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.