Edain 4.5 – Gondor Review

After 3 or so years of waiting, Edain Mod 4.4 graduated to 4.5 this last week and the fun has been a-flowing. This patch constitutes a complete overhaul of several of the key gameplay mechanics such as economy and god powers. It adds new units and textures which are both visually pleasing. Importantly though, the patch re-invisions each faction to make them more unique, less exploitable and arguably much more fun overall. Gondor/Arnor being my favorite army, I will start the assessment with them:

Gondor’s Economy:

Previously, individual economy buildings had to be upgraded separately in order to accelerate the flow of resources and/or expand population cap. Now, however, pop cap is an incremental research option in the citadel (so resource buildings lost won’t shrink your cap), and econ upgrades are purchased at a forge or similar research building (in Gondor’s case, the Marketplace has been repurposed to do this). All new econ buildings take the global research level instead of needing to be leveled up once built. Econ buildings don’t deteriorate revenue based on how damaged they are (thank the maker). Upgrades tier at 1200 for level 2 and 2400 for level 3 (on castles, outposts and settlements separately). Pop expansions are 200 cap for 500 resources, all the way up to 1500 – a reduction in cap from v. 4.4 by 300 I’m sad to report.

This new restructuring paces the game significantly slower than it was in the previous iteration. The resource penalties are higher, which draws out the time to collect resources and thus, things in the game take longer to unfold. I do like this change though! Games feel more deliberate, less rush rush hasty.

Gondor’s Army:

There’s a new mechanic for the manor houses that gifts their elite unit cost reduction to regular infantry and archers, which causes a late-game surge when all the pieces fall into place. Once researched at the marketplace. That’s a 60 resource reduction on the cost of all units, if you are at the max number of houses built. It’s stellar. That, in conjunction with the already existing reduction mechanic for cavalry through the farms, waging war with Gondor is fast and furious like I remember it being in the previous version of Edain, but even more so than before.

Signal fires were totally overhauled, which made me sad since one of my favorite strategies was a spam with signal fire units (since they’re free in v. 4.4) after the god power additional battalion upgrade.  Sadly, the timer-spawned units are not happening anymore. Now, the signal fires collect a “resource” every 60 seconds called a “signal rider.” the units can be bought once you have enough currency, 2 is the starting low value and 10 is the largest sum of riders that can be spent at once. 10 brings 8 full level 2 battalions of the standard 4 types of signal fire unit (swordsman, axemen, pikes, archers). This mechanic lets you place the battalions at your discretion near the signal fire building instead of having them spawn automatically. It also is upgraded to 3 total battalions once you buy the god power upgrade. The units are the same quality, but just more deliberate about how and when they are brought to the battlefield. You must have the cap available to summon whatever you pay riders for, or you will lose the units that don’t fit under the cap to the cosmic ether… never to be seen again.

Arnor is largely unchanged with the exception of their spellbook. They still lean on swordsmen instead of the pikes of Gondor. Their allegiance with the elves gives them one of the game’s best elite multipurpose units. The spellbooks are better duplicates of each other then they were before so I really like the fact that they made Arnor just a dusty mirror of Gondor. As it should be, they’re all the same people, just split between the two kingdoms of men.

I don’t use the settlement rangers… regular archers are more than sufficient in appropriate number to thin melee units. Rangers are only an option on castle maps since then there’s a good chance of reducing their cost with the manor house mechanic. I never use Faramir. I use Pipin, Boromir and occasionally Denethor. I sprinkle Gondor knights… they add substance to any real push. Can’t win with infantry alone. Siege comes in to play every game, and trebuchets are as effective as ever.

