An Open Letter to AoM Managers/Developers on How to Save Competitive Aom

January 2023

To the Managers and Developers of Age of Mythology, current or future:

The announcement of AoM Definitive Edition has generated much discussion in the community and revived interest in old fans.

On one hand, the prospect of new features was the talk of the town, whereas balancing was the concern of others.

When reading forum comments, it is clear that there are two sides of the community - that they are two completely separate worlds.

Although seemingly contradictory, the points raised by both sides are valid when the reasoning behind their comments are considered.

For the purpose of addressing community feedback, we need to first distinguish between the two main audiences in the AoM community.

For that reason , the author provided a general reference of AoM terms listed further below.

“Casuals” are those who chronically play:

  • Team games
  • Unranked games (any level)
  • Mid-to-low ranked 1v1 Supremacy games
  • Mods
  • Single-Player

Disclaimer: Although the word, “casual”, may carry a negative connotation, the author did not intend to use it in any derogatory manner as it is also the term others refer to themselves as, as said in the comments: What would you like to see in Myth Retold?

To “casuals”, more means better.

It is as simple as it sounds.

More content means more immersion, more resources for modders, more campaign scenarios, more Single-Player replayability, more varied team games, more city building, more music, more art.

If “casuals” want an auto-walling ability, they deserve it. After all, it is a quality of life feature, like autoqueue.

If “casuals” want an auto-build-order AI, they deserve it too. After all, it allows them to focus on superior strategy instead of mundane micro.

If “casuals” want the game on console too, they deserve it - even cross-play - the more the merrier! Like team games!

And if “casuals” want a mobile version, the consumer is always correct.

“Casuals” are right in their demand for new content; after all, the last two expansion packs have set that precedent.

And all the more power to them!

This is a general list “casuals” would also like to include in the next game:

  • New tech-trees (“civilizations”)
  • Higher or unlimited population cap
  • Removal of settlements
  • Stone
  • Larger maps
  • Symmetrical maps
  • Multi-usage god powers


However, to 1v1 high-ranked Supremacy players, more realism is not necessarily better.

To “Casuals”, balance is not in the picture (nor should it be), for they are not necessarily playing AoM competitively; they are playing the game according to their own definition of fun: casually.

Regarding balance, the author does not believe the game is perfectly balanced nor could it ever be.

However, the original creators of the game, Ensemble Studios, have calculated to make the game as it was.




(White goes first)

What is wrong with this picture?

In a 1v1 high-ranked Supremacy match, assuming both players are of equal skill (one move per turn):

  • Thor loses to Heimdall , regardless of which Classical Age god he chooses to Advance under.
  • If the Loki player Advances under Forsetti , Thor Hersirs still lose to Loki Hersirs.
  • If the Thor player manages to Advance under Skadi , a wise Loki player would have already Advanced under Bragi and sat on the Thor player’s second gold mine with several units to bait Frost.

But even if the Thor player is slightly more skilled (black goes first), his choices are limited against a Loki player who has a good BO and “strategy” (Semi Heroic).

So, how can we turn the game from this:



to this?


How to save competitive (1v1 high-ranked Supremacy) AoM


TABLE OF CONTENTS

  • Definitions
    • i Common definitions
    • ii Critical definitions
  • FAQ
  • How to save competitive AoM
    • 1 Remove AoT
      • 1.0 Remove everything of AoT
      • 1.1 On feedback
    • 2 Tweaks
      • 2.0 Researchable God Powers
      • 2.1 God Power tweaking
      • 2.2 Favor tweaking
      • 2.3 Free units tweaking
      • 2.4 Water tweaking
      • 2.5 Norse tweaking
      • 2.6 Miscellaneous tweaking
    • 3 DLC’s
      • 3.0 On new “civilizations” (tech-trees)
      • 3.1 New “civilizations” (tech-trees) alternative
      • 3.2 Miscellaneous ideas
  • Conclusion
  • Sources

