Collections of gameplay-related problems that emerge from the current high-established meta

After thinkin a lot over this recently I want to talk about the issues I personally have with the current highly metarized gameplay. It’s nit about having a meta in general but instead how the current meta makes the games kind of repetitive.

A) Low commitment strats


Most of the current meta gameplay is actually derived from a low commitment principle. Meaning that the players in most cases don’t chose one strategy and put all their effort in making that strategy work. They usually invest in several different strategic concepts without committing a lot in them at first. Good examples for that are the standard cavalry rushes where you usually don’t need a huge number of rather just enough to raid your opponent’s eco. But also in terms of investment into defences/walls or economy. We usually see players not overinvesting in either of these. Instead it’s usually an average investmen that doesn’t deviates much from player to player.
We don’t see castle age all ins vs full boom anymore. It’s just not a thing. The most we probably can get at time is a 2 TC vs 4-5 TC play.
This takes away a lot of tension. As in many cases both players have the same win conditions and the individual parts synergize with the success of each other, we often then have slow grinding games as a result of an early lead. Intead of the player in lead ether trying to use his current advantage or makes a switch to cut off the opponent’s win conditions we often seee the players in lead trying to slowly get the lead in all strategic subcategories to slowly take the opponent out of any options for a comeback.

B) Inclined strategies in a basic blueprint


To explain that I try to summarize a currently standard meta game and the goals/markers in the current metastrat.

  1. Decide your opener, make the buildorder you learned for that
  2. Get information about the opponent
  3. Wall
  4. Make the typical Feudal rush skirmish, try to stabilize and pull back the opponent’s agression
  5. Try to get the better Castle age Timing
  6. Make xbow or knight and use that military powerspike with not overinvesting into either of them
  7. Transition into Booming behind that agression
  8. Add some more depth to your army comp with eg the natural trash complement or siege
  9. Care about strategical positioning and relics
  10. Try to get a faster imp timing so you can push the opponent first

If you watch current pro games you will see that this blueprint is used widely spread among them. There is hardly even a deviation in the amount of effort put in the different subparts of that blueprint.
Whilst on one side this is ofc a challenge and a fair way to determine the overall best player, as one has to manage all kind of different things, read the game, hit the timings and have the macro for performing these smaller transitions, it has one big disadvantage.
Both players have basically the same gameplan. And with so many difference makers inclined in one big meta strat, there is also almost no fallback strat for comebacks
I lately saw attempts of players behind to make last effort plays, trying to get ahead in one specific aspect. But it rarely works out. And when they see they don’t get the results for that attempt they ofc quit, which makes for a very unsatisfying ending for all participants. And especially for viewers as they often don’t even understand what was happening there, cause most players even on higher elo ranks don’t really “understand” or “read” the game situation properly.

C) Buildorders / Eco optimization


What adds to that is the steady optimization of buildorders to the established opening meta strats. Especially the most standard openings in archer and scout rush have been otimized. Whilst they are on their own already the strongest, with the buildorders otimized for them they become over time even more and more powerful that increases the burden for alternative openings. The highly perfectioned opening strats therefore make a log-in effect, making it increasingly hard for all other openings to get a footstep in. The issue emerges mainly from the food eco transition in feudal age, where you have to get from the free food to a farming eco. Both of the standard openers in scouts and archers synergize quite well with it cause they either use addtiional food gathered over the upgoing (scouts) for mediocre agression or are almost independent of the food supply itself (archers). Whilst all other types of units need food as a constant ressource, which convolutes heavily with the need of investment to transition into the farming eco.
This has become increasingly more appearant with the commodity of pushing the deer which give some extra early free food supply. This, lastly even enabled the new teamgame tactics of pre-mill archer rushes.
Interestingly we used to have drushes, even 2-militia drushes that in theory are supposed to disturb these highly perfectionated and elaborated buildorers. But as it looks like players have become so good in defending these drushes that they are rarely used anymore. And it’s kinda simple. You just need to add some few miniature walls at your ressources and you are safe. Maybe it delays your uptime by 1-2 vills, but with the established meta of spreading the vills among different gathering locations (especially in terms of food) this has rarely an impact on the actual gameplay. It just delays things happening.
Trushes also have been played so much already that most experienced players just know the technical strats to deal with them. Only civs like Poles can still use the trushes as a strategical counterplay, setting up for a favorable midgame where they can use their other powerspike. It’s less about the trush itself to deal damage but the fact that towers force the game to skip until the midgame where there is access to siege to deal with them. And if you have a civ that has an outstanding midgame this is indeed a strategical option. Especially if you also have a bonus to stone mining.
But especially this poles trush has lead to an optimization of trush counter strategies which lead to reducing other civilisations ability to perform that strat to success. It’s like the effect of franks with the scouts into knights play. If one civ is so strong in one simple meta strat, it overshadows other civs that try to do the same.
Regardless. What currently shines through is that with the established buildorders the amount of free food we have available is seemingly optimal for the two main openers in scouts and archers. It allows very tightly optimized buildorders for these strats whilst with other openers you usually will struggle to find an optimized eco setup with a decent feudal timing.

