By PF2K on Jul 23, 2019 at 8:08 PM
  1. PF2K

    PF2K Lead Artist | PvP Balance Team Lead
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    Before we could build even one Roman building or unit, we had to decide what buildings and units they had. Previously, we discussed how we approached designing the 18 Roman buildings. HERE. Now that we are beginning to reveal more and more Roman units each week, we want to provide you with some context for their design, as well.

    Just like with buildings, we started our unit design by first analyzing what everyone could agree on: the designs of the Original 6 Civs. In the game files, every unit is categorized as either a Common Unit, a Military Unit, a Unique Unit, or a Scout. This can be pretty dense reading, so please buckle up.

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    Common Units: Just like Common Buildings, every civilization in AoEO shares the same Common Units. There are four Common Units: Villagers, Caravans, Fishing Boats, and Merchant Transport Ships. Though these units can have small statistical differences in different Civs, to date, no Civ has anything particularly unique with any of them.

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    Military Units: Almost every other unit in the game is a Military Unit, and so most of our analysis focuses on these units. They include all Land Military, Siege, Priests, and Ships.

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    Unique Units: In rare situations, a Civ can have an extra unit that is neither a Military Unit nor one of the Common Units. There are currently three in the game: the Celtic Sacred Deer, the Babylonian Ox Cart, and the Norse Raven.


    The total number of units varies among the Civs and ranges from 19 (Celts) to 24 (Norse). However, since the four Common Units and Scouts are essentially identical in every Civ, in designing the Romans, we focus primarily on the Military Units (and in small part, the Unique Units).

    The game files describe Military Units in three ways: their Class, their Role, and their Attack Type.

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    Classes: There are six different Classes of Military Units in Age of Empires Online: Infantry, Archer, Cavalry, Siege, Priest, and Ship. (You will see below that our analysis adds a 7th Class for those three Unique Units, as well.)

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    Roles: In addition to being a member of a single Class, each unit also has one of 13 different Roles:
    • Basic (e.g. Sparabara, Bowman, Asabara, Trireme)
    • Anti-Infantry (e.g. Hypaspist, Axeman)
    • Anti-Archer (e.g. Slingers, Carpentom)
    • Anti-Cavalry (e.g. Spearman, Camel Riders, Podromos)
    • Ranged (e.g. Mounted Archer)
    • Heavy (e.g. Cataphract, Champion, Sapper, Berserker, Chief)
    • Ram (e.g. Ram and Siege Tower)
    • RangedSiege (e.g. Catapults, Ballista, War Wagon, Catapult Trireme)
    • Trebuchet (e.g. Palintonon, Stone Thrower)
    • HealOnly (e.g. Priestess of Ra, Druid)
    • Unique (e.g. Priest of Set, Unique Units)
    • Convert (e.g. Priest of Ptah, Magus)
    • Anti-Ship (e.g. Ram Ship and Fire Ship)
    Note: Certainly any unit can be balanced to have more than one role (an Anti-Cavalry Camel Rider may also be effective against Archers, for example), but for Unit design purposes, it is helpful to see that the original Devs creates the Civs with a specific Role in mind for each Unit. Therefore, in designing the Romans, we do the same.

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    Attack Type: Every unit is assigned one of four different Attack Types: Melee, Ranged, Both (such as Immortals), or None (such as most Priests).

    Note: The "None" attack type refers to being able to attack enemy military units and does not include Priests' ability to attack and kill huntable animals.


    Overall, the 7 Classes, 13 Roles, and 4 Attack Types combine for many dozens of possible permutations of Units. So in order to get a handle on how to choose among them, we summarized this information for each Civ and spotted patterns. We don’t have space to go through everything, but let’s take the Greeks as an example since they are considered by most the "baseline" civilization.

    Here are the Greek Classes sorted by which Age they become available:

    Chart_4_-_Greek_Number_of_Units_per_Age.png
    Here are the Greek Unit Roles again sorted by Age:

    Chart_6_-_Number_of_Greek_Unit_Roles_per_Age.png

    And the Greek Unit Attack Types:

    Chart_2_-_Greek_Unit_Attack_Types.png

    For example, in Age 1 (top row of each chart) there is just one unit available, an Infantry unit that is AntiCav with a Melee attack (the Spearman).

