Content of the article: "Multi-stage siege could be a key ingredient for making capital siege unique and improve siege gameplay from both the battle and campaign perspective while dealing with a common siege concern"
A Siege should be a major, long, drawn-out event, especially for larger cities such as province and faction capitals.
While I personally hope we get Atilla/3K/Rome2/Bretonnia style maps for towns and smaller cities, a common concern in the seeming opposition between good gameplay design for sieges, and a sense of scale for larger cities. Fitting all of Altdorf on a single map would be make the city feel pretty small. How can we balance the desire for representation of huge, bustling cities with the need for interesting gameplay maps that fit on the scale of play?
My suggestion is that Faction Capitals (or potentially all province capitals) get multi-turn sieges that take place across multiple maps representing an attacker's advance towards the city centre. To prevent bogging the early game, this would start with the addition of a second map when a capital reaches level 3, and a third and final map added either at level 5 or with a landmark. Alternately, we could say all province capitals get 2 maps (One normal + 1 and level 3), with only Faction Capitals getting a 3rd.
Rather than write everything academically, lets imagine you have a Greenskin army besieging max level Altdorf and take a look at what I think that should be like.
on 'Turn 1' of the siege, you besiege Altdorf as you currently do in game. Like normal, you can encircle & wait, attack immediately, ect. Lets say you've got something with siege attacker so you don't bother building siege equipment, and attack.
The first map is the 'Empire Outskirts Approach,' and is closest to what we have now. There could be a few 'Outskirts Approach' maps per faction, but not a unique one/capital. The Outskirts map represents the assaulting army approaching and breaching the walls of the city, and should be modelled after something like Empire Forts. It might still be a single part of a wall, but should have interesting terrain and make use of multiple levels. The idea here is that we still want to preserve Altdorf and other major cities being huge, so we can't reasonably represent them on a single map without losing some of the majesty. In this multi-tiered seige, each stage of the seige will have it's own garrison. For the outskirts Approach stage, that garrison will be made up largely of the faction's low-level infantry and cavalry, with a few better units sprinkled in. For the empire, this will be Swords/spearmen, Crossbowmen for the walls, a little artillery, but lots of Pistoliers and Empire Knights. The goal of this force is to try hold the walls while the cavalry sallies and harasses.
Your Orcs deal with this army easily enough and you win the Outskirts, but this isn't the end of the siege for a city level 3 and above. You can only make one assault/turn, so you must encircle the city and wait for stage two. This gives enemy armies a chance to come up, agents a chance to mess with you, and the opponent a chance to sally. However, taking each section of the city should also grant a buff for the remainder of the siege (Lasts until you break siege, for the besieging army only). Taking the outskirts provides +5% replenishment as you have a lot of space and supplies to help your wounded now, as well as bonus leadership that increases as a function of how few losses you took during the battle, to an absurd maximum of +100 for no losses. More on why this is vital later.
The next map is the 'Heart of the City.' For most factions, the 'Heart of the City' map has no walls at all, but is a dense cluster of buildings with lots of streets and paths between them, maybe even some parks and streams with bridges and what not. There should be liberal use of terrain elevation. Since you've broken through the outer walls, it's Urban fighting now. A Bretonnian city might look quite different, with wider streets built for fancy cavalcades serving as excellent charging grounds. A Dwarven settlement may be nicely geometric with streets interacting at right angles, while a Greenskin settlement might be very haphazard. Again there could be 2-4 of these maps/race, they are not city-unique. This section has it's own garrison, too. Which for most factions will be comprised of med-good tier infantry, as well as monsters, monstrous infantry and so on. It's a garrison built for urban fighting. In addition to the sectional garrison, any units that managed to withdraw from the previous battle on the outskirts show up here, hoping to hold the line.
But, your orcs have smashed through the Empire Halberdiers/Greatswords/handgunners and taken the heart of the city. This must be the end of it? If all you want to do is sack the city, yes! You can sack and leave now, while the remaining defenders cower. However, if you want to raze or occupy the city, you are going to have to deal with one last hold out, their last stand, the Reiksfort. You can only assault once per turn so you must end your turn here and hope no empire armies have moved close enough to relieve Altdorf before you make the decapitating blow. However, you won the heart of the city, and with it all the ammunition stocks and smithy's. For the remainder of the siege your troops gain +20% ammo and +10% weapon strength, in addition to another leadership bonus based on your performance in the battle (Leadership bonus replaces, does not stack with the one from taking the outskirts), and you gain money as if raiding as long as you remain encircling/besieging.
Next turn, and you are lucky; no empire army came up. You are poised to attack Altdorf's "Last Stand." "Last Stand" maps could be just for Faction Capitals, or for all province capitals – my inclination is to the former, but 3 battles/province capital may annoy some people. In any case, These maps should be highly variable, unique to each city, and unlock at level 5. Alternately, some "Last Stand" maps would unlock with a Landmark. For Altdorf, the Last Stand is the Reiksfort, and it unlocks with the landmark. There could also be a smattering of landmark associated "Last Stand" maps for other settlements, which replace the normal seige battle. For example, once building the monastery of the Divine Origo in Fyrus, it should have a unique map with a unique garrison that replaces the normal Fyrus city battle.
