Monday, March 27, 2017

Metagame Mischief: Camping the Square

Greetings, cannon fodders.

Times change, and we must change with them. After years of mocking the dull, mindless grind of tournaments, I have finally decided to try one. A great many comrades are converging on [HORDE]. I am looking forward to some classic muggle PvP fighting alongside some old friends. Yet as with all public endeavors, people are already starting to make predictions and offer complaints. I decided to investigate the most controversial strategy: camping the square.

Metagame Mischief

Camping the square is a time-honored strategy in all MMOs. The term was first truly popularized by FPS games like Doom and Quake. Players would secure a good vantage point on the respawn areas. As players were killed on the map, they would return to the spawn point, and immediately get dispatched again in a highly unsportsmanlike fashion. Games like Descent made this process even more hilarious by adding weapons like proximity mines, allowing people to mine the spawn points.

In Illyriad, camping the tournament squares is a metagame strategy. Essentially players are weaponizing cities to dominate particular tournament squares. This strategy can be very powerful on any square where a particular attack type is highly amplified, and there is no correspondingly effective defense. Examples include cavalry on plains squares, and infantry on forest squares. Because occupation forces are likely to get crushed, the attack-friendly square strategy quickly devolves to clearing with the proper attacker, and leaving a tiny occupation force behind. One soldier will claim points as effectively as 100000.

Placing a weaponized city adjacent to such a square allows that alliance to immediately pick off the tiny occupying forces from competitors. Everyone else faces the choice of either sending large occupation forces (which are likely to be obliterated at terrible kill ratios) or concede the square and seek glory elsewhere.

Egads, Villainy!

Camping the square probably wouldn't generate such an outcry, except that it very obviously swayed the top spots in the last tournament. Nobody camps the squares quite like vCrow, and of all the vCrows, nobody camps the squares quite like Darkone.  That passerine prankster has boogered up the best-laid plans of many ambitious alliances.

To illustrate the prevalence of this strategy, one need only examine the current batch of tournament squares. Of the 68 regional squares, 9 had readily identifiable square campers.

Well, 9/68 regions is only 13%, is that really so bad? Absolutely. Consider that the top two spots were decided by 48 hours of occupation time. In fact, camping those squares could have accounted for so many hours that it was the difference between the #1 spot and missing the top 10 entirely.

Skint's Seal of Approval

I salute Valiant Crow for their cunning. Military alliances have weaponized cities for years, so why not apply that tactic to tournaments? There are no formal rules surrounding tournament gameplay. There is no official requirement that everyone has to simply occupy squares and stand there like a fencepost while their troops are cut to ribbons. If the metagame decides the outcome of tournaments, then I humbly suggest that people get better at the metagame.

I would divide the complainers into two broad categories.

First we have the people who truly find the tactic objectionable. Are these players considered purists? Maybe. Complaining will produce zero results. There is an obvious solution to a weaponized city: remove the weapon. I have often stated that cities are containers for troops, which are themselves weapons. If a player advances a city like an army, then that city could be treated like an army. There is no reason to give that weaponized town the same consideration as a permanent settlement. Of course, the vast majority of Illyriad players are higly unlikely to touch a weaponized city being used to win a tournament. Therefore, these players will complain because they are afraid to risk the obvious solution.

The second category of complainers are the people who would like to use this tactic themselves, but are afraid to try it. Alliances might be terrified of declaring war on vCrow, but they might not have the same reaction to a small alliance attempting the maneuver. Illyriad is funny like that. People will take zero action against the powerful, but they are very eager to jump on an easy target. From a game mechanics standpoint, there is nothing stopping players from sending a settlement right up to tournament squares. Some quick research on Heroism and t1 infantry would be enough to pick off little occupation armies. The tactic could even be attempted on squares already being camped by other alliances. Yes, that would place the settlement within their 10 square radius, but can you really treat their 10 squares as sacred when the town was moved into place over the tournament square? Once in place, players could squabble easily over the square, even if the larger alliances constantly cleared their baby city. It only takes 2 troops to kill a 1 troop occupation.

Put Up or Shut Up

Metagame situations are never resolved by complaining. They are resolved by action. This tournament, when you start hearing complaints from the fearful purists and the envious benchwarmers, keep in mind that they could easily take actions to challenge metagaming. As with all PvP situations, victory belongs to those with the organization and daring to implement bold plans, and the strength to see them completed. It has never been any other way.

Misbehave. Kill lots of stuff.

<^^^^^^^^||==O    Skint Jagblade

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