Empire Earth – The Basic Startup

by fissh_e
Date Added: January 28, 2002
Epoch Span: All Epochs

The purpose of this guide is to help new players distribute their economy in a more efficient and productive way during the first few minutes of a game of Empire Earth. The first minutes are crucial in every game, and the right startup can determine the outcome of the entire game. This guide will specifically focus on island vs land maps, deathmatch vs tournament-low or tournament-defensive resources, as well as provide a general idea of what an efficient startup is for almost any settings.
Note: Iron and Gold are resources which are equally abundant on the map, and you will need some of either resource to build an army (but usually not both). Therefore, they will be referred to as iron/gold in this guide.

Startup – the General Concept
The key to a good startup is speed and efficiency. Speed is fairly simple: click faster, learn and use hotkeys, and never just sit there and watch passively. With good speed, you can make sure your citizens are not standing idle, are working at the right resource, and you will be able to better judge your surroundings and how you should react to them.
Efficiency is more complex, and has many elements to it, which I will discuss in detail.
Gathering the correct resource. It is of particular importance in the startup phase of the game to know how much of what resources you will be needing at what time, which involves a general knowledge of and experience with the game. Here is a basic rundown of resource allocation over time, assuming the following settings (which are pretty commonly used, by the way):

tournament-low or tournament-defensive resources, tournament variant, land map

1. Send your initial 5 citizens and citizen #6 on pumpkins (or hunting if it’s closer)

2. Send citizens #7-12-ish to a nearby tree. Basically, you are sending all newly created citizens on chopping wood, until you have enough wood for the military building of your choice (after building 1 settlement)

3.a. If you plan on making archers: Take some of your woodcutters and send them to gold, and leave some for the wood your archer require. Build an Archery Range with a citizen.

3.b. If you are not making archers or other military units that require wood: Take ALL of your woodcutters, and distribute them between hunting and iron/gold. Take one of the woodcutters and build a military building (usually stable or barracks), and then send that citizen to either hunting or iron/gold.

4.a. If you are making archers: Every new citizen should be sent to balance out the wood-gold-food ratio. If you have the required wood and gold to maintain production of archers, send new citizens on food (hunting). If you are short on either gold or wood, send new villagers there. If you begin to accumulate a surplus of wood or gold, remove some citizens. If you are running short on food, you will want to sacrifice military production for citizen production. 

4.b. If you are not making archers or other military units that require wood: Every new citizen should be sent to balance out the iron/gold-food ratio. This is basically balancing between two resources, and should be easier than 4.a. You should definitely lean toward food here.
5. When you start running out of animals to hunt, send new villagers and existing hunters over to wood. Don’t be afraid to pile up wood at this point, as it will all be spent on farms when the animals are depleted.

Well, now you’ve seen a typical, efficient buildup order. Notice how I’m not going into details too much, as your circumstances WILL require you to make adaptations on the spot. The importance is to know ahead of time what you will be making. And another importance is to START MAKING MILITARY AS SOON AS YOU CAN AFFORD TO. This usually means that you should have a military unit DONE by 7-8 mins game time on tournament setting, low or defensive resources. What you should remember after that is that the top priority is to keep making citizens, and the second priority is to keep making military units. And this of course requires efficient resource allocation.
Maintaining a constant production of citizens. Like I’ve said, maintaining a constant production of citizens is your top priority. Citizens are the units who gather the resources, construct the buildings, and run your economy. Without them, you are dead. If you don’t have enough, you will be dead. If you don’t keep making citizens, your opponent will get an advantage.
To be able to keep making citizens, keep an eye on your food supply. Assign more citizens on food as necessary, and tell your food gatherers to dump off their load if you just need a little extra food for the next citizen. Of course, after a few minutes, maintaining a constant flow at your original capitol will not be enough. That is why you need to populate your settlements, turn them into Town Centers (TC), and continue pumping out citizens from both your original capitol and your newly created TC’s.
Knowing when to populate settlements. There is no simple answer to the question “When do I populate my settlement?”, but there are some guidelines and points you should keep in mind. They are all based on the fact that populated citizens are not doing anything, just sitting in the Town Center, and you can’t get them back. They will not gather resources for you, so don’t just populate unless it will help you increase the output of citizens (at least in the startup phase of the game).
– Don’t populate if you can’t maintain a constant flow of citizens from the new TC and other TC’s or capitols. That would be wasting precious citizens.
– Don’t populate less than, or more than 5 citizens. 5 citizens are required for TC’s, and you don’t need to upgrade to a capitol in the startup phase. Also, populating less than 5 citizens means losing the work power of those citizens while not gaining anything.
– Populate settlement near a gold/iron site, not ones that only have a forest or pumpkin patch nearby. This is because pumpkins will run out, and forests are not as scarce as iron/gold. You must think in the long run, and populating settlements near iron/gold is beneficial.
Reducing walk distance for citizens. When your citizens are gathering resources, there is always a certain distance they must walk to the deposit site and back. Of course, while they are just walking back and forth, they are not benefiting your economy, and that is why you want to reduce the walking distance as much as possible. Although this isn’t really that much of a crucial thing, it does make a difference to some extent. There are two ways this guide will focus on for reducing walk distance: settlement placement and animal luring.
When placing settlements, you want them to be no more than two tiles away from an iron/gold mine, as that will give you a gather rate bonus. It is important both to place settlements so they are close to the greatest variety of resources, and to build new settlements to reduce the walking distance.
Animal luring is not a major thing, but it will help your economy get on its feet in the first few minutes. The following animals will attack you, and therefore can be lured: hippo, walrus, and elephant. Basically, you want to send one or two citizens to attack the animal, then walk back to the nearest settlement and let the animal follow. Then use some more citizens to kill it. This way, you won’t have to spend so much time walking back and forth, because the animal is already close to your settlement.
Finding the correct balance between economy and military. This is a tricky issue, really, and you can only do it well with experience. However, there are a few things you should keep in mind. Empire Earth is a fast-paced game, and you can’t just sit back focusing on your economy. You need real troops to defend your base. Therefore, you want to raise a military building as soon as possible (this is usually after laying down your first settlement), and then try to maintain a constant production of military units. This of course must not delay your citizen production, which is your highest priority. Therefore, you should only mine resources that you need for citizens and a single military unit type – at least until about 12-15 minutes into the game. The key to Empire Earth is BALANCE – I can’t stress this enough.

