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 Post Posted: Wed Apr 16, 2014 10:28 pm 
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I had a little thought.

See, when Parson suggested creating a stealth golem, the obvious implication was that he'd use it to enter enemy territory. And that's not a half-bad use.

But I think there is another use.

In DigDoug Episode 5 we find that a single golem is enough to hold a city. Apparently, just one unit in the garrison is sufficient. And, as we saw with Cubbins in LIAB, that unit can be hidden, and even incapacitated. Just so long as it's there, it prevents the invaders from capturing the city. So, if you want a way to keep your enemy from taking your cities, create a cheap, stealthy unit that does nothing but hide in the garrison - cal it a spoiler. The enemy has to fight to the very last, set off every trap, and maybe end up wasting so much time looking for the spoiler that you can get reinforcements in, or flee without taking the city.

I can see two problems with this idea, though:
First, unled units automatically attack any non-allied units in the hex. It's kind of hard to be stealthy while you're attacking*. So, this hypothetical unit will need the leadership special. But, that's true for whatever application - you need judgment and control to be stealthy.

Second, what's to keep the enemy from just torching the city? It doesn't matter how hidden the spoiler is, if the city is an inferno. However there might be very good reasons to not do that - Numloch thought so, because they didn't torch Weatherbug. Maybe there could be some kind of dirtamancy trap. And, regardless, the invader doesn't get anything but an empty city site that way. Alternately, the spoiler could also be given fire resistance. But at that point, is there any chance of it being a reasonable cost? (Well, maybe if it were some kind of courtier-like unit?)


What I'm after here is a way to keep lightly-defended cities. There's a law of diminishing returns on getting more cities - I think that was introduced in the Lord Crush arc, and also covered a bit in IP(TSFP). Most cities simply can't handle a major assault like the battles we've been seeing; it's the basic limitation of the defender - the attacker gets to choose where the attack happens, the defender has to spread out their forces. Unless you've got a game-breaker like the Arkenpliers, you'd better be clever with your defense.


* Though... that has some nasty options, too. If your unit is stealthy and gets major bonuses to sneak attacks, it could turn every assault into a bloody dungeon crawl. You can't keep cities that way, but oh, you can make them expensive to take.

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     Post Posted: Wed Apr 16, 2014 10:38 pm 
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    Scouts doen't autoattack, even unlead. So give it the scout special, it it can hide forever.

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     Post Posted: Thu Apr 17, 2014 1:30 am 
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    Oh, good point. We haven't seen much on how the scout mechanic works, but that does seem like it would be a pretty good fit. Based on the wiki entry on scouts, I'm guessing this has been discussed before?

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     Post Posted: Thu Apr 17, 2014 11:57 am 
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    Hasufin wrote:
    Second, what's to keep the enemy from just torching the city? It doesn't matter how hidden the spoiler is, if the city is an inferno. However there might be very good reasons to not do that - Numloch thought so, because they didn't torch Weatherbug.

    that could also have been because it's hard to torch something in a rain hex.

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     Post Posted: Thu Apr 17, 2014 12:58 pm 
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    Good point.

    Also, it's worth asking HOW one starts an inferno. Gobwin Knob is obviously pretty well-set for that: their primary heavies are Dwagons, and any old red can get things going. It may be that other sides would need special items - e.g., accelerants - to reliably get an inferno going. If only a dirtamancer can put out an inferno, it might stand to reason that you can't start one with any old unit. So unless a force was planning to set a city on fire, they may not have the ability. Wouldn't bank on that, though.

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     Post Posted: Thu Apr 17, 2014 1:23 pm 
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    Wasn't there a Parson Notes-oriented strip about fires and how they build themselves up in a city? Something about Controlled fires having a small chance of being uncontrolled, and uncontrolled fires growing unless fought until they become inferno? And, controlled fires are easy to light with spells or effects?

    http://www.erfworld.com/book-2-archive/?px=%2F2013-01-11.jpg

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     Post Posted: Thu Apr 17, 2014 4:43 pm 
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    Virtually everything on the wiki about scouts is pure speculation. At this point we don't even know for sure if scouts are a class of unit of their own, a special that any unit (or warlord in particular?) can have, if everyone has access to some kind, or even if scout is just a label applied to any unit that is sent out to 'scout' the area. Jetstone for example doesn't seem to have a dedicated scout unit since it relies exclusively on warlord led stacks and Vinny's bats for scouting as far as we can see (and passed notes for intel). And Vinny's bat's scouting ability may well be tied to his side's Thinkamancer.

