Empire Earth - The Atomic Epochsby Ueriah
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Maybe it's the recent military activity in Afghanistan that has me so geared up for modern epoch battles. Or maybe it's the childhood spent reading the comic book series "GI COMBAT" and it's stories about a haunted tank in WW2. Whatever the case is, I find myself enjoying the Atomic Epochs moreso than any of the other ones. Combat becomes more deadly as weapons of greater and greater destruction are loosened on the field of battle. A simple mistake can have devastating reactions, but a good plan can leave an opponent in ruin. Ah, the Atomic epochs...
The Atomic Economy
To put it very simply, there are two approaches for dealing with your economy. One approach is "I need X resources to make Y units." That is the approach that I started this game with, although it has changed to the second approach to economy, "I have X resources, what can I make with them to be effective?"
The single greatest way to a healthy economy is simply this : Always be creating citizens, and sending them to do work. If you ore piles each already have 6 people on them, send the next ten guys out to chop wood. If you have tons of wood but are running out of forest, go build some more granaries. If each of your new citizens does something for your economy and you are always making new citizens, you are going to get a strong economy, and a strong economy dicates the differance between a few conscripts with one or two upgrades to squads of level 10 troops.
So many people overlook hunting as a source of food in the Atomic Age. It's faster then foraging, takes up no wood unlike farming, and you can lure aggressive animals right to your town center to save yourself the 100 wood it costs to build a new settlement near the forage patch. If you are playing a game with very low starting resources, that means you can get your first military production building up that much faster. Hunting is essential to rushing for low resource games.
Although I don't follow a "set build order", I do follow a rule-of-thumb : always have a military prodution building up and running by your second building, at the very latest. Better still, try and make it the first. It might seem like a good idea to get all your starting citizens working on the farms, but the truth is that farmers make terrible defenders against squads of doughboys/marines, even with housing bonuses.
Try to always know what your opponents are doing with thier economy. In epic games that go on for a while, I send out groups of scout dogs to see who is in control of what resource. If one player has lots of iron and food but only one gold pile, it might be a good time to start making machine gunners and AT guns to oppose the tanks that you are likely to see...
If you are in a single epoch game, unless you are saving up for a big purchase like a Wonder or maybe a Nuclear Bomber, you should be spending your resources as fast as you get them on troops and upgrades for troops. Your resources should be getting spent as fast as you get them since they don't do you any good otherwise. One sign of a shrewd economic player that is often overlooked is to two numbers as close together as you can... the number of resources collected, and the number of resources spent. [IT IS POSSIBLE TO HAVE SPENT MORE RESOURCES THEN YOU HAVE COLLECTED AND NOT HAVE CHEATED. DON'T FORGET TO FIGURE STARTING RESOURCES INTO THE EQUATION.]
Again, some general dialogue: the more military production buildings that you have, the faster you will be able to produce military units. With that in mind, always be making buildings, and harvest a silly amount of wood.
A tower in an area dictates you cannot be occupied by enemy ground forces within the range without having the enemy unit take damage. Fast units can run past them and take minimal damage.
Don't forget that your AA guns, although they are buildings, can also be upgraded in terms of range, hit points, and attack. I usually go for range 2x, attack 2x, hp 1x.
Build houses in strips of four, if you are playing with the Standard Variant, or 2, if you are playing Tourmament. A good player will be able to rush you between minute 6 and minute 9. Have Houses up by minute 6 to be safe, maybe by minute 5 if you are going to be playing a Small or Tiny map.
Capitals that are fully populated give a collection bonus to nearby resources for iron, stone, and gold, effectivly doubling production when at maximum capacity (50).
It's generally a better idea to build mulitple graneries instead of populating your existing ones, unless space considerations are very tight.
Hospitals start having much greater range (this is another thing that I believe is upgradable with civ bonuses, which also affect towers and AA guns. Very cheaply, I might add...) which make them an absolute must-have for defensive chokepoints where you have numbers of troops stationed.