    By Age 2, the Greeks add four more units for a total of five: a second Infantry (the Hypaspist), an Archer (Toxotes), Cavalry (Sari), and Ship (Trireme). By Age 4, the Greeks have 3 Infantry, 3 Archers, 3 Cav, 3 Siege, 1 Priest, and 3 Ships, which combine for 6 Melee, 9 Ranged and 1 Unit that does not Attack (the Priest).

    We made charts like this for each of the six Civs. Then to detect some overall design patterns, we created a composite chart that took the average, min, and max numbers for the civs.

    Here is the composite chart for the Unit Classes of all six existing civs:

    Chart_3_-_Average_Number_of_Units_per_Age.png

    Let’s look again at Age 1. You can see that every single civ has a single Age 1 Infantry. The only other Age 1 unit in the game is the Babylonian Ox Cart. In Age 2, on average every civ gets an additional Infantry plus an Archer and a Cav (though there is some deviation – the Celts have no Age 2 Cavalry. (The Celts arguably balance out because their Druid is available that early.) In Age 2, Civs have somewhere between 5 and 7 of these units available. (These are in addition to the four Common Units, which are all available by Age 2.)

    By Age 4, the total number of Military and Unique units varies between 14 (Celts) and 18 (Norse). On average, every Civ has about 4 infantry, though Egypt has only two and the Norse have six.

    Here is the composite for Unit Role:

    Chart_5_-_Average_Number_of_Unit_Roles_per_Age.png

    Here is the composite for Attack Type:

    Chart_1_-_Average_Unit_Attack_Types.png

    So for example, on average, each civ has 7 ranged units, but one civ has just five (Celts) and another civ has as many as nine (Greeks). You can really get lost in these charts, and they provide an excellent framework to measure whether our proposed Roman Unit roster fits into the game. That doesn’t mean the Romans must be boring. Obviously we retain the right to do new things with them. In fact, every civ pushes the minimums and maximums of a few categories, and the Romans should be no different. It would be no fun if they felt like a perfectly average civ with nothing wild about them. So this analysis is more than just looking at averages. We also looked at the frequency of category outliers in the Original 6 civs, etc. We need the Romans to feel like an AoEO Civ while also expanding into new territory.

    For instance, in Age 1, we see there is a rebuttable presumption that a new civ have a single Age 1 Spearman. Though we can certainly go a different direction (like the Persian Sparabara), but if we do so, then that civ would almost certainly need to have at least one Anti-Cavalry unit no later than Age 2. Since most civs have an Age 2 Cav unit, they’d need a counter.

    Similarly, if we give a unit an Attack Type of Both (melee and ranged), in order to keep some balance, we likely want to limit the civ to no more than one Age 3 unit (which is exactly what we are doing with the Centurion).

    Finally, we also observed a unit design rule whereby if a building trains new units (or technologies) in more than one age, then it trains them in successive ages without ever skipping an age. This is a subtle but super important point. In other words, if a building trains a new unit in Age 2, then it would never skip Age 3 and have the next new unit available only in Age 4. So if the Barracks has an Age 3 Unit, you know it also has an Age 2 Unit. And if a Dock has an Age 4 Ship, it always has an Age 3 Ship, etc. Now this rule is less about overall unit choice and balancing and more about creating a tight, intuitive civ design. And it’s much harder than it sounds to pull off. It’s really tempting to ignore this rule because it creates a hurdle that doesn’t at first seem all that important. I mean, what’s the harm really if a Stable has an Age 2 and Age 4 Unit but skips Age 3? But if you skip an age, it really would feel like a sloppy tech tree that was just thrown together. Unless at some age the building completely stops training new units or techs (such as the Celt Archery Range, which has no Age 4 unit), players intuitively expect a new unit in each successive age. And if this wasn’t really a design rule, then surely some building in one of the Original 6 Civs would have ignored it. Yet every single building follows this rule. And the civs are stronger and more intuitive because of it. Again, breaking this rule won’t necessarily make an unbalanced civ, but it sure would make a disorganized, unpredictable one that lacks the same quality and artistic flourish of the original civs. So we had to follow this rule whether it was convenient or not. And it gave us absolute fits.

