Law Codes

Whether it is, or is not, possible to resolve disputes in Illyriad through justice and fairness is something that will be decided by the biggest alliances, and so by the biggest players. If they want to resolve disputes through superior firepower, then that’s what they will do. But for anyone interested in attempting to use justice to settle resource disputes, the following may be of interest.

The first of these is the Voice of The North Accord which was agreed between several northern alliances as a way to resolve resource disputes when the gatherable resources were first released in Illyriad. This worked perfectly. The signatory alliances completely avoided violent disputes in northern Wolgast. However, there is no enforcement mechanism – people have to want this to work for it to do so, and it’s notable that elsewhere on the map res patches were often held or won by force or threats.

The second is the Law Code that I was developing subsequent to this, while I ran the Lords of Frost. I never released this publicly, as I feared aggressive alliances attempting to “game” the system, but it deals with questions of how res patches can be dealt with further down the line, when people start settling new towns near to them. It could probably do with improvement – it hasn’t been field-tested thoroughly – and there are also some fringe issues which need to be resolved (e.g. based around high-yield sites becoming strategically important to an alliance), but it is a start which should suit the majority of resource disputes.

– – –


Any new resources which have appeared or shall appear in the north of Wolgast and its immediately bordering lands, are and shall remain the property of the Alliances and rulers who now hold those lands.

Resources on and in the mountains and valleys of of the north east shall remain property of Camelot, Woodland Realm, and any other rulers presently occupying these lands. Resources on and in the frozen wastes and surroundings of north west Wolgast shall remain property of the Lords of Frost. The lands of ResistanceisFeasible to the south of these shall remain property of RiF. Those in and surrounding the valley of the Knights of the Realm shall remain property of the Knights.

Nothing in the above shall imply that these Alliances, nor anyone else, shall have the right to disturb other rulers who already hold lands in this region. All rulers here present shall enjoy peaceful possession of resources close to their settlements. It is noted that Absabroke, Eagles Eyrie, the Crows alliances, and others have members in these areas, who are in no way denied any rights by this.

It is assumed that ownership of resources shall be determined by clear natural boundaries (such as rivers, the edges of mountain ranges, etc.), and where there is no clear and obvious division it shall be that rulers may enjoy ownership of resources within 10 squares of their towns. (Where two towns are within 20 squares of each other, each shall own the resources closest to them.) This shall be true regardless of the Alliance to which a ruler belongs.

No ruler, whether of Camelot, Crows, EE, RiF, Frost, Absaroke, Woodland Realm, or any other alliance, should be denied peaceful enjoyment of their resources.

The following rulers of the north shall uphold one and others’ rights, and provide aid as needed to enforce these rights, including, if required, military action: Camelot, Knights of the Realm, Lords of Frost, ResistanceisFeasible, Woodland Realm.

– – –


Where Player A has a res patch within 10 squares of his town, and Player B subsequently settles closer: Player A continues to own the site while s/he remains an active player. If Player A ceases to play actively, then the site passes to Player B. Player A’s alliance, alts and friends have no right to exploit the site after Player A ceases to play.

Where Player A has camped on and is exploiting a res patch which is not within 10 of anyone’s town, and Player B then settles a town within 10 squares of that: Player A will cease camping the site, and will cease harvesting, immediately if asked to do so by Player B. Player B then owns the site, but will pay one week’s full production from the site (or equivalent in market value in gold) within one month.

Where Player A has been exploiting a site which is not within 10 of anyone’s town, but has not camped it, and Player B then settles a town within 10 squares of that: Player B owns the site, and need not pay compensation.

Where Player A owns the site, but Player B is also within 10 squares but further away: when Player A ceases to play actively, the site passes to Player B. Player A’s friends, allies and alts shall have no claim over it.

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Law or War

In Illyriad as elsewhere, there are two ways to resolve a dispute: with recourse to law and/or justice, or by force of arms. I personally think that law/justice makes the game a more pleasant, welcoming, inclusive place to play, but whatever your view, there are serious problems with hoping that law/justice can be the basis of a community in Illyria.

In the real world, history has been an uneven progress from War to Law. (For examples, scroll to the bottom.) There have been setbacks but the trend is clear. Why should this be so? The reality is that Law has many advantages for a society.

First, societies ruled by law allow people to invest and reinvest, keeping the fruits of what they have built, without fear of random attack or expropriation. This allows those good at creating things (wealth, technology, etc.) to continue doing so. It also protects and nurtures more complex networks of trade, communication and investment – for example, allowing for the Industrial Revolution. Societies without Law deprive innovators of both incentive and opportunity to move the civilisation forward, and cannot protect the infrastructures required for more effective production and organisation.

