Tuesday, December 27, 2016

New Moon: Phase 1 Training

Congratulations Thunderdome students, for completing the first full moon PvP cycle. You have now been hacking away at each other for almost two weeks. At this point, you are certainly starting to realize the difference between theoretical knowledge (represented by casual discussion, GC, the forums) and the realities of Illyriad combat. That's good! You have taken your first steps into a larger world.

Now the new moon has risen, and rationality overtakes chaos. Our first true training phase will be split into two activities: timing exercises and army knowledge. All the Phase 1 timing exercises will be done with caravans, so that everyone can participate. No excuses. Army knowledge will be measured via written test. You will complete the questions and send me the answers privately in Slack.

Army Knowledge Questions

Day One
  1. How many living commanders can you have in a single city?
  2. How many dead commanders can you have in a single city?
  3. What is the single most important commander skill?
  4. What is your favorite commander skill?
  5. Which types of commanders are used for PvP army defense?
  6. Which types of commanders are used for PvP army attack?
  7. How many armies can you build in a single city?
Day Three
  1. What do we regard as defense units in Illyriad?
  2. What do we regard as attack units in Illyriad?
  3. Which terrain(s) most favor infantry? bows? spears? cavalry?
  4. What is the bonus from a level 20 wall?
  5. Why is the "surround by plains" method of city placement so popular?
Day Five
  1. Under what conditions do you attack with cavalry in Illyriad?
  2. Under what conditions do you defend with cavalry in Illyriad?
  3. Under what conditions do you attack with infantry in Illyriad?
  4. Under what conditions do you defend with infantry in Illyriad?
  5. Under what conditions do you attack with bows in Illyriad?
  6. Under what conditions do you defend with bows in Illyriad?
  7. Under what conditions do you attack with spears in Illyriad?
  8. Under what conditions do you defend with spears in Illyriad?
Day Seven
  1. If you had to suffer a cavalry attack, what units would you choose to defend, and on what terrain?
  2. If you had to suffer an infantry attack, what units would you choose to defend, and on what terrain?
  3. If you had to suffer a bow attack, what units would you choose to defend, and on what terrain?
  4. If you had to suffer a spear attack, what units would you choose to defend, and on what terrain?
  5. If you didn't know what would attack, what units (or unit mix) would you choose to defend, and on what terrain?
Day Nine
  1. How many troops will be blown up by the standard Ward of Destruction?
  2. What building reduces the upkeep cost of infantry? bows? spears? cavalry?
  3. How many military buildings are common in a military city?
  4. What is the point of military sovereignty?
  5. What is considered the typical military sov layout on a military city?
  6. How much faster will a level 20 barracks build troops than a level 1 barracks?
Day Eleven
  1. Which troop types are commonly regarded as the best for each race?
  2. Are there any other troops for each race that you regard highly?
  3. What unit(s) are the most flexible, efficient attackers in Illyriad?
  4. Are t2 units always superior to t1 units? Explain your answer.
  5. What is the difference between Points Per Upkeep (PPU) and Points Per Hour (PPH)?
  6. Why do we prefer PPU/PPH when comparing categories of units?
  7. When is Points Per Upkeep most important?
  8. When is Points Per Hour most important?
Day Thirteen

You may change your answers to any of the above questions, reflecting your improved knowledge of the subject.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Commanders: Vitality, Healing, Defy Death

A cannon fodder in the Thunderdome training program asks:
Is there any reason to raise vitality on commanders when their damage is a percentage of troop casualty?

The short answer: my defensive PvP commanders have 3 levels of Vitality and Healing. I don't bother with much for my attack PvP commanders.

The long answer:

In a standard battle, the victor takes hit point losses equal to a percent of the army lost. The loser has their commanders killed, regardless of hit points. For large PvP attack commanders, there is one of two scenarios. 1. They succeed, in which case 100 hit points is sufficient, or 2. they fail and die, in which case all the extra levels in Vitality and Healing become extra resurrection hours. I don't launch big attacks that often, so Healing 50/day is more than enough.

I do use Vitality and Healing on my defense commanders. In particular, a siege camp or blockade will take many hits. You don't want your commanders to die from hit point loss, or your entire army will lose 10-15% defense effectiveness, and will lose the +50% speed bonus from Forced March. Losing that speed bonus is painful, especially if the survivors must march home over a long distance. I put 3 levels in Vitality and Healing for my PvP defensive commanders. That's enough to weather several hits. Losing over 200 hit points means your army has lost 75-90% troops, in which case the commanders will die anyway. I personally feel that it's useless to have a commander with 600 hit points. There aren't realistic scenarios where you could lose that many hit points and not have the army destroyed.

