Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Deathmatch I: the First Month

Good morning, cannon fodders.

The Thunderdome deathmatch event has now been running exactly one month. As the event has unfolded, the participants have shared key reports with me. At first, I had an impulse to immediately discuss their fresh battle reports on Warmongering in Illyriad. However, after further consideration, I decided not to immediately publish such information, as the fog of war is a crucial aspect to Thunderdome clashes.

Let's take a moment to review some of the key battles, and then examine the current state of the arena.

Pie Sliced

At the beginning of combat, I wondered if Pie [BLX] would be an easy mark or a sleeper titan. The answer was easy mark. Within the first week of battle, his city of Iron Pain was under siege by Cro-Magnon [HORDE]. The siege proceeded without interference from either Grum or Treggar [GATE], and Pie was sliced. He has the the dubious honor of being the first ever casualty of a Thunderdome deathmatch, and Cro-Magnon notches the first ever Thunderdome kill.

Forests on Fire

After some diplomatic clashes, the first major battle in Thunderdome came late on 23 March. Treggar launched a major siege against the forest citadel of Grum B. His force composition was 400 stalwarts, 18292 slingers, 30 battery towers, 30 ballistas. If the siege had gone uncontested, it would have fired 30 volleys per hour into Grum's city, quickly ruining the wall and causing catastophic damage. Unfortunately for Treggar (and fortunately for Thunderdome spectators) the siege was met with savage force.

The fortress of Grum B is completely surrounded by large forests. For those new to Illyriad PvP, this is a very significant placement. The favored dwarven racial unit is stalwarts, the best infantry attacker in the game. Infantry receives a +30% bonus when attacking any forest. Treggar did match the defender to the attacker--aside from orcish kobolds, the t1 bow units are the best general-purpose anti-sword defenders in the game. Bows suffer a -20% defensive penalty in large forest.

If you are struggling to read between the lines here, a powerful attacker with a big bonus against a medium defender with a big penalty... ah heck, just read the battle reports for yourselves. The first elite commander strike will probably burn your eyeballs a little. Quadruple equipped, max Heroism, ouch!

Before anyone gets really excited by this new Dwarves-in-a-Forest defense, I explain this phenomenon in my guide to military city placement. Surround-by-forest is not a viable PvP strategy for alliance-vs-alliance siege warfare. However, the Thunderdome arena is a very specialized environment for individual combat. Within those constraints, Grum has selected a spectacular defensive position that plays to his racial advantages.

But it turns out that in a forest, the axes cut both ways.

More Dorfs in a Forest

A day later, Treggar turns the tables on Grum. While Grum had been doing an excellent job of dodging attacks, it is very difficult to maintain a perfect dodge record over an extended period of time. Close range attacks become tiring to constantly evade. Here we see that Treggar smashes his own force of 12000 stalwarts through Grum's town in an axe-vs-axe clash. Stalwarts strike over twice as hard as they defend (45 attack, 21 sword defense), so even working against a hefty wall, Treggar inflicts massive casualties. He loses 8000 stalwarts, and completely wipes out Grum's own siege force of 12000 stalwarts, 71 ballistas, and 28 battery towers.


Lines in the Sand


With two major siege armies destroyed, Thunderdome devolves into skirmishing for a while. These battle reports from 29 March and 30 March are representative of this fighting style. In close range conflicts, the use of elites commanders becomes a key battle tactic. You can see that Treggar sends the absolute minimum of 61 troops to power his four Stalwart commanders (Heroism 10, short sword, woodsman chainmail). Even against Grum's walled city, his quadruple commanders still manage to inflict 1200 and 1300 stalwart casualties. These are excellent examples of classic skirmisher attacks. Treggar is just trying to wear down Grum's troops in the least expensive way possible. Because his commanders can be quickly resurrected, he is effectively inflicting casualties for free. Such skirmishing techniques are limited in scope, but at close range, they can take their toll over several days of attacks.


