Tuesday, January 10, 2017

One Chart to Rule Them All

Greetings, cannon fodders!

Today it is time to combine two of my favorite topics: maffs and killing stuff. I know you can hardly contain your joy, but wait, there's more! CHARTS. I know, right? Best article ever.

Oh Noes, Maffs!


Don't worry, I'm going to explain everything. I know that many of you cringe at the thought of charts, graphs, killing stuff, and maffs. I will talk through the numbers and highlight some of the most important concepts. Before I get into that, let's just step back for a moment and consider PvP as a whole in Illyriad. PvP in this game is primarily about armies. There are three basic things that concern military players about armies: 

  • How fast can points be built?
  • How much does it cost to build those points?
  • How much does it cost to hold those points?

During a war or tournament, you care mostly about how quickly you can build points. You want to field the right army for the job with the most points possible in the required categories. A secondary concern is how much those points cost to build. Most military players don't really emphasize the point cost, because when someone is trying to kill your cities, you get really focused on stopping them.  It's only during slow times that you start to get interested in gold upkeep per point, because big armies will burn a whole lot of gold when you are holding them indefinitely.

You will notice that I didn't mention the unit stats anywhere. That's because points are relative. It's crucial to understand that. Some units have high stats, but they take a long time to build or cost a lot of gold to keep. The classic example is t2 cavalry. Powerful, slow to build, expensive to maintain. Other units might have low stats but build very quickly. Kobolds are the best example of cheap and fast. Kobolds will allow you to very quickly generate an army that defends well against infantry and cavalry. What I want you to remember is that you don't really care about the individual unit stats. You care about the army that is built out of their points. The only way to make an apples-to-apples comparison is to evaluate the unit stats in the context of terrain, build time, upkeep, and build cost.

The Maffs of Fast


Today we are going to talk about producing points quickly. You care about rapid point production during a war or tournament, when the fighting is heavy. The goal of high speed production is to produce the most points for a specific job--attacking, cavalry defense, bow defense, sword defense, or some combination of those four--in the shortest timeframe possible. As with all things military, we give proper consideration to how the army will perform on various terrains that we expect to encounter in a war or tournament, and to the various enemy armies that we might reasonably expect to fight.

The metric we will use is Points Per Hour (PPH). The columns tell us how many points a particular unit will contribute to your army, for a particular terrain, in each of the five stat categories (attack, spear defense, bow defense, sword defense, cavalry defense). The numbers in this chart are based on a level 20 Barracks with no sovereignty.

First I present the giant chart of everything. Huge, right? Probably makes your eyes sting a little. This chart is meant to make your vision glaze over, and all maffs-hating muggle hearts clench in fear. That way when you get to my highly simplified chart at the end, it will seem like I have given you some kind of magical gift that allows you to speak PvP without actually grinding out all the maffs yourself.

Red means the stat sucks. Gray, blah. Yellow is pretty good. Green is excellent.

Remember, the point of the chart is to compare various armies. In every battle, there is an attacker, a defender, and a terrain. All battles are relative. Smashing a gray attacker into a red defender can be way more effective than a green vs. green battle where nobody has an advantage.


A Giant Soul-Crushing Chart




Figure 1: Colors! Maffs! Blindness!

Ok, so what does this chart actually tell us?

Nobody attacks with spears.

All the t1 spears are red for attack except kobolds. All the t2 spears are low gray for attack. So right away, the attack side of the equation is poor. Now notice that there are a whole lot of units that have yellow and green spear defense. Banging a red/gray attacker into a yellow/green defender is going to make you very sorry. That's why nobody attacks with spears.

Spears have terrible bow defense.

Agony is a small army of elven sentinels tearing through a huge army of kobolds. All credible PvP maneuvers will include some defending bow units to cover your spears. Otherwise you are wide open to a world of PvP pain.

Bows defend better than they attack.

Bows defend against bows 1.5x better than they attack.

Infantry is a flexible attacker.

t2 infantry is the best attacker on all terrains except plains.

Nothing beats attacking cavalry on plains.

Cavalry is an attack unit that has a single purpose: to hit like a sledgehammer on plains. They're handy on small hills as well. This is why my City Placement Rule #2 is surround your cities by plains.

Cavalry sucks at defense.

Cavalry is an attack unit that has a single purpose: to hit like a sledgehammer on plains. If you are using them for any defensive purpose, expect a whole lot of disappointment. If you send them to attack non-plains tiles, expect a whole lot of disappointment. Look at how much smaller that attack number gets when you send them anywhere but plains.

Most unit types are equivalent across the races.

The vast majority of units are comparable across the races. A t2 spear is a t2 spear for everyone. The exceptions are the special racial units you might expect: orc spears, elven bows, dwarven infantry, human cavalry. The one exception that most people don't expect is orc fangs.

t2 spears are superior to t1 spears for production.

t2 infantry is superior to t1 infantry for production.

t1 bows are mostly equivalent to t2 bows for production.


