Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The Best Race for N00bs

Recently I put this question to the Thunderdome classroom:

If a new military player asked you what race to pick, what would you tell them?

No Country for Old Any Men

I would recommend strongly against humans. Many GC muggles will propose humans as some kind of balanced option, but nothing could be further from the truth. Humans have adequate t2 bows and t2 spears, but both units are highly expensive compared to their peers (elf sentinels and orc kobolds, respectively). Human infantry is also vanilla. Is that a bad thing? Yes. Like most military strategy games, Illyriad offers considerable advantages to specialization.

The featured human unit is meant to be cavalry. Yet when we look at the One Chart, we see that knights are only slightly more powerful than other t2 cavalry. Knights are also terribly slow compared to elven marshals. While it is true that human charioteers are slighly less expensive to produce--replacing a leather armor with a beer--the primary expense of t1 cavalry is actually the upkeep, not the build materials. Tier 1 cavalry will burn as much gold in a month as their full build cost (or two months if you use 50% upkeep reduction). The only way to sustain humans in their primary role is with a properly constructed gold farm, and that is really beyond the reach of new Illyriad players.

Additionally, human cavalry is a plains striker. If your alliance never gets sieged on plains, or rarely has to clear enemy plains cities, then that cavalry will sit for an eternity, burning up all the gold in your treasury. That's more than most new players are ready to handle.

I Am a Dwarf, and I'm Digging a Hole (of Upkeep)

Dwarves are often mistaken for all-purpose attackers. It is true that building stalwarts will generate an excellent level of attack points per hour. Building stalwarts will also generate a tremendous upkeep per hour. So again, a dwarf account really requires a fully built gold farm or consistent prestige sales to maintain. Stalwarts and halbardiers also compete for chain armor, which in turn competes with swords at the Blacksmith building. Having a resource constraint like that is not something that most new players are prepared to deal with.

Also, I believe there is a great muggle misunderstanding about the favored unit of dwarves. Stalwarts are a slightly upgraded infantry unit. The real military advantage of dwarves is the +33% speed boost to their siege engines. It's hard to overstate how important that becomes during long-distance sieges. Great, says the enthusiastic n00b, I want to be the guy running the sieges, getting all the glory in GC. It's dwarves for me!  Forget it. In four years of warfare, I have never seen any credible military alliance let a dwarf n00b run the main battle sieges. I have, however, seen multiple new dwarves come in, talk a lot of trash, burn up their gold building siege engines, and then never get assigned to lead a meaningful battle. Let's face it, there's a very good reason for that situation. When the whole alliance invests a million troops for 1-2 weeks round trip, they are not interested in letting a siege virgin stumble through all the n00b pitfalls with siege warfare (and there are unfortunately a lot of pitfalls that get sidestepped when running a good siege). You want someone like Tinkinator or OleBlackLord, who is going to run the siege with the precision of a Swiss watch.

So to summarize: the featured dwarf unit (stalwarts) suffers from production bottlenecks and high upkeep, and the actual featured dwarf unit (siege engines) is a specialized weapon reserved for experienced combatants in military alliances. Not recommended for n00bs.

There is No Bold like Kobold

Orcs are often the first race that GC recommends to military players. I would recommend them myself. It's very straightforward to become a kobold-producing machine. Kobolds are hilariously cheap to build. Every siege and tournament team will welcome the extra cannon fodder. The only danger with kobolds is that it can be very easy for an inexperienced player to build up way too many kobolds. Knights and stalwarts can cause searing gold burn problems, but they tend to get there slowly. Kobolds are meant to be built fast and killed quickly.

Orc fangs are the second best infantry unit in the game. Like kobolds, it can be easy to let the gold burn get out of control. However, unlike stalwarts, the orc fang is an adequate defensive unit, so you don't feel like you're wasting them on siege camp duty. Orc cavalry is average. The only really poor unit is orc ranged troops. Realistically, you will forget all about bows once you are cranking out 1500+ kobolds per day.

Orcs also have the best skinners in the game. At 5 hides vs. 40 hides, they are a bargain. Hunting helps to alleviate the boredom during peacetime, and can be a valuable source of both income and crafted items. I run a team of 330 and 100, which I would never do as a dwarf, elf, or human. The idea of losing over 12000 hides in a hunting accident makes my neck tingle. Losing 1500 hides? I'll roll the dice on that anytime.

I Can't Believe I'm Saying This, But...

Yeah, I'd recommend elves. I feel dirty even saying that, and not in the fun way. But Illyriad elves are quite obviously the devs' personal favorite race. Let's look at the two big reasons that influence my recommendation.

First, sentinels. An excellent defensive unit, sentinels are also a moderate attacker and the single cheapest unit to construct in Illyriad. Building them is a no-brainer. Because beer and bows are so plentiful and inexpensive, elves have the enviable advantage of being nearly self-sustaining for supplies. Like orc kobolds, the elf sentinel is welcome as cannon fodder in all siege camps and tournament battles. In fact, if you're blind sending to a tourney square, I'm hard pressed to imagine a better unit to send, since sentinels attack adequately and defend well (as long as you use the One Chart and good sense, of course).

Second, marshals. Elven marshals are the best cavalry unit in the game. They move at the high speed of t1 cavalry, but they strike with 90% the power of knights. Speed is just always an advantage in Illyriad. There is no real downside to marshals beyond the upkeep typical to all cavalry armies.

With the best cavalry (marshals) and one of the best defensive units (sentinels), elves have a great balance of attack and defense power. A military novice could build all sentinels and never go wrong. As one final bonus, it is straightforward to find standalone bow locations (6 wood, 5 iron, 4 iron/clay, 5 food forests) that are surrounded by plains. Elves also work great on standalone terraformed mountains. Defensible, powerful, inexpensive: it's just hard to argue with Illyriad elves.

Now I Need a Beer

I also need 999,999 other beers for that endless line of kobolds queuing up at the tavern. Tuck them in with a spear, and they'll be ready to die in the morning.

Misbehave. Kill lots of stuff.

<^^^^^^^^||==O    Skint Jagblade

1 comment:

  1. Because sentinels are so cheap and have decent attack, they make leveling up commanders a breeze, and deliver the best hunt efficiency.