D) The importance of Timings


The game is designed around powerspikes. Which is generally a good thing. It makes it attractive to go onto the later stages, it makes for a natural continuation of both interaction but also narrative. It makes games interesting at all stages cause there is always something additional that follows on the current stage of the game. But as it currently emerged is that these timings (and powerspikes) have become too predominant. It always was that everybody had to get to the next age at some point. But there was counterplay potential by just staying quite long in a subordinate time but use the eco advantage to damage the opponent for investing so much to go to the next time. This has in regards to castle age become almost unusable. The timespan in which you can make use of that eco advantage has become so short, it’s hardly possible to build up an eco behind that to get the needed ressources for going up yourself. Players don’t even attempt this counterplay anymore but usually accept the disadvantages of worse timing over this. But if you are behind more than a minute in castle age timing, you give your opponent a lot of time to first damage you with knights or xbows and then transition into booming which takes away your minimal eco advantage that you got from going up just a bit later. This ofc also has something to do with both skirms and spears being kind of bad vs the supposed countered xbows and knights (xbows counter feudal skirms, knigths don’t counter spears with equal res, but as you need to spread out your spears to protect all eco spots. And if you do, knights become actually quite effective against smaller numbers of spears with the rules of lanchester.).
Which means there is basically no effective feudal counterplay vs both xbows and knights. You can try to make towers, but it’s a hard to perform transition and opens other options for the opponent like directly transition into booming or adding some siege.
The issue with that specific Castle Age powerspike is that it opens so many strategic options that aren’t available in feudal that basically everything you can do in feudal has a very efficient strategical castle age counterplay. And there is enough time to scout what the feudal player is preparing before castle age actually hits so the castle age player in the most games can just react perfectly to whatever the feudal player is trying. Additional to this the current cost and time of castle age is actually the least hurtful age up of all the 3. Cause you often even don’t have much other things you wanna invest into at this stage and you also don’t use that much economy by getting up earlier. Cause you have usually way more vills at this stage, having just 1-3 less working at a time with like 30-40 vills falls less into weight than with a dark age economy of 18-20 vills. As both players have to invest the same base cost, the factor which determines this econmic impact is actually the upgoing time itself. But the difference of this to the feudal 130 s is with 30 s to 160 s quite low and doesn’t represent the actual economic state of the game. It would need upgoing times of 200-250 s. With Imp it’s a bit different as in castle age you have access to full boom and therefore the initial investment plays a role there, too. Later impt timings are often a result of just booming more rather than a strategical decision of the army investments.

