The growing problem of "Mechanics Creep", and why it's bad in the long term

Some thoughts:

  • EM2 and EM4, imo, are somehow the same - the iconic part is that one civ suddenly spawn X units out of nowhere. The negative effect of all villagers dying should be seen as a cost instead of mechanic.

  • EM5 is kinda same as Letis imo, in the sense that they are armor stat-affecting abilities.

  • EM6 is semi same to the Slav bonuses - I do feel like it is different enough tho

  • EM10 is more or less like you gain X resources every minute, or like +X food income (instead of +X% food income). I won’t treat that as different mechanics

  • EM11 is not new as you mentioned.

I do feel like there are tons of mechanics, but I would like to direct the discussion to that some civs plays so differently than others, as opposed to checking the individual mechanics -

  • Dravidians has no (useful) stable. That is new, because they don’t get eagles to supplement as well
  • Poles has the UT which encourages some form of all-in castle knight push
  • Gurjaras don’t have knight but have knight variants

Imo you can have funny mechanics but still play the same as old civ, e.g. Sicilians have the funny tower mechanics but was played almost as another Frank civ in the end (and the UT was used but not iconic anyway)

I’ve heard that take before, but I completely disagree. From a game design perspective, they achieve fundamentally different things. Flemish Revolution is an all-in mechanic, most of the time. You either win with the revolution, or you lose. There are extremely few instances where you’ll be able to reboom and win from a reboom. But also, Flemish revolution is pop-dependent. How many units you have at the end is decided by how many units you have now. Additionally, you don’t require any buildings (except the castle) for flemish revolution.

The Sicilian UT is not pop-dependent. It’ll allow you to go over 200 pop limit. It is especially broken on, say, a 35 pop game where an extra 35 units will basically decide the game for you. However, it is TC dependent. You always want more vils, but you don’t always need more than 3 TCs. This tech forces you to create more TCs.

Flemish militia is not a tech you pick up in most games. However, you should always aim to pick up the sicilian UT if you can.

But all that is secondary to me. A mechanic that spawns a batch of units out of nowhere is fundamentally different from a mechanic that converts one type of unit (especially a villager) to another unit.

Nope. The difference is, Leitis mechanic only affects the leitis. However, the Obuch mechanic can be used by other units. So, a unit that is fighting an Obuch will have its pierce armour lowered, and skirmishers are suddenly a huge threat to that unit.

Let me describe it another way. Leitis mechanic doesn’t change the unit it is attacking. If it attacks a teutonic knight, the nature of the teutonic knight doesn’t change. Obuch on the other hand affects the unit it is attacking. The game now has to remember that the teutonic knight the Obuch attacked is fundamentally different from every other teutonic knight, and not just in terms of HP.

A leitis attacked teutonic knight is still a huge threat to a halb. However, an Obuch attacked teutonic knight will die to a halb (depending on HP, ofc)

It is a different mechanic because of one simple reason. It is dependent on the herdables garrisoned. This means that it is worth a lot more to lame the gurjara early and steal their herdables. It also makes gurjaras stronger on maps with lots of herdables. Lastly, it takes up no pop space, making it even more different from portugese feitoria.

From a mathematical perspective, there is a new formula for how much food a mill generates based on how many herdables are within it.

If you don’t want to treat it as a different mechanic, that’s fine. But I’ll take a hard stance with this one and say that you are just wrong here.

I don’t think this is even remotely true. Sicilians are one of the few civs which use infantry in castle age. In maps like black forest, oasis, or water maps, it is a common strategy to sneak in a few seargents, build donjons, and then spam that sequence repeatedly. There is some insight you need to figure out when to research their UT for maximum advantage. That timing is crucial.

Franks on the other hand are just a cav civ. You spam paladins and add support. Drop in a few castles too, I guess. There is literally nothing more to them.

This is actually really cool, and this is more of what we need, in my opinion. You don’t need entire new mechanics to make a civ feel unique or fresh. You have given some good examples.

The Standard Mechanics I’ve described are enough to create unique flavours for civs. I don’t think anybody is going to claim that Britons or Goths lack flavour, all both those civs don’t have anything outside the main 3 categories I described.

Rams and mangonels only block projectiles of defensive buildings. HW blocks all projectiles. That’s a very big difference.

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Side comment: Shrivamsa Rider’s dodging ability is a good fit on Woad Raiders who currently don’t have much character. Sandy Petersen in his Unique Units video (or was it an Ask Sandy post?) said he wanted them to have some kind of invulnerability power granted by the magical body paint (seriously).

