“Surprise becomes effective when we suddenly face the enemy at one point with far more troops than he expected. This type of numerical superiority is quite distinct from numerical superiority in general: it is the most powerful medium in the art of war.” - Carl von Clauzewitz, On War
“Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.” – Sun Tzu, Art of War
Stratagems are one of the most advanced features of Evony: Age II. Stratagems add an array of real-time intelligence gathering, counterintelligence and espionage options to Evony, providing a whole new layer of complexity and excitement in gameplay.
Great military leaders throughout history sought to avoid an even fight. Victories through even fights, almost by definition, are costly affairs. The best commanders do everything they can to tip the battle in their favor, changing an even fight into a one-sided victory. In order to achieve these one-sided victories, military commanders use a wide array of tools, ranging from information gathering and deception to sabotage and subterfuge. Stratagems add this aspect of warfare to Evony: Age II.
What are Stratagems?
Stratagems are special powers that a player can deploy during the course of battle or intelligence gathering. When used correctly, stratagems are powerful tools to add to a player’s arsenal, giving the player a wide range of strategic options. Everything from intelligence and counterintelligence missions to the ability to disrupt the tempo of enemy military operations are possible with stratagems. Although they might seem complex at first, stratagems are quite simple to use. Stratagems add the same variability to gameplay that makes Collectable Card Games (CCG) so much fun. The best way to treat stratagems is as if they were special cards in your hand, ready to play at any time. Play them at the right time and you can give your armies the edge to turn an even fight into total victory.
How do you obtain stratagems?
The quickest and surest way to obtain stratagems is to purchase them with cents. If you decide to buy a stratagem and use it, there is a quest with a cent reward. The reward helps offset the cost of your first stratagem purchase. Stratagems are also available on the wheel of fortune. To find the list of available stratagems, click on the “Shop” icon in the lower right area in the game window, then click on the “Stratagem” tab. There are 3 pages of stratagems, so be sure to check them all out! Once purchased, you will find your stratagems by clicking on “My Items,” then clicking on the “Stratagems” tab.
3 Categories of Stratagems
Although every power is unique, there are three general categories of stratagems. The first category of stratagems involves deception and intelligence gathering. The second category is “special operations,” which have the ability to directly disrupt another player through the use of spies, intrigue and mayhem. The final category is used to control the tempo of battle by affecting marching armies.
Since every situation is unique, I will use a series of examples to show how stratagems might be used in a conflict. The uses of stratagems can range from the simple to the complex.
How can stratagems be used in intelligence gathering and deception?
In this mythical example, Lord Able is in a conflict with Lady Bravo. Lord Able has decided that he will colonize Burbank, a city that Lady Bravo owns that is threatening his own expansion towards a Historical City. Lord Able sends a scouting mission to Burbank, but Lady Bravo’s scouting forces are too strong, and his scouts are destroyed. Not willing to act without solid intelligence, Lord Able decides to use a stratagem, “Ears and Eyes in Enemy’s City” on Burbank. Lord Able gets a very detailed scouting report on Burbank, and learns that Lady Bravo has neglected her defenses. Burbank does have a large number of resources, however. Tempted by the rich target, Lord Able sets his sights on Burbank.
What Lord Able doesn’t realize is that Lady Bravo has decided to set a trap. After Lord Able launched his failed scouting mission against Burbank, Lady Bravo saw this as a chance to lure Lord Able into attacking and immediately played “Cast a Brick to Attract a Gem” and “Empty City,” thus giving Lord Able an inaccurate report about the size of her defenses as well as the amount of resources she has in Burbank.
Lady Bravo, not wanting to give Lord Able a chance to build any new forces, plays “Burn the Warehouses” against Anaheim (Lord Able’s capital), wiping out the food supply that Lord Able was building up.
Lord Able calculates that he has just enough food to continue with the attack so he continues, launching his army from Anaheim against Burbank.
When Lady Bravo gets the attack warning, she knows it’s time to spring her trap. First she plays “Bolt the Doors to Catch the Thief,” locking Lord Able’s forces into the attack on Burbank. She then plays “Entrapping,” turning the 1.5 hour attack into a 2 hour attack. Calculating that it will take about 3 hours and 15 minutes to attack Anaheim, Lady Bravo launches an attack from Barstow, her capital, against Anaheim. Lord Able’s army, locked into a long march on Burbank, cannot return in time to defend his capital from Lady Bravo’s initial colonization attack.
As you can see, the use of Stratagems adds a whole new dimension to the way intelligence and combat works in Evony: Age II. By adding a degree of uncertainty and giving commanders a host of immediate actions, interesting strategies to dupe and deceive the enemy are now possible. This is not all one sided, for many stratagems have counter stratagems as well, adding even more uncertainty and excitement to the game.
“Surprise, concentration, tempo, and audacity characterize the offense. Effective offensive operations capitalize on accurate intelligence and other relevant information regarding enemy forces, weather, and terrain. Commanders maneuver their forces to advantageous positions before contact. Force protection, including defensive information operations (IO), keeps or inhibits the enemy from acquiring accurate information about friendly forces. The enemy only sees what the friendly commander wants him to see. Contact with enemy forces before the decisive operation is deliberate, designed to shape the optimum situation for the decisive operation. The decisive operation is a sudden, shattering action that capitalizes on subordinate initiative and a common operational picture (COP) to expand throughout the AO. Commanders execute violently without hesitation to break the enemy’s will or destroy him.” – FM 3-0, US Army Field Manual, Operations
(credit: Evony Developer Diaries)