This article has been translated into Russian here.

Reason for sending warriors/archers

During the early stages of an ancient start game, especially during a teamer warriors and archers are send to the opponent in order to slow down his build-up (= “choke”) or sometimes steal worker or even kill him. Of course the warriors and archers can be followed up by chariots, axes and more. If metal isnīt hooked till then, itīs not necessarily game over, but itīs probably looking grim. Iīll try to focus on how to deal with the first couple of units you get early into your land in a 1 vs 1 situation.

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The defending player has one worker and warrior each. He cannot hook his corn without at least another unit, preferably an archer if he does not want to give the player who send a warrior to him odds around 50% on winning the game or at least stealing the worker.

What you are trying to achieve when warriors/archers are in your land

Playing well with a couple of units in your land that block off some tiles or form a bigger choke is one of the greater challenges in multiplayer civilization. Your goal is to try to keep up in build-up in relation to your opponent who send or is sending you those units. Remember he spend early hammers on building them, so you probably have a small build-up advantage at first which he is trying to overturn in his favour with slowing you down while not being slowed by any units himself since your are busy dealing with his stuff in your land.

Overall you first donīt want to invest more hammers into getting rid of opposing units then the opponent invested to build them. Killing a chariot with 2 archers, losing one, is a gain of 4 hammers. Second you donīt want to get slowed down in setting up your empire (hooking ressources, expanding ...)

1. The first warrior

First thing you need to consider is a potential warriorstart of the opposing team. As long as the starting technologies of one civilization on the other team include Hunting, itīs a scoutstart.
List of civilizations that have Hunting as a starting technology:
  • Ethiopia
  • Aztec
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Holy Rome
  • Celtics
  • Khmer
  • Mongolia
  • Persia
  • Russia
  • Vikings
  • Zulu

I recommend printing or writing a list of those if you play ancient start on Team_Battleground regularly or plan on doing so - here is my old one, which by now I donīt need anymore

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If you are facing a warriorstart and you yourself start with a scout - you are behind turn 0. Warriorstart vs. Scoutstart is one of the most unbalancing factors in an ancient start teamer game. In that case get some units early, don`t go worker first unless you know what you are doing . Try not to let the other team build up without any opposing unis in their land after just having send their 5 initial warriors. Even if you get choked or slowed down, try to send at least a unit or two to do the most basic choking job. Especially the first unit you send counts - see also the above picture for an exemplary reason for that. One unit send means opponent having two build at least two units to be able to work his land freely.

2. Determining what will be thrown at you

Scout your opponent, especially the fatcross (=the 20 tiles a city could potentially work) of the capital.
  • Did he plant his capital on a tile (plains hill, plains marble/stone elephant) giving him 2 hammer instead of 1 ?
  • Does he have a 3-hammer-tile to work ?
  • Is he Expansive, is he Aggressive ?
  • Does he have a civ with an early ancient unique unit ?
  • What are his habits (knowing his playing style required here) ?

All those are factors that can help you predict or at least take into consideration what your opponent will do, helping you to plan better what you yourself should be doing. An expansive leader with a 2 hammer plant (and a 2 hammer tile to work) will almost always build a worker first. An aggressive leader with a 2 hammer plant and a 3 hammer tile to work will most probably send you one or two 2-turn warriors first, before starting production of his first worker. Another indicator might be the unique uint available to your opponent. IF he is Inca, he will try sending Quechuas early, if he is Mali, he will probably not send more then one warrior, if that at all and instead get a worker and only then spam out skirmishers. If someone is Maya or Natives, he might save money from turn 0n and upgrade his first warrior to a Holkan/Dog Soldier.

While no factor alone can provide you wiht certain information by itself, with some experience you start making better and better predictions about your opponentīs behaviour.

3. Donīt die to a warrior
Whatever you do, whether you go worker first, whether you send out your first and maybe even second warrior, keep in mind your own safety. It is solely a question of skill (with the very, very rare exceptions from the rule) whether you die to a warrior or not.
  • How long would you need to build a warrior in case of emergency ?
  • In an ancient start Team_Battleground 5v5, are you on the 3-people or 2-people-side ? If the first, front or middle ?
  • Does the opposing team have a warrior or scout start ?
  • In what way can a warrior move in on you - whatīs the minimum amount of turns you will spot it before.