E) The influence of early Raids in the continuation of the game


We all know how important and strong raids are. And I don’t even want to generally change that too much. Cause in a lot of scenarios raids are the only ways to have a comeback. It’s often the basically only way if you are behind in too many or even all aspects of the game. This ofc also leads to a high emphasis on raids for agressive strats, cause the temptation of just killing the enemy eco so he has no way to comeback is huge. But especially in the early game the impact of killing just a few enemy vills is enromous. Cause not even you are killing the eco short-term, you killing it long-term as at this stage there isn’t a way to close the economic gap. You only have 1 TC and you want to have it producing at all time anyways. In one of his videos SOTL explained how much a vill kill at which stage of the game is actually worth it if you factor in the time you need to get to castle, add a TC and then make a new vill. That’s what makes early vill kills so powerful. And I want to question this interaction. Cause in my reflection and also when I talked to a lot of people here it puts a way too high emphasis on killing vills with early rushes. But exactly this leads then to games where one player is in such a big disadvantage that he is basically set to a slow starving death. And it’s no fun for either player to play this out then, just a slow grind until all comeback scenarios are closed for one.
I think this topic is vastly unterrepresented in the current discussion cause the temptation for this play is just too big. Ofc everybody likes to get an early big advantage, but I think we need to recognize that the opener strats shouldn’t be more than an early skirmish that determine the individual roles of the players. One with the advantage that tries to use that, one with the disadvantage that tries to use comeback strats or creativity to get back in the game. And the tension that emerges from it.
It the advantage from that early skirmish is too big, it becomes either a very short game or a slow grind which doesn’t satisfy anybody. Comebacks from hell are extremely uncommen, especially with the highly elaborated meta of the times or ours.
I don’t want to close the early rushes and raids. I think they are now established in the gameplay and it would be hard for the community to accept changes to that. But I hope we can find some stretching bands that reduce the impact of mediocre early raids so we get less of these slow grinding games that are really annoying for everbody.

I also have already some ideas how I would adress these issues, but I want to first get your feedback on this topic before I bias/spoil you. Just wanna say: I’m not an alarmist that overexaggerates for no accute reason without having any purpose how to adress the own made-up calamities. Just the thread is already long enough and I want your feedback first.
Maybe I’m even the only one who is bothered with the latest development and others like it as it is. I would be fine with that too.

TLDR are quite long in contrast 11 sorry if I missed any points

I kinda agree wit D and E, but I don’t agree with B, in particular for non-mirror matchups.

There are lots of matchups that one player will eventually lose in different timings, so it is not always about 7,8,9,10 (sometimes you see player all in because of that, e.g. Celts don’t usually add booms, Teutons don’t also add booms vs Mongols UNLESS the situation changes alot etc.)

If you generalize the idea of blueprints, every player have only one blueprint - to destroy all enemies’ buildings and units. But the way of achieving it - not really a aggressive into boom style for lots of (in particular, non-eco oriented civ, e.g. Magyars, Malays, Aztecs)

Btw I think the modern solution is just to go lame - laming (or any attempt to laming) destroys such kind of opening very effectively and it’s insanely easy to lame in TG since you kinda know the exact positions.

1 Like

wht would anyone want to overinvest?

2TC is super rare. also 1 TC castle age pressure is pretty common. especially in castle age there are so many different approaches. Do you have any data to back this up?

1&2 duh, do you have an alternative for that? (also not true on maps like megarandom where you need to improvise)
3 optional
4 straight fc is an option on pre-walled maps, also a risky option on open maps. also drushes and drush FC exist
5 not always, depending on the strat you might accept a slower castle age timing. eg if you are going for UUs
6 knights and xbows are popular but far from the only options. defensive play with monks and siege are an option, so are UUs or eagle plays. we usually see a gold unit first, then a coutner unit.
7 just false
8 fair enough
9 of course you care about strategic positioning, usually this should always be at the back of your mind
10 many games end in castle age

just not true. even outside civs like Cumans who can do feudal TCs there are different strategies

were deliberately nerfed.

Regarding C) in general: you complain, but provide no ideas for improvement.

why should they be counters? most gold units counter their ‘counters’ if they have an upgrade advantage:
cavalier counter camels and pikemen
arbalesters counter elite skirms (without 3rd armour) and mangonels
monks with blockprinting can do fairly well against light cav
FU champion deals with xbows
Heavy camel handles xbows well

I stopped reading now because you seem to complain about a lot without providing any alternatives.
I would also like to point out that in A) you complain about people having flexible strategies, and then in B) you complain about them not being flexible

