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Ultimate guide on how to win in 0 AD alpha 24 with persians

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Hi everyone, this is a guide in which I'll share many things that you should learn if you are new to the game and you want to improve your rating, or just your proficiency in the multiplayer setting. Persia is my favourite civilization, so this guide will develop more on them than on other civs, but I'll draw some comparisons with other civilizations too. I want to explain as much as I can, so it will be a long guide, but there's much more to learn, so make experiments and look at your results, you will get better as you play.

Mind that I'm writing this on my own, basing myself on my personal experiece alone, and I'm not the best player at all. However I don't see any other valid guide at the moment, for this alpha, so here I am writing. This post is somehow a tribute to @amadeus' guide for britons in alpha 23, that helped me a lot to understand some very useful game mechanics that made me improve way faster than I would otherwise.


1. Why persians

Persia is an "archer civ", meaning that archers are already avaiable for training at phase 1. Archer civs are OP in this alpha. Cavalry too is useful, especially when fighting other archers (prominent in the meta), and persians have a lot of choice in fact of cavalry. They are, all in all, a solid pick, and they offer good variability in tactics, as much as you can ask from a single civ in this game. For instance mauryas are incredibly OP, but are also predictable and just boring. With persians you can vary.

2. Starting sequence

Your starting sequence is the sequence of instructions you give to your people at the beginning of the game. There is no one single winning sequence, for what I now, but you don't want to improvise too much. Also, you must be as quick as you can be. A good standard for a starting sequence is:

  • start a batch of 6 women in the cc
  • put your horse on chicken, chicken are a very fast food source
  • put your women on bushes (better if you build a barn next to them first)
  • put your men on wood (as with women, you can build a storehouse next to wood first, but if you have trees next to the cc, you may prefer to take them first, but remember to move to a woodline soon) 
  • put all the first 6 women trained on wood, or at least most of them

On the very following stage, it's important to balance wood and food production. Food is for making women, better if on batches. Never stop training them (avoid training infantry until you have barracks, consider training some horsemen). Wood is for:

  • houses - you must keep building houses at a pace that lets you never stop training people
  • basket tech in the barn - at least if you have many bushes, it's quite effective
  • axe tech in the storehouse
  • first barrack
  • mind that, when you finish bushes, you'll need a lot of wood all together, for fields and for plow tech in the barn.

2.1. Other civilizations

Your starting sequence will be quite similar regardless of the civ you are playing, althogh there are some relevant differences:

  • civilizations that have 10 pop houses will play almost exactly the same, and they have to put put particular attention on the timing of first house realization, while civs with 5 pop houses don't feel the same urgency
  • with maurtas, I prefer to build the barn with men, and then move them to the wood, whit the elephant following them
  • on team games, with 10 pop civs, I like to take some time before building the first house, and use that time to research cartography at the cc. This tactic is very unpopular thogh, it seems I'm the only one who likes it. It really trades a lot of early development delay, for ally intel.

3. Economy: general notes

Wood and food are by far the most important resourches, luckily enough, they are also the most avaiable resources in most maps. Stone is very useful between late phase 1 and 2: that's when you should build a bunch of barracks (for a 200 max pop game, you need some 5 barracks), stables (build stables after barracks, you also need many of them), temples and towers. After that point, be sure you'll have plenty of stone later, if you need it, but you won't consume any if you don't build fortifications, new civic centres, or throne buildings (also if you build back barracks and stables). You don't need much stone overall, so don't make stone gathering techs, and take workers away from stone when you have a good reserve.

What you need is to have a strong, stable income of food and wood, and you also need to watch out for metal mines, as metal is often decisive for sieges and other phase 3 tactics I'll show below. For efficient gathering, put women on food and wood, and men on wood, stone and metal.

As soon as you have barracks, start training archers and be careful never to stop, be careful not to be blocked by lack of houses, and don't be afraid of making tons of women, booming is the only one best strategy in alpha 24. When you have 2-4 barracks, research archer tradition in the cc, it's a relevant upgrade and will speed up training.