Definitions

i Common definitions
  • Title definitions
    • AoM: Age of Mythology
    • AoMEE: Age of Mythology: Extended Edition
    • AoT: Age of Mythology: The Titans Expansion Pack
    • EE: Age of Mythology: Extended Edition
    • TotD: Tale of the Dragon Expansion Pack
    • TT: The Titans Expansion Pack
    • Vanilla: Original game (Age of Mythology)
    • AoE2: Age of Empires II
  • Miscellaneous definitions
    • DLC: Downloadable Content (or Expansion Packs)
    • GP: God Power
    • Main: The player’s original/best Major God
    • MU: Myth unit
    • OP: Overpowered
    • Redzoning: The inability to build Walls around a particular Resource as indicated by the red shade on the Wall-icon cursor
    • Smurf: Players using an alias
  • Economy and military definitions
    • AQ: Autoqueue/Auto-queue
    • BO: Build order
    • Boom: To aggressively pursue economic progression
    • Kite: To retreat quickly
    • Rush: To attack early (without researching Hunting Dogs (original definition)).
    • TC: Town Center
    • 2TC: The option to build more than one Town Center in the Classical Age

ii Critical definitions

  • APM: Actions (keypresses, mouse clicks) per minute; often misused as “micro”
  • Micro: To (verb) or how (noun) one manages their units or buildings; often misused as “APM”
  • Macro: To (verb) or how (noun) one manages their economy
  • Meta: The current tactics or strategies most effective at winning the game, can be separated into:
    • Micro-meta (“micro” as in small): The tangible meta that can be used in a game.
      • “Against Heimdall, it’s better to Sphinx/Axe instead of Fast Heroic or 2TC…”
      • “3v3? You two rush blue while I (middle) Fast Heroic…”
    • Macro-meta (“macro” as in big): The general conclusion based from the context of the overall micro-meta.
      • “There is only one way to play this game…”
      • “Loki beats Gaia…”
  • Casual: Those who chronically play
    • Team games
    • Unranked games (any level)
    • Mid-to-low ranked 1v1 Supremacy games
    • Mods
    • Single-Player









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Read more at the link above.

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I think if you are truly someone who claims to have so many hours invested, then you must have had a recent brain aneurysm.

Your whole rant is basically: turn AoM balance to resemble more like AoE2, there should be no unique units or diversity differences which made AoM better. Well, I agree it can be changed up, but the diversity should be left in.

There’s a bunch of things that differ and you didn’t even touch the strongest ones.
-Norse ‘easy mode’ in Team Games (easy mode, fast units, big map, free gold with trade)
-Egypt general tweaks/inbalances (rocs need a nerf, free things, strong gps)

Now the way to ‘tweak’ things for the semi-gods is to make sure it isn’t 1-d as much. EE already started down that path, it just needs to be made better. For example with Automatons god, its techs are now not completely useless if researched as it effects other units, and Automatons are slightly stronger (but still, worse). Doing things ilke that for Heimdall would be beneficial (even make a larger change, then observe what happens in terms of how many players pick that/use that)

Balance changes like these are mainly what are needed to balance semi-god choices. So that if you pick one it could be a power spike slightly, and the other is the better general/long term choice.

As for the AQ debate, I always felt that it can be an ‘option’ to disable it… and see ‘who really wants it’. Maybe a ‘classic/no AQ’ rated ladder that implements these certain features. But, I bet it will only reveal, little or no one truly cares about that. The only ones who do are narcs who ‘believe’ that they’ll get a little bit better and basically ‘noobbash’ more players, because they think clicking each button was superior. As a result I could care less if AQ was removed. But just keping in mind, a lot of those people are just underlying cheaters who think they can gain a little ‘advantage’, even though, they’re already beating the players who they think are being helped by AQing. That being said, even though that is the underlying mentality (to cheat over others) for this argument, I am not against having like an AQ option into the game. Also keeping in mind, even back then, people basically made AQ as a mod and so on anyway.

