The Proper Use of France
"France is a good civ, nice and flexible, which is why I like them. There are many viable strategies with them, and you need to know which one to use and when."
In Empires: Dawn of the Modern World, you have the opportunity to take control of many world powers, one them being the French. France is a good civ, nice and flexible, which is why I like them. There are many viable strategies with them, and you need to know which one to use and when. The French can be very potent in 1 vs 1 matches, and can be invaluable in team games. So, in this article, I will show you how to truly use the French to the fullest. Note, this article covers WW1 France only, since that's theoretically when France is supposed to start.
First off, let’s examine the bonuses that the French have:
Normandy Region (Free Farms): This is an extremely powerful bonus. Not only does it mean that you can save 50 wood at the beginning of the game by putting a Granary by your Apple Tree instead of a settlement, this also means that the French have the easiest transition from forage to farm. With all that saved wood, you can pump out extra siege and aircraft, when your opponent is making his crops.
Miners Union (More Miners allowed on gold in Empire Builder Mode): This won’t be of too much value to the Action mode players, but this is absolutely golden for the EB players.
Joie De Vivre (Villagers move faster): This may seem like a small bonus, not really worth anything, but it is certainly useful. Having the Villagers move faster from the wood cutting to the settlement saves precious VS (Villy Seconds). This bonus is also useful for when you’re feeling particularly evil and decide to go for a Villager rush.
French Underground (Town Centers and Villagers have greater Line of Sight (LOS)): This may also seem like a relatively small bonus, but it sure helps a lot when scouting for hunt or gold!
Colonialism (instant transportation from fort to fort): Now, for all of you who think forts are worthless, you are wrong. For the French, especially on island maps, this is an awesome bonus. For island maps, all you have to do is build a fortress on an island, and your army has instant access to it! Great for island hopping strategies.
Concierge (Buildings slowly heal themselves): Another minor bonus, but hey, it saves wood for repairing, and a resource saved is a resource earned.
Crews (Infantry pop out of Tanks and Planes when destroyed): Now this is simply one incredible bonus. You’re basically getting a free infantry with every tank or fighter you buy, and three free infantry for every bomber you buy. This is also great for islands maps. Just make tons of fighters and bombers, then swarm them, try to cause as much damage as possible while in the air, and when they all get shot down, the battle has only begun…
Garde Republicaine (Infantry pops out of buildings when destroyed): Well, the thing about this bonus is, if they’re destroying your buildings, chances are they have a large enough force that your little infantryman doesn’t really matter. Better than nothing, though.
Maginot Line (Tougher Walls): Doesn’t mean much for the Action mode players, but this is a great bonus for all the defensive EB players.
Partisans (Ability to traverse through forests): For France, this really isn’t that great, but for their Medieval counterparts the Franks, this is one of the best bonuses in the game. It doesn’t do too much in WW1 though, since there are no melee units besides the Cossack and Commando.
Smokescreen (Ability for some units to shoot a projectile which lowers enemies’ LOS): This is a nice little thing to shoot into a crowd of enemy infantry. While they’re trying to find you, you’ll be able to get some cheap shots on them, and damage them without fear of retaliation for a few seconds.
Tower Garrison (Villagers can garrison in towers for bonus firepower): This is a good bonus for those who like to put a tower up early, if you’re on wing in a team game and someone gives you stone, and you get rushed, get that tower up and put some villies in there, and you got an übertower!
University of Paris, Medical School (All units self heal): I dare say this is the most powerful bonus in the game. First of all, this makes microing each unit of your army especially critical, and second of all, it puts pressure on your enemy because you have to actually kill the French unit, wounding it is merely futile. This bonus is also great for hit and run tactics.
Now, let’s talk about how to run the French economy, and how to get it started. In the beginning, that free farms bonus comes in handy in the first few seconds of the game. Since the first resource you want to always get is food, place the free granary around the apple tree, so that the apple tree is in the place of one of the farms, and you have seven empty farms around the rest of the granary. This does two things, the first is it saves you the fifty of having to build a settlement. Second, this means that you can simultaneously farm and forage for no extra cost of wood, and having farmers already farming smoothes out the transition between forage and farm as much as possible. In the beginning of the game, you only need 3 or 4 villagers on your apple tree to maintain constant villager production and not have anything wasted.
So, once your apple trees are surrounded by a granary and have 3 or 4 of your starting villagers gathering from it, the next resource you want to get is wood. Wood isn’t quite as important to France as it is to other civs, because France doesn’t need to be storing up wood for the transition of forage to farm, therefore, you can have less villagers on wood than other civs, unless you are going to be mass producing fighters or siege. Ideally, you should place your wood settlement in between a Gold Mine and a forest. Try to minimize the amount of settlements you build by placing them in areas for efficient drop offs for more than one resource, and definitely avoid having to build three settlements at the beginning of the game, because this will really hurt you. France probably needs no more than 5-8 wood cutters.
