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History: The Value of Higher Ground
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Date: 10/25/99 09:10
Game Type: Age of Empires Series
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This report describes a one on one battle which took place on the Internet Gaming Zone. I've tried to make the images as small as possible, but it may take a few minutes on slower modems.

Welcome to the History Series. In a time long before Dropships, Siege Tanks, Yamato Cannons, and wars with other starfaring races, humanity fought to control the planet earth. Join us, as we use an isolated conflict in the black forests of northern Germany to demonstrate the value of gaining superior terrain.

The Roman Empire had fallen hundreds of years earlier. What was left of the Western Roman Empire joined forces with the Barbarians in Germany. While this society was heavily advanced, as new territory was colonized in the black forests near the northern coast, technologies often did not reach the new villages very quickly. The village of Ottomark was no different, and it's early existence resembled the dark ages.

Celtic colonists from Ireland and Scotland fled across the sea in small numbers, fleeing the tyranny of England. It happened that a small Celtic village was founded on the other end of "The Blue Valley". Unaware of each other, Celts in the west and Tuetons in the east began to improve their meager lives.

The Blue Valley
The most important resource to the peasants at this time period was food. While houses began to spring up as needed, the workers that weren't building houses were ordered to prepare mutton from sheep or forage for berries. As more peasants arrived at the villages, they would be ordered to cut wood for more houses, mills, and other camps to increase efficiency. One villager was always the designated scout, and would patrol the countryside on horseback for enemies or more resources.

The differences in the Celtic and Tuetonic villages were very few at this point in history, and in fact, they weren't even aware of each other. Of the few variations, one stood out. The Celts were heavily relying on berry bushes and lumber to fund their growing village, but the Tuetonic scout had actively found several herds of sheep and sent them back to Ottomark's town center. Large numbers of Tuetons worked to gather food or wood, and smaller numbers began mining stone and gold.

Beyond the Dark Age
The Celts traded food for advanced technology. The Celtic villagers were tired of Dark Age conditions, and the town of Ottomark had been discovered by their scout. The Celts weren't about to share the valley after all their troubles at home with neighboring England, and they began to prepare for war.

The Teutons were slower to send a food caravan for technology, but they had dedicated more workers to gathering resources. The horseback scout soon crested a hill covered with blue flowering plants and spotted the Celtic town. He rode down to where the Celts were gathering berries, and the Celts attacked!

Scout's Travel Log - "I rode into the village to parlay, but was waylaid by about 8 angry villagers. Injured, I reported this act of war to our lord. I told him that if we could control the hill outside of their village, we could control the narrow valley pass and eventually bring light to the heathens... I also told him that we'd better hurry, because the outlanders were already trading for advanced sciences. The lord agreed and sent me back to Woad Hill as a forward scout."

Feudal Warfare
Two germanic peasants went to work on a Barracks near the Ottomark town hall. Further scouting insured that the valley was the only pass between the villages. Once the barracks was completed, two peasants traveled west to construct an Archery Range under the cover of some trees at the southern foot of Woad Hill.

It would be futile to attack the town with militia this early in the plan. Either town was capable of calling some of it's workers back into the town center, where they could fire crude arrows while safely garrisoned. Ottomark's town center was specially built to offer better range in this capacity.

As both villages had used up their natural food supplies, farms were planted around the mills and town centers. Meanwhile, the villagers that had constructed the Archery Range built a guard tower behind a stone formation at the top of Woad Hill. The stone formation would help to prevent infantry from taking cover at the base of the tower and burning it down. Tuetonic Towers were historically very well constructed, and could house double the number of archers. As archers were trained and ordered to immediately garrison in the tower, the peasants constructed another stone mining camp and gathered stone under the safety of the tower. The stone would be valuable in constructing more towers later.

The Celts looked up from their work in terror at the tower guarding their entrance to the valley. The Celtic cheiftain outfitted about a dozen skirmishers and spearmen to attack. The skirmishers had excellent armor against flying arrows, but they weren't good in a hand to hand situation. The plan was for the skirmishers to engage the tower while the spearmen burned it's base.

The Celtic chieftain had overestimated the durability of his skirmishers, and the spearmen were lured away from the base of the tower by newly trained archers and cut down in a rain of death.

Securing The High Ground
While increasing production of all four resources, food, wood, stone, and gold, at home, the Tuetons constructed a blacksmith in the valley and another tower near the first on Woad Hill. Until Murder Holes could be put into use, these two towers could cover each other's bases from attack.

The Celts constructed a tower at the western base of Woad Hill to prevent incursions into their pressed village.

The Tuetonic lord was relying on archers pretty heavily, so he ordered the blacksmith to first improve the range of the bows, then the armor of the archers. Archers wouldn't be enough to win the war however, and the Tuetons built stables near their forward position.

