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Topic Subject: The Aztec Scout Slam -- an Envoy Rush, Native Style
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posted 12-16-06 12:29 PM EDT (US)   
This article describes a highly unconventional, even disturbing Aztec strat. (Recorded games may be found here .) What you are about to read may shock you and offend your sensibilities. Prepare yourself. In this article, I will ask you to use a card you've never played, to make a unit you've never created, and to construct a building you've never built.

So if you love weird strats and underdog units, you've come to the right place. If you've ever cheered on an envoy rush, I was cheering right along with you. And if you want to find out what has recently gotten me called a "n00b", cussed out and even drop-tricked, then sit back, relax, and join me as I take you through... the Aztec Scout Slam.

The "Light Infantry" Problem
As we know by now, classic "light infantry" (Aennas, Strelets, Cetan Bowmen, Skirmishers, etc.) tend to dictate the pace of combat in the game. Early on, they are countered only by cavalry-type units or other, more powerful light infantry.

Sounds fine so far, but why not just make cavalry? The problem is that cavalry have pathing issues and lose to their counters hard -- units like Pikemen rip down cavalry with a vengeance. On the other hand, the skirmisher family doesn't die so quickly to cavalry. This means that light infantry with an anti-cav meatshield is one of the "safest", most popular types of force troop mixes around. Ever tried dealing with Cetan \ War Club (and the shipped Axe Riders)? Not exactly a picnic, is it?

Don't you wish there were units that could close in with those Cetans and just... and just punch their lights out? One begins to wonder if such a unit does in fact exist. Ah, dare to dream. But... I suppose it couldn't hurt to look, right?

Looking for a Hero
So let's take a peek at (of all things) the humble "Native Scout." He's a harmless-looking little chap -- he's got no shirt, some cool blue war paint, and looks like he weighs about 120 pounds soaking wet. Here are his stats:
120 HP, 5 melee attack, 5 siege, 5.5 speed, 22 LoS, 10% ranged resist, Cost: 90 wood (180 villager-seconds) (Can stealth)

Pathetic! Clearly this weenie is not the man for the job. 5 damage? So why do I even waste your time bringing this silly unit up for discussion? Because the Aztecs (and other natives) have the Advanced Scout card, which raises Scout hitpoints by 50% and their attack ability by a whopping 200%! You will be able to train these guys from your Town Center for 90 wood a piece. (Problematic on a couple counts, I know, but more on that later.)

Here are the new stats for the new and improved Scout:
180 HP, 15 melee attack, 15 siege, 5.5 speed, 22 LoS, 10% ranged resist, Cost: 90w (180 villager-seconds) (Can stealth)

Let's compare that to the Coyote Runner:
150 HP, 18 melee attack, 11 siege, 6.0 speed, 12 LoS, 10% ranged resist, Cost: 85f, 25w (163 villager-seconds) (Can stealth with card)

That's right -- in a 1v1 fight, advanced Scouts break absolutely even with coyotes. Yet Scouts do not share the usual vulnerabilities to Pikemen, Rodeleros,etc. The cost is slightly higher, and the speed is slightly slower, but aside from that, Scouts stack up well in virtually every category.

Pikemen barely scratch them. They can charge into a pack of skirms \ pikes, throwing punches like an army of skinny little Oscar de la Hoya's. The numbers are right there for your perusal and they do not lead you astray -- when appropriately upgraded, these guys can hurt people.

In addition, a batch of 5 takes only 20 seconds to build. So if you've got the wood, you can get a scout army raised in a serious hurry.

Problems and Solutions
So now that I've convinced you that the Scout might be worth your time, let's address some of the obvious problems. Namely, that these guys must be built from the Town Center and cost 90 wood a piece.

Let's talk econ first. Since the unit costs only one resource, this gives us one major advantage -- wood upgrades will be extremely valuable to us. You can think of a 20% wood upgrade as a nearly 20% increase in the speed at which you produce scouts. The next wood upgrade? Another great boost. So we'll need to shoot for constant vill production, native wood upgrades ASAP (for a total bonus of +40% wood gathering), and lots of people on wood.

So on to the next question -- how do we produce these TC-only units without halting villager production and running your economy into the ground? The secret? The Native Embassy.

