The creeping problem of civs that don't require map control

It’s really gotten out of hand. A fundamental part of the RTS genre is contesting the map, because the map has resources. Fights over resources are what make for exciting, emergent, dynamic gameplay.

There are too many strong civs that just don’t require any map control to execute their build orders. This is mainly caused by auto unit producing and auto resource gathering abilities of many civs. This is bad because it goes directly against the spirit of RTS.

Italy with lombards, USA with an Age 3 factory, Inca with kancha houses, Spain and Mexico with haciendas, Ethiopia with infinite coin mines in base, Sweden with torps and the ability to ship coin mines, and other examples that I can’t think of now. This even started on vanilla with Dutch banks, which people accept because it’s old school but I would argue was already a bad decision back then. Chinese porcelain tower/summer palace and Japan shrines also continued this direction.

I really think it makes gameplay much less fun when there is no need to fight over the map, all you have to do is execute a build order for a massive timing and see if your opponent’s build order will be better or worse than yours. It takes so much of the excitement and intensity out of gameplay. If you watch top level games between civs requiring map control (like Brits, India, Russia, France etc), there is always so much going on all over the map. It’s scrappy and exciting.

I think what happened is that people saw how awesome it was when players could pull off something like a fast industrial timing or super defensive turtle/boom, and then said, what if we made this strategy easier and more accessible in general? The thing is, these strats used to be exciting to watch because they were so hard to do with civs that generally require resources from the map in order to make units and age up. When you give a civ the ability to age and turtle as a default through auto-producing / auto-gathering buildings, the same strategies that were previously amazing to watch suddenly become quite dull and boring.

Nerf auto-producing / auto-gathering civ abilities and stop adding them to the game in the future. All civs should have to fight for resources on the map.


Completely disagree with everything, fights over resources don’t make it exciting nor emergent and definitely not dynamic gameplay, it mean that whoever get the hands over the hunts/mines win because there is no alternative.

Auto producing units are really situational and/or require cards, which is a price big enough to get them, on top of all the seconds needed for the spawning of such units.

Haciendas are a fun example, because they are bad compared to other similar buildings, they are inferior to mills because they cost more, they are the same cost of plantations but gather less than a rice paddy does for coin and hey are overpriced livestock pens that don’t even work fully as livestock since they fatten slower unless you are producing cows.

I think that the gampley is more fun when the players know they can make a comeback because they can get res in other ways than only hunts/mines or by controlling 75% of the map, the ones that control the maps will still have the advantage, those that are relegated to their base will have to find a way to try and get back up.

I think that what really happened was people saw how nice was to see games last more than 10 mins, and reaching later ages like industrial age, that and some changes to make it possible, and that is why the meta changed from “rush rush rush” to “what i’m gonna try now? FF? Semi FF? FI? or maybe the old and trusted rush?”

Don’t nerf auto producing nor auto gathering, and don’t stop to add them if they are part of identity of a civ, lets not try to make all civs copy of themself just because we are close minded and want everything to go how we want to

P.S. certain elements might need tweaks, like soldado for spanish, and they get the right tweaks that put them in line


Honestly i’m really happy that they put more natural resources on the map especially hunts. It just makes it less annoying when dealing with the guy who runs 3-5 hussar everywhere in age 2. As stated above it’s better then just having to rush every game. And in 1v1 you still need map control. Team games make it easier to hold back on your base and build up with your Allies.


fights over resources don’t make it exciting nor emergent and definitely not dynamic gameplay, it mean that whoever get the hands over the hunts/mines win because there is no alternative.

The basic dynamic of an RTS is that 1.) valuable resources that give you the edge exist on the map BUT 2.) trying to access these resources will put you in peril of being attacked/raided because you have left the safety of your base. If you make the strategic decision to not leave your base, you should not be able to gather resources or make units at the same level as someone who has put their economic gatherers at risk. But this is exactly what new AoE3 civ features allow you to do-- Swede shipping coin mines, factories, haciendas, kancha houses, Ethiopia Tabot giving you infinite coin in base-- they all undermine this fundamental trade-off that is the basis for strategic diversity in an RTS.

Auto producing units are really situational and/or require cards, which is a price big enough to get them, on top of all the seconds needed for the spawning of such units.

You can literally just sit in base as Italy and go Age 4 every single game. You never need map control. This is not “situational”.


I think the truth is that 1- most people do like the lack of rushes as old aoe3 was very limited in what was competitve build and deck wise. DE has opened up builds mostly for better and allowed less quick and brutal games. 2- people love auto gathering because it takes 0 risk and they dont have to think or play as hard. Im oversimplfying alot, but i see it all the time- new or casual players love being able to sit in base, focus on 1 area, not risk getting flanked or have to scout, and can get into the admittedly cool end game combos. This isnt inherently bad design but makes the attacker have to work 2x as hard in current state which i agree is not fair at all. Anyone whos played vs italy or old inca knows exactly ### you feel squamiger.

