Thursday, January 19, 2017

Mystifying Maneuver: Sally Forth

Good afternoon, cannon fodders. Today we tackle Sally Forth.

Over the years, I have been asked about this maneuver enough times to have a standard response. There are a lot of muggle myths surrounding Sally Forth, probably because it is a PvP-only maneuver that is rarely used by anyone. We will discuss the actual game mechanics of Sally Forth, and then examine a rare battle report that shows its correct usage in actual warfare.

A Rarely Used Tool

Sally Forth is a tool in the PvP toolbox. It is a highly specialized delay tactic. I cannot sufficiently emphasize the "highly" part. I doubt that less than 1% of the entire Illyriad player base has ever even seen a situation where a Sally Forth made good tactical sense. With that disclaimer, the maneuver works in the following way:

  • All armies and reinforcements in the city will attack a siege camp together.
  • The maneuver is a Raid, not an attack. It cannot destroy the siege camp.
  • A successful Sally Forth will stun the siege for 4 hours.
  • Stunned sieges will fire again in 4 hours from impact (the bombardment time changes).
  • The Sally Forth maneuver can be attempted once every 6 hours.

The important thing to understand is that Sally Forth is a delay tactic. The strategy has several major risks and downsides:

  • By definition, the Raid cannot break a siege on its own. The best it can do is destroy 33% of the siege camp, and pause the siege for 4 hours.
  • Reinforcements cannot dodge.
  • Reinforcement owners receive no warning of incoming enemy attacks.
  • Placing attack units as reinforcements in a damaged city means they can be forced to defend by attacking enemy units. This is especially bad if enemy battering rams have damaged or destroyed the wall. Attack units like cavalry and infantry tend to defend very poorly.
  • Any defensive reinforcements in the city will also be forced to attack the siege camp. Dragging spear units into an attack can be a very costly proposition, especially if the siege camp includes bows (which it almost certainly will).

Due to these downsides, players almost always elect to strike the siege camp directly with terrain-appropriate attack units. That will actually break a siege, rather than lightly damage and pause it. Keep in mind that if the internal armies had enough attack power to stun the siege with a successful Sally Forth, then by definition they had the power to completely destroy the siege if sent directly at the camp. Why stun a siege when you could have broken it completely? Good question.

When to Sally Forth

The answer can be complicated, but the decision to Sally Forth boils down to a few factors.

  • You know that enough breaking power is already on the way from your allies. If there isn't enough power on the way, then delaying the siege bombardments is just delaying the inevitable.
  • The breaking power will take a long time to arrive. Most likely because it's infantry breaking a non-plains siege camp on a forest or building tile.
  • You want to conserve troops in the local area.
  • You have enough local breaking power to destroy the siege, but it's the wrong kind of troop type, leading to a very inefficient kill ratio.

Does that actually happen? In theory, sure. In practice, almost never. I have personally used the Sally Forth maneuver twice in three years of warfare, as part of the two most PvP-oriented alliances in the game. The first time was an experiment against my students in Night Squires. Which means I have used this maneuver precisely once in actual warfare. I can count on one hand the times I have seen a real battle report generated from a Sally Forth during genuine city-to-city combat.

The Unbowed vs. Aryaelf [SIN]

So here it is, the actual use of Sally Forth in battle. Ayraelf was an elven player in The Hashashin [SIN]. She was very fond of putting cities in forests because the spear and bow sovereignty was so much higher than an ordinary city. During the Unbow-SIN war, Ayraelf was less active, so when the siege camps inevitably got launched at her cities, I was appointed as her sitter to keep things alive. You can read all about the sieges in these Illyriad Times articles:

The fourth article listed contains my comments on the siege and resulting battles. For whatever reason, SHARK-VIC chose to split their siege camps into an all-bow camp on a lake, and an all-spear camp in a large forest. I knew that Ayraelf's cities were likely to be targeted again because several of them were vulnerable, so I did not want to burn all her remaining troops in nearby towns. The attackers that I had available to strike the large forest were: t2 swords (great), t2 cavalry (lame for terrain, terrible against the defenders), and t1/t2 bows (terrible for large forest, good against the defense). The spear defenders were vulnerable to the sword and bow attackers. I already knew that the SIN dwarves--Tink XX (now Tinkinator), Goldy1, OleBlackLord--had sent enough stalwarts to break the siege, but it was going to take them almost a day to converge on the siege camps. These conditions made it desirable to stun the siege multiple times, to conserve Ayraelf's sub-optimal troops until the dwarven stalwarts could break the siege.

As you read the report, I have never really understood the damage allocation to commanders. It seems that some commanders suffered more than 100 points of damage. I don't know if that is a display error, or if that really happens during a Sally Forth maneuver. It is also unusual that commanders suffered varying amounts of damage; usually in a camp everyone takes the same proportional losses and identical commander damage.

You can see that the armies suffered casualties like a Raid, with the defensive losers having 33% of their armies destroyed. Because the first Sally Forth killed the enemy cotters scavenging equipment, Ayraelf received a Gathering Units Destroyed battle report. The result still functioned normally, stunning the siege for 4 hours. You can see the text below the attackers, "The Sally Forth was successful enough to stun the attacking Siege Engines for a period of 4 hours, during which they will not fire." The second report shows a Victorious Sally using the troops from three different cities to stun the siege again. Over time, the friendly stalwart armies began to arrive and rip those enemy spears to pieces.

The second battle report:


Okay, cannon fodders. You should have learned what the Sally Forth maneuver does, and when to use it.

Misbehave. Kill lots of Stuff.

<^^^^^^^^||==O    Skint Jagblade

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