This one surprises a lot of people.

t2 cavalry is superior to t1 cavalry for production, BUT...

The whole point of t1 cavalry is that it is fast. There are times when moving at 150% of t2 cavalry speeds is much more important than bringing the extra attack power. For example, when your city is being ripped down around your ears by enemy siege engines. You did remember to surround by plains, right?

A Much Easier Chart


Figure 2: The short short version.


For this chart, I created typical units by averaging similar racial units together. When you are maximizing production, there is almost no point to producing t2 bows, t1 infantry, or non-orc t1 spears. However, before you dismiss those units as worthless, many of them have advantages in build cost per point and upkeep per point.

Elven marshals are the best cavalry in the game.

Elven marshals get the 150% speed advantage of t1 cavalry, and strike with the full power of t2 cavalry. In fact, they are 90% as powerful as knights. So surprise, the human's special racial unit isn't nearly as powerful as you thought.

Sentinels are just as good as trueshots.

For production, sentinels are just as good as trueshots. This will seem particularly unjust when I tell you that as the best bow unit in the game, sentinels are also modest on upkeep, and are the single cheapest unit to build. As an added bonus, they also attack other race's defending bows as 1:1. No attack disadvantage for these guys!

t2 infantry is the best attacker on all terrains except plains.

Ever since the infantry update, these units have become powerful universal attackers.

t2 infantry beats bows on all terrains.

This is especially important, because bows are really the only effective defense against infantry. In the worst case scenarios, infantry still holds a 3:2 point generation advantage in a battle with defending bows.

Most spear units are lame at infantry defense.

Really lame. Even t2 spears have cringeworthy infantry defense. Kobolds are the only exception.

Stalwarts and fangs are particularly vicious.

Look at those attack points! Everyone knows that dwarven stalwarts are deadly attackers, but did you know that fangs are a close second? Fangs are actually superior to other races' t2 sword units. Added bonus, fangs are also tough infantry defenders and have adequate cavalry defense. If that seems unfair, wait until the upkeep discussion. Unlike the Mary Sue sentinels, who have no real downside, the per-point upkeep on fangs will make your eyes bleed.

Infantry is only adequate at defending buildings and forests.

Like cavalry, your infantry is an attack unit. Using it to defend will lead to a hefty tavern bill and a lot of dead infantry. There is a persistent myth that infanty excels at defending buildings and forest. In reality, those tiles will apply a big terrain bonus to a fairly lame base defense score. The result is underwhelming. The only real exception are defending fangs, and they will still lose the PPH battle 4:3 against any t2 sword attackers.

Kobolds are little monsters.

Be warned: kobolds can make you feel invincible. These cheap little buggers will quickly fill out an army. Sitting on a million kobolds can inspire overconfidence, until you realize just how rapidly they die during combat. Even so, they are the best cannon fodder in the game. Kobolds are the only unit aside from fangs and bows that provides a good infantry defense. Their cavalry defense is superior to other race's t2 spears. Kobolds are hilariously cheap, second only to sentinels, but their upkeep can rapidly spiral out of control. Once war starts, the main objective for many orc military players is to get their kobolds killed before they bankrupt the treasury.

The backbone of any proper siege camp is kobolds and sentinels.

You know what's better than one overpowered unit? Combining them on a team! There is a reason why the orc-elf combo is so popular on the battlefield. Kobolds and sentinels cover each other's weaknesses and reinforce each other's strengths. The only certain way to defeat them is through the raw power of cavalry attacking on plains. Mathematically the only other scenario is t2 infantry, which has the enormous strategic disadvantage of slow speeds.


Conclusion

 

Ok, cannon fodders, what have we learned today?

  • Nobody attacks with spears.
  • Spears have terrible bow defense.
  • Bows defend better than they attack.
  • Infantry is a flexible attacker.
  • Nothing beats attacking cavalry on plains.
  • Cavalry sucks at defense.
  • Most unit types are equivalent across the races.
  • t2 spears are superior to t1 spears for production.
  • t2 infantry is superior to t1 infantry for production.
  • t1 bows are mostly equivalent to t2 bows for production.
  • t2 cavalry is superior to t1 cavalry for production, BUT...

Also...

  • Elven marshals are the best cavalry in the game.
  • Sentinels are just as good as trueshots.
  • t2 infantry is the best attacker on all terrains except plains.
  • t2 infantry beats bows on all terrains.
  • Most spear units are lame at infantry defense.
  • Stalwarts and fangs are particularly vicious.
  • Infantry is only adequate at defending buildings and forests.
  • Kobolds are little monsters.
  • The backbone of any proper siege camp is kobolds and sentinels.

 
Misbehave. Kill lots of stuff.

<^^^^^^^^||==O    Skint Jagblade

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