FANTASY FRIDAY XI
Stronghold Defense Skirmish
It's only fair to complement our Lay Siege showcase by taking a look at what the defender goes through, which is why we will be looking into the Stronghold Defense skirmish mode this week. This mode allows you to defend any of our twelve major NPC strongholds from opposing armies and offers quick-paced warfare.
The main Castle Defense skirmish menu. From here, you can choose which stronghold you defend, the difficulty, the season, and the race/number/size of the enemy armies. It's kind of hard to gauge difficulty, but I did step it up quite a bit this week to show you some more advanced battles as there was some speculation that last week's battle looked too easy. So I chose the Medium difficulty setting, but the fact that Dagbor (the city I chose to defend) is a naturally hard stronghold (each stronghold has a natural difficulty) and the fact that I was fighting two large armies considerably added to the difficulty level.
While not currently operational, the following two modes will be playable as Castle Defense subsets:
This is for both Castle Defend and Lay Siege mode. 10-15 minutes into the battle defenders of the town can expect a really large cavalry reinforcement - Lord of the Rings style. In Lay Siege mode this puts the pressure on the player to quickly take the city, or if that`s not possible to switch from attacking to defending for a few minutes. And in Castle Defend if fighting against overwhelming odds - you`ll be counting every second till your cavalry reinforcement arrives, while doing all you can to keep your king alive.
Multiple Attack Waves
For now we only planned this for the Castle Defend mode as a nice way to turn a 15-20 minute battle, into a 2-3 hour epic siege defense.
Once you fight off one or two AI armies attacking your town, you`ll be given few minutes in which to loot the thousands of corpses in your town, rebuild your fortifications and to try to train more units. But don`t get too comfortable - AI armies will be back soon.
Players will be able to select how many such AI waves they want to fight against, from 2 to 10. Duration between attacks will be dynamic, depending on the game`s difficulty - but also on how many units player has left. From 2 to 10 minutes.
A quick intro cinematic shows off the stronghold I will be defending - Dagbor, the crown jewel of the men. At startup, infantry battalions are placed throughout the city at strategic points with archers defending the gates from atop the walls.
The cinematic ends on my keep, surrounded by a second layer of walls. My objective: Defeat the incoming attackers without losing the king unit or losing too many troops. My king unit, Warren, will stay in this heavily protected area throughout the game, protected by a handful of my strongest infantry and cavalry.
Wasting no time, the first couple elven units march for my southern gate two minutes into the game. Note my resource count - in every Castle Defend skirmish, you will start with a few resources which you can use to purchase counter-siege mechanisms, units, and upgrades. I quickly got to work building some bastion-mounted trebuchets and hoardings to protect my archers. To keep up with the fast-paced actions, buildings construct, and units train, significantly faster in a skirmish map.
Meanwhile, the enemy human army marches toward my northern gate with huge numbers of infantry. Whereas the elves are attacking from a wide open plain, the men must pass over a narrow bridge to reach my gate, clumping them together for an easy target. For this army, I build a lot of oil pots and trebuchets as they are best at taking out large numbers quickly.
Around five minutes in, the elves are already preparing to scale my walls with several Treants. I manage to kill some, but I do not have enough archers to take them all out before they reach my walls. Also note the different strategy of attack from the human army - the elves have few, but strong, infantry units and rely more on siege towers (Treants) than brute force. To counter this strategy, I relied on my archers, calling for reinforcements from throughout Dagbor.
Four minutes later, and the elves bring in more infantry. The treants connect to my walls, and are used to bypass the gate.
The human enemy has made a considerable dent in my defenses and have brought in their first battering rams - which are quickly shot down.
Taking a quick break from managing my troops, I head to my archery range and barracks buildings to spend the rest of my resources on units and upgrades, and then send them to reinforce my gates.
Having successfully scaled my walls, the elves make easy work out of my few infantry units and wreak havoc in the city.
...and within 14 minutes, Dagbor burns.
Shortly after, the men have managed to break through my first gate with their battering rams. They storm the stronghold in massive numbers. By default, they are much closer to my keep than the elves were, but their gate was harder to breach.
The elves have just about destroyed the entire city, but few remain to put a dent in my keep. A couple treants tried to scale my second wall, but my archers quickly shot them down and after that, the remaining elves came in small, individual battalions, easy to shoot down.
However, the men were not so easy to get kill off and they had already begun their victory chants.
About 24 minutes in, the men had destroyed my town center with their catapults, although the gates still remained intact.
I fought off the last of the elves as Dagbor lay hidden under a thick layer of smoke and ash. I selected my southern troops and tasked them to defend the keep against the men.
The only infantry I had left were the few knights surrounding my king. My archers put up a last stand against the human army.
And finally, not all stories have a happy ending. The men rushed in some more battering rams and broke through my second gate. They charged for my king and his guards. My king fought valiantly but soon, he was facing a whole army and fell to the onslaught. Dagbor had been taken.
Admittedly, I've never been the best strategy player, but I did try to defend royal Dagbor. In the end, I just couldn't win a two-front war. Looking back, I should have trained more archers immediately and sent them all to defend against oncoming treants to hold my gates for as long as possible. I also didn't spend any skill points until later in the game, after I had spent my resources.