New QoL Feature: The special-drop key

I want to propose a new hotkey which is a little bit context-dependant and unorthodox. I’ll call it the special-drop hotkey, and I’ll describe it as follows:

  1. If a single unit is selected, it’ll unselect it
  2. If multiple units of the same type is selected, it will drop the unit with the lowest HP from the selection. It will not remove it from any control groups it belongs to.
  3. If multiple units of multiple types are selected, it will drop all units of a type in the following order: (Villagers, Trade Carts), (Trebuchets), (Scorpions, Rams, Mangonels, Bombards), (monks), (skirmishers, archers), (champions, halberdiers), (elephants, horse units). The brackets indicate that all of those units will be dropped together if units of multiple brackets are selected at once. i.e, if 3 crossbows, 5 villagers, and 2 trade carts are selected, all the villagers and trade carts will be removed at once if you press the hotkey. However, if you only have the villagers and trade carts, then villagers will be removed, leaving the carts selected.

Please note that this order is not absolute, or finalized. It should roughly be economic units, siege, monks, ranged units, infantry and cavalry.

Now, what are the uses of this hotkey? There are two different categories of uses. First, let’s talk about uses with a single category of units selected.

  • Better micro with mangonels and monks:
    This is arguably the most important one.
    This hotkey allows for some extremely cool tricks with the mangonel. You can have multiple mangonels selected, press attack-ground hotkey, target an area just beyond the group’s reach, press special-drop hotkey, press attack-ground, target an area, and repeat.
    If you are skilled with your timings and quick with the presses, you can simultaneously target a large amount of area. This can be used to counter large groups of archers or elephants if you have multiple mangonels. Also note that this isn’t a free shot. If you target an area where all the mangonels can hit, they will fire, and you won’t get that area of effect.
    Now, let’s talk about monks.
    If you want to use multiple monks for conversions, you need to select all of them, right-click an enemy unit, ctrl-click a monk from the bottom tab, right click another enemy unit, and repeat the process. This is extremely difficult to do for low-mid elo players. With this new hotkey, you can select all the monks, right-click a unit, press the special-drop hotkey, right click on another unit, press special-drop hotkey, repeat. This makes the process much quicker and more viable.

  • Drop units for healing
    You can select a large group of units which have gone through a fight, and spam the special-drop hotkey a bunch of times to drop all the low HP units. This is especially useful in raiding, because you can right-click near your monastery/castle/wherever your monks are, press the hotkey a bunch of times, and use the remaining units to continue raiding. All the low HP units will head back to heal, while high HP units will remain at hand to continue whatever you are doing.

  • Micro during fights
    If you are skilled, you can use a similar process with the stop and fire micro to make sure that low HP units remain in the front, out of reach of your opponent’s melee units, consistently.

The second category is when you have multiple types of units selected. A lot of people select all the units, and then use the bottom tab to deselect villagers and trade carts. This hotkey makes this process extremely easy. Some people, however, enable the setting to only choose military when you drag select. In this case, you will still select villagers and trade carts when you alt-drag. Special-drop hotkey comes in handy again.

One particularly annoying thing for me is when I drag-select, and it automatically selects unpacked trebuchets. This makes the process of moving units annoying because they begin to pack up the moment you right-click somewhere. Another one is when you accidentally have siege/monks selected and your units move extremely slow to accommodate them. In both of these cases, you can just press the special-drop to get rid of those slower units and allow your faster units to do their thing.

So, why not use control groups? There are a couple of reasons. First, it is common to have multiple units of different types fighting in different areas of the map in late game. So, you either have to use like 10 different control groups, or double click select units in a particular area. The first option is infeasible, and the second is difficult, when you have like 4 different types of units fighting all at once. This is especially true in team games.

Second, sometimes you want to select units in a particular area, and control group will call back all of them and effective stop them from fighting for a little while. This is especially relevant when you are trying to get your halbs to defend your siege, and they are spread out. You want your siege to continue doing its thing, while you also want your halbs to cover like 3 different areas near your siege to prevent those hussars from surrounding your onagers.

Third, it makes control groups more efficient. You can now have halbs and bombards in the same group (or select them at once), right-click on a castle, press the special-drop, and pull back the halbs a little. When you are doing a thousand things at once in the late game, this minor QoL feature can be a huge time-saver.

Overall, I think that this will be a neat addition. It allows for some skilled moves without breaking anything or making micro too easy. Please let me know what you think.


Overall, I like your idea.

I used to do this by shift queueing conversions with Theocracy, before it broke. Each monk converts a unit and the rest convert move on to the next unit. Devs apparently fixed it in the latest patch, but I have not tested it.

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I tried the shift-queing thing a couple of times and was confused as to why it wasn’t working. I didn’t know it was broken, it felt like it just wasn’t a feature. I’ll try it again.
My issue with that is it only works in imperial, and only with a civ which has theocracy. Monks are primarily a castle age unit imo. And of course, this hotkey has a lot more uses than microing monks.

would be nice indeed, and i’d like seeing that kind of command in aoe3 as well, the game where you cannot deselect individual units via UI portraits, would make up for that nicely

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it would be nice to select all fishing ship class type unit with a hotkey. (not justfishing ship… but the class, for both regular player and modders).

or better yet, let us customize which hotkey for which unit already.