Rise Of Nations:
Neverending Sortie

By Shamus Posted Monday Apr 28, 2008

Filed under: Game Reviews 49 comments

Rise of Nations is an RTS game from 2003. Perhaps I should say the RTS of 2003. It secured many awards that year, and its appeal remains undiminished today. It’s featured heavily in our Saturday night LAN games and is the only game capable of displacing Starcraft for any length of time. It would probably have seized the long-held crown from Starcraft if not for the interminable endgame.

Rise of Nations – Reprise of Nations
Playing a game of Rise of Nations is a delightful and rewarding endeavor. Finishing a game of Rise of Nations is a wearisome test of endurance and patience, a task worthy of Sisyphus. Once you reach the tipping point and the winner is inevitable, you’re about two-thirds of the way through the process and you still have a long fight in front of you before that outcome can be realized. Far too often I’ll find myself in the final stages of a game, ruling a vast empire that blankets the map. I’ll wield the most spectacular technologies and I’ll be awash in resources, yet beating down the last holdouts on the map will still take forever. (Nukes would solve this, but introduce new problems I won’t get into.)

Part of the problem – which is endemic to most Age-spanning “civilization” games – is that the technology levels are designed so that a solid technological lead is hard to achieve and even harder to maintain. At the same time the various technological tiers just don’t offer that much of an advantage on the battlefield. Yes, when tanks supplant knights they are more effective in general, but they are still screwed when they come up against a bunch of pikemen. Aside from the frustration of seeing your computerized steel juggernauts fall prey to guys with sharp sticks, there is the problem that you’re left without a way to quickly crush a supposedly weaker foe.

This is only the beginning of the problem. Late in the game everyone is rolling in resources, which means collection is de-emphasized and the battle comes down to a fight between a lot of same-ish units. If you’re invading, then you’ll likely be fighting on the enemy doorstep. Your units will have to travel some distance, while your enemy will be churning out units nearby. This can more than negate whatever technological lead you may have. You can counter this by building your own buildings along the front, but this replaces the slow grind of fighting with the slow grind of building infrastructure as you go.

You can try to attack their resources by blowing up farms, oil wells, mines, and such, but this won’t hurt them until their empire falls below some critical number of cities. Resources are never depleted, so controlling 75% of the world isn’t that much of an advantage. Sure, you’re making money faster, but your foe can’t run out. Even controlling 25% of the world is enough to keep up with the war effort and counter the withering effects of attrition, and once you get get them below the threshold that allows them to go broke, you still must wait for them to do so. (And the in-game population cap prevents you from overcoming them with sheer numbers.) In a game like Starcraft, the smaller power would quickly starve, and would then be brushed off the map with minimal fuss. In Rise of Nations, a 25% – 75% split of the world can still end up being a long stalemate.

The problem gets far worse if you allow your foe to reach the final tech level. The last four technologies are so powerful they amount to cheat codes. One allows the production of units to happen instantaneously. Another opens the spigot of resources all the way, giving any reasonably-sized empire more than they could hope to spend. Another blocks the use of nukes – thus stopping the only weapon which might break the long stalemate. Once two opposing forces have these, finding a winner can be impossible. If both parties have more than they can spend, are immune to nukes, and can replace fallen combatants instantly, it comes down to a fight between two immortals. The result isn’t nearly as exciting as that might make it sound. The spectacle grows old quickly, and you’re left with endlessly pounding away at the “make some guys” button in an effort to out-spam your foe.

Consider that at this point in the game you can build an army in ten seconds, and the army will take a couple of minutes to be destroyed under sustained attack. How is anyone supposed to move the game towards resolution like that?

Yes, there are other ways of winning besides resorting to the cudgel of raw military conquest: Controlling landmass and building wonders can optionally lead to victory, but this feels cheap to my group’s way of thinking. This way is to be shunned, the Cowards Way. One could just as easily walk away from the game at some point and declare themselves the victor, but it would not change the fact that their opponent remained vigorous and hale to the end.