This means that just societies tend to become stronger, and so able to gain the upper hand over fragmented societies (The US and China can gain huge advantages from exploiting the mineral wealth of relatively lawless swathes of Africa, but there is no chance of African kleptocracy or warlordism overwhelming China or the US.)

Second, people tend to want to live in societies where they are treated fairly. This means that where people have the option to move to a fairer society they sometimes will. And it means that populations will sometimes overthrow oppressive rulers, as in the Arab Spring (though without a guarantee that the replacement will be better – as the French Revolution illustrates), so creating a tendency to fairer governments.

Neither if these are relevant in Illyriad.

First, there is no progress (economic, technological, etc.) which accrues in Illyriad based on how Illyria’s society organises itself. There is no 17th Century Agricultural Revolution, 19th Century Industrial Revolution or 21st Century Silicon Valley that can be built if society evolves beyond feuding – because Illyriad has no rules for such evolution. However, as War can be used to seize resources and eliminate rivals or irritations, War provides advantages to those who employ warfare effectively.

Second, there is no way for the subjects to rebel. The Illyrian version of the American Revolution would simply involve the British saying “how many cities have they built? None? Well, who cares!” and going back to squabbling with the French. No Illyrian King James II would be captured by Kentish fishermen. No Illyrian Hosni Mubarak would have to worry about his commanders and enforcers deserting or disobeying him. Only those with more effective coercive machinery can unthrone one another – in other words, only War can overthrow a warlord in Illyria. All a disgruntled subject can do is quit the game – which reduce the numbers playing without actually changing anything.

But lastly, the real killer is this: Law is a lot of effort. In the real world, religions and philosophers have spent thousands of years trying to bend society towards justice. (“Do unto others as you would have them do to you.” “Render back the trusts to those to whom they are due; and when you judge between men, judge with justice.” etc.) And whole institutions have been built, from police forces to prisons, to attempt to enforce justice. In Illyriad, however, it is an immense and often futile effort to try to work out the justice of even grand political events, and for small events (actually, for most large events, too) there is usually nothing more than two grumpy players shouting at each other, and no real ability to investigate objectively.

Faced with the difficulty of attempting to deal fairly with people, it is tempting for players to just take the easy option – and human beings like easy options, especially in something which they do voluntarily, for fun, like playing a game. And which is easier – sending an email / IGM saying “lets talk about this”, or clicking a single button to send an army?


Examples of progress to Law: For countries with a long history, there are a long series of steps: in Britain, the Anglo-Saxon Law Codes attempted to reduce the prevalence of feuding, then the Magna Carta (unsuccessfully) attempted to prevent Kings from preying on their magnates, then there was the Wars of the Three Kingdoms (English Civil War), the overthrow of King James II, the legal reforms of the 19th Century… In countries with shorter histories there are often more singular moments: in Jamaica the shift from a buccaneering and hunting economy to a plantation economy was key; the United States has as its founding event (or myth) the realisation that a distant despot should not impose his will without accountability – “no taxation without representation”. Etc.
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When Wargamers and Farmers Fight?

Illyriad is currently experiencing an unusually high level of in-game violence. One possible reading of this situation (which I personally believe to be accurate, but that’s an argument for the Illyriad Forums) is that this war is between those who wish to pursue a non-consensual PvP approach, and those who wish to avoid PvP (at least, non-consensual PvP). If so, this means we have:

  • a war between those who are all dedicated wargamers, and those who are mainly farmers.
  • one side fighting because they want to fight, and the other fighting for the right to not have to fight.

Reduced to this simple summary, two immediate problems jump out:

  • In a war between wargamers and farmers, one might suspect that the outcome is a foregone conclusion.
  • To fight for the right to not fight is a contradiction. More than that, if the wargamers are looking to fight wars, then to stand up to them is to give them what they clearly want – a wargame – while to roll over and surrender is to give them the other thing that they presumably want – victory.

There is also a deeper problem here. If we imagine that the farmers might actually manage to gain the upper hand, militarily, then what exactly would victory look like for them? Again, there are two problems that emerge.

