Wednesday, August 30, 2017

New Moon: Phase 3 Training (Magic)

Day 1: What is a blight shield, and how is it deployed correctly?

Day 3: Explain why you never dispel or identify a hostile spell. How do you identify the caster of an instant blight against your city?

Day 5: Imagine for me (briefly!) how you might use geomancy and/or blight magic as an effective attack.

Day 7: Describe the purpose of a Geomancer's Retreat. What is the bonus for using 1, 2, 3, 4 of these buildings at level 20? For a PvP player, what weakness is introduced by relying on a Geomancer's Retreat?

Day 9: What is the typical rune setting for a PvP player? Why?

Day 11: Describe the purpose of a Runemaster's Grounding. What is the bonus for using 1, 2, 3, 4 of these buildings at level 20? Under what circumstances would you expect to use this building?

Day 13:
Change your previous answers to any of the above questions.

Misbehave, kill lots of stuff.

<^^^^^^^^||==O    Skint Jagblade

New Moon: Phase 2 Training (Diplomacy)

Day 1: Describe (briefly!) what is meant by the phrase: Discipline never sleeps.

Day 2: Describe the best wartime defense against each diplomat category: saboteurs, assassins, thieves, spies, scouts.

Day 3: For a PvP player, which diplomats are most and least important to defend against? Rank their importance, and explain your reasoning (briefly!).

Day 5: Why are defensive thieves are ineffective? What is the function of a Vault, and under what specific conditions is it useful for PvP?

Day 7:
What is the main use case for embedding diplomats into a field army?

Day 9: Why should you always include a 1000 troop escort (minimum) on armies with embedded diplomats? Why not just 1 troop?

Day 11: Why is the Foreign Office as mostly useless for PvP?

Day 13: Change your previous answers to any of the above questions.

Misbehave, kill lots of stuff.

<^^^^^^^^||==O    Skint Jagblade

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Vanguard Leather

Good afternoon, cannon fodders.

I get asked about Vanguard Leather a lot. Rather than keep repeating my opinions on that item, I decided it was time to enshrine it in an article for all future cannon fodders.

The Big Bang

Why does vanguard leather fascinate people so? Well, since the 5x equipment update, it adds +100% attack for a -10% move penalty. In other words, it can instantly double the attack power of an army.

Vanguard Leather even holds a green rating in Jagblade's Guide to Equipment. So why don't I recommend it strongly to everyone? Well, like any specialized tool, the Vanguard Leather armor has a narrow range of circumstances where it is truly useful.

The Drawbacks

If you recall the three central tenets of Jagblade's Guide to Equipment, a crafted item is useful if it:
  1. Is used for city defense.
  2. Amplifies the proper defenders against expected attack types.
  3. Can be manufactured in bulk quantities, to equip entire armies.
Vanguard leather is an attack item. So when we use it, we expect to have 80-90% of the equipment get destroyed. It's a single-shot weapon. The remaining 10-20% will drop onto the attacked tile, where it might be impossible to recover. Or worse, when used on city attack duty, the surviving Vanguard Leather will be dropped into the enemy city's inventory, where it can be used against you.

Does Vanguard Leather amplify the proper attackers? Well, not necessarily. Looking at the One Chart, we can see that the primary attackers are t2 infantry, t2 cavalry, and orc fangs. None of those units can equip Vanguard Leather. When deployed in the field, this particular armor is equipped to t1 cavalry or t2 bow armies. That doesn't mean it's useless. Far from it. Those are medium power attackers, and they can do a lot of damage to an enemy formation like a siege camp.

Can Vanguard Leather be manufactured in bulk? An unequivocal yes. Hides and Iceheart are both extremely common materials. You can manufacture vanguard leather for about 5000 gold. If you mine your own Iceheart and do your own hunting, it can be nearly free, even in quantities of several thousand.

