New Handicap system for AoE2DE

New handicap system being introduced for non-ranked games. Sounds great!


This is actually a very interesting feature! Will absolutely try it with my friends!

However, I absolutely hate 1 very important thing about it: the counter adjustments.
The counter adjustment should have been the other way around IMO. double the received damage, not the dealing one. Or it could also have been kept untouched.
I get that this whole handicap feature is for leveling the ground between different skills, but this actually breaks the whole counter system instead of solving it.

Let’s pit 2 jaguar warriors on a 1v1: the 100% player would deal 10+10 - 1 damage against that 200%'s 100hp (6 hits) while the other player would deal 10+20 - 1 damage back to that 50hp (2hits) one. That’s actually more than 3 times stronger, isn’t it? . so military handicap actually scales way better than economy.

Shall we try it again? a paladin kills a normal halb in 4 hits and gets killed in 6. if we consider attack speed, paladin can kill or die to 2 halbs depending on the engage.
Normal paladin kills 200% halb in 8 hits. 200% halbs kills paladin in 3 hits. It is now the halb who can almost get 2paladin kills… reversing units, 200% paladin kills 2-4 halbs with no problem

Ask yourself this: which scenario should be promoted? newbie encouraged not to charge pikemen with his light cav, or newbie encouraged to train mostly trash units due to higher gold cost and damage?
So how about, instead of forcing the handicapped player to create counters, to actually force him to avoid enemy counters? Adding the scaling the other way around, a 200% hp unit gets 200% damage, effectively nulling the handicap bonus. There is no actual disadvantage for the handicapped. And is not like the player is not motivated at all to build counters. Halbs 200% would still shred normal paladins from that +32.

Perhaps 200% is quite a big factor to begin with, but nonetheless it illustrates the unfair scaling of the handicap.

As I said in the beginning, I really love the general idea, and can’t wait to try it with my friends, but you can’t just multiply everything as is and expect nothing to get broken. Maybe splitting military/eco handicap into 2 can be an even better solution. But as far as I see it, the additional counter bonus damage over all the other bonuses just breaks the game completely.


The real question everyone is asking themselves, is… at 200% handicap could I beat The Viper?


My 50 year old father who barely got through the Starcraft campaigns while using a guide in 1998 and hasn’t touched an RTS since then could not beat me 1v1 even with a 200% handicap, me deleting a vill to start, and me idling for 10 minutes. Some people are just not good at the game. You can adjust the scaling and I really doubt many people are going to use the full 200% handicap unless they’re playing with very young or very old family, or their spouse who doesn’t game at all.

The Paladin isn’t 200% at all, ever. The only thing that scales is production time and specific counter damage. The handicapped player would still get destroyed if they sent all their expensive Pallys into a hoard of cheap halbs, and they would pay dearly for it, reinforcing the counter system.

Where are these 200% HP units? The units don’t get extra HP at all except for vills. The only thing that changes with regard to scaling is the extra bonus damage, that’s it. A handicapped player at 200% and a player at 100% fighting with archers 1v1 would still result in both archers dying at the same time. Literally the only thing that changes is the production speed and the bonus damage if that applies.

This also isn’t meant to be a teaching tool. There are plenty of mods and videos for that already. This is purely a feature for if you want to play with friends that are stronger or weaker than you but you’d like to make the match more even. I would never recommend playing with the handicap for any significant period of time if you’re actually trying to improve at the game. If you notice that your opponent has mass paladin, with the handicap you can make a quick pivot to mass halb and have them be significantly more effective at taking out their army, as opposed to what would normally happen which is the paladins would crush you anyway because you barely have 10 pikemen out by the time they attack you. It’s just to make your opponent easier to counter.


Went back and looked again at it again, this time paying more attention to the end gameplay.
Looks like I have to say Mea culpa, youre right! Seeing those vils hp, building hp, and remembering other RTS handicaps, made me think military units benefit from that too.

That’s what I think too. I expect common usage in games like 1v1, 1200vs1500 as SotL said. And game scaling inconsistently between different factors seemed to me like the actual problem.

This was never assumed.

Got to say, this looks even better now, with no military hp scaling.
Cheers man!

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I am a little concerned that the breadth of the handicap system is going to impact build orders and teach bad habits. But, I suppose if people are having fun (rather than getting stomped) they will be more motivated into improving.

I love the increased bonus damage teaching players the value of counter units. I wonder whether decreasing boar damage and increasing deer lure cooperation would have been other areas to encourage. Lower house cost and a military discount would also support good habits.

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We only need to consider if there might be some units that will be OP in these situations.
Like propably the kamayuk

But we should also not forget how important pop efficiency becomes then with super efficient eco. I could see Persians being completely OP with an army of war eles + some trashbows with more bonus damage, too.