Take note, I do consider the siege commander to be an exception. While that commander is an attack PvP build, they are part of the siege camp. I would go as far as Vitality 5 and Healing 5 on that single commander, just because they are carrying the banner for a million troops.

Before anyone asks: Defy Death is junk. If I just lost 100000 kobolds in a particular army, there is no point to my commander having a 10% chance to survive. I can spend the two days on resurrection, because it will take a lot longer than two days to rebuild that particular siege army.

Until next time, cannon fodders:

Misbehave. Kill lots of stuff.

<^^^^^^^^||==O    Skint Jagblade

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Idea: Supply the World

Today in the pre-coffee gloom, I arrived at an unusual notion for supplying your military account. I'm sure there are many problems with this particular thought experiment. As with all such considerations, the value is not necessarily that it yields a great approach, but that it makes you think about the various factors in play.

Supplying the World

Centrum has a robust commodities market for basics and food. So what if you decided to just set up shop next to Centrum, and sell those resources for gold on a daily basis? The distance means that your caravans would travel a few minutes at most, allowing you to empty millions of resources per day directly into the central market.

Let's deal in approximate numbers. Prices hover around 0.75 for clay, iron, and stone. Wood is 1.0; food is 2.0. A typical level 20 resource plot will produce 2500 per hour; farmyards make 2000 food per hour. If you used a common 5/5/5/5/5 town, set to 0% taxes, that adds up to about 85000 gold per hour of ordinary materials. That's actually killer! A very well constructed gold farm will give you about 85000 gold per hour, and that's after you spend weeks building it into a huge city.

Further, let's assume that you construct the bare minimum buildings: warehouse, storehouse, marketplace, library, flourmill, (paddock), (common ground). That leaves you with 18 spots for cotters. There are large mineral deposits near Centrum, so you could easily average around 1200 minerals per day. That's another 7500 gold per hour, average.

Using my old setup of 1 capital at 20000 population, that easily allows for 5 commodity supply towns. That would allow gold generation of between 425000-450000 per hour with a very minimal account setup. If the capital contained 2-3 geomancer's retreats, that could boost resource output another 20% for all the commodity towns, taking the final tally to 510000-540000 gold per hour.

Many Flaws

Since this is a thought experiment, there are many flaws to the thinking.
  1. The biggest flaw is that commodities markets aren't really bottomless. If a player really started pumping 300000 of each basic resource into Centrum every single day, the market could saturate quite quickly. Prices might start to fall, or buy orders might dry up completely.
  2. It's a lot of effort to empty your entire inventory every two days.
  3. Gold farms can accumulate limitless gold. If you redline on basics and food, you lose the surplus.
  4. The cotters are minor money, but still a nice bonus income. It might be very hard to keep 90 cotters busy, even if you divide them into 20-25 teams of 4.
Still, it's worth considering that this might be a fairly easy way to generate 12-15 million gold per day. It doesn't cost much prestige to speed build the final levels of basic resource plots. You might need 250 prestige per city, which might sound like a lot, until you remember that 75 prestige sells for about 20 million gold. Building up the cities wouldn't take long at all. And who knows, it might be fun to be a commodity tycoon, trying to set prices on the single biggest market in Illyriad. That would allow your military main to focus on the two most important tasks in the game:

Misbehave. Kill lots of stuff.

<^^^^^^^^||==O    Skint Jagblade

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Announcing the Thunderdome PvP Arena!

I have already written about my belief that n00bs should be encouraged to explore PvP in Illyriad. You can find my comments in Let the n00bs fight! and Don't apologize for war. Clearly many people will always believe that endorsing n00b fighting is a bad idea. I'm not one to tilt at windmills, even when I disagree strongly with the muggles of the Illyriad Community™. So how can the situation be remedied? The 300 agree that if we are to champion PvP, then we must put forward a better solution.

Therefore, we are pleased to present Thunderdome, brought to you by 300.

Fight without fear of destruction...

Thunderdome is a training regimen of military exercises and close range PvP fighting. New and existing players are welcomed for instruction.  From the new moon to the full moon, students will complete lessons on basic military combat: self defense, troops, terrain, equipment, diplomats, sovereignty, timing, magic. Training is mandatory. From the full moon to the new moon, players will engage in a free-for-all within Thunderdome. The only restriction is no catapults. Everything else is legal within Thunderdome, per the rules established below.

