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News Archives - September 2007

The Age of Crusades Goes Alpha!

Yes! The Age of Crusades mod now has an Alpha version, and it's available for public testing!

For those who haven't heard about it: Age of Crusades is a total conversion mod (currently for AoE3) led by Argalius. It takes the game back into the Crusades time period, completely replacing the old civilizations and units in "the most ambitious Age of Empires III mod ever!"
Age of Crusades adds six brand new nations, divided into two new cultures. This includes the Kingdom of Jerusalem, Templars, Hospitallers, Fatimids, Saracens and Seljuk Turks. The subcivs haven't been neglected and with the Cilician Armenians, Almoravides, Mameluks and Mongols there are four subcivs to ally with. [...] The mod doesn't only add new civilizations and units but also new buildings, new farm system, relics, new UIs, new AI and a staggering amount of 12 new maps!
Want to try it out? Then download it right now! But remember to follow the instructions closely, as you will have to install it manually. If you feel insecure about the lack of an installer you might want to wait until the full release.

You can read more about the project and solve any doubts concerning it in our Modding Discussions Forum

Ask ES Thread Update

Thunder has taken the time to answer a bunch of questions about The Asian Dynasties in our Ask ES Thread. This time there were some music related questions, which he sent forward to Stephen Rippy, the Music and Sound director at Ensemble Studios. This set of answers contains a lot of interesting stuff, such as:

How will the Chinese person upgrade their units? Will they upgrade them by army?

Yes. The army upgrades makes all of their units that are produced in a particular army type better.
How fast can you age up to Colonial by assigning the maximum number of villagers to assist in building a Wonder? If you can tell us, what is this maximum number of villagers (if there even is a maximum)?

The time it takes to age up is probably similar to the Native American’s fast age up. The max number of villagers you can put on a wonder appears to be eight.

Read these and the rest of the answers in the Ask ES Thread and use the possibility to ask your own questions too. A lot of questions have already been answered, so make sure yours hasn't been already answered.

Thanks to both Thunder and Stephen Rippy for answering!

The Asian Dynasties Goes Gold!

The Asian Dynasties expansion pack has gone gold! For those unfamiliar with the term, the game is now officially complete and will be sent to the manufacturers in that form. As speculated earlier, the game will be released on October 23rd in North America.

The press release of the announcement can be found here.

Microsoft Game Studios today announced that the eagerly awaited “Age of Empires III: The Asian Dynasties,” the second expansion pack for “Age of Empires III,” has gone gold and will hit retailers throughout North America on Oct. 23rd.

So join us in the await in Alex's thread and speculate about the demo release date :)

TAD Official Site Updated

A wealth of new information and screenshots of The Asian Dynasties have been made available at the official site of the game: www.ageofempires3.com.

Apart from already the known Regicide and King of the Hill game modes, there's a Treaty-No Blockade mode which will no doubt be a welcome thing for those who play long treaty games.

There are two new mercenaries featured on the site, the Arsonist and the Tiger Claw:

The Arsonist is an Indian mercenary unit that acts as an enhanced grenadier, hurling torches that cause bonus area splash damage on infantry units.
The Tiger Claw is an Indian mercenary unit that attacks with its animal-like claws in close-quarters melee combat, and it has a bonus against infantry.

Read this and much more at http://www.ageofempires3.com/asiandynasties/ but remember to come back to discuss this at our forums in this thread by mike_rules32!

Forum Party on Saturday - With Prizes!


And the Forum Parties are back! Not only that, but we've chosen a very special theme for you. As a celebration of the recently implemented CSO feature, we'll all be playing a King of The Hill scenario, designed by MosheLevi. And, on top of all that, there will be PRIZES!
We'll randomly pick a forumer from all the participators in the Forum Party (not sure if CSOs can be rec'ed, if so, rec the game then upload it in our download section). If they can't be recorded, just post a screenshot from the game in this thread. On Sunday, we will have a drawing of all the participators in the forum party. Three will win one of the following prizes:
  • 1 Command and Conquer 3
  • 1 Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle Earth II
  • 1 Rise of Legends

Enjoy!
You just can't miss it. So make a reply in the Forum Party thread confirming your presence! And if you just can't wait for it, why not try out the King of The Hill map already?

We're counting on you!

TAD Fan Site Kit

The Asian Dynasties' Fan Site Kit has been released! It is a package which contains concept art, game icons, logos and much more! According to ES, all this material can be used to make a whole new fan site. In fact, check out their own words about it:
This 22 MB download contains all sorts of art pieces necessary to help "Age of Empires III" fans build a fan site in preparation for the release of "Age of Empires III: The Asian Dynasties" expansion. The kit contains concept art, icons, renders, desktop wallpaper, and more.