For those who've never used it, the Native Embassy allows you to build any native unit available to you on the map. Any allied minor natives can deliver units to any Embassy that you've placed. Luckily for you, Scouts fall into that category. Native Embassies cost 100 wood, but can only be built after you capture a minor native TP.

So basically, what do we need to do?

  1. Get to colonial with a good economy.
  2. Not get killed by a rush.
  3. Get lots of wood upgrades and lots of wood choppers.
  4. Capture a native TP.
  5. Build a native embassy.
  6. Make lots and lots of scouts.
  7. Punch things.
  8. Make other units too. Find more things that need punching. See step 7.

There you go! I've told you most of what you need to know to get started. I can give you a sample build order that I've been using lately, but many varieties will work. I welcome your suggestions for improvement!

Sample Build Order
Note: All vill numbers are for villagers only, not for total pop. For example, 18 vills means a pop of 19/20 for 18 vills + a Warrior Priest.

  1. 2 vills hunt, 2 vills to food crates, 1 vill to wood crate.
  2. Lay firepit, house, and perform fertility dance.
  3. All vills to food, age with 17-18 vills. Use the Messenger politician. Switch to gift dance (a step I manage to forget about half the time.)
  4. Important! Do not take unnecessary risks with your War Chief. If he dies, you will fall behind. Find your favorite local native TP and get close to it.
  5. Put 7 vills on food, 7-9 vills on wood 2-4 vills on gold. The number of vills on gold is decided by how close you are to wood chopping upgrades. The first costs 100f, 150g and the second costs 150f, 235g. Each grants a 20% increase in wood chopping.
  6. Ship 10 macehualtins when you hit colonial. Harass with them, but don't get them killed. Keep up with housing and vill production. Do not slip on this. You need wood and you need it fast. The vills must keep coming.
  7. Ship Advanced Scouts as soon as it is available.
  8. Once you have 250w free, build a native TP with your War Chief. Choose one whose units or technology you would potentially like to use down the line.
  9. When the native TP completes, build a Native Embassy, either forward if you're attacking or right at home if you are defending. It only costs 100w, so is easily spammed.
  10. Make scouts from the embassy. 5 can be built every 20 seconds. Attack and harass. Once you get a large enough group, attack large forces of light infantry fearlessly.
  11. Play econ cards such as 5 villagers, 3 trading posts, exotic hardwoods (for a total of +60% wood gathering), 3 Warrior Priests, etc.
  12. Diversify your econ as you see fit.

An alternative, perhaps more rush-proof build order is to keep your Warrior Priest on gift dance from the beginning of the match, and then age with 15-16 villagers. You can then instead ship 10 + 9 macehualtins and delay your Advanced Scout shipment.

The required cards are:

  • 3 Villagers
  • 10 Macehualtins
  • Advanced Scouts

    Recommended cards:

  • 9 Macehualtins
  • 6 Puma Spearmen
  • 5 villagers
  • Exotic Hardwoods (+20% wood chopping)
  • 3 Warrior Priests
  • 3 Trading Posts

    Do you have any recorded games? Yes, you will see them if you scroll to the bottom -- there are five posted. You can also download them here .

    WTF! I mean... Scouts? I know.

    Come on, is a scout really that powerful? What if I make Rodeleros all day long like I usually do? Won't I pwn you then, u n00b? Scouts stand up surprisingly well to rods. Scouts kill rods in 15 hits, rods kill scouts in 14. If you have a gang of 10-19 macehualtin backing your scouts up, you can shred rods.

    What have you inflicted on the community? Do these things have any counters at all? Don't you care about the non-native players?? Yes, they can be countered. If you download the game pack, check the game against Walker. He is the only player that has so far attempted to build a hard counter for scouts (quite impressive as he has only had the x-pack for a few days.) Since Scouts are classified as "Native" troops, spies act as a hard counter for them. If your opponent doesn't know this, well... life is much more difficult for them.

