Age of Darkness: Final Stand Tips and Tricks Guide
Age of Darkness: Final Stand is not terribly complex to pick up in terms of strategy. At least in Early Access so far. The hardest part of winning is less the game's Death Night mechanic and more having the patience to play all the way through the game's repetitive and increasingly challenging curve. So, a few tips and tricks are in store to help you get through it all.
If you've played Starcraft and mastered the art of turning back a zerg rush, or if you've already played They Are Billions and figured out how to repel the horde, you already know everything you need to for Age of Darkness in its EA launch state. I have nothing to teach you. You folks are dismissed; thanks for the click, it helps my stats.
For the rest of you, however, here's a base-level crash course in the art of the new breed of base-builder RTS, which is, fundamentally, a mouse-clicking contest once you've learned the meta.
Get Your Resources
You'll want to get resource production going as fast as possible. Find large clusters of trees and put down your logging camps. If you're lucky, you'll get a narrow path between two stands of trees. You want the number to be as high as possible in the placement preview, and for the adjective helpfully provided to be “Good” or “Bountiful”.
Sometimes the best you'll be able to do is “Decent” and that's OK, but you really want to have as many trees as possible in the radius of the camp.
With food production, you'll want as much open space around the gathering spot as possible. That determines how much food you'll be able to get from it practically. Food is how you support larger populations. Larger populations are how you support large armies and staff research centers and other resource gathering points. Once that farm is placed, do not build anything in its gather radius, never, not for any reason.
Stone and Iron
Stone and iron production rely on specially-marked patches of ground with rocks or metal deposits. These are entirely determined by the game's procedural generation. They also tend to be guarded by monsters, so send your starting army — the game will give you a few military units to open the show — to push back the horde, then drop that quarry down.
Don't worry too much about iron early, however; the random map will never put it right by your starting point. You have to explore, maybe even clean out a sizeable horde, before those deposits open up. But when they do, mine them immediately.
Build As Fast As You Can
Age of Darkness does not mess around. You can see the countdown timer to the Death Night, and before that timer strikes for the first time, you'll need a barracks and several houses to support the population for soldiers.
Likewise, you'll want to build a wood workshop, which will provide the early upgrades to both resource gathering buildings and defensive towers.
A word of advice about housing: armies cannot march through any terrain that is blocked by buildings. Always leave lanes for your armies can march through. Don't cluster houses unless you've lucked into a protected cove that you can fill with buildings and that your soldiers will never need to march through.
High cliffs serve as walls to your forces and to the enemy, so don't trap your own guys, but use the fact that peasants aren't restricted in their movement — they're fully abstracted — to your advantage.
When you're running low on food, build another farm. If you need more space, send your army out, defeat the monsters guarding whatever open space you need, then plunk down a farm and possibly a light source and a tower to keep the monsters away.
Then use the surplus population to build a bigger and bigger army.
Explore and Kill While You Can
Pushing back the darkness is an active job. As your army grows and upgrades by way of bigger and better research facilities and keep upgrades, you'll be able to fight larger hordes of monsters before your army has to regroup, head back to safer ground, and heal itself — something it does automatically.
But you can only reveal resources by exploring and conquering land. That's an ironclad rule that requires you to frantically build as big an army as your resources allow and use it constantly.
This goes double during the game's daytime phase; the monsters are weaker then, allowing you to kill more of them faster. They're tougher at night and bulwarks during Death Night events. Kill them on your terms, not theirs.
Upgrade Your Troops and Buildings
Do not neglect your research. The wood workshop gives you the basics, allowing light sources, towers you can put more archers in for defense, better houses to get more population into less space, and basically every other “the same but better” item in the game. Use towers and archers to protect your keep and vital resource gathering from stray monster attacks while your army's “on campaign”.
Sentinels are better than ordinary foot soldiers. Arbalests are better than archers. Siege weapons, placed just behind a shield wall of troops, wreak havoc on enemy strong points. All of them, you get via research.
Likewise, unmanned ballista towers are truly at their best when they've been upgraded, able to chew through incoming monster hordes like the monsters are made of wet paper. Firepower is how you win this game. Not just quantity but quality as well.
Choose Your Perks Smartly
It helps to have a strategy in mind when you're choosing your rewards from the perk list. You get a perk every time you survive a Death Night. Some of these make your economy run better — improved resource gather rates satisfies Step 1 of this checklist. Having reduced building costs is a great way to satisfy Step 2. Having armies able to swing their swords faster and do more damage, meanwhile, is great for Step 3. And anything that improves upgrading handles Step 4 well.
Deciding what you want to give a bit of help to and what you'll handle on your own is a great way to optimize your perks for your playstyle, so decide on and then stick to an overarching strategy.
That's pretty much it in regards to Age of Darkness tips and tricks, really. This is, in every sense of the term, a classic base-builder RTS at its core, and the best practices that are as old as the genre work every bit as well here as they have in every base-builder RTS game ever made. At least for now...