You might not be interested in developing your own site, but it's definetly worth for every fan just to check all the new art. Download it right now and then discuss it in Orange4342's thread.

Experience Guide

Cyclohexane has written up a a guide to all you need to know about experience points. He covers literally everything to cover your experience points questions. Cyclohexane discusses: Building construction, creating units, the fire pit, destroying units, killing enemy units, trading posts, and the end game bonus.
1. Early in the game, the XP trickle is the main XP source. In order to get shipments faster, construct buildings immediately. For example, a house at 20XP will send a shipment 10 seconds faster (2XP awarded per second passively).

2. To level the Home City faster, research Mercantilism in each game for a quick 2,000XP towards the 30K XP maximum.

3. Since the passive XP rate is 120 per minute, economic buildings give 20%, military buildings give 10%, outposts give 14%, and all units, including villagers, give 10% of their cost, a FF strategy can be developed.
For more tips and statistics on experience points, visit his thread.

HeavenGames: A New Identity

Source: The HG Blog

After considerable deliberation, the owners have decided that one major inhibiting factor for HeavenGames’ prosperity is the simple fact that it doesn't have a clearly defined identity. It has always been a site about games, but that is far too vague for the development of any clear goals and the effective marketing of the site.

We have thus discussed the issue with our staff and decided that we
should make HeavenGames a site entirely geared towards community. At its core, HeavenGames always has been about building the best communities possible, so it only makes sense that we devote all of our resources to that service...(Read more!)

A New Big Huge Games Blog Entry

The blog by Big Huge Games, the developer of the expansion pack The Asian Dynasties, has been updated.

The entry by Andrew Auseon, lead writer and an associate producer of the expansion pack, deals with the historical content and accuracy and the kind of decisions that were made concerning them. While the majority of the units in the game have a lot of historical background, some had a lot less and in some cases the history element was bent slightly to benefit the fun aspect of the game.

He further explains the single player campaign and the motivation behind the exclusion of the Black family storyline:

One idea had players following a member of the Black family as he explored Asian locales and encountered various historical figures, having him present during pivotal historical events in the histories of China, India, and Japan. Our greatest problem with this concept was that players would essentially be getting a European perspective of events in Asian history, and none of us at Big Huge Games were satisfied with that approach. We wanted our campaign to feature Asian heroes with motivations dictated by the setting and history.

Read the rest of the blog here and discuss the content on our forums.

Bruce Shelley's Blog Updated

Bruce Shelley's blog got another new entry, which tells that while the publication of The Asian Dynasties is not imminent, it's soon. He further discusses the visit of some journalists to Redmond, during which the game was demoed to them. There is also some information on Halo Wars along with other RTS related things.

Most of the information gathered during the journalists' visit there has already been on our news, but the article on GameTap eluded us. While it has little more to add in terms of text, there are new screenshots and a funny anecdote of a confusion that happened while designing the campaign.

Discuss the blog here in jakob_muhbuh's thread at our forums.


Bruce Shelley's Blog

Plantation Spam

Getting beaten by powerful cards because you don't have them? Want to try out an strategy on ESO, but still haven't got the right politician? I guess you need some XP Games to level up! And the forummer Roark has posted some tips which should teach you the art of Plantation Spam. The idea is very simple:
Quick summary for those who haven't done one before: XP Games are generally played on the maps Great Lakes or Saguenay with Post-Imperial start and fast speed. Each player booms to max vills and spams/deletes plantations until both are at the max XP for the game.
Interested? Then read the Plant Spam Revisited thread if you want to learn how to reach maximum experience before twelve minutes! Twelve minutes on fast speed

Ask ES Thread Update!

And our Ask ES Thread has been updated, with a new set of questions answered by Thunder! Don't you want to find out who are the new Asian civilization leaders, what is the speed of the Mahout or how many people wear shorts at ES? Check out what he told us about some Japanese units:
What are the abilities of the Shogun unit, and how can you get it?

The Shogun is a unit that you ship, like the Daimyo. The Shogun can train units, like your Barracks, and he gives an aura bonus to the units around him like a WarChief! You don’t get to ship him until the fourth age though. Daimyo and Shoguns are shipped via cards and do not require the Japanese player to have chosen Isolationism.
You can read about them all and many more in the Ask ES Thread. And while you are there, why not ask something too? But first have a look at our The Asian Dynasties' content page. You don't want to be caught asking what's already known, do you?

