Saturday, September 16, 2006

Dawn of War + Tactics

In comment to my previous post I said

Meh, I remember why I stopped playing it now anyway. As of about 15 mins in you have more resources than you can spend and then it just becomes a matter of throwing in unit after unit until someone breaks through. Can a have a side-order of tactics with that meatgrinder? Oh you're all out, ok.

I thought I'd expand that a bit as an actual post.

The basic problem in Dawn of War (and a lot of other RTS games) is that it devolves so very easily into creating the biggest wedge of units you can and throwing them at the big wedge that the enemy created. A massive brawl ensues and whoever makes it out with stuff left alive will be able to cause enough damage to cripple the enemy's ability to make subsequent wedges. The AI doesn't help this at all as this appears to be the one and only tactic it is capable of. You're playing along nicely and suddenly one of the aforementioned wedges hits your defenses. While you're busy fighting them off the computer (having a much better ability to do things on opposite sides of the map than a human has) can build up another wedge and do the same again. It all comes down to only having two tactics against the computer:
  • Play defensively and be safe in the knowledge that the computer will break through and win.

  • Go on the offensive early in the game. This is very risky as mistakes will cost you dearly.

  • Go on the offensive around when the computer does and be forced to use the same tactics to break through the masses of units.

All in all, not the most inspiring set of choices. There is one last one of course, building enough defenses to withstand the uber-attack while your forces take a route round the side. That is verging on real tactics (*shock*) but it only works if the computer hasn't pulled the same trick as you and loaded out on defenses, otherwise it'll redeploy its units to meet your attack while you're breaking your way through and you're back at a big brawl again. The Eldar of course have much more sneaky and cunning tactics they can use, but in the end they only postpone the inevitable choice of one of those courses of action.

There's my thoughts on DoW tactics anyway, I'm sure Ben and Iris will be pleased I've ripped into the game they've been playing recently =P


  1. I dunno, it seems to me that you're complaining that a game about war is about armies fighting. :-P What would you have them do instead? I'm not going to argue that the AI can be quite dumb though - or rather, that it only has this one strategy, which works great with orks for example but terribly with eldar, so it depends on what you're up against.

  2. It's not so much a problem with it being armies fighting, more a program that every game turns into one huge fight in the middle that you both chuck units into until someone runs out of resources or doesn't throw more units in fast enough. I prefer games that require more thinking than just clicking the same button over and over again...