Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Deathmatch II Announcement

Greetings, cannon fodders.

The summer solstice approaches! The Thunderdome sands will grow warm with the sun... and maybe something redder. The Phalanx [300] is pleased to announce the dates for Thunderdome: Last Man Standing II. Please take note, the rules have been expanded for the Summer Solstice 2017 battle royale.

The official start date is 00:01 server time, 21 June 2017.

The official end date is 00:01 server time, 23 July 2017.

The rules of the Thunderdome: Last Man Standing II event:

  • Each combatant is allowed ONE city in Thunderdome.
  • No outside troops, diplomats, or hostile magic may enter Thunderdome.
  • Caravans are free to enter and exit Thunderdome at any time.
  • Cities may move starting now.
  • Cities must reside within the arena box: [604|-2445] to [654|-2495].
  • Cities must arrive before 00:01 server time, 21 June 2017.
  • No armies or diplomats may be placed in motion before combat start.
  • Combat is to the death.
  • Gladiators who yield by exodus may not re-enter the arena.
  • All gladiators must submit a valid combat API key prior to the event start.
  • When combat ends, all camps, sieges and blockades must be recalled.
  • All survivors on 00:01 server time, 23 July 2017 will be scored by a panel of judges.

The point scoring system is modeled on boxing, 1-5 in four categories:

  • Effective Aggression
  • Ring Generalship
  • Defense
  • Hard and Clean Punches

Aside from the rules outlined above, there are no other rules. We have established the event, the arena boundaries, and the non-interference rule. Those rules are upheld by the personal honor of the combatants. If you feel that someone has cheated, then you are free to address that insult in whatever manner you wish.

Combatants, I suggest you put your battle city in motion as soon as possible. Desirable locations are first come, first served. You should plan to have your exodus cooldown finished by 00:01 server time, 21 June 2017.

Misbehave. Kill lots of stuff.

<^^^^^^^^||==O    Skint Jagblade

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Thunderdome: Learnings

Hello cannon fodders.

I would like to take a moment to discuss the philosophy of Thunderdome. When [300] first began discussing the battle arena, it was a new concept: part classroom, part PvP battle royale. The quarterly Last Man Standing events were seen as the culmination of each PvP class. They are also a way for non-PvP muggles to dip their toe into lethal city-to-city fighting by risking only a single city. I really wanted to encourage bold fighting, so we kept the criteria to a minimum, and set the victory condition to single survivor. It was an experiment, and we fully expected to learn.

Key Learnings

Ultimately, what I learned is that a full turtle (pure defense) gambit can produce a permanent stalemate in Thunderdome. Under battlefield conditions, the interplay of alliance-vs-alliance warfare can break that type of scenario, but Thunderdome has wildly different parameters. Lesson learned.

I was initially against collecting API keys to monitor the city-to-city combat. Ultimately this proved to be a mistake. There were stretches of weeks where I had zero visibility into the clashes within the arena.

I also found it challenging to balance the fog of war with my desire to promote the event to the whole Illyriad community. One of the Thunderdome objectives is to raise awareness for PvP within the sandbox. King-of-the-hill tournaments and actual wars are only two ways that PvP can be expressed in this game. Unfortunately, raising awareness is hard to do when publishing battle reports can lift the fog of war, allowing combatants to see fights that occurred between other gladiators. I believe that this conflict created a mistrust towards sharing combat reports, techniques, and army information with me as the Thunderdome organizer. Much of that is setting the proper expecations--obviously I need to promote the event to inspire future participation--but that expectation needs to be set up front.

Net Result

For future Thunderdome events, the rules will be expanded.
  • A time limit will be set on the next event.
  • Judging criteria will be established for events that reach the cutoff with 2+ gladiators.
  • One victor will be crowned.
  • Discussion will occur on whether a Survivor medal will be issued to non-victors who reach the cutoff alive.
  • Combatants who want a medal will need to register an API key.
  • Battle reports may be shared for promotion, but only after a week.

These changes will be incorporated into the Thunderdome: Last Man Standing announcement for the summer solstice 2017.

Misbehave. Kill lots of stuff.

<^^^^^^^^||==O    Skint Jagblade

Deathmatch I: Victor Announced

Good afternoon, cannon fodders.