I recommend the article on vision range at this point. There are three basic situations in regard to how many turns of warning you have on an approaching warrior, namely one, two or three unless you have spotted the unit before for example with your initial scout or a warrior you build and send out yourself.

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The approaching unit moved onto the tile where it can be seen now at the last possible moment during the last turn. It can move on 1 tile further this turn, while you start building a unit.

You have 3 turns till it can hit your city.

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The approaching unit moved onto the tile where it can be seen now at the last possible moment during the last turn. It can move on 1 tile further this turn, while you start building a unit.

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The approaching unit moved onto the tile where it can be seen now at the last possible moment during the last turn. It can move on 1 tile further this turn, while you start building a unit.

You have 2 turns till it can hit your city.

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The approaching unit moved onto the tile where it can be seen now at the last possible moment during the last turn. It can move on 1 tile further this turn, while you start building a unit.

You have 1 turn till it can hit your city.

In most games you know turn 0 towards which direction the front is (where the opponent can come from). Check what can happen. How many turns warning will you have in worst case scenario ? Do you have a cornre, which would unguarded give you only 1 turn warning ? Maybe send the scout up there as a sentry. If you feel your land provides you with less then 3 turns warning, preproduce a wrarior for one turn - put enough hammers into it, so that you can finish it in 2 turns if needed and only then build your worker. Donīt just blindly go worker first. Also donīt just blindly send away your own warriors not keeping in mind possible ways your opponent might move in on you. Especially if you donīt have hundreds of games of experience, better be safe then sorry (earning you a place in the Hall of Shame of the league ).

A pretty high level trick (that requires some practice and experience) is to keep the mouse over a warrior in city production screen while the end of the turn approaches, changing the production to a warrior at last second in case an opposing warrior suddenly appears, effectively giving you one more turn of production. Of course for that you cannot go into the city to change produciton, but keep the city bar clicked.

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Keeping the city bar open with the mouse over a warrior in order to respond faster to a suddenly appearing unit.

4. Blocking off tiles
In many games you will get warriors and archers into your land. Donīt panic - so far your opponent put early production into building those units, while you potentially made a worker. You are ahead for the time being. The goal is to keep that advantage or not lose too much of it.

Donīt take unnecessary risks by hitting his units with odds of 50 or 60 percent - when a loss results in you being slowed down a lot. Focus on getting your workers to work. Block of tiles so that you can work a food or especially chop a forest, while the opponent has to move around your city + a unit standing next to it in order to be able to hit the tile where the worker is standing on. Build up normally, just spread a couple of archers into your build order. Donīt try to control everything, focus on hooking one food, on being able to consistently chop and on getting metal. Opposing archers and warriors will have a very hard time trying to hit out your archers from forests, especially when you get more units to cover consistently,while his support routes are much longer.

If possible, donīt let the opponent sit on strategic spots. Hill metal is akey target here, another one being forested hills. The last one you cannot always prevent though and on average 2 axes should be able to clear out an archer there.

Most important, try not getting slowed down too much - just get those additional units in order to move and work with your workers and protect a settler for a second city for metal. If your opponent build a couple of warroirs and archers very early and you build a couple more then him, but a little later in the game, the buildup situation should be about the same. Remember that itīs better to manoveur around those units then taking unnecessary risks - though sometimes the situation can be so, that you have no other choice. For example, when the opponent has metal in his capitalīs fatcross and will follow those warriors and archers up with axes soon.

5. Odds
When playing under choke, you need to know what you on average require in order to kill a unit sitting in your land on which you probably have bad odds with your first hit.

As a rule of thumb, having around 10% twice should take care of a unit. Meaning if your first archer has 9.9% on an opposing archer, two identical archers should take care of the situation. Donīt count on killing with less then those ~10% twice unless in special circumstances.

In general, try taking advantage of situations where your opponent gives you "good" odds while moving around your land. If he for some reasons moves on a flat tile for example, giving you 40 or 50 percent already with the first unit (example 2 archer vs a protective archer, 2 warrior vs an aggressive warrior etc.) - consider the situation, but in many situations it might be better taking a little risk here, then letting him slow you down more turns until you can hook metal and take a "sure" kill.