    That aside, there isn't much reason that a dirtamancer couldn't put a golem in a sealed room hidden in the garrison (possibly under it) and have it hold the city more or less indefinitely without the attackers having to rip apart the entire city with siege. Wanda said in one of the IPTSFP pages that doing enough damage to the garrison actually decreased the city's level (or something similar) so even if they do capture it at that point, it might be less of a prize than they had hoped. And if you have a recurring trap like the lightning bolts going the hole time, you're looking at absurd losses for the enemies even if the city is only held by, say, a single upkeep free golem.

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     Post Posted: Thu Apr 17, 2014 5:33 pm 
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    Are golems upkeep free? I always assumed they had a cost. Of course, it doesn't have to be a golem. You could use a single bat or some other living creature.

    I think the reason this strategy isn't used all the time is that there must be countermeasures. For example, siege units with the digging special might be able to make knowledge architecture checks, to make informed decisions about which walls to dig up fir hidden units. There may be hunting units with natural thinkamancy or lookamancy or findamancy.

    Also...do you have to keep the garrison intact to capture a city?

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     Post Posted: Thu Apr 17, 2014 11:38 pm 
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    Eh, it really hasn't been stated one way or the other. It'd make alot of sense for them to be upkeep free, but Erfworld might have them cost anyway. Reason I said a golem was that the golem wouldn't have to worry about air.

    And yes, I'm sure there are counters for this. Diggers would eventually get to the golem/hidden unit. And siege could likely target down an undefended lightning (or similar) trap without just too much difficulty. You could still lay a bunch of other traps to cause damage, but no method is going to be foolproof. The thing is though that it would be a fairly strong defense for relatively little cost, and would force enemies to try and compensate for it, and once they start to, you can change things up to keep them off guard.

    No idea about the garrison thing though. I'm not even sure if you can destroy a garrison independently of the city itself.

    I'm sure there have been quite a few clever strategies attempted for dealing with defending cities once a side gets large, but they all have their limits, as evidenced by no one ever having 'won' Erfworld. I mean really, what we're talking about here more or less is Posbreak's strategy. Use dirtamancy to get a massive defense bonus in cities to make units more effective than they otherwise would be, which theoretically allows for fewer units per city for the same defense.

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     Post Posted: Fri Apr 18, 2014 7:24 am 
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    The bat in Jetstone was unlead and it didn't auto attack.

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     Post Posted: Fri Apr 18, 2014 8:09 am 
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    Lipkin wrote:
    The bat in Jetstone was unlead and it didn't auto attack.

    Could easily have been due to Bunny and the rest of the side using it to watch the fight. Having a Thinkamancer could easily allow you to remotely command units.

    In fact, when Jillian is captured here, none of the dwagons have riders, which would mean they're unled, but they managed to capture instead of croak an enemy. Most likely because Stanley was using Maggie to command the dwagons remotely. And for further evidence they had no Warlord with them: none of them could pick up the magic items she dropped.

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     Post Posted: Fri Apr 18, 2014 10:37 am 
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    The rules say that unled troops have to engage, but as far as I know, there's nothing that says they can't be told to capture during the engagement. Once captured there's no longer a unit from a different side, so there's no problem ordering the dwagons to leave the hex.

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     Post Posted: Fri Apr 18, 2014 12:27 pm 
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    Well, Wanda's spy camera worked pretty well. Haffaton was using a similar strategy for a long time, and really only ended up falling because of Olive's ego, not a strategy failure.

    That said, a lookamancer or findamancy could indeed likely make short work of this strategy. So it's not without limits. Ideally I think I'd pair it with some kind of quick response force, likely a decent-sized contingent of mounted units. My idea here really isn't to make it impossible to take a city, but rather to make it stupidly expensive to take a city - war through attrition.

    Hm... seems to me that my own strategies tend to be economic rather than military. I'm no Parson Gotti.


    As for leadership... we don't really have a clear definition of what "led" and "unled" means. It could mean "There is an allied unit with the leadership special in the same hex" or "Has been given clear orders by such a unit."
    I can see arguments either way - I think, but don't feel like going through the archives to confirm, that we've seen cases where units were in the same hex as a warlord, but since that warlord was dealing with other matters, the units just kept on their existing orders, and also cases in which units without apparent leadership didn't auto-attack non-allied units in their hex. So maybe "led" simply means "Given clear orders." If so, an order like "Go six hexes that way, then turn around and come back. Do not engage enemy units." could be sufficient to prevent even the dumbest unit from attacking.