4. War/economy balance: how to lead the game

After a match, take a look at your score (better if using graphs), you need to look separately at economy score and military score: those are the two keys for scoring a win: aim at having an eco score as good as best players have, and a military score that's better than your opponent's. Another useful statistic is kill/deaths ratio, wich is strictly related to military score, as military score is essentialy the same as the number of units killed.

You are winning on the military side if you have a K/D ratio always greater than 1, you are winning on the economy side if you keep producing all the resources you need. Try to best your opponents on both fields. You will win if:

  1. you keep your eco strong and running, you manage  to protect it from rushes, and you build back soon after being attacked (it's impossible to prevent assaults completely, you have to reduce risk, we'll come back to this in section 6)
  2. you make convenient battles

A battle is convenient if the damage you cause to your opponent is greater than the investment you put in the battle, in this "investment" you have to factor:

  • the resources to train back the soldiers you are losing
  • the resources your men are not gatherig, while they're busy fighting
  • the economic cost of inefficiencies that will naturally happen in your town while your focus is away. This is particularly important for rushes as your opponent will be able to keep his/her attention in his own town, while you can't follow what's happening in your and in his town at the same time. Not as well at least.

These things can also be considered to evaluate the damage you are dealing to your opponent, together with the buildings taken, and the economic damage when you force your opponent's women to flee from work.

These two rules are always valid, for all civs and all versions of the game, AFAIK. Follow them to the victory. Other general rules are:

  • keep your pop high - never stop training people, when someone dies train substitutes
  • avoid wastes - move your people fast from a job to another one, and never let them idle
  • kill your women when you have too many, to make space for more soldiers
  • there are several tricks for having better efficiency in general. I won't delve in those now, but try to learn them from here in the forum, the other players, and from the game itself. Beware not to micro-manage more than you can: remember that your attention is a resource. Make experiments, find what's better for you.

5. Know your men

So, until the second phase, you should have done two kinds of soldiers: phase one horsemen (which is, javelin cavalry) and archers. You should also have two shield-bearer from the beginning of the game, don't make any more of them, they are slower than archers, so, they also carry resources slower, and are lost in attack. They are not totally useless, but they work well only in big stationary battles, they are pretty limited.

Javelin cavalry is not bad, but requires a lot of micro-management, so train them only if you commit yourself to not letting them idle anytime soon. They can hunt of course, and that can really boost your early economy, and they are also good for scouting. They are also good for rushing. All this cavalry thing is a perfect example about how you have to find a balance between micro and macro-management: if you put yourself too much in following your cavalry, you will fall behind in economy. You can try to look at the economy score graphic at the end of the game, to see if a certain strategy has payed off or not.

Early rushes are not very powerful in this alpha, but making use of your mounted strike force to kill some women can't be a bad thing, I encourage you to try if you never did, it's fun! Really there is no better way to start a match. Remember however, that in phase 1 stackes are very high and you can't afford to let your economy go, that would be like shoting in yourself's leg, you must keep your economy growing. Set good rally points for your buildings and save them on hotkeys, check that gatherers have plenty to chop and gather still, and that new houses are set for construction, and then follow your horses closely, while they enter your opponent's territory. Do it quickly, do everything quickly.

Even then, take into consideration some inneficiency happening, because your attention is away from the home town. All this said to make you understand that rushes needs to pay off: heads must roll, otherwise it's a loss. It's hard and it won't work well the first time, but learning it makes you a better player, and one that has more fun. Go for the women, follow them until you make the kills. Don't attack men unless you find one that's isolated, you have to pick your victims while roaming around the enemy town, and kill them when they are left unprotected. Flee from any soldier getting close, better if before their very first hit.

Don't make javelin cav in later phases, other types of cavalry are better in late game.

Archers are your main infantry unit. Archers have the longest range of all non-artillery units, and they can take down artillery quite well too. When you have the longest range units, you can be the first one to hit, and you can always retreat when chased. That means, in practice, that archers have the faculty to choose either when or where to fight opposing infantry. And "where" is a very important in 0 AD, because your buildings (in particular the temple and all fortifications) can give a lot of protection to your men while they fight.