...except for the events where you destroy each other.

At every solistice and equinox, the Thunderdome PvP format will change to Last Man Standing. Cities within Thunderdome will fight to the death with live siege armies until a victor emerges. Participation is open to all warriors across Illyriad, as long as they obey the rules of the battle arena. Students may remain and fight, or may exodus outside Thunderdome during the seasonal battles, at their option. Once the event is completed, Thunderdome will be wiped clean, and then a fresh cycle of training and fighting will begin anew.

Keep your allegiances.
Alliance membership is not required to train at Thunderdome. Participants may remain in their current alliances or remain neutral. Approval from the 300 is required to enter the Thunderdome combat zone, and we require that students join our Slack training channel. To keep the playing field level, players are limited to a single city in Thunderdome. Although this may seem restrictive, one city is more than sufficient to learn all the basics of Illyriad combat. Tiny n00bs are welcome to join Thunderdome, although it is recommended that they enter early in the season so they have time to complete research and participate in training.

Active participation is mandatory.

Players joining Thunderdome are expected to fully participate in all training and fighting. There is no exception for established players. It is completely possible to play Illy FarmVille for half a decade and not really know anything useful about Illyriad combat mechanics. Therefore, existing players who desire instruction on advanced tactics will first have to prove their knowledge of the basics (easy) and their actual combat proficiency (not so easy). Any player who stops participating in the new moon training lessons may be removed from Thunderdome, at the discretion of the 300.

The Laws of Thunderdome
  1. Permission from the 300 is required to enter Thunderdome.
  2. Alliance membership is not required.
  3. Participants must join the 300 Slack training channel.
  4. Approved players may teleport, exodus or settle a single city into Thunderdome.
  5. Players are limited to a single city in Thunderdome, regardless of account size.
  6. Cities must have at least two adjacent passable squares that are not plains or small hills.
  7. The 10 square rule does not apply within Thunderdome.
  8. PvP is full contact. Anything goes inside Thunderdome.
  9. Catapults are specifically prohibited, except during the Solstice and Equinox events.
  10. Internal armies, diplomats, magic and other hostile actions cannot exit Thunderdome.
  11. External armies, diplomats, magic and other hostile actions cannot enter Thunderdome.
  12. Caravans may freely enter and exit Thunderdome.
  13. Inactive players may be removed at the discretion of the 300.
Break a deal, face the wheel. If you can't remember 13 rules, there is only one sentence.

It begins now!

Thunderdome will begin taking applicants on 1 December 2016. Due to the first cycle starting so close to the winter solstice, the inaugural Thunderdome: Last Man Standing event will begin on the vernal equinox, 20 March 2017.

Send an in-game mail to Ten Kulch or Tinkinator to discuss your membership.

Misbehave. Kill lots of stuff.

<^^^^^^^^||==O    Skint Jagblade


Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Killing Commanders for Fun and Profit

I am against mega-commanders for many reasons. Regardless of your personal style of building PvP commanders, today I will make the case for minimalist hunters.

Dead commanders make more money.

Everyone knows that hides are very profitable. They sell for 2000-3000 gold each, and are very useful in crafting leather armor and mounts. Bugs are especially tough in Illyriad, and they drop plentiful hides as a reward. Yet their toughness creates a false conundrum for many Illy players. When you have the opportunity to kill a legion of scuttlers, scritchers or spiders, how many of you hesitate because of your commanders? Does the thought of resurrecting them pull your pucker string? It shouldn't, not if your hunters are properly built. Long ago in Night Squires, I learned to send multiple waves of commanders from different cities. To support this strategy, I keep my hunting commanders at levels 10, 15, or 25. This setup allows me to pay a single day of resurrection (and a few crafted items) to score major hides and animal parts.

Let's look at a battle from yesterday, from a nearby small hill.

This represents 115000 average defense, which is way more than any of my individual hunter squads can manage.

Wave #1: Quadruple elite Wolfrider commanders in vanguard leather (+100% attack), hill tribe spear (+60% hill), war wolf (+20% hill). Base Heroism 2074, total bonus +360%, total cavalry attack 38000. 61 wolfriders to supply base attack power, this is the absolute minimum I could have sent to fully power commander Heroism.

Wave #2: Quadruple elite Wolfrider commanders in vanguard leather (+100% attack), hill tribe spear (+60% hill), war wolf (+20% hill). Base Heroism 2074, total bonus +360%, total cavalry attack 38000. 60 death packs to supply base attack power.

