One of the foundational skills in this game that takes a long time to master is resource management.
Everything costs some combination of gold and lumber, and if you play water maps like most of us at the new American Warcraft II server love to, you also have to factor in oil costs.
Things cost more gold than lumber, but you can also collect gold more quickly, since a trip to the gold mine and back happens faster than a tree-cutting session.
Having the right amount of peons mining and chopping can be tricky to balance, since it can vary depending on what strategy you’re doing and what point you are at in the game.
A standard strategy for early game is the grunt rush, which involves exclusively mining gold. You can either continually pump out peons from your hall and risk getting behind in grunt production if your enemy has opted to stop producing peons and make more grunts quickly, or you can stop producing peons yourself for awhile to maximize the grunts you can get faster and risk falling behind in economy.
In general, though, you will want to continue to build peons one after the other continually to maximize the potential work and production of your village, but there are some exceptions like on low resource maps or settings where some variation is called for.
Good resource management continues to be a challenge for all but the top level players who have got it mastered to the point where they are continually using all the gold and lumber they bring in and are always under 1000 on both in spite of speedily gathering both as quickly as possible.
The goal is to defeat your enemy, not to stockpile a bunch of funeral decorations for yourself. The supplies need to be converted into an army and expansions as fast as you possibly can. It’s a race. Speed is hugely important.
One of my problems before I was set straight was that I would have 10,000 gold and 300 lumber, which blocks you from being able to upgrade or produce, because you can’t build farms and you can’t make important buildings or upgrade your hall or anything. Wood is essential and trying to make *new* peons to become the choppers is not the way to go! You need to recycle the gold peons into choppers by pulling them out of the gold mine when they don’t have a gold sack (since they can’t chop while they have a gold bag) and sending them to wood. It is important to do this early enough that they can get wood gathered in time so when you need to do your upgrades, it’s already chopped and in your supply.
If you have made two barracks for a grunt rush, you will probably want to start chopping when you have about 22 units. If you made one barracks, you probably want start chopping when you have 17 units.
Learning how to pull gold mining peons and send them to chop greatly revolutionized my gameplay. It’s a crucial skill.
Knowing how much things cost will also help you know exactly when you can upgrade from stronghold to fortress, for example. So as soon as your peon brings in the lumber pile to bring your total to 1200, you know you can immediately click to upgrade to fort, assuming you also have the 2500 gold.
Key points to remember for resource management:
- You need a little more gold than lumber, and lumber before gold on high res (most common) setting, but both are crucial.
- Keep making peons continuously
- Send peons where needed so you have a little more gold than lumber coming in
- You can move peons back and forth between gold and lumber as needed
- Spend as fast as you can, it’s a race. Don’t let it stockpile.
- If you have “too much” money, make more barracks, expand, defend the expansions with walls and towers, add air or magic, keep expanding your kingdom, don’t just sit there on a pile of money while your enemy takes the map
- Do not build buildings you can’t support. Do not make 4 barracks if you only have the economy to produce units continually from 2. Don’t build a mage tower if you can’t afford to upgrade the spells.
- If you are running out of farm space (like have 24/25 used) but have numerous buildings, such as a mage tower, several halls, and 6 barracks, you can start a unit in each one that will still emerge so you have them until you can catch up on farms.
- If you have maxed out units but are in urgent need, you can always kill a unit (like a grunt with only 3 hit points left) to make room for ogres, for instance.
- Don’t upgrade to stronghold or keep too early. If you can’t afford an ogre mound followed by a fortress in immediate succession, you wasted the money and made yourself vulnerable to your enemy’s grunt rush. Usually you need 13-17 peons plus barracks, blacksmith, and lumber mill before you should be upgrading so your economy can support that line of action. Having a stronghold without being able to afford an ogre mound is a waste and just slowed down your peon production for nothing.
A big part of getting effective with resource management is practicing in play. Average players still flub it from time to time, but over time you can increase the fluidity with which you can collect the resources in a timely fashion for whatever strategy you are trying to carry out.