Is it cost effective? Not really. You're paying 5000 gold to double the attack power of a 1500 gold medium attack unit. I would never recommend that as a routine strategy. So if Vanguard Leather is a specialized tool, in what situation do you need it?

Break Glass in Case of Emergency

So why would a military PvP player maintain an inventory of Vangard Leather?  One answer: emergencies. There are times when one of your allies gets sieged at a significant distance away from you. Even clusters can span 200-300 squares. Sometimes you just need t1 cavalry speed with that double kick to get it up to t2 cavalry striking power.

One great example came at the end of the vCrow-fCrow war (300 fought on the fCrow side). Tinkinator launched a teleport war wagon deep into enemy territory to drop sieges on Ryklaw, dittobite, and other enemy cities. Ryklaw responded by sieging her battle city on multiple tiles and blockading on the rest. While our t2 cavalry was dispatched at the main sieges on plains, Tink needed to prestige build to keep the city above raze population. It was imperative that we quickly break the smaller blockade forces.

That's the situation where you use Vanguard Leather in bulk. You want to guarantee a powerful strike, so you double up the attack power on your t1 cavalry army. Elves can use their thoroughbred horses to cancel the speed penalty; other races can use a light spear instead. Battles like these can be risky affairs where the outcome is uncertain. Having one last ace up your sleeve can be the difference between victory and defeat.

Be in the Vanguard

So there you have it, cannon fodders. Vanguard Leather armor is a one-shot tool for doubling the striking power of t1 cavalry in speed-critical emergencies. When you are in a do-or-die PvP situation, cost efficiency becomes irrelevant. Vanguard Leather is a great final weapon to use, but its other constraints (casualties destroy the gear, it doesn't equip to heavy attackers) will limit its usefulness for typical PvP fighting.

Misbehave, kill lots of stuff.

<^^^^^^^^||==O    Skint Jagblade

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Useful Crafting Materials

Good afternoon, cannon fodders.

This post will be brief. In Illyriad, most crafted items are useless. On my profile (Ten Kulch), I have listed only 16 green items for PvP, 5 green items for hunting, 15 yellow items for PvP. You can find the reasons described thoroughly in Jagblade's Guide to Equipment. The following materials are employed to craft the useful items.

Green-rated PvP materials
  • Scaled Charger Vertebrae
  • Giant Scorpion Exoskeleton
  • Giant Rat Fur
  • Wild Dog Fur
  • Giant Beetle Carapace
  • Iceheart
  • Puma Fur
  • Spidertree Leaves
  • Ancient Oak
  • Wolf Fur

Yellow-rated PvP Materials
  • Scaled Charger Scale
  • Brown Bear Fur
  • Arterium
  • Jaguar Fur
  • Giant Palm Leaves
  • Simien Wolf Fur

Green-rated Hunting materials
  • Ancient Oak
  • Giant Rat Fur
  • Queen's Hair Leaves
  • Giant Beetle Carapace
  • Poisonous Crawler Exoskeleton
  • Scaled Charger Scale

This list excludes materials for items that are equipped only to commanders. Those materials are necessary in such small amounts that they are not worth mentioning in the same context as equipping entire armies.

Misbehave, kill lots of stuff.

<^^^^^^^^||==O    Skint Jagblade

Friday, August 11, 2017

Heroism vs. Charge

Good evening, cannon fodders.

I get a lot of questions about Heroism and army power. This is only natural, as most players start using armies for hunting, and Heroism is the first commander skill they encounter. Let's take a quick refresher on what Heroism can do for a small attack army, and then examine its limitations for large-scale PvP.

Hunting Commanders, Revisited

My guide on elite hunting swarms shows the damage that properly constructed commanders can do against wildlife. Take a few moments to look at the battle reports. The most important concept to internalize is that 95% of the damage is being generated by a potent combination of commander Heroism, commander equipment, elite commander status, and multiple commanders. In short: commanders. Only 5% of the damage is from the troops themselves. They are really just there to power up the commanders.

