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Age of Empires III Heaven » Forums » General Discussions » The British Sheep Machine
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Topic Subject:The British Sheep Machine
Little_Wing
Skirmisher
posted 10-09-05 02:51 PM EDT (US)         
Among the new things in AoE3 is the sheep pen, giving players the option of buying and fattening sheep. villagers gather food faster from sheep then any other source, even hunting, but the set up costs of a pen and sheep, then waiting for the sheep to fatten, plus the micro involved, make hunting then farming much easier. Although it can be shown that "sheep farming" (fattening and harvesting sheep) is more efficient than farming, the micro and irregular bursts of food make it hard to use in a competitive game.

Clearly hunting is the way to go in the early game, it is a fast, easy food source that requires no investment. The dogs upgrade is cheap and well worth getting, and the Spanish have the Furrier card that is very good as well. But long term, hunting cannot be your main source of food, leaving only sheep and farms. Farming is simple, safe and reliable, but slow. Sheep are much faster but need micro and preparation. Many players might skip sheep pens and just farm, or perhaps just use sheep pens as an extra food source. This is a good idea, as player time is the most valuable thing in the game, and it might not be worth the risk of losing an expensive army because your attention is on a sheep pen.

However, with the British it can be worth the effort to get the sheep farming technique working, as the fuller card gives a huge boost to the gathering rate. Properly done, the food will flow in very fast

First, some numbers gathered from testing food gathering, with rates given in units of food per second:

Berries .66
Berries w/furrier .76
Hunting .76
Hunting w/dogs .87
Hunting w/furrier .88
Hunting w/dogs and furrier .97
Farming .52
Farming w/seed drill .58
Farming w/fertillizer .74
Sheep 2.67

Furrier is the Spanish card that increases hunting and berry gather rates. There are other cards to increase farming and hunting gather rates, but they are not available in the demo. Farming is clearly the slowest way to gather food, it takes two upgrades just to get to the same rate as basic hunting.

Clearly sheep gathering is much faster than even upgraded hunting. However, since you must put 100 food into buying the sheep, and you get around 270 - 280 back (sheep rot), more than one-third of your gathered food is effectively lost. That means the sheep gather rate is effectively around 1.7 food/second, still an impressive rate.

The British fuller card changes things - the sheep gather rate shoots up:

Sheep w/fuller 6.6

Yes, 6.6 food per second! The food flies in - 3 vils gather almost 1200 food per minute! In fact, 3 vils gather faster than 30 vils farming with seed drill! That is an advantage well worth some micro - 3 vils on sheep will outgather 18 Spanish hunters with dogs and the furrier card. And the British sheep machine is available from the first age, all you need is the fuller card. Husbandry and the sheep fattening card are also available from the first age, so a British player will have no trouble getting the sheep machine ready.

Of course, the investment needed to get the sheep machine going means that it won't start until the second age at the earliest. Standard hunting will carry the British player into the Colonial age, and then the player can decide if going sheep heavy is worth it. The best thing is that since all you need can be obtained in the first age, you have the flexibility to go sheep heavy with just one or two cards.

Some sheep machine tips:

* Get the sheep fattening card, and husbandry.
* Choose free sheep/cattle options on aging up
* Don't get the fuller card until you are ready to harvest
* Make sure you have other food sources going (hunting, berries) so that you don't starve waiting for sheep
* If you need food, harvest unfattened sheep if needed, as long as they have 150+ food you will still be better than farming. Shift+click if needed to harvest unfattened sheep
* Hotkey a pen so that you can keep sheep queued up
* Build only one sheep pen at first. And 2-3 more later, in a triangle/box. Set the gather point for the pens in the center. That way sheep the are made will find an empty slot on a pen to fatten by themselves.
* Sheep build very fast, que up all need from one pen.
* You only need a few vils on hand to harvest the sheep, 4 vils will collect 1500 food/minute. I usually have them cutting a straggler tree, or on berries, when there are no sheep ready.
* If you use 2-3 vils, and have plenty of sheep fattening, you won't need to micro much at all. Fattened sheep will leave the pens in clumps, giving the harvesting vills lots of sheep to work on.
* Keep sheep queued at all times on the hotkeyed pen - you can run through them quickly with fuller'ed vils.
* Keep an eye on your food - if it isn't growing nicely double tap the pen hotkey to see what is happening.