    Honestly, kind of reminds me of Warcraft II. Many times I had a unit ignore attacks on it while going to the very specific place I told it to go, or similar AI failures. Kind of frustrating, but the computer's not a mind-reader, right?

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     Post Posted: Fri Apr 18, 2014 11:00 pm 
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    The real counter to a hidden unit is turns. If you conquer a city on your turn, you have hours and hours to search for any hidden units. No enemy units can come to the rescue, because they can't cross the hex boundary. So you have plenty of time to search for hidden units, using whatever methods your side has adopted to deal with that. The only reason it worked in Weathbug was because there was an automatic firing trap, and Numloch had taken heavy casualties and didn't know there was only 1 unit left. Had they known they probably would have destroyed the trap and picked apart the city at their leisure.

    As for led vs unled units, I always assumed it just meant having a warlord with you. The leadership bonus is pretty significant, making every unit in a stack more powerful. Plus, most warlords have a good grasp of tactics and direct units to fight more intelligently rather than just charging in. They can pick targets, order retreats, etc.

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     Post Posted: Sun Apr 20, 2014 2:34 pm 
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    An unled Archon in one of the text updates was able to hide rather than attack. The Leadership archon in her trio was dusted so she fled and hid as a chimney instead. So it almost seems like "scout" might be a designation rather than a specific unit type perhaps? I'll have to go back and read the specific wording, because I recall the Archon did explain how she was able to hide rather than engage.

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     Post Posted: Sun Apr 20, 2014 3:49 pm 
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    All of the Archons seem like they might qualify as commanders or something similar, and might not be subject to that rule, even without the leadership special in particular. Still, I do agree, she mentioned something about being a scout, not a fighter, so it is possible, though exceedingly vague at best still.

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     Post Posted: Sun Apr 20, 2014 4:39 pm 
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    0beron wrote:
    An unled Archon in one of the text updates was able to hide rather than attack. The Leadership archon in her trio was dusted so she fled and hid as a chimney instead.
    You're talking about B2T56. In there it is made pretty clear that Phoebe was not a commander and was actually an unled scout. She's feeling strangely bad about hiding, since hiding is exactly what unled scouts are supposed to do. It seems that noncommander units always do what they are supposed to do. They don't even have Duty, since they apparently don't have the capacity to act without orders. Phoebe clearly wanted to join the fight, but couldn't bring herself to do it.

    0beron wrote:
    So it almost seems like "scout" might be a designation rather than a specific unit type perhaps?
    It's not made clear why Phoebe was a scout, but since the most important feature of being a scout seems to be what she chooses to do when encountering the enemy, I suspect that it's quite easy to switch units between scout mode and attack mode.

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     Post Posted: Mon Apr 21, 2014 10:27 am 
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    Taikei no Yuurei wrote:
    All of the Archons seem like they might qualify as commanders or something similar, and might not be subject to that rule, even without the leadership special in particular. Still, I do agree, she mentioned something about being a scout, not a fighter, so it is possible, though exceedingly vague at best still.
    I would definitely say it's clear they are not commanders, unless they're the Leadership ones. She explicitly says the reason she's hiding is because she's a scout. So the only ambiguous topic is how/why she counts as a "scout".

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     Post Posted: Tue Apr 22, 2014 1:40 am 
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    0beron wrote:
    Taikei no Yuurei wrote:
    All of the Archons seem like they might qualify as commanders or something similar, and might not be subject to that rule, even without the leadership special in particular. Still, I do agree, she mentioned something about being a scout, not a fighter, so it is possible, though exceedingly vague at best still.
    I would definitely say it's clear they are not commanders, unless they're the Leadership ones. She explicitly says the reason she's hiding is because she's a scout. So the only ambiguous topic is how/why she counts as a "scout".


    I assumed there's a scouting special, that provides both the ability and requirement to not auto-engage. The scouting special might also include remote vision like bats have, or maybe that's a separate special.

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     Post Posted: Tue Apr 22, 2014 7:21 pm 
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    Certainly one of the possible explanations.

    As for remote vision, I think that actually has nothing to do with the scout itself, but rather is a Thinkamancy ability. It fits within their purview, and makes sense in context when we consider the sides/casters we have seen:
    • Transylvito has both Scouts and a Thinkamancer, so they do it
    • GK has a Thinkamancer but no Scouts, so nobody to look through.

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