Well, that’s why they are TL:DR

Maybe Blueprint is the wrong word. It’s more a kind of gameplan what you want to do at certain stages of the game. Important to me is that it has so many strats inclined that should be more separate strats and this kinda hierarchic order in which it is executed in most games.
Ofc if you’re plan is taken apart you need to improvise. But that’s even harder if this blueprint or gameplan inclines so many different aspects of the game. If you miss one of the marks at the different stages you fall behind in all of these inclined strategic objectives of the game. I think a lot of this also comes with how we are basically forced to manage our ecos by the game which leads to certain ressources being available at certain timings. But it’s also experience and a conjecture of the sophisticated openers that set up for this blueprint. I think a lot of people (including myself for a while) don’t really understand how big of an impact buildorders have in the midgame in how your eco is set up to match the needs for the mentioned objectives.

Yeah laming… in 1v1 it’s rarely a thing. And I don’t play many TGs tbh.
If you push your own deer you can’t lame the opponent. And many (most) people currently prefer pushing the own deer. Imo it’s the more consistant strat. Laming buries a lot of risks.
And tbf players with 1400 elo or lower can’t lame (unless they are basically smurfs with weird strats). They just don’t have the macro skills for that.This can’t be a solution.
No, what I currently actually think about is giving players MORE free food. Especially berries. This would allow to take more risks (eg not pushing deer) and a smoother transition into farm eco for all the builds. Especially it would allow more flexible early game with less sophisticated buildorders.

I literally said that I have Ideas for improvement but want to collect your feedback first.

First, it’s only the archer line which does this. Knights are countered by spears (though it’s close) and also cavalier is still countered by pikes (and quite well actually).
And it shouldn’t be a thing imo.The issue with that principle is that it makes it too easy to “close” a game if you already have a decent advantage and a lot of the gold units. At least you would need to deal with the counters first. If jsut getting the tech advantage reverses counter mechanics there is no emphasis on adding something that actually counters the opponent units.
So this leads to mono-unit compositions and therefore repetitive and boring games. Tech advantages give you also a lot of options like new units and certain technologies, not only unit upgrades.
The game evolves to it’s full beauty in imp where everything is available… Therefore it would be kind of sadge if the tech advantage would only be used to upgrade units that are already available one age eariler.

I don’t think this is a fair review of my attempts to find a way to describe the flaws of the current metarization of the game.
Ofc I see it critical, otherwise I wouldn’t make this thread, and I also need to respect if other people actually enjoy the current meta. It’s only my personal perception. In my opinion there should be more commitment to the different strategic options of the game so they can’t be inclined into one blueprint or gameplan that easy.
In my opinion it is about making decisions and have fallback plans if the strat doesn’t work out as intended. Currently we have the fallback options being inclined into the metarization which leads to very repetitive and even hard to follow gameplay.
And you even see it a lot in pro games, they sometimes “micro” like noobs cause the macro demand of the inclined strats is so high they just don’t have the attention for the fights as they used to (except when it makes a huge difference ofc). And tbh, as I am also more a macro oriented player I want to see at least the pros using the pros micro like gods. It doesn’t satisfy me if I watch pro games where they don’t micro better than me most of the time.
Not because they can’t. They just have other priorities and need to macro all over the map like crazy with this inclined strats.

that’s both patently false: even a knight without any upgrades beats a spearman with full feudal upgrades
considering that even a knights still beats a pikeman, a cavalier certainly does
this doesn’t even account for mobility
and you completely ignored all the other examples I gave: cavalier vs camels, champions vs xbows, heavy camels vs xbows, arbalests vs mangonels&scorpions, galleons vs fire ships and there are probably tons more
with a tech advantage you are meant to be able to beat even your supposed counters

It’s what i took away from it. you only complain without providing ideas so how are we meant to review. like this they are just your preceived ‘flaws’.

how can you do that if you are also complaining about build orders and optimization. more commitment will make timings even more curcial, also something you seem to dislike.

I don’t know what you are trying to say here. by ‘inclined into the metarization’ do you mean ‘included in the meta’. Also how can it be repetitive and hard to follow at the same time. surely if it is repetitive it’s really easy to follow.

in general what do you mean by the word ‘inclined’?