When you send your archers to attack your opponent's town, you will probably meet his/her men while busy gathering resources. After the first hits taken, your opponent will probably call back the soldiers to group together, that's actually a good strategy. Chase them, strike as many blows as you can, but if you see they are more than you can take down, retreat immediately. When they stop chasing your men, make them start harassing again. In general, in any battle, you must try to have more men fighting than your opponent has, otherwise they will die at a faster pace. If you can hit stronger, chase your opponent, when tables turn, back out.

5.1. Cavalry from stables

At a certain point between late age 2 and early age 3, you should make a little plotoon of axe cavalry. Persians can train three new types in cavalry from phase 2: axe, spear, and bow. Axe and spear cavalry both melee and their main difference is that axe cavalry has less armor but more attack, and - quite relevant - that attack is totally hack and crush type. This means they are particularly good at destroying rams, siege engines in general, and even enemy buildings. Rams in particular are a common threat, that is 99% (actual value) immune to arrow damage, so you must have some counter strategy to rams. Other rams work well, elephants even better, but axe cavalry is my choice of preference, they are way faster. So I train a bunch of it, I save them on a hotkey, and I call them only when in need. About the rest of cavalry, since they can't gather most resources, and they cannot build either, I reccomend you to not train them while booming, train them only for fighting.

Spear cavalry instead, is my bet for fighting other archers, Axe cavalry is brutal, but they have terribly low pierce armor, it's quite risky for them to attack grouped archers. As for the battle plan, I usually use archers to make the skirmishing and start the fight, and then I send in the spear cavalry. Just remember that usual melee infantry has x3 bonus against cavalry, so avoid them as much as you can, and go for the ranged fellas.

Bow cavalry is the perfect skirmisher I guess, but in phase 2 that property is already past its glory. If your army is mostly on feet, a portion of faster moving units is not going to be such a game changer. Bow cavalry has, however, many better stats than infantry archers have, at the cost of 50 more food. If you have lots of food, you could train some bow cavalry instead of infantry only.

And finally, at phase 3, you can unblock champion cavalry, which is essentially spear cavalry, but much stronger. Cataphracts (that's the name of persian champion cavalry, although they have they behave in the same way of all champion cavalry on any civ) cost a lot of metal, so they are viable only if you have good metal income, and also have better chances to conquer enemy buildings. This is especially helpful when using them to raid the enemy towns: the best way to do it is to start from conquering an unguarded temple, and then use it as a base to raid all the surroundings, but you can also conquer stables for the same reason, and any other building you may want to destroy. For instance destroying some barracks won't finish your opponent, but will limit him or her greately. If you have the metal, and you like cavalry warfare, cataphracts are a great seal of quality of any cavalry force. They work well alone or together with other cavalry.

All in all, the only cavalry unit I don't ever recommed is champion chariots. they are like bow cavalry, but stronger. I don't like spending so much food on Partian (bow) cavalry, and I certainly don't like to put all my metal on chariots that can't do much more than simple archers do, who are so cheaper. Bow cavalry is a better pick also because it's faster to train. 

5.2. Siege units

Persians can train battering rams from arsenals, and war elephants from elephant stables. Both these units are very powerful (better than rams or elephants some other civs have access to) So I often make a choice only based on my economy: elephants cost food, rams cost wood. Both rams and elephants cost a lot of metal too, and while rams are cheaper overall, they require more micro-management.

Ramsas I already had the opportunity to say, have 99% resistance against pierce damage, while they are much more susceptible to hack and crash damage, so you have to follow them closely to prevent enemy melee units to reach them, and in particular swordsmen and other siege units. Withdraw your rams if in danger and repair them before sending them back to fight. Rams can also be garrisoned with soldiers (best if melee, like sparabara - shield bearers), mainly to defend them from ram counters: make your men exit the ram, as opposing soldiers attack.

Another use of rams is that of a target dummy for opposing ranged forces: enemy archers prefer to shoot at soldiers, but can often be distracted by your rams and shoot at them, even if their arrow can deal virtually no damage.