The problem here is 2 fold. 1- the turtler gets all the advantages with little downside. Less apm needed for macro, more ability to focus, and aoe3 units favor defense since culvs walls and towers with instant reinforcement via production vs opponent not having as much LoS or reinforcement. All you have to do is break even and bam, win every fight. Little strategy to it. The 2nd issue is the units needed to break this disadvanatge are often locked to age4 and are expensive. So vs a turtler/automacro civ, most other civs are forced to idle boringly till age4 since the defender wins so cost effectively you have to go late and hope your civ can win late. I think this last part is really key on the issue- working 2x a hard as the turtler, being much more vulnerable and forced to make better choices feels bad. Its a 1 sided affair where one player is given free tactical reign, the other forced into 1 often unengaging playstyle.

So how to fix? Well its tricky. The easier automacro is clearly popular. My thoughts are- allow better cards such as spice trade or new cards to allow map control to gain edge res wise should they invest. Also as devs are doing, Keep addressing building hp and size ( special churches, haciendas, lombards all need to be smaller and way less hp) and i think tower hp. This would allow age3 pressure to rip stuff down and punish passive play a bit better. Lastly, cards like advanced artillery or age3 mortars might be needed. Force them to eventually come out and play earlier. That way they can keep the automacro but it wont allow them easy time and they have to react instead of playing sim city for 20 minutes. Just my 2 cents


As long as they keep the stats to some “low risk low gain” formula I think those designs are fine.


As long as they keep the stats to some “low risk low gain” formula I think those designs are fine.

This is the “soft / moderate” position I agree with. I guess if you’re going to have these things in the game, they should just be balanced to be lower reward than they currently are.

But my hardliner stance is that no matter how well balanced these features are, they are fundamentally contrary to the spirit of RTS.

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I don’t know, C&C Generals also had secondary eco with buildings that create funds from thin air, getting there would put you at risk of running out of money so you needed to secure the resources on the map first and that game released 20 years ago when RTS was still big. But as you said low risk low reward is okay.

I don’t think this is necessarily the problem behind what you’re complaining about. Auto-gathering is fine as long as it’s offset by a high enough setup cost. It becomes an issue with the badly designed factory houses of civs like Inca and Japan. You need to build houses anyways so making them an auto-gathering buildings essentially gives resource generation for no cost that can be set up extremely quickly.

There are other issues that make people sit in their base without consequence. Japan’s cherry orchards mean they never have to leave. And lots of people just send crates to get by until age 3 and then spam shipments and ignore map control. Maybe reducing the quantity of second crates could reduce that.


I wouldn’t have a problem with this if it was only available from age IV with cards from age III.

Or they should make this much less profitable in the short term than it is now. Natural resources should be relieved from age 4.

I have a lot of thoughts and not much time to type them out rn, but this is why I strongly believe age of mythology got map control for lategame right - additional settlements allowing overpop. natives and tradeposts are intended for aoe3 to work the same but we all know that this is rarely the case in a normal game. tps just aren’t much eco in relation to an imperial economy.

The big issue I’ve always found with aoe3 is that age 2 raids are just… so insanely strong. My early rts experience with aom was that vills were very tough and capable of either fighting back, or were killed relatively slowly in early engagements. this meant while map res are risky, you dont lose your whole eco in seconds. Aoe3 it takes literally just 7 muskets to snuff out a vill instantly and dont get me started on uhlans. In base play is super viable because the risk for map res is too high imo

I don’t think haciendas are a problem. It is available from age 3 for Spain, and also the Spanish soldier does not improve automatically. But Mexico can have haciendas from age 1, and this always seemed absurd to me, since it is not only a crop, but also has a trickle of resources, can receive shipments and allows 20 villagers.

The porcelain tower never seemed OP or lamer to me, because it is wonderful and it is supposed to have an important role.

The shrines of Japan and the huts of Sweden basically give you map control and at the same time generate resources, since they always see the opponent’s movements and troops. It’s basically a distraction if you try to destroy them.

These buildings should have area denial near the influence of defensive buildings, TPs and urban centers. This way they won’t be built right in front of your nose every time they want.

Since large buildings are a disadvantage (occupying more space, more vulnerable), you are saying smaller buildings allow more flexibility in giving them lower HP, right?

As AoE3 goes on, buildings indeed have a trend of getting larger. Some comparison:

Building Size
House, Shrine 2 x 2
Mines, Livestock Pen, Bank 3 x 3
TC, TP, Porcelain Tower 4 x 4
Factory, Market 5 x 5
Estate, Farm, Rice Paddy 8 x 8 (field size)
Mill, Plaza 9 x 9 (field size)
Summer Palace 8 x 7
Torp 3 x 2
Kancha House 4 x 4
Kallanka 5 x 6
Hut 2.6 x 2.6
Granary, Field 3.7 x 3.7
Livestock Market, University 5 x 5
Cathedral 7 x 4.5
Hacienda 11 x 11 (field size)
Lombard 3.5 x 3.5
Basilica 8.5 x 7.8

I think a big part of it is that the starting res is enough for a lot of civs to jump into turtle mode.

