Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Picking Siege Targets

Good evening, cannon fodders.

I often write about PvP techniques from the first person perspective. If you want to accomplish ______, then you approach that with _______. For muggles in particular, all my articles like City Placement are given as instructions. Today I am going to talk about siege tactics, so you can see why some of those rules exist.

As a primer, you should go back and read Tink's great article on Siege 101.

Strategy vs. Tactics

Do you know the difference between strategy and tactics? Many players don't. Strategy is how you set the overarching series of objectives in a PvP campaign. Examples of strategies include:
  • Target leadership players first.
  • Aim for the cannon fodders first.
  • Clear regions sequentially.
  • Assault the perimeter.
  • Prioritize cavalry players with good sov.
  • Emphasize defensive tactics to cover a withdrawal.
  • Create psychological pressure with diplomats and mini-blockades.
  • Spread the pain by targeting multiple players, one city each.
  • Focus the pain by targeting a single player, multiple cities.

Tactics are how you actually set about accomplishing those objectives.
  • Siege outlying cities.
  • Siege cities with bad terrain.
  • Deploy a siege train.
  • Launch dozens of diversionary attacks.
  • Deploy stacked elite divisions.
  • Use a trap siege to pin a city.
  • Execute a Buzzsaw maneuver.
  • Reinforced with equipped armies.

I am not going into the details of siege strategy. That depends a great deal on how a particular alliance approaches war. It's important to understand that when you plan a campaign, your strategy and tactics go back and forth in iterations. Tactics can expand or limit viable targets; strategy can rule out tactically desirable targets, or target tactically difficult cities.

Juicy Targets

From a tactical perspective, there are a few things you look for in city targets.
  • Isolation.
  • Pinned.
  • One bad tile for the siege.
  • Preferrably another bad tile for the blockade.
  • City tile is easily cleared.
  • Reasonable proximity.
  • Fat population, preferrably legendary.


A single city alone, for example an Iceheart mining town, can make for a much easier target. As long as the terrain-appropriate clearing troops can't reach that city within 36 hours, it should be a straightforward siege. The weight of an alliance siege force from multiple players will crush the local defenders.

There is a frequent misunderstanding about isolation. People assume that it only means a city off by itself, far from the alliance core. That's certainly true. We also look at the activity levels of surrounding friendly accounts (a bit of strategy) to decide if there could reasonably be more clearing troops or reinforcements in nearby towns. An active player with towns in the midst of 100 inactive towns can be more isolated than several faraway cities that are in close range of confederate clearing troops.

Siege Tile

You want to put sieges on tiles that favor the defenders. In approximate order of preference, I like to siege from:
  • Buildings
  • Mountains
  • Forest
  • Large Hill
  • Small Hill / Lake / Loch
  • Plains / Fresh Water

If you want to understand the reason for that ordering, then I suggest you spend some time on the One Chart to Rule Them All. These are the tiles where it's easiest for the defenders to neutralize cavalry (+spear, -cav). Forest has the disadvantage that it is vulnerable to infantry attacks, but infantry is so slow that you are generally safe unless you are within 300 squares of a lot of dwarves or other sword cities. I don't really favor large hill because you can suffer some nasty bow attacks from sentinels and trueshots, and that will chew up your kobolds.


You don't want the target city to exodus away and escape. If a player has more than 9 cities, then destroyed cities are 10x more difficult to replace than an exodus. Cities can be pinned in place for a number of reasons: running research (especially delayed by t2 saboteurs), reinforcements, armies afield, another city in exodus.

One of my favorite destroyed cities in a war was RudyJr. He sent a feint from Northmarch all the way into the Long White. The sending city was isolated and had bad tiles. When we saw his army launch, we quickly calculated that we could have a siege there before his army made a round trip. That silly feint cost him the entire city.

A note to muggles under fire: don't pin your vulnerable cities.

Blockade Tile

You also want the blockade to have a good landing tile. If you are trapping a city in advance of a surprise siege, then you might end up holding the blockade for 1-2 days. The blockade is crucial because it's what stops the city from running away if it isn't already pinned by internal factors.

The blockade is also necessary to limit prestige building. Prestige building can stretch out a siege, allowing more time for clearing troops to reach the siege camps. A fast siege is especially important when the siege tile is a lame one, like a lake or small hill. More importantly, if the enemy player can reasonably destroy the blockades, then they can specifically prestige build the wall before your clearing troops arrive. This opens to door for equipped reinforcements, and also defensive maneuvers like the Ram Auger. Having a high level wall can cause considerable excess casualties.

Easily Cleared City Tile

For the same reason, you want the city tile to be easily cleared. Plains is best, although you can also target a forest if your siege team is infantry (most are, for flexibility). What you absolutely don't want is a situation where your raze force--just the troops included in the siege army itself--must face a potential battle where the raze attempt might get stopped by the city's internal defenders.

It is much easier to clear a city that is already emptied of the home defenders. Reinforcements are much less flexible, and cannot dodge incoming clearing attempts. If the defender is skilled, razing a city with a very large home defensive force can be a major challenge that requires specialized tactics.

Reasonable Proximity

It takes a long time to march reinforcements and siege armies across the map. Targeting nearby cities can go much faster. Proximity also makes high-speed blockade maneuvers much more likely to succeed, which in turn makes it much easier to trap the city and destroy it with a siege.

Fat Population

The bigger they are, the harder they fall. The more population is contained in the upper buildings levels, the easier it is to destroy a city down to raze population. A legendary city is a great target, but overbuilt cities are even better, especially if they rely on 0% taxes and a Geomancer's Retreat for extra size. Those cities are brittle as glass when the siege engines start firing.

Don't Be a Target

If your cities meet any of the Juicy Target criteria, you are starting each conflict with one foot in the grave. Always remember, sieges are alliance vs. alliance battles. By correcting your city deficiencies now, you aren't just helping yourself, you are helping everyone on your team who will defend you in an unexpected conflict.

Misbehave, kill lots of stuff.

<^^^^^^^^||==O    Skint Jagblade

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