Defending, Strategy:SWOE

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Incoming!? It's a war game folks, let's not whine to the other player(s) *crying* "why'd you hit me?, I didn't do anything to you...". That is just going to make good screenshot candy for them to post on their Coalition boards. So what do you do? Well, you actually have quite a few options, depending on how extensive your support network is.

Basic Defense

In the short term, there are really only two viable strategies for defense. The first is to defend with enough troops that you massively overpower the attacker's Offense and the second is that you simply do not defend at all. Let us compare those two options as well as a third option, which we will call the "newbie" option where you attempt to defend with a few meager troops that you've scrounged up.

Option 1: Overwhelming Defense

Assuming you have the troops for it (See Advanced Defense), the most satisfying defense is one that crushes the enemy troops being sent at you. This is a good choice because, well, the enemy’s army is crushed and they are not likely to come back anytime soon since they will have to rebuild their forces to do so. Of course, this assumes you have the troops to mount a substantial Defense. Take a 100 Agema offense as an example. This is not an all too unreasonable number for a blind raid by a high-level player (not necessarily a coiner). 100 Agema = 168,000 Offensive points. To counteract that you would need 232 Mounted Peltast (725 * 232 = 168,200) just to win with a 50/50 split. This is assuming no upgrades or other modifiers are applied to the troops.

However, let's take a look at what it would cost you if you didn't defend at all and left all your resources out, thus losing a possible maximum of 100k resources in the hit (Don't ask, we can't tell you how...but you can piece it together from the Wiki if you work at it). A Mounted Peltast costs 7.5k resources to make. You would thus lose a maximum of 13.3 Mounted Peltast worth of resources if you do not defend at all. In the above scenario, though you would have won but lost 116 Mounted Peltast. Thus, it would have cost you almost 10x the resources to "win" the battle. Now let us see how things fare if you had ten times the Mounted Peltasts out. Your total goes up to 1,682,000 and the split becomes 9%/91% split in your favor. However, 9% of 2,320 = 202 Mounted Peltast lost. You solidly won the battle, but you lost even more resource worth of troops.

Does that mean you should never employ Option 1? No, the use of walls and fully upgraded defensive units can make a vast difference in the outcome of battle. Likewise, you can push for even greater troop strength so that your defense is greater than 100 times the enemy strength, resulting in minimal losses while at the same time annihilating the enemy. Also, understand that Experience Points (Exp) are awarded in proportion to how evenly matched the two opposing forces are. In other words, to gain Exp in battle you must lose troops...preferably almost as much as the enemy loses.

Option 2: Don't Defend

So, we've already explored what actively defending (alone) does for us. Let's explore what using the Acropolis does for us. First, upgrading your Acropolis should be one of your top priorities. You can upgrade it so that it protects up to 18k of each resource. Most of the Acropolis upgrades require less resources than the Acropolis protects for that level. The higher ones do take a small amount more but nothing that cannot be gathered overnight and from a few close raids on low-level targets. It's permanent protection and assuming you spent down before you went offline, should be enough to prevent any resource losses for almost a full day. That means if you spend down and hide your troops before you go offline or if you see an incoming raid, then you will lose 0 resources to the enemy and the enemy will get 0 experience for the attack as well. In effect, you are starving the enemy. Players do not generally raid other players for no reason at all. It is usually either because you have many resources for the taking or you left out a bunch of Offense and/or Defense (read Exp) for them to kill. The simple fact is that nobody can take anything from you, in this game, if you do not let them. Therefore, unless you are reasonably certain you will do massive damage to the attacking forces, you are much better off just tucking and ducking.

Option 3: The Newbie Approach

Unfortunately, most players do not take either Option 1 or Option 2. They become victims of their futile effort to not be a "victim". Thus, it is common to see someone spend all their resources building tons of Javelineers and expecting that say 500 Javelineers will keep raiders at bay. Unfortunately, for them that is just not the case. All a real player sees is an weakly defended target with extra resources just for the taking. Take the above example of 100 Agema vs. 500 Javelineer (We will even assume the Javelineers are fully upgraded). That is 26.6 Defense per Javelineer or 13,300 Total Defense vs. 168,000 Offense for a 93/7 split. Meaning you manage to kill 7 Agema and they will wipe out all but 35 of your painstakingly built up Javelineer army. The point is, if you are going to defend, make sure you have the troops to really defend otherwise you might as well just throw the Javelineers against their City walls.

Advanced Defense

Okay, now we've looked at three different, basic approaches to defense. We have seen one method that punishes the enemy but costs you considerably. Another method does not do anything to the enemy but ensures that nothing is done to you as well. Finally, we have seen how you should definitely not defend. Unless you plan to go for Option 1 or a modified approach, as listed in this section, your best bet is always to simply spend down your resources and send your troops to the Acropolis.

