City siege/city militia discussion

By on October 16, 2013 6:31:17 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Apheirox

Join Date 04/2006
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I'd like to see some changes to how sieging cities work, and how the city militia/garrison is manned. I may also have some questions about it because there are things the AI up till now frankly hasn't let me test (this appears to be changing, the 1.4 AI does indeed seem to be far better at defending its cities with the beta patch... well done, StarDock/Derek!) so it's an issue that's about to become a lot more relevant.

 

I have two main concerns with it as it stands:

 

1) No way to retreat from battles: I find it odd that I'm expected to assault cities that could potentially be fielding an army much larger than my own if it's still in the early game due to having access to all 9 army slots immediately and is supported by the additional city militia on top of that - and I have no way to retreat from this battle, so the first attack is almost guaranteed to be a suicide operation where my whole army will be lost and heroes wounded! There can be certain cases where I have an escape scroll available or I might have General Carrodus 'Cautious' ability that lets me escape, but other than that I am committed to a fight that is hopeless. I understand that there are supposed to be heavy losses associated with taking an enemy castle, but the current system seems to favor the defender unreasonably much. There should be the unique option to withdraw from battle if it's a siege - or some other mechanic that makes it less 'do or die' for the attacker.

 

2) Militia tech level: I believe the equipment of the city militia should automatically increase as the empire tech level does and depending on the city's size. Militia are currently given the best blunt weapon/bow available but still get no additional gear - not even a set of leather armor. While I understand it is a world of scarcity being depicted here, it doesn't make sense that while the city's defenders are given advanced weapons they're still wearing coats stitched together by their mothers while the actual mobile armies are wearing heavy armor using magical weapons! Let the militia armor scale with tech level same as their weapons do, possibly with some restrictions such as:

 

- When the best player armor available is leather, militia still get no armor.

- When the best player armor available is chainmail, militia get free full leather armor.

- At some very late point in the game, even the militia get free full chainmail, possibly excepting archers.

 

I also think it would be cool to see the militia spawned be better diversified to allow for more interesting tactics - once again, depending on tech level and size of city garrison, perhaps let them have access to even weapon types that require metal instead of always using the club weapon series. Two first melee militia = clubs. Third & fourth = spears. Fifth = axe. Archers could get a crossbow at some point, and level five cities (perhaps Conclaves only?) could even get a militia mage squad.

 

Another thing I think should be considered is to have some rudimentary siege mechanics in the game. If cities are to remain extremely costly to attack then it also makes sense that it would be possible to besiege them. Perhaps stationing units immediately outside the city could lower productivity in the city. The defenders in the city could also start to take damage over time once the siege has lasted long enough.

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October 16, 2013 7:47:35 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

2) Militia tech level: I believe the equipment of the city militia should automatically increase as the empire tech level does and depending on the city's size. Militia are currently given the best blunt weapon/bow available but still get no additional gear - not even a set of leather armor. While I understand it is a world of scarcity being depicted here, it doesn't make sense that while the city's defenders are given advanced weapons they're still wearing coats stitched together by their mothers while the actual mobile armies are wearing heavy armor using magical weapons! Let the militia armor scale with tech level same as their weapons do, possibly with some restrictions such as:

 

- When the best player armor available is leather, militia still get no armor.

- When the best player armor available is chainmail, militia get free full leather armor.

- At some very late point in the game, even the militia get free full chainmail, possibly excepting archers.

 

I also think it would be cool to see the militia spawned be better diversified to allow for more interesting tactics - once again, depending on tech level and size of city garrison, perhaps let them have access to even weapon types that require metal instead of always using the club weapon series. Two first melee militia = clubs. Third & fourth = spears. Fifth = axe. Archers could get a crossbow at some point, and level five cities (perhaps Conclaves only?) could even get a militia mage squad. 

Take a look at the militia armor mod. I already do some of what you suggest. At leather, the militia get padded armor , at chain the militia get leather armor, and plate they still stick with leather, due to the lack of the proficiency of wearing heavier armor. I can tweak it slightly but it does exactly what you suggest.

http://forums.elementalgame.com/444851/

The second part is easy enough to mod into the game.

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October 16, 2013 8:26:47 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Wont' that mean the gilden milita get Light Plate armor instead of chainmail?

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October 19, 2013 8:02:18 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Parrottmath: Thanks for that link. I really think this should be a feature of the main game.