Walls aren't a total waste of time, but I do think that people use them for the wrong reasons. They should be used to slow down enemy advances. They just aren't as good in the atomic age as they were in previous epochs for purposes of area denial since it's much easier to blow up said wall then it was in the previous ages.
It's also easy to dismiss Temples as being "not as effective" in the Atomic Age. That's just not true though. Ask anyone who has lost a fleet of battleships and aircraft carriers to a single hurricane from a shoreline prophet. Also, don't forget that in the Atomic Age, priests can convert buildings. Why burn it down when you can take it over?
The fortress is another oftentimes overlooked unit. Units that are in a fortress will stay in place until they are needed, and they don't count against your population cap. Also, most people just don't expect you to use Forts, since you have to pull your units out of the fortress to attack. Makes for a great Ace in the Hole when you are fighting a fast offensive.
"Sir Yes Sir!" : Land Units in the Atomic Ages
Land units break down into three types: Infantry, Armor, and Supportive. A mixture of all three will do much better then a whole bunch of one troop type.
Doughboy/Marines [A] - In my humble opinion, these guys make the best raider units in the Atomic Age. I enjoy upgrading speed 2x, attack 1x, range 2x. These guys just eat up civillians and supportive units such as howitzers, artillery, and anti-tank guns.
Machinegunners [G] - A strong counter to Doughboys/Marines. These guys work well as "crowd control" for people who enjoy streaming into your base for hit and run tactics. MGs work better on the defense then offensive as a whole.
Trench Mortars [F] - These guys have a good parabolic attack, meaning that they can shell enemies from the other side of walls or forests. My favorite upgrades for these guys are Speed 2x, Range 2x, Area Effect 1x.
Bazoka [B]- The anti-armor infantry. Bazokas are not so good against soft targets but seem to do really well against tanks, since they have a 2x attack mulitpler against both types of tanks. I like upgrading the attack 2x, range 1x, and speed 2x.
Flamethrowers [E] - These guys are great from taking out towers, walls, and buildings after the rest of your ground forces have taken out the opposition. I don't use them as often, since I often accompany my ground troops with Priests instead. Why destroy if you can convert? For upgrades, however, I enjoy speed 2x, attack 1x, and hit points 2x.
Stinger Soldiers [S] - Air defense from a Barracks. If an opponent has a Library of Alexandria up and running, I will make more Stingers and Halftracks then I will AA, to try and lure the enemy air force into a false sense of security. Suggested upgrades are Attack 2x, Range 2x, Speed 1x. It's also worthwhile to note that Stinger soldiers can survive a snipe from a sniper, making these units invaluable in flushing out sniper attacks.
Snipers [R] - These guys have more uses then Carter has pills. With the behavior set to "Scout", you have a great spotter for parabolic attacks, and also a unit that won't attack so it will stay cloaked for most of the time, allowing you to scout out thier bases without being seen. Just stay a few squares away from people and buildings. I always take the same upgrades for snipers... Speed 2x, Range 2x, Attack 1x.
Medics [C] - These units are like mobile hospitals. The trick with Medics is to make sure that they pay for themselves in terms of the lives they save. Since they cost so little to produce, if a Medic heals three or four units, they are cost-effective. Pull them out of the group if you are planning to rush in with faster units and send the survivors back to where the medic is. Watch our for snipers with them by keeping them in the "middle" of things if you can.
Have mixed patrols of infanty hotkeyed to a single group, and then set them on "Patrol". The hotkey for "Patrol" is Z. Your squad will patrol your base, from one building to the next. Patrols are a great "Fire and Forget" approach to base defense, and if you have a mixed bag of Marines, Machineguns, Stingers, and Bazokas, you will have some good defensive regardless of what they hit you with.
It's possible that you might only want to patrol a certain area with a certain unit, for example, "I want this sniper to walk around the perimeter of my main camp, but not to walk to that nearby rock patch that I have a settlement at." Holding Shift down will create a waypoint. You can do this on the big map or on the little map. For more realy neat moving around tricks, check the Strategy Guide by AZN.