Wave #3: Triple elite Fist commanders with adventurer sword (+60% hill), hillsman chainmail (+60% hill), riding horse. Base Heroism 2194, total bonus +240%, total infantry attack 22378. 150 fangs to supply base attack power.

Wave #4: Quadruple elite Death Pack with hill tribe spear (+60% hill), hillsman chainmail (+60% hill), war wolf (+20% hill). Base Heroism 3599, total bonus +280%, total cavalry attack 54705. The base attack for this army was provided by 500 kobolds, which is a neat cost-saving trick that we will discuss in a future article.

Note:  I accidentally deleted the battle report, but you can see the final result in this scout report. 68 kobolds killed to finish off the remaining scuttlers.

So, to recap, I got 2146 hides for 65 wolfriders, 60 death packs, 150 fangs and 68 kobolds. I did lose a handful of crafted items equipped to the commanders, but as you can see, I will recover some of those dropped items during harvesting. My hunting commanders are already back in action this evening, ready to take on the next legion of bugs. Until next time, my dear cannon fodders:
Misbehave. Kill lots of stuff.
<^^^^^^^^||==O    Skint Jagblade 

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Reader Question: Siege Trains

A question from a reader today:

I do have a specific military question. I have heard of a maneuver where a bunch of cities send cats to a target set to attack rather than siege. Just prior to the wave of cats, a clearing army would hit the city to destroy the troops inside and allow the cats to hit.   The idea is that the percentage of successful hits would be the same as a siege, but the large group would drop the pop really dramatically and the cats would not be vulnerable to destruction and no troops would be needed to protect them.  I am sure you have heard of this before, but have you ever seen it used? Also what are your thoughts about it good vs bad.

In SIN, we called that technique a siege train. As my final operation in the SIN-TUF war, I ran a triple train against three Public Relations cities. He lost a serious amount of population. However, while siege trains can be damaging and demoralizing, they suffer from several drawbacks.
  1. In order to actually raze the city, you must still have a siege that was set up at least 12 hours prior to the siege train. Otherwise the best you can do is inflict damage. 
  2. The technique is slow. The fastest your siege engines will march is 7.5 for dwarves and 5.625 for everyone else. 
  3. At medium range, the slow speed means a single operation can take two weeks round-trip, minimum. 
  4. The enemy has a long, long time to prepare and reinforce. 
  5. The attack is incredibly obvious, with multiple slow armies moving from a dozen different cities. 
  6. The timing sequence is critical. If your clearing forces aren't out front, the siege engines will pile up and die. If the clearing forces are too far out front, even by 10-15 seconds, the enemy will reinforce in the timing gap, and your siege engines will pile up and die. 
  7. Your clearing forces will always hit a full wall, which can cause enormous casualties if the defenders are using equipped troops. 
  8. If the enemy can clearly see that they cannot repel your attack, then they know that exodus will inflict less damage than letting your attack land. They will move. Marching for two weeks to an empty square is frustrating. 
  9. The cost to maintain 120-150 catapults in dozens of cities is extremely expensive for the whole alliance.
As a tool, I do not prefer siege trains. They are risky, expensive maneuvers that can tie up dozens of armies for two weeks or more. They are hypersensitive to launch precision. There is a high probability of exodus, and a small probability that you might lose everything you send at terrible kill ratios. There is a medium probability that you will inflict moderate but non-fatal damage to an enemy city.

All that said, siege trains are a tool in the military toolbox. I have seen them work extremely well. I have also seen huge "pile up and die" scenarios, and situations where sustaining damage did not sufficiently demoralize the defenders. Siege trains can be invaluable against opponents who are low on defensive troops, but who still have remaining cavalry and cities surrounded by plains. A standard siege under those conditions is suicide. At short range siege trains can be especially devastating. My preferred way to use them is as siege support, set to arrive after the wall is badly damaged, to accelerate the existing siege.

Thanks for the question!

Misbehave. Kill lots of stuff.

<^^^^^^^^==O    Skint Jagblade

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Basic Timing: Mission 1

Ok, cannon fodders. It's time to talk about TIMING. This is the first skill that separates casual players from true military players.

Illyriad contains no built-in timers. There are no in-game currency options for speeding up armies that are marching. If your alliance wants to land a precision operation together, the only method is for all individual players to launch at the correct time. Is this important? You bet. For example, in a siege, the army that executes the Siege command (the catapults, battering rams, and raze troops) might be 5% or less of the entire defensive camp. If that siege army arrives before the reinforcements, it could be smashed upon landing, and your entire two week operation is rendered useless. If your reinforcements arrive too early, that gives the enemy several advantages. First, they can see how big the camp is growing, and they might decide to exodus away from your siege. Second, your reinforcements might get picked apart individually. Third, it signals the landing square to the enemy, which allows them to launch clearing troops earlier, or might even allow them to counter-reinforce your landing square.

