Age of Empires III: The Asian Dynasties Updated Q&A - Details on India

Big Huge Games CEO Brian Reynolds unveils the India faction in this expansion pack for Age of Empires III.

Real-time strategy games may have left the realm of harvesting resources, building a base, and churning out armies to crush your opponent. Over time, we've seen them evolve from simple diversions, in which your little guys would bash a castle wall with their swords until it inexplicably caught fire, into sophisticated games with role-playing elements, world-affecting powers, and plenty of strategic depth. You can absolutely count the 2005 game Age of Empires III as one of the more advanced games out there. The series has always focused on real-world history, placing you as the ruler of one of the world's most powerful nations, and the latest game in the series introduced an unusual "home city" system that let you collect in-game cards that granted your nation exceptional abilities. The game has already gotten bigger thanks to The WarChiefs, last year's solid expansion pack that added Native American tribes to the game. Now it's set to expand further into the Far East with The Asian Dynasties, a new expansion pack that will introduce three new playable nations. This time around, we unveil the nation of India with help from Big Huge Games' Brian Reynolds.

The mighty elephant will be at the command of the India faction.

GameSpot: Give us an overview of India as a faction. How is it unique, and what are its greatest weaknesses and strengths?

Brian Reynolds: India is quite a unique "civ," both for its military and for its economy. Paying wood instead of food to commission villagers creates a very different early build pattern, and massive elephant units give India a cavalry arm like no other.

GS: From what period of history will the India faction be drawn, and how has that affected the faction's design? For instance, the nation was, of course, a coveted trading partner that possessed rare commodities not easily available in the West. Can we expect to see some kind of economic specialization along these lines? Will any major historical events inform their design, such as the encroachment of British imperialists in the 19th century?

BR: The Indian faction is based on the history of the subcontinent throughout the period of the game, but most especially that of the Mughals, who ruled the largest and longest-lasting kingdom in the region at that time. Other units, such as the Gurkha, are drawn from the British colonial period. India's role as a key trading partner is partially reflected by the use of its consulate and the "export resource" ability to influence European allies (a mechanic, of course, shared in common with China and Japan, who were also much sought after for trade).

GS: Could you give us an overview of the armies this nation will command? How have you taken the real-world history of India and used that to create the Indian forces? About what level of technology will the faction possess?

BR: First, most importantly, and in a word: elephants. India represents the triumphant return of elephants to the Age of Empires series, and we're not just talking one kind of elephant here, either. There are mahouts with a powerful "splash damage" melee attack, howdahs full of archers that work as very powerful ranged cavalry, flail elephants with a melee attack that are powerful against buildings and siege units, and even massive siege elephants with cannons mounted on top!

As if these elephants weren't enough cavalry, India also features two types of camel units. Its infantry include the double-sword-wielding rajput, which falls somewhere between the rodelero and the pikeman, the sepoy, which functions as a powerful musketeer (though not as powerful as a janissary), and the Gurkha as a variant of skirmisher.

GS: If not looking for victory through force of arms, how should a player using the Indian faction approach the game? What are the primary facets of India's economic strategy, for instance, and how will the nation use wonders of the world to its advantage?

India will have a powerful and unusual economy that can gain lots of experience points and resources in a hurry.

BR: The Indians are the best of the new factions for approaching the game from a more "peaceful" play style. For starters, the Taj Mahal wonder has a "cease fire" ability, which stops combat for a brief period. When an attack comes, this gives the Indian player extra time to complete defenses or enough time to advance to the next age. If that's not enough, the faction can also build the "Agra Fort" wonder, a large defensive structure that should deter all but the most serious of attacks. It functions as a weaker version of the European fort, shooting at enemy units as well as serving as another place to train units.

Economically, the Indians should present a change of pace for players who are familiar with the standard game mechanics. The big difference players will notice from the get-go is that their villagers "cost" wood instead of food to commission. This can present a challenge, since wood comes in slower than food. As compensation, the Indians get a free villager with every shipment from their home city. Another funny twist is that Indian livestock generates experience points, instead of being harvestable for food. This actually ends up being quite a large bonus, as the Indians can generate experience faster than almost any faction aside from the Japanese. Finally, as far as wonders go, if players want to boom, they should choose the Karni Mata. This provides a boost to the amount of resources gathered by nearby villagers.

GS: Any unique abilities or properties of the Indian home city? What unique card-related abilities will the faction have?

BR: Unlike other factions, India has no "settler" (or "villager") cards whatsoever. Instead, this nation receives a free villager with almost every card it sends. One interesting aspect of this difference is that instead of sending villagers as your first card, you can concentrate on the interesting strategy of your choice (Crates? "Pets" for your monks? Resource trickle?), and receive a villager alongside it.

GS: Tell us about the Indian nation's campaign, the time period it will cover, and the significant historical events it will include.

