Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The Jagblade Guide to Equipment

Good afternoon, cannon fodders. Today we tackle one of the most confusing subjects in Illyriad: crafted items. You can find the complete table on my profile. Illyriad has embedded code widgets for crafted items, so rather than replicate that functionality on an external site (like the defunct Illy Crafting), I have elected to use the in-game code infrastructure directly.

Why does specialized gear mystify the muggles?  One issue is scale. There are almost 200 crafted items in Illyriad, but less than 20 are actually useful for player-vs-player combat. Another is that most players lack familiarity with PvP units and terrain interactions, so the proper choices are not entirely apparent. Finally, as with all useful things in Illyriad, there are a variety of well-intentioned but completely foolish muggle myths surrounding crafted equipment. If you have taken crafting advice from anyone who is not an expert PvP combatant, then you have probably been given a mix of acceptable advice and utter uselessness. That is even true if the advice came from the self-professed crafters and crafting alliances of Illyriad. As with self-professed traders and warriors in this game, very few of those people actually possess a basic competence in the game mechanics of their untested "expertise". Take their advice at your own risk.

It's About the Kills

Specialized gear is meant to amplify the destructive abilities of troops. In general, what you really want to do is take the correct unit for a particular battle, and heavily multiply its desired stats for that battle. Ideally, you are looking for equipment that:

  • Is used for city defense.
  • Amplifies the proper defenders against expected attack types.
  • Can be manufactured in bulk quantities, to equip entire armies.

Why city defense?

Defenders behind a city wall have a 100% equipment drop rate. Attackers and field defenders have a 10-20% drop rate. If you send gear into the field, assume it will be destroyed. Even if the gear isn't destroyed, assume your enemies will recover everything you dropped.

Proper defenders? Expected attack types?

It all goes back to the One Chart to Rule Them All

Let's take an example. You have a city on a forest tile (probably surrounded by plains, because you've taken my city placement advice). Referencing the chart, we see that the most likely direct attack against that city is t2 sword units, probably dwarven stalwarts. Consulting the chart again, the best two infantry defenders in a forest are kobolds and fangs. Therefore, what you really want is a set of items to boost the sword defense or the forest performance of kobolds and fangs.

Kobold: battle spear, trident, splintmail, forester spear, forester leather, (highland armor*)
Fang: longsword, thick-ring chainmail, short sword, woodsman chainmail

Bulk quantities?

That list seems easy enough, right? Unfortunately, you cannot actually obtain most of those items in quantities greater than 10000 at any reasonable price. Not all magical materials are available in the same quantities, and that severely limits the usefulness of particular items for PvP.

In our example above, the jaguar fur required to make battle spears and longswords just isn't that plentiful. The entire posted supply in Centrum is enough to make about 4000 anti-sword weapons. Jaguars only seem to appear in small groups, so the harvested supply is quite modest. Now compare that to the trident, which is manufactured using very abundant Ancient Oak and Iceheart, two of the most common materials in the entire game. You can easily secure enough materials to make spears for a decent defense force of 25000-50000 kobolds. There are hundreds of Ancient Oak patches, and both polar regions are full of Iceheart mines. The forest spear and short sword (forest sword) are both green rated for the same reason, because Giant Rat Fur is abundant. The forest armors get a yellow rating because they depend on scaled charger scales, which are rare compared to the demand, and therefore prohibitively expensive. The thick-ring chainmail depends on Arterium, which is a rare, expensive, and highly controlled material. The few big Arterium mines on the map are jealously guarded. This situation renders thick-ring chainmail worthless as a viable defense option.

The most glaring example of rarity is elemental salts. Each daily spawn will result in a tiny handful of salts. Items built with elemental salts can have very powerful stats, but at 100000 per salt, how can it ever be worth equipping a 1000 gold unit? You will be much better off finding an effective substitute and purchasing 10x as many of that item. Even the mighty Silversteel Chainmail is only +75%, where terrain armor is one-tenth the cost and provides +60%.

The Bottom Line

Since there are 17 green items and 15 yellow items, we may as well just discuss their merits individually. These are my personal opinions, but all opinions are not equal. I have done a lot of city-to-city fighting, and these crafted items have emerged as the best arsenal for a serious PvP player. When you read these descriptions, I want you to always keep in mind that you can have a portfolio of gear. Every division in an army can equip a different gear mix. You can layer a lot of different combinations, but I have found that simplicity is generally the best option in the heat of battle.

The Common Touch

Probably 85% of cities in Illyriad are plains cities, with another 10% jungle forest cities. Cavalry and infantry are the most common attack units. So your goal is stopping the two most common attackers against the two most common city terrains. Plains, forest, anti-cavalry, anti-infantry. If you don't have any forest cities, and neither does anyone else in your alliance, then you can safely ignore the forest gear.

Plains spears can be used to equip kobolds and non-dwarf t2 spear units. Plains leather can also be used to equip bow units. As an added bonus, plains leather is +100% for humans on plains (+60% plains, +40% humans). Plains bows get a yellow rating because the require scaled charger vertebrae that are better invested in plains spears. Using two plains items will give you a 2x +60% bonus in your plains city. That's great because it covers both infantry and cavalry.