All told, I’m  pleased! I give the whole update an A. Gameplay has been very good against the hard AI. I have tried several different build orders and am starting to settle on one that keeps me in contention and paces expansion along with the necessary economic hurdles. Edain team really came through with a phenomenal update, meeting 3 years of my pent-up expectations. I continue to play and explore all the unique features they have added to the different factions. Not to mention the fact that the next major update will be coming sooner, and it will have the final faction missing from Edain: Goblins. I believe they will be known as Misty Mountains now since it won’t be just Goblins but an amalgamation of Gundabad, Moria and Mirkwood. W is a Gobs guy from way back in the day, back when vanilla Battle for Middle-Earth II hit the shelves (in 2006). He loved them, and Edain has taken them away for years and years. Now, finally, and perhaps even this spring, they will be welcomed back into the fold.

Ultimate Apocalypse Build Order: Tau Empire

It’s been a long time since I wrote one of these, but I know the others I published years ago are long irrelevant due to many many patches since they were written. The newest version of UA at the time of this post is the one we will be focusing on. THB.

So Tau have long been my favorite faction because I like the units and build order plus the melee to ranged ratio is very nice in my opinion. I have a preference to play them, but against the Hard and Harder AIs I have a little trouble, or, had. I have since implemented a new build order which maximizes the potential for success while limiting the vulnerability to the rush. Orks and IG will hit hard and within the first five minutes so it is important to have a strat that compensates.

The goal of the strat is to balance tech with unit production and timely units as well. Transition to vehicles quickly. Backloads armies with elite ranged.

I still think there’s no defense to an Ork rush, but every other faction can fall victim to this sequence.

Within the first few minutes:

Go barracks (ranged) then as many requisition nodes as possible until 4 – 5 are capped and listening posts are built. Then hit the first two power plants to quickly go tier 2. While all of that is going on. you need a commander and 1 melee or ranged squad (whichever is better). The military units should come out of the barracks not HQ building. These steps are core to any future build order because they enable fast leveling for the commander unit.

As Tau, I choose the ranged commander, the XV22 and a squad of Fire Warriors. Keep them together at some central point so they can act on intrusions. I also get a Kroot Alpha squad out and hold the next front with them. I need to get to tier 2 very fast. I’ll back up a second squad of FW and max out their squad size.

Next is a mad dash to tier 3. Try to build some Hounds out to beef up a unit presence and I will drop a Devilfish or two since the AI will have vehicles at this point as well. I stay away from the Skyrays since they don’t really mature as decent artillery until tier 3. So I do the best I can to hold ground until I get to both types of tier 3 that the Tau have (melee and ranged). I crank on tier 3 units and the new commanders/squads. I The secondary ranged commander and the command squad for ranged are good enough to hold a front by themselves with limited interaction from units and vehicles. They pack quite a punch once the base-level is up above 5.

Also, get that Ethereal out as soon as possible and flip on the create bodyguards function on all the time. Set the Ethereal somewhere where it isn’t in immediate peril and let it keep popping out free Fire Warriors in the backline somewhere. Those three unit squads pack a hefty punch, can capture nodes and are reinforceable if they lose members.

I get the Kroot Commander out on that massive beast and just let him tank the shit out of any melee that is happening on the battlefield. The Kroot Alphas are usually pretty strong by then too, and I do make sure to have them cannibalize as much as possible along the way so they end up with some late game relevance. The final push should be made when the commanders are all at max level. I typically go to production increases when it comes to the passive upgrades.

Barracudas are good at holding the sky and pummeling vehicles which is needed in my infantry-heavy approach. Since Knarloc Riders count as vehicles I’d say 50/50.

All along the way, I buy my technologies once the units I need are in play. I work on making them stronger only after I have secured some ground. I’ll spend up-front money on units and then make them stronger as they are in play, hopefully creating an instantaneous advantage. I think this start works, with the 4 or 5 requisition nodes first thing and then tiering up as fast as possible. The command units can hold ground for the most part, and I’ll combine the Kroot Alphas and the XV22 if I need to in order to hold a point. I value the Tau since they have multiple ways of countering.

ECONOMY UPGRADES YES: As soon as they are available since nodes and generators have limited yields. Get the economy upgrades to power your push and maximize your resources. Decay is based on time.