BR: The Indian campaign follows the events of the Sepoy Rebellion of 1857. The hero, Nanib, begins the campaign in the employ of the British East India Company, but rapidly becomes disillusioned with its cruel ways and joins the rebels. Although British rule persisted in India for nearly another century, this rebellion broke the back of the British East India Company and reduced its power and influence for good. The Indian campaign forms the final leg of our three campaigns (which run China, Japan, and India, in that order), and therefore includes some of our most dramatic and challenging episodes.

GS: How is the nation shaping up in multiplayer? Which strategies does India seem to work best with?

Also, did we mention that India has elephants?

BR: In multiplayer games, a common strategy for India is to get to the fortress age quickly. It's at this point that the Indians gain access to most of their big, bad elephant units: the mahout, the howdah, and the selephant. They serve as heavy cavalry, ranged cavalry, and artillery, respectively. They are very expensive, but pound for pound, they are the toughest units in the game. Even a few of them are enough to wipe out hordes of enemy units, as well as destroy entire settlements.

The Indians also have some interesting wonders for tipping the balance in a battle. The tower of victory has the "inspiration" ability, which temporarily increases the attack, hit points, and speed of all military units. Elephants aren't truly scary until they're fast. For a longer-term boost, the Charminar Gate allows the training of special higher-ranking "mansabdar" versions of normal units. Mansabdars have twice the hit points of normal units and provide an attack and hit-point boost to nearby units of the same type.

GS: Sounds good. Thanks, Brian.

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52 comments
samrat12kundu
samrat12kundu

India looks good !! Economy booming and best military ... !!! The games on my wish list

Tenjikuronin
Tenjikuronin

Good to see India getting represented in the Age of Empires Series.....

TomofDreams
TomofDreams

they still shouda done africa. In Asia there was only two colonized places, India and China. Japan never really got "colonized," it was just exploited. In Africa, every place was exploited, colonized, and used by the Europeans. Also, I've played with the Chinese and Japanese and Indians in AoK so bring on the Africans!

rocker_of117
rocker_of117

All stragedy games would amazing if the they had infinite population!

WHIT3_STORM3R
WHIT3_STORM3R

I wonder if theyll ever make a game in our time now(2007) where instead of people on horses with guns there are people in cars with guns and in stead of people with swords give them knives and baseball bats, and like replace bows with guns and swords with modern day weapons.

aassaaiimm
aassaaiimm

It is not a very good thing to make age of empire III like that

ChimpZ_
ChimpZ_

@ Beowulf 2525 You said cannons were never shot from the back of Elephants. If you were to read Sun Tzu's 'The Art of War' would find that the "Men from the hills" frequently used this as a unit choice. Men of the hills are later revealed to be the Timurids. Other nations of the time attempted this, most of the time it led to massed uncontrollable death.

Aztec888
Aztec888

astralislux, AoE3 has far from an Isometric view. It's fully 3D, and has physics too. The gameplay is challenging though, but fun all the Same. As for TAD, I'm gonna be one-a' the few with AoE3, TWC AND TAD!!

VfighterX
VfighterX

Still... it would be kind of cool to see elephants running swarms of enemies with blood splattering everywhere. =o

Treifla
Treifla

so what they are saying is....... india wins, to me this seems a little imbalanced, for instance, i would buy this expansion, but im still hard core british all the way (by the way, the britts were the first to use wood for villagers instead if you consider the housing system) how can you compare these new aparently indestructable elephants to the conventional all purpose red coats that i so very much love. the only thing i can think of is if the cost for these units is so high that it would be impracticle to train an entire army of them. also, AOE has never been a fully reliable source for historicle acuracy (with the exception of the historicle text provided in AOE II) the gameplay is summarised so that it is easier to understand and gets the general idea of what happened, to make it 100% would make the campaign either to long or impracticle to program and play. so in terms of possibly historicly innacurate units, i can deal, it's the fun that i want.

astralislux
astralislux

I haven't bought any of the AOE III games because they feel dated to me because of the isometric map whereas new games are now fully three-dimensional. The gameplay might be great, but I wouldn't know.

ExpletiveWord
ExpletiveWord

@Beowulf2525 During the 1500s culverins were mounted on elephants for a short period

Kin-Rai
Kin-Rai

Awesome! this expansion is just what the game needed to make it my favourite game ever!

keci_kt
keci_kt

Age of Empires....Star Craft...are the best of best when it comes down to stradegy... It is just "Power Overwhelming"....

Djinnator
Djinnator

I don't like that microsoft is trying to milk people that want a good RTS. I think that they should have developed this alongside the warchiefs, because i would've gotten this instead.

Beowulf2525
Beowulf2525

I think AOE3 is losing it's historical and realistic accuracy. Since when did elephants shoot cannons from their back?

Poshkidney
Poshkidney

i like that they've gone back to the history campagns like in the I and II

mlt42
mlt42

kid, the turks were in the AOE 3 base set. you can already play as them.

Taruhan
Taruhan

WHERE IS THE TURK NATIONS??????????????????

