RTS Basics
RTS Basics: Economics

Safety in Numbers

Settlers III's economy under constructionUnless you're playing a strategy game that does away with an economy entirely (like Ground Control or Myth), the most critical part of your game is establishing the economy behind your forces. You can't go gallivanting without building that army first! Military strength depends on production. You create worker units and order them to extract resources off the map  (e.g. chopping trees, building mines, harvesting asteroids, etc.) and use the proceeds to build the factories to churn out more workers and fighting units. Any player who neglects to do this basically gives the game away. Building a strong economy and maintaining it through thick and thin is one of the most important ongoing jobs on your road to a win - right up to the last minutes of the game. The bigger your economy, the more options you will have. An adept player who plays their units extremely well on the field will still be disadvantaged against a foe who's hopeless with their units but who commands a bigger economy.

All other strategic elements pale in comparison, since your economy is underwriting everything. Napoleon once proclaimed an army runs on its stomach: your force runs on the resources you extract from the map. Your miners and workers are the source of your strength but also your weakest link. Losing all your fighting units means little if your economy can quickly rebuild them, but if your workers or your mines get nailed you're in serious trouble, regardless of the size of your army. Reinforcements and repairs are essential - without them you can only get weaker.

When dealing with hostile units most of the time, you should be thinking about those enemy units as nothing more than a hindrance that gets in the way of your real goal: ploughing into the heart of that enemy base and demolishing that economy. Otherwise, you're only locking horns with the "symptoms" of your opponent, not the "cause" of them! And likewise, your esteemed foe is trying (or should be!) to do the same to you.

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Last reformatted Sat, Apr 30 2011 by Lindsay Fleay