Due to the Reduced Scale – we are fighting over some central keep, palace, or landmark now, not a whole city – the Last Stand maps can be fully encircled in one map, although both sides should have a distinctly urban feel. For the Reiksfort, the Last Stand of Altdorf, it ends up being similar to fort battle from Total War: Empire. The centre of the map is the Reiksfort with walls, a large courtyard, and buildings inside. The outside however is a mess of streets and buildings that, if I remember correctly, come right up to the walls of the fort! Both the attackers and the defenders should be able to move troops to the roofs of buildings to fire down into the fort/streets below.
Choose your approach well, because the "Last Stand" also has it's own Garrison, and this one is made out of the factions best units. These Garrisons will be very idiosyncratic and map-defined because the map would vary so much. The 'Nuln' last stand, for example, may actually be the cannon foundry, and have a couple of Steam Tanks and Great Cannon in the garrison. A 'Damaged Steam tank' should be Garrison able by infantry and work like a tower. Immovable, but with it's main cannon functioning just fine. Cities without suitable landmarks for last stand maps would get a faction generic keep map available once they git T5 settlement.
The Reiksfort, however, comes with a healthy contingent of Reiksguard that can thunder through the streets and, hopefully, Dismounted Reiksguard get added either as a separate unit, or a unit ability so they can fight on the walls, in addition to some other high-tier units. Interior lines of the fort are raised to allow artillery to target the enemy in the streets outside. Adirriaonlly, remaining troops from the last battle show up here. Perhaps some units of crossbowmen from the outskirts have survived this long? Sometimes it pays to retreat if you know you can't win.
Your Orcs advance through the streets and scale the walls of the Reiksfort, while some units batter down the gates. You make it inside and slaughter the defenders, and that is the final stand of Altdorf. It's now yours, to do with as you wish.
What happens if I have a Defending Army?
Defending armies would be given the chance to join or decline the defence of any particular segment. So, Lets say you were the Empire in this Scenario. You have an army in Altdorf, and the Green skins come down from the mountains and besiege it. You don't like your chances defending the outskirts, so you decline attack on that one and let the wall garrison deal with it. They do what they can, but ultimately, the outer walls are taken. Next turn, the Greenskins make n assault on the Heart of the City, and you like your chances much better here, and you want to Prevent them from being able to sack the city, so you defend this point. Your army, along with the City Garrison and the leftover wall garrison spawn in on the defence.
An army stationed inside a city under siege can take part in all battles if it wishes, and just like a garrison, when defeated any remaining troops are pushed back to the next defence.
Since troops that withdraw get to show up in the next stage Isn't the best strategy just to withdraw the first two stages and fight the Last Stand with the equivalent of 3 garrisons at once?
I've tried to disincentive this by adding leadership bonuses to the attackers based on how well they are doing. If you retreat/withdraw at the start of the outskirts defence and the enemy takes little-to-no casualties, they are going to get a massive leadership buff for the next battle, which is intended to help balance it. If balanced well, Defending each segment to inflict casualties on the enemy should be worth your time/troop losses. The initial stages of a hard siege should be a delicate balance between attempting to preserve as many of your troops as possible whilst dealing maximum damage. If you withdraw all the way to the Last Stand battle whilst offering no resistance, the enemy will have Increased leadership, Ammunition, Weapon Strength, as well as the opportunity to sack the city and leave without resistance. Therefore, it should always be in the defenders best interest to deal as much damage to attackers at each stage, if possible.
This essentially gives every Capital 3 garrison armies…
If you want an epic siege, you need epic numbers of units… What I have described would be for a fully upgraded city, so late game. By this time most players and the AI will be able to siege with multiple armies anyway. It should lead to large battles, more epic battles and a more drawn out siege processes, so it feels like a much more significant multi-turn event. It's still possible to auto resolve these battles.
This makes Hordes even worse, since at their best they will only ever get ne army
Hordes are a tough one, and fucked just by the fundamentals of being hordes. It could be possible to give some hordes (Faction leader, perhaps?) a kind of 'Last Stand' second stage. In horde battles, you are still attacking their army, not their actual camp. When defeating a horde army on the battlefield, maybe you could have the option to follow the attack up on their camp, which would have a low-tier garrison so fresh troops + whatever dregs are left from the main army battle. Winning this would have a few effects: 1) you can 'sack' the horde auxiliaries as if it was an army, netting more money. 2) you outright kill the army if you win both battles in a row. 3) You add 1D3 turns of recovery time onto their lord, since they were scattered to the wilds rather than returned to camp to recover.
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- Some kind of ‘Last Stand’ mechanics for the AI would really make the game feel more climactic.
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