War. Mighty manly rushing and hacking and killing. Huge armies clashing. Yes, there is some of that. (In one battle today, over 34,000 troops were killed. There are huge armies clashing, certainly.) But in Illyriad, it isn’t all about the numbers. The sheer intellect – the brainpower – being put into this is massively impressive.
At time of writing there are a range of sieges against the Valar, and some not-quite sieges. Both show considerable intelligence and planning.
Now, all of this is “as I understand it…” If I have got any of the mechanics of combat wrong, please do correct me! Informed comments would be very welcome here.
Looking at the sieges first, look at the list of recent sieges, at time of writing:
- H? and DLords have targeted two of the Valar’s leaders. Obvious. Azreil is the person they claim to be most hostile to. But the intelligence here is that hitting the leaders is almost guaranteed to put Valar on the back foot. (Threaten a non-leader, and the leaders might say “oh well, he’s a casualty of war – now, lets seize the initiative ourselves…” Threaten a leader, and it’s likely that he’ll call the allies to rally round and defend him.) Making it personal makes the Valar less likely to be cold-blooded, and more likely to be emotional in their response.
- They have also hit two very large but very quiet players. From their sheer size (player Profiles) these two look pretty scary. But it isn’t clear that they are still playing the game. As a way to gauge whether they are playing, besieging a city would seem pretty foolproof. If the player reacts, he’s playing; if his allies have to bail him out, he isn’t. It looks like a siege. It’s actually a intelligence-gathering.
Then there are the “almost seiges”. These don’t show up on a list of current seiges, but they still make a massive impact. Here are two examples:
- H? are sending Occupying forces to sit next to key Valar cities. The blatant approach would be to send a siege army – but a siege army can bee seen incoming, and is clearly a siege army because of its slow movement speed. However, an army sent to Occupy an adjacent square does not show up as an incoming attack, and once in place a siege army (I believe?) can be sent to land on top of it. So, Occupying forces can just appear without warning. Scary! The person they’ve appeared next to pretty well has to try to dislodge them, as a siege might later be sent to the same location. This can work in one of two ways for the attacker: either it gives the siege armies a base to land on, or it provokes the neighboring city owner (who may never have been an intended siege target) to burn up his troops trying to dislodge the occupying force, pushing him to engage without the benefit of his own city Walls.
- Second, there are slowly approaching siege armies, which turn out to have only one commander and one siege unit. They are fakes. These are, again, a way to keep the enemy on the back foot. You see the slowly approaching army, you ready yourself for impact, gathering your forces, alerting your allies, and then… nothing.
Lets not underestimate the overwhelming power of some of the combatants. 34,000 troops in one battle?! But also, lets not underestimate the intellect required to prosecute a war successfully in illyriad.