If this seems hypothetical, it isn't. During the great Unbow-SIN war, there was an enormous battle fought on a small hill adjacent to an Unbow town. SIN lost about 1 million troops, and Unbow used around 400000 cavalry. During the operation, a single SIN player put an army on the square over a day in advance. Hey, it happens to the best of us. This allowed Unbow to pre-launch clearing troops. Instead of facing primarily regional forces from Unbow, our opponents were able to launch intercontinental cavalry all the way from Tallimar in Elgea. The heavy losses to SIN troops delayed future operations against Unbow. The siege had to be recalled and the mission scrapped. If everything had gone according to plan, the SIN forces would have destroyed the city and gone home before any Elgean cavalry could have arrived.

In short, timing is important.

Military alliances will have tools to calculate launch times. But having a great battle plan is worthless if your players can't launch their troops on schedule. The only way to get good at timing is to practice, practice, practice. This basic timing exercise can be run with just a single city, a Marketplace 1 and five caravans. That's all you need to start. Even a total n00b can participate. You will mimic launching armies from multiple cities to one location, by launching multiple caravans from one city to multiple locations.

  • Locate five different basic resources on the map. Iron, clay, wood, stone, or food.
  • Measure the distance by clicking on the square and selecting Send Army or Send Diplomats.
  • Calculate your caravan speed: 20 + marketplace level.
  • Select a single arrival time for all sites.
  • Calculate the travel time for each site, using the method below.
  • Calculate the send time for each site, using the method below.
  • At the appropriate time, launch each caravan on schedule.
  • As your caravans travel, their time remaining should line up nicely.
  • When your caravans arrive, your notifications should line up nicely.

Tip: Try to select basic resources that are relatively close to your cities. If you want the exercise to be harder, select locations that are varying distances, so that your caravans must be launched several hours apart.

Calculating Travel Time 

This is the manual method for calculating travel time. You don't need to manually calculate army travel times, because the system will display them accurately in the launch window. Diplomats don't display a travel time, but you can get it quickly by actually sending, noting the time, and then immediately recalling. Unfortunately these methods don't exist for caravans, because trade units are non-recallable. Which is great, because this is good practice at maffs!

Caravan speed is 20 + Marketplace level, squares per hour. Travel time = distance / speed, which will give you the time as hours, in decimal format. Punch that decimal into an online calculator to get the HH:MM:SS format. 

Calculating Dispatch Times

Now that you have your caravan travel times to the five targets, let's get the launch times. It's pretty simple. Arrival time - travel time. Let's just spare you the headache and use this online calculator. Those are your launch times. Keep in mind, most alliances have players in multiple timezones, so people typically use the server time, not your local time.

An Example

Gentle Reminder

     738|-2417 in Fellandire
     Marketplace 12
     Caravan speed 32
     Arrival time: 04:00:00 server time

Resource [X|Y] Distance  TT(dec)  HH:MM:SS Launch Time
iron 741|-2425 12.65 0.395 00:23:42   28 Nov 03:36:18
clay 749|-2426 13.60 0.425 00:25:30   28 Nov 03:34:30
wood 752|-2409 8.06 0.252 00:15:07   28 Nov 03:44:53
wood 752|-2411 7.28 0.2275 00:13:39   28 Nov 03:46:21
clay 751|-2397 17.09 0.534 00:32:02   28 Nov 03:27:58
gold 740|-2392 21.59 0.675 00:40:30   28 Nov 03:19:30
food 713|-2392 38.28 1.196 01:11:46   28 Nov 02:48:14

Thursday, November 24, 2016

How to Kill Your Way to Capturing a City

Yesterday, Rill made some comments on the Illyriad forums about new player sieges. The Illyriad Community™ frequently warn small players about the expense of armies. These admonitions are presented without any numbers or context. In GC, these ominous statements are usually followed with a recommendation to grind out resource plot upgrades.

Since you all know that I adore both weapons and maffs, I am going to set the record straight.
Rill wrote:

To get a level 20 barracks you'll need a fairly high level warehouse.  The resource requirements for a warehouse and barracks are not insignificant.  If you are planning to get the resources for them through trade, you might want a higher level marketplace to allow you more caravans.  Other than trade, the only reasonable way to get those resources is either time or being part of an alliance.