Scout's Travel Log - "Gathered at the base of their tower was an army of enemy Celts. Despite their defenses, I was able to get some valuable information back to my lord... Castles! The Celts had traded for the resources to build Castles! I knew that they would soon have access to siege weapons, but my lord reassured our forces that we too had sent trade in hopes to acquire the necessary sciences required for seige. He assured us that the enemy's slow charges up the steep hills were sure to fail. Our moral was very high!"

The Second Battle of Woad Hill
The audacious Tuetons had constructed a seige workshop right under the enemy's nose. Mangonels, which could throw a spreading shower of rocks a moderate distance were quickly built and sent to the top of the hill. Several knights had arrived in support of the seige equipment when everything went to hell.

Scout's Travel Log - "To my loving wife, I fear that I won't recover from my wounds sustained at the second battle of Woad Hill. Enemy knights and warriors charged the hill and destroyed one of our mangonels. They set fire to one of our towers, and I was grievously wounded while trying to stop them. As I lay bleeding, I watched arrows streak down from the towers and finally saw the besieged tower to order mangonel fire at it's own base, killing the last of the enemy forces. The workers are trying to make me comfortable, but I have the beginnings of a fever and fear the worst for me. Know that we fought bravely and won."

Details of history are sketchy, but it seems that the nearby lake and stone mine were enough to affect complete repairs to the burning Tuetonic tower. Ottomark's lord promised revenge for the attack and ordered an archer to scout south of the pass for the enemy. The scout never returned.

Celtic Peasant's Diary - "Every day I go to work mining gold for trade under the looming evil of the cursed enemy towers. Today though, we finally got our revenge. My husband spotted an enemy archer nearby and we chased him down... Dory O'Tool was killed when the archer led him right past a pack of hungry wolves, but we did kill the wolves and catch the enemy. He'll never see another sunrise!"

The War of Attrition
While it was hard to attack a town in the middle ages without siege equipment, it was equally hard for towns to protect all of their outlying resource camps. Attacking a town was foolish, but cutting an enemy off from his resources was an excellent way to force capitulation.

A pair of knights was dispatched to scout by Ottomark's lord. Something had killed his first scout, and he would know what it was. The first knight came upon a small gold mining camp. Five villagers with clubs cannot do anything to a trained, armored and mounted warrior. The knight destroyed the camp and brought back a scribbled diary from the body of one of the dead peasants.

The bulk of the Tuetonic army was gathered on Woad hill. Three Teutonic towers stood opposed by a Celtic tower and looming Castle. Finally, mangonels began to fire on the Celtic tower. Celtic Knights and Woad Raiders from the Celtic Castle charged again, and killed the mangonels... but the cost was high. As the last of the Celt assault faltered, more mangonels rolled into place and destroyed the tower.

The Tuetons, had hoped to secure the entire valley in case the enemy chopped another pass through the black forest. Their castle had been built in the center of the valley, just north of Mirror Lake. The Celts would have to learn to leave behind their heathen ways, and a monastery was constructed near the castle to bring enlightenment to the land. Perhaps the monks could convince parts of the enemy town to cast off the yoke of Celtic barbarism... that, and the Celts had some good mead. If there was one thing about the Celts that the Germanic villagers appreciated, it was their taste for good mead.

The Sign
The pressure on the Celtic economy prevented them from reaching the imperial age... Ottomark however, was considered an Imperial city of the highest order after trading much gold to Rome for all of the latest sciences of the day.

To further ensure good moral and a flow of golden offerings, two Elite Tuetonic Knights escorted two friars to the site of the enemy gold mine that had been destroyed earlier. The cloaked knights dispatched any Celtic peasants that proved troublesome while the monks retrieved what might have been a scroll of Paul's writing. The artifact was put on display in the Monastery, ensuring Ottomark's place in history.

Tuetonic Field Marshal - "We've killed the enemy forces in about a nine to one ratio, a sure sign that we are under divine protection. I have ordered the construction of Trebuchets while upgrading my Mangonels to Onagers. We shall make and example of their town center and castle, then convert the heathens."

...and the Celts never returned to Germany
Trebuchets could fire boulders at incredible range. No walls could stand up to a prolonged siege.

The Celtic Town Center and surrounding homes were destroyed, but as the castle came under fire, the Celts fled back to the British Isles, razing their remaining buildings behind them.

About Age of Empires
One of the things that makes Age of Empires different from other strategy games is realism over easy rushing. If you attack a building with an archer, expect it to take an exceedingly long time to kill. Every unit has about three counters, so it's very important to mix your units.

While there is no easy way to win a game in the first ages, you can slow the enemy down by butchering his workers that aren't under the cover of the town hall. Even if you can force him to ring the town bell, you'll be ahead in resources.

Gathering and balancing four resources to produce countless troops and upgrades takes some practice, and each race has enough variations in units available, upgrades available, buildings, and unique units that the game is hard to master with a lot of replay value.

Well, I hope I posted this right and that you were able to follow the story. There don't seem to be too many Age of Empires players here.

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