These shortcomings mar what would otherwise be a flawless experience. To be fair, the rewards found elsewhere in the game are compelling enough that we play the game in spite of my complaints, and I have no doubt these shortcomings will be listed as advantages to players of a different mindset. Certainly people who are bored by base-building will feel relief when they can stop worrying about that sort of business and get on with the shooting and blowing up of people wearing the wrong color uniform.

We all have our perfect game in mind, and it is in our nature to compare each offering to that shining ideal. For me, the rewards of a Nations game run dry at about the two-thirds mark. I realize I just spent a thousand words (sorry) whining about the endgame, so it’s important to note that despite my gripes this is a fantastic game.

I just wish the ending was swifter.


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49 thoughts on “Rise Of Nations:
Neverending Sortie

  1. Telas says:

    Yes, when tanks supplant knights they are more effective in general, but they are still screwed when they come up against a bunch of pikemen. Aside from the frustration of seeing your computerized steel juggernauts fall prey to guys with sharp sticks, there is the problem that you're left without a way to quickly crush a supposedly weaker foe.

    “Sir, we may have some trouble here.”
    “What? We’re an elite fighting force with the best technology known to mankind! What the hell could give us trouble?”
    “Ewoks, sir. With pointy sticks.”


  2. MintSkittle says:

    I really didn’t like this game. It’s one of only three that I’ve intentionally thrown in the trash, and the only one that I paid new game full price for.

  3. General Karthos says:

    As a notorious non-fan of Real-time Strategy Games (I am a HUGE Fan of Master of Orion (One and Two) and Civilization (II, III, and IV)) I still ended up with Rise of Nations and found myself, amazingly, enjoying it. I do agree with Shamus that the end game takes too long, but its similarities to the Civilization series (in the area of technology) make for a really fun game. We generally cap our game before the super technologies so that there is some way to break a stalemate, although when both nations have nukes, you don’t want to use them until you can nuke EVERYBODY at once, and conquer them.

    Still, it’s an RTS, and so it can never replace the Civilization games in my mind.

  4. Joe says:

    We had a friend who would always play as the Russians solely for the ridiculous attrition rates. His base would balloon as fast as possible and by age 3 half the map would be death to anyone without a supply cart. The race for the Statue of Liberty was harsh and violent between the other players.

  5. Craig says:

    I was always a Civ fan, myself. I could never keep up with other people in RTS’s, but then again, nobody ever wants to play Civ IV with me for 6 hours, even if i could even figure out the online multiplayer option.

  6. Zanfib says:

    How did you make this comic? Did you play a lan game with a friend to help you? Cause thats about the only way I can think of too arange the above situation without getting your general guy killed by the army.

  7. King of Men says:

    Without commenting on the merit of this endgame as a game, it does seem to me that it might be reasonably realistic. 25% of the world is a really vast amount of resources; the Germans, in both World Wars, controlled way less than that, and it still took years of the worst possible fighting, for coalitions who basically controlled all the rest, to grind them down. By 1943 everyone could see what way it was going to go, but there were still millions of casualties to come before Berlin fell. Which is not to say that a realistic endgame is any actual fun; there’s a reason most WWII games concentrate on the early years when both sides have some sort of chance at victory.

  8. FlameKiller says:

    I once won a game in 27 minutes. Yet this was The Coward’s Way. I styarted with 20x resourses and built citys very quickly and put a wonder on each and jumped through each age very fast.

    I also hate air units but love tanks and musketeers. What I would do is start in the anchent age and go to the enlightenment age and stop there, as you can set the final age as whatever you want.

  9. Shamus says:

    Zanfib: I was all alone on the map, as red. I bombed my own buildings, then placed the general and private in the shot. I color-shifted them to blue in my image editor. :)

  10. There was a board game like that called Supremacy… 2 thirds were a great resource exploration, trade and conquest game. Finishing the game without a nuclear winter was near impossible.

    The game was flawed in many places, chiefly because when a player grew disgusted of the game state, he no longer cared about preserving the world from a rain of Nukes.