The last resource you want to start collecting is the bling bling, Gold. You should already have your gold settled from when you put your settlement in between your forest and your Gold Mine. In action mode, you can fit 16 miners on your Gold Mine, and you’ll need to do that, but not right away. The equation for French gold is:
For each Barracks = +three gold miners
For each Tank Factory = +6 gold miners
For each Airport = +4 gold miners
Now that you understand the French bonuses and how to get their economy going, it’s time to discuss how to use their military properly. I will go over each individual unit in the French arsenal.
Poliu: This is the basic French infantry unit, and the unit which you’ll use the most. There’s nothing really special about the Poliu, other than it is the second strongest infantry in WW1 besides Germany, and is the easiest to produce, because you don’t need an armory. A good player can get a Poliu out before 3:10 F11 time, which means that the Poliu is your earliest defense mechanism. Poliu have high HP, and therefore will take more hits before they die, and this makes them much easier for individual unit micro, unlike the Russian conscript which dies in only a few hits, and you little time to micro it.
Flamethrower: This is an interesting unit that not a lot of people use, but they really should. The Flamethrower recently got a little boost in the 1.01 patch for the game, and I find them quite useful. I often use them as a diversion before I attack. They specialize in attack versus Citizens, Scouts and Buildings, but they do pretty well against infantry as well. Before I send my main force to attack a base, I usually take 4-5 Flamethrowers and send them to the back of the enemy’s base to attack some Citizens on gold or wood. As soon as I see that his army has moved to the back of his base to destroy my Flamethrowers, I immediately rush my main forces in. Flamethrowers are good for quickening the fall of a tower or an enemy Town Center, and if you have an armory, you should make use of these under used units.
Rifled Grenadier: This is one of France’s most potentially deadly units. It is an anti-tank infantry unit, but that’s not what matters. What matters is the special ability it possesses, the smoke cloud ability. This wicked little magic trick will reduce your enemy’s range and Line of Sight to 1, making them blind as blindness gets, and they literally have to get right next to your units to begin shooting. All this time to can be getting off free shots and dealing out free damage to a blind enemy. It is always good to have a few of these in the back of any army…
Anti-Tank 75mm Gun: The basic Anti-Tank gun for France. Use against…Tanks. They do decent against infantry, but only make these if you know for sure that your opponent is going tanks, otherwise this unit is pretty much worthless to you.
77mm AA Gun: Your basic Anti-Air gun. Use against…Air. Only build these if you are sure your opponent is making an air force, because these units are nothing more than cannon fodder against ground units.
Artillerie: This is perhaps the best unit that France has in it’s arsenal. This is the toughest artillery piece they have and the most deadly. 3 well placed shots from this thing will lay waste to any infantry squad. It is expensive, but it is worth it. Not only does it absolutely crush all infantry, but it has that same smoke screen ability as does the Rifled Grenadier. The French version of this bombard artillery is the strongest in the game, long outlasting the Russia and German counterparts.
Renault Tank: While not one of the best Tanks in the game, the Renault certainly packs a punch with it’s bulldoze ability. Once that blue bar gets full, just fire up that bulldoze power and you’ll be hell on treads for any infantry near by. The Renault does a good job as an infantry counter, but against other tanks, it just isn’t up to snuff.
Freedom Fighter: You may think some guy on a motorbike is just too ghetto to get anything done. As ghetto as it may be, the Freedom Fighter is perhaps the best raiding unit in the game. These quick little guys with nasty little machine guns can bring any economy down to its knees. I love making about 5-10 of these guys and sending them into the back of my enemy’s base and wiping out all their farmers before they can even react. In actual combat these units aren’t very good, they are surely best used as covert raiding units.
Spad XIII Fighter: The basic French all purpose air unit. These things are like locusts on cocaine when massed. They are one of the best fighters in the game both performance and cost wise. It is almost mandatory that any good France player goes for air at some time in the game. The French certainly have a good shot at Air supremacy.
Volsin V Bomber: The basic French bomber. It is somewhat over priced for it’s It is somewhat over priced for its performance, it only gets one bombing run and isn’t very powerful late game, but if you get these at any time less than about 20 minutes in game, they are very useful. They are good for taking out towers and the occasional bombing run on an enemy gold mine. These can be extremely powerful when massed and accompanied by the Spad XIII fighter, as can any type of bomber.
Notable WW2 units:
Saboteur: If you ever played Command & Conquer: Generals, then this is your Black Lotus. It is a stealthy unit with the supreme purpose to annoy your enemy. It can only be detected by planes, towers or other stealth units. It can destroy vehicles, blow up building, and for 1000 gold, it will set up a nuclear explosion in your enemy’s base. If you are good with micromanagement, this is your unit.