Moshelevi's New Scenario for Strategic Objectives Challenge

MosheLevi's Strategic Objectives contest got another scenario, which you can play to take part in the challenge.

The Stronghold scenario features a fortified area in the middle of the map, including a powerful fixed gun. The temple inside provides a teleport ability for the player, who controls it - though only for TWC players. There are 5 versions of the scenario with 4 of them having european civs and a Sioux one, which is a bit different since capturing certain buildings allows the Sioux player to train units it normally couldn't. Read more about the map and see a whole map screenshot of the scenario here.

Remember, that you can play each one of his 4 Strategic Objectives scenarios to increase your winning chances in the drawing! More information about the contest in his contest thread here.

Cyclohexane's Quick Reference Guide & Unit Comparison Updated

Cyclohexane has updated his TWC quick reference guide and the unit comparison sheet for the 1.04 patch, along with various other things. There is also new functionality, for example my favourite, the break even points for big button technologies:

7.) Added a lot of functionality to the "Technology - Native Big Button" worksheet. You can now calculate the break even point for all the Unit spawn at XX time (very useful for Aztec players). Pretty much, the break even point is 16 minutes (not always true). So if you need some fast troops at 16 minutes, do not feel bad using the BB techs. Sure you will get a better deal later in the game, but if you need them immediately, use it! This will also tell you how much VS you are spending on these techs and compare to what you would normally spend in a war hut, stable, noble hut, etc.

Discuss the guide and give him feedback here.

Direct links to the guides:

Download the Guide | Browse the Guide Online | Download the Unit Comparison Sheet

Congratulations Qazitory

Qazitory has been promoted to seraph to help me out since school has started. We will be co-seraphs for Age of Empires 3 Heaven and share the administrative duties.

Offer your congratulations to him and see how weird his name looks in a new color here.

Isolationism!

Since the very first videos and interviews related to The Asian Dynasties, we've heard about the Japanese Isolationism option. So, have you already wondered how it works? Well, then you'll be glad to know Thunder has told us!
At the consulate, Asian civilizations can choose to ally themselves with one of two European powers to gain new techs, units and a bonus of some kind. The Japanese have a different choice, one European power or Isolationism. When they choose to isolate themselves they gain access to four special units and three awesome techs.

You can read it all and discuss it here, in AFF92's thread.

The information came from our Ask ES Thread, where many questions have already been answered! Ask something too!

GameSpot TAD Preview

The folks at GameSpot got their hands on TAD preview early this month and wrote an article about it. While some of the information there is already known, there are a couple of new screenshots and some nice analysis, e.g. on the Chinese villages/Migration card use:

Villages are the Chinese version of houses, but they support much larger populations (20) and have other benefits, such as the ability to pen livestock. So if you're playing as the Chinese, you'll want to build as many villages as possible before playing that card to maximize the benefit.

Read the article here and for further discussion, there is a topic on our forums by Nezahualcoyotl here.

ES_WaCkO's British Semi-FF

And now there are three strategies posted by ES Members in Age Community's Balance Forum! This one, written by ES_WaCkO, is a British Semi-FF which focus on getting a solid economy before reaching Fortress, as well as having some military units to defend your base or raid your opponent.
Colonial Age:
  • Build a barracks and ship 700 wood as your first card
  • Build houses as wood allows, train 10-15 musketeers (situational again)
  • Ship 5 villagers as your 2nd card
  • Use your trained musketeers to harass as soon as you can, you'll want to be scouting to see if your opponent is training an army or only going for a straight FF. Adjust accordingly
  • Ship 700 gold as your 3rd card

    It's pretty general, and again it might not be the secret British strategy you were looking for, but definetly worth a try! So why not read it all and leave a comment? Check it's thread here and, if you feel like having a discussion about the current situation of Britain, then Eicho has already started it for you

    TAD Icon Revealed

    The icon of the expansion pack The Asian Dynasties appeared recently on ESO next to the nicknames of ES personnel there.

    Here's what it looks like on friends list:

    It seems that the tradition of having some sort of headwear is back on track with TAD, with TWC's arrowhead being an exception to the rule. Looks quite impressive to me! Discuss this on our forums and tell us what is your favourite AoE icon?

    Strategic Objectives Challenge, part II

    MosheLevi, our resident scenario design guru, has created again a set of "Strategic Objectives" scenarios and is hosting a challenge, where players are invited to beat the scenario. Like in the previous challenge, there are several version with different civs for different difficulty levels.