If you plan to use your own siege engines, upkeep for them is fairly expensive, so you'll also want to have some gold for that.  Each one takes around half a day to build, and you'll want a minimum of 5. With 5 siege engines it will take a day or two to complete the siege, plus travel time and the 12-hour setup period.

If you intend to execute all of this on your own without alliance or other support, it would be difficult to gain the required gold (for resources, supplies and troop maintenance) in a short amount of time without purchasing prestige and selling it for gold on the market.

All in all, sieging and capturing a second city on your own can't really be described as "quick."  But good luck with your efforts! Look forward to seeing how you do.

Let's get something straight. Your first city is garbage. With the exception of a human 5x5 resource plot layout, all the other races begin with a worthless foundation. At some point, you are going to exodus that city, and rip everything inside back down to level 12. Your first city is a platform to learn about the game, explore some options, and then settle or capture a real city. I always recommend capture. Personally, I find no joy in the boring grind of the early research and resource plots. You've already done that once with your starter city. The map is littered with better cities, ripe for the taking. So right off the bat, this new player has the correct idea, and I always respect a little self sufficiency.

Do you need an alliance to build a level 20 barracks? Heck no. A good alliance will definitely make it easier to get free resources, but it isn't necessary. That ominous gold cost isn't really so menacing when you understand how the Illyriad markets work.  It takes approximately 1.5 million of each resource to build a Warehouse 17 and a Barracks 20. Let's call it 6 million total. You can usually buy resources for around 1 gold per unit, depending on your area. So how do you get the gold?

Cotters. You heard me right, cotters. Those little harvesting scrubs that you can build on your very first day in Illyriad. The market prices for basic minerals and basic herbs fluctuate between 150-300 gold per unit. Every day, a single cotter can pick up 100 resource units, for 15000-30000 gold per day. They can work in teams of 4 on a mineral or herb location. So your tiny settlement with 20 cotters can harvest 300000-600000 gold worth of minerals and herbs per day. That's equivalent to about 75000-150000 of each basic resource daily. N00bs, do you have any idea how long it takes to grind on resource plots until you produce 3000/hour of each resource? A damn eternity, and it will mostly go to waste when you rip down your crappy starter town, because the real production kicks in after level 12.

But wait, there's more. You see, since you will be focusing on your Barracks, you will quickly get the benefit of hunting. Basic hides sell for 2500-3500 gold per unit. Even a modest kill will yield 50-100 hides, which can be collected with a single cotter. Your barracks research will yield several excellent options for hunting: advanced bows at 9, basic cavalry at 11, advanced infantry at 13. By assembling a proper hunting army and following my Basic Hunting Guide, you can supplement your herb and mineral harvesting and earn even more money. Efficiently killing animals is almost free, and is far more entertaining than grinding basic resource plots.

So how expensive are these siege engines? Not very. A catapult will cost about 12000-15000 gold to build. The hourly cost varies per race, around 150/hour, which is only 3600/day. Five will run you about 18000/day, or about 100 minerals or herbs. You can see why this isn't a big deal, right? That's a single cotter worth of gold, and you can easily support 20 cotters.

Is this method slow? Nope. You can complete the Barracks 20 and the Siege Encampment research in about 7 days. If you insist on building your own siege weapons, that will be another 3 days. Factor in some inefficiency, and a determined player can be ready to capture in about 2 weeks. It's probably the single fastest way to acquire a good city. When you are ready, just ask politely in GC if anyone can help you capture a decent city. Ignore anyone who starts giving you the speech about grinding resource plots and receiving gifts.


Materials cost for WH17, B20: about 6,000,000 gold equivalent
Upkeep for 5 catapults: 18000 gold/day
20 cotters per day produce: 300000-600000 gold

It's a no brainer. Your first city is disposable. Harvest and kill your way to a Barracks 20, then capture a worthwhile city. You should be there in only 2-3 weeks. This method is much faster than the FarmVille grinding recommended by the Illyriad Community™. If you need help, just speak up in GC and eventually an actual military player will help you. Until next time, my dear cannon fodders:

Misbehave. Kill lots of stuff.

<^^^^^^^^||==O    Skint Jagblade

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Diplomatic Units in Illy: Part II

There's more to diplomatic units than scouting a pack of NPCs or thieving your neighbor. Here are a few more neat things you can do with them, and tips on building using diplomatic structures.

Embedding in armies

To be able to embed diplo units in your army, you need to research Diplomatic Contingent, which is in the diplomacy tree. After that, you can add diplos to your army in the window where you populate the army with troops. 