I really want to see some Thar dessert style maps to be implemented again just to see how much that would shake things up, people have had it too good with starting hunts

even civs that dont have factory houses like china is infamous for FI and staying in base and india with the Karni build are also booming in base until their massive eco just push out

Its also not a coincidence then that civs like Russia are kinda down then cause their play style requires map control

edit: like thinking about it china have had an age 3 factory since like forever but sitting in base was never a considered a china playstyle and nothing about the wonder itself has changed that much so I really think map plays a big role in it.

I agree, I have always disliked Japan (and Japan 2.0, Sweden) because they can just build mini factories all over the map with no penalty. By the time you get troops with enough siege to take them down, super fast ashis show up and it costs you more resources to try to take them down then it does for the opponent to just keep spamming them all over the map. You take one down, chances are it cost you more than it cost Sweden or Japan to make it. And then by minute 8 you already lost because Sweden/Japan has a bunch of unraidable, un-idling mini factories all over the map. If you are going to have a feature like this which requires so much less skill/apm, you need the civ to have much much weaker military or something to balance this out. It seems like they pulled this off with Dutch somehow to some extent- dutch has no musks for example.


Dutch had no musk, buckriders are your musk now and it’s not hard to focus on gold to afford them, but at least they’re not pop efficient.

Banks are expensive and only generate resources.

Shrines are essentially free because you need to build houses anyways.

If Shrines didn’t also provide population room they wouldn’t be nearly as much of an issue.


Also the villagers cost coins.

I’ve been saying this for years, if banks supported population dutch would be immediately the single most broken eco civ in the game. Its balancing the need for houses and banks that saps your wood supply and keeps the civ in check.

Japan is kind of ok because shrines are genuinely quite poor per cost as an economic investment, but because you need houses anyways they’re always worth building.

Here’s my biggest frustration with japan and sweden though: they are also both the civs with some overtuned and (importantly) speedy muskets. There’s not really a single unit age 2 that has decent siege while also trading well with ashi/caroleans. If the units do trade ok they tend to be low siege or slow and can’t retreat.

Siege cav also exist and can be quite annoying to a japan player (since ashi, while strong at range, are not at all exceptional anticav in early age 2) - Caroleans are significantly better (ranged multi is a huge advantage) making siege cav essentially useless. Hausa comes to mind here since they don’t get a pike option at all.

Pikes and equivalent are the only real unit type that can outrun them and also siege but here’s the thing, if you task 10 pikes to siege a shrine / torp you have to watch them super closely because if you look away they will get wiped by even just 5 muskets in a matter of seconds and you will lose at least 1 more while retreating. It takes so much more apm to siege the factory houses than to defend them. And, unlike villagers, the houses dont idle at all including while being raided, they generate res uninterrupted even if you’re forced to leave it with 5 hp.

I don’t want to completely overhaul the civs but if a shrine or torp was forced into idle while being sieged that would already be a big improvement imo. Treat it like the repair button, deactivates while being sieged and stay inactive for a little bit afterwards. Give that a shot as a starting nerf, then you can at least throw a few torches and idle some eco before retreating if pushed. If vills are killed by 7 muskets instantaneously or by 4 axe riders in just seconds, why are factory houses so impossible to kill or raid or idle?

I have no justification for Inca design. The food trickle is just absurdly forced and offers nothing interesting at all to the civ. They dont even pretend to need map control the way japan and sweden houses do.

Edit because i have more thoughts.

I don’t hate the concept of torps, a building that gathers natural res is, in theory, interesting. It is the fact that they are also houses and also create new resources to gather (berries) , combined with infinite mines that makes them poorly designed and too advantageous. If you had to pick between houses and torps (not supporting pop anymore) to spend your limited early wood on, the civ would be significantly more interesting to play from a strategic point of view.

Any inca players out there, i dont want to suggest inca needs more nerfs and i know kanchas are poor, but thats exactly why the food trickle is just so stupid.


That’s a great point, speedy musks have massive synergy with the factory houses by stomping on anything that can actually siege them.

You’re right that Shrines are rather poor at resource generation, but once you get the Portuguese allies and card to reduce their cost, they’re way cheaper than houses and also deny hunts to your enemy. And it just makes zero sense that they double as a house. Actual Shinto shrines are just little structures in the woods.

Another approach could be to make damaged buildings collect at a slower rate. If a Shrine or Torp only has 10% of its health left, it should only gather at 10% of its base rate. It wouldn’t be too strong since they’re easy to repair, but it would eat up APM having to focus on actually repairing them. Maybe the concept could be applied to all resource generating buildings.

I hate that there’s actually a perfect building for this. Qullqas were Inca storehouses that could easily be something like a Bank but with food generation instead. Just make the gimmick of Kancha Houses that they give you a free Llama when built.

I don’t mind Torps as much since their generation relies on natural resources, you don’t deny your opponent resources, and they actually make sense being a house. I’d keep them combined with a house, but make them scaled down ~20% in all respects other than cost. Make them only support 8 population and increase their limit to 25. That way you’d have to spread them further out and they’d be individually easier to burn down. I’d also like to see Sweden’s villagers train at a slower rate than normal and have a normal build limit of 99. It would balance out their Torp boom while still allowing them to have a decent economy in the late game.

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