  11. Eltanin says:

    I love this game. It held my attention for far longer than any other RTS or turn-based strategy game. I haven’t had any experience with other humans as opponents though. I think that it’s because I hate to lose, and I’m afraid of getting stomped by someone else so I don’t even play. I play these kind of games for the thrill of conquest, not the thrill of getting conquested after all. Yes, I know, conquested isn’t a word, but it should be.

    I usually play on ‘tough’ difficulty level which is challenging, but never so challenging that the outcome is in doubt. I NEVER have an opponent with one of the superpowers. So the endgame is much faster for me I think, though it’s not always fast. I enjoy bringing huge armies to bear and crushing my opponents like dirt under my heel. It is this very lack that makes Civ IV a little hollow to me. It’s really hard to mass an unstoppable force and roll like a juggernaut over the continent which Rise of Nations delivers to me with ease. It’s my guilty pleasure.

    Often times I’ll even leave my last hapless opponent with one city just to see what he does. I’ll give him tens of thousands of resources to help him back on his feet. But the AI is pretty stupid at that stage, and he generally makes one soldier at a time and flings them at my juggernaut to no effect. Ah well. Maybe next time it’ll be different. I’d better go and see…

  12. Strangeite says:

    “This way is to be shunned, the Cowards Way.”

    While I have never played Rise of Nations, the “Coward’s Way” is my preferred choice of victory in Civilization. Just last night I won a Civ IV game on Noble using a space victory, but with very little effort I could have achieved either a diplomatic victory, domination victory (using population) or a cultural victory. In fact I was getting a little worried that I was going to trigger a cultural victory before I could complete my spaceship.

    So a coward I may be, but I find these victories far more fulfilling than simply churrning out armies like an automaton.

  13. Shamus says:

    Strangeite: When it comes to turn-based, I’m the same way. I always go for the tech / cultural / diplomacy / wonder victory.

    I don’t know why that doesn’t work for me in RTS.

    It will be very interesting to see how I approach Sins of a Solar Empire once I get into it. It seems to be both Civ 4x game, yet also an RTS, but not quite either one.

  14. Chris says:

    I’ve never played Rise of Nations, but having played all versions of Civ over the past 15(?) years or so, it’s amazing to me how similar the two games sound. I don’t know how many times I’ve reached stalemate against an opponent that my dominance in technology, land mass, population, and resources should allow me to wipe off the map.

  15. Joe Cool says:

    I have never played a RoN game against another opponent, but I have played many multi-player games with another person. It is one of my favorite RTS’s to play because it allows two people to control one nation. This is my wife’s preferred method of play, as it allows her to forgo any sort of city building and military conquest in favor of her favorite pastime, rare resource gathering. She primarily occupies herself with finding all the rare resources on the map and sending merchants to set up shop. Her conditions for victory are based solely on how many rare resources we control. I will be in the midst of a massive military conquest, simultaneously micromanaging three elite divisions in a brilliant out-flanking maneuver, when one of her merchant huts will come under attack. She will inform me that I must immediately stop what I’m doing and devote the resources of an entire multi-billion dollar army division to saving her merchant shack from destruction from the single foot soldier attacking it.

    That aside, RoN is my favorite RTS. I’ve never had the stalemate problem. Probably because I play on easy (I like steamrolling my opponent) and limit it to no more than 2 ages. I hate playing over all 8 ages because every time I finally get my army upgraded to the latest and greatest technology, we enter a new age and have to start all over again.

    As far as favorite nation to play, I like the Chinese (insta-peasant!). I first played the campaign as Romans, just because I thought the idea of a Nuke launching from a missile silo, slowly revealing the letters “SPQR” stamped on the side as it emerges, was just so insanely cool.

  16. Chris Arndt says:

    This reminds me of how Star Trek Armada essentially demands that you play what are essential genocidal tactics. In fact if you compare Klingon Civil war to Terran revolutions in Eastern Europe or Revolutionary France, these are class-based genocides/purges! The only real difference is when I try and cut off a Boss’s head early in the game then the plot allow, I end up with the hilariously fun combat scenario of bombarding the uber-powered bastard in his flagship with about a dozen smaller vessels, leaving him immobilized for the whole level, and out of use for the map.