 

Would it be possible to mod the militia to have chainmail proficiency eventually?

 

Ericridge: The militia would use the respective armors their faction crafts.

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October 19, 2013 9:10:58 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Apheirox,

Parrottmath: Thanks for that link. I really think this should be a feature of the main game.

 

Would it be possible to mod the militia to have chainmail proficiency eventually?

 

Ericridge: The militia would use the respective armors their faction crafts.

There is a way to do that, but part of the reason I stopped doing that is that my militias were able to defend towns against river slags and dragons. Seemed a bit OP for me. At the moment I toned it down so that doesn't happen.

I could set it up that after a certain level of city or fortress that one can get a Militia captian, where these people are wear the medium armor version of their craft. But I would have to consider the implications of this armored man. Recall it is rather difficult to take a fully garrisoned city as it is, adding the armor would make it that much more difficult.

Also, yes I do give the armor for their respective faction crafts, i.e. Altar Leather armor is given to the Altar faction. So these militia have fire resistance.

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October 19, 2013 1:36:56 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Hmm... I think it's reasonable that the militia would eventually get powerful enough to defeat a Slag at the very end of the game. Certainly at level 4-5 and with most of the tech tree completed, we're talking about a settlement that has long outgrown a village and become a full city. Surely they wouldn't just roll over and die. I think the problem is rather that this Slag/Dragon didn't destroy the city long ago if it was close by.

 

As for militia becoming too powerful against other players I point to my suggestion of the option for the attacker of withdrawing from the siege. That should balance it out. In case you'd like to try your hand at modding that as well, perhaps it could simply be a spell available only during siege with a casting time of around three turns? There's an idea, anyway.

 

I will certainly be using your mod, at any rate. Thanks again.

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October 19, 2013 5:53:04 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

What about custom making the militia? It would be a trait you could add to a troop and that troop would get a rather nice price cut and maintenance reduction in exchange for never being able to leave the city.

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December 18, 2013 11:27:30 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

As predicted, siege combat has become more of an issue with the patch as the AI is now better at garrisoning cities. While it's good cities are no longer being left wide open [as often], the problem becomes the opposite: That cities are nigh unconquerable. If we're in the early stages of a game my armies will consist of a hero and up to five units. A city can garrison nine defending units plus the autonomous city garrison itself. The odds are thus heavily stacked against the attacker who will be fighting an army potentially twice as large as his own force, losing every single unit and all their XP, getting wounded and stunned and and and... if he doesn't win the fight outright. Worse, the city militia will instantly fully regenerate each turn meaning the attacker has to take the city all at once - there is no such thing as wearing the defenders out, sieging them out in Fallen Enchantress. This do-or-die system is truly abysmal.

 

I really hope the developers will consider revisiting the topic of siege combat for FE. Currently, the only thing that slightly justifies having the odds so massively stacked in the defender's favor is the fact that the attacker can move around the city and perhaps capture an outpost or two. Yet, if there's a city that must be taken it absolutely cannot be done if the defender is determined to hold it unless the attacker is so far ahead on the tech tree there is no competition anyway. Cities that cannot be conquered is a clearly broken aspect of the game and I hope it receives some attention in the near future. Hopefully some of my suggestions could help shape a better siege combat system.

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December 19, 2013 6:46:14 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Apheirox,

As predicted, siege combat has become more of an issue with the patch as the AI is now better at garrisoning cities. While it's good cities are no longer being left wide open [as often], the problem becomes the opposite: That cities are nigh unconquerable. If we're in the early stages of a game my armies will consist of a hero and up to five units. A city can garrison nine defending units plus the autonomous city garrison itself. The odds are thus heavily stacked against the attacker who will be fighting an army potentially twice as large as his own force, losing every single unit and all their XP, getting wounded and stunned and and and... if he doesn't win the fight outright. Worse, the city militia will instantly fully regenerate each turn meaning the attacker has to take the city all at once - there is no such thing as wearing the defenders out, sieging them out in Fallen Enchantress. This do-or-die system is truly abysmal.

 

I really hope the developers will consider revisiting the topic of siege combat for FE. Currently, the only thing that slightly justifies having the odds so massively stacked in the defender's favor is the fact that the attacker can move around the city and perhaps capture an outpost or two. Yet, if there's a city that must be taken it absolutely cannot be done if the defender is determined to hold it unless the attacker is so far ahead on the tech tree there is no competition anyway. Cities that cannot be conquered is a clearly broken aspect of the game and I hope it receives some attention in the near future. Hopefully some of my suggestions could help shape a better siege combat system.