Really? Not accounting for the cost factor at all?

Seemingly I used the wrong word. Happens if you don’t speak in your native language.

But I think I explained quite well what I mean, maybe someone can tell me what’s the right wording?

Seems like you seem to have no prob with the current meta. And I’m fine with it. I don’t think it’s necessary to make any convoluted attempts to cover up that impression. I’m totally fine when someone says he doesn’t have a problem with it.

even 2:1 knights can edge out a win against spears. but they can also just run away and hit elsewhere. if you make 12 spears to counter my 6 knights i feel like i have gained a lot. i am confident to deal more damage with those knights thant he opponent with 12 spears.

in some places i would replaced it by ‘included’, in others by ‘preferred’ or ‘most popular’. I can’t think of a single word for it either. not a native speaker either

yeah, i think the meta is in a good place. in 1v1 especially, almost all units see play (except trade carts and trade cogs 11). some options more frequently than others ofc. I have also felt that when rising in elo civ matchups mean a lot more, and if nobody dies to the other’s opening civ matchups play out completely differently. eg i used to play vikings a lot, and against a civ like franks i would go for maa → archers and then add some spears, whereas against someone like mayans i would transition into skirms pretty early and start teching into longswords with the longterm option of berserks

But a TL:DR is “Too Long: Didn’t Read”. It’s meant to be a short summary, only a sentence or two, describing several paras or more of info. So your drop downs should be the full explanation, and the headings are your actual TL:DRs.

1 Like

I use this as a warning for you that there is a lot of text.
If there was a short summary why would I hide it under a TL:DR hidden text?

No, you’re mis-naming stuff. Where you put TL:DR, you actually mean “Full Explanation”, and your actual TL:DRs are the headings you have above. Have you not seen how people put a TL:DR at the end of a long post, because they know people will just skip to the end and read the few sentences there?


Well I use it the other way around.
I think it’s the better way to use it.
Why annoying people with endless posts and then hide the summary in a hidden text?

I’m not sure you understand. Instead of this:

A) Here is my example


This is where you have your massive explanation

It should be like this:

B) TL:DR I think change X should happen

Full Explanation

This is where you have your massive explanation


I find my system better tbh.
Maybe it’s not utilized like that, but things can change.

TL:DR can also be interpreted as “too long, don’t read”, as a warning the explanation is lengthy.
Imo it’s the best way to handle this kind of things.

to one-up your pedantry: it should be TL;DR, not TL:DR. semi-colon not colon. :smiley:


No-one else uses it like that, and trying to change an almost universally accepted system isn’t a good idea, especially as it isn’t needed. Your system might seem better to you, but it’s not intuitive, obvious, or logical for others.


Huh, true. GG WP, nothing I can do against that. Never really noticed.


the colon is itntentional to make it easier to associate the too long: don’t read warning I intended to give.

Maybe I’m the only one who makes it like this, but to me it makes sense and I will stick with it.

If you mean Too Long; Don’t Read, just write Full Explanation, it’s far clearer, because TL;DR means didn’t read for basically everyone. At no point do you communicate that this isn’t the case, so people will assume you mean the standard TL;DR.

1 Like

I dont know why i never noticed it before but now everything i read there is TL Smiley R


18pop archer in 1v1 are very risky (as you can build skirms) so I assumed TGs. laming is actually viable when you know the matchup (e.g no point not to lame vs chinese right), and I think beyond a elo range laming is quite a good skill to have (its quite easy once you practiced

Not sure what you mean, but for most of my games the plan isnt linear, but has a lot of conditions (if opponent do boom i do allin, if 20p up i do defensive boom, 22p up i do aggressive tower) and quite reactive. Linear gameplans straight up will lose you elo if you face someone else who is creative enough (e.g. when you face hoang)

You can say that the game is about power units, but the timings of the upgrade/number of units are the true variation. For me it is increasingly important to check all upgrades, get what my opponent is doing (+0 vs +1 vs +2 knights are huge difference and indicates a lot of things, archer +2 attack is must but ballisitcs vs 2/3 range archer vs all in archer is also huge variation), you may as well think in this angle.