Today I am pleased to announce the victor of the first Thunderdome deathmatch. I apologize to both final combatants for the delay. My gaming time has been consumed by an ongoing Illyriad conflict. The battlefield must come first for all true cannon fodders, but I wanted to recognize the inconvenience and thank Treggar and Grum for their ongoing patience.

I enlisted the aid of three judges who I felt were knowledgeable in tournaments and PvP fighting. The judges used the boxing-based scoring system I presented two weeks ago in Deathmatch I: Reaching the End.

Two judges scored the match as a tie for both Treggar and Grum. The third judge offered a very thorough analysis according to the criteria, and concluded that although both opponents had pursued workable strategies, there was only one opponent who was credibly throwing punches when the match was called. Therefore, I am pleased to announce the first winner of a Thunderdome: Last Man Standing event:

Treggar [GATE] is victor of the Vernal Equinox 2017 event in Thunderdome.

Congratulations, Treggar.

The judges felt that Grum also deserved a great deal of credit for her effective use of elite divisions, equipment and defensive city placement. Her defense was outstanding, but ultimately there can be no chance of victory without inflicting damage to the opponent. Treggar gained a slight edge in the scoring by throwing so many damaging hits to Grum's fortress.

I would also like to thank our three judges for helping to resolve the match. I will not divulge their names here, but it is of course their option to do so. I appreciate that they took the time from their busy schedules to read the reports, analyze the match, and provide their advice. You have my thanks.

Until next time, cannon fodders...

Misbehave. Kill lots of stuff.

<^^^^^^^^||==O    Skint Jagblade

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Military City Builds: 5/6/7 Food

Greetings, cannon fodders.

One of the questions that I am asked the most is how to choose between 5, 6, and 7 food cities. Today we will look at five basic military city builds: one real 7 food, two real 5 food, one theoretical 6 food, and the starter 5 food. All five towns are vanilla standard builds that could be found in any military or tournament account. These are military builds meant to aggressively produce troops. If you want a guide to pursuing 10+ towns or building legendary cities, you must look elsewhere. A military account built using these templates will top out at 8 or 9 cities, depending on your personal design choices.

Before you begin this article, I recommend that you go back and read The Basics of City Placement and Building a Standard Military City. While those articles are now over three years old, many of the concepts contained within them are still entirely valid today.

The Bottleneck

The key thing to understand about military city builds is that there is always a bottleneck. Choosing a different resource distribution will shift the bottleneck around, but it can never be eliminated completely. For the cities being discussed here, we will work with the following assumptions:

  • Full library
  • Allembine Scribes research
  • No prestige boosts to resources
  • 0-5% taxes
  • All resource plots completed
  • Two military cost reduction buildings at 20
  • No negative basics

These assumptions are very typical for any established military city in full troop production mode.

The stats presented below are considered a stable baseline for a PvP city in prolonged warfare. Many experienced players will point out that people will drive their basic resources negative in order to build troops faster, shipping in the deficit resources from gold farms and support accounts. My personal feeling is that this is a risky approach to warfare. Depending on how negative the resources are running, hitting 0 while negative can cause troop sov to collapse or even cause cost reduction buildings to delevel. This can be caused by a single large thief strike, a troop strike, accidentally queuing advanced resources, or just plain making mistakes in shipping around the correct resources. For the same reason, I am not overly fond of relying on geomancy boosts to troop production resources. Geomancy magic can be attacked by enemies. Even a Vault 20 will provide only several hours of protection from catastrophe when running negative basics.

All that said, many serious tournament players will run negative basics because they know the precise start date of the tournament, and they are very unlikely to face a troop, thief, or magical attack at a moment's notice. For warriors in a real war, caveat emptor when running negative basics.

A Chart!


Figure 1: Resource bottlenecks for typical PvP city builds.

The bottlenecks are highlighted in red.

Keep in mind that the tax assumption is 0-5%, so the basic resources are produced at 120-125%.

