If there is one RTS series I love, it would be that of AoE. It provides a great outlet for my militaristic and economical mind in a historical setting. Sure, Civ2 is the pinnacle of empire-building, yet Age of Kings: The Conquerors and AoE3 are something else. I have consistently enjoyed playing them back since the old days of playing AoE1 on a neighbour's computer.
When fighting a scenario, I am always sure to assign the same old hotkeys to units and buildings, even if they already have them. What I speak of is clicking on unit(s) and buildings you control and clicking Ctrl + a number. So whenever you press one of those numbers, you can zoom straight to the selected unit or building!
1. My 'pride and joy' forces - usually a collection of 40 fully-upgraded Paladins or Unique Units such as Cataphracts or Samurai. I send them into the brink despite their sheer value and often don't think too hard on it - they'll fight their way through!
2. Again with the armies. This can take the form of Cavalry Archers, a huge naval force of Galleons or another 40 Paladins/UUs.
3. My final military slot, typically composed of supports such as Cannon Galleons, archers or, if I'm very expedient, another 40 Paladins/UUs.
4. This slot became the dedicated Mill slot. There are four words in 'Mill', so I figured why not. Same for 'Farm' - four words. My first building is usually a Mill anyways, so this is often the first to be Ctrled. Close to my Town Center and early foragers, it later becomes the place where I buy the Farm Reseeds. Farms can be unlimited so long as you have Wood and rebuild the Farm every time it becomes barren... or you can queue up a load of Reseeds at the Mill :)
5. My Town Center is in the exact centre of my empire and it is useful to zoom to there if I need to make more Villagers or buildings. Also handy if I need to ring the Town Bell in the event of an unlikely attack :O
6. This is the first of the wild cards. It can be anything from a crew of Bombardiers or Trebuchets w/ Repairers and guards, my so-called 'Army of Engineers' or a number of Villagers I send from one resource to another when the others slow down. It could also be a number of Moks, or a fleet of Transports. It is not so random as to be other than the things I listed there, but it can be just about anything as an empty key. It has also been used for Blacksmiths and for mass Barracks/Stables/Archer Ranges, in the event of war.
7. The Market is the absolute backbone of my Empire, at least in the darker days of careful resource management and early booming. It is not so important in the late game, but is crucial for me to get there. Gold is the essential factor, with Stone being sold early for it and Food and Wood being bought with it. That is all typical of the fairly early stages, while later on it is simply used to sell any resource for a bit of Gold for my own flagging supply.
8. This is less a wild card and more just an empty field. The only times I would use this are for Docks, emergency defences or just navies. In Islands, Archipelago and the like, Docks are crucial. For that reason I need to keep tabs on this building so I can manage my seapower. Emergency defence is something I wouldn't waste my time with anymore, but when I was younger and more naive I may have invested in Champions that would stand and guard my Town Center in the expectation of being useful. Now I know to never plan for that - when you have do, you've lost!
9. Among the first keys I assign at the start of the game, alongside the Town Center and the Mill. The Scout Cavalry/Eagle Rider you get free to use automatically becomes number nine. He erodes away the fog of war, checking out my friends and marking my foes. He is always in a defensive stance, as opposed to 'standing ground' - the default stance of your free scout. Very rarely comes a time I will make more number nines to go with him... he usually ends up on the sidelines by the late game as the map is discovered more by roaming armies.
Alright, that concludes my useless information dish!
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