[Discussion] Arabia, Meta, Possible Changes

Claim #1: Meta is a single-dimensonal manifest of pseudo aggression

Aka Skirmishers meta, even during the KOTD tournament, no matter how games begin, no matter the civ match up, no matter the map generation, it always involves a defensive Archery Range with a production of the most passive-aggressive unit- the Skirmisher. Masses of Skirmishers throwing spears at each other, buying time for either of the opponents to establish walls and farm eco. No real strategical progression of the game nor gaining any map control. Status quo of nothingness.

Claim #2: Arabia isn’t the Arabia we’ve been playing for 20 years.

I’ve been writing quite a lot about the Desertification of Arabia, including comparisons between the Different Maps, getting into details regarding the major parameters, the fact we have about 40% less trees, Larger Distance From the TC, and overall the amount of woodlines per player/map.The common misconception is that AOC Arabia was extremely open, practically it’s wrong, though the terminology of openess/closeness is too reductive to begin with. Arabia had much less woodlines, and therefore less wallable, yet more trees. (per woodline)

Clain #3: The evolution of the Meta is highly correlated to the desertification of Arabia

Arabia has now tiny woodline that reward by default every Archery Range play, both defensively and offensively, the game has been stripped of its strategic aspect once a tactic becomes mandatory. Multiple tiny woodlines that can be easily harrased by Fletchingless Archer, that just call for a wall to connect between them. Followed up by a mass TC Castle Age (unless you were forced to build a defensive tower), most of the voluntary 1 TC strategies has been brought to extinction, no more 1 TC Arbalester, even Hoang goes mass Skirms these days. One is simply busy with his own unrelenting survivablity- lacking the time and resources to establish a strategy, a gameplan, an actual power spike.

Suggestion: More Trees (per woodline). Less Woodlines.

I modified Arabia to become a hybrid between AOC Arabia and the current KOTD Arabia we have, for maximum strategic diversity while increasing the inablity to fully wall a quarter of the map with a chain of tiny woodlines. This won’t nerf the current Militia into Archers meta directly, but would enrich it with more proactive Scouts play that doesn’t rely on a Skirmisher follow up necessarily, and would even bring back the viablity of Tower Rush due to lack of multiple wood options and the fact resources are closer to one another. FC will still be hard to be pulled off and most importantly the midgame will be free of the mass TCs enslavement, having a reliable long-term-ish woodline.

Thank you for reading! would love to hear what you guys think, it means a lot.


It seems interesting. However:

What do you mean? If they started changing Arabia several years ago, maybe as early as HD release, I’m not sure I see how we could have been playing it for 20 years. Just saying. :wink:

Tbh what I find ridiculous is the fact no matter how we change arabia, be it more trees → easier walls, or less trees → harder walls, the meta always gets more and more wall-y, scouts see less and less play, feudal archery ranges are a 100% guarantee, the only goal in your game is to reach castle age without losing too many vils, 95% of the time by opening maa/drush.

Used to be maa meta, now it’s militia meta. Still the same archery range play.

I’m sick and tired of it, and it’s all because archers actually scale into crossbows, and because add 2 spears to the archer mass and there is no way to engage it with a scout.

The castle age powerspike is too big imo. If it were up to me I’d make aging to castle 30-45-60 secs slower. In aoe3 the colonial → fortress ageup has always been the longest, and there it’s not even that enormous of a powerspike. In aoe2 you virtually can’t engage castle age units with feudal ones.

Also make scouts and lightcav attack at the same speed as hussars. Small buff, scouts now see very little play, castle age light cav never sees play, I think that, with the ageup nerf might just do the trick with making the meta balanced again, where every opening has a chance.


First, I like this thread. I think it is a good opportunity to exchange our different perceptions of the current game development. I also thought a lot in the past days (that’s also why I didn’t wrote much) about we wouldn’t be able to discuss these things if the past changes didn’t happen. I think these changes (besides many people like me don’t like them) actually give us a better perspective what’s really happening and for a very long time many of us (including me) had a fatal misconseption of the game. And as always if something like this happens there comes up confusion and sometimes even denial. I think it’s important we speak about this and also invite all people who actually don’t share our ressentimental (in the positive way) perception of the last changes to the game.
I think we all agree, that Arabia isn’t Hideout or Arena. It is a map that usually was seen as revarding players more for taking initiative than the mentioned maps. A lot of us disagree to what grade, but I don’t think we should open that bottle here, it would only lead to bad blood if anything.

