Hoping this is the right place to ask for a change, not expecting nor demanding anything but I would love to see a overhaul to the way towers work. This is a longer post (essay length at this point) as I wanted to explain my reasoning carefully rather than just complaining without much thought and appearing salty which I’ve hopefully avoided.
Maybe someone reads this who could help make a change as I love playing this game but towers are pushing me away from wanting to play, having been rushed 7 of my last 9 games with 4 different civs. Small sample size, yes, but it is an increasingly recurring theme and highlights an underlying problem I feel there is with the game. Not active on forums so apologies if this has been talked to death already
TLDR: With how early outposts can land in your base the cost of outpost vs what you need to destroy it is too much. Particularly for average players playing against this strategy is not fun and pushes people away from the game, especially 1v1s and ranked. Put some suggestions at the end if you are interested… but now on to the main topic
I understand towers are an important part of the game, but the offensive capabilities of towers (particularly the early game) are too strong. It has got the point where even HRE players are coming in to tower your resources at the 5 min mark on ladder and in general any push made is simply more effective by constant towering behind it.
I am an average player - hovering between gold 2 and plat 1 - and keep this constantly in mind when reading this all, I am an average player with the perspective of an average player. I am not a pro nor close to it and this issue impacts those who aren’t as good as you may potentially be much more.
I know the main argument I will hear against this is that I can defend them better, scout better and micro better. I do agree with that! I can certainly make improvements, but I feel it is a very “un-fun” way to play the game and creates an unenjoyable experience even if successfully defended.
To dive into this - the enjoyment of an RTS for me comes from (1) managing an economy to (2) build units and counter the opponents strategy while (3) having the micro to outplay. These 3 points are what I wanted to focus on when making my case.
Towers remove all 3 of these aspects for me - (1) blocking the ‘safe’ resources which you can build your units with, (2) not having a direct or affordable counter in the early game and also (3), not being units themselves, there is no feeling of battle or a real fight against such a push.
Two points here, “safe” resources and damage to the defenders economy vs the cost to the aggressor.
Every game you start with “safe resources”, typically a gold mine, a stone mine, a patch of berry bushes, 2/3 sheep and 2 wood lines. These start next to your TC and are what you have to mount your first attack with and vie for map control - where I would argue the ‘fun’ is in an RTS game. Tower rushes deny these resources and stop you being able to contest the map. There can become a point where literally every resource of a vital type could be denied and you can no longer gather and play the game.
Should these resources be safe and guaranteed? In my opinion, no. See French knights or English longbow harass, they can swoop in and for periods of time deny a resources, even the ones under the TC. But you should not with a single unit or building (especially at 100 wood) be able to indefinitely deny a resource until it is removed. A single knight cannot deny a whole gold mine, the defender could build a tower or invest in a few spearman. Neither of these options would stop a tower. This is a HUGE difference. Only a proactive tower or proactively built units stop a tower, both which require investment before the aggressor has many any of their own, which brings us onto cost vs reward nicely.
The damage from the tower rush can be devastating when you don’t defend well enough. A single tower in range of any of your resources denies these completely until the tower is removed. This is a disaster for 3 reasons, as the defender may have firstly lost villagers to the arrows of the tower, the defender is then required to uproot the economy slowing the ability to respond and lastly it limits the resources you have access to to defend yourself with and muster that response. Behind this the aggressor is untouched and can generally skip feudal military investment as the defender is so preoccupied in their own base,
If you are completely unsuccessful defending you can find yourself with 7+ towers in your base, both pinning you in and denying every resource you have available to you - resulting in a guaranteed loss. The upside from the rush can be winning the game whereas in the worst case of failure it costs 1 to 3 villagers and 100 wood. In most cases it results in a large investment of resources to repel and disruption to the defenders economy and this feels somewhat disproportionate to the investment the attacker must put in.
I won’t go full maths and break down costs for each side but I will raise the point that a spearman costs 80 resources vs the 100 of an outpost. How many spearman do you need to kill one outpost with 2 vils in it if you aren’t pulling villagers to help torch (and how many resources would you lose in idle time in that case?).
You can argue that the emplacements cost resources too, but any time emplacements are up, I’ll argue that the tower has paid itself off in creating villager idle time, damaging units and completely denying certain resources already at that point. Emplacements cost 75 resources - less than a spearman - and mongols even get the stone quasi for free.