Elephants are more expensive, but they are real ancient world tanks. They are effective against opposing siege towers and rams, but they can't recover their health as fast as rams do. Deploy elephants together with healers from a temple, to gain in 'reusability'.



In this all-persian battle, rams are controlled by light blue. Dark blue elephants seem like a deadly threat to the rams, but they can't destroy them all before light blue archers kill the elephants. Thus, rams will keep distracting green reinforcements, and light blue will score the battle.

Other more strategic elemets to be considered are the temple controlled by light blue (archers are in a position such that the temple can heal them) and the proximity to green territory, that makes it easier for him/her to send reinforcements.

5.3. Persian palace: heroes and immortals

Persian palace (the throne building) is a big investment, costing a lot of stone and metal, however, it gives access to persian heroes, who are all very strong. Immortals are another champion unit, and they can be trained efficiently with the same-named tech in the palace, and using Kurus, who is a hero that can train immortals in front of himself. Immortals are an even bigger investment in metal, and while they can prove overwhelming for your opponent, provided that you have a very strong economy, they have the same limitations shield-bearers have, while being stronger of course. For your first games with persians, I don't reccomend you to build the throne building at all. But consider building it to train economy boosting heroes (in particular Darayavahus for traders) and then switch to Kurus for supporting your cavalry or spamming immortals. This is a long term strategy that requires care and resistence to any attack of your opponents towards your economy.

 6. Successful defence

6.1. Avoiding damage from rushes

As I already mentioned, a strong economy needs risk reduction techniques, to avoid collapse if your opponent strikes inside your territory. In fact, unless the map clearly allows it, a complete lock down of your territory is generally infeasible. Also, if you put too much care in building defences, walls, and fences, you may find yourself giving too little attention to macro-management. In any case, here there are some good practices:

  • build houses near to where your women work, and make them enter the houses when rushing forces approach. Women can also enter temples, civic centres and fortifications in general (the cc is by all means a fortification), but avoid putting women inside fortifications if you can put men in them instead
  • some men around women can be of much help, especially in early phases. Beware not to fight larger opposing troups though, but retreat into temples and fortifications until reinforcements arrive
  • build towers and temples in the zones that you want to protect from rushes, but never put them far from defending forces, because if your opponent manages to conquer them, they can be turned into a terrible thorns into your own territory inside. Every second a rusher is under a tower fire, he takes great damage, so he's forced to retire quickly

6.2. Fortifications and war zones

I already mentioned fortifications many times in this guide, and they are central to the game, fortifications are actually op in this alpha, and this is simply how they work: each men that is inside a fortification, becomes an archer that can't be killed as long as he is in the building, and shoots arrows further than normal archers, and that make around twice the damage of a normal arrow. Pretty impressive, huh? Damage dealt actually varies and depends on the building, but among them all, fortresses are the most op. That also depends on the fact that it can host as many as 20 men, while towers only up to 5. Ungarrisoned fortifications are quite easy to conquer or destroy, but fortifications defended by a qualified army that includes ram counters and is operated by a good player, are almost impossible to take. Try to find your way around them, which is risky, but is better than suiciding your army on an impossible siege.

"War zones" is the name me and my friends use to call those places where you prepare yourself to fight. So there you want to build a temple, to give your men the possibility to recover, and of course a fortress, which is already an overkill on its own. The fortress is slower to build, so I'd recommend the temple before, and the fortress afterwards, just in front of the temple. You can put axe cav in the fortress or the temple, to counter rams, and you can even put your rams in the fortress, from where they can exit to attack opposing rams, without any fear of incoming darts, which axe cavalry dreads.

While fortifications are clearly a good defensive feature, their best use is actually in attack, as building a fortification near your opponent's town is easely a definitive way to claim all the surrouning to your control, and if a counterattack manages to destroy the fortress, it is only at a great expence of lives, which hopefully lets you strike again for the last blow.

7. Conclusion

Thank you for reading, I hope I've been of help to you to learn this incredible game. There's much more to say, but I think this is enough for a brief guide like this one. I may even add something in future, please let me know that do you think about it.

Edited by alre
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