The Stealth Mechanic and its Counterplay

*(apologies for the first, now deleted, post; apparently, I had formatting issues I didn’t know how to solve)

So it has been revealed that the Malian civilization will introduce the unit stealth mechanic (i.e. stealthing up actively outside of stealth forests) along with a building landmark that provides stealth (Gamescom interview). While this mechanic may be unique for the Malians, it’s possible future civs (such as Japan) may also have an opportunity to use this mechanic. Who knows, maybe in the future even an aoe3-esque assassin unit could be introduced to all civs or something (I’m not saying that’s a good idea, just spitballing). It is entirely possible that this mechanic is intended to remain unique to the Malians forever. We don’t know yet. It may also be the case that the Malians are balanced heavily around proper exploitation of this mechanic to offset other vulnerabilities like their lack of heavy armor.

With all that said and caveated, some members of the community (yes, such as Beastyqt-we all know forum warriors rush to say whatever he said on stream immediately on reddit and the forums-not entirely without merit, however) have brought up the issue of counterplay, and after thinking about it, I do agree that active stealth should have some form of counterplay. It’s one of those mechanics across many, many pvp formats where it can be incredibly satisfying as the stealther to unleash hell, and incredibly frusting as the victim to be harrassed. While in an ideal world we should all have the mentality of monks perhaps, that is simply not true, and not just for game balance, but I also think counterplay is great to…counter…the inherent toxicity that stealth killing breeds in pvp.

So, without further ado, I have 2 thoughts and ideas for universal (as in all civs could use these) counterplay for stealth that I thought I would share.

The first one: Active Outpost/Tower Scan Skill.

Basically, the premise is that every outpost or certain unique landmarks (like Kremlin) as such would have one active ability (which would then go on cooldown-it could be called something like “Town Watch”) to scan their radius that would reveal any stealth units. You could have it so all stealth units in attack range get revealed (and attacked presumably), but maybe any stealth unit in los range that is stationary stays in stealth, adding another aspect to counterplay upon counterplay. I think this ability should have a relatively short cooldown (say 7-10 seconds), but you could even add in another mechanic to lengthen the cooldown the farther away from a Town Center the outpost (like 1 second every 2 tiles past 15 tiles away from a tc) is or something (not only for immersion but also because stealth should be harder the close to the defender you get, and easier further out on the frontier etc.). I also think this patrol skill should incur a small cost in food, like 5 food or 10 food. Food is the easiest resource to get mid to late game once you transition to farms so it may be asked, why bother with a cost at all? I think the cost should basically be low enough that resonable use of the skill is pretty much neglible, but constant spamming of the skill does actually slow you down just a bit because the stealth counterplay shouldn’t be mindless. If an opponent causes actual paranoia and you are spamming the skill, they should be rewarded with you incuring a slight penalty to your economy.
*Small clarification after reading-I’m an intending that this active skill is unique to each individual outpost, so the cost of 5-10 food would be per outpost as each outpost would individually scan its territory. It would not be a global scan.

The second: utilize the added “patrol” function that was added to the game or add another formation.

So the first option placed stealth counterplay in buildings, but this option places it with the mobile military units. One could have it so that units set to “patrol” can see stealth units. But, of course it can’t be that simple…there needs again to be counterplay. Well, while it may be counterintuitive, I think best option from a “gamey” standpoint is that units set to “patrol” take more damage from attacks. “Patrol” could be adjusted so that units set to patrol receive a debuff like -2 melee/-2 ranged armor. (not sure on ideal values of course). So you can actively search for stealth attacks, but by doing so you put your units at greater risk if they discover the ambushers. I think it should be this way because stealth should still be powerful, and counterplay to it should still have costs, but it should be possible to mitigate stealth’s advantages through alternative costs.

A third simpler and more boring option is for there to be a simple stance or formation “caution”, which has your units move much slower, but with the ability to spot stealth from farther out.

Anyway, these are my thoughts, and while the PuP is still a month out and we still don’t know much at all about these civs and what other changes are coming, I wanted to share some thoughts on this new mechanic as soon as possible. It could be that adding something like this would break the Malians as is (and they are most likely going to be high on the unique civs tier list up there with Mongols) and I guess I would simply say to that: I think counterplay is so important, Malians should then get adjustments.



Yeap they should have answered more about this mechanic, but well see in the next month PuP.

From what i see it’s kind of a DT(starcraft 2) but with reveal when attacking. So the sc2 version is more powerfull.

  • This will change alot of things when playing against mali and even with counters it could be very anoying to beginners.
  • Plus the balance is going to be interesting. Too many counters=useless unit. Too little counters=anoying.
  • In Sc2 every race has some form of detectors 2 protos, 2 zerg and 3 terranas possible 4 (spiders can attack but don’t reveal)

I believe each new mechanic will have a counter play. Stealth isnt new in aoe series and the counter has lways been towers keeps towncenters and heroes having pasive ability to reveal sleath units.

My guess since the stealth isn’t a permit ability they won’t give all the counter play mentioned above. I would make towers auto reveal once witin 6 tiles of said tower. Actually? It depends if they allow the units to attack while in stealth??

They said that attacking removes their stealth.

