Greetings everyone at Rise of Nations Heaven, my username is Heraclius, as you can no doubt tell. Today you will be reading an article prepared by myself on the Science of Battle. Before I begin, I wish you to understand several points. First and Foremost, I am by no means an expert at this game, although I'll be doing my best to sound like one. Secondly, the methods described in this discourse are not the only way to do things, however they have been effective in my experience. With that said, let us get started.
Ah Flanking, the commander's greatest asset. Every army has its flanks, and when one of these flanks becomes exposed, a good commander will notice and hit that flank hard. When I fight battles I generally like to keep some Heavy Cavalry in reserve if at all possible, in the event of a flank becoming exposed. Face down against my Heavy and Gunpowder infantry on the front, and Heavy cavalry on the sides or rear not only does damage to the enemy forces, but also the confidence of their commander. Remember, battle is as much a battle of arms as of wits. Getting inside your opponents head is an easy way to achieve victory. I'll touch on that more later.
Back to the topic at hand then, in Rise of Nations, Flanking not only does extra damage, but negates entrenched positions. It also will make artillery and supply wagons in the rear easy targets. I generally play the Greeks, so my Heavy Cavalry are well suited to the task of flanking. However, in most cases Light Cavalry's speed advantage can also be decisive.
Hit and Run is the preferred tactic of the Russians in my opinion. The idea of using Light Cavalry to sneak around the enemy army and hit their supply units and artillery is a good one, that can often cripple the enemies ability to seize your cities. While an opponent might have a far superior army, without artillery it will take far longer for it to take/destroy cities and buildings. Not to mention with the supply wagons dead they will take attrition damage, making them easier to kill. The same tactic can work on the attack, take out the enemy's rear positions, forcing them to reinforce them while you hit from the front. Range Cavalry also make amazing units for the task of Hit and Run, as they can fire while moving and are pretty fast.
A very important factor in battles in Rise of Nations is the terrain. Rivers and High Ground play factors, as well as natural barriers such as Forests, Mountains, and Oceans. With all these factors at play, fighting where you want to can make victory against a normally superior force possible. The difficulty is getting your opponent to attack these locations. I have let my opponent see my troops getting into position willing to this end, and it sometimes works. Other ways include forcing the battle by creating a situation in which the opponent needs to pass through the area in question. This tip goes hand in hand with the next one.
Rise of Nations uses a rather complex battle system in which the smallest advantages can tip the battle in your favor. A skilled commander will recognize these advantages and exploit them. The most often overlooked of these advantages is the terrain. Rivers slow down enemies and make them take extra damage. Hills increase the range of Forts, Towers, and possibly units(Untested). Forests and Mountains can funnel the enemy into narrow passages and ambushes. These same factors can also be played against you however, so when on the attack avoid situations in which the terrain is unfavorable whenever possible. Always be aware of the lay of the land, it could well win you the battle!
An extremely useful trick. Your opponent cannot stop your army if his army is on the other side of the map! Diversions can be created using small units of troops, or decoys. The trick is to attack a valuable location with your decoy force, tricking your enemy into moving his troops to the area. Then, you attack your real target in force while his army is busy. Just be careful, if your intent is known to the enemy your main force may well be walking into a trap!
Ambushes are not used as often as they could be, especially considering the General has an ability tailored to it. If you know where the enemy is going, and how they plan to get there, having your army lie in wait for them under the General's ambush ability can net you an easy victory. Not to mention it will mess with your opponents head when a large force suddenly appears out of nowhere. Just make sure to keep an eye out for a counter-ambush!
This has been touched on at various other points in this article already. Your opponent is a human being and, as such, is prone to making mistakes. If you can make your opponent feel uncomfortable about his position, by making yourself feel larger than you actually are, he will be even more likely to mess up. If you confound him at every turn, he will become frustrated. Just try to keep your own cool, you have the same weaknesses as your opponent!
Control the skies! I cannot stress this enough, as soon as you hit Industrial, gain air supremacy if at all possible. Of course, don't sacrifice your ground forces to do so! Constantly harassing your opponents army with fighters is an effective tactic. Just make sure to target their AA units first, lest your fighters come crashing down.
During battles, Fighter support can be a decisive factor, since they cannot be hit by a majority of your opponents ground forces, and can strafe tanks and artillery to due severe damage to the ability to fight. If you plan on having a mostly Infantry Force, make sure you have the airpower to back it up. Also, use your fighters to take down enemy fighters to spare your troops some heartache.
Entrenchments are amazing, I'll leave it at that. They absorb 33% of frontal and splash damage, at the cost of movement. Some entrenched Machine Guns and Heavy Infantry backed up by some AA and the CEO can make a nearly impenetrable defense. However it works well even with early infantry like Musketeers. That defense bonus can be a huge advantage. However keep a close eye on your flanks. A flank attack will negate the bonuses Entrenchments give. The best possible defense is the one that forces your opponent to cross a River and travel uphill to get to your entrenched forces.
Arrows miss on occasion, especially when fired at moving targets. To help avoid arrows, when you are forced to advance towards, or run away from, archers or towers use shift clicks to queue up movement commands in a zigzag pattern. This will cause many arrows to miss your troops and allow you to get to or away from the archers without taking too much extra damage.
Before we start on this, understand that I have VERY little experience with naval combat.
A lot of people I have played make the mistake of spamming one kind of ship. This is dangerous. Only using Heavy Ships makes you vulnerable to Fire Ships, and only spamming Light Ships makes you vulnerable to heavy ships. Just like on land, maintaining a balanced force of 2 or 3 ships is ideal. The best combination are Light and Heavy, or Light and Fire. Fire and Heavy leaves you vulnerable to other fire ships.
Always stay on alert for fire ships in naval battles, they are lethal. As soon as you seen one, immediately double click on a light ship, and have them focus fire it. If several attack either bring them down one at a time, or spread the fire out over them all. Remember that in mass engagements Light Ships are only good for taking out fire ships, keep them out of range of the enemy Heavy Ships. Use your own Heavy Ships to target the enemy Heavy Ships and Light Ships. Flanks work well as your opponent will likely not expect them on the open sea, just send some ships around their fleet (out of LOS of course) and come around from behind of the side. Flanks work best with Fire Ships assuming you can keep them clear of enemy Light Ships.
The introduction of Fighters and Submarines in the Industrial, and later Aircraft Carriers and Helicopters in the Modern Age tips the balance of sea power dramatically.
Heavy Ships no longer dominate as Light Ships are even more of a necessity. Not only do they detect and destroy Submarines, but they can take down Aircraft.
On that note, the Carrier becomes the prominent naval unit. Your navy should be split into "carrier groups" each with an Aircraft Carrier and several escort vessels included some Cruisers to deal with submarine attackers. Aircraft Carriers are a huge investment, you would do well to protect them.
I will be adding more to this discourse as I have time to write. I do hope that the articles currently provided have proved useful and that I have not wasted your time. I have found that while much of the information put forward is common knowledge, it is rarely, if ever, used.
[This message has been edited by EoB Heraclius (edited 09-28-2009 @ 07:08 PM).]