    The idea behind "Strategic Objectives" is that there are new features to the game: capturable neutral buildings, which provide the player who possesses them a military or an economy advantage, fixed guns can be built anywhere on the map and as a new feature for one scenario in the TWC version, players can teleport their armies after capturing a sacred temple.

    The prizes are extraordinary, like the last time:

    The following 20 games will be given away via a drawing when the challenge ends:

    3 Command and Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars
    2 Supreme Commander
    2 Company of Heroes
    3 Rise of Legends
    2 AOE 3: The War Chiefs
    2 Lord of the Rings: The Middle Earth II
    2 Warhammer 40000: Dawn of War
    1 Empire Earth 2: Platinum Edition
    1 Star Wars: Empire at War
    1 Medieval 2: Total War
    1 Rome : Total War

    The challenge starts today on 11th of September and ends on 10th of October. For further information, download links, challenge rules and discussion, check his thread here.

    So go ahead and try the scenarios, have fun and take part in the drawing!

    1.04a patch today

    ESO servers are going offline today for maintenance and during that time, a quickfix for the recently released 1.04 patch will be issued, namely 1.04a. This patch fixes a crash bug in French, Italian, German and Spanish versions of the game.

    The maintenance begins at 2pm GMT (9am CST) and takes approximately 15 minutes, according to AgeCommunity website.

    Final Stats for Patch 1.03

    Patch 1.04 might have already been released (Get it here!), but it's always nice to have a look at stats! This time Garlef posted the latest Patch 1.03's data, collected from ESO Tools.

    I can tell you that there isn't anything extremely radical compared to the other months, though it seems Britain and Germany didn't perform as good as before, while Sioux climbed up in the ladder. Anyway, check some more stats and discuss them! And why not make a guess or two on each civlization's performance in 1.04?

    The Undocumented Features of Patch 1.04

    Forumer Felix Hermansson has compiled a list of the changes made by TWC Patch 1.04 that were not actually listed in the patch summary. Several of these changes could be critical to changing around players' strategies, but most of them are minor inclusions of Coyote Runners and Eagle Knights into to the "cavalry" group for damage multipliers.

    Settler Wagons can no longer be built after a revolt!

    Outposts and Blockhouses now get a 50% bonus against Coyote Runners and Eagle Knights, the same as they get against cavalry.

    Pirates from the Saloon now get a 300% bonus against Coyote Runners and Eagle Knights, the same as they get against cavalry.

    Swedish Fusiliers now get a 50% bonus against Coyote Runners and Eagle Knights at range, the same as they get against light cavalry.

    Gatling Guns now get the same -50% modifier against Arrow Knights as Organ Guns do. (Note however that their modifier against buildings remained at -50% while the one for Organ Guns was reduced to -25% as described in the patch notes.)

    Ironclads now benefit from the standard naval upgrades (Cannonade and Armor Plating) like any other warship.

    Tupi Blackwood Archers shipped from the home city now benefit from the Infantry Breastplate upgrade.

    Cree Trackers and Klamath Riflemen shipped from the home city now benefit from the Counter Infantry Rifling upgrade.

    The Nootka Chief now benefits from the Champion Nootka upgrade.

    Villagers working on farms now benefit from the Klamath Work Ethos upgrade.

    Coyote Runners now benefit from the French Team Hand Cavalry Damage card.

    And last but not least, what we've all been waiting for: Great Bombards now convert herdables! :)


    Again, hats off to Felix Hermansson for the find!

    If you would like to discuss these changes in our forums, visit this thread!

    For a list of the documented changes in 1.04, have a look at ES's patch website

    Two new blog entries

    Both Bruce Shelley and Big Huge Games have updated their blogs with new entries recently.

    Bruce Shelley discusses in his entry the upcoming Halo Wars game and its demo, the Age of Empires III board game, considers the rock-paper-scissors combat system in Age of Empires games and a few other things. Here's an excerpt with thoughts about the unit counter system:

    For combat in that first game we used a system where infantry (rocks) beat cavalry (scissors) beat archers (paper) beat infantry. The question we had to resolve then was how badly rocks broke scissors, etc. We felt that if rocks were two or three times better than scissors, for example, that would skew the game more toward hard core gamers, since they would really benefit from understanding the relationships and achieving favorable combat situations in play. In contrast, a very low advantage, say only 25 percent, would make the game easier for casual gamers since they would barely notice that rocks were beating scissors and didn’t have to carefully match their units against opponents.

