Age of Empires II: Consulting Ke Funde
by: Socrates - Consulting & Strategy Club at IIFT
Age of Empires II: The Conquerors, also known as Age of Conquerors (AOC), was released on October 26, 1997 from Ensemble Studios. It was one of the first history-based real-time strategy game made. The game focuses on historical events throughout time. Age of Empire covers the events between the Stone Age and the Classical period, in Europe and Asia. The Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences named Age of Conquerors the 1998 “Computer Strategy Game of the Year.” The basic theme of the game is to manage the scarce resource (food, wood and gold) to grow your economy and use the economy in creating military. Using this military one is supposed to annihilate the opponent’s army and economy which compels the enemy to accept defeat.
Today’s corporate culture can be very well linked with the game. Strategies used in the game have an analogy with the one used in the corporate world. And the skill to be able to perform it in a limited amount of time is the factor which stands them out of the crowd.
Salient features of the Game
Civilizations Age of Conquerors is set in the Middle Ages, from the Dark Ages to the Imperial Age. It allows players to choose one of 15 civilizations, from Europe (Byzantine, Spanish, Franks), Asia (Chinese, Japanese, Mongol), South America (Aztecs, Mayans) and the Middle East (Persian, Saracen). Every civilization has its unique features. Each of them has different special units and different technology that gives them specific tactical advantage over one another.
Units There are units in the game with different characteristics like Foot-archer, Cavalry Knight, Foot swordsmen, Cavalry Archers, Spearman, and Pike-man etc. Each unit has its own strength and weakness.
Military Buildings Different types of military buildings are used to create different type of army. Like infantry, cavalry, archers, siege units and Siege units are created from Barracks, Stables, Archery and Siege workshop respectively.
Similar is the case in the corporate world. Every competitor has its own unique selling point (USP), his specialty. One can use this USP with proper strategy and tactics to achieve success over his competitor. One has to use available resources and strengths to overpower the competitor.
Strategies used in the game
More the merrier
The winner almost always out produces the loser in every respect- more villagers, resources, buildings, military units, etc. Oddly enough most game winners usually have more military losses as well. The ample resource income means they can afford it. Most victorious players simply out produce and overwhelm their opponents.
Analogous to the real world, big corporations overshadow small ones by scaling up their production. This allows them to flood markets with lower priced items and squeeze out any opportunity for the smaller players.
Thou shall put a Production unit for every few number of Villagers
One should restrict the number of woodcutters or gold miners per lumber-camp and mining-camp respectively for maximum production of resources per villagers.
This is very well explained by the key concepts of Theory of production in Microeconomics. Law of Diminishing Returns states that “ As units of a variable input are added (with all other inputs held constant), a point is reached where additional units will add successively decreasing increments to total output—that is, marginal product will begin to decline.
Thou shall do all the technological researches before battling
As soon as one moves to a next age, one should do all the economical researches. Before battling with any army the units must be equipped with all the technical researches (attack and armor) in that age.
To survive in market a company should undergo technological advances to rise against the competitors’ product. Honda unlike Bajaj scooters underwent constant technological advances to stay in the market.
Most players are rather stubborn as they will focus on one strategy and will not stop, you must use this to your advantage. Usually the opponent will be this stubborn when he realizes that you are a civilization that specializes in a certain line of units (Viking: Infantry, Persians: Cavalry, etc.) He will mainly only use the counter to the unit that he expects you to employ in battles (Persian: Pikemen, Viking: Archers), so you already know what he will build. What you need to do is build a complete opposite to the units that your opponent expects you to use (Viking: Heavy Cavalry, Mongol: Heavy Infantry). Usually the opposite of the stereotypical unit is a counter to the counter of the stereotypical unit, so you will easily destroy your enemy’s army.
This is a good example of game theory wherein Minimax Theorem is applied to get an edge over the opponent .According to this strategy, the player then makes the move that maximizes the minimum value of the position resulting from the opponent’s possible following moves. The player tries to maximize his Minimum profit by choosing a strategy which will minimize an opponent’s Maximum loss.
Thou shall be aggressive
Being aggressive means initiating the battle. Monitor the enemy’s next moves closely by secretly scouting his map. This helps one formulate his winning strategy accordingly by creating counter army. Don’t let the opponent boom in peace i.e. keep distracting the opponent while he is concentrating on economy by sending few cavalry knights at his villagers or gatherers.
Likewise in corporate culture one has to closely monitor his competitor. For example, Coca-Cola closely monitors each and every tactical move of Pepsi. Lot of similar examples can be cited from the history. One who comes with the product first has the advantage of wooing the customers over his competitor. For example Apple came with PC first which gave him the advantage over IBM which took time catch up in Computer manufacturing market.
Thou shall not store the resources
As the economy booms the resources start accumulating. When we create more villages, buildings and military units these resources are used. A winner never stores resources more than that is required to run each and every production units. All production units should be operational.
Similar strategies like Just In Time, Economic Order Quantity and efficient methods are used to maximize the returns.
Thou shall not freak when attacked
Great players never lose their cool, even when under attack by a considerable force. So you have forward built and your opponent moves his forces around your weak flank and infiltrates your base, hacking at your town or villagers. Great players never ring the town bell as it really disrupts their economies. Instead they simply move their villagers to a new site and if the attack is serious enough, they withdraw their forward-based military units to repel the invaders.
In the time of distress or crisis one should not freak out and quit, rather keep calm and take measures to analyze and solve the problem one by one.
Winning isn’t about annihilating your opponent
Rarely does winning a game require totally destroying an opponent’s army or town. Many games are won simply by conquering strategic territory, destroying enough units, denying a resource or by winning a contested town centre.
For example In the case of Boeing’s 787, the new Dreamliner and Airbus’s A350, following the Boeing’s speculation Airbus announced that it would develop the A350 to compete with Boeing’s 787. By announcing its A350, Airbus had succeeded in its goal of disrupting the business case for the 787.
Thou shall not have battle fixation
The rule is to never remain focused on the battles while neglecting your economy. Get into a routine of spot-checking your army’s progress while maintaining your main focus on your economy. Once the focus on economy looses your resources starts getting unbalanced and the military production stops.
Similarly, a company has to take extra care of the egg laying hens so that constant cash inflow is maintained throughout in the firm. One cannot fixate on competitor’s strategies too much loosing his sight of the basic profit generating units.
Written By: Aatish Kumar- IIFT, Delhi