Why do you think that cities are unconquerable? Shouldn't it be a hard task to conquer a city? You can send into battle one army after another and eventually win the battle? Or you can retreat from battle if you want to keep your heroes without injuries. In Patchwork mod http://forums.elementalgame.com/450250/page/2/#3427839 trait Cautious is available for every hero.

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December 19, 2013 11:49:07 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Apheirox,
Parrottmath: Thanks for that link. I really think this should be a feature of the main game.


Would it be possible to mod the militia to have chainmail proficiency eventually?

 

I hope that you enjoy the Parrottmath's mod; that's what mods are for. However, the only change I want to see with army garrisons is for them to stick around for more than one battle (unless they are killed in a previous battle).

The purpose of militia is not to be able to defend a city against serious attacks but rather supplement regular troops. Also, I'm a bit confused. You say it's too hard to take a city (at least early in the game) but you want to make defending troops even tougher than they are now?

 

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December 20, 2013 5:12:14 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

CIties isn't unassailable.

Mass heal spam or Mass Cursing tend to do the trick.

 

Failing that, Dump falling stars and march in unresisted.

 

Or even poop a curgen's volcano on a city.

 

And if even that volcano move fail, bombard the city with storm dragons the most I ever had in one army was five.

No enemy is going to dodge five fear in a row unless they're immune to it.

And five storm dragons accompanied by your sovereign who tends to be insanely geared compared to regular heroes along with three other units if crazy stuff like those uh umber wardog thingies umberdroths! I feel pity for the city plus if you're kraxis and you get lucky and recruit one of those mysterious titans wandering the world..

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December 20, 2013 6:54:58 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

- @ Webusver: Cities aren't impossible to conquer, that's not what I said. I said they are unreasonably hard to conquer. I also said it is fine they are hard, but they are unreasonably hard and the price for failing is losing your entire army with all its XP. If I station my army + a few extra defenders in a city there's no way you can beat me when I'm also joined by the city militia with your ~6 units - I'll have double or more than your army. The only way to beat such a superior force is mass damage spells which may not always be an option. You'll need to beat my twice as large army in one go or the city militia respawns next round and my army gets city's healing. There's hard, and then there's unreasonably hard approaching the impossible.

 

... and yes, Cautious/the ability to retreat from battle should be available during any siege to all heroes - and it shouldn't require a mod, but be featured in the main game!

 

- Coyote: I want armor for militia but - as I pointed out - it won't be too powerful because I also want the ability for attacking armies to retreat. I'm sure you'll agree it makes no sense militia can have the best weapons researched available but never any armor (not even leather!). We need better militia balanced by more sensible rules that allow the attacker to retreat/withdraw.

 

- Ericridge: Once you have some better plan than using late-game spells costing a bazillion mana or mass spells be sure to let me know. Like I pointed out, however, it's mostly earlier in the game that sieges are a problem.

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December 20, 2013 8:38:56 PM from Galactic Civilizations III Forums Galactic Civilizations III Forums

I think the game is designed so as to not let you take cities until late game. Early game city gathering is should be only viable for border cities with minimal security. If they made it easy or viable for early game city taking the game would become extremely easy. I do not doubt there probably needs to be a siege mechanism in place, but I don't necessarily agree with storming and taking cities early / mid game, taking major cities should be a mid / late game proposal.

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December 20, 2013 9:45:13 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I agree with that, Parottmath - main cities & capitals being almost impenetrable is a feature of many games and a good one. However, in FE it is too extreme and it also isn't about capitals - you can just as easily station nine defending units in a tiny hovel. The siege mechanics of FE are broken, period. I really hope this gets some attention in the future.

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December 20, 2013 11:13:39 PM from Galactic Civilizations III Forums Galactic Civilizations III Forums

A simple mod for this would be to remove the standard city militia to begin with... or reduce the number for a city of level 1 / level 2, they can station up to 9 units in the city, but then they would only get 1 militia defending the city, thus a total of 10 units possible. Hence, hovels are a little more unsafe... 

There is however no mechanic in place to stop one from stationing 9 units in a city

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December 20, 2013 11:32:17 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Sorry, but I still really don't get it. I've never had trouble taking a city when it was time. Also, I've never been in a situation where I wish I could retreat from a city battle that I initiated. And I still don't see why you ask for city defenders to be improved and at the same time complain it's too hard to take a city.