Let's talk for a moment about resource distribution. Every city produces four basic resources--wood, clay, iron, stone. The chart above is NOT arranged in that fashion. If you refer to the guide for Building a Standard Military City, you will see that the cost reduction buildings for each major troop type will consume a different pair of basic resources. Specifically, the troop buildings will consume 135/hour of a major resource and 55/hour of a minor resource. The resource distribution chart above is broken into four categories:

  • Major. This resource is consumed at 135/hour by the cost reduction buildings.
  • Minor. This resource is consumed at 55/hour by the cost reduction buildings.
  • Neutral. This resource is not consumed by the cost reduction buildings, and at 5 plots is not the bottleneck.
  • Lowest. In distributions where one resource is 4 or 3 plots, this plot always becomes the bottleneck.

For example, in a sword town, the two Infantry Quarters consume stone (major) and iron (minor). If you were choosing a traditional 7 food resource distribution, you would allocate the 3 plots to either wood or clay. This would lead you to find a 3w-5c-5i-5s-7f (leaping deer/fertile ground) or 5w-3c-5i-5s-7f (wheat/abundant crops) tile.

Please note that for the 5/5/5/5/5 resource distribution, there isn't really a "lowest" resource that creates a bottleneck. There are two neutral resources. This specific point will be discussed in depth in the section for the 5/5/5/5/5 build, as it has powerful implications for how far you can push the troop sov in that particular resource arrangement.

Traditional 7 Food Fortress

Our first city to consider is the traditional 7 food fortress. Most cities outside the N00b Ring are a 7 food city on plains. The bottleneck to a typical 7 food fortress is the 3 plot off-resource. However, there are two advantages to a traditional 7 food fortress. First, the additional farm production gives you the ability to grow the city bigger (not that important for PvP), or to raise the tax rate higher on a bigger population base (very important for holding large tournament armies and PvP reserves). You might also choose to keep the taxes considerably above 0%. For example, you can run a 7 food military city at 40% taxes and still deploy 250% troop sov.

Second, you can see from the chart that the major and minor cost reduction resources still have room to run. This means you can build a third cost reduction building. While each level will only give you a 0.375% cost reduction, once your army grows large you may become interested in reducing gold burn another 7.5%.

You can also interpret the overhead in major/minor/neutral a different way. Since your 3 plot is the only resource holding you back, many tournament players will choose to run negative on that one resource, and just ship it in from different towns. This will allow you to propel the 7 food fortress sov up into the 340% range, as if it were a more production-oriented 5 food build. This approach is not recommended for novice players, but it is a technique used by many tournament titans.

You might ask why it's relevant to have a +40% boost on the major plot at 0% taxes, giving it a +5000. Good question. The reason is that as you raise the tax rate, your resource production is going to sink, but your troop buildings will consume at the same rate. This setup will prevent you from going negative in your major resource (a terrible idea) when you are running medium taxes and medium troop sovereignty. Once you get above 50-60% taxes, your major resource will go more deeply negative than your 3 plot off resource.

Non-Traditional 7 Food Fortress

Some players elect to construct cities on 7 food jungle forests with less than 25 resource plots. The most common build appears to be a 7 food 5/4/4/3 distribution. I have not built one of these cities, but I think we can safely infer some properties when compared to a traditional 7 food fortress.
  • The Major plot at +5000 (+40% boost) remains the same at 5.
  • The Minor plot at +2500 (no boost) drops to +0 at 4. Booster might be required to compensate.
  • The Neutral plot at +5000 (no boost) drops to +2500 or less at 4. Not a big deal.
  • The Lowest plot at +0 remains the same at 3 plots.

On the surface, this seems just as effective as a traditional 7 food 5/5/5/3 build. At 0% taxes, it probably is. I believe that the resources would strain when raising the tax rate. Remember, the key advantage of a 7 food fortress is that it is better for holding large reserve armies at high taxes, and offers the ability to run medium taxes (50-65%) and medium sovereignty (200%). If your 7 food jungle build detracts from this flexibility, then that tradeoff needs to be considered very carefully.

6 Food Citadel (5/5/5/4 Build)

I have never built a 6 food citadel. There are quite a few advanced players in the game who favor them. At 0% taxes, this build is interesting in that the Major resource and Lowest resource are simultaneous bottlenecks. It is clear that such a city can comfortably run 300% sov. It also offers the option to push harder into the 340% sov range. You might require a geomancy boost to the Major resource in order to reach a full 340% sov.