    That said, the Borg really deserve it and as the Borg I can’t see a reason not to wipe out the pesky human race.

    I think it’s odd how I’d sacrifice gameplay for a worthy half-measure of a simulation of fleet command in an adaptation of a science fiction franchise I enjoy.
    I went for Star Trek Armada before the games that spawned the game-genre. I went for the imitator before the progenitor.

  17. Cineris says:

    Neither Rise of Nations nor any of the Age games really appealed to me. The resource handling is merely “ok,” although the prospect of infinite resources is a negative. The research trees just feel wrong to me … You’re researching so many things that they all seem meaningless. And, as you pointed out, when it comes to actually fighting battles it just seems like a matter of who produces more. Positioning and tactics, or troop management in general, seem to be thrown out the window.

    Granted, I’ve only played each a few times, but none of them really appealed to me like *craft or Command and Conquer games.

  18. Jeff says:

    …you're left with endlessly pounding away at the “make some guys” button in an effort to out-spam your foe.

    Actually, I recall playing Germans and cranking out an endless line of panzors.
    I believe there’s an autobuild button, although it has be long since I’ve played.
    In such a case, you’d just build factories (or whatever) as quickly as possible to up the autobuild.
    In that type of environment, the Germans should win as they’re the only civ with a civ unique special in the final tech stage. (Or were there stealth bombers as well?)

  19. Vegedus says:

    Is it videogame nostalgia month? You’re talking more about old games than you usually do.

  20. guy says:

    i really hate the games that do that. i’ve never seen that in RoN, because i don’t play humans, and i always have them all before the AI has enough to hold out against my infinite army with nuclear support.

  21. Bogan the Mighty says:

    I think the old game talk is mainly because they’re the only ones that allow us to all play with only a single copy of the game at Shamus’s. That and we bring laptops, which mine is starting to lack behind in the technology race. Shamus, I just thought of a new game to play once you get your computer upgraded. You got to get yourself Company of Hero’s. Its not exactly base building, but still an awesome game.

  22. Bogan the Mighty says:

    Oh and here is something interesting you might like.

  23. Morzas says:

    “Yes, there are other ways of winning besides resorting to the cudgel of raw military conquest: Controlling landmass and building wonders can optionally lead to victory, but this feels cheap to my group's way of thinking.”

    Well, why not change the way you think? It sounds to me like these alternate win conditions are in there to prevent boring endgame attrition.

  24. Johan says:

    I agree that for me, base building and managing come far before combat, which is why I’ve only ever completed a RoN game with a wonder victory. My tactic in any game has always been to click on the “build guys” button, then the “continue to build guys ad infinitum” button, and then get on with the resource gathering and whatnot. It may be cheap, but for me, the combat is a distraction, the building, recruiting and moving is the fun part.

    I guess for us, the military dream job isn’t Major General, but aide-de-camp.

  25. Rev_Blacky says:

    I just want to see a comparitive review of Dungeon Keeper versus Dungeon Keeper 2…
    And pie.

  26. WoodenTable says:

    @ Jeff: Yes, there’s a little “infinity” button next to the building’s unit queue. It makes the current build order loop endlessly.

    Unique units were far weaker than the actual civ-traits in most cases, though. The german Panzer got 1 more armor (normal is ~6) and 10 more hp (normal is ~170, I believe) over the generic tank it replaced. Most UUs had similar, barely noticeable stat boosts. The ones that really made a difference were the kinds with unique abilities tied to them (like the Roman legionaries, the American marines, and the Bantu fighter-bomber).

    @ Shamus: I thought it was only possible to research one of the ultimate techs? Either you get immunity to nukes, instant unit building, instant city capturing, or nigh-unlimited resources. They were too expensive for me to get anyway – I flooded my enemies with infantry long before then in most games.

  27. Joshua says:

    Never played this game, but this does sound somewhat like the Civilization games on realtime. The big frustrating thing about the Civilization series is that so much of the game is focused on being the guy with the biggest stick, but seldom getting to use it since global domination is nearly impossible.