But I like the itention of the devs to encourage the players to learn about the counter mechanics and so on by making it easier and more revarding.
I think a lot of players learning the game don’t understand how the counter mechanics really work and often don’t get enough of the counters out. So making it more revarding in general to go for the counters is in my eyes a good decision from the devs, so players get rewarded more for the right choice even if they don’t know enough about counter mechanics yet.

But I think the best way to help newer players learning the game is to play on slow speed so they don’t get overwhealmed.

PS: Interesting also: Make your own challenge how much advantage you can give the opponent and still win… And I think even people like viper won’t be able to defeat extreme AI with 130 %. I think that’s jsut impossible (at least if the ai knows how to spend the res. But let’s wait for Vipers series.


Yes! The more games you play the more the basics become automatic. That frees up mental capacity for more complicated activities. A beginner has not yet developed that level of autonomy and needs more time to react and plan. Slowing the game down helps the beginner more than the expert.

I don’t think this option is for people who care about gitting gud.


No, its for those who have already got good and now want to crush 7 extreme AIs at once without breaking a sweat. :joy: :wink:

I guess this is for casual players, or new blood who want to learn and get familiar with civs without feeling threatened.

I do kind of wish that you could set a player down to 10% or something. That way the good player can go down, so the less skilled player doesn’t learn bad habits or anything, but they also don’t feel too outclassed.

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Yes! It does sound like a great idea. Can’t wait to try! I’m a faster player than those I play with, and so get attacked by AI first (since the AI targets the highest scorer at the time) and have to carry the burden of fending off all of the early attacks from multiple AI and defending the team, in general, until they feel they have a solid enough econ to start military and contribute to the battles

I think one more thing that would be very helpful with the handicap is to have towers shoot with more attack strength (and castles, too, but especially towers since they can and are made much earlier in the game). I say this because at least in my experience, the slower players like to build up a strong defensive turtle shell with several towers around their TC for protection.

  • It would help them be more self-reliant, rather than me having to come try to save the day; or them losing a bunch of econ production with villagers hibernating in TC and towers for a long time as the enemy lays waste to their town

Not in all cases. Sometimes people just aren’t as good and can’t be as good for many reasons. Everyone has some limit, otherwise we’d all be as good as Viper

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It looks interesting, but I feel like it should also work below 100%. Right now, you can only handicap up. But more often than not, there are 1 or 2 players that are way better than the overall group. It would be simpler to downgrade just them (i.e. 75% handicap) vs. having to upgrade everyone else.

Would it not work to just apply the same rules with <100%?


That sounds like a neat idea, too! That might be nice for those times where you want to choose an easy AI for other humans in the match but you know that would be way to way for you. You could apply, say, a 25% or 50% handicap to yourself to make it more challenging for you

That could even open up some fun 1 vs. AI matches for yourself. Choose Easy AI, but handicap yourself a lot to see how it goes. The AI behavior wouldn’t be annoyingly and persistently aggressive like Hard and Extreme AIs are, but yet it might be a nicely challenging match

EDIT: Ahh, nevermind. You could achieve what I’m saying just by giving the AIs a 150% handicap or something to boost their rates and abilities

Don’t think thi will work. You would be forced to have some idle tc time at the beginning and your feudal time would be much, much later.
I just tessted a teamgame 3v5 with 110 % handicap and it was absolutely insane what was possible there. Because of the much better timings I could make way less eco (stooped at 110 vills) than usual and snowballed the game with army numbers. It’s absurdly strong.
But the negative handicap would be even more of a difference maker as it would not only directly hurt the eco but also indirectly by not allowing you to constantly produce the vills you preciously need.

For example you need 5 shepherds to sustain vill production right now, but with 50 % handicap you would need 10. The starting food only allows you to make 2 addition vills, so you are stuck at 50 % production to yet alone keep your TC working…

Ofc that would be the ultimate challenge, but at the same time basically impossible to be competitive even against the worst opponents. And also boring cause you can’t do anytthing most of the time then…

Yep, it was just an idea to maybe have the lower level AI be more of a challenge. Seemed nice, at least in theory

Yeah, you have a point here. That may be the biggest issue

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I’m not so sure. Remember, the vils are being created slower as well as having the gather rate slow, so I don’t think it’s quite that bad. Also, don’t you normally need 6 shepherds unless you are Britons? That’s what pretty much everyone does, because 5 doesn’t normally bring in enough food.

Yeah its 6 unless britons.

I think vills are created at the same pace otherwise it would be totally broken.

And I don’t have the exact food collecting rate for shepherds in my head, maybe it’s indeed 6 shepherds which would make the whole thing even worse if you would give somebody a handicap below 100 %.

Edit: according to the wiki you would need even more than 6 shepherds… That’s surprising for me. I never had problems with 6 starting shepherds ^^