Byzantines are my current civ in my barbie quest. Byzantines are probably one of the worst civilizations to drush with. They get no eco bonus or military bonus to help their drush. Byzantines have their strength early game starting feudal in cheap trash units. So I wanted to do something like fast feudal this time and I also wanted to try something new (at least for me), and not just a 23 pop double archery range. It’s really hard to defend initially against barbie early feudal age, when he does 21 pop up double range and pumps out 20+ units instantly with his cheated extra resources. So I wanted to try forwards this time. It’s a bit cheating if I do a tower as well… But oh well, barbie is cheating, too.
As last time, first, I want to describe the strategy with broad strokes. I don’t forward much, so most of the stuff here is second hand knowledge. I think it’s important to keep in mind goals and ‘why’s, so that the player doing it can understand the logic behind it and adapt to the situation. One important condition to doing forwards is to get to feudal relatively fast. Fast enough so that you don’t get attacked before you can do damage yourself, but making enough villagers so the 3-5 villagers going forward, building towers and military buildings and not working won’t cripple your economy much. Usually I’ve seen players do 22 pop, sometimes 21 pop if they have good deer and rarely 23 pop (irrevelant to civ). When doing a forward you plan to be extremely aggressive and keeping your enemy in his base, while hoping you can have an undisturbed and undefended economy in the back. You are also hoping that it will disturb the defending economy more by harassing his villagers, than the cost of your villagers going forward.
If everything goes well, you get to disturb the opponent’s economy, take some of his resources and tower the rest, all while having a smooth, undisturbed and well-balanced economy in the back. If everything goes bad, the opponent will spot your forward, rush down your towers, wall in your military buildings and hit you at home, where you have 0 units or military buildings. Large gamble, large reward or instant gg. (Not to mention quite effective against barbie.) Against byzantines it’s a bigger gamble, because of the free town watch – they can spot you easily.
Okay so the rough build. Basically the same as the scouts build, but I’ve seen players delay the two farms in dark age.
6 make 2 houses then sheep
3 to wood, first building the lumber camp
1 house + boar
4 mill and berries, last one builds a house
3 sheep/boar (should lure the second boar before with a villager) – maybe do a farm or two
3 to wood
22 pop with the scout. At the time of clicking up the eco balance is 6 on wood, 4 on berries rest under the TC and possibly 1-2 farms. After clicking feudal age 3 more villagers should be sent to wood making it 9. There are two common variations I’ve seen so far – forward with 3 villagers and with 5 villagers. Each one has it’s advantages and disadvantages. Going with 5 villagers is a bigger gamble, but your forward villagers can fight off drushes. 5 is also the number of villagers you can garrison inside a tower. Going forward with 3 villagers is more common. Your economy in the back is just a tad bit stronger. With 5 villagers going forward you will hurt for food (having only 4 on berries and 3 under the TC), which is especially important, since while forwarding your best bet are trash units to get map control, defend your tower(s), forward and villagers against scouts and archers.
For the rest of this post, lets stick with 3 villagers going forward. You send those villagers right after you click feudal to a spot out of the range of the enemy’s line of sight preferably on a hill and close to enemy’s resources. You have to start building a barrack before reaching feudal (start building before the ‘A’ in Feudal Age text in the progress bar). When you hit feudal age build an archery range right away. While you are doing this, the enemy’s base should be thoroughly scouted and spots for towers picked out. You can go without a tower as well, but usually it’s integral part of getting map control, which is key for forwards as far as I’ve seen.
I think that’s about it. You just keep doing skirmishers and spearmen, adding a second range a bit later, slowly transitioning into archers to be able to go up to castle age.
So when is it a good option to go forward. I have seen players forwards mostly in situations, where the player’s map is hardly defend-able and needs to keep the attention away from his economy. Even more often I’ve seen players forward, when the opponent’s map begs for it (forward wood/gold/stone etc.). Other times it’s a good time to forward, when you are _CCS_Acuo. Here are 3 of his games against slam with 5 villager forwards on Arabia with Huns, which turned out to be surprisingly effective. Even against slam. See for yourself.
Now, as for my quest against barbie. I got an easy win against hardest barbie this time with byzantines. Barbie just doesn’t handle towers very well. I did only a single tower, since I felt it would be too much cheating to do more. I haven’t turned on record from previous experience losing constantly :(. I only have a picture as proof. I would have appreciated feedback on this one, since I feel like I didn’t have enough military, slow to imperial and slow to kill. I was surprised how easy it was otherwise. Just do a forward, keep barbie occupied, get to castle age, wipe out his army, castle drop him, then destroy the rest of his base.
Celts up next! I think I will try some variation of forward with man-at-arms with them. After that I think I will switch to other maps as well…