Finally, the 6 food build offers 20% more population flexibility than the 5 food builds. This means that it can either support a larger final population (not really interesting) or much more easily raise taxes when your armies are fully built (definitely interesting). It would probably have more flexibility than a 7 food city for the medium tax, medium sov scenario, although understandably the city would be running those taxes on 6/7th the potential 7 food population.

I will state for the record that I have seen people reach 10 cities with some 6 food towns, but I don't really know how hard that is, or where the cities really top out.

5 Food Workhorse (6/5/5/4 Build)

The Workhorse build is for the die-hard PvP player. These squares are almost always terraformed, since the 6/5/5/4 resource distributions are from forests, hills, mountains. It is challenging to find a standalone tile with the correct distribution, surrounded by plains, in the area you desire.

Take careful note of the Major and Minor resources. The boosters in this example are not set to a full +40% yet. This means that the Workhorse can easily build up to 2.5 or 3 cost reduction buildings. It is a build dedicated to constructing large PvP armies. While it can reduce the gold burn on those armies, as a 5 food build, it is not as efficient as a 7 food city for holding massive reserves. Therefore, I would describe the Workhorse as the tool of a PvP player who has excellent external support via gold farms, prestige sales, or other means of generating gold.

The Workhorse is a great option for areas with high troop boosts, such as:

Just remember that without a gold farm, the upkeep on your armies will melt your eyeballs.

5 Food Troop Monster (5/5/5/5 Build)

The balanced 5/5/5/5/5 resource distribution can be a true Troop Monster. If you ignore all cost reduction buildings, you can push your sovereignty into the 400% range. Really, this is the greatest strength of the Troop Monster build. For a hardcore PvP player, it isn't a big deal to demolish all cost reduction buildings, and then just rebuild them if gold burn gets too high. There is no better build to go guns blazing into the bitter end of a war.

Examining the resource consumption, we can also see that the Major resource is the only real bottleneck. Boosting the Major resource with geomancy magic will allow you to sneak in a few extra sov IV, pushing beyond 340%.

I have personally gone back and forth about which build is better, the Workhorse or the Troop Monster. The Workhorse feels like a better build for a stable PvP city, where the owner isn't building up and tearing down troop buildings and sov every couple weeks. That said, the Troop Monster is a powerful tool for getting another 15-20% in troop production power (about 60% extra sov on 340%). If an account were put into a total military corner, the Troop Monster offers the best option to swamp your enemies with troop production. That's assuming you can stomach the gold burn of having no troop buildings, which is a very big assumption in Illyriad combat.

Balanced 5/5/5/5/5 squares are plentiful in all plains areas of Elgea and the Broken Lands. No terraforming required. If you did want to terraform a hardpoint somewhere, the 5/5/5/5/5 is the human starting distribution, so it's very easy to find someone to terraform a Troop Monster mountain for you.

5 Food Starter City (7/5/5/3 Build)

Dwarves, elves, and orcs will all start with a 7/5/5/3 build. Each race automatically receives a distribution that will enable cost reduction buildings for their favored units. Dwarves get 7s/5i (infantry quarters), elves get 7w/5i (archer fields), orcs get 7c/5i (spearman billets). So can you build a PvP town out of a starter city? Sure, anything is possible.

Examining the chart, we can see that the 3 plot is what's going to limit your troop sovereignty, just like a 7 food 5/5/5/3 build. The starter city is different in that you can proceed immediately to 3 troop buildings, assuming you want to build a really big army. The downside is that unlike the 7 food 5/5/5/3 build, there isn't really an option to slide taxes around to improve gold production but still efficiently produce troops. I will say that if a new player just wanted to pitch in for a tournament, or learn about troops and battle, that using the starter city with one of my Lightning Build packages is definitely an option.

I do know a small handful of players who actually terraform using these distributions for special purposes. That is a highly specialized build, and not one that will be covered in this article.