Some things that help with taking cities:

1. You can see what regular troops are in a city before you attack. You can also get an estimate of defenders' strength (strong, deadly, etc.) by mousing over the swords and shield icon after you click on the city.

2. High quality troops are key. Attacking with overwhelming force as a result of having high quality troops is key.

3. Weapons special abilities can really shine, such as impale and cleave. Crushing blow and counterattack are useful too.

4. A well placed fireball can be oh-so-satisfying! (Anoint a hero with the ability if needed.)

5. Have a few ranged troops to attack their ranged units and to finish off weakened melee and heroes.

I hear you feel that city combat is broken. However, I simply don't see it. The tools to take cities are already there.

 

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December 21, 2013 11:47:17 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting coyote303,

Sorry, but I still really don't get it.

 

The following will be the last attempt:

 

Player A is attacking player B's city. Player A has a maxed out army of six units, filling up all his available unit slots. Player B has an identical army of six units, but he also has two seperate units stationed in the city since it can hold up to nine units. The city is size 3 and has four defending militia squads. The sum totals are six units vs 12 units.

 

If player A loses the battle he loses every single unit with all their XP because he has no option of retreating if the battle starts going poorly. Any heroes will get wounded and immobilized.

 

Who do you think will win?

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December 22, 2013 3:49:25 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Apheirox,
Who do you think will win?

If my troops aren't superior and my sovereign isn't overpowering, then the answer is nobody because I don't attack.

Now if my troops are superior and/or my fire mage can cast fireball without a delay, then the answer is I will win. (I don't always play a mage, but it does make it easier to take cities when I do.)

If you attack a city, it should never be a question whether you will win. It should only be a question of whether it will cost you a unit or two. Attacking an enemy city and fighting a really close battle that could go either way might be fun, but it's no way to win a war.

If you really want to be able to retreat, then take the cautious trait. That's what it's there for.

 

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December 22, 2013 5:04:57 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums


I think it woud be cool if you got 1 or 2 of the best available troops when a fortress or conclave was attacked. Surely there would be some real troops or capable mages there!

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December 22, 2013 5:33:31 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting coyote303,

 *snip
If you attack a city, it should never be a question whether you will win. It should only be a question of whether it will cost you a unit or two. Attacking an enemy city and fighting a really close battle that could go either way might be fun, but it's no way to win a war.
*snip

 

and this is the crux of the matter.

There is no way currently to reward players for taking risk towards the conquering of a city. As is, you wait till you have the guaranteed victory, or at least a determined attrition.

If odds were against you, but the rewards were higher, it may encourage players to take larger risks...

 

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December 22, 2013 10:31:21 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

It's all fine and dandy saying "Don't attack where you can't win." Yes, that's the facepalming obvious conclusion to the current, broken system and the very thing I'm criticizing! My point is only-attacking-when-guaranteed is a luxury you only have because the AI doesn't mobilize its armies properly and station them where needed in due time - if it did, your genius strategy would drop to the floor and could no longer mask how unbalancing the overpowering advantage of the defender is. There is no way you're going to win with six units against 12 unless you are wildly superior technologically or otherwise, and it is unfair to hinge this unbalance on the AI's inability to play the game properly. Thus, we conclude that the game is unbalanced and that there is indeed a real issue for StarDock to resolve here.

 

Quoting GFireflyE,


Quoting coyote303, reply 17
 *snip
If you attack a city, it should never be a question whether you will win. It should only be a question of whether it will cost you a unit or two. Attacking an enemy city and fighting a really close battle that could go either way might be fun, but it's no way to win a war.
*snip

 

and this is the crux of the matter.

There is no way currently to reward players for taking risk towards the conquering of a city. As is, you wait till you have the guaranteed victory, or at least a determined attrition.

If odds were against you, but the rewards were higher, it may encourage players to take larger risks...

 

 

Yes - the game is much too black & white in siege combat as is where you have to be able to guarantee a victory before you attack. The system I'm outlining where it isn't so all-or-nothing would make the game much more interesting in this regard. It should indeed precisely be possible to take "risks" or, if you will, make partial attacks on cities. The very fact that the city militia instantly respawn at full strength on the very next turn after an unsuccessful siege no matter how many of them were killed should be enough to make anyone see that something is awry with the current system, but I digress.