Modification One – The Hero

We’ve pointed out that keeping units out when you don’t have enough to really damage the enemy is just a good way to give out free experience and end up on someone’s Coalition board as a screenshot. There is however one caveat: The all-purpose Hero. Heroes cost nothing, are worth zero experience to the enemy and activate your passive base fortifications. Therefore, there is no harm keeping your Heroes out, all the time. They may not do a whole lot of damage, but it’s better than nothing and it costs you just that, nothing.

Modification Two – The Hero Wall

What is better than a small group of Heroes? A huge wall of them! Still, on the defensive end of things, this strategy involves having your friends & Coalition members stack as many of their Heroes as they can, in your city. Each Hero is worth 60 Defense against every troop type. That means several players sending Heroes as a reinforcement to your City would defend equally well against any type of troops attacking your City. The best part is it costs nothing from you or the contributing defenders, except the time it takes to send the Heroes to your City.

Modification Three – The Defensive Stack

There are two reasons, this should be your go-to defense, if you have the time to set it up: First, you can easily (assuming you have a decent social network/Coalition membership) amass enough defense to punish the enemy, as in Option 1. This will maximize the size of the Defense Wall while minimizing individual losses as they are distributed over the defenders. Let’s revisit the first scenario of 100 Agema vs. 232 Mounted Peltast resulting in a 50/50 split, except this time you have four or five friends defending with you. The total lost is roughly the same, but you each only lose about twenty or so (depending on how much each contributed to the defense) which is much easier for each individual to replace and stack again on another player’s City the next time. In fact, due to rounding, you may actually lose less troops, as a group, than you would standing alone. Much akin to how sending one of every unit type against low-level Persian Positions results in zero loses.

Returning Fire

It is a known fact that many Archons fail to actively manage their returning troops in a timely manner. You can take advantage of this by having your troops follow the enemy home and timing them to hit just after the enemy gets back to their City and hopefully before they put them in the Acropolis. This "follow them home" technique is sometimes tricky to time it perfectly and of course presumes that the attacker has not used a boost to more quickly return their troops back to their City.

Troop Speeds

There are generally four basic speed categories for combat units.

  1. Very Slow - Swordsmen & Psilos
  2. Medium (Fixed) - Heroes (Their speed can't be upgraded)
  3. Medium (Phalanx Speed) - Everything Else
  4. Fast - Javelineer, Peltast, Myrmidon, Agema
  5. Very Fast - The Macedonian

This doesn't include Scouts, which can never be sent on a raid or siege by themselves. All units in a party travel at the speed of the slowest unit. The travel speed of every unit, except Heroes, can be upgraded in the Academy by applying Scrolls to the Speed icon of the appropriate troop type.

Calculating Troop Return Time

The speed at which the party travels cannot change for the duration of the march to target. Thus, if you happen to be online when the raid or siege begins, you can easily calculate the return time as being twice whatever the travel time is to your City. The travel time to your City is shown on the counters displayed in the lower, left corner of the main screen or in the Tracking tab of your War Council.

If however, you are not online when the attack is first sent, you can still estimate the return trip by taking measurements with your own troops. To do this "pretend" you are going to raid the enemy City and take measurements with a unit from each of the speed categories above. Based on the time remaining on the raid and how filled the travel time bar is in the War Council, you want to estimate at which speed the enemy party is traveling. For example if you see 30 minutes remaining and the bar is about halfway gone, then the travel time is close to one hour. You will match that up with the measurements you took to see which is closest to an hour. That is likely close to the travel time of the enemy party.

To get a return time simply add the remaining time on the raid to the likely travel time to get the time remaining until those troops return home. However, you should note that depending on how many points you and the enemy have put into your Academy, upgrades could result in your estimate being off by some. If you notice a discrepancy, simply use the rough estimate you would get just looking at the travel time bar in the War Council. Again if you see 30 minutes remaining on an attack and the bar is half full, then the total travel time is roughly one hour one way. Thus 30 min + 1 hr = 1:30 hrs till they return home.

Timing Your Troop Launch

Now decide what kinds of troops you will send and get an estimate on how long it will take your troops to reach the target. Launch your troops when your travel time is just longer than their estimated return time. Again with the above example, there is 1:30 left on the attack, but if they are attacking with Macedonians, then they will be traveling at a much faster speed than if you were to send Phalanx troops in response. Thus, you might be in a position to send your troops NOW instead of waiting. In other words, the time it takes the Macedonians to hit your city and return to their city might be less than the time it takes for you to hit their City even if you launch BEFORE their attack hits. Conversely, if you are going to respond with Agema and they are traveling at Swordsman speed, you would have to wait until well after they have hit your City before launching your troops. To keep things simple you can always respond with a party that has at least one of the slowest troop type they sent and no troops that are slower. In this manner you can send immediately after their attack hits and have a reasonable assurance that your troops will hit just after they return.

