Toggle mechanics / Micro vs. Macro

With the Ratha, there have recently be more calls for toggle mechanics/activated abilities (Samurai, etc.).
Personally I’m pretty much against all sorts of toggle mechanics (Don’t like the Ratha either really), as I think having activated abilities goes somewhat against the design philosophy of this game.
Amongst other things I like the Age of Empires series because its more about Macro than Micro. Sure there is micro in the game, but I prefer it if your success in a game comes more down to your overall sound strategy, your economic buildup and choosing what and where to engage, rather than using the right mechanics at the proper moments, like you would do in a game like Starcraft.

What are your thoughts toggle mechanics, activated abilities and similar highly timing sensitive game mechanics?


Even for units without any kind of fancy mechanic, unit micro is a hugely important part of the game. This is more true the higher you go in terms of skill level, but I’ll agree that macro is more essential across the board. But you’ll never go very far without being decent at both, even quickwalling villagers is is pretty common at the high intermediate level, and everywhere in pro games.

I like the Ratha mechanic, and I think it’s a fresh way to make another UU interesting beyond just giving it oodles of HP/Armor/Attack. And no need to reference Starcraft as a comparison, as the original AoE2 devs considered employing weapon toggle mechanics. I’ve advocated for the Toggle mechanic as one possible route to make the Samurai less of a nonsense unit, and having had the Ratha around for a few months now, we have some useful reference points for how that might be done in a balanced way. Overall, I think this mechanic is worth using again, but with a light and sparing touch, ie with 2-3 more units maximum.

At the end of the day, there will be mechanics/techs/units/civs that don’t appeal to everyone, and the solution is just not to play with those units/civs. As long as the unit in question isn’t wildly OP, the existence of some kind of unique ability is fine. I continue to think that the Shrivamsha mechanic is kind of dumb, but I don’t have a problem with it existing as long as it (and Gurjaras) come to be balanced.

Just to clarify, I obviously didn’t mean, that there is no micro in AoE, but the balance of Macro vs. Micro is heavily on the side of Macro, whereas a game like Starcraft, where units often have multiple activated abilities is way more skewed towards micro, than AoE is.

I get that we are at a point, where everything that can be done with the existing mechanics has kind of been done and the devs need to introduce these kind of gimmicky mechanics, like Shivamsha rider dodge or ratha toggle, to provide new units, that are not basicly existing units reskinned. You can only do so much with attack rate, damage, health, armor, bonus damage etc. It ultimately matters very little if you give a unit more damage or attack rate. Sure there is some mathematical difference if you crunch the numbers and specific targets may take a bit more or less time to kill, but the unit is functionally the same and the skill level required to recognize and utilize these differences gets higher and higher and the game therefore gradeally loosing mainsteam appeal.

On the other hand, personally I’m not hell-bend on getting new civs

I’m on your side with this. I prefer rework already existing civs and units to make them more fun, interesting and historically accurate (in this order of priority).
But I’m in the “gimmick” team too. I think that well designed micro mechanics that promote you to master them in order to extract all the juice of your units are the best way to achieve the above goal.

This is probably the biggest difference then, as the addition of new civs is most likely highly correlated with new gimmicks.

That does explain a lot. I think some underused/weaker civs/UUs may be eligible for a partial rework, but I don’t see the devs tryharding this with new mechanics, if they do it at all. Realistically it will remain the domain of Mods/Scenario Editor to bring unusual visions to life.

I’m heavily biased in favor of 10+ new civs of course. It becomes an exciting way to continue reinvigorating the game, and just gives you more to work with, as a player and as a creator.

But we’ll see what happens.

I know what you mean… 11

Some AOK civs and units, specially, feel out of date adn too generic… Japanese and samurais as you said, for example.

Of course I’m not against adding new civs, is just a personal preference at this point.

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The main reason is that the range is very helpful in solving the awkward situation of Samurai. Samurai should be able to counter UUs, but it is difficult to get close to ranged UUs. As long as the samurai has the same range as the Archer line, it can make its attack bonus work.

I believe that the archer mode should have very low base damage (like 1 or 2), and have a partial attack bonus against UU (perhaps 50% of the melee mode). Additional, probably should need to research UT to able to access the archer mode. (Change Kataparuto please!!) Anyway, this would makes it tend to use the archer mode only when facing ranged UUs, and always tend to use the melee mode once getting close to ranged UUs or when facing other units.

In my opinion, the community’s enthusiasm for Samurai archers is for improving it, not just for the micro. (Of course I don’t deny that when it can micro it’s more interesting than the current one.)