    This is the kind of hidden detail that tends to go unnoticed until you try to create your own civ and realize something feels terribly wrong. The more we studied the original civs, the more we appreciated them. The original Devs were master craftsmen.

    So let’s take these rules together and discuss the Romans. The original Devs intentionally over-designed the Romans with too many units and ideas to fit into a single civilization. They did this with the understanding that during testing they would pare it down and make changes. These charts helped us fully diagnose those problems.

    For instance, the original design included a massive Age 2 army that had more than 10 military units, including four Infantry units and two military Ships (recall that no civ has more than seven Age 2 military units, of which no more than two are Infantry and no more than one is a military Ship). There would simply be no reasonable way to give the Romans extra units in every category and keep them balanced. Meanwhile, by Age 4, the Romans were slated to have 21 total Units (not even counting the four Common Units). Not only is that about six units more than the average civ, but three units more than the largest civ (the Norse have 18).

    So there was just no question that we could not launch the Romans as designed and that we had to make cuts. Deciding that we had to make cuts was easy. Deciding where to make cuts was exasperating. There was no obvious perfect solution with the perfect number of units in the perfect Classes with the perfect Roles and the perfect Attack Types that appear at the perfect Ages from the perfect buildings that perfectly capture the spirit of the Romans. We came up with a solution, but it took us weeks of sculpting the tech tree and countless hours fussing and squabbling.

    Building a civ is so much more than coming up with fun ideas and snapping your fingers. Everything has to fit just so. If we were to shift one unit from one Age to another, it would throw off the balance in a different area, requiring us to shift something else. In this way, one little change echoes across the entire tech tree causing all sorts of unexpected headaches. At times it felt like we were using tweezers to move sand from one side of a scale to the other. Ultimately, we ended up cutting a few units while adjusting (or reinventing) many, many more. And all of this had to be adjusted with an eye on the rules for Building Design (see the Building Design Blog) and Technology Design (we will later post a Technology Design Blog to explain these considerations in more detail). Overall, designing the Romans is very complicated but also a source of endless joy.

    We look forward to revealing everything to you all. But it is necessary for you to see what we are up against. It’s one thing to decide we aren’t giving your favorite unit justice. It’s quite another to find a solution that maintains this delicate balance without throwing the entire tech tree out of whack.

    We won’t spoil the entire unit roster now, but since you have gotten this far, we think you deserve some inside info. So let's reveal a few specifics. First, our Romans are going to run large. In addition to having the four Common Units and the Scout, the Romans are slated to have 19 different units, which will make them the biggest civ in the game (one more unit than the Norse, five more than the Celts, and about three more than average). Our primary justification for this is that since four of those units are Officer Units with build limits, we can take some liberties and let the Romans draw from a wider roster. Second, our Romans are going to have more Siege Units than any other Civ in the game. We haven't even begun showing you any of these, but Roman Siege will be a huge part of their playstyle and the strongest in the game. Finally, the Romans will have their own Unique Unit as well as two Priests. As you can see, there is a lot yet to be revealed. The Romans are so much more than just Legionaries and Centurions. And they follow all of these design rules, with everything fitting just so.

    Thank you for reading, and we will see you all next week!

    Project Celeste Development Team

    What do you think about this blog? We are looking forward to your feedback, let us know in the comments below!

    ========
    Missed the Roman Civilization's announcement? Find out about it HERE.

    Project Celeste is completely free and always will be. However, we gladly accept donations for our overhead costs, which are larger than we have budgeted. If you want to support us, you can do so HERE.

    Read every Romans related blog HERE.

