August 25, 2005


Scouting is one of the most important skills to learn in T&P. A player with a slow Nation can compete with a player with a fast Nation because of effective Ruin scouting. Fast Nations can decimate slow Nations by knowing where to raid or attack. Here's what to look for when scouting:
  • Ruins
  • Rare Resources
  • Possible City Placements
  • Opponent's City Placements
Take for example, the Great Sahara map.

Ruins: There's typically one Ruin at each corner, sometimes two. If there's two, then the 2nd one will be near the edge. There are also Ruins near your borders, usually three, including the one that's at your nearest corner. Primarily, when I scout, I am looking for Ruins to boost my economy.

Manipulating Ruins is a skill that must be mastered when going against very good opponents. Ruins give you resources for the lowest type of resource you have, except for Knowledge. If you want Food, queue up Citizens at your City until it's lower than the rest of your other resources. Grab the Ruin, which will give you Food, then unqueue your Citizens. If you want Timber, wait until you have 60 Timber and build a Lookout Tower before you grab a Ruin, but be sure not to be building the Lookout Tower, so build it kind of far away in your territory. Once you grab the Ruin to get Timber, delete the Lookout. Normally you don't want Wealth early, but to manipulate that, you just have to wait until your Food and Timber are higher than your Wealth resource... unless you have Universities, queue up Scholars.

Scouting with Citizens can be very helpful if done correctly. If you scout with Citizens (red arrows), send one to your near corner, one to your far corner, and two around your borders (one or both of these Citizens will eventually build your 2nd City). This leaves your scout (blue arrow) to go forward to scout your opponent to see what they're doing. Plus, you might be able to grab some of their Ruins.

Rare Resources: There's always one Rare Resource inside your starting territory, usually one at each corner, and a few hodge-podged around the center. Always expect your opponent to send merchants to them, thus you already have targets you can raid. If you manage to scout your opponent's territory, you will be able to see their Caravan trade route, which is also good to know for when you go raiding later.

Possible City Placements: Almost always go forward with your 2nd City placement, but make sure you plan ahead and find a good defensive and economic spot. Below, Red's best possible 2nd City Placements are indicated by the red squares. The one on the left can protect the Rare Resource nearby. The one on the right will be close enough to have access to another mountain, but it won't be very safe. Blue's best possible 2nd City Placement is just the one, but it has access to two mountains, a decent Timber area, and 2 Rare Resources.

Opponent's City Placements: You want to take stock of where your opponent has placed their Cities. If it's a minute and a half into the game and your opponent's borders haven't budged, then it's possible they're rushing. If they did build a 2nd City but it has no Timber area, then remember to raid the only Timber area your opponent has or find another Timber area within their border to raid, most likely it will be the first location they will put a Tower up, but that alone won't be enough to protect it. By scouting your opponent's City Placements, you can exploit any weakness to your advantage. If they happen to place their 2nd City sideways, there's an easy raiding spot between those Cities to harass the Caravan trade route and stop the Wealth supply, etc.

The most effective way of scouting is by sending your Scouts, Citizens, Merchants, or Slingers and Foot Archers manually. It takes some multi-tasking, but you will be able to cover ground much better and it's good practice. Keep watch on your mini-map, it will show you areas you missed or Ruins you've passed! Plus, always send your scout forward, because your 2nd City should be forward, and you'll want to find a good spot for it. Otherwise, you'll need to have your Citizens scout it out. Also, if you send your scout forward, you can take your enemy's Ruins. Do this in Team Games especially, because you don't want to steal your ally's Ruins!


Blogger OMG_how_I_suck said...

Great article. This brings me to two more questions:

1. I've read elsewhere that one doesn't scout that much on water maps. What would be a reasonable strategy in this case?

2. More generally, four citizens scouting are four citizens not working. (Besides that micromanaging so many units is not for everybody. And I already mentioned that I'm not convinced it will really pay off economically.) Why do you recommend it?