I think that’s understandable. Archers are just the best feudal unit, but skirmishers counter them. And you can make skirms from the same building and with the same upgrades. That’s a general design flaw of the game, but it’s since the beginning and I don’t know how to realistically change it now, after 21 Years. There were some proposals like making the skirm an “infantry” unit. But besides it may solve the issue, it would just be cringe.
In castle age we have a way better balance, as siege is so effective against archers. But promoting siege to feudal is probably also a bit weird. But maybe we should discuss this at some point. Scouts would be quite a nice counter to siege, especially in feudal where you can’t field as much support army.
I also proposed to move monks to feudal. That wouldn’t make archers worse, but skirms would be a bit less effective and scouts would have one more utility. I proposed to reduce the conversion range of monks so they can’t outrange archers (mainly because of woodline herassment. But maybe, if monks would have minimal higher range this could possibly balance feudal warfare.
I know that these proposals look a bit cringe, they break with the tendency of “don’t change the game that worked for 20 years”. But actually that’s exactly what we did when we changed Walls and Arabia several times. I don’t accept if people demand such type of changes on specific things and refuse them on specific others, If we want to go that path we need to be open to all kind of changes cause with the complexity of the game if we restrict our possible levers we go heavy risk of just making things worse cause we just use the wrong ones. We must be open even to levers that at the first view look cringe like changing skirms to infantry. Even if this specific change may not be the right one, it can lead us to a better, more “realistic” solution.

Totally agree there. I and some others made already attempts to find a more usable classification of maps. I personally gave Arabia the state of a “versatile” map, a map that can be played with all kind of strategies. Especially the basic one: If you want to play more “proactive” and seize the initiative or more “reactive” and try to be more greedy. It’s what always fascinates me on arabia, that high diversity of strategic gameplay, the clash between the different personal preferences of the players. At the same time it opened me to play different every game. I usually prefer to be the reactive type of player but sometimes I want to play proactive myself. I like if the map gives me that high strategic variety to open whatever I want.
I don’t have anything against “agressive” types of maps. Only if it’s too agressive like socotra I ban it, cause I feel too restricted. (I also ban Fortress/Arena for the same reason btw)
I just don’t think that Arabia should be put in the same category as Atacama or the mentioned Socotra. These are clearly agressive maps and Arabia, for very long time, was that unique one map where you could play everything. I don’t understand why Devs decided to take away that uniqueness of the map.
I can understand if a part of the community whishes a more “agressive” version of Arabia and I would be happy if Devs leave the current version of Runestones as this more agressive version in the permanent pool (Maybe even more agressive). But what I don’t understand is, why devs decided to take away the unique spot arabia was in before with no compensation. And no explanation aswell.

I think it can be part of a solution, but your modified version woodlines are a bit too thick imo. Maybe something in between would be nice. I also think the last step of the desertification of arabia could be reversed. I actually like that some woodlines can be ranged by archers. It doesn’t need to be every woodline, but I think it gives the game some depth. You need to care about your vills. It’s not good if it’s too easy to get away with greed. You should only get away with it if you actually are able to react properly to the initiative taken by the opponent. Ofc it’s hard to find the right balance, but the current version of every woodline being rangeable by archers is a bit too much indeed and maybe also one reason of the current heavy archery range play aswell.

Yeah I already discussed this in several other threads. IMO the reason for this is just the important role walls play in the strategic design of the game. Raids are extremely devastating. If somebody kills 4-5 of your vills in feudal and you get nothing in retaliation the game is basically over.
Add to this how fast Vills actually go down when attacked and you immediately know why people are walling: If you misposition your army just once and the opponent raids you, you are dead. It’s way too easy and way too fast and you don’t have anything to stop it. Walls just give you enough time to react to it, prepare a defence before it is too late. And currently there is just no alternative to that utility of walls. That’s why people using them. If there was some alternative I would be very glad to use it, cause walls also cause some issues I don’t like, like the mentioned problem with the balance of scouts vs archers or defending with monks and mangonels behind walls (turtling). But i will come to this later.
I don’t have a solution yet, but one Idea could be to give players more tools for vision/scouting. That might be hard to accomplish as you need to find the right balance between seeing army movement of major forces and not making it too easy to detect cheeky and sneaky plays. Especially countterraids might be a big issue there cause an attacking player with a lead naturally also gets a lot of vision and could possibly abuse any addititve vision tools to detect any counterraid attemp. This could destroy a - in my eyes - very important comeback mechanic we should try to preserve.
I try to summarize: I also don’t really “love” walls. I maybe don’t mind them as much as many others seem to do, but I would be glad if there was something more sophisticated, something that requires more “skill” to use. But atm they are just too essential in the game balance and we don’t do us any favor in trying to disabling them, cause as long as they still provide any utility as mentioned above they will be used, no matter how expensive they are made. Cause you just need them, there is no alternative.