By far the most common attacker against plains cities is cavalry. Pikes are always in high demand for kobolds and t2 spears. Beware of reinforced leather, it is nerfed gear and nearly worthless (+24%). That's why kobolds get plains leather. For stopping cavalry attacks, the best option is reinforced chainmail (+80%), which can be equipped by all t2 spears. The 2x +80% defense vs. cavalry is extremely potent when combined with the high cavalry defense of t2 spears, and can be worth the extra investment.

For stopping infantry, the preferred items are tridents (+60% vs infantry) and splintmail (+120% vs infantry). It is excruciating for stalwarts to smack into kobolds behind a wall in splintmail and tridents. The nice aspect of these defense-focused items is that they work equally on all terrains. If you have a mix of plains and forest cities, this might be a great defense option for you. Non-orcs can equip t2 spears, although dwarf halbardiers cannot equip splintmail. The high-power bow is also a great option, but the quantities of brown bear fur are limited.

As stated above, if you don't have any forest cities, and neither does anyone else in your alliance, then you can safely ignore the forest gear. If you do have forest cities, they can be defended effectively with forest spears and short swords. The best option is probably kobolds with forest spears, and some mix of splintmail (to stop infantry), forest leather (yellow due to scaled charger scales), and highland armor (+20% forest, +40% orc, green rating due to abundant giant beetle carapace).

The Less Common Situations

If you have hill or mountain cities, then you should invest in hill or mountain gear. Per the chart, some of it is broadly available at good prices. Much of it is not. In my personal experience, almost all competent enemies will avoid your entrenched cities like the plague, preferring to attack your plains cities instead.

At the alliance level, it's a good idea to have at least a little bow protection. Marksman bows and cloth-backed leather will turn any bow unit into an anti-bow monster. If you are fighting elves especially, having a 5000-10000 set of these items can make your life a lot easier.

Desert leather and chainmail are mentioned as yellow options. For desert fighters, these armors can be made using inexpensive and very common components. They are a good option to round out a defensive set.

The Need for Speed

Sometimes you just need to move fast. Any siege armies will reqiure draught horses for the catapults and possibly rams. Riding horses can allow you to get city defenders into position more easily, to intercept faster enemy attackers. Elven swiftsteeds will tear across the map with light spears, extra light leather, and elven thoroughbreds. Orcs can replicate that with light spears, extra light leather, war wolves, although at 5 hides the war wolf option is considerably more expensive.

Hit Me with Your Best Shot

If you are attacking with t1 cavalry, particularly elite divisions, then vanguard leather can be cost effective. Just be aware that it's a one-shot weapon. The same is true of plainsman platemail equipped to attacking t2 cavalry on plains, or short swords for t2 infantry in forests. There are times when you just need a harder hit with your remaining troops, and it's good to have that option. It is unfortunate that the War Axe depends on Arterium, because it backs a fantastic all-purpose punch for dwarven stalwarts.

The Trash Heap

So what's left? There are three broad categories of trash: defense boosts to a poor defender, obscure component materials, and items that didn't receive the 5x power update.

I will say the most about mismatched items. Examples: Infantry sucks at bow defense, so there is no point to having the battle sword (+60% bow defense to infantry units). Nobody attacks with spears, so what are you going to do with hardened leather (+120% spear defense)? Nothing. You know who uses bows to defend cavalry attacks with long-draw bows (+80% cavalry defense)? Nobody. Bows suck at cavalry defense. The wolf furs would be much better invested into pikes.

Rare materials can produce some powerful weapons. At 100000 a pop, these items are much better suited to commander gear than equipping entire armies. I will say that Silversteel is the biggest scam in the game. Don't get conned. Terrain items are better for attacking, and can be purchased 10:1 for city defense. Anything with a blue rating is guaranteed to be cost-ineffective for equipping reasonable armies.

Red rated items are now obselete. A few years ago, the devs gave a 5x bonus boost (and 2x penalty boost) to all items that use a rare material. Their definition of "rare" did not include basic hides, minerals, or herbs. Items that lacked a rare component did not receive updated stats. In many cases this has created holes in the equipment chart. Racial swords are notably worthless.

Go Forth and Stab Each Other

Now you know my reasoning process for sorting crafted items into green, yellow, white, red, blue. Go forth, cannon fodders, and dispel the muggle myths about equipment!

Misbehave. Kill lots of stuff.

<^^^^^^^^||==O    Skint Jagblade


  1. "Defenders behind a city wall have a 100% equipment drop rate. Attackers and field defenders have a 10-20% drop rate. If you send gear into the field, assume it will be destroyed. Even if the gear isn't destroyed, assume your enemies will recover everything you dropped."

    What are the drop rates for reinfs to a city? Is it also 100%?


    1. Reinforcements to a city also drop 100%.

      One thing I have learned over the years is that people want their equipment returned. The battle reports don't tell you who was there (unless you read the XML), and all the equipment drops into a pile in inventory. If you are sending equipped reinforcements to someone, make sure to note what your troops are using, so you can tell them specifically what to return to you.