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    Posted: 07 Mar 2010 at 17:45

Two armies fight each other on the field of battle. One emerges victorious, and the other suffers the shame of ignominious defeat.  The victorious army had chosen their terrain, troops and Commanders wisely, whereas the defeated army had thrown together a hodge-podge of mismatched units at the last minute and was ill-prepared for combat.

So, what factors make the difference in Illyriad?


There are 4 Major unit types in Illyriad, and each race has 2 racial units of each type - a basic unit and an advanced unit.

Spear units
Spearmen are the fundamental building block of an army, and the first unit to become available ingame.  These units are lightly armed and lightly armoured, and do not make strong attackers.  They excel, however, in defense - especially against Cavalry.

Ranged units
Ranged Units are usually lightly armoured archers, although the basic Orc ranged unit uses Javelins instead of bows.  Ranged units are very handy offensively, but excel when in defence - especially from a position of height.

Sword units
The backbone of your infantry, sword units are well armoured and well armed.  These troops get up close and personal against anything they can reach, and are the most versatile troop type when it comes to dealing with the challenges of unfriendly terrain.

Mounted units
Cavalry use their speed to outflank opponents, and their might to crush their foes.  Mounted units excel in open spaces such as plains - and especially in full charging attack - and are easily the fastest military units when it comes to crossing the map.

The choice of unit type to build is obviously dependent on the technologies you have researched and the resources you have available to you.

Broadly speaking, Spearmen and Archers make the strongest defenders, and Swordsmen and Cavalry make the strongest attackers.

Each troop type has 5 distinct combat values associated with it:
  • Attack Strength
  • Defence versus Cavalry
  • Defence versus Ranged
  • Defence versus Swords
  • Defence versus Spears
Generally speaking, the more advanced a unit is, the higher its attack strength will be.

Each race tends to be stronger than another in certain troop type areas.

Humans tend to make the best Mounted units
Elves tend to make the best Ranged units
Dwarves tend to make the best Swordsmen
Orcs tend to make the best Spearmen

Each troop type has bonuses and penalties according to the underlying terrain that it is on during combat.

Mountains favour ranged units and nimble spearmen, and penalise cavalry heavily. Attacking swordsmen are also hampered by the passes, gulleys and canyons that make frontal assaults more difficult.

Hills also benefit ranged units and spearmen to a lesser extent, and still penalise cavalry, but also to a lesser extent.  Swordsmen are largely unaffected by hilly terrain.

Forests penalise ranged units and cavalry due to the foliage, but swordsmen and spearmen love all the opportunities for cover and ambush.

Plains provide the opportunity for cavalry to shine - their ability to maneuver makes them the masters of open flat space.  Lightly armoured spearmen dislike the open terrain of plains, where they are easier targets for cavalry and archers.

Tip: The Battle Plan is the first casualty of war.
Learn how, when and where to stand and fight
 - and when flight is the better course of action.

Choosing the terrain on which to engage is critical to survival in Illyriad.  As a defender at home in a city, you do not (of course) have the luxury of this choice, but you do get the benefits of the terrain in which your city was built and, of course the City Wall.

The City Wall provides defenders with bonuses to their defensive abilities, ranging from a couple of percent at Level 1 to more than 100% at level 20. 

A well defended city wall will cause major problems for any attacker, and players who wish to stand and fight are well advised to prioritise their city wall construction as early as possible, and make sure it is manned by sufficient troops and skilled Commanders.

A City Wall around a City that is undefended does not provide any defense.

Commanders provide substantial bonuses to troops in their Divisions.  There are 20 Command skills in total, many of which are bonuses applied to all the troops in the Division that your Commander leads, and you must research each skill before you can level it up for a particular commander.

You should choose the order in which to level up your command skills wisely.  Your exact priorities will depend on what kind of troops you have, what threats are around you, and what actions you intend the commander to mainly perform (defensive or offensive, speed, raiding etc).

Commanders only provide bonuses to troops in their Division. Troops in the Unit Pool (for a defender) will participate in combat, but will not receive any Command bonuses.

We can't stress this point enough. 

If you don't use scouts (or other methods) to ascertain the composition of your enemy's forces, what reinforcement he or she has etc then you deserve every woe that will doubtless befall you.

You can dramatically alter the outcome of a battle by the judicious application of scouts, assassins and spells.

The combat algorithm takes all these factors into account and applies all bonuses and penalties to each side before resolving the outcome and assigning casualties based on the force differentials between each attack type and each defence type.

You need to plan what you're doing as far in advance as possible.

Ultimately, a cavalry-heavy army attacking a Dwarven city defended by spearmen with defense-bonused Commanders and a City Wall, located at the top of a mountain, will have a *much* tougher time of it than a carefully prepared army doing the right thing, at the right location, at the right time.

On the flip side, a cavalry-heavy army attacking another army consisting mostly of archers on an open plain will find it like lambs to the slaughter.

Edited by GM Stormcrow - 07 Mar 2010 at 18:05
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