The more of the map that you can see at all times, the better you are able to monitor the movements of enemy troops. For that reason alone, I like to try and have snipers on Scout behavior hidden in niches all over the map. Don't keep them near areas where people are likely to go (ie right next to a gold pile).
If you are in a firefight with parabolic units, learn the timing of them. There is no reason, especialy if you have infantry with speed upgrades, to ever be stuck by falling explosives from artillery, mortars, and the like. Once you hear the "whoosh" of the gun, select your infanty and either close the distance between you and them or fall back to the side a bit. If you are the one doing the shelling, don't forget to keep some infantry on "guard" behavior nearby to keep a handfull of marines from reducing your onslaught of artillery to a big pile of scrap metal.
Armor Factory [CNTL-F]
Flak Halftracks [F]: Armor is inherrantly vulnerable to aircraft, making the production of AA halftracks essential for the would-be world dominator. They should not travel in the front of an armored division, rather, they should be kept in the back while travelling and brought out to the sides of the battle front, within range, when aircraft show up, forcing the air player to choose between hitting the main force and hitting the AA encampments. For upgrades I recommend speed 2x, range 2x, attack 1x.
Tanks: There are two types, AP [S] (or armor piercing) and HE [T] (or High Explosive). AP are better against tanks, HE are better against Halftracks, and they are both awesome against infantry. One point worth noting is that HE tanks have a base speed of 16 instead of 12... the armor piercing tanks are a little bit slower, whereas the high explosive ones can chase down things much better. Since there are two types of tanks, I have two differant types of upgrades... for the HE i give them armor 2x, speed 2x, attack 2x to help them with thier anti-infantry, and for the AP i go for attack 2x, range 2x, and speed 1x, to allow them to get into thier higher range and blow up tanks from behind a line of HEs.
If you send your tanks forward without an escort, you are wasting food and iron. Try to send them out with a way to defend against air attacks and AT guns. That means bring along a couple of Marines to knock out the AT guns as well as Stingers and halftracks to worry about the skies. As for infantry, well... thats what the tanks are there for.
A direct hit from a tower seems to do 80 points, regardless of armor. However, it's been my experiance that HE tanks are fast enough to cruise past towers into the heart of the enemy heartland, at least with full upgrades.
Another interesting fact on tanks- howitzers are worthless against them. An attack from a howitzer only deals one point of damage to a tank.
Siege Factory [CNTL-C]
Howitzers : Although tanks and infantry do well in holding the ground, they get torn up by towers and do very little damage compartively in return. That's where howizters come in. They serve two main purposes- one is to destroy towers and other buildings from far enough away that they don't get shred by towers. The second is to fire volleys of shells into the front lines to support your marines and machinegunners. Keep these units in the back. I suggest upgrading speed 2x, range 2x, and armor 2x (helps to cut down the effects of stray bullets.)
Artillary [B] : Death from a distance. These units are so vulnerable to damage from infantry that they should never be left without an escort. A single Marine will destroy one if it's left unattended. However, the destructive potentional is well worth it... they have parabolic attack, allowing you to take down towers and buildings from a distance with the aid of a sniper set to scout behavior to "spot" for you. ALWAYS take a range upgrades, the other upgrades are more or less a question of personal preferance. I used to prefer speed 2x, but I prefer to have area affect 2x and damage 1x now. A group of these will take out a base in no time.
Anti-tank [A] : These units are pretty striaghtforward. They kill tanks. They do ok against halftracks and howitzers and artillary, but they are terrible against soft targets. Much like artillary, I'd always advise range 2x and then the other upgrades dependant on what sort of player you are up against.
Unlike tanks, supportive weapons aren't really met to be front and center of your forces... that is more of the tank's role. One great tactic in the modern ages is keep your supportive weapons in the rear of the front line and if it looks like you are going to get flanked, grab your troops with a transport helicopter for a hasty retreat.