Build a Portfolio

I will end this article with a good piece of advice about your whole account. Most players just focus on individual cities, trying to determine which build is "best". Envision your account as a stock portfolio. There is no such thing as the "best" stock, or everyone would already own it. There are many situations where having a mix of PvP city builds can provide a significant advantage. I have personally built my account to have a mix of Traditional, Workhorse, and Troop Monster cities. Some carry larger armies in peace, and some produce troops faster in war.

In the future we will talk about gold farms to supply these mighty troop assembly lines, but for now...

Misbehave. Kill lots of stuff.

<^^^^^^^^||==O    Skint Jagblade

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Deathmatch I: Reaching the End

Good afternoon, cannon fodders.

It's time for another update to the Thunderdome: Last Man Standing event. Two weeks ago, I summarized the first 30 days of combat in the deathmatch arena. Since then, the situation in Thunderdome has changed considerably. The three-way Mexican standoff was ended on 18 April when Cro-Magnon threw in the towel and removed his city from the battle arena. At that point, the final battle between Grum and Treggar began in earnest.

For two weeks, Treggar has attempted to get Grum into a headlock. Grum went full turtle, building stalwarts to break any sieges against her city. She has been highly disciplined about dodging her troops while offline. The following battle reports will show that Treggar only managed to catch her troops at home once. To further entrench, Grum leveled up her Runemaster's Grounding buildings, creating more powerful Wards of Destruction. This tactic made it more expensive for Treggar to carry out daily direct attacks.

Unable to destroy Grum's stalwarts, and knowing that a forest siege would be suicide, Treggar resorted to siege trains. He dispatched many sorties against Grum, most of which went unstopped. Even at close range, siege trains are a slow way to inflict damage against an entrenched defender. Treggar's spy reports and progressive battle reports show that Grum used prestige and caravans to instantly repair most of the siege train damage. Since the adjacent terrain made it impossible to hold a blockade, Treggar was unable to stop Grum from continually repairing the siege train damage.

Essentially, the gladiators are now gridlocked. Grum has adopted a 100% defensive posture, preserving her stalwarts to break forest sieges, and using prestige to repair building damage. Treggar has launched dozens of successful attacks, but his siege trains cannot cause enough damage to break Grum's supply of prestige. Grum seems to have no engines to besiege Treggar; any forest siege that Treggar deploys will be swept away by Grum's carefully hoarded stalwarts.

Under these conditions, the deathmatch is a permanent stalemate.

Therefore, I have decided to appoint a panel of judges to review the battles and declare a victor.

Heavyweight Title

I've decided to use the Rules of Boxing as their guiding principle. This will not be a Must 10-9 system. The judges will review the entire 40 days (the first article and this one), and then rate Treggar and Grum from 1-5 in each of the following categories:

  • Effective Aggression
  • Ring Generalship
  • Defense
  • Hard and Clean Punches

The victor will be the fighter with the highest combined points from all the judges. If for some reason there is a tie, I will be the final tiebreaker (beyond that, I will not participate in scoring).

Two Weeks of Battle Reports

The only time Treggar connected with Grum's perpetually dodging stalwarts.

Grum arranges an elite equipped defense to stuff a siege train. To my knowledge, the only one that got stopped.

An example battering ram report. The damage was repaired quickly in most cases.

And now for a whole bunch of sample reports from direct siege train attacks...

As always, fellow cannon fodders:

Misbehave. Kill lots of stuff.

<^^^^^^^^||==O    Skint Jagblade

Monday, May 1, 2017

One Chart to Bind Them All

Greetings, cannon fodders.

Let's start with a little Tolkien poetry:
Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky,
Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone,
Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die,
One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.
One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all, and in the darkness bind them,
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.

As you know, there is One Chart to Rule Them all.  Yet that magical chart alone is not sufficient for victory. Rapid production of terrain-adjusted points is what helps to win wars, but it is tempered by two other factors: upkeep and build cost. Today we will learn how to evaluate units by points-per-upkeep. This article describes the "in the darkness bind them" part of Illyriad troops.

All About the Benjamins

Troops are useless if they bankrupt your treasury. If your gold hits zero, your unpaid troops will simply disband. Since many wartime cities run 0-15% taxes, this could cause a sovereignty implosion and the dismissal of your army. In a future article, I will hammer on the need for a strong gold farm to support any real PvP account. For the moment, we will just assume that you have a gold income at a fixed level, regardless of source.

