on November 25, 1999
I am biased because I contributed to this book, and I know all of the authors and contributing authors. I would, nevertheless, encourage this book for players who plan to play this game online against other people. In truth, the single-player campaign strategy is top-notch as well, but the key differentiating factor between this book and the others is that is was written entirely by on-line real-time strategy players and experts.
Section 3 on Civilizations, Section 4 on game features, Section 5 on Advanced Unit Control, and Sections 6 through 9 on planning, building, defending, and expanding your empire are all really crucial for someone who is good versus the computer to read BEFORE venturing onto the internet and feeling like a deer stuck in the headlights on an oncoming battering ram.
Most good single-player players do not realize the enormous chasm between expert at single player and intermediate at multi-player in skills. Playing versus other players is the only way to make the leap, but this book helps that transition.
Even Chapter 11, on multiplayer etiquette is a must read for the online neophyte.
On the other hand, if you yourself are a top-100 player, this book is more interesting as a snapshot of ThumP, Methos, et al.'s thinking as the game was released. The downside, is of course, that strategy thinking evolves. When the book was written, for example, Teutons were thought to be a very good civilization, but with sufficient weakenesses to keep them balanced. Now, most games ban the Teutons b/c their TCs are too strong. This book notes the TC strength but publishing deadlines prevent it from discussing the next two months of game evolution.
All strategy books should come with a free "tune up" addendum online, three to six months after release.
I'd give this book 5 stars if it had that feature, but otherwise, no written computer-strategy book can ever learn more than 4 in an online world.
Andy "AndyHRE" Schwarz, contributing writer
on December 21, 1999
I bought this book because I believed in what Andy Schwarz said on his review, about how great this book was for on-line gamers. But I fail to see how this book can be of much help to on-line gamers as a strategy guide.
Indeed, the book talks about how much fun multi-player games can be, how different they can differ from single-player games, and on-line etiquette. Besides a few paragraphs about civilization selection, I don't see any multi-player gaming strategy in this book. The two chapters devoted to multiplayer games, i.e. chapters 11 and 12, have only a total of 7 pages combined.
Although I am not disappointed at the other parts of this book, I would not advertise nor recommend it as a strategy guide for on-line gamers.
on February 3, 2000
I bought this book along with the Ensemble Studio book. This book has a few tables that list the actual number of Attack Bonus of the unique units (like cataphract +8 vs infantry) that I can't find elsewhere unless you actually play the game (it becomes handy). Also the chapters on Campaigns are very very good (to me, better than the ES book on this aspect). I actually won a few campaigns using the guidance of this book that I can't win before. If you are starting as a single player and want to win the campaigns, I recommend this book. But if you want to be a good multiplayer gamer, this book offers no help at all and get the ES book instead (see my other review).
on January 8, 2000
I received the book through Air Mail three days ago and I just began reading yesterday, but I already recommend it. There is a nice introduction, and then it explains the civilizations, shows units carts and gives detailed strategies on maps. Then it takes an extensive explanation, during several chapters, on how to develop a civilization and rule the world. After, it shows detailed walkthroughs to each campaign. Some online ettiquete finish the book. I highly recommend it to any player who is beggining on Age of Kings, mastering, or playing knowing its brother, Age of Empires (my case). Buy it and excel at your games, I guarantee!