Medics can heal supportive units. So can being near a hospital or a Strategic Hero.
The same trick that works against infantry parabolic units (the mortar) also works with artillary. If you get caught in a situation where you have an unescorted group of artillary against another group of unescorted artillary (it happens) be sure that you move right after you fire. Or have the transport helicopter pick up your troops between volleys.
Enemy artillary are visable after they fire, even if they are in an area where you normally don't have Line of Sight established, making them particularly vulnerable to shell mortars.
Sink the Landlubbers : Naval Units in the Atomic Ages
The ability to attack by sea becomes such a valueable tool in the Atomic Age that you will be at a definate disadvantage if you do not maintain a naval presence. Additionally, if you do maintain a naval presence and they do not, you will have a significant edge. In earlier epochs, it's possible to focus inland and avoid the wrath of the naval powers. In the atomic epochs, that's just no longer the case, unless you are fighting relatively inexperianced players or you are playing continential on a giant map.
Much like the air power aspect of EE, it's best to use naval troops in conjunction with ground troops. If you are planning a ground attack, you can use battleships to knock out towers near the coast and send your troops to the exposed area. If you are planning an air attack and there is AA near the shore, same principles apply to AA.
If you are on a map with water and are encountering naval resistance, it's often cheaper (on so many levels) to try and pin thier navy down to one spot by making a half-a$$ed attack to draw them together and hit them with a hurricane from a prophet then it is to build counter-units to thier navy and engage them in that matter. 200 gold and food to knock out however much $ they have floating in the water within the storm's range. You can move the hurricane by selecting it like a unit.
Fishing Ships [F] Fishing is an oftentimes overlooked method of supplementing your food income. It's a little cheaper then farms, it takes up no space on land, leaving you with more space free for troops and defensive encampments, and if you have uncontested control of the seas having a fleet of fishing boats is a good way to have your opponent underestimate your food income based on his vision of fewer granaries. The Fishing Civ bonus is a must-have if you plan on having a naval power that gets the majority of it's food from fishing. Also, for the cost it's a great unit to send exploring or to use as an unsuspected off-shore spotter for artillary.
Cruisers [C] The Anti-Air naval unit, these are what keep the skies above the water friendly for an air force. On continential boards, these units are great to wedge into those little inland lakes and rivers that are oftentimes available and unused, since most air players think those are a guarnteed safe passage and will route units through those areas. I advise speed 2x, attack 2x, range 1x as upgrades.
Battleships [B] These are the flagships that are used to tear down other ships, as well as provide shelling support for shore units. They are vulnerable to submarines and so it will behoove you to escort them with frigates or sea kings. They are expensive and should not be left without AA coverage as well, either by fighter/bombers from an aircraft carrier or by the presence of nearby cruisers on guard mode. Good upgrades depend on what you are facing, although I tend to like hit points 2x, range 2x, attack 1x.
Frigates [D] These are used to take down any non-Battleship unit, although Battleships will tear them apart. Nice for supplemental units but they shouldn't be the staple of your navy unless your opponent is taking a very submarine-heavy approach. Upgrades vary according to what you are facing but again, unless your opponent is being Captain Nemo and taking a very sub-heavy apprpoach, frigates are generally the last units that I upgrade.
Naval Yards [CNTRL-V (where do they come up with this stuff?)]
Aircraft Carriers [C] These units cannot fight by themselves, but rather act as a mobile staging ground for fighter/bombers. While the FBs from the carrier are perhaps not quite as effective as thier counterparts from a Air Field, they are a great way to disrupt your opponents ecnomy or force the deployment of his own air force, which can be devestating in and of itself with prooper cruiser upgrades and support. I advise hit points 2x and speed 2x for carrier upgrades. Don't forget upgrades on the planes as well.
Attack Subs [S] These units sink battleships, carriers, cruisers, and other subs. Please note that hurricanes affect subs like any other naval unit, and that if you go to move your fleet in a large group the subs will go under the ships, effectively doubling the firepower available in the same amount of space.