Surveillance Van: If you are going to against UK (with their invisible commandos) or another French player, you will need one of these for security. Their sole purpose is to detect stealth units.
A good French start:
When you start your game, build your mill around a forage patch. Take four of your starting vills and have them build the mill and then put them on your forage patch. Take your remaining starting vill and have him begin a settlement in between wood and gold. Lay the foundation for the settlement, but then have him chop wood. Your first produced vill should go to wood, and the 4 subsequent vills should go to gold. Once you have 175 wood for a barracks, build it, and begin Poliu construction as soon as the barracks is completed. Put 2 more on wood, and then put 3 more on forage. That should give you a good foundation to build on for the rest of the game.
Frax is short for “Forward Barracks”. This is a good strategy to pull off against Germany, USA and UK, but I do not recommend that you do it against another France player or Russia. Here’s how it is. Send one of your starting vills to the center of the map. Sned three of your starting vills to lay a settlement foundation in between wood and gold, and have all three chop wood. Send your last starting vill to make a mill around your forage patch. Make 4 more vills from your Town Center and put all of them on your forage patch. Once your three wood vills have each chopped ten wood and have built the settlement and dropped the wood off, put those three vills on gold. Now the vill that you sent to the center of the map will have enough wood to make a barracks. Make a barracks right outside where your enemy town should be. Once you are done making your barracks, you should have 50 food and at least 75 gold. Turn the villager who made your barracks into a Poliu by using the militia power, and once you have enough resources, start making another poliu at your barracks. You should be hittinh your enemy’s town at roughly under 3 minutes. Attack their forage patch with all your might, and keep queuing up Poliu at your barracks and sending them in. Harass enemy vills as much as possible and try to make sure he doesn’t get any military units out. You must have very good micromanagement skills if you want to try this start. Use it well…
Against Russia make Poliu at start, and try to get Renaults as soon as you can. If you sense that Russia is going for a quick AC start, only build one barracks and build a Tank Factory ASAP. Bulldoze absolutely owns conscripts, and the Renault will beat a Russian Armored Car 1 on 1. And, Renaults counter Cossacks, which is probably what the Russian player will build next if he finds his AC+Con combo is not working. So, Poliu+Renault backed up by air if possible.
Against Germany, you need to act fast. Germany is weak early game, and really good late game, so it is your job to finish him off early. DO NOT let a game against Germany go beyond 15 minutes with your enemy untouched. Against Germany, I suggest a Frax rush, as listed above.
Against another France player: This is a tough decision. Start out making Polius as usual. Scout out your enemy, you need to know what he is making. Go double barracks. If your enemy is going air, you need to counter with Anti-Air from siege shop or by going air yourself. If he is going tanks, you need to go tanks as well or Anti-Tank from siege shop.
Against USA, you need to watch out for tanks. USA players almost always go tanks, so Poliu +Anti-Tank is probably a good combo. Throw in some Anti-Air for good measure against USA. You probably should not waste your time with French Tanks against USA, however.
Against UK, well as long as they aren’t doing that incredibly wicked/retarded vill rush, then you should go Poliu+Artillerie backed up by mega air. Make some Freedom Fighters to raid his mining camps. You MUST make fighters against UK, or the consequences could be fatal, as UK has the best bombers in the game.
-If your enemy is breaking out the Melee units on you (i.e. Cossacks and bulldozing Renaults), simply hide in the trees and shoot from there, and those silly little horsemen and tank treads can’t touch you (but the Renault can still shoot at you…)
-If you are on islands, it is very wise to build a fortress on every island. Remember that France has the colonialism power which allows them to instantly transport their army from fortress to fortress. This means you basically have omniscient power on all the islands on the map as long as you get fortresses up on them.
-If you have extra gold lying around, build Pillboxes. These little buildings are really overlooked by a lot of players, and can really fortify your base defenses. If things aren’t going so well, just retreat your infantry back to your pillboxes and your enemy will be in for one nasty surprise.
-Never EVER waste units as France. France’s healing ability can theoretically make your army immortal if you had god-like micro to the point where I don’t think anyone has obtained that yet. Micro is the key, especially in early game. Once one of your Polius are below half health, bring them back, and once they’re healed, send them out for some more.
-France has some great University powers. Lorraine iron makes all of your vehicles cheaper, which means that is certainly high on the research priority list. Arson is a very deadly power that can crush an enemy if he packs his buildings too closely together.
-France has the best towers in the game, with exceptional splash damage. Perhaps later in the game you could put a few vills on stone and make a couple towers around weak points in your base. French towers have the Scattershot power which will decimate any infantry trying to besiege your tower, don't forget to use it!
That’s all for now, I hope this helps. Now go out and use the French like they’re supposed to be! Au Revoir!