What's the point?
1. You can reinforce your alliance mate or a confederate city with this army against other players' diplo attacks.

2. By embedding scouts in an occupying army you are adding scout defense to that army in field. If several armies are stacked on a square with a good amount of scouts in each, their diplomatic defenses add up and they become rather difficult to scout. Note that assassins don't work on armies in field, only in cities, so there's no point in embedding assassins.

3. By embedding diplos in armies, you are creating a small bubble of diplo visibility around them. Remember the table in my last post? The "visibility" property is what accounts for that radius. Only scouts and spies have it, and human and dwarf ones have the larges sight radius of 4 squares. If another army lands on a square next to yours you will be able to tell whether it's a pack or a cornucopia.

Tracking other diplo units

Sometimes, when you get attacked with diplos, you want to try to figure out where the attack came from. The technique has been described in this forum thread. The basic principle is following the enemy units with your own and taking screenshots as they progress.

This is especially handy in a peaceful situation. Chances are, the attack was sent by someone from not too far, and if you happened to be there when their units landed you can send out your diplos to trace their trajectory.

Visibility radius

If you go to the map and turn on diplomatic visibility you will see how far you can see from each town.

In this radius, you can see how big is an NPC pack or an occupying army stationed next to you. Any moving diplomatic unit that's not your own (with exception of settlers, exodusing cities, and messengers, which are always visible to everyone) will be visible to you only within this radius.

You can increase your visibility radius in three ways: by leveling up the consulate, building a foreign office, and doing diplomacy quests and making the inquisitive populace discovery. If your cities are clustered closely together, a foreign office in just one city will boost it enough to see around as far as 100 squares and even more. The inquisitive populace discovery adds 2 squares to your city visibility radius.

Diplomatic upkeep buildings

In the previous post I discussed what types of units to build in bulk and what kinds in relatively small batches. Upkeep reducers are only useful if you intend to consistently keep a high number of a certain type of unit in the city, since these buildings are specialized to each unit type (thieves' den, scouts' lookout, assassins' abode, spies hideout, and saboteurs' sanctuary).

Diplo upkeep buildings consume a lot of basic resources, which you will need every scrap of for building troops, so choose wisely. The best use case for these buildings is making cities that specialize exclusively in diplomatic units.

Specialized diplo cities

Given the realities of war, it behooves a military alliance to have cities that are dedicated to diplo. A case can be made for scout and thief cities in particular. Other types of diplomats usually don’t really need a dedicated city, although the upkeep on assassins and saboteurs is high enough to separate packs of these units to different cities.

For building a thief city, one can choose a high food plot city over a military style 5- or 6-food plot one (but still surrounded by plains). Unlike combat troops that are built to die and immediately rebuilt, thieves are supposed to be reusable, and long-term upkeep is more important than the speed of building. A city spot surrounded by high food plots can make a choice thief city. Sov is rotated to diplo production during the build phase and then turned to food for high gold upkeep.

Scouts are more likely to be killed off quickly than thieves, so a handful of 6- or 5-food plot cities with scout lookouts that run diplo sov can be a valuable asset for a military alliance.

You will have to carefully pick a land plot to put such a city on, due to high resource consumption of upkeep buildings.  

Table 1. Resource cost for diplomatic buildings (per hour, for a level 20 building)

Scouts’ lookout

Thieves’ den

Assassins’ abode

Spies’ hideout

Saboteurs’ sanctuary

Foreign office


Friday, November 11, 2016

Basic Hunting Guide

This guide was originally written for Night Squires, a long time ago.


Hunting is great for teaching the following knowledge: scouting, battle calculation, terrain bonuses, army composition, commander builds, crafted equipment, harvesting, market valuation. Hunting is much easier than PvP because nothing attacks back, but as you can see it teaches many valuable skills. The general process goes like this:
  1. Locate NPCs on the map.
  2. Verify that they aren't in anyone else's claimed zones. Once you hunt a few times, you'll get a feel for your neighbors and their policies about resource ownership and encampments.
  3. Decide if the NPCs drop interesting parts for crafting. Some parts are much more valuable than others. Hides are moderately valuable, and all animals drop those.
  4. Know which creatures to avoid. For example, giant spiders are very tough and drop nothing of interest except generic hides.
  5. Dispatch scouts. 3 basic (t1) scouts should almost always succeed.
  6. Punch the results into the Battle Calculator.
  7. If the casualties are acceptable, dispatch your army set to Occupy. Some players will debate this practice, but it is functionally the best way to establish immediate ownership of valuable animal parts and minimize pointless arguments about harvesting kills. It also prevents spawn points from popping out another critter while your very tasty skinners are still approaching.
  8. Collect the hides with cotters, and the animal parts with skinners.
Hunting commanders follow a very simple build: Heroism 10, Vitality 3, Accelerated Healing 3. You will get much better results if you use 3-5 commanders in an army. Hunting armies are usually cavalry or infantry; elves sometimes use bows. Nobody hunts with spears, not even orcs. The commanders should be t2 units for greater Attack values (and thus Heroism). A starting player can learn with a basic (t1) infantry, cavalry, or bow commander. The commander should be the same category unit as the troops; it is common for t2 commanders to lead t1 units. As a player advances, they should switch to using t2 commanders for greater efficiency.