Try that and see if it works for you. A real hardcoire Ork rusher will still kill you. There’s no stopping an Ork rush. I’ve decided.

Edain 4.4

A friend at work inspired me to start gaming, so I patched up to 4.4. Imladris I have yet to fully comprehend, but I’m getting there. However the one thing I did notice since the patch is a significant increase in AI difficulty for Brutal and Hard. So significant that I can’t beat Brutal in maps I already beat on Brutal. I look at the aftergame data and something really sticks out. Right from the get go, I spend most of my resources on buildings, and my line plummets. AI on the other hand, starts gaining resources right from the get go, steadily increasing. Source unknown. But he doesn’t spend resources until a few minutes in. What this looks like on the receiving end is approximately 500% more units than I have to defend with. Overwhelming sums of low level battalions, escalating rapidly. It’s probably possible to develop a fast turtle strategy to defend against it, but that poses the question: why play the AI? It aught to be that the AI behaves like a human player and has a few different strategies to employ. It’s not realistic that a human player can come up with as many units as the Brutal AI can. Why practice defending yourself from something you are not likely to face in a multiplayer setting? 

Medium however, has a much more realistic chart. Medium has to spend the first thousand and work on getting it back with resource buildings. That I like. So I started playing Medium and had some great games. 

I had one game where silverthorns and Ents were the crushing blow. Those hero battalions for Lothlorien are deadly. There was another where Rohan farmhands and heroes swarmed over everything. The one faction I can’t seem to get a hold of is Gondor. I love them, but I can’t win with them. I can’t figure out what I’m doing wrong. I’m dead long before I get to hero battalions, or sequestered in my base waiting to die. My early and mid game strategies are lacking. I need to rethink the whole thing. Hero first approach doesn’t work because of Boromir’s cost, and Beregond doesn’t last long for the 1000 he costs. No, no, I need to rethink the way I use Gondor. We shall see what comes of it. 

I’m eagerly awaiting 4.5, as the final race will be added: Misty Mountains. Or Goblins. They haven’t decided, I think. It’s actually a tad overdue already. It makes me wonder what they are toiling over. Is it the unique mechanics of the race? Or are there any? Many questions. But we only need 1 more and then Edain is complete. It was a long time ago that Edain first came out. Several years. But well worth the wait. Gameplay is fantastic, graphically stunning, ingenuous mechanics, ample unique races to fit every style, I could go on. Point being, they’ve worked hard on providing a genuinely fantastic product. It is classy and polished. EA better take note of how the professionals handle things. 

I’m going to update the RTS preferences right after I post this. It’s time. 

Click

Score: +2.5

It took me a while to clear the cobwebs this morning. I did party pretty hard Sunday. One coffee proved to not be enough. 

I’m doing fine. I just had a really slow start today, and my shift seemed to drag on at times. I did manage to hang in there, despite increasing desires to flee. It’s really hard Monday morning. Gets easier from there. 

I’ve been gaming and looking after my fantasy teams. Things are going well. I’m working my way through the map list in Edain with the AI on brutal. I’m stuck on a map that seems ludicrously stacked against me. Not sure how to win on that one. I’m going to the post season in both leagues again this year. I have the lead in one two-week game. The farther I lead the more secure my next week. Gotta win four games in a row to be a champion. 

Amanda is still having a hard time. She didn’t go in today, and may not go in tomorrow. She’s missed almost two weeks. It’s a bummer to see her suffering so badly. If it’s not one thing it’s another. She’s been through hell, and deserves a break. I feel like winter is going to be tough on her. More so than most. I wish I could take her pain away. 

Well blog, I’ve got no complaints. My life is a marshmallow; warm, soft and inviting. I’ve got to keep doing my job, and putting my feet in front of each other every day. 

Things

Score: +3

9.5 hours is best spent busy, so that minutes do not agonize forward at an insufficient speed. I’m much better off that way. Boredom is frustrating. 