    Tell your friends! Join our Discord HERE.
    ========
     
    #1 PF2K, Jul 23, 2019 at 8:08 PM
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2019
    Bahram, rtsgamer, Alzerus and 9 others like this.
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Comments

Discussion in 'Romans' started by PF2K, Jul 23, 2019.

    1. Andy P XIII

      Andy P XIII Moderator
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      This is some seriously dense reading. I hope somebody got through it all to find the Roman nuggets we left for you.
       
    2. Kenji03

      Kenji03 Berserker

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      I enjoyed this lengthy read.

      I am confident the romans won't be over-powered compared to all other civs (especially the two first civs), but I am concerned that they will simply be better if for no other reason than because of hindsight in comparison to the 6 other civs.
       
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    3. Couldn'tCareLess

      Couldn'tCareLess Long Swordsman

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      Excellent work first of all!

      If we can say that Romans will have as it strongest point the Siege. One must ask the question, what will be their weakest point? (Infantry, Range, Calvary, etc)
       
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    4. Kulcsos12

      Kulcsos12 Champion

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      Let see what would be the 19 Roman Military units:
      Castellum:
      • Spearman - anti-cavalry melee infantry, Age 1
      • Legionary - anti-infantry or basic melee infantry (?), Age 2
      • (?) Age 3 Roman Cavalry unit, maybe the Eques, armed with spear and shield
      Auxilia Camp:
      • Balearic Slinger - anti-ranged ranged, Age 2
      • Cretan Bowman - anti-infantry or basic ranged (?), Age 3
      • (?) Age 2 Cavalry unit, maybe the Numidian Horseman
      • Gallic Horseman - anti-cavalry cavalry, Age 4
      Praetorium:
      • Age 2 Officer, maybe the Decanus
      • Centurion - melee infantry Officer, Age 3
      • another Age 3 Officer, maybe the Decurion (cavalry officer)
      • Age 4 Officer, maybe the Primus Pilus
      Dock
      • Liburnian - Warship, Age 2
      • Enneris - anti-ship ranged ship with siege champion upgrade, Age 3
      • no Age 4 Siege Ship (confirmed by PF2K)

      Siege Workshop & Fortress
      So Romans will get 4 siege units​
      • Battering Ram - Age 3
      • Onager - Ager 4
      • Palintonon, Age 4
      • (?) Scorpion - anti-army siege unit, Age 3
      Temple
      • Pontifex - convert-only Priest, Age 3
      • 1 maybe a heal-only Priest in Age 2
       
      #5 Kulcsos12, Jul 24, 2019 at 11:18 AM
      Last edited: Sep 30, 2019
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    5. Kenji03

      Kenji03 Berserker

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      Someone's doing their homework :p

      Seriously though, good job mate! However, I do hope the Romans won't get an Age 2 and Age 3 priest unit, but instead an Age 3 (standard converter) and Age 4 (group healer) priest unit.
       
    6. Andy P XIII

      Andy P XIII Moderator
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      Kenji any particular reason you want those two kinds of priests in those ages? That’s a very specific opinion.
       
    7. Kenji03

      Kenji03 Berserker

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      The Egyptians have an age 2 healer unit, none of the other civs have that (the Persian healing storehouse is not mobile, so that balances it out). The Egyptians are a priest focused civ, and I feel that giving the romans an age 2 healer would take away from that bonus the Egyptians have (as the Egyptians cannot convert until age 4 -- only "Chaos" confusion in age 3).

      Further more, it would help to balance out how strong the Romans are shaping up to be. The Norse, for example, have to separately heal and convert, with their healer still unable to heal in combat. Pushing this Roman equivalent to the Rhapsode from age 2 or 3 to age 4 would give a disadvantage to the Romans, counter-balancing out their officers and other bonuses. To make this fair, I do believe they should get an area heal in age 4, vs a single-unit heal in age 4.

      Similar to how the Egyptians have a disadvantage when it comes to ranged units, and how the Celts have a disadvantage when it comes to navy.

      If someone wants to play the Romans, I feel it would be a great counter-balance if they have to sacrifice their ability to heal units in ages 1-3.
       