Common hunting army combinations are: human knight leads knights/chariots, dwarf stalwart leads axemen/stalwarts, elf trueshot leads sentinels, elf marshal leads swiftsteeds/marshals, orc fist leads fangs.

When using the battle calculator, notice how terrain changes the way your units attack. The complete modifier table can be found at the Illyriad Institute. Cavalry armies prefer plains and small hills. Bows like mountains, hills, and plains. Infantry likes forests, buildings, hills, mountains, and plains.

Once Heroism is 5+, it becomes an advantage to research Military Outfitter and the elite division for the chosen hunting army type (cavalry, infantry, bows). Equipping items to the commanders can provide another 240-350% in attack power, and that is doubled with elite divisions. A properly constructed army with 60 units receives about +200 units for each equipped commander. With 4 commanders, that's a 60 unit army hitting like 860.

Good hunting equipment includes: boar spears, animal scale armor, overpadded chainmail, hunting bows, and terrain-specific weapons and armors. Elemental hunting for salts is aided by dragon spears, reinforced swords, hero bows, spiked platemail, terrain armors, and animal scale armor.

Some players prefer general-purpose Silversteel equipment, as it works equally well in all terrains and does not require constant swapping around. I don't prefer that, as the bonuses are smaller (except the swords), I like optimizing my arsenal, and it drives me nuts when I lose expensive weapons to unexpected shifts in animal populations (and yes, that does happen).

New players with small armies are advised to attack easy creatures in a Horde or less. Favored targets include: wild dogs, bears, wolves, pumas, golden monkeys, giant beetles, wolves, rats, scorpions. As you grow more powerful, it is possible to kill bigger groups, but that makes it hard to harvest all the parts before they expire on the map. Experienced hunters will also take down tougher creatures like scaled chargers, elementals, poisonous crawlers, and other beasts with highly valuable parts. 

Example hunting armies:
The Rookie Special. 3-5 t1 human chariot commanders (plains spear, plains leather or vanguard leather, heavy warhorse), 60 t1 cavalry. Spectacular for hunting on plains, and for teaching all basic attack skills.

The Stalwart Slam. 3-5 t2 dwarf stalwart commanders (war axe, terrain armor or overpadded chainmail, riding horse), 150 axemen or 60 stalwarts. The war axe gives a +60% everywhere for dwarves, and the riding horse compensates for the axe and the stalwart's slow speed compared to the axemen. Great in forests and buildings, good on hills and plains.

Fist of Fury. 3-5 t2 orc fist commanders (terrain sword, terrain chain/plate or overpadded chainmail, riding horse), 150 fangs. Similar to the stalwarts above, with the advantage of fast build times on orc fangs.

Unseen Arrows. 3-5 t2 elven trueshot commmanders (hunting bow, animal scale armor, riding horse), 100 sentinels. Absolutely fatal on mountains and hills, good on plains. A little rough in forests. Very cost effective because sentinels are so cheap.

Cavalry standard. 3-5 t2 cavalry (plains spear or boar spear, plains armor or overpadded chainmail, heavy warhorse), 60 cavalry. Pretty much the standard issue plains hunting force for humans and elves. Orcs and dwarves tend to use it less, as their cavalry isn't quite as good, and they have a stronger advantage for infantry.

Stubborn Mules. 3-5 t2 dwarf Runerider commanders, (boar spear, overpadded chainmail, dwarven battle mule), 60 rune riders. Apparently this configuration is good for hunting on hills, and can even be used on mountains. I personally find it ridiculous, but to each their own.

Now go kill some poor defenseless animals!

Misbehave. Kill lots of stuff.

<^^^^^^^^==O    Skint Jagblade