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December 23, 2013 11:11:46 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Apheirox,

  

Yes - the game is much too black & white in siege combat as is where you have to be able to guarantee a victory before you attack. The system I'm outlining where it isn't so all-or-nothing would make the game much more interesting in this regard. It should indeed precisely be possible to take "risks" or, if you will, make partial attacks on cities. The very fact that the city militia instantly respawn at full strength on the very next turn after an unsuccessful siege no matter how many of them were killed should be enough to make anyone see that something is awry with the current system, but I digress.

 

It would be nice if there was a way to lay seige and make the effects of the siege strong enough to force a defending army sortie out occasionally but not so strong that a city fell in a season.

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December 23, 2013 12:42:24 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Apheirox,
It's all fine and dandy saying "Don't attack where you can't win." Yes, that's the facepalming obvious conclusion to the current, broken system and the very thing I'm criticizing! My point is only-attacking-when-guaranteed is a luxury you only have because the AI doesn't mobilize its armies properly and station them where needed in due time - if it did, your genius strategy would drop to the floor and could no longer mask how unbalancing the overpowering advantage of the defender is. There is no way you're going to win with six units against 12 unless you are wildly superior technologically or otherwise, and it is unfair to hinge this unbalance on the AI's inability to play the game properly. Thus, we conclude that the game is unbalanced and that there is indeed a real issue for StarDock to resolve here.

Now you're saying I can only take a city if it's not well defended? Wrong. All I need is better troops or a kick-a** mage. However, I really would like to hear your "solution." All I've heard so far is make the militia stronger (hello? are you listening to yourself?) and let me retreat (which you can already do if you choose that option).

If you don't have either superior numbers or superior tech or overwhelming magic, you shouldn't be able to capture a heavily fortified enemy city. There are many times when I delay my offensive until I get that key tech advance that will give me the edge I need.

One thing we can probably agree on is how militia are handled. For example, for the player, they only get their militia in the first battle even if they are unharmed. Are you saying the computer gets their militia back even if they are killed that turn? (I wouldn't know; I've never attacked a city more than once in a turn.) If so, that's wrong. Militia shouldn't disappear unless killed, and they should come back at some point but certainly not the turn they are killed.

However, I maintain cities aren't too tough to capture. Also, they should be hard to take in any game. In fact, I will suggest not only is the system not "broken," it's actually brilliant. It is harder to capture cities early in the game compared to later; this is a good thing! It makes difficult the early rush strategy that has plagued many 4X games since they were invented. Remember having defensible cities works to your advantage, too. It gives you a chance to eXpand and not be eXterminated before the game really gets started.

Yes - the game is much too black & white in siege combat as is where you have to be able to guarantee a victory before you attack. The system I'm outlining where it isn't so all-or-nothing would make the game much more interesting in this regard. It should indeed precisely be possible to take "risks" or, if you will, make partial attacks on cities. The very fact that the city militia instantly respawn at full strength on the very next turn after an unsuccessful siege no matter how many of them were killed should be enough to make anyone see that something is awry with the current system, but I digress.

The game is NOT black and white. You are welcome to take risks and fight close battles. The game let's you do this. I am merely suggesting it isn't sound military tactics to do so. In fact, the game actually does let you take risks much better than many other games. If I attack and lose, I don't lose any heroes or sovereign permanently. And while it hurts to lose experienced troops, you can certainly recover. In contrast, I remember an otherwise fun old game called Panzer General where if you lost a couple of your 5-star troops, the game was essentially over.

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December 29, 2013 7:26:49 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

@ Marty: Take a look at the very last paragraph of my original post. It wouldn't be difficult to implement some rudimentary siege features.

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January 14, 2014 2:15:14 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I think cities are too easy to take, that's why I use the armor mod, I mean, it does make my cities harder to take but you are already way better at defense than the AI and giving armor to all the AIs makes it a little better. Leather armor makes more sense otherwise you would burn through your metal too quickly making chain/plate for all your troops. There are already ways to make your cities have a good troop, can't you build like a golem or something or is that only in Forts?

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January 14, 2014 6:02:19 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Personally I think you should not be able to use the escape ability when you attack a city. These are structures with walls and defenses. Once you are in, you need to fight your way out. If it is too hard or your need some intel, just do a simple probing attack. Scouts are cheap, so just send one in to see if the locals love you.

My main gripe is that whenever I attack a city, their militia and defenders respawn at full health, but mine disappear after the first battle a turn.

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