Less fancifully, we can just say it’s them being agile warriors.


In addition to Hussite Wagons, Bohemians also give you the Hand Cannoneer one age early. The only other civs that do that are the Burgundians with eco and Cavalier upgrades one age earlier, and Cumans with Rams one age earlier.

I think in addition to just new mechanics being introduced, almost all civs from post-DE have had several of the mechanics at once. Even DE civs had at least one - Leitis with armor ignoring, Keshik with gold generation (and getting access to a new unit through UT research), Cumans with Rams but also Mercenaries giving your team free units (that you have to train - somewhat separate from Sicilians who insta-train all of the units), and Bulgarians with a new mini-Castle and a unit that resurrects as a weaker unit.

It does make old civs feel a little stale in comparison, and perhaps the new changes to UT for some civs can help them feel more modern, like Celts with Stronghold - even if I personally hate the idea of aura mechanics in AoE2. It just feels very Warcraft-y to me, and I don’t want the game to copy Warcraft that much. And I love Warcraft!

The supposed ‘hero’ UU from Roman civs, while admittedly making sense wrt morale and whatnot, I don’t want to see that mechanic introduced at all into the game.


Functionally, it is. As a mechanic, I don’t think so. Let me explain what I mean, feel free to disagree.

The way I conceptualize a mechanic is as the broadest set of rules that can encapsulate a common phenomenon or occurrence. This set of rules cannot be the complete lack of existence of a thing. These rules should be described in terms of, and considered as being applied to general categories like “units”, “buildings”, or “siege units” rather than individual units like “leitis” or “hussite wagons”. However, it can, and should, take partial occurrences and numerical differences into consideration.

This is a general definition which might not be intuitive without any examples.

So, let’s take the rams and hussite wagons. The broadest possible set of rule I can find here is:

“A unit is able to block some, or all of the projectiles of some, or all of defensive buildings, archers, gunpowder units, and siege. A block here means to prevent the projectiles from moving across the unit, and/or defend other units across it from the projectiles”

So, rams and hussite wagons would fall under rule. If the devs create a new unit which can block only gunpowder projectiles in the future, that unit would fall under this mechanic as well.

True, and this falls under the category of “Transposition Mechanics” I’ve described in the post.

I completely agree. That feels like such an odd thing and doesn’t fit into the larger picture of AoE2 at all. It is the second worst mechanic in this mechanics creep problem, I feel. After the shrivamsha Rider mechanics.


Mechanic creep has, totally ruined age of empires 3 to me. It used to be my favourite aoe game. I only came to aoe 2 due to it being more “pure”.

This changing slowly and slowly. And centurions aura is the tipping point. A maybe that was actually the leitis
When you start losing fights because of not knowing some special werid mechanic, then the game LOST its elegenace of simple but hard to master. Instead it becomes like League of legends where yiu need to know every single champion and what he can do or you are helpless.


They did this too in age of empires 3… :frowning: redid many perfectly fine vanilla civs like Dutch, brits etc. Because they are “too plain”. Ruined it for me. Aoe 2 will have the same fate. Same devs after all.

You can safely ignore any new additions and keep playing the civs like it was in 2006.
That’s a unique advantage of AOE3. It can hold a lot of contents without changing the “core”.

I wholeheartedly agree with the opening post in this thread.

The characteristic feature of the Age of Empires titles of old (AoE1/2) was always that the all the civs generally use the same core mechanics. They differ a bit in strengths and weaknesses, but all use the same buildings and a subset of the same general tech tree. Very different approach to Starcraft back then, but that was fine. They were just two different types of RTS.

The original devs were wise enough to leave a couple of weird mechanics (especially for the “raider” civs Vikings, Celts, Mongols) out of the game.
My analogy was always, it’s like chess: simple rules, easy to learn, hard to master.

This may be a bit controversial, but from my perspective, the first problems got already introduced with the Conquerors expansion, in particular with the Meso civs and the Hun bonus of not needing houses.

I never played anything past Conquerors until the release of DE, so when I returned to the game I was quite surprised by the large number of weird civ-specific mechanics at that point already (especially Cuman feudal TCs and Portuguese Feitorias), but this was nothing compared to what came with the recent DLCs. There is not a single Civ post DE release that is actually well designed in my opinion.

I will say this over and over again and die on this hill: If you can’t add new civs within the existing game mechanics, then it is a sign that the optimal number of civs has been reached already and there is no benefit of adding more. It does not make the game better.

But of course, the devs aren’t primarily paid to make the game better, but rather to produce content that can be sold.