Yeah, a very important topic actually. Maybe we should make a different thread to discuss this explicitly.
Yesterday I watched this:

I will try to analyze what happened there first:
Here we see scouts working extremely well. And the main reason for it is that the opponetn basically didn’t used walls (only very limited). Scouts are designed around their mobility, so walls that restrict them to hit different spots in rapid succession make them useless very fast.
But as we see in this game, if there are no walls that restict their movement they can idle the whole economy and even kill a lot of vills. I know that ZhaoYun also made some mistakes in this game and it could have developed differently if he diddn’t made these mistakes.
Nevertheless the game generally showcases how strong scouts can be if they can use their special ability - their speed.
I know that a lot of people don’t want to hear that, but imo the solution is to give the light cav 1 range. This way, because of their high speed, they have the chance to keep the opponent from finishing his walls for some time, so they can actually do some kind of damage as long as their are still a few openings in the opponents walls. It could also potentially synergize with a small drush as the drush would force the opponent to wall ressources - what wouldn’t stop scouts with 1 range from hitting them. Normally you wouldn’t see a scout player opening drush but with this little tweak it could make sense strategically. Ofc for the extra range scouts need to be nerfed on other stats like their damage output.
This idea is intended to be a compromise. As long as Walls play this important role in the strategic balance but heavily disvafour scout play, I think it’s a good concept to give scouts a way to keep open some gaps in the walls just long enough to get some damage in. You usually don’t want to go mass scouts anyways cause you know that archer + spears are just superior fighters in an extended feudal battle. (That’s actually one of the mistakes made in the linked game: ZhaoYun threw away his army numbers before he hit the critical mass and never retaliated from that loss. But in general mass scouts aren’t a concept you want to go for, as it is just not as good in a direct standoff once the archer player hit the critical mass.)
So the idea here is to give scout openers a bigger time window by actively delaying walls of the opponent to be finished if going for a scrush. So the scouts just have more time to do damage.

BTW what I expressed here is also part of the explanation for me why we don’t see as much scout play. If there is a more expanded feudal, the naturally strongest unit of that age becomes the dominating play. And that’s just the archer in feudal (and then ofc the counter, the skirm). And I actually don’t mind this. I think it’s ok every age has it’s dominating unit, it’s one of the elements that keep the game rolling.
Dark: Militia, Feudal: Archer, Castle: Knight. It’s actually nice that they all come from the 3 different military buildings. That leads to a very interesting and entertaining natural progression of the game.
And it is also one of my thoughts that influenced me for how I would adjust scouts in feudal to make them more viable. I see them as a tool to set up for the later Knight powerspike you want to use as a cav civ. That means you actually don’t want to spam mass scouts in general, you only want to make a few to herass the opponent while you are trying to get up faster.
And the archer player should be fine with hitting castle a bit later cause this would mean he has more time and eco to mass up his archer numbers to upgrade them to crossbows. We all know how hard it is for a knight civ if this order is reversed, as xbows are such an insanely strong unit against feudal army (not that knights are bad, but if you can keep them from hitting your eco they can be dealt with for some time. But with xbows it’s extremely hard to deal with, cause you can’t really keep them from hitting your eco (other than placing a lot of towers).)

I think that is the progression of the game we should aim for, giving the different opener strats different powerspikes to reasonably work with, that are achievable with the respective timings. Ofc we will always see a lot of deviations from it. But I just wanted to state that currently it’s often that the archer plaer actually has the upper hand of even hitting castle (cause the knight player is forced to play skirms) which leads to archery dominating everything as the xbow powerspike is just too big against feudal army. Especially feudal army that deviates from the powerspike you aim for. It’s very costly to make a transition from skirms to knights, especially if you are often forced to upgrade your skirms in castle.
I think it’s a very crucial flip point, Knight civs are designed around using that castle age powerspike and we should allow them to generally get it a bit earlier. If it is the other way around the natural progression of the game is disturbed and that leads to the stale meta we are witnessing. (Drush FC into xbows was most likely also that strong because it took away the faster castle powerspike knight civs usually want to use - at the expense of having no army to upgrade when hitting castle. Ofc it’s often also a good strategy try to take away important powerspikes for the opponent.)
Just to recapturize that’s why I think it’s a good idea to give scouts that extra range, so they can keep some holes open to damage the opponent eco for a short time. I think it’s utopial to try to “balance” scouts and archers in feudal, the units must be seen in the wider context and progression of the game. Because of the high eco investment when going for scouts it’s also actually impossible to achieve cause you must then ask “at which point in the game?”. As the first few scouts can be paid with free food, then you need to add a lot of farms and then you can spam them again cause your farm eco is working. It’s a weird up and down in the power comparison between archers and scouts that isn’t solvable. I just don’t think there is any solution for that. And it’s also not necessary, it’s only important that in the progression of the game both openers on average give similar value.