Countering the Retaliation

While we would love to say that this is fool-proof, it's far from that. First, as we have already pointed out, there are various troop upgrades that can create discrepancies between your estimate and the actual time. Your troops might travel slower or faster than their troops, due to those upgrades, even though you sent the exact same troop types. Additionally, all it takes is a few seconds to send your troops to the Acropolis, so if they happen to be online, you have a small chance of succeeding in catching their troops out. That chance dwindles even further if they are willing to spend the few meager drachmas necessary to instantly recall their troops or have available boosts to use. That said, it has been the experience of this Archon and countless others that a considerable amount of Archons do not pay attention to their returning troops and you can catch them off-guard even if you don't quite time your troops to hit right after the enemy returns home.

Countering Sieges

In most cases, Sieges come in two waves, first the enemy sends Offense troops to clear the way and then they send Defense troops to hold the position. You can take advantage of that if you are online when the Siege is going to hit.

Obviously, you can defend against an Siege as per the normal defense strategies listed above, however, there is another option due to the fact that the enemy troops don't instantly return home on an Siege. In this strategy, you let the enemy Archon win the siege on your City. You do so by putting your troops in the Acropolis. Just before the enemy Siege is set to land, you start to recall your troops from the Acropolis. It takes 15 seconds to get the troops out of the Acropolis and you MUST ensure that the Siege hits BEFORE your troops make it all the way out of the Acropolis, so the timing is the KEY here. You will then immediately Liberate your City with all your Offense troops. This happens instantly and since it generally takes several seconds or more for the attacker to recall their troops, if you time things correctly the enemy will have no chance to avoid your liberation. As established in the "Returning Fire" section, Archons tend to be lax when they send attacks, so even if you don't quite time it perfectly, you still have a good chance of catching the enemy before they can get Defense troops sent to hold the siege on your City.

Countering the Counter

The simplest method of countering this strategy is to simply send large amounts of defense units with the sieging force. Contrary to common belief, Defense units do not hurt an Offense action if that Offense action is already set to succeed. Granted, Defense sent alone on an Offense action is generally a bad idea, but sending them with a strong Offense force will not hurt that force and will in fact help (not much but help it will). Additionally, losses sustained for Defense troops are no different than the losses sustained for the Offense troops. i.e. there is only one loss % calculated for the battle and that % is applied uniformly to every troop type.

Option 2

Let them win, and don't clear the Siege. Seriously. Quite simply, an regular Siege does absolutely nothing to hinder a City in any way. You can still raid, collect resources, contribute to Pantheons, etc. There is no functional limitation imposed by a Siege. The only negative thing that the enemy can do to you is make your City a Protectorate. If they chose to do this then you will see is a 25% reduction to your base production of either Timber or Bronze. That's it. As we establish in the Raiding section, your resource generators contribute far less than a healthy raiding system does. Thus, even being made a Protectorate has only a small impact on a City's ability to develop. And in return, you have some small protection from other attacks since other players may not wish to antagonize you or the player sieging you.

Getting Rid of Resources Fast

So you have an incoming raid and you have resources above the Acropolis limit, What do you do?

  • First and likely your best option is to spend your excess resources on Buildings, discovering or upgrading Agreements or training Units. If you have too much Timber, train Defense troops. If you have too much Bronze, train Offense troops. If you have too much grain, Scouts are not a bad option although a better option is to upgrade an Agreement, if you have enough, as those are generally high in grain cost. If you have even amounts of Grain, Timber and Bronze, you can train Scouts, which have the most-balanced resource requirements. Additionally, if your resources are out of balance, make sure you check your resource inventories in the Black Market and apply amounts of the resource that is lacking to arrive at the balance you need to accomplish whatever task on which you have decided.
  • Another option, if you are in a Coalition with a Pantheon, is to make a contribution to the Pantheon if you have enough resources to do so and if the Pantheon is not already fully upgraded.
  • If you cannot spend it, then you can send some free resources to a fellow Coalition member, or maybe trade with them for something you could use to spend down further. Facebook Friends and Allies are all a maximum of 1 hr. trip to send resources. Some of your closer members are likely only a few minutes away.
  • An alternative to sending the resources to Coalition members, if you need to get rid of resources faster is to simply send it to a dead low-level base close by. Sure you lose the resources this way, but the enemy does not get them either.
  • Let's say you are out of free trades for the day (you have a maximum of six), and alternative is to trade with your friends on the Port (See Trading Tips). The same time limits apply, so if you have a close friend, that may be an option to you, and it doesn't use a "free trade".
  • You could obviously just do a regular trade via the Port aiming for the incoming resources to get back after the raid.
  • Finally you can post a resource trade at unreasonable prices (1:2 ratio) until the raid has come and gone. Of course there is no guarantee that someone won't take you up on the offer, and if they are far away they can tie up your valuable galleys for up to 48 hours. Recommend this as a last resort.

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