  • In the short term, if they are saying (which they are) that players should not have the right to unjustly destroy others’ cities, then they are constraining their own ability to weaken their opponents in the long term, and to regain losses. (In fact, in the present case, many of the farmers believe that nobody should ever be deprived of a city, nor forced out of the game, on which basis it becomes incredibly difficult for them to weaken their opponents, who have no such qualms about weakening them.)
  • In the long term, the farmers do not just have to win this war. They have to win every war that the wargamers might start in the future. After all, a wargamer who is happy to eliminate a courageous farmer need do so only once to be rid of the pest. Meanwhile, if the farmer refuses to eliminate the threat of the wargamer, then the wargamer can keep coming back over and again after each defeat. But if the farmer adopts the wargamer’s callousness, then arguably this is morally self-defeating.

In real life, societies have dealt with very similar challenges. The way in which societies become increasingly good at containing, channelling and curbing aggression is what we describe with words like civilisation, progress, etc. But it is not clear if this sort of civilising progress is actually possible in a sandbox strategy game like Illyriad.

This is not just a question about what might happen in Illyriad. It raises a fundamental question for any sandbox strategy game which attempts to mix in military and peaceful playstyles as Illyriad does, and for the genre in general.

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Orc Equipment Load-Outs In Illyriad

Effective equipment combinations for use by Orcs in Illyriad:

Clan Guardsman Defenders

  • Unit: Clan Guardsman
  • Weapon: Iron-Banded Spear
  • Armour: Extra Heavy Armour (Leather)
  • Best Attack: -4% (-8% Elite)
  • Best Defence: +30% (+60% Elite)
  • Uses: The Clan Guardsmen are the best spear units in the game (relative to upkeep cost). This load-out gives a hefty 60% to Elite units defending. The full bonus is only good against swords and cavalry; you’re not quite so strong against archers or spears, and you have a penalty trying to attack. Looks like a great load-out for holding a woodland square, but there are no penalties for any terrain or biome. This is a great all-round defence load-out.

Fang Raiders

  • Unit: Fang
  • Weapon: Chitin-Crafted Shortsword
  • Armour: Highland Armour (Leather)
  • Best Attack: +24% (48% Elite Units)
  • Best Defence: 23% (46% Elite Units)
  • Movement Speed: +15%
  • Uses: Extremely strong on Mountains (+24% attack, 23% defence), but also an effective combination in Forests (18% attack, 17% defence), this load-out is slightly more flexible than a load-out focused on one terrain type.  As a bonus, the sword also gives you an improved movement speed. This is most effective used in attack, but (unlike a load-out using Vanguard’s Armour, for example) it still strengthens you in defence. This load-out only makes sense, however, if you can get the equipment cheaply – but my guess is that there probably won’t be many people using the Chitin-Crafted sword, so you should be able to get the ingredients inexpensively. Don’t use it on hills or plains.

Hills Riders

  • Unit: Death Pack
  • Weapon: Hill-Tribe Spear
  • Armour: Upland Platemail
  • Horse: War Wolf (Discovery only – cannot be researched)
  • Best Attack: +44% (+88% Elite Units)
  • Best Defence:  +44% (+88% Elite Units)
  • Uses: An 88% bonus on your already fearsome Death Pack attacks makes small groups of Orc cavalry the most effective units for attacking on hills. Massed ranks of Human Knights may still rule the plains, but this load-out makes Orc Death Packs a fearsome force rampaging across hills in small scale conflicts.

(This post is a work in progress. I will be adding more here as devious options present themselves. Load-outs listed here are in addition to the obvious load-outs that work for all races – like giving T2 cavalry kit that boost their attacks. Don’t assume that these load-outs are better than the more obvious options – but they may give you tactical options that you hadn’t considered before. Note, a key issue with equipment in Illyriad is what you can actually get hold of – many options that look great on paper are not viable in reality if the equipment and their constituent ingredients are not available to you. Make sure you have a good supply of the ingredients before building buildings to manufacture this equipment. If you can’t get what you need on the map or markets, talk to your alliance, and if that doesn’t work then look for other equipment options.)

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Obvious Troop Load-Outs In Illyriad

There is no such thing as a “+1 sword” in Illyriad. The bonus that equipment gives is dependant on who you are, where you are, and what you are doing with it. If you wish to use equipment, you will have to collect equipment that gives you bonuses in specific situations – like when attacking, or when defending, or when in mountains, or when in the arctic or in a desert. This is way more interesting than blanket bonuses, but requires some thought….

The most obvious route is to go for items with high attack or high defence, depending on whether you expect to attack or defend.