Nuclear Subs [T] These subs have great range and do considerable damage against land based units. Expect a response once you begin the shelling... as such, never leave these units without an escort. One of the most effective combos I have seen involves a sniper on Scout behavior hidden out of the way in thier base, a Nuclear sub shelling AA units, and a large group of bombers on thier way in. Watch the skies for Sea Kings or face thier wrath. Speed, attack, and range are all important upgrades.
Death From Above: Air Units in the Atomic Ages
[AIRPORT HOTKEY : CONTROL-Q]
Air units are introduced in WW1, and aircraft become a progressively greater part of the conflict at hand with the passing of each epoch. In WW1 a couple of partisans can down a plane, whereas in the modern epoch most planes can fly straight over an AA encampment and still make it back out in one piece.
I would advise against building planes until you have troops under steady production on ground. Exceptions are for DM games or perhaps games on some form of island map.
When one is dealing with aircraft, it is important to understand the phrase "Friendly Airspace". That means that you can fly around a certain area without worrying about AA guns, Flak Halftracks, Stinger Soldiers, and Partisans. There are two other kinds of airspace, "Occupied Airspace" and "Disputed Airspace". Occupided Airspace is, quite obviously, an area where the enemy controls the ground and has set up AA guns, Flak trucks, etc. Disputed Airspace is usually the journey between Friendly and Occupied territory, where you aren't really sure what sort of resistance is there for you. It's OK to deploy fighters to Friendly Airspace, but avoid sending them to patrol disputed airspace without some ground support in case of an advance of halftraks or stingers. Don't have fighters circle the skies over an enemy base unless the AA on the ground has been taken out first.
It's important to note that AA guns are particularly vulnerable to a couple of marines. If you are planning to deploy AA to an area that you think has lots of AA, one particularly effective tactic is to slip in a squad to knock out the AA. A couple of HE tanks or Marines with speed upgrades are great for this purpose. Timing your ground raid with your air strike takes a little bit of getting used to but when you do it right, the results are spectactular, especially since they tend to pull land forces back to thier base, thinking your raid is an attack on thier economy. To time it right, you want to be about halfway into thier base knocking out the AA as the bombers hit the perimeter that your raiding party advanced from. Takes practice. In the Modern epoch, transport helicopters open up a whole new world on anti-aa raids, since they can ferry infantry to a safe landing spot and pull them back out one they've hurt the AA.
An Air Force cannot "occupy" enemy territory. It's a branch of your military that works well in conjunction with your ground forces... not as a replacement for ground troops. It's great for knocking back would-be invaders that skimped out on AA coverage and it's also particularly effective to loosen up defenses before moving in a nearby invasion force. Or knocking out that nearby navy that has no AA ships.
Aircraft is generally a burden on your economy, since it costs gold and iron, the two most precious resources. A good rule of thumb to make sure that you don't jeopardize the budget to your ground and naval forces is to take over another pile of gold and another pile of iron for each two airports that you build.
Building multiple airfields is essential, particularly if you plan on having an effective air force. By building four or five airports adjacent to one another, you can double click on one airport and select all airports at the same time, then deploy a single waypoint which will move all the planes out in tight formations. Tight formations seem to do better against resistance... you might lose a bomber in your group of five, but the other four will drop off thier payload and return. Keep this in mind when you issue builds in the Airports. You might want each airstrip to have, for instance, 2 fighters, 2 fighter/bombers, and 3 bombers so that the fighters and fbs arrive first to knock out enemy aircraft, followed by the FBs to take up hits by remaining AA while your bombers go in.