    As he notes in his blog, the board game Age of Empires III: The Age of Discovery is doing very well. On BoardGameGeek site, the game is currently at the 20th rank, beating a lot of other popular games. The legendary Puerto Rico game is still hanging out at the top place of the charts.

    In BHG's blog, lead designer Ike Ellis continues where he left off next time. He explains the first steps of designing a game on someone else's platform and goes further to tell how the game developed and from an online player's point of view a promising bit about the previous Age experiences of BHG's staff:

    What Ensemble didn’t know when we started the project is that we had a solid crew of “Age” fanatics on staff. Brian Reynolds and John Hawkins played “Age of Empires II” together in a top clan while John was still in college. Randy Solberg, one of our crack balance team members, was winning “Rise of Rome” tourneys left and right until it came out that he was still too young to even compete in them.

    Discuss these blogs on our forums in these threads: Bruce Shelley's here and BHG's here.

    Bruce Shelley's blog
    Big Huge Games' blog

    Multiplayer Scenario Download Section

    With Ensemble Studios releasing patch 1.04, and Custom Scenarios are Online now, we opened up a Multiplayer Scenario Download Section.

    This is the place to go for scenarios to play against your friends and other players on ESO. Have a suggestion or idea, but don't know how to do it? Go here and tell people who can or can help you.

    Keep an eye on the download section to see more and more scenarios get added as time goes on.

    Ask ES Thread

    Thunder is fielding your questions in our The Asian Dynasties Discussion Forum for anything you have for TAD.

    Of course, he may not get to everything, but so far so good! If you think it is a pretty basic question you can see our information page. If you don't see what you want to ask there, then waltz on in to our Ask ES Thread.

    “Custom Scenarios: Ideas and Requests” Sticky Thread is now Open

    The purpose of this thread is for forumers to bring up new ideas and special requests for Custom Scenarios (single player and/or Online multiplayer).

    So if you have a good idea or request for a scenario that you cannot do yourself but you would like it to be done by a scenarios designer, then you are welcome to mention your idea/request in this thread.

    Realn's Pre-WCG Tourney

    Realn is being kind and hosting a 1v1 tournament for the AoE3 Community to prepare for the WCG.
    In preparation of WCG, there is a mini-tournament hosted for some competitive practice inviting all WCG qualifiers to see where they may stand. However, everyone is allowed to join (32 max), so anyone can compete even if they aren't going to Seattle. Hope you enjoy this lightly-prized 1v1 tournament!

    When? Saturday 18 GMT. (11am PST, 2pm EST, 19hr London).
    Where? ESO Chatrooms (WCG, WCG 1, WCG 2, WCG 3, etc.)
    Who? Everyone is allowed to sign-up. Max of 32 participants.
    Matches: Each match is played consecutively and best of one. Finals will be best of three.
    Map: WCG Random Map Set
    Prizes: 1st Place - $100 USD
    You can sign up for it here or discuss the tournament in his thread. He's willing for any feedback you can give him!

    1.04 tomorrow!

    The patch is finally here - ESO servers will be updated on 5th of September (tomorrow) with the 1.04 patch. The servers will go offline at 1:00pm GMT and the estimated downtime is about 2 hours.

    1.04 patch notes were released some time ago and can be read here, "vanilla" 1.12 notes here.

    Read the rest of the announcement can be read at AgeCommunity webpage.

    Discuss this at our forums in the thread by nat510!

    Ladder Update!

    Now our The WarChiefs Ladder is already four months old, and the 150 games mark has been crossed! So why don't you join it too and help in the run to the 200th game?

    The current Top 10:
      1. Parfait
      2. jaafit
      3. Highland guy
      4. Flammifer
      5. Farragut22
      6. IRP_m0f0
      7. HelzBelz
      8. Stonewall J
      9. agape3
      10. KingSteve3721

    What are you waiting for? Sign up right now or, if you already have, then take a look at everyone's position!

    ES_Hope's British Villager Swarm

    As you might know, Ensemble Studios is famous for defending the potential of the British civilization, which is usually seem as sub-par by players. What you might not know is that ES_Hope posted his British Villager Swarm strategy - some kind of quick boom, protected by Outposts and a hell lot of Settlers!
    The basis of this strategy is to effectively double your opponents’ economy by the 7 minute mark, this is tweak-able to have an army with fewer villagers, but it is still very safe regardless of your opponents’ aggressiveness.

    Intriguing, I'd say. Well, then how about replying in the thread SmashNBash posted at our Strategy Central? You can also check the original post in the new Age Community's Balance Forum!

    Oh, and the strategy comes with a Recorded Game