People still using for example sh!tly (voobly) have tons of exploits, and bugs, that were already even patched in EE, they simply don’t want to move on from their broken, old, ways, and it shows, when they played EE and aren’t as good for whatever reason. I just hope AoMRE, while keeping performance levels high, has those players finally migrate or stop using the broken old ways. They underlyingly, don’t want to move on because they ‘feel they have an advantage’ and again their mentality is a ‘cheaters mentality’ instead of an accessibility one where ‘a new player may come and just beat them, with the same features/access they have’. Which is of course, the superior way, even for marketing, and for honor and integrity as well. There should really be no ‘gatekeeping’.

The writer’s bias towards ‘Norse easymode cheese’ which is actually highly OP is also hugely apparent.
“Regarding Titans for Norse, Norse” > wah a great player who gets titan at the right timing can beat my ragnarok cheesey strategy with that and then i had to play, even tho he did it just barely and outplayed.
“Regarding high hunt maps for Norse” > wah we dont rly have any resource advantage its just ‘fakee’.
" God Power to dominate (Flaming Weapons on your Migdol, Underworld, Bronze) - Age of Free Insurance™!" > just an example like yes, those GPs are much stronger than most heroic age powers, which allows a player to ‘sit back’ and then come with that and win quite easily. Especially Atlanteans who have generally lower power godpowers, it usually counters them a lot more (same with some other Greek and other gps that simply don’t counter it). Ironically it reveals the bias of the writer again though as sitting back and then something like ‘flaming weapons or frost’ has always been a norse way of easy winning the game, even in 1v1.

This serves maybe as an example that, while total balance changes can make something more viable, and make less of a 1-way pathway for certain things, basically the bias ends up showing. The things you thought were so unbalanced were always just part of the game. 2 or more ways with either a temp powerspike or a longterm benefit is preferred, but making more ‘balance changes’ to shake the game up is kind of the better choice. If it’s true that a semi god is basically useless, it could be made stronger, etc. and then check the result.

As the writer who likely is known to enjoy the ‘easy mode’ or ‘Norse cheese’ which, admittedly, is a bit less in 1v1 mode, but has always been quite powerful in team modes, I just think the focus should have been ‘change some things with Norse’ overall. As well as, reduce or change the easy progression of Norse and hoping you can endure the 3 strong godpowers which let them wipe out your entire base/army in one swoop, putting them always ahead in advantage, and then still have strongest/fastest army with strongest myth units in the game, when it just decides to swoop in anywhere at any time. You could then only win once the ‘storm is weathered’ and the OP Norse no longer has godpowers (if you can survive them), but then they have: build anywhere, myth spam, and other things too. Of course better players show they can sometimes beat it, by applying pressure, but that’s the game. Rag was considered ‘somewhat lame’, not like something where Atty units are getting fuckd up and they could have the option for a titan.

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Read more at:

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Read more at the link above.

Please read Section Conclusion regarding AoM vs AoE2.

Please read the introduction.

Please read Sections 1.0 and 2.0.

Please read Section 1.0 regarding AQ.

Please read Section 1.0 regarding Titans.
Please read Section 2.0 regarding God Powers.

Please read Sections FAQ and 1.0 regarding Norse.

Please read the Title.
Please read Section Definitions regarding Casuals.



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Nah, I"m not re-reading any of that, it’s just a wishlist of someone who wants his Norse cheese to work. My conclusion is just that you can tweak these subgods and Norse gods again to upset the balance, no need for referring to a child’s book.

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Updated Table of Contents

2 Tweaks

  • 2.0a Researchable God Powers
  • 2.0b God Power tweaking
  • 2.0c Researchable God Powers Alternative


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1 - Competitiveness is the future for an esports.
2 - Don’t ignore the casual player too much so make the game complete for everyone but within their own limits.
3 - Don’t add civilizations leave the existing ones and avoid balance catastrophes and further bugs (take Aoe3 as an example)
4 - Balance the game and make it as balanced as possible.
5 - More features in the game split Elo subs (basically take Aoe4 charts and ladders and do it on aom)
6 - Good GUI (preferable like starcraft2).
7 - Expect a good matchmaking system even at low player numbers so you don’t find yourself in the situation of Aoe3 and Aoe4 where there are no filters and matchmaking is random.
And in addition to an elo system add an additional scoring system to avoid boosted players and fake high elo players.