    How about falconets? Yes, artillery can be quite a threat! You certainly won't want to hang around and get blasted. I'll just address the case where you are in colonial and your opponent is in fortress, as in fortress v fortress matches, Arrow Knights are the obvious choice. I'll also assume that you have been attacking your opponent throughout his FF to slow him up and that you have a large contingent of scouts by the time his cannons are out. (You have been harrassing an FFer, haven't you? If not, start today!)

    Trick number one is to always be attacking so that if those cannons come out of the TC you can just mob them. If they are not properly shielded, his shipment goes down the tubes.

    Trick number two (the fun one) is to try to kill the enemy explorer at some point before battle commences, go into stealth mode, and walk right up to the cannons. Since scouts do 15 per shot, it takes 14 punches to kill a cannon. If you close the distance, they don't have a prayer. Walk right up to them and punch each one. Don't worry about anything else but those cannon until they are dead. Then either run or punch your way out. (I perform this in the game vs. Russia from the game pack.)

    It can also be a question of where the cannons are. You have all the line of sight and all the speed. If his cannons are turtling in his base, you can simply circle like a shark, harrass, and boom until you are fortress yourself. If his cannons are slowly trundling toward your base, he has to keep them protected at all times. You have the opportunity to raid his vills, stealth-raid his cannons or whatever else you might like to do. Overall, the journey of getting cannons to your base is fraught with peril, so you have a little time. Don't take forever though!

    Any other hard counters? Lancers, spahi, and cuirassiers are all pretty hard counters (especially lancers.) But don't be fooled -- small numbers of each can be mobbed by a huge number of scouts. Even so, I recommend employing anti-cav for these situations. I know of no other hard counters, but most cavalry units (and rodeleros) at least break even with scouts. I do not believe native civs have any hard counters to scouts. They are in general not easy to counter at all, particularly if you do not see them coming.

    Recorded Games
    You can download the Scout Slam Game Pack here. This is a rundown of the included games:

    ScoutSlamVPorts.age3rec -- This rec is against Walker's Portuguese and shows just how annoying this can be against even the best-executed FF. He takes the honor of being the first opponent to figure out that spies are a hard counter for scouts.

    ScoutSlamVRussia.age3rec -- A game against strelet spam. Notice how much sturdier scouts are against muskets (compared to coyotes.)

    ScoutSlamVOttoFF.age3rec -- A game against an Otto FF, using the 19-macehualtin build. This game shows why I really like to carry the 6-puma shipment. Spahis are inevitable and a bit problematic for scouts. Notice, though, that if catch them out alone, scouts are capable of handling straggler Spahi very well.

    ScoutSlamVSioux.age3rec -- This rec is unfortunately a bit ownage (the macehualtins do more damage than they should), but does illustrate the build against Sioux.

    ObsoleteScoutSlamVSioux.age3rec -- This rec shows a completely obsolete, experimental build order, but the one valuable thing about it is that it shows Cetan spam get reamed by Scouts. A fun recording to watch as you get to see Scouts K.O. Cetans, Axe Riders, and even Dog Soldiers.

    GL HF
    Hopefully this gives you a good picture of what this strat is all about, but please feel free to ask any questions you have. I welcome feedback on any aspect of the strat and I'd love to hear about any experiences you have while trying it out. Good luck and thanks for reading!

    Thanks to Garlef and Septimus for feedback and ideas on the strat, and to Walker for post-game feedback (and not reporting my h4x to ES.) Thanks to Destiny_Devil for taking Scouts for a spin in team games. And of course thanks as always to MNBob for his unit sheets!

    - BWKiC - A British Fast Fortress strategy
    - The Aztec Scout Slam- An Envoy Rush, Native-Style

    [This message has been edited by Beatnik Joe (edited 12-22-2006 @ 09:57 AM).]

  • Replies:
    posted 09-05-07 04:42 PM EDT (US)     201 / 215  
    a sioux player tried this against me earlier on, but largely innefectively.

    He made about 15 early, and as i went raiding with 10 muskets, I saw his natives run past. However he didnt attack for another few minutes, by which time I had gone gold heavy econ and pumped out spies. The spies are not as effective as they once were, but still wtfpwn scouts. I cannot understand why a sioux would scout slam a european civ, with so many better options at their disposal.

    Take heed, the damage multiplier nerf on spies is not a boost for the scout slam. The scout slam was devised to counter OTHER native civs. You will still get owned if you try this against a euro civ....