Upkeep is perhaps the primary concern of tournament players. Tournament players will build up slowly for an entire year, holding large armies in reserve. What you can produce in a single 30 day tournament pales in comparison to the reserve armies getting thrown around. Therefore, it is imperative that tournament players get the maximum points for their gold. Even large PvP fighters are concerned with upkeep. Much of Illyriad is spent in peacetime, and carefully managing gold burn is what allows powerful players to start the next war with sizable armies.

One Chart to Bind Them

Since you've already read the One Chart to Rule Them All, I will simply present the three successive upkeep charts as a group. The first is the giant chart of all upkeep; the second chart illustrates similar units; the final chart filters out all the noise so I can highlight some conclusions.


Compared to the production chart, the spear units are the most different.

All t2 spears are superior to t1 spears for holding cavalry defense points. No surprise there.

Kobolds and dwarf yeomen are the only spear units that are truly adequate at holding infantry defense.

Most t1 spears are still much better than t2 spears at holding infantry defense.

Kobolds are about the same as other t1 spears for holding cavalry defense. Kobolds are inferior to all t2 spears for holding cavalry defense. If you are an orc player, you need to fully comprehend this statement. Commit it to memory. Kobolds produce infantry defense and cavalry defense at tremendous speeds, but their advantage is purely production speed. Per hourly gold upkeep, kobolds do not hold their points any more efficiently than any other spear unit.

On a mountain, t1 spears are better infantry defenders than bow units.

Per upkeep, t1 spears hold infantry defense better than non-elf t1 and t2 bows on all terrains.


For all races, t1 bows hold defense points at approximately the same cost as t2 bows.

Sentinels and trueshots hold about 8% more points than dwarf and human bows, and 20% more than orcs. Per gold, orc ranged units are rather poor.

Sentinels and trueshots still hold a terrifying number of bow attack points per gold, considering that the only effective defense against them is bows.


t1 and t2 swords hold attack points approximately the same.

Stalwarts hold attack points more efficiently than even t2 cavalry for all terrains except plains.

When attacking a mountain, we can see clearly that bows are not the most efficient attacker per upkeep. The relative ranking is: stalwarts > t1 and t2 swords > sentinels and trueshots > non-elf t1 and t2 bows. The comparison isn't even close. Stalwarts are more than twice as powerful for mountain attack compared to non-elf bow units, when evaluated by gold burn. Tournament players should take careful note here. Trying to clear mountains with bow units is burning up your reserve armies in a very inefficient way.

Non-dwarf t1 and t2 sword units will attack a mountain as equals against defending non-elf bows, when compared per upkeep.


t2 cavalry is efficient at holding attack points for plains, small hill. No surprise there.

t2 cavalry is surprisingly good at holding attack points for small forest and small mountain. I clench my teeth every time I see cavalry smashing into forests and mountains, but if your yardstick is points per gold burn, it's not an utterly tragic way to use your tournament reserves. Just be aware that opposing spear units are getting a great bargain when poking holes in your horses.

No Bombshells?

There were very few surprises in this article for experienced players. Points-per-upkeep corresponds much more closely to unit stats. Upkeep has also been exhasutively analyzed by most tournament alliances. In fact, upkeep (not production) is the source of many military "facts" presented by the GC crowd. It is why n00bs are told that humans build knights, dwarves build stalwarts. It is the source of the muggle obsession with cavalry. If you don't care about production speed, then terrain-adjusted upkeep alone tells you how to optimize troop mix to indefinitely hold the most power.

So, now we have two charts from the poetic warfare triad. The almighty One Chart to Rule Them All describes how to bury your enemies with troop production. It is the single most important chart to unlock the secrets of Illyriad PvP, and the most powerful of the charts. Now the One Chart to Bind Them reveals how to build your reserve armies in preparation for war. The third and final chart will be the One Chart to Find Them. It will describe the gold-per-point cost of recruiting troops. While this is less of a factor for yearly tournament players, the recruitment cost can create a supply bottleneck when producing PvP troops at full throttle.

Until next time, cannon fodders:

Misbehave. Kill lots of stuff.

<^^^^^^^^||==O    Skint Jagblade