    Usually, wars are simply about taking over just a little more land because you want certain resources nearby and/or a rival city is starting to encroach upon your land and resources. Even if you have larger armies with superior technology, you can’t go through enemy territory nearly as fast as they can, and you encourage other civilizations to attack your flanks while your attention is focused elsewhere.

  28. General Karthos says:

    @Joshua: I disagree with that characterization. Maybe I’ve been lucky so far, but I’ve been capable of walking through enemy territory with ease, and conquering entire civilizations of 15-20 cities in under 20 turns. (Granted, it requires a long time to build up sufficient military strength to stomp an enemy into such brutal submission.) I actually find it -easier- to deal with enemies in the modern age though. It’s harder to find the last of them in the medieval times and thus wipe out the last vestiges of their pathetic civilizations.

  29. Spam Vader says:

    Every war I fought in Civilization came down to the same event: The AI doesn’t do squat, and I can’t do squat, because of ridiculous penalties heaped on my units when they invade another nation. Or perhaps ridiculous bonuses heaped on the defenders. Either way, it always annoyed me. I’d like to be tactical and smart, but the game won’t let me, since the best it lets me do is try and land an completely unproportional force on the enemy island and out brutalize them with sheer numbers. I found it nearly impossible to take down an enemy after the basic infastructure building phase. Scratch that, completely imossible. Just another one of the reasons I hate Civ III.

  30. MNF says:

    Bogan – I’m not at all sold by that article. What the author seems to want is some sort of a political simulator, where game input would seem to consist of managing sliders and choosing between different policies. And Civilisation-scale combat.

    The part about stalemates is somewhat true, but it will not be resolved without some sort of persistent stat tracking, where the worse your defeat, the more points/rating/whatever you would lose.

    Stalemates can largely be avoided by game rules that encourage offense. I’ve only played a few (Non mass-money) games of Starcraft, where the game approached that, and I can’t think of any games of Warcraft 3 that fit the bill.

    Why? Because it’s fairly easy for an attacker to pick off buildings/units, retreat, and either heal, or replace any units they lost on the attack, thanks to their map control.

    Now, it’s possible for the defender to win if they are just stalling for time before their higher-tech units finish building… But that leads to a 20, maybe 30-minute match.

    And for myself, I’m fairly satisfied with the abstraction of telling a peasant to go harvest some lumber. It’s not realistic, but you can consider it a form of taxation in a feudal society. You let the peasantry cut trees in your forest… If they give you some of them in return.

    That kind of stuff.

    For Starcraft, there is no problem at all, as all units on the field, including workers and gatherers are part of a standing army. They don’t harvest minerals out of their own self-interest – they do it because they’ve volunteered/been conscripted/are telephatically controlled.

  31. mister k says:

    Hmm, conquering your enemies was easy in civ 2, but far more difficult in civ 3, and somewhat more difficult in civ 4. I used to steam roller my opponents into submission, but in civ 3 conquest has a tendency to destroy every improvement the city has built, thus making it ripe to be retaken by culture the very next turn. Very frustrating, especially when you have a large garrison there and they all inexplicably join the enemy. Added to the huge corruption penalties that game imposed, I found conquest nigh on impossible on higher difficulties.

    Civ4 fixed a lot of these problems, but it’s a bit harder to make progress. Being tech leader doesn’t make your units utterly awesome so a massive amount can be required to take enemy cities. Also, the AI is far more aggressive, and will have it’s own stack of doom.

  32. King of Men says:

    Once again I think this is realism versus ease of play. If you just count divisions, the Red Army should have been easily able to march to the Bay of Biscay any time from 1945 to 1989, short of the defenders turning Europe into a chemical wasteland glowing in the dark. The Kremlin never ordered it because of the various limiting factors that these crude penalties are trying to model. Such as the Russian people not really being very eager to take another 20 million casualties, thanks kindly. And as for the advantages of defense, hell, the Russians couldn’t even conquer Afghanistan, with tanks against (almost literally) musketeers!

    Again, realism doesn’t necessarily make a good game. But it’s not an unreasonable choice to make, within limits.