Bombers [B]: Ah, the bombers. Death from above. If I know that I am going to be going for Air Power, I will almost always try to take a Civ with the bonus [DECREASE BUILD TIME] since Bombers take a while to build. To get the maximum effect from Bombers, you want to send a bunch of them out at the same time at around the same time that you raid the AA on an enemy base. Cost reduction is also nice... Bombers are 200 gold and 200 iron each, and that's not a light burden on the economy. I'd advise upgrading speed 1x (to get you past those pesky aa guys while taking less fire), area effect 2x, and damage 2x.
Fighters [S]: Air superiority units. Use these to take out Bombers and Fighter Bombers, as well as freeing the Coast from those annoying f-14s. There are the solution to the fighters that are in Occupied Airspace. I like speed 2x, attack 1x, and flight time 2x for fighter upgrades.
Fighter/Bombers [F]: I've seen it said in other guides that these troops are a total waste of time. I disagree. They are good "annoyance" troops, which is to say, they are good if you want to harrass a group of troops that doesn't have good AA capacity. They do get progressively better as the epochs progess. Again, I'd advise upgrading speed 2x, attack 1x, flight time 2x.
The Nuclear Plane [A] : Well, this is definately the most destructive weapon in the game, hands down. It's also the most expensive unit in the game. A few Stingers, a good placed AA, a Halftrack with a damage upgrade... any of these will send your expensive investment tumbling to the ground. However, you will kill what you drop the bomb on, no questions asked. I generally don't build them until I already have an established air force with a history of making successful bombing runs. Two of these guys cost the same as 7 bombers, and 7 bombers have a much greater chance of standing up to a couple AA encampments. The mark of a newbie is to make thier first plane a nuclear bomber and sent it out to bomb the enemy capital without scouting for AA first. For upgrades, I advise speed 2x, area effect 2x, hit points 1x.
The Sea King [G] : Only used against subs, so again, if you ever see a Sea King on an all land board, you are probably playing against a relatively new player who doesn't know what all of the units do yet. I advise upgrading speed 2x, range 2x, damage 1x to make it faster to deploy the Sea Kings. (Every now and again, I make a Sea King on an all land board and fly around, looking for enemy encampments, troop movements, etc. I use waypoints so that I don't waste more then a few seconds setting it up. I do this for two reasons: one, because this is a great way to lull an opponent that you are playing for the first time into thinking they are up against a relatively new player which might help "relax" thier defenses a little bit, and two, I find this hysterically funny. I'm not sure why.)
The Transport Helicopter [R]: This is perhaps the best supportive unit to a ground force in the game. Try to keep one around, accompanying your ground forces. If you can, pull the wounded troops back to the medics or nearby hospitals. Also great for dumping off raiding squads behind enemy lines. One trick I use is to send a Transport down to a place where there is some natural protection for the enemy (ie behind a mountian range) where players sometimes grow lax in thier AA, touch down with a squad of ten Marines, kill bunches of citizens that are harvesting resources, and hop back into the helicopter and get flown back to safety before any heavy fire gets brought to bear. Transports have another great use, and that is loading one with 6 citizens and a small escort to take over unclaimed resource sites, particularly on an island map. Upgrade speed all the way. Always.
Gunship Helicopter [E] : Essentially a machine-gunner that flies. The damge isn't very impressive for a single gunship, even with the full upgrade. However, helicopter upgrades in conjunction with starting civ bonuses for helicopters are a little more effective. These units team up very well as an escort to ground forces, such as a group of marines and a tank, and the 1.5 multiplier against infantry seems to support that. I recommend speed 2x, attack 2x, range 1x.
Anti-Tank Helicopter [T] : Essentially a flying bazoka man that hovers and can't be shot by tanks. The vulnerability of the AT chopper to AA guns, coupled with the fact that any fighter will own any helicopter, means that these helicopters also seem to work best in a supportive role as opposed to having squads and squads of AT choppers. Suggested upgrades are 2x speed, 2x attack, 1x range.
I hope this guide is helpful to people adjusting to the more modern epochs. I would like to thank TheShadowDawn for compiling data on attack mulipliers that made the drafting of this guide possible.
May sportsmanship and fair play follow you in your battles... Ueriah