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Portuguese Water Turtle Boom

            By [ES]Swinger               5/8/06, AoE3 v1.06, Author's Rating: 2200+


Turtle: Strategy whereby the player forgoes military buildup and instead focuses on defensive buildings, creating a “turtle” shell from which to eventually out-tech their opponent.

Quite often in Real Time Strategy land, a true turtle strategy is ineffective, by design. Its not terribly fun just trying to destroy buildings and walls as the object of the game is to fight. That being said though, the Portuguese have what I would consider to be the truest turtle of any of the civilizations in Age III (or arguably in any of the Age games actually). Combine that with the awesome power of Schooners, and the Portuguese have the power to play extremely defensively, while at the same time out-doing their opponent economically.

Attached to this article is a recorded game whereby I demonstrate many of the key concepts necessary to pull this off. My deck for this game consists of this:

  • Tier I: Colonial Militia, Improved Buildings, Schooners
  • Tier II: 700 food, 700 wood, 6 Musketeers, Adv. Arsenal, Church Card, Rendering Plant, 2 Caravels, Improved Warships
  • Tier III: 8 Cassadores, 2 organ guns, Fort, 3 Caravels, 1 Frigate, 5 Mamelukes
  • Tier IV: Gunpowder Infantry Combat, Factory, Factory

    An Example Deck.

    So, what are the overall themes to this strategy?

    1) Portugal has an extra town center on reaching the colonial age. This is huge, as it provides an extremely strong forward base/tower in conjunction with the other cards.
    2) Improved buildings means its takes that much longer for your opponent to knock your buildings down.
    3) Schooners means you can boom from 2 docks with only about 8 villagers on wood.
    4) Colonial Militia means your boosted town center's can send extra minutemen (which are basically your entire armed forces in the early stages) and do 50% more damage to anything attacking them.

    The whole overall strategy consists of sitting back and playing as defensive with your buildings as you possibly can, while at the same time booming behind the lines. You're trading ground for time. Eventually, you will out-boom and out-tech your opponent and crush him in late age III or IV. I will explain, with screenshots, each of the components of the strategy and how it all comes together into the overall pic1ture.

    You want to be aging up by 13 villagers – I will usually eat any sheep I find right away in order to make sure to get there; the sooner you can get to age II the better. I sent the schooners card as my first home city card in this shot as well.

    As soon as you have your 800 food, shift almost all of your villagers to wood as you need to get your first dock up right away. I try to have a few villagers on food as well so that I can buy my first villager once I reach age II, and possibly, so that I can get the woodcutting upgrade right away.

    For my second card, I send Improved Buildings - I need my buildings to last longer, which will become obviously necessary as the game goes on.

    I now have my first dock up by around 4:20 and have started making my first 40 wood fishing boat.

    As soon as you hit age II, send your bonus town center right to the shoreline. This 1) provides a first line of defense for your main base and 2) provides a free tower on the coast to defend your fishing. Also notice with my 3rd card I am getting colonial militia. This will allow me to send extra minutemen, and gives my town center 50% more damage, which is great for killing cannons. I have also started building my second dock at this point to maximize my fish boom.

    While this is different for every map of course, I decided at this point to get the Cree natives. Since I'm already gathering a lot of wood for my fishing boats, this shifts over naturally to their high wood cost. Also, the tech that gives all of my units 5% improved HP is great as well.

    With my 4th card I send the 2 Caravels. You NEED to protect your fishing, and you want to have them out there sooner rather than later. Also, they provide two extra fishing boats. Finally, by moving them close to the shore, they provide excellent makeshift cannons if your opponent decides to attack your forward town center on the coast – they are also good at shooting enemy cannons. Note that my opponent has reached Fortress and is now advancing on me.

    At this point I noticed my opponent was wisely bypassing my forward town center and heading straight to my main base instead. I immediately started building first one, then two towers behind my town center to help kill the pikemen I knew were coming. You don't want them in front of your town center, because then his cannons can shoot them down.

    Because I have improved buildings, it takes a long time to kill anything. I waited until he was committed to attacking my town center, and then I cast my large group of minutemen to kill off his pikes while my town center shot at his cannons.

    As soon as he briefly retreated to kill off my minutemen, I immediately began repairing my town center. By the time he returned for his second wave, it was at almost 75% health again, up from 20%. The minutemen again gave him a brief pause, allowing me even more time.

    At this point my deck looks like this. I have both of the improved fishing techs at my dock, and the improved fishing card from my home city. All the while, I have also been building fishing boats, so even though I have had 10 villagers inside my town center shooting at him, my econ continues to outpace his.

    Here you can see the advantage to already having my 2 caravels out. My 2 ships are able to fight his off, with most of my fishing not missing a beat.

    Here is his next wave in my base. At this point, I've just reached fortress, and am letting him bang against my houses while I continue to boom and start an army behind my lines. Even though he has a larger army than mine, it doesn't mean much because he can't do anything with it. If you look at the mini-map, he controls roughly 90% of the land map, but I still have the edge.

    Here's where the mamelukes come in handy. It's spendy getting that 1000 gold, but they are great at taking down the enemy cannons. Again, the whole point of this strategy is buying time, which they do an admirable job of.

    Back to my deck up to this point: I have just sent the church card so that I can get the Port unique tech, which improves my mill rate by 20%, while lowering everything else by 5%. This tech is especially good for me because it doesn't affect fishing at all. My fishing has run out, so now I've switched entirely to whales, giving me all the gold I need and then some. So, this card basically is giving me 20% better farming for -5% wood gathering. Also, the Bestieros and Tower and Sword Riders can be very handy if you have the wood for them.

    Along with the thought above, I have now started milling as my fishing has run out. I'm also about to send the advanced arsenal cards for the infantry and artillery bonuses they provide.

    Now off to age IV. I have 91 villagers, with full econ techs, to his 67 or so. I also have more resources than I can spend and 2 cards ready to send my factories once I reach age IV.

    Here come the Tower and Sword riders to finish the job and the game is over.

    So, how do you beat this strat? Well, there are several weaknesses.

    1) Tower the coast. If there are towers all along it, the port player cannot fish…it takes a lot of ships to knock out the towers, thus ruining the entire economic advantage.
    2) Fight the water. In conjunction with the towers, if you build a navy and keep the port player off the water, using it yourself instead, you will more than likely win. The Portuguese are still one of the slowest civs.
    3) More cannons. My opponent in this game was making a lot of skirms. If he had used his resources instead to make cannons, it would have helped a lot. The boosted town center can handle 2 or 3 cannons, plus the pikes…however, 5 or 6 cannons and pikes means your town center is going down. Once the first town center goes down and they're in your base, you're dead.
    4) Super fast ottoman rush. If you can have janissaries in their base by the time they age up, around 4:45 thus killing the 2nd town center as it tries to be built, the Ottoman player will win. This is why aging up ASAP is crucial with Port players, you can't put anyone to wood until you have started aging up.

    There you go! Give it a shot yourself and see how you do.

                By [ES]Swinger               5/8/06, AoE3 v1.06, Author's Rating: 2200+