Having said that expected a good Esports otherwise a meh product to make money and it will become dead after 2-3 years of release or sooner.
The Don has spoken!

I mainly play 1vs1 rank in aoe4 and ill give aom a try when it comes out.

Problem with aoe4 it puts to much into esports. It should be 70% casual 30% esports.

The new PUP been out for a week 10 pages of invo, play the game and its virtually the same game.

Id rather see new content, skins, updating the editor to be more friendly, clans, art of war missions.

People dont stay playing a game cause of balance changes

No new civs, no money, no support, game dies.

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Please read Section 3.0 regarding ideas and “civilizations” (tech-trees).
Please read Section Conclusion regarding boycotting.

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SC2 as more players after 13 years than all aoe game.

New civs should be make with mod, the casu don’t need “official” new civ.

I know it’s a sort of definitive edition and we are in the no period of rts but starcraft has not added other civs and it was (and will still be) the best RTS of all arrived at esports levels with great professionals, having only 3 civilizations.
It was still a bit of a period for the rts even if the rts fashion had dropped drastically, now they are looking for novelty this is right but adding new civilizations adding more balance problems and it will become increasingly longer and more complex to learn the game which now players are looking for simple or at least short games to learn, a mistake they made on Aoe3De which no longer takes new players who want to learn the whole game to play competitively because you will take too long compared to the old edition. I’m not the one in charge luckily and I wouldn’t even be able to but I’m explaining some things that could destroy the competitive because I have experience in that, I lived it through aoe3 and if they make the same mistakes the game or it will die for what I said either because they don’t have the funds to do it but these are the funds they give them to generate other funds and take as many numbers as possible. In essence, companies are born to take profits.

I will see in what state aom retold will be and if I see that they will do like Aoe3De and the game will start to unbalance to the point that the build Orders make the players’ skills I will leave it and if I still have time I will ask for a refund and I will try after a few months or 1 years

Sc2 has great single player contents.
Sc2 has co-op which is far from competitive pvp.
Sc2 is far superior being an RTS, in its pathing, AI, control, and a lot of things.

It is a great game before it is a good pvp game.

That’s true, not everything has to be competitive, otherwise it becomes repetitive and boring…

True, eventually new mythologies will come yes or yes…and many with mechanics from aoe 3 and 4…it is what there is…the important thing is that they are balanced civs…

If it comes with new campaigns, it would be worth having new mythologies…

Come on, we have to be more optimistic…when it comes out I’ll obviously buy it and if it comes with new mythologies, I’d be happy to support it…It’s not all meta and build orders, enjoy the games for what they are…

I couldn’t have said it better…you have to rest assured that those of FE have shown us more than enough how capable they are of balancing and supporting the games in the saga…

I don’t get your point, you can make new mythology and new campains with mod

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Yes, but I mean at the official level… The mods are what they are, modifications of fans that can affect the gameplay too much, instead something official would be something more balanced …

Not so much at launch, mind you. WoL was decent, but it really took a turn with HotS and LotV.

SC2 was explicitly aimed at the PvP scene, the pre-release beta period was just more evidence of this (anyone else remember that? I was terrible, but I had a go).

Sc2 ended up being a game with great single player contents, whenever it reached that state. And it does more good than harm.
This is to refute the idea of “sc2 succeeds because it is a good pvp game so the developers should not spend time and efforts on sp contents at all”.

But will destroy the competitive scene.

To me adding new civ/skin with mode is a good compromise between competitive and casu scene, basicly what SC2 did and it worked like a charm.

The author of this post is unbelievably arrogant.

People want new civs and new content. They are not going to ship retold with no new content to cater to some pious competitive gamers.

They can create some kind of classic mode with special settings for the “competitive” community.

The rest of us will enjoy the new content under a different mode for casual map.

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