Boss Maffs

If you are a maffs-hating muggle, feel free to skip this section.

Why are those hunting commanders so powerful? First off, let's understand the underlying mechanic of the commander personal skill. Each skill has 10 levels. Every level adds +6 base units of power to that skill, up to 61 at maximum (1+10x6). The base units are determined by the soldier type you used to create the commander. In case you don't already know, Heroism is the commander personal skill for Attack.

Our example will use Knights.
  • Knight attack: 65
  • Heroism 10: 61x 65 = 3965 attack points

Simple enough. Now let's add in equipment. The most common attack equipment for Knight commanders in PvP would be a terrain spear (+60%) and terrain armor (+60%). Since you have finished the elite commander research on the Military: Cavalry tree, all equipment bonuses are doubled for elite cavalry commanders and elite cavalry.

  • Terrain spear, armor: +60% x2 = +120%
  • Double bonus: +240%, or 3.4x
  • Modified attack: 3965 x3.4 = 13481 attack points

This means that each Knight commander--when elite and properly equipped--is worth 207 standard Knights. If you use a quadruple commander army (my personal standard hunting army) then that's the equivalent of 830 Knights. All it takes is 61 Knight soldiers to power up all four commanders, so with their equipment-amplified Heroism, their little army of 61 troops will strike like 891 troops.

Little Maffs vs. Big Maffs

891 equivalent troops for only 61 actual troops? That's enough to make muggle brains asplode. You can single-shot an entire Legion of giant rats with 61 guys. Let's just build armies with super commanders and take over the world! Spoiler alert: you can't.

I'm sorry to crush your muggle dreams. (Heh, who am I kidding, I'm enjoying a warm feeling about muggle dream-crushing right now.) The reason is, alas, those devilish maffs. 891 for 61 is an optimal 4-commander assault strike, but that's also the absolute most you can stretch the commander power. At the scale of PvP armies, which are typically in the 10000-25000 range, that commander Heroism becomes a rounding error between 3-8%.

Fortunately, there is another entire category of commander skills: the division skills. Most people are familiar with Forced March. Since we are talking about cavalry in this example, let's look at Charge. The Charge skill adds 1% per level to all attacking cavalry in that commander's division. If you recall from my article about Matching PvP Commanders and Troops, the correct t2 commander can build an extra 5% in their corresponding attack skill, resulting in a 15% bonus.

At about 6000 cavalry troops, the Charge +15% division bonus is equal to the entire power of Heroism for quadruple elite commanders. The bigger the army gets, the more important maximum Charge becomes over multiple Heroism commanders.

Best of Both Worlds?

So, can you simply use both techniques? Absolutely. You can put a Charge 15% commander over the main division of 10000+ Knights, and then make four elite divisions of 60 for the other four commanders to add their Heroism power. This approach is quite common in tournaments.

It is used less often in military PvP. Players usually like to have one commander at home, in case their army needs to be dodged away from an incoming enemy attack. Also, things go wrong during operations. Small cavalry armies are often dispatched to set up emergency blockades when the main blockade has been broken, to monitor enemy camp sizes, to smash little occupations, or other tasks where fast armies are required. At the size of 10000 cavalry armies, the quadruple commander Heroism is only another 5% of power to an army that has already gained 15% from Charge. The utility of keeping extra commanders home usually outweighs the slight extra power to the army.

Division and Conquer

Always remember, cannon fodders: once you get up past 5000 troops in an army, the division skills tend to become much more powerful than the personal skills of 4-5 commanders, including the ever-popular Heroism. When you are building big for PvP, build your attack commanders for division skills.

We will talk about stacking elite defensive commanders in a future article. That scenario is unlike attack armies, because you can use far more than 5 commanders in a multi-army defense maneuver.

Misbehave, kill lots of stuff.

<^^^^^^^^||==O    Skint Jagblade