I think things are going well. I have no complaints about the way my life is going. My energy has been ok. I avoid smoking after 4:00 pm or so on weekdays. I’ve found that it’s significantly harder to get up and go the next morning. I need allies during those first few moments of awareness, not enemies. If I get to sleep in I say fuck it and smoke till I pass out. This is a gross exaggeration of the facts. 

I’ve gotten back into Edain now that a couple new factions have been patched (Dwarves and Lothlorien). I really like the elves. Getting to silverthorn arrows quickly is key to victory. They have no cavalry, which I am pleased with, and three different types of archer. The top tier one is gross. They knockback cavalry before they can be trampled. It’s fun to watch. Dwarves I’m still figuring out. I don’t like MMing battlewagons. It’s irritating.

I worked my way through the entire 1 v 1 map list with the AI set on hard, and I’m starting from the top with it set for brutal. I have won five games, but I’m stuck on Brandywine. Brutal gets after you pretty fast. They just dial up the flow and hope they can smother you in bottom tier units. I’ve found victory in holing off my destruction long enough to get elite units out in devastating quantities. I won most with Gondor/Arnor. 

I have been trying to keep myself entertained so that I don’t slide. I’m afraid of my mood dipping because of my circumstances and depreciating energy levels. I’m doing the best I can to stay proactive. Games help. They allow me to develop a plan and fund its creation. RTS is truly my genre for this reason. And to have one so deeply entrenched in a fantasy universe that I adore? Perfection. And the game is only getting better as time goes on, with Angmar waiting in the wings to be released soon. 

Will is just now getting back into WoW. I’m kinda over it for the time being. I did a lot of work in that game. I leveled my professions to max, and then dropped one, and leveled the new one to max. I’m not in to never ending RPG right now. Not the right kind of thinking involved. I need something more encompassing and grandiose. 

Well, anyway. I have to work tomorrow. But I get the rest of the month off. I get an extra hour of sleep. At least. 

Sickies

Score: +2.5

I was out all day yesterday and only worked a half day today. I was in a blurry tired place all day. My head has been pounding, my throat is scratchy and I’ve been sneezing/coughing constantly. I have now run out of sick leave. Sadly. 

But I think I really needed the break. My energy has been in the crapper. I slogged through four hours today and barely held it together. Amanda and I both are fighting something off. She stayed home today too. I intend on an early bedtime, with some much needed battery recharging. 

Other than the illness, things have been fine. Amanda and I are having fun on our mine craft server. Though recently I died and lost everything I had saved up: diamond tools, ender pearls, tons of food and arrows… all because a creeper got through the portal and detonated as soon as I came through, casting me into lava where I perished rapidly. It sucked. The nether is one horrible burning hell dimension with scores of bad things aiming to kill you. I went back shortly after losing all 37 of my levels and died right away to a horde of pig zombies on a futile mining mission. I have not been back there since. I have, instead, expanded my mineshaft to great lengths, so much so that a cart will almost certainly be needed to get in and out of it because the walking distance is insane. 

I’m tired. There’s a football game on tonight, but I probably won’t watch much of it. 

Busy

Score: +3

I am striding forward this week, and today was largely positive. It was crazy busy again, and I had a period of about 10 minutes where I was caught up on tickets. I took 3 incoming phone calls in my “down-time” and then my queue was full again. It was busy. Time really did zoom by though. 

It rained today and was about 85 degrees, making it a monsoonal type event. Yuck. But my truck got all the dirt knocked off it. 

Amanda and I are really enjoying this week so far. We just sat down and had a productive session in our Minecraft server. We built a portal to the Nether, but I’m afraid to go through it. Last time I went to the nether a Ghast set me on fire and I died. I have 37 levels and it would be sad to lose most of them in the domain of chaos. We also built a powered rail for our mine cart so it can haul things up to the house rapidly. We are having fun building our little empire. 

Things are stable again. I’m doing really well. I can’t complain.