  33. Daemian Lucifer says:

    I never liked RoN that much because it always seemed to me like a polished EE clone.And one of the best things in EE was that there is a mod that allows for a huuuuge pop cap(I think its 15000,or something like that).And considering that no unit costs more than 2 population points,this translates into really massive armies.Although,its not advisable to try this against AI,since youll stall your computer to a crawl.The only other game I played that allows this was cossacs,which I also like more than RoN.

  34. Derek K says:

    I’ve actually never played Rise of Nations, just Rise of Legends. It seems like they fixed this issue somewhat, because the map sizes are smaller, and the ultimate techs are far less ultimate….

  35. One thing I enjoyed about the Age of Empires/Kings etc. series is that it doesn’t lead to stalemated end games.

  36. Bogan the Mighty says:

    MNF- I just thought it was an interesting article. I thought what he said does make sense though, I true strategy game would have all those fun little political elements to it. If you want that go find whichever Civilization tickles your fancy. As far as peasants go I agree it would just be silly stupid to worry about a peasant supporting himself instead of just giving everything to the government. I’m quite happy with making people gather me stuff so I can buy guys to kill other people getting someone else stuff.

  37. General Ghoul says:

    Has anyone played a game called Zeus or its sequel Poseidon? I picked up Zeus in a bargain bin for $5, and found the town building mechanics fascinating. It has a tutorial that adds a new feature at each level so you learn the in and outs as you go along. The resources and subsequent materials make sense and the growing population has a life to it. Then you reach the last tutorial, which introduces other city-state foes, and you have a short battle. Then thats it, no random maps, no other game play. Now I never played the sequel, as I didn’t feel it was worth the $20 I last saw it for, so I’ll never know if it was worth it.

  38. Veylon says:

    I think that the issue here is that the Totality of RTS games is a big turn on.

    You have all the power to control everything in your army/nation, and so why should you accept less than a total victory?

    I myself happen to like Cultural/Economic/Political victories in Turn-based games, but RTS’s are best suited for simple combat.

    The problem with the ‘soft’ victories is that they are so sudden and feel cheap. It’s like the Hero and Villain are about to duke it out, and then the Villain gets a heart attack and dies. Or gives up.

  39. K says:

    Since the game cannot be won in war, the “coward’s way” is the way to go and you got yourself a good game. Why not use it if you encounter problems with *not* doing it?

    Playing to Win. google it. You’ll have games that are more fun.

    edit: Whoa, I can comment again? Neat!

  40. Lost Chauncy says:

    Never had a problem with the end game; I was always beaten well before then. Solved that problem by purchasing Civ 3, now the game lasts much longer before I get eliminated.

  41. Christian Groff says:

    Ugh. This is EXACTLY why I hate RTS games and will never play one as long as my heart beats. I suck hard-core at the tedious micro-management required to do any good here.

    Unless you dressed it up in a pretty Pokemon dress with a cute giggle and seductive “come make love to me” wink, I would rather be raped violently to death before I ever play an RTS. And if I ever play Rise of Nations, I have possessed by brainwashing aliens. Boo. :(

    Nice comic, Seamus. :)

  42. Tola says:

    It should be noted that it’s this way in EVERY ERA you can set as an end point.

    I tend to watch the computer more than actually PLAY, and no matter what, things always get…well, bogged down. Either you get crushed, or no one can really move. This is especially true in sea maps.

    It’s been a while.

  43. Bison says:

    hey guys- about the endgame being boring, i figured out a way to pretty much keep it exciting all the way through- just set the territory victory condition to something low like 50% (60% if theres only 2 teams to start with). this eliminates the tedium because each battle becomes crucial when its down to like 2 teams/players and a straggler or two. i know this sounds like a cheap victory condition but trust me it makes things much more fun.

  44. cw says:

    “one of the best things in EE was that there is a mod that allows for a huuuuge pop cap”

    You can get a mod for RoN for higher population cap as well. I have a mod that can go up to 2000, but I’ve yet to play a game where my population has gone above 500.