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In that case the only benefits of the stealth then is ambush and scouting, and since its on a timer then i don’t think there should he multiple counter play to it? Maybe something like scouts can reveal units once scout is within 5 yalms of said unit. Towers also maybe but its touchy IMO bc of towers can blanket reveal then it completely trivialize the mech. Same with a scan ability. I think i like the idea if towers and scouts only can reveal sleath units but only when the unit is within 4 to 5 yalms. And this is still dependent on how long the ability can last and if movement speeds are altered during stealth?


I agree it doesn’t need a lot of new counter play added, but yeah maybe towers and scouts in a short range.

My guess is the mali hunter woman, man-at-arms like unit available in age 2 will be faster than Palace Guards (1.475-1.5 tiles/s), 0 armor, 15 to 17 melee attack!! 1.25s attack speed, 50s stealth on a 90s cd, will be classified as a new unit type (shock infantry weak to spears), 80-95HP, and will have the ability to LOS thru the stealth forests!! And should cost the standard horseman/MAA cost of 120 resources (since its a gold civ ill guess 90‐100f and 20-30g) 22s train time.

Scouts can reveal stealth units once 5 tiles or less near said units.

A unit with suggested stats will be utterly useless in a mass fight as they would be mowed down as soon as they reveal themselves; think fire lancers in main fights without a splash charge dmg…but amazing at raids!

Off topic but I’m proclaiming it here and now that donso( the range attack spearman) tower rush us gonna pollute the ladder, unless the cooldown on the spear range attack is long, like 20s between range attacks.

(Open up donso asap and have 1 donso and 1 scout harrass enemy gold mine and delay their age up forcing a tower or barracks; meanwhile gather up wood for a tower along enemy woodline, at the same time keep building gold mine pits all over the map!! All the while using the donso range attack exclusively to fend off villager pulls). Gg go next

And another thing . They are Age 4 units. So you don’t need extra precautions till then.

So towers and scouts with activated abilities are enough.

According to the offical info they’re age 2 units!!!

So start off with the donso tower rush while taking 2+ gold pit mines then age into further harrament using these women!!! The whole design of this civ is mongol minus the nomadic stuff, with zero armor, i see this civ being very very oppressive and hated like mongols use to be!!!

Yea but the units that have stealth outside stealth forest are the Musofadi Guner wich is an Age 4 unit.

Anyway, we can only guess until PuP hits next month.

I would have liked more info from that interview.

Yep. I can even imagine the new threads emerging.

Relax guys, there will be so many bugs when this releases that we will have a good chance to all get to conqueror!!! But for real they couldn’t get the phalanx to work properly when it released what do you thing will happen with invis units… i bet an army that never shows.

No the Musafadi warrior is an Age 2 unit, the Musafadi Gunner is Age 4.

According to the stream today they both have stealth.

Complaining about hypotheticals now huh.

I guess that’s what you have to do in trying times such as these when people are excited and happy about the game.

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Of course, that is already applied by the Native units and European Spy of AoE 3…

Units cannot switch to stealth mode if enemy units or buildings are nearby.

Some units and buildings have the Sees Stealth tag and will uncloak stealthy enemy units within their LOS. Not all stealth units are also anti-stealth. Notable anti-stealth units include virtually all skirmish Heroes, Forts, Outposts, War Huts and Town Centers.

When Spies is researched, the player can see other players’ stealth units whether they’re in stealth mode or not.

Of course, the musafadi warrior is the gbeto warrior of the Mali of aoe 2 while the musafadi gunner would be like the Ethiopian neftenya of aoe 3 (beyond this is from the nineteenth century)…

Honestly, although happy to see new civs, having units that can pretty much just turn invisible anywhere on the map is something i really dislike. Stealth forests were such a good and logical way to implement steath in the game. I get what they are going for, but i just dont like that type of mechanic and i can see it causing a lot of issues in competitive play
That being said, if they are going to implement stuff like this then towers, scouts, keeps and town centers should be able to detect them like they do in aoe3.

in coh2 (made by relic) some units are camouflaged when they are still, if they move or attack they are revealed

Scouts will surely be able to detect stealth as they can already with stealth forests.

AoE3 has a long lost of units and buildings (I think all defensive buildings) that can see stealth plus since the last update every unit can detect stealth at a distance of 2 tiles (so very close). Considering that his change was made recently it could be that it was inspired by the upcoming AoE4 stealth mechanic. The devs do get to try out each others games early after all.

On top of that units in stealth are half speed which just feels so damn slow. The Spy which is nearly as fast as cavalry but is slower then a Great Bombard in stealth mode. Ninjas are even slower.
Stealth can very rarely be used offensively in AoE3.

There is no way it’ll work like in AoE3DE because that would make it pretty useless.

take what you want out of it. telling you what i think… if you have a problem with it, well too bad for you.

Of course, that would be the idea…

Yes, the same the saga aoe already had that since AoE 3 The Warchiefs in 2006…

Of course, do not be surprised if later we do not have the European military ranks type KoM, although I see it unlikely since this began to be applied only in the 30 years war…

I think rank up based on kills would be perfect for Aztecs.
Potentially you could even have units change unit types.
Like a normal Spearman being upgraded to an Eagle Warrior after 5 kills.