    ESO2 - Crashtest

    "I don't have 3 hours to break through your 50 layers of walls to kill you.
    Real men play without walls." LordKivlov
    posted 09-06-07 00:21 AM EDT (US)     202 / 215  
    Um, I always attack early, no idea what that retard was doing not attacking... and I don't believe that this strat gets owned by euros... nobody expects it. I guess its different at higher levels,but it still works wonders as an MS.
    posted 09-06-07 02:54 AM EDT (US)     203 / 215  
    i agree at 2nd lt lvl it owns all euros ive played against. (exept dutch) and now it beats spanish better aswell since rods are nerfed
    i like aztec style better still though cuz u get 3x xp now
    downloading patch now and i want to check and see if the fire pit still enhances wc auror or not since it did before. also what does souix do for a rush straight away like 10 jans before u got enough scouts? cuz souix didnt ship any counter as col shipment..
    posted 09-06-07 09:18 AM EDT (US)     204 / 215  
    three cheers for only 40 damage in 1.04!That has made this strat even MORE viable. However, I would like to present the new champion of the native scout slam... the sioux!
    Wow, looks like a sweet build order! Kudos, I really like the addition of the TP shipment boost and Native Treaties. Thanks a lot for sharing it.
    Take heed, the damage multiplier nerf on spies is not a boost for the scout slam. The scout slam was devised to counter OTHER native civs. You will still get owned if you try this against a euro civ....
    I can certainly appreciate why you'd feel this way -- natives really have no direct counter, so they are at a particular disadvantage versus massed scouts. I still scout slammed Euros all the time anyhow, mostly because it's really, really fun. It's surprising -- many never bother or know to build spies. Others only do so at a point where I have the econ to go mace\scout and target their spies with ranged units while swarming the church (their sole spy production center.) Still others put the church up too early and I switch to another strat entirely.

    Having said that, I still agree that spies are the best Euro counter and are normally very effective, particularly when you've lost the element of surprise! This strat is primarily meant to surprise the heck out of your opponents -- that's both the power and the fun of it.

    To demonstrate just how obsessed I am with scouts, see my top 2 units built:
    Native Scout26524

    So yes, I am an equal opportunity scout slammer.
    also what does souix do for a rush straight away like 10 jans before u got enough scouts? cuz souix didnt ship any counter as col shipment..
    Right, this is a good question for Sioux. As Aztecs, I tended to utilize a turtle variant of the Scout Slam if I felt in danger of a rush, but Sioux would have to use a different approach. Not sure whether their food boost makes them fast enough that they no longer need to worry about this as much but I imagine it's still a big issue for them.

    Ultimately, I continue to believe that Iroquois are the most dangerous civ that can employ this strategy. Now that they've been nerfed in 1.04, I plan to put this belief to the test.

    - BWKiC - A British Fast Fortress strategy
    - The Aztec Scout Slam- An Envoy Rush, Native-Style
    posted 09-07-07 02:02 AM EDT (US)     205 / 215  
    I am wondering at the minute why is scouts training time so short. I used this yesterday and i think your first attack of about 10 maces and 10 scouts is pretty weak but as the game goes on longer the better it becomes.

    ~#~#~ ESO: bacon~#~#~

    Favorite Civs: China, Germans, Aztec

    PR Rank: Master Sergeant.
    posted 09-07-07 11:25 AM EDT (US)     206 / 215  
    I was using muskets and spies in the most recent game I was slammed, and he was using mainly scouts along with cetans(not sure if this was a shipment). I actually felt happy to let my muskets fight it out with the scouts and found the spies to effectively murder the cetans.

    I'm not sure how effective the spies would be vs mace, but i would imagine it would be similar...

    ESO2 - Crashtest

    "I don't have 3 hours to break through your 50 layers of walls to kill you.
    Real men play without walls." LordKivlov
    posted 09-07-07 01:39 PM EDT (US)     207 / 215  
    I recently got the assassins card for my French HC after getting owned by a scout slam. So glad

    Just call me Robert.
    My Massgate
    posted 09-07-07 03:03 PM EDT (US)     208 / 215  
    Last time that I had gotten slammed was by an iro while i was aztec, and aztec have no counter for scouts except jpk and i was still in 2(I had all the bbs)toma/scouts just beat me to a pulp, rather pathetic.

