetingly see all the errors you missed before. Like spotting that instead of telling the boss that he's got a good grasp of the facts you commended his grasp of farts... etc..

    posted 06-10-03 01:26 AM EDT (US)     27 / 33       
    Well, i actually didn't proofread this before i posted it for the simple reason that it took too damned long to type and i wanted to do other things! hehe.

    Check out Tales of Legend, a Rise of Legends Community Show!
    posted 06-10-03 01:29 AM EDT (US)     28 / 33       
    well that's a good reason if any.

    TGE's RTS Blog, news, thoughts, and advice on RTS gaming

    Able Company (my job)

    "I've kicked more ass on accident than most people have on purpose"

    posted 06-10-03 03:19 AM EDT (US)     29 / 33       
    No, I just turned 15 and I'm homeschooled (except for one class, but that's a long story). Quite the opposite.
    posted 06-10-03 03:40 AM EDT (US)     30 / 33       
    You should also probably emphasize that population limit is done by research and not building houses and such.
    posted 06-10-03 11:06 AM EDT (US)     31 / 33       
    SPANK...bridger got schooled by a 15 year old...OUCH...maybe your GF will ice down your beat down pride. LOL

    TGE's RTS Blog, news, thoughts, and advice on RTS gaming

    Able Company (my job)

    "I've kicked more ass on accident than most people have on purpose"

    [This message has been edited by TheGoodEvil (edited 06-10-2003 @ 11:07 AM).]

    posted 06-10-03 11:37 AM EDT (US)     32 / 33       
    Normally I wouldn't be so tedious, but this got linked to from the front page so a ton of people will be reading it.
    posted 06-10-03 08:29 PM EDT (US)     33 / 33       


    Yeah what Bridger said about Medieval Total War ....... great game for using tactics in huge battles, just a pity the graphics are 2d and just not up to scratch. Waiting to see what Rome Total War will be like, supposedly fully 3d.


    Looks like I'll have something to queue up for when I eventually wear RoN out. At this stage it looks like both events are well down the track though. I've hardly scratched the surface of RoN so far.

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