For attacking:

War Spears are quick to research, and can be built without any highly unusual ingredients. The % bonus isn’t huge, but cavalry are so strong in attack anyway that +6% to their huge attacks are worth having if the weapons can be made or bought cheaply, especially for Human Knights.

War Axes (considered a sword) gives +12% to Dwarf Swordsman and +8% to Orc Swordsman attacks, making Dwarf Stalwarts an impressive attacking unit.

Composite Bows provide a bigger % bonus for archers, but with the constraint that they lose their benefit if you try to use them in extreme biomes: +15% for an already formidable Elven Trueshot is absolutely worth having – so long as you aren’t in Desert, Jungle or Arctic areas.

Silversteel Swords are looking like the ultimate attacking weapon (for swordsmen, of course), and arguably make the Dwarf Stalwart the best attacking unit in the game. But don’t rely on getting your hands on any Silversteel any time soon – so Silversteel swords and spears (like the armours) may not be available to most players.

For defence:

Heavy and Extra Heavy armour are obviously attractive. Heavy armours give smaller % bonuses, but require no unusual ingredients. The Extra Heavy options are more impressive, but are harder to make. The +10% bonus on easy-to-make Heavy Leather armour is especially attractive (particularly for Orc Clan Guardsmen or Elven Trueshots).

Iron Bound Spears are also worth considering. They don’t give a + in all circumstances, but  give +8% (or +10% for Orcs) against the most common attacking units – cavalry and swords – and also has a big bonus if you’re ever attacked by Monstrous NPCs.

Three Wood Bows (for archers) are probably the best defensive weapon, especially for Elven Trueshots. Elves get +8% against allcomers, so long as they are in the default, temperate areas of the map (the bonuses are lost in Desert, Arctic and Jungle).

But these numbers are not actually all that impressive. You will do much better if you pick your fights more carefully. And the more carefully you pick your fights, the better the bonuses that you can get.

So, based on terrain:

Every weapon and armour type has a piece of equipment that works on each of the terrain types. There’s a sword for hills, a sword for mountains, one for plains, another for woods, for example. That means that if you know what terrain you will be fighting on, you can get a +12% weapon and +12% armour bonus for a total of +24% bonus on all attacks and all defences in that terrain. For example, if you have a city on a mountain, surrounded by mountains, mining resources from mountain squares, then you can get the mountain equipment and be sure that you’ll get a +12%+12%=+24% in each fight you’re likely to get into. That +24% is way more impressive than the bonuses you’ll get for equipment that sets you up for any eventuality.

And if you are defending, you can get bonuses depending upon your foes:

Every weapon and armour type also has a version that works against a particular foe, when you are defending. This only counts in defence, but the point is that if you know who is going to be attacking you (including what troop type they will use) you can get +16% from a weapon and +16% from armour, giving an impressive +32% bonus.

So, there are the obvious options. The rule is that the more specialised you go, the bigger the bonuses you’ll get. And of course, there is weirder equipment – but that would be a subject for another post

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Army Equipment in Illyriad

As I write, Crafting and weapon equipment has been live in Illyriad for hours, not days, so these are first impressions. But I will be updating the post as things become clearer over time. [Update: as I expand on each section, I’m adding a link from here to the post.]

