Most veteran Rise of Nations players are aware that Patriots / Generals are an essential addition to an army at virtually every stage of the game.
Among less experienced players, it can be common to see these units conspicuously absent within an army, greatly reducing the army’s overall strength. However, even when included in an army, their full potential is often left untapped, and strong tactical maneuvers (..and exceedingly entertaining cheese strategies) are not utilised.
Let’s run through the fundamentals and then move onto some more advanced uses for these powerful units.
Unique units are generally intended to be a stronger version of the unit they replace. They typically have superior stats and/or are cheaper or faster to produce. A few (such as American Marines) gain a unique ability.
The Korean-specific Royal Hwarang, which replace Crossbowmen, have +10 hit points and +2 attack strength. Despite these benefits, Royal Hwarang actually lose a fight to an equal number of Crossbowmen.
Fire Lances, a Chinese unique unit, are one of the strongest units in the game on paper. Compared to the Elite Javelineers which they replace, they boast +1 attack strength, +4 attack range, +3 line of sight, and a +33% damage boost against all units because they qualify as being gunpowder infantry. Despite their vastly superior damage, they usually only just outperform Elite Javelineers in non-melee combat when you discount their range and line of sight advantage.
This concept is applicable near universally: games, economics, computer parts, whatever. If the category exists, the things within it are almost certain to be roughly balanced.
For “quick and dirty” comparisons between two things, this concept is incredibly valuable to understand. When you just need to know roughly whether something’s worthwhile, you can save a lot of time by keeping the deep analysis for later.
4 Dragoons will beat 2 Dragoons twice and then some.
An army that is twice as powerful as its opposition — whether due to size, unit upgrades, General/Patriot buffs or something else — can deal with a half-strength army more than twice. An army that is ten times as powerful (think Machine Guns vs Crossbows or something) can face the tenth-strength army a near-infinite amount of times in practical terms.
The application of an army’s power against an opposing force does not scale linearly with the army’s apparent power. Whenever you increase an army’s strength, you increase its fighting capability by more than what you added. Army strength increases non-linearly.
As of writing this article, I have played only three games of Rise of Nations against human opponents other than my friends. Crucially important in this distinction is that my friends are all less experienced players than me: the friend I have played against the most started playing the game just two months ago. I helped him learn basic economic optimisations (don’t rush a temple on your first city there friendo), serviceable army compositions (anti-tank rifles when facing completely infantry: never again), and other core game concepts.
Until two months ago, I had only played against a human opponent in Rise of Nations once or twice.
First, the strat: use a compact team of Elite Special Forces and Assault Infantry under the cover of a General’s Ambush to instantly capture the enemy’s capital with no warning. Combined with the Super Collider and World Government, this eliminates the enemy player within seconds of your Elite Special Forces becoming visible, and provides no obvious visual or audio queue for your opponent to react to until it’s too late.
Although difficult to accomplish, this is a cheese strat I find quite rewarding to pull off. I imagine it would also be somewhat tilting to lose against, because to some players it’ll feel as though there’s no counter (which for the record I don’t think is true).