Micro against mangonels

mango_micro_teaserIt’s still Easter and still had a bit of time on my hand. I really love to do math. Simulations and calculations are all very interesting, but there are just some things, that are impossible to model. Hardest of it all is micro. I can do all the right calls concerning upgrades, mass military unit, but it’s all for nothing if I can’t control my army. By control I mean patroling, formations, army placement and against higher skilled players more and more micro. So I wanted write about something different than math this time: microing against a mangonel. I have really no idea how to do this the right way. This is just how I do it and maybe You can correct me.

There are plenty of posts about amazing micros against mangonels. For example this beauty:

But I haven’t seen a single post explaining how it’s done. There is a video from ZeroEmpires (from around min 2:10) that shows some of it, but without explaining the smaller details. Maybe it’s just clear to anybody. Just use the split technique… But I found it harder than that. Anyways, here is how I do it.

First, there are a few things to remember. Mangonels have a firing rate of 6 seconds, while the archer line has 2.07. So theoretically, the archers could hit the mangonels with two shots between each mangonel shot and still move away. It’s usually safer to do just one shot, though. Mangonels also have a minimum range.The cost of a mangonel is roughly the cost of 4 archers. (With double bit axe, gold mining and wheelbarrow researched the cost of an archer is 154 vsec, and the cost of a mangonel is 635 vsec). This means unless a player is very confident in his micro skills, one should never fight mangonels with archers. Only if he has very good karma and the Gods owe him big time. All it takes is one shot. I still do it sometimes, when I am crazy enough or just want to have some fun and make my enemy mad (Kappa). But I think it still good to know, how to dodge mangonel shots if cornered or ambushed.

So what about this split technique? According to chris (i had a link to his book in the previous post), back in the old day, players would just put the archers in staggered formation and move away. It’s much easier than constantly moving and changing formations. Doing micro the “new” way requires quite a bit of knowledge about how formations work:

  • There are 4 formations – line (compact), staggered, split and box. From these four the compact and split are the most used.
  • Units need to be moving to change formation. If they were attacking something before or just standing around and I change formations, they will just keep shooting and stand the same spot as before. So I always do either change formation + move or the other way around.
  • Units move faster while changing formations. (This is why splitting is more effective than moving out of the way the whole group.)
  • Split formation is kind of weird. When changing directions of movement, some units decide to switch groups and it gets them killed. So I don’t stay in this formation for too long.
  • When switching back to compact formations some units will go the opposite way of the moving direction to join up with their fellows. This is usually unwanted when microing against mangonels. I want the other group to catch up, so there is a bit of gap between them for a little while. To achieve this: click the moving direction, change to compact formation, click again in the moving direction. If they were already on the move, I skip the first command. This might not work all the time however.

Okay, I think that’s all I know and is needed about the formations. Here is the “split techinque” theory then. Since the mangonels have minimum range, and you are committed to kill them, I think your best chance is to get closer and closer. Getting closer however gives you less time to react if the mangonel shoots, so be ready and constantly moving.

split_mangonel

There are two common situations when I want to dodge shots. First one is when I’m in line formation. The mangonel will aim at the centre of the group. The most effective way to dodge this shot is to change to split formation and click to move towards or away from the mangonel. I very rarely right click to move sideways, since the shot will probably catch the group closer to the mangonel. When I do this, I do it in 3 steps:

  1. change to split formation
  2. right click behind the mangonel or the direction facing away from the mangonel
  3. when I’m sure the shot will miss, I attack the mangonel (if I have time, twice).

box_mangonel

Now I am in a situation, when I am in split formation, shooting at the mangonel and the mangonel is about to shoot again. I use the right click + change to compact + right click trick to move out of the way. It’s important to keep this order. For example: I have a split – right and left group. A want to move to the right side to dodge the shot. If the mangonel aims at that right group, and while changing formations that group decides to go backwards to join up with the left: they will die. But if you right click again sideways, the right group will change his mind, and move that way keeping a bit of distance between the groups and the shot will miss. This sideway movement takes a bit of experimenting. In this situation the order of actions is:

  1. right click to move sideways
  2. change formation to compact
  3. right click again the same direction
  4. after I’m confident, I will dodge the shot, I attack the mangonel.

I just repeat these two situations in circles. I have few more tips:

  • One can usually guess, which split group the mangonel is aiming at based on what direction it’s facing.
  • Don’t use the fired shots from the mangonel to guess where it will hit. Use the shadow on the ground instead.
  • Don’t change your mind about the direction you are moving. It’s better to switch formation, since the units will move out of the way faster.

I think that’s all I know. Hope it helps. Also if you know a better way to do this, let me know! Here is a bonus video against two mangonels using the same two basic methods: