- Jun 25, 2016
The all new AOE Flashcards deck is here!
Hello! I am NOVA. I've been playing this game competitively since last year and been following the pro scene since 2015. Starting 2018 I began casting pro matches, and I'm currently a caster on VooblyOfficial's twitch channel.
As part of my efforts to become a better caster, I prepared a study deck for the AoE2 tech trees. I've used my original deck on stream many times, and it spawned a lot of interest among viewers. Instead of sharing the original version, which was purely functional and rudimentary, I decided I'd first improve it to where I know I am sharing something of high quality with the community. After 100+ hours of work, between transcribing the whole tech tree by hand, building databases, learning some HTML and CSS, outlaying the cards format, etc this is what I came up with.
What is it?
The Age of Empires 2 Flashcards Collection is a deck of flashcards for studying the tech trees from the game. It is intended to be used with Anki, the popular, cross-platform flashcards manager and spaced repetition software. Version 0.9 focuses on what civs do and do not get. There are over 2000+ questions regarding techs, units and upgrades availability for every civilization. Questions range from "what is the unique castle age technology of civ X" to "does X civ get redemption?" and beyond.
Why not? Get off my back. Truth is, most people will not be interested in studying AoE, but there are many benefits for those who want to. Having used this technique myself, I can attest that it has given me a much greater idea of what civs can and can't do, what advantages they have, etc. Because most competitive players have played for years, they know a fair bit of the tech tree already, however, because this deck is customizable in that you can choose what you want to learn, this is still useful to anyone who wants to iron out missing knowledge (water, anyone?) or those who are new to the game and want to get a grasp of things without having to play multiple hours per day for a year or longer.
Using this tool, I learned all 31 tech trees (so all items included in the deck) in ~90 days, with an effectiveness of ~90%.
I know many players that still need to open the tech tree to read what some civs get even after having played the game for a good couple years. So...
tl:dr: it is important to empower those who want to learn by providing efficient tools
- Efficient: Using Anki's flashcards scheduler, you only need to review cards just before you forget them. This gets rid of unnecessary reviews. To give you an idea of workload, I spent from 5 minutes a day initially, to ~25 minutes during heavy days when approaching the final items during initial acquisition. Afterwards, workload went gradually down and I need around ~5' daily to not forget things. Keep in mind I did all 2000+ items, so it goes down for fewer items, and most people will need far less than that.
- Highly flexible: You can download this deck and personalize what you do and don't want to learn. I have manually labeled and modularised all the items in the deck in a way that allows you to build your personal sub-set of cards. Already know the bonuses, unique units and unique techs? Disable them! Not interested in techs like Sappers, Treadmill crane, or water units? Not a problem. Every person's deck will look different from anyone else's. Pro players and new plebbers can shape the deck to fit their specific needs.
- Customizable: I've been learning HTML and CSS to improve my twitch channel, so I managed to use some of that for these cards. Anki uses markup language and cascading stylesheets to render each item, so with little to no knowledge, you can customize these cards to look as you please. Because I also manually tagged numbers and percentages, you can hide those if you're just interested in "getting a sense" of things, rather than learning the hard numbers. More about this below.
- Intuitive: I changed the order in which things are presented, rather than the tech tree's default order. Technologies related to units are displayed immediately after those units, rather than separately (i.e. you'll see the siege engineers card after the siege weapons ones, rather than with the rest of the university questions). I also edited and rearranged the civ bonuses so they make chronological sense.
- Readily available: This might seem like a weird flex, but honestly this is the only flashcards collection I know of for AoE2 that isn't either private, inefficient or outdated. Anki integration might be the most important advantage of this, but flexibility and modularity is what I focused on in my attempt to make this the first learning deck for hardcore players that makes sense to use.
- Updatable: I've made this deck so that you can download updated versions without losing your progress/scheduling information. In fact, as long as you don't remove the ID field, you can even style cards as you please and updates will not revert the styling to the original version.
You will need Anki. It is a powerful, free, cross-platform spaced repetitions software that will manage the flashcards for you and schedule them so you don't have to keep track manually. You can download it from here for desktop (Windows, MacOS, Linux) or you can get the mobile versions for Android here, and for iOS here. There's also a free web client available here if you can't use your computer or don't want to pay for the iOS version, however you need to import the deck from a native client before you can use that to study. Anki also has a cloud-powered sync service you can use to keep the web, desktop and mobile clients synced.
Once you filter your deck so you only learn the things you want/need, the program will present you with a number of flashcards daily. By default, this number is 20, but you can change that to learn more or less. Once you go through your 20 initial cards, you'll do the same the next day. Each day you will see a mix of your daily new cards, and the ones you saw in the past that are due for reviewing. Anki will figure out when you need to review each item so you retain things in memory as long as possible with the least amount of effort possible.
A note about consistency: because of the way human memory works, for anki to work the best it can and for you to remember things better, it is important that once you start studying flashcards to skip days as little as possible, ideally never. This is true for every piece of information you want to keep that in memory. It's not catastrophic to skip days, but you'll just giving yourself a bigger load next day, plus the items you might have forgotten due to not sticking to the reviews.
Once you install Anki (links above), launch it and import the deck attached in this thread (Age of Empires 2__Tech Trees.apkg inside the zip) by clicking "File -> Import" or using the default hotkey Ctrl + Shift + I, then selecting the apkg file using the file explorer. In the importing window it is very important that you tick the "allow HTML in fields" box, as that's what I used for images and classes.
You'll see two items: "Age of Empires 2" and "Tech Trees". This is because the current deck (tech trees) is part of a larger Age of Empires 2 project, and I'll be releasing the second deck in the future. For now, you can treat both as the same.
Seen in blue is the maximum amount of new daily flashcards you'll see. Clicking the gear will open the options window, where you can either increase or decrease that number, as well as other parameters. For more information about Anki's parameters, check their user manual here. For most people, the default settings are alright. Just select the amount of items you want to learn daily. Keep in mind that while you might think something like 50 is doable, these will graually stack with the past items as they become due for reviewing. With the default value of 20, the actual number of daily items you go through will go as high as ~80/90 after a couple of weeks, so be aware of this.
If you want to filter the deck so you don't encounter things you already know, click in the "Browse" button, otherwise, skip to the "studying" section below.
There you will see the list of flashcards on the top right, the selected flashcard's fields content on the bottom right, and a list of categories and tags in the lists to the left. You can explore all the tags, but to see a list of all 2000+ cards, you have to go to "Age of Empires 2" then -> "Tech Trees" as seen in the example screenshot above. Once you're familiar with the way the flashcards are identified, you can start filtering.
Let's say you are confident with all the tech trees, but you always struggle to remember the unique technologies of civs. For this, we're gonna go to the full list, then select all the flashcards either by pressing Ctrl + Alt + A, or by going into "Edit" -> "Select All", then we'll suspend them by pressing Ctrl + J, or by going to "Cards" -> "Toggle Suspend". The items will become yellow. This will effectively mark all the cards as inactive items, so they will not come up for learning/review. Next, we'll go to the "uniquetech" tag in the tags list or, alternatively, we'll just type "uniquetech" in the searchbar on top. We will select all the items there and toggle suspend again. This will leave you with a flashcards deck with a size of 62 items (2 per civ). You can suspend toggle any cards in order to achieve any subset of items that works for you. Interested only in techs? Suspend all the cards with the "unit" tag. How about only learning monastery techs for all the civs? Suspend everything, then enable monastery techs using each tech's tag.
When you're happy with your personal deck configuration, you can start learning. Close the "Browse" window and click the deck to begin. This following screen will apear, and then click "Study"
There are "hint" cards included in the deck. You can hide these by suspending them in the browser, or by pressing the exclamation mark after reading them (!).
When you see a flashcard, you will see either some hidden text (for bonuses) or a question. You have to recall the answer by yourself. Once you do, click show and rate your answer. If you didn't know, or forgot a previously learned item, click "Again", Otherwise rate how hard it was to recall accordingly. For new items, you will have to review twice. This is normal and it helps in true or false items. You can change this behavior in the settings.
Do this for all the cards, and repeat this daily to learn more new items and review the ones anki scheduled for you, so you don't forget them!
Notes and customization
Each card has a "Note" field that you can use to type something regarding that element. Let's say you're having trouble remembering one item, but you found a mnemonic device or something to note about that card, just click "Edit" when the item is displayed, and you'll see the item fields.
You can type your notes or comments in the "Notes" field. You can also scroll down if you wish to see what the contents of that item are. When you add a note, the next time you see that element, a "Show Notes" button will appear. Click on it to reveal your notes.
As you can see, there are many pieces of information in each flashcard. This is what I've set Anki up to use to generate each card. You can change the contents in the edit menu, but we'll get into customization next.
You might have noted that the numbers are in a different color than the rest of the text. This is because numbers and percentages have their own classes inside each card. You can change the look of the cards by editing the Card template.Click on "Edit", then on "Cards" on the top left. You'll see this screen.
If you'd like to remove numbers and percentages, look in the CSS editor for ".number" and ".percentage" properties. We're gonna change the "display" property value from "inline" to "none", and this will hide those, as displayed below. We'll also change font size and color of the "Answer" field as an example of what you can do.
Changes that you make here will affect ALL the Q&A cards, Civ bonuses cards are a different type, so they need to be edited separately (editing one will also affect all other bonuses cards)
I cannot single handedly test all 2000+ questions. The deck I used to learn this myself is a different one. This one I made from the ground up to make it flexible and customizable, specifically thinking of the community. If you encounter errors please report them to me here or in my discord server. There shouldn't be many, but if you find some I'll fix them for version 1.0
After July, I'd like to update this with some cool ideas I have that would make it more visually appealing and even more customizable. Functionally it will probably stay the same, but I'll listen to feedback!
I'll release a second deck later this year for units/techs/buildings stats, such as research/building/training cost/time, base armor for everything, LoS, etc. Cannot provide an ETA because of doing this in my free time between streams and IRL stuff, but I think 2019 is a realistic window. If this is well received, I'll most likely come up with a version for DE once it comes out.
Updated to v1.0 (September 12th)
Full changelog here
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