  45. Bison says:

    hey guys- i’ve figured out a way to really solve most of the problems that RON has. the two big problems with RON: one, the game always starts as more of a tech race than a real war- it’s a race to quickly advance through the ages and the technology- and it gets boring going through this every game. two, the end of the game is incredibly boring because the surviving teams/players always have plenty of resources, have maxed out their research and resource collection caps, and can just keep building armies. luckily all these things can be fixed. here are my solutions: (some require editing the xml files under “data” folder- which is easy, there’s plenty of how-to’s online, just web search)
    1. higher pop. cap (400 or so) (rules.xml)
    2. lower territory victory conditions (50 to 60 percent)
    3. double or triple the times for research (techrules.xml)
    4. edit some of your favorite maps and take out a LOT of the resources- make trees and mining territory scattered and scarce- this solves the major problem with RON, that everyone tends to just advance through the ages real quick because there are plenty of resources available and resources are infinite- when you take out a lot of them (especially if you put most of the resources near the center of the map), it FORCES players to branch out and battle over resources, making the game far more interesting and exciting. I really don’t understand why the makers didn’t do this to begin with.
    a couple other options:
    -increase fortress defense and attack points (buildingrules.xml)- this makes forts more of a focal point, as i feel that they are too easily destroyed.
    -increase commerce limits (techrules.xml)- this makes the game more realistic, more like true capitalism (why should there be a limit on how quickly you can accrue wealth?)

    Hope this helps.

  46. HuManBing says:

    At higher levels of play, I don’t find that the endgame period really leads to much of a drawn-out struggle. Resources may be plentiful, but costs are correspondingly higher and the risks of neglecting an attack are higher too. Most games between wealthy nations end when one side faces economic collapse through exhaustion of a vital resource, and then the victor can and will roll very quickly through their crumbling defenses.

    Of all the four end techs, I find it interesting that you did not mention World Government. It’s true that Missile Shield and A.I. remove ways of ending the game quickly. But with World Government, you gain a very powerful tool to quash enemy resistance. Controlling their capital city for even a moment will cause their instant defeat. Combined with canny application of air power and land mobility, this makes it easily one of the most powerful techs in any comparable game.

  47. A fan says:

    Shamus, you are forgetting about The Heroes.They can really turn the tide of battle in your favor.I remember in the last quarter of the campain, attacking powerful cities with just a small amount of units and my heroes.One spawned giant sand worms, another created 4 genies, the other increased her size, greatly increasing her own damage.Just use their summons.Oh, and the main hero had the ability to multiply himself.And area of damage powers are great.The heroes are the ones that really matter and should be used wisely, just use the building damaging power of some of them on a capital, and then turn your attention toward his troops, as he won’t be able to create them during the assault part.

  48. Eyecare says:

    Having experienced a long line of RTS games I still think that RON/T&P offered some of the most intense gaming exeriences you could find. Even today, I recall the trails and tribulations of working up through the ranks towards the “expert” level. This is a simple game in concept yet extremely complex at the same time. Newer players struggle to beat a capable AI that the more experienced players would be able to kill off easily, even at tougher levels. PvP games ranged from boring defensive struggles between boomers to the quick strike, fast paced and innovative tactical battles beween the more experienced that seldom progressed to the last two ages. No game is perfect and this game had issues as they all do, but for the thinking RTS gamer RON/T&P offered one of the best gaming exerienced to be found.

    Below is link to a personal blog about RoN/T&P by one of its finer players in his heyday, El Capitan. It dates back to 30 July 2005 but it’s still relevant today:


  49. James Pedigo says:

    I Googled Rise of Nations ‘end game strategy’ and didn’t find any. I did like the dissertation written by Shamus though. I do like the game and it’s my first strategy city builder. So now I will go on to Age of Empires 2 and ultimately Civ 4 with the extra scenarios. I even have Tropico(but I think it may be more silly than anything else). If anyone’s bored you can check out my own WordPress blog JimboPedigo. Naked women are a nice distraction from a long stalemate. I wouldn’t mind some feedback Shamus. No one ever comments and I have 9000 views. You created your own theme or you did a ‘custom’ theme?

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