Island vs. Land Maps
There are a few important differences with island maps compared to land maps. First, the reduced threat of an early attack. Second, the ability to make fishing boats. Third, ships instead of land units.
Reduced threat of an early attack. This gives you more freedom in the early game. No longer can the enemy just send its troops into your base, he must now build both a military building and an extra dock and transport to do it – unless of course if he uses planes. In any case, you now have more flexibility and less need to start training your military as early as possible. This is not to say that you should forget about military, as an early misbalance between your and your opponent’s military can give him an edge, although only somewhat later in the game. But still, if you are an economy boomer type, you can safely concentrate on booming from two town centers for a while, and make some ships to defend your coastline.
The ability to make fishing boats. Fishing is a good source of food and should definitely be considered in the first few minutes of an island game. If you decide to do fishing, you better make many fishing boats, at least 8 of them. Because fishing boats cost wood and get food, you should move some citizens away from food and to wood in order to maintain fishing boat production. You will need to figure out how the citizen allocation between food and wood works best, taking into account your civ choice, the map, your long-term strategy, and anything that might come up.
Ships instead of land units. Ships generally cost much more than land units, about twice or three times as much. This means that you will have a smaller navy than you would have an army of land units for the same price. Ships usually cannot attack an enemy’s base, and thus can’t hurt their economy much. The best you can do with a superior navy is kill off his fishing, and maintain a blockade so that the opponent can’t rebuild his navy. Also, defending with ships is easier than defending with land units, because docks will heal your own ships provided they are within range. All this must be taken into consideration when planning your military strategy on the sea.

Deathmatch vs. Tournament-Low or Tournament-Defensive Resources
Deathmatch is a whole new picture compared to Tournament resource games (the former are often referred to as DM, the latter, RM – as in Random Map). DM games give you considerably more resources to start with – so much that in many games you won’t even have to worry about your economy at all!
A typical DM startup will be extremely military-oriented. Start by continuously laying down a bunch of military buildings, at least 15-20 if them, not too far from your original Capitol. At some point, perhaps at the very beginning, you should peel off 5 citizens, have them build a settlement – preferably at a gold/iron mine, and populate so you get a TC. Now you can produce citizens twice as fast, or go for he immediate epoch jump while making citizens at the other TC/Capitol.
Basically, you’ll want to keep making military buildings, and keep making military in those buildings, until you reach your max population or you are starting to run out of resources. If you are starting to run out of res, start to establish an economy by making many citizens and settlements, starting up a farming operation, and mining whatever you need. If you fill up your pop cap, you should send your forces in search of an enemy while you build up defenses, such as walls, AA guns, and towers at home.
DM is very fast-paced, especially the first few minutes. It’s entirely different from RM, at least the startup, but later you will be making use of the same tactics and stratagies.