RTS Basics
RTS Basics: Economics

Cost Effectiveness

Securing the map and fielding the enemy's pathetic attempts to unseat your mighty campaign is all very well, but building up the world's fastest and biggest economy isn't much chop if you're not spending it wisely.

This can come down to properly managing your units of course, and while numbers are significant, its no guarantee of a win. Again, knowing your units and knowing the best ones for a job becomes important here. Don't blow all your money pursuing a precious (or stupid) tactic if your foe's got a working solution to it. Think of the Somme in WWI: German crossfire with machine-guns would have proved less effective if the halfwits in the British Army had been less beholden to the honourably hideous idea of a bayonet charge - or that sheer numbers would prevail. At the very least Britain would have preserved an entire generation of young men. Winning tactics are as much about smart strategic moves both on the paddock and in the bank. You're running an army and an economy, and the former relies heavily on the latter.

You should try and think in terms of how many resources your forces cost, and how many resources they represent- and what exactly it is you were trying to achieve at the time. Is it really worth all that cash for that particular goal? How much are you prepared to commit in a costly charge on a well defended choke point? It's bit like counting your cards at Rummy. You want to keep an eye on your economic production and just how well its being used. When you see your force attacking the opposition, have a go at thinking of it differently from the usual way - I'm winning! I lost ten units to kill twenty! and instead in economic terms I'm losing! I lost ten $500 tanks to kill twenty $50 marines! It can make a big difference in the long term. You want to try and minimise your losses and maximise your units' usefulness. A big unit might be highly efficient, but a dozen cheapies can actually be more cost effective in the right time and place.

You should also contemplate just how lucrative an expansion might be. There's no point going over the top defending a small deposit of resources. You may find you spent more on securing the expansion than what you actually got out of it! If its a remote site, then you might not build any defences at all - and take a punt the enemy considers it to be too unimportant to waste time and effort on.

But once the game's under way you rarely have the luxury of fastidious bean counting. Play it by ear. I know there are geeks out there that time their games to the last second, play a select number of the same maps to death and memorise everything by heart, but frankly these experts-by-rote are about as much fun to play as taking an exam. There are many times where you have to throw efficiency and economy out the window and just lose a lot in order to achieve a goal, simply because the goal is just too important to the game. Those $500 tanks might have been worth the loss against those $50 marines if they let you take control of a significant part of the map...

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Last reformatted Sat, Apr 30 2011 by Lindsay Fleay