Edit: Just as one addition a small thought experiment: Suppose nobody knew the game and it would be released in the current state now. Would it be considered well-designed? I don’t think so. It contains just far too many exceptions to general rules.


I agree mechanism creep is a problem.

Though there’s a lot of mechanisms I don’t mind specifically. I like the Folwark for example. I could see other people liking other unique mechanisms, and I don’t know where that leaves us when looking for common ground.

Another unique mechanism you forgot is the % bonus damage resistance from Sicilians.

I think you’re onto something here.
When a whole new family of mechanics is introduced of “get resources under TC” (lama, bushes, sheep) or “resource X also gives resource Y” it feels more like enrichment.

Perhaps I wouldn’t even hate aura mechanics anymore if they were properly explored. Not certain about that one though.


A lot of people seem to misread OP and diverge the topic into once again another complaint of “no longer simple/pure/chess or whatever” then “don’t introduce new features”.

I think OP is suggesting the opposite: if you want to introduce a new mechanics, give it to everyone. Not to the new civ exclusively.

That’s exactly what I suggested with AOE3DE DLC civs: they once introduced the one and only civ that has better mercenaries, while the rest still cannot utilize this feature well. Same goes for natives, livestock, revolution, etc. They even introduced new European natives exclusively accessible to new European civs not the old ones (some of which are far more relevant).
However thankfully through constant updates most civs are enriched to a similar level of mechanics/contents. That’s what I think OP would like to see regarding new mechanisms.
Well unexpectedly people began another round of “no longer simple/pure/chess“ but that’s a totally different topic.

I even used the exact same wording XD

It’s not necessarily power creep or p2w. It’s not always going to break balance. It just causes inconsistencies in the interesting-ness of civs.


Since I am obviously meant: No, this is not what I have been saying. It is specifically the problem of introducing specific mechanics that apply only to single civs.

It is the problem that these mechanics are not introduced to make the game generally better, but solely for the purpose to distinguish new civs from existing ones, which is otherwise apparently hard to accomplish at this point.

For example: I don’t mind adding a ability to garrison fishing ships in a dock, although it is obviously a mechanic that wasn’t in original AoK. I do mind, however, if this mechanic is given only to a single civ.


I think you are saying the same thing as I did…

Free general updates do not sell, so they happen slowly. Any new idea the devs have they dump it into the new civ.

Would just distributing these mechanisms to more than one civ solve the problem? Would Flemish Revolution become more aoe2 style if given to other civs?


Some new mechanics aren’t that bad (such as resource X also generating resource Y), but I surely don’t want more Flemish Revolution-like mechanics in the game. There is a good reason why Flemish Revolution is banned from KotD5.

And some new mechanics like the “dodge” mechanic of Gurjaras can be more or less accomplished with existing mechanics (=> extra PA), so IMO in those cases it’s also better to use the existing mechanics instead of re-inventing the wheel.


Thanks for reading correctly. You are absolutely right, I don’t have any issues with new features.

If possible, add the mechanic to every civ. This might not be possible in many cases. In those cases, try to normalize the mechanics by adding it to lots of civs.

Steppe lancer is a good example. 3 civs get it, and kamayuks get attack through units as well. Just 4 civs getting this mechanic sort of normalized it. I think most of the community accepts steppe lancers as a part of AoE2 now.

Potentially, yes. If enough civs get that mechanic, it would eventually become an integral part of AoE2.

However, this would also change the nature of AoE2 as a game, eventually. So, you have to be pretty careful with it. I would recommend normalizing most of the other mechanics over this one.

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the folwark collecting the food instantly in a radius also falls under this imo


I’m not necessarily against introducing new mechanics, but I do think adding new mechanics for the sake of it needs to be avoided, even if the idea is to expand those mechanics to other civs. A restrained approach is preferable here IMO.

Also, changing existing civs too much is something that should also be avoided, I think. If this is done, then it should be subtle enough that it doesn’t change their identity. For example Berserks generating gold from killing vills/monks/trade carts is subtle enough that it doesn’t change the Vikings identity too much, so that’s fine. But I wouldn’t be pleased if Woad Raiders suddenly got the “dodge” mechanic.


I don’t think kamayuks or steppe lancers are anything special. throwing axemen were already in AoK and this is basically the same mechanic. the difference is just that throwing axemen have higher range with their melee attack.

Leitis ignoring armour however I would single out as another bad mechanic. this is very unique, and imo bad, as it also feels very weird that enemy armour upgrades are suddenly a complete waste of resources.