    Get your hands on a hot pan, a minute can seem like an hour. Get your hands on a hot woman, an hour can seem like a minute.
    (\__/) This is bunny.
    (O.o ) Copy him in your signature to
    (> < ) help him conquer the world!
    posted 09-30-07 08:03 PM EDT (US)     209 / 215  
    ok, since ive read this strat a couple weeks ao, ive had a TON of fun with it, however... @#$%$ walls! set up a wall or two and ur done for! I just played a russian today and was happily beating his little strelets to death (along with some cossacks) and i destroy his fb, his back at home blockhouse, AND stable, but his minute men combined with another shippemtn of cossacks ended my first rush. When i came back a shortly after with around 45 scouts, he had 2 walls set up. So half my scouts get killed taking it down, adn the other half are killed soon after. When my 3rd batch of scouts arrive, hes in fortress with 2 falconets, which of course blow my little scouts to pieces while they are behind the wall. So my question is, how do deal with this? Until that game, i thought this scout rush was as awesome as everyone makes it out to be. But unless ive done something TERRIBLY wrong, it sucks against anyone smart enough to get a wall up when they see ur scouts. Help anyone?

    BTW i have the recorded game if it helps. Also, the map was andes. There was only one entrance to his base, which he walled up. Maybe i just shouldnt try this on andes?

    non-supporter of gay "marriage"

    "im a lance corporal, so? ive beaten iamgrunt" -agecommuntity

    "wielder is correct" - MrMilo

    [This message has been edited by wielderOfNarya (edited 10-04-2007 @ 12:55 PM).]

    posted 09-30-07 08:11 PM EDT (US)     210 / 215  
    it seems obvious to say this, but pumas do a great job of sieging. So use a small group of them to break down the walls.

    Im not going to bother watching the rec game, but as you said, you destroyed a lot of his buildings etc. In this situation, you should keep harrassing him with small groups of spies. Attack his settlers and try to prevent him massing enough to progress to fortress.
    Don't wait until you have a large group of scouts before attacking; you should send them as they are built and keep him pinned in. Just a few scouts could have stopped him building the wall. You don't have to wait until you have 45 scouts. Go see what 5 scouts can do. Remember that you do not have to go straight for the jugular, you can do great damage just by making him garrison some settlers.

    ESO2 - Crashtest

    "I don't have 3 hours to break through your 50 layers of walls to kill you.
    Real men play without walls." LordKivlov
    posted 10-04-07 01:00 PM EDT (US)     211 / 215  
    Actually i had made a few (10 + 6puma shipment) but they still got killed by cannons.

    Are there any recent replays? Yes, i know, i know, there are tons of them out there, but the thing is, i cant play them Halfway through the game, it says "out of sync with original game". So are there any scout rush replays recorded in the latest version? (i dont which one it is...) I really need it, because this strat is really destroying my rank...

    EDIT: ok guys. i just finished another game against a russian on andes. I also have the rec. Same scnenario: he builds walls, and i lose, though this time i played the scout slam MUCH better. HELP PLEEZ! id like a few recs from the current version.

    non-supporter of gay "marriage"

    "im a lance corporal, so? ive beaten iamgrunt" -agecommuntity

    "wielder is correct" - MrMilo

    [This message has been edited by wielderOfNarya (edited 10-05-2007 @ 07:32 PM).]

    posted 10-08-07 07:54 AM EDT (US)     212 / 215  
    Hi Narya! Okay, let's break this wall problem down.

    The first rule on walls (and I realize that this doesn't count on the version of Andes that includes a river) is to go around if at all possible. Walls are very expensive to kill compared to their cost for building\replacement\repair. So getting around them or pestering your opponent from the outside is a better option (if you can pull it off.) So that's the first angle of attack -- always go around and try to pin your opponent into the area that he has defined by his walls.