Fool Me Once


The next gladiator to brave Grum's forest is Cro-Magnon [HORDE]. The orc brings a sizable forest siege of 47000 kobolds, 11000 fangs, 30 trebuchets, 29 tortoise (rams). These troops are better suited to dense forest combat than Treggar's slingers. Grum immediately attacks the siege camp with five elite Stalwart commanders leading 750 troops, resulting in 7700 dead kobolds, 1800 dead fangs, 5 broken rams, 4 broken catapults. Total damage is about 16%. The 12:1 kill ratio immediately puts Cro-Magnon on his heels, and more attacks swiftly follow.

Only 18 minutes later, a fresh wave of five Stalwart commanders crashes into Cro-Magnon's siege camp. The 5x60 attack inflicts another 4000 casualties and 7% damage. Witness the devastating power of equipped elite troops. The stalwarts were equipped with short sword (+60%), forest chain/plate (+60%), and were in elite divisions (x2 equipment bonuses), for a combined power multiplier of 3.4x.

53 minutes later, a third wave of 5x60 stalwarts crashes into the siege camp. These appear to be unequipped troops that inflict the expected 1200 casualties and 2% damage. You can see the difference that the 3.4x equipment multiplier makes between the second and third wave.

40 minutes after that, a full wave of 5x150 stalwarts strikes the forest siege camp, dealing 6000 casualties and 14% damage. A standard 750 stalwarts would inflict about 3000 casualties; a fully equipped elite force would cause about 10000. Most likely these stalwarts were only equipped with short swords. Crafted from giant rat fur, the short sword is one of the most economical and effective weapons in Illyriad combat. For other highly effective combinations on various terrain, refer to Jagblade's Guide to Equipment.

Seeing the writing on the wall, Cro-Magnon dispatches a messenger while he still has two-thirds of his siege force intact. Did Grum have enough short swords and forest armor to continue his elite assault? Only he knows for certain, but it's not out of the question that he might have chewed through Cro-Magnon's remaining kobolds and fangs by burning up short swords. A decent sized rat kill will result in 1000 giant rat furs, and you can hunt even the biggest Legions and beyond by using the multiple hunting strike technique.

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

After forcing Cro-Magnon to withdraw, Grum joked that Thunderdome is now a standoff like The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly


Treggar has taken the opportunity to run some direct siege attacks through Grum B. The reports below show that Grum's wall was damaged and then quickly repaired to full capacity. Direct catapult attacks have also inflicted some damage that was rapidly fixed. Prestige building is one of the challenges to any siege warfare. If the siege camp itself cannot be held due to poor terrain, then the opponents are often reduced to using the siege train tactic to cause building damage. Siege trains suffer from many drawbacks. In the Thunderdome situation, it is hard to inflict any permanent damage on an opponent who is willing to prestige build, unless the attacker can also hold a blockade or siege on the target city. Every attempt to use a siege train can result in mistakes that result in losing all siege engines. The defender will boost runes using the Runemasters Grounding buildings, or equip defenders to cause severe casualties, or get friendly reinforcements (in non-Thunderdome fighting, of course).

Magic 8 Ball Says

My finely tuned Magic 8 Ball of Illyriad Combat tells me "Marathon". I concur. The Thunderdome: Last Man Standing event has turned into a prolonged slog. There are no quick ways to end the stalemate now. Victory will come down to determination, repetitive attacks, troop production, and the ability to use equipped troops effectively. The next player to fall will be the one who runs out of resolve the soonest. Matters are further complicated by the potential of a Pyrrhic victory, where one player exhausts their troops destroying an opponent, and then immediately gets dispatched by the other survivor with fresh troops.

I salute the combatants for their grit. As these battle reports show, there has been some excellent fighting in the deathmatch arena, with still more to come.

Misbehave. Kill lots of stuff!

<^^^^^^^^||==O    Skint Jagblade

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