Remember, the food gather rate is huge - way better than anything else - making the sheep machine worth trying. It has risks, and takes some planning and practice to transition from hunting to sheep smoothly, but being able to supply your food needs with a handfull of vils while your opponent needs 4-6 times the number of vils farming can be a big advantage.

Your troops will probably be sick of mutton, but victory is sweet

Little_Wing


Oh as I was young and easy in the mercy of his means,
Time held me green and dying
Though I sang in my chains like the sea.
AuthorReplies:
Tarkhan15
Skirmisher
posted 10-09-05 03:07 PM EDT (US)     1 / 18       
All hail the mighty sheep!

Mutton still tastes better than the corn those spaniards have to eat..

XxEmperorxX
Skirmisher
posted 10-09-05 03:08 PM EDT (US)     2 / 18       

Quote:

And 2-3 more later, in a triangle/box. Set the gather point for the pens in the center. That way sheep the are made will find an empty slot on a pen to fatten by themselves.

Unnecassary.....
The sheep you build will auto task to thier own pen, you dont need to set a waypoint...You dont need to build together...

Quote:

* Sheep build very fast, que up all need from one pen.

They build fast, but you only want to build 10 per pen...why que up 30 at one pen when you can que up 10 at each and have them out much faster...

Other tips:
-have a farm next to your sheep pens, so you can use those villies to go to sheep once fattened and back.
-sheep dont require much micro except tasking villies to them, in fact hunting will probably require more micro because your villies often stand around idle when a deer is only half a screen away, requiring you to re-task them. Also need re-tasking to next herd.
-sheep, when fattened are close together so once you select one, chances are they will go through all fattened sheep.
-Superb source of food and some that uses livestock pens could have a huge advantage over someone who doesnt.
-simple to use for massive food.


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CK the Fat
Skirmisher
posted 10-09-05 03:24 PM EDT (US)     3 / 18       
Sheep can be most useful during transition between age 2 and 3, I find.

Also, good players should be able to handle the micro. If they can, then they've got an instant advantage over someone who is only farming.

Little_Wing
Skirmisher
posted 10-09-05 03:33 PM EDT (US)     4 / 18       
The reason I suggest building pens close is so that sheep have a slot to fatten. If you just build one or two pens, so sheep will stand idle. You need at least three pens, and you might as well put them together to ensure sheep have a pen slot.

As for building all your sheep from one pen, it saves the player time, which is very valuable. Because sheep produce very fast from the pen, in bunches of 5, it makes sense to queue them up at one pen instead of cycling through three pens. Getting the sheep out 6-10 seconds earlier doesn't make any difference, the fattening time is the main thing. I prefer to keep my eye on other things and just que up sheep in one pen with a hotkey, but making sheep at multiple pens works fine.

BTW fishing is a good backup to the sheep machine, often I don't bother farming if possible because the startup costs (mill, plus at least 2 upgrades = 1200 resources) isn't worth it for the downtime of the sheep vils. Instead I have them work berries/wood/gold. The best sustained sheep machine rate is around 1500 food/minute, so you won't need farming if things go well.

Little_Wing


Oh as I was young and easy in the mercy of his means,
Time held me green and dying
Though I sang in my chains like the sea.
Insane Sheep
Skirmisher
posted 10-09-05 03:35 PM EDT (US)     5 / 18       
I use a strategy of hotkeying a group of maybe 3 or 4 villagers from my Mills and when my sheep are nice and fat, I simply hotkey them, shift click all the sheep then back to the Mill. I find it works rather nicely. The herdable gather rate really is incredible though, that's pretty nuts.

Also, if you use Advanced Mills, the cost of setting up a few Mills is much less.


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Oprichniks are the best units in AoE3. Why? It's elementary, they're Horse-riding Russian Pirates, nothing beats Horse-riding Russian Pirates.

[This message has been edited by Insane Sheep (edited 10-09-2005 @ 03:37 PM).]

Kr0n0s
Skirmisher
posted 10-09-05 04:27 PM EDT (US)     6 / 18       
hmm.. expect sheep farming to be nerfed in the first patch.