    Okay, now let's assume that this is one of those maps where it's very easy to wall up and keep your opponent out of your side of the base. It's actually very common for Russia to do this, as Sevastopol makes her a stellar wall-spammer. If this is the situation you're in, any rush at all may be the wrong tactic. Adjusting tactics according to game circumstances will be a big help in general. In 1.03, I would have advised performing an FF to ERK \ Arrow Knight spam. In 1.04, the Aztec fortress military and economy took a very large nerf, so I'm no longer sure how well something like that could work.

    Typically, when I faced a player who was turtling in, I'd Warrior Priest \ fertility boom while creating scouts as quickly as I could. I'd keep up the harassment, trying to lose only small amounts of scouts at a time. Once I had a good number for siege, I made sure to "clump" the spot where I wanted to siege (in stealth), enabled attack dance a couple of seconds before striking, then sieged hard, hopefully before a lot of troops arrived. If the player has cannons behind their walls, then you simply have no choice but to go to the fortress age and utilize Arrow Knights to lay siege. No colonial army can realistically win in such a situation.

    If you're not currently "clumping" your troops around your siege target before you begin the actual siege, I'd suggest giving it a try. It keeps them from blocking each other out of siege range and leads to a much more efficient siege process. Use stealth to safely set up the clump. And obviously attack dance is always essential!

    I don't have any recorded games from this latest version -- I consider the Aztecs a bugged civ without Warrior Priest auto-tasking to the firepit, so I'm using other civs at the moment. If you post a recorded game I'll be happy to take a look at it and see if I can offer any pointers. Good luck!

    - BWKiC - A British Fast Fortress strategy
    - The Aztec Scout Slam- An Envoy Rush, Native-Style

    [This message has been edited by Beatnik Joe (edited 10-08-2007 @ 07:57 AM).]

    posted 10-08-07 10:21 AM EDT (US)     213 / 215  

    I remember when they said " envoy rush it will never work" this kind of strat is surprisingly good... kind of thing you would heard in the daily show with jon stuart and laugh about, but if you think about it it makes sense....
    I am stupefied

    And the 50 thousand Janissarys came upon the byzantine walls Constantinople and the byzantine empire were about to end..
    posted 10-09-07 12:39 PM EDT (US)     214 / 215  
    thx joe. exactly the kind of help i was looking for

    ok now i have a little story to tell. I just did a team game 3vs3 with my clan, i had an iro and otto team mate, and the opponents were ducth, german, and british. My allies knew i was going to scout rush, so they stayed at home a bit, booming while i kept harrassing with my scouts to keep the oppojent on defensive, and at about 8 mins we had all the opponets walled in nearly completely and their fbs deatroyed. It was little funny how the ducth tried to envoy rush me, but he didnt do it very well becuase he sent all his envoys afte rmy explorer, he didnt suceed in kiling him so he went after my warrior priest. All i did was garision him with a couple vills and the envoys were shot dead in a matter seconds. (so much for their little envoy rush. now lets see how they deal with mine! muah-ah-ah!) well i wont go through it all, but eventually we won. my iro pal brought in tommies and seiege, and the otto brought in, well, jans and albus. I had a few stealthed spies all over the mp so io knew exactly when a raid was coming, which resulted in 2 total vils lost on our side. With stealth, the brits lbows were no match for my scouts, so i quickly killed him off then went raid another enemy. The iro would follow up with siege and raze his town and fort and stuff like that. So we repeated the process- i raid, leave while the iro seieges, and over and over until we won. So it seems to me as this is a great team strategy as well as 1vs1. watta u guys think?

    non-supporter of gay "marriage"

    "im a lance corporal, so? ive beaten iamgrunt" -agecommuntity

    "wielder is correct" - MrMilo

    [This message has been edited by wielderOfNarya (edited 10-10-2007 @ 11:35 PM).]

    posted 10-09-07 01:39 PM EDT (US)     215 / 215  
    haha i was just reading posts on this strat at agecommunity.

    There were many calls to have this nerfed and most people who have done it have been accused of cheating. Absolutely genius.

    ESO2 - Crashtest

    "I don't have 3 hours to break through your 50 layers of walls to kill you.
    Real men play without walls." LordKivlov

    [This message has been edited by scriv1984 (edited 10-09-2007 @ 01:40 PM).]

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