Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Discipline Never Sleeps

Good afternoon, cannon fodders. Today we will learn about one of my favorite Illyriad phrases:

"Discipline never sleeps."

Catchy, right? But what does that actually mean?

Proactive vs. Reactive Defenses

Most players in Illyriad rely on reactive defense. This means that they don't really take action until they have incoming armies or diplomats, even if war has already been declared. I try to drill this into my students at every opportunity: there is a lot that can go wrong with reactive defense, even for an active, highly experienced combatant.

You might say, "I won't move that fully built city next to a mountain until I have an incoming siege." But when the siege comes (often with a super-fast surprise blockade), you might have running research or outbound units that prevent you from moving the city. I have seen that happen multiple times. And I cannot tell you how many times I have stressed the use of trade hubs to people, only to see them publish Shamefaced Quartermater reports showing enemy thieves cleaning out 25000+ units of their unprotected advanced resources. Getting hit for 15,000,000 gold worth of advanced resources is a savage case of rugburn.

My point here is that reactive defense fails often, and it can fail in very painful ways. But discipline doesn't fail. Why? Because discipline never sleeps. If you pursue proactive defensive measures, then by definition you are always protected from certain common mishaps. The best way to stop a siege is to make yourself undesirable to siege. The best way to stop thieves is to make sure that your cities have nothing of value to steal. I have found that tournament players are especially vulnerable to PvP attacks because their entire strategy focuses on throwing punches and reacting to situations with no time urgency. Proactive defense assumes you will also take PvP punches, often at an inconvenient time of your enemy's choosing, and prepares you to survive those blows with minimal damage.

Be a Porcupine

Okay, so you've decided that a proactive defense sounds like a smart idea. What are the specific things that you should do to minimize the problems from common attacks?

Follow proper city placement.

If you are part of a decent alliance with densely clustered cities (and/or densely clustered allies), and you have fully surrounded your cities by plains, then you are way less likely to be targeted for sieges. A smart enemy is going to target weaker cities and outlying cities first, if they are so inclined. They won't want to risk placing a siege on plains where any random sympathizer can smash into their valuable troops with cavalry. I wrote a whole City Placement Guide for a reason. Follow it.

Always have a level 20 wall.

If you want to aggravate your allies, ask them to defend a city that doesn't afford them a proper bonus. Having clean placement and a full wall is literally the least you can do to help other people defend you.

Store your valuables in trade hubs.

Accumulating advanced resources in your cities is an invitation for theft. I have written about the Myth of Defensive Thieves, so you should already understand that you are never going to stop a strong thief attack. People tell themselves that they will ship out the resources if they see diplomatic incoming. From Tinkinator's second article on Diplomatic Units, you should understand that the typical warning radius is about 15-20 squares, or about 1 hour for most thieves. If you are keeping advanced resources in your cities, you have already given yourself only a 4% chance of noticing the incoming diplomats before they rob you blind. You should have a trader stationed at a nearby friendly hub. Develop a daily ritual of sending your excess advanced resources to that hub. Weekly if you cannot bear the thought of spending five minutes each day securing your valuables. This all goes quintuple if you have already received a Suspicious Persons report that was probably spies. There's only three reasons why someone wants to spy against your city, and none of them are good. Most likely it's a prelude to robbery. Also be aware that many robbers don't bother sending spies. They just fish with dynamite and see what floats to the surface.

Deassign your commanders when armies are idle.

Assassins cannot kill an unassigned commander. If you are at war, or you cannot otherwise bear the thought of losing your level 1592 yeoman to a random n00b learning about assassins, then keep them tucked away safely until it's actually time to dispatch an army.

Don't run long research during wars.

Unless you are fine with your city getting locked in place by a research delay, don't run long research during a war. The odds of you having a specific city targeted with a large t2 saboteur force is actually pretty low. The odds of you having a lot of cities targeted with t2 spy forces can be quite high during a war, and once they see that research, you are basically hosed. Like thieves, you are not going to defensively stop a large t2 saboteur attack. Of course, the risk of a research delay is greatly reduced by having clean placement that's near a dense cluster of cavalry-producing allies. Have we talked about City Placement yet? I wrote a whole guide about it.


Less Common Predicaments

Build a minor number of defensive diplomats.

Sometimes n00bs experiment with diplomats. Having 15 t1 assassins, 20 t1 saboteurs, 100 t1 scouts, and 20 Allembine Scribes will deflect most minor mischief. Don't be the guy who loses a commander to a single t2 assassin. If you are in any region containing the n00b ring, you need minor diplomacy defense.

Stock food in overbuilt cities.

Now that population building is again all the rage, you should understand the vulnerabilities of giant cities. If you depend on a Geomancer's Retreat, about 20% of your population probably depends on magic. Some jerk can tip your geomancy spell and then give you a Sharp Frost -6% food, and your city is instantly has a gap of -25% food. At 27500 population, that is almost -7000 food per hour. If you are only storing a tiny amount of food, that can expire very quickly. If the magical attack is part of a larger coordinated thief attack, your city can implode instantly. I mean, I've never actually done that to anyone, it's just what I've heard from muggles screaming in GC. Such delicious, delicious screaming. Overbuilt cities should really consider a Vault to protect some food, but then again, that would limit your overbuilding.

Set your rune.

Ward of Destruction for peacetime mischief prevention. Ward of Intentions vs. Thieves if you look like a juicy target. Whatever your order of battle calls for during wartime.

Keep a tiny handful of advanced resources in each city.

Always have maybe 25 resources on hand of: cows, horses, books, saddles. At inconvenient times, you will suddenly realize that you have no messengers, or you need to embed a single t2 spy in an army, or you need to renew your geomancy spell or defensive rune.

Take the Night Off

Always remember, my dear cannon fodders, that most reactive defense is too little, too late. Be proactive in your defense, so you don't come home from a long day at work to discover your warehouse has been pillaged and your city is besieged. It's much easier to enact mischief when you have prepared for others to do the same.

  • Follow proper city placement.
  • Always have a level 20 wall.
  • Store your valuables in trade hubs. 
  • Deassign your commanders when armies are idle. 
  • Don't run long research during wars.
  • Build a minor number of defensive diplomats.
  • Stock food in overbuilt cities.
  • Set your rune.
  • Keep a tiny handful of advanced resources in each city.

Misbehave. Kill lots of stuff.

<^^^^^^^^||==O    Skint Jagblade

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