(2) Counter play and (3) Micro
Combined these as I do feel they are linked. It is not fun to play against a tower rush as for the most part you are not fighting units, but a building, and chasing the villagers who are jumping in and out of towers. After successfully defending a rush you probably have killed 2/3 vills, 3 outposts and maybe 4/6 spears if they are mongol. There was no grand fight, just a game of hide-and-seek where your units get hammered by a volley of arrows for any errors and when all is said and done you’ve just killed two villagers - but how much did you lose in the process?
The most effective strategy against towers and the one recommended (that I am aware of) is to get archers fast and use the range to pick of the villagers building them. The problem with this is that in many cases the first outposts appear in your base in the dark age or as you have just aged, meaning there exists an outpost near your base before you can build these. As i keep mentioning, every archer also costs 80 resources vs the outposts 100, so it is already a unfavourable trade, not to mention that the archer cannot siege the outpost nor outrange it leading to the ability to tower ‘creep’.
Tower creep is when you build an outpost in range of another outpost, so effectively you can protect the villagers building it by retreating back into the previously built nearby outpost - making the villagers immune to damage inside and also damaging any units chasing the villagers. The defender then must retreat and you can go back to trying to build the more aggressive outpost which is being protected by the first.
If the opponents micro is better or equal to yours I would argue you need enough army to destroy an outpost with emplacements and 3 garrisoned units to defeat the creep, as the attacker can micro units in and out of towers taking no damage if played well. I fully agree good micro should make a large difference in fights, but being able to make your units untouchable is too far and also removes the elements of strategy and macro which should also go into winning any game.
This is way too long already so I’ll wrap it up now. I know this might not affect the top level players but it really discourages people from playing at the average to lower levels that I have talked to. I genuinely do think this needs a change and even large creators such as Aussie Drongo have made videos highlighting how absurd these rushes can be, even if played perfectly at the professional level (see his video with the rus rushing with wooden fortresses - Think it was called “We need to talk about outposts”). And after all this I haven’t even touched Barbican rushes here.
I would personally like to see a change. I am not demanding any be made, nor do I think this post will make one happen but it would let me enjoy the game a lot more and if current trends continue I am not sure how much ranked I will keep playing.
So here the suggestions are. I know none will be prefect, but I thought at least I’d spitball a couple ideas to see what people think might work (if you even agree with me that there is a problem in the first place!)
- An upgrade to get an arrow attack from garrisons + reduced outpost cost
This would allow the outpost to continue to be primarily a reconnaissance building (as intended) in the early stages of the game. Outposts would start without an attack (you can still garrison but no arrows), but would be cheaper to build. Lets say 50 wood to build and 50 wood to upgrade, resulting in the original cost. This would help weaken the rushes as once an outpost is up, it can’t start immediately damaging villagers and would require an upgrade (lets say 30s) to be able to shoot any form of arrows.
This means villagers would be able to torch an outpost that is just been built and eliminates the race where you get a building outpost to 20% health, it goes up anyway and mows down a couple vils with arrows before going back down.
Would also result in more outposts generally across the map. Currently is rare to see many outposts just for vision on map (other than high view) and would incentivise getting vils out on the map to build these for vision. Might need a health reduction at 50 wood and get health back with upgrade but that’s balance for an idea that would probably never make it to game so somewhat irrelevant, although this is my suggestion I think would work best and not eliminate these rushes entirely. Just slows it down and makes it less oppressive
- Mongol TC radius
No outposts can be built in the TC area just like mongol TC. Mongol TC was the first real oppressive tower rush on steroids after all and this solution fixed that and should be easy to implement. It still allows you to outpost just outside your opponents base trapping them in and giving total map control, but at least lets them play the game.
- Influence area to build emplacements (in feudal)
A less heavy handed approach and would still allow outpost rushes. However, you would need to garrison units to get the arrows increasing the cost a little. Arrowslits upgrade would only be allowed to be built in influence of TC - think HRE. This would mean outposts emplacements in the early game are defensive only to help protect resources and would be removed in castle to allow for more map control with towers.
That is all Let me know what you think and if you agree/disagree, couldn’t cover every point and probably missed some but hopefully you get the general idea.
It is my opinion after all and I don’t play at a high level, so certainly don’t take my word as gospel, or even vaguely important for that matter, but hopefully I made some cases you can at least understand from the average players experience which I have.
Cheers for reading this monster till the end