Here I disagree. I don’t think this will work.
First point: As I explained above, it’s not possible to balance scouts and archers imo. And also not necessary.
Second point: It doesn’t help against walls. Villagers still can quickwall against these scouts and then finish the unfinished walls once the scouts moved away. Imo that’s the crucial part of making scouts more viable, to stop - for some time - the opponent’s walls to be finished. Scouts can’t hit any eco it the opponent is fully walled and then their usage is limited and more subtile (getting map control, vision, killing reinforcements etc.). So to make scout play more viable it’s importent that they themselves can delay the opponent walls from being completed for some time. But only scouts should have this ability, as walls are such an important tool we don’t have a replacement(s) for yet.

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We could make it so that every civ can garrison villagers in houses. I know that’s the Khmer bonus but it is natural for humans to seek refuge in their own space during dangerous situations and also you wouldn’t need so many walls, just good reaction time. In the end you still take damage through idle time but you are less likely to lose vills.

And maybe lessen the bonus damage that scouts receive from spearmen. Currently, a spearman doing 3+12=15 attack damage vs a 45 hp scout takes away a third if its hp. Archers with 30 hp take 2+3=5 damage from skirmishers, only 1/6th of its hp. Always seemed like much less of hard counter to me than spearmen vs scouts and it doesn’t surprise me therefore that scouts see little play, being walled out and countered very easily.

Something that also bothers me is that archers don’t have a minimum range. If you’ve ever shot bow and arrow you’ll know that that isn’t very realistic. I can’t imagine medieval archers doing much damage while their opponent is literally right next to them. Historically, the archer would switch to melee or… Just die to that. Perhaps scouts were more useful if archers would struggle against them also without micro. I know that seems like giving scouts an unfair advantage but remember archers can hit targets over buildings, can be upgraded and therefore are much more valuable than scouts.

I might be just rambling at this point, I just really prefer cavalry I guess and I wish scouts was more viable


It all begins and ends with practically removing the counter to greedy FC strats of Tower Rushing by weaker Tower stats and map design. Make Tower Rushing great again, and all of your OP walling problems will disappear just like that, with no room for debate. And I like OP’s map design for doing this.


I just want to remind the devs, after everything that needs to be said about the last changes to arabia is said: The Silence isn’t because we have complied to the situation. It is only cause we already said what needed to be said and we don’t like to repeat the same story over and over again.
And that’s also exactly what we don’t like about the development arabia turned into.

Towers were never the counter to FC, towers were one of the most disgusting ways to gain map control with no micro or skills, something that got more disgusting when they implemented man at arms meta+towers, basically that is still is the meta on voobly, nerfing towers was a good step.

Problem was decreasing trees on woodlines, low latency leads to quick walls(fornite) so scouts rush and even drush can be easily rejected, so the only proper counter and meta for such conditions are man at arms+archs and market up, cause man at arms+archs can break the defensive structures better than any other unit in feudal and the archers can reach the lumberjacks.

To diversify the meta we need:

More trees in the woodlines+flat grounds for woodlines= this allows better tc placement, better villager pathing and more strats available.

SCOUTS not lc or hussar/winged thingy with a +4 bonus vs palisades.

Negative armor for unfinished buildings and negative or 0 armor for non defensive structures.

Fixing TC resources repair bug, hoang strats and douches need a fix, repairing the TC can’t be that expensive like currently it is, i think right now it is 3 times more expensive to repair the tc, that is just too much and it has been exploded for many many years, also remove the stone requirement.

Xbow upgrade more expensive or Elite Skirm upgrade cheaper.

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I was under the impression that the skirm proliferation was just an inevitable consequence due to the unbalanced counter system in feudal age I.e. spearman >>> scout > skirm > spearman. I.e. it’s much easier to counter scouts than any of the others which means skirms aren’t kept in check as much. Additionally scouts are the only unit that aren’t worth upgrading in CA outside of niche circumstances. Just a hunch though I could be wildly wrong :slight_smile:

I agree that scouts need to be better, but giving archers minimum range will probably go too far. We already have skirms with a min range, having archers would just be painful. I really just prefer archers usually to be honest, but I also wish that scouts were a lot more viable, and if anything, drushing and all M@A plays to be nerfed into oblivion, because I hate infantry.

This is a good point but spearman don’t have mobility, so the scouts player should be able to just run around in circles avoiding them. Or micro the scout the spear is targeting away from him while the other scouts kill the spear. Even without micro, the scouts with upgrades could jump on the spear and still have enough HP left to kill some vills. Also nothing to stop the scouts player from adding archers or skirms. So yeah I don’t think nerfing spears is the right move although I do agree change is needed.

What if skirmisher upgrades were a separate tech but cheaper? Or no gold cost for skirm fletching upgrade maybe?