    8. PF2K

      PF2K Lead Artist | PvP Balance Team Lead
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      Druids heal in Age2. Rhapsodes do convert and Pharmacology is also a thing.
       
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    9. Andy P XIII

      Andy P XIII Moderator
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      Thanks, Kenji. We gave a lot of thought to the timing of healing for the Romans.

      Every civ has healing, but the timing of it varies a bit. Egypt (Priestess of Ra) can heal starting in Age 1. Persia (Aid Tent), Celts (Druid), and Babylon (Pharmacology) can heal by Age 2. Greeks and Norse have to wait until Age 3.

      As you point out, no civ has yet had to wait until Age 4 to heal. It would definitely be a groundbreaking move. Stay tuned!
       
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    10. TheSpaniard

      TheSpaniard Champion

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      So much good stuff to cover! First, I want to say this--everyone working on this is doing an amazing job (especially given the fact that there is no immediate monetary compensation--just great experience). Every single individual person who plays this game is going to have their own individual expectations for the Romans, and at the end of the day, not all of these expectations will be met. That's the glorious thing though... while no one's expectations will be met precisely, an overwhelming majority of expectations will be met generally with an excellent, well-designed civ. Everyone can be happy, even if it is not exactly what they expected--and that is life. Things can't and won't be exactly as YOU want them, but we can still enjoy what we do get. Ultimately, I would encourage everyone to take the approach I'm taking: we are getting this content FOR FREE from people who are doing this IN THEIR SPARE TIME, and the alternative to getting the Romans is NOT getting the Romans. That's it. Two choices. Get them the way this team designs them, or don't get them. Therefore, I choose to be happy that we're getting them, even if they were the worst designed civ in the game--the fact that so much care and precision is being placed on designing them well so that they could potentially be the BEST designed civ in the game is a BONUS that we as players have done nothing to deserve. So again, I encourage everyone to be happy and grateful that we're getting this amazing work and attention to detail. The literal epitome of "beggars can't be choosers," although in this circumstance I would posit that we the beggars are being treated to a feast.

      Now, on to the fun tidbits: First, the brief comment about changing units echoing in other places in the civ--it felt like a reference to one of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite movies, from which my username is inspired: Gladiator, when Maximums (later known as The Spaniard) states "what we do in life echoes in eternity." Possibly not a reference, but if so, I love you all that much more. <3

      Second, the strongest siege in the game?? Just when I thought Greeks had that in the bag. I trust that this will definitely lead to some weaker spots for the Romans, especially given the fact that siege (at least to a noob like me) seems to be the inherently strongest type of unit in the game (when protected and used right), simply because ultimately the point of the game (either in PvE or PvP) is to destroy the opponent, and to destroy them, you must destroy their buildings, and siege is best at destroying buildings. To illustrate this, how do long, tough games usually end? With whoever gets the most/best siege onto the field first and uses it right. Maybe one of those weaker points is what Andy alluded to in his response to Kenji--seemed to confirm that Romans won't get healing/healer priests until Age 4?! Crazy!

      But it does seem as though one of the officers have to be a siege officer though, right? Perhaps that will be the "unique unit"--doesn't attack, but gives a boost to siege when micro'd well, like movement or accuracy? Possibilities are endless! That's the only point of speculation I'd differ on from Kulcsos's theorized unit roster. That instead of an age 2 officer, there would be an Age 3 siege officer. Otherwise, that speculation is pretty nice!

      Speaking of priests, I have an idea that I don't think fits the mold so far for the Romans, especially since everyone has alluded to these Romans being primarily based on late Republic, early Empire era, but it would be cool if the first priest was a pre-Constantine priest unit (based on Roman gods), then the (possibly Age 4?) second priest was a post-Constantine priest unit (based on Christianization)--and maybe finally brings the healing to the Romans in Age 4?? Again, so many possibilities!

      TL;DR: Everyone should just be happy, and PF2K and Andy should GIVE ME MOAR! MOAR INFO! I want more hints. More reveals. I just want it all because I'm an impatient child. xD

      Much love.
       