5:24 AM  
Blogger El_Capitan (a.k.a. Scrubs) said...

In reply:

1. One should still scout in water maps, for City Placements and Rare Resources, but Ruins won't be as high a priority.

2. One Citizen working is +10 resources every 30 seconds. Finding a single Ruin gives +50 Resources, so as long as a Citizen finds one Ruin within 2 and a half minutes, it's making up for not resourcing. As long as you know the layout of the map, Scouting with Citizens is well worth it.

1:02 PM  
Blogger KBS_Gladiator said...

Nice article El_Capitan.

When scouting for ruins with non-Scout units, you can assign them a nice long waypointed paths, like you can do with the Scout - giving u time to do other important things. Problem is, Scouts will deviate from the path to pick up the ruin and then continue on their way but other units (i.e. citizens and rax units) dont. Solution?
When a citizen(who has been assigned a long sequence of waypoints) is about to walk past a ruin, dont just grab the citizen and send it to pick up the ruin because then you will have to assign a whole new set of orders to it. Instead,

5:13 PM  
Blogger KBS_Gladiator said...

oops, sorry, clicked a wrong button...

Instead, select the villager (left click on it), depress SHIFT+ALT, and left click a small circle of way points going around and then through the ruin. The villager will interrupt their previous orders, walk along the assigned waypoints picking up the ruin and then continue to the previosuly assigned orders.

The little circle will give you time to organize a ruin manipulation.

5:17 PM  
Blogger _AFO_RaNk said...

Ok, I'm going to explain this to you Cap, hopefully a bit more clearly than I did online. I could be wrong but I believe that Badboy figured out a scouting method that is pretty much unknown.

Most players shift click way points for their scout along the path most likely to yield ruins. This is better than auto explore, obviously, but the scout will still sometimes stop to pick up ruins before you can notice it and manipulate your resources. Most players' scouts say "exploring" which is indicitive of this. However, there is a better method. If you set way points for your scout by pressing both the shift and the control key at the same time, the scout will follow those waypoints (and say moving, instead of exploring) without stopping to pick up ruins before you tell it to. Now, you watch minimap, see it passes a ruin, lower the resource you need, select scout, hold down shift + alt, then tell it to pick up the ruin. The scout will pick it up then resume the waypoint path you've already assigned it to. This, IMO, allows a bit more control over the traditional shift click waypointing and is easier than individual movement commands.

3:10 PM  
Blogger El_Capitan (a.k.a. Scrubs) said...

Now I understand. That can work great if the Windows key wasn't meshed between all those keys...

3:40 PM  
Blogger WH_Georgie said...

i disabled the windows key waaaay back in the day for DOOM.
honestly, what gamer still has it activated?

6:11 PM  
Blogger El_Capitan (a.k.a. Scrubs) said...

Alas, I am noob. How do you disactivate it?

6:41 PM  
Blogger _AFO_RaNk said...

Yea, how? I just work at not hitting it and still sometimes end up on the desktop during an important battle, grrr.

12:21 AM  
Blogger _AFO_RaNk said...

PS...Since I left AFO, I'm sure they don't appreciate me running around here with the do I change my name, Capn?

12:23 AM  
Blogger Beertender said...

Lawl i dont have it put of either =p
Anyways having waypoints and not having them pic up automatic seems not that much better cause you have to watch the mini map just as often or you will miss ruins, so just do the shift way and watch the mini map, it will pic up ruins just aswell but then just be fast enough to build some vils before =)

Anyways scout as you like ^^

12:03 PM  
Blogger AU_sims said...

I find the Win key too useful in regular work to disable it. Examples:

Win-E Open a new Explorer window
Win-R Bring up the Run... box
Win-M Minimize all windows
Win-Shift-M Unminimize all windows to the position you had them in before hitting Win-M

Of course there are programs which disable the Win key selectively but I am too lazy to use them.

8:07 AM  

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