There was an unprecedented change in the pattern today: leaving me stunned, truly.
I should preface by saying I have a great 6 game selection to chose from right now, and below I have them ranked in order of preference:
Ultimate Apocalypse 1.73.4 for Dawn of War: Soulstorm (UA)
Edain 3.8.1 for Battle for Middle Earth II: Rise of the Witch-King (BfME2)
Total Mayhem 1.2 for Supreme Commander: Forged Alliance
Improvement Mod for Age of Empires III: The Asian Dynasties
Units Compilation Pack for Total Annihilation
Age of Empires II HD: The Forgotten
I’m in the top 3 pretty much exclusively right now. Mostly the top 2. I have been hungering for a decent gameplay experience. I also like Battle for Middle Earth II (BfME2), because I can still drink coffee and play. I never use the alt-key for waypointing in BfME2. Never use it, never found a need other than in great emergencies. It’s half-useful, because there’s no way to waypoint a build command, and virtually no need to do so. It’s fast enough to be played without a waypointing system, because units are easily selectable across the map, and given large-scale orders as this game is combat driven. It stands alone.
So, back to the meat of the topic at hand here. A pattern is a good thing, until it’s not. I have been spending some time getting ready for Jacqueline’s visit, and playing some UA. I have left the Victory Condition: Assassinate enabled, because this is how I’m going to start teaching the genre to her. It’s going to break down into a lesson-plan, which I will detail below the anecdotal area here in this article.
Anyway, With assassinate enabled, I’ve had shorter games. Overall, about the same competitive nature, but with a little less dilly-dallying and kiting. They just attack, full boar, or they fail and retreat for long periods of time. The commander is a no show until the twilight of the game. At which point his surfacing has no impact and is the last thing to happen before the AI is defeated. Boo to that.
I put the AI on random, you know, to keep it real. Sometimes I go LONG stretches without being dealt a certain civilization to face. In this case, I had gone several dozen full games against the random AI with victory condition: assassinate, and never once faced the Space Marines army. Never once. And when I did, something UNREAL happened; they defied the convention and LEAD WITH THEIR COMMANDER. I found him wandering out in the open, firing on my early capping squads, without support units backing him up and probably not far along the road to upgrade-ville. But her was out there, and I was having to deal with him, which is like… woah, what the fuck is this? What are they doing?
Sadly, my skeptical side was proven correct here as the SM commander ate it on my first real offensive push into their ground. He ran into my “secondary commander” battlesuit squad unit and was toast. 3 against 1.
So that game ended oddly. And early, like 8 minutes or some garbage. It was not my intent to end the game, but the AI was just whipping it out there, la dee da. Something had to be done. We don’t stand for that kind of behavior.
As far as a lesson plan goes, I am using UA as the platform game, because the universe can be disregarded entirely, leaving you with a core-game that has features and methods of gameplay that can be taught and consistently applied across races, leaving plenty of room for individual expansion on the stylistic front. To me, the teaching is only about HOW to do the first few steps to get you to a position to make bigger, more exciting decisions. Like: where are these battalions going to go? Or, what are my point defenses firing at? Consistency is being able to get to the place of fun, action and deciding shit, BY having a sound foundation. I build quickly, concisely and make sure to strengthen my economy constantly, as it provides the backbone to my flexibility of choice. There are only a few fundamentals that need to be taught:
Alacrity. Make decisions about what to do and don’t waste time doing them. Time is the final opponent.
Balance. Achieve equilibrium of resource gain and protective growth. Your survival is dependent on how you spend the resources you acquire.
Cunning. To be fast in reacting to what is played against you, and ability to react to a unique environment.
If you can handle doing that, you should be fine. More than fine is, in this genre, developing a “method to the madness.” You’re ultimate goal is to decide how you’d like to impart doom on your foe. With flair? From over there?
I prefer range, but that’s just my cup of tea. You may decide everything tastes better when you set it on fire. Who am I to judge.
For the time being, I continue my diligent research into the twisted behavior of the pattern-breaking AI and have yet to fully determine if I’ve narrowed the anomaly to just SM, or if others may be affected as well. Time being the culprit of my truth. Put that in your peace-pipe and smoke it.