    11. FFNEZ

      FFNEZ Spearman

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      off topic: theres a plan to release new maps with the romans? eg. nomad or this one: romans during their golden ages, they were comquering and that kind of stuff. some minor civ joins them or abandon their current position or try to fight back. with this premise in mind i present this map concept: ghost city

      reosuces: vey low gold, lots of tree, normal food, fish none, stone normal. size: arabia like or less. players spawn in the corner of the map. resource distribution will be likely like arabia except for trees which most of them are located in the nearest corner of each player. in the center there are seme-destroyed structures that a player can build on it with the adecuate one. if it does it cost 50% less and build more faster (norse scout doesnst get the benefit for balance). like a aom senttlement if this kind of building gets destryed it goes back to the abandon structure. this type of sturcture will split in 3 variants. one for military, other for fortress and other one for tc the distribution of it will like: military more near to main tc of each player, fortress one in the middle and the tc one in the center. since gold is scarse, trade is vital in this map but you can't build in your safe corner like in arabia since it is blocked by trees forcing the player to fight the map's middle for a better trade route. and yes the tc structure in the middle is the maximun trade route with saddle tech included. well that're my thoughts. idk what do you think?
       
      #12 FFNEZ, Jul 24, 2019 at 6:48 PM
      Last edited: Jul 24, 2019
    12. TheSpaniard

      TheSpaniard Champion

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      Cool ideas, FFNEZ! I think they're focusing on just getting the civ out to us (enough work in and of itself), but I'm sure some maps and more content (possibly quest packs) will be in order on down the road after 2019 once we get the Romans themselves!
       
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    13. Andy P XIII

      Andy P XIII Moderator
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      Spaniard, to your point, since our job is to rule out every possible building and unit except the 18 buildings and 24 units we chose (19 plus the 4 common and 1 Scout), it’s inevitable some players will grumble that we’ve made a terrible mistake.

      I hope these design blogs make our process transparent so those players will at least appreciate our methodology even if they disagree with part of our results. And the blogs should arm everyone with these design rules so you can struggle on your own with these questions. Grab a pencil and paper and create your favorite civ. Now try to squeeze them into position. It’s not easy, but it’s tons of fun.
       
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    14. TheSpaniard

      TheSpaniard Champion

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      *grabs pencil, begins working furiously on Carthage*
       
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    15. Andy P XIII

      Andy P XIII Moderator
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      Let me know how far you get, and we can compare Carthage notes! That was my first attempt. PF2K helped me with it. Little did we know like a year later we would do it for real. :)
       
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    16. RASPUTINPRIME

      RASPUTINPRIME Woad Raider

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      Outstanding article with a foundation-laying logic to the approach you have taken. I can't wait to see where everything fits in.

      Anti-elephant siege? mmmmmmmmm
       
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    17. MatrixSoft

      MatrixSoft Woad Raider

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      Once again, great work, it is very nice to be able to participate a little and all that you have been facing, as mere players do not have the view from the developer point of view, we ended up thinking that it is all very simple and easy to do, but when in In fact, it takes many challenges, rules and hours of hard work to be able to put an idea into practice, not to mention features, limitations of the game's mechanics, among so many problems. The team's work is really amazing, a lot of cool stuff has already been added, not to mention all the effort to make the game available again, now adding more and more amazing things, events, maps, items, and civilizations. We mere players, we are grateful for everything, all this care to do the best, are really delivering much more than we expected, much, much more thank you. You guys are awesome.
       
    18. Kenji03

      Kenji03 Berserker

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      • I meant give the unit healing like the Rhapsode, not copy the unit.
      • Pharmacology only adds regen of 1 hp/sec. Not nearly as powerful as backing your 40 troop army with 10 age 2 healers.
      • I concede on the point of the druid, I forgot about them -- but I still think making the Romans wait until age 4 would counter-balance their otherwise (general) over-powered state. Similar to how the Celts only get one naval combat unit to counter-balance.
       
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