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XxEmperorxX
Skirmisher
posted 10-09-05 04:56 PM EDT (US)     7 / 18       

Quote:

As for building all your sheep from one pen, it saves the player time, which is very valuable. Because sheep produce very fast from the pen, in bunches of 5, it makes sense to queue them up at one pen instead of cycling through three pens. Getting the sheep out 6-10 seconds earlier doesn't make any difference, the fattening time is the main thing. I prefer to keep my eye on other things and just que up sheep in one pen with a hotkey, but making sheep at multiple pens works fine.

A simple double click on the pens will select them all and then shift-click the sheep icon twice will save even more seconds than shift-clicking 6 times and having the sheep come out at only 5 a time. Shift clicking while having multiple pens/barracks or anything, will que it up in all selected buildings.


Its not over until I beat you sensless with my WTF stick.
The internet - where men are men, women are men, and children are FBI agents.
V:Would you... dance with me?
Evey Hammond: Now? On the eve of your revolution?
V: A revolution without dancing is a revolution not worth having!

[This message has been edited by XxEmperorxX (edited 10-09-2005 @ 04:57 PM).]

aka99
Skirmisher
posted 10-09-05 06:03 PM EDT (US)     8 / 18       
I like the cows better.. more food, just harder to find.
Novoa20
Skirmisher
posted 10-10-05 01:19 AM EDT (US)     9 / 18       
I wonder if you can do the same thing with llamas. Then you'd have a fat llama walking around.
Innovan
Skirmisher
posted 10-10-05 01:45 AM EDT (US)     10 / 18       
No matter how many pens you build, you can have a max of 30 sheep.
nidhog_slayer
Skirmisher
posted 10-10-05 02:15 AM EDT (US)     11 / 18       
if u check british card tables u will see many more cards
about faster gathering for herdables...
Alexandergreat3
Skirmisher
posted 10-10-05 03:20 AM EDT (US)     12 / 18       
Little_Wing,

This is an excellent write-up! Very good analyses.

chumwarm
Skirmisher
posted 10-10-05 06:34 AM EDT (US)     13 / 18       
indeed, i agree...

*turns on AoE3 and starts spawning quadrillion sheep*


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Little_Wing
Skirmisher
posted 10-10-05 01:36 PM EDT (US)     14 / 18       
Thanks, I had fun trying out the British sheep farm. The real limit is of course the fact that you can have a maximum of 30 sheep, as Innovan noted. The sheep fatten at around .81 food/sec, so the top sustained rate is around 1450 food/minute. In practice, less than that, around 900 food/minute.

But you only need 4 vils, while gathering 900 food/minute from upgraded farms takes at least 16-18 vils, and farms cost much, much more to set up.

Little_Wing


Oh as I was young and easy in the mercy of his means,
Time held me green and dying
Though I sang in my chains like the sea.
tster123
Skirmisher
posted 10-10-05 05:43 PM EDT (US)     15 / 18       
my only problem with this is that I was going to use this against people but now everyone knows!
ParCorn
Skirmisher
posted 10-10-05 06:00 PM EDT (US)     16 / 18       

Quote:

I wonder if you can do the same thing with llamas. Then you'd have a fat llama walking around.


Definitely, I hope they do that with the Ottomans.

its fun to make the sheep dance when they are in a giant fat sheepy mass. Once i made 30 fat sheep walk around in a circle and it created a giant sheep hurricane. There was a musketeer in the eye of the hurricane


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Tarkhan15
Skirmisher
posted 10-10-05 06:11 PM EDT (US)     17 / 18       
Of course, traditionally, sheep were farmed for wool, not food, and the wool was then sold. It was actually the backbone of the british economy for a long time (though, that time period would come under Age of Kings, not Aoe3).
Philbo1
Skirmisher
posted 10-10-05 08:02 PM EDT (US)     18 / 18       
I would just buy like 10 sheep and let them fatten as a reserve food source in the late game in case they overwhelmed my defenses and I only escaped a few of my villies, I usually had 3-4 sheep pens scattered around the map.

The RoL forum colors make me sooo hungry.
-Unit Costs for 5-Philbo1-Explorer Micro-
B_E looks like a demented evil smiley.-Botolf

Stonewall Pwns
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