  • Nothing is obvious. At first glance it looks like you’ll only get a few percentage points boost to your troops from each bit of equipment, which looks pretty meagre. After a few minutes, I realised that there are some “obvious” troop load-outs which can give you +24% to your troops’ stats. Then I noticed a way to get +36% in defence. Then I noticed the +42% you can get to Swordsmens’ attacks. Then I noticed the skills that actually double these bonuses, if you’re using small groups of troops. 84% bonus! These, I then decided, were obvious. But even those weren’t obvious! They had taken me good few minutes to work out.
  • There is great deviousness in the details. I’m suspecting that there are some quite sly load-outs that we could put together here. I’m tinkering with some ideas, which I may post in the coming weeks. First off, for Orc army equipment ideas, try here.
  • Not all equipment is of equal use to everyone. The leather armour that will give Elven spearmen a real edge in the forests (+20% in large groups, plus 40% is small groups) does not work so well for other races. The War Axe is looking (over) twice as good for Dwarves as it is for Elves (if I were a Dwarf I’d be very interested in those; as an Orc I’m not so bothered). Etc.
  • Context is everything. The “obvious” +24% bonuses only applies if you pick your ground carefully. Use the equipment in the wrong place, and your bonuses are replaced by penalties. Almost all weapons (except the Dwarf Axemens’/Swordsmens’ attack choices, notably) have a down side as well as an upside, if you use them wrongly.
  • Some weapons look very well suited to use in very small quantities. For example, the animal-hunting weapons look very well suited to be given to commanders, but I’m not sure they’re worth equipping a whole Division with.
  • For a medium sized player, these weapons could be a massive boon. If a 24%-32% bonus is attainable, then if all your troops carry that load-out then that’s equivalent (roughly) to having your first “Tier 2 Military Building” (like Cavalry Parade Ground) up to level 20 – arguably, it’s better. For a player who cannot yet maintain a Cavalry Parade Ground or similar, that’s excellent news. And even as you build your T2 buildings, the weapons will still be providing their bonuses.
  • What is not clear is how big an army it might be worth equipping. If you have built all the cities you can, and now play Illyriad to compete in tournaments, where you lose 200,000 troops every tournament (every 3 months?) then I’m not sure you’d bother equipping all your troops with this new equipment. (My personal plan is to equip only my commanders and specific Elite units, but to let the rank and file slum it with basic equipment. That will change if I get a windfall of cool kit, of course!)
  • The equipment lets non-military specialist cities have more effective elite forces. If you are using most of your tax revenue paying assassins or thieves, or are keeping taxes low to boost resource production, then you will only be able to afford a small army, or none at all. But equipment costs no upkeep. So if you build small units and get the Elite Researches, you can maintain much more impressive troops for the same tax upkeep.
  • The equipment is really flexible. Troops have fixed stats, and they move slowly. Weapons can be used to give bonuses to different troops, and can be moved around. Example: If you have not specialised in one troop type in your city, then you could swap (for example) spears between spearmen (for a defensive boost) and cavalry (when attacking). Another example: Reinforcing troops move very slowly, caravans move very fast – so, rather than sending troops to reinforce a friend, you can much more quickly put some armour on a caravan and send that across to him for his own troops.

And of course the really big issue is “so, how many weapons can I get and where do I get them from?” Which, as the new resources and trading system is only just coming in, is a question nobody knows the answer to yet.

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Banditry in Illyriad

Banditry, Fact and Fiction:

  • Fiction: A group of rural warfare specialists lurk behind trees and amidst boulders, waiting to leap out on the lightly defended caravan which approaches. If they aren’t the heroes, then they are incorrigible villains who will be justifiably and valiantly slain by the heroes defending the caravan. If they are the heroes, Robin-Hood-style, then their athletic assault will dramatically overpower the guards, and net them loads of immediately useful booty (which they won’t even need to worry about fencing – such practicalities not being in their idiom).
  • Fact: Bandits area deeply linked in to their social environment. Whether they are nineteenth-century Sicilian rural gangsters, or modern Somali pirates, they need friends to protect them, informants to guide them, and a weak enough political authority that they will be able to get away with their overt thefts. It’s actually very complicated, and very interesting. (The Eric Hobsbawm book, Bandits, makes a very good read, for example. If you don’t fancy reading 200+ pages, then read the Illyriad Outlaws Faction description.)

Fact, as ever, is more interesting than fiction. And Illyriad is more complicated and interesting than most fictions.

So, it is no surprise that if someone wanted to play the bandit in Illyriad, they would be better guided by fact than fiction. Here is an example of how, using the Blockade tactic, this might work:

  • The banditry can only start during a war, or if the political stability of Illyriad collapses. So, don’t try this in peace time – too many people will be ready to call you to account for your crimes. Like real bandits, you need an absence of authority to act.
  • The banditry requires an accomplice, as well as the bandit. So, find yourself an accomplice.
  • The accomplice spies out a victim and initiates a trade with the victim. This could be as simple as just accepting an order on the Market. The accomplice then tells the bandit when his/her own caravans will be arriving at the victim’s town – the exact time, to the nearest second!
  • The bandit player sends a Blockade to the victim’s settlement, timed to arrive seconds before the caravan, and to leave just one minute later. The split second timing means that the victim will be unable to attack the Blockade camp quickly enough to dislodge it – the Blockade should depart safely before it can be attacked.
  • The result is that goods from the victim to the accomplice will still be received by the accomplice, but the accomplice’s own delivery to the victim may now have been intercepted by the bandit.
  • When the intercepted goods arrive at the bandit’s town, the bandit and accomplice can then split this loot – a proportion is sent back by the bandit to the accomplice, and a proportion retained.
  • Consequently the accomplice has now got their purchase at a cut price, the bandit has got free loot, and the victim has nothing.
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