Matty_gamer
Matty_gamer

wow either the game developers have no idea of the indian history what so ever or they are delibrately just messing with the history ! Can be fun though... wouldve been better if the history was integreted and a more strategic approch was given to the game ... they can do lots of new things with this idea .. i mean this "strategy" genre has to evolve i m getting tired of playing almost similar strategy games as it is...

daweguy
daweguy

Not bad. But i think we should get back AOE 2-like game with more age of Empires, not age of Colonization. So i hope the IV series will be brought back in time with new gamestyle, the card-thing in this game is really something new to the RTS genre and i like it. :)

mne635
mne635

i dunno if they were to create a realistic age of empires then it would be stupid to put in any of the asain countrys fighting europeans after the industrial revoulotion cos in the real world they all got trampled by the brittish. i liked it in aoe 1 and 2 when all the civs were realitvly the same with few unique units it made it fairer and people cared less about who they played as. but in this game its kinda of stupid 2 include countrys that had realitivly no military might aagainst countrys which should simple trample them like the brittish french and spanish. its just like the war cheifs i mean wat the hell? the aztecs were slaughtered by the spanish the iroquis by the brittish and french and that other tribe were like nothing.i think its not good how aoe 3 does not stick to history properly and the story line is just a load of **** i think aoe should go back to the middle ages when countrys were a bit more balanced

Makhdoom82
Makhdoom82

Good show .. can't wait to get this one !!!

morrow4
morrow4

"Sack that wheres AOE 4 and i think they should go bac to the age of kings type thing i miss AOE2 , well i know they are busy with halo wars so after that they shud make it haha" i agree 100%

L0stS0u1
L0stS0u1

Yes! More Age of Empire goodness. Sure hope ES hurry's up and gets done with their console RTS game and gets back to making some more quality RTS's on the best platform for it.

ChimpZ_
ChimpZ_

Lord_Artix said: "I don't really understand is why the Asian Cultures got in...I mean, the more the merrier, but AoE3 takes place when they're colonizing America..." Yes...because the rest of the world just stood still while America was being colonised? Considering that the game starts before the colonial age, I don't think that 'when' is a word that can be used. Nuff said, ChimpZ

ChimpZ_
ChimpZ_

Lord_Artix said: "I don't really understand is why the Asian Cultures got in...I mean, the more the merrier, but AoE3 takes place when they're colonizing America..." Yes...because the rest of the world just stood still while America was being colonised? Considering that the game starts before the colonial age, I don't think that 'when' is a word that can be used. Nuff said, ChimpZ

tongy139
tongy139

Sack that wheres AOE 4 and i think they should go bac to the age of kings type thing i miss AOE2 , well i know they are busy with halo wars so after that they shud make it haha

cellchook
cellchook

old-school strategy... i like it :D

Lord_Artix
Lord_Artix

Cool. Another game to add to my Christmas list. But one thing I don't really understand is why the Asian Cultures got in...I mean, the more the merrier, but AoE3 takes place when they're colonizing America...

Funkyhamster
Funkyhamster

ZOMG an RTS game with India. I might have to get this expansion now, even though I haven't even played TWC yet...

tskeeve
tskeeve

Woot India in an RTS, and done well too. Too bad I don't own AOE3 :(

DryvBy2
DryvBy2

@chickenfeed9 Why? According to history, it sucked being a surf.

chickenfeed9
chickenfeed9

It seems to me that the story campaigns are messed up. All they seem to do is pick on the British. can't attack some Americans for once? Also, I really hate the way they use completely fictional story lines rather than historical campaigns as in the previous games.

valcrist09
valcrist09

AOE 3 was a dissapoint for me, i didnt like how the cam couldnt zoom back far enough, so the graphics were never really that good looking cause it was so close, nothing like the screen shots showed it as before it came out. I miss AOE2, now that was a game.

grassgreener12
grassgreener12

FINALLY my home country is being shown as a powerful and great nation in an AOE game! im definitely going to pick this up

bobathefett13
bobathefett13

I would just like for an expansion to come out that really changes the way I play the game no matter which civilization I use. Still, this does seem pretty exciting.

sandyqbg
sandyqbg

India in AOE. Sounds fun. The new concepts are cool.

dev_ron
dev_ron

i wasn't fully pleased with the previous versions. Surely i'm gonna try this one and will let my opinion known to GameSpot. This one looking a bit improved.

Road_Runner_RR
Road_Runner_RR

Seems like a large improvement beyond The Warchievs. I'm satisfied.

bhaskarchatta
bhaskarchatta

Just waiting for Game to release... but really I'm just eager to have this one.... Release it soon pleaseeeeeeeeeeeeee

NatchoKing
NatchoKing

im buying this game for the elephants

DodgeDuty
DodgeDuty

Can't wait to get it. Hopefully its $20 instead of $30 like Warcheifs. I better be able to still use my account, instead of creating a new one.