In their recent war against LWO, Black Skull Horde found themselves facing an enemy several days distant. They needed to confuse their enemy, launching fake attacks, but the usual way to do this – to order armies to Feint – seemed wasteful.
The Feint order, researched as a military technology on the Illyriad research tree, is pretty simple. When you order your troops to Attack an enemy city, you check a box marked Feint before you click to Send the Attack. The enemy gets a report in his city that there is an army of unknown size approaching, and a count-down to its arrival. What the enemy doesn’t know is that the army probably only has one Commander and one soldier, and that, because Feint was selected, when it arrives at its target city it will not actually fight, it will just turn around and go home. A Feint attack is a fake. It worries your enemy, but neither endangers your own troops nor actually bloodies his. Sending a couple of real Attacks and a bunch of Feints is a simple, effective tactic to disguise the true target(s) of your assaults.
But, BSH found, it has downsides. It ties up valuable military Commanders for some time – if the target city is a week’s march away, then it will take two weeks for the Feint to march there and come back. It also, actually, gains nothing beyond causing some confusion.
So, what some of them started to do was to send small forces to Blockade, instead of Feint. The Blockades may only have had one Commander and one soldier, or maybe a couple of dozen troops at most, so they would seem fairly petty, but they actually had several advantages.
- When the Blockade has set up, it can be expected that the enemy will immediately crush it. They won’t want that city to be unable to trade reliably. As soon as they do so, the Blockading Commander is killed and can be Resurrected back at his home city. Instead of a week long walk home, the Commander will be available again almost immediately. At its simplest, a Blockade used in this way, is a feint that gets your commanders back sooner.
- It also creates more confusion for the enemy than a simple Feint. As well as being alarmed by an incoming attack, they then have to worry that their trade might be imperilled.
- The Blockade used in this way also has the potential to gather useful intelligence. If the Blockade isn’t attacked, maybe that means the target city’s player isn’t actively playing? If the Blockaded city keeps trading – if the Blockader gets notifications that caravans have attempted to get out – but doesn’t attack, then maybe the player is actively playing, but has no troops? Etc.
- And lastly, the Blockades just might capture something before they are destroyed. A Feint will never get you anything. Using a Blockade instead is a gamble, but it might have a payout.
So, there you have it. The Black Skull Feint: a Blockade used as a superior form of feint.