Ah poor planning, how costly it can be.
Our second siege as an alliance took place Sunday, and it did not go well. We had a good turnout of perhaps 50-70 members, the rest of the server seemed to be taking the weekend off from seiging (no server crash), and overall people were excited to give this another shot since the server crashing cut our last attempt short.
The plan however seemed a bit odd, at least from my perspective. We all traveled to the target hamlet, had our shard carrier declare the siege, and he along with 19 other members rode out to the shard defense position while the rest of us waited in the hamlet. The first head-scratcher is why we left 30-50 people in the hamlet when it was invulnerable for four hours. Sure we could keep the enemy from taking up defensive positions, but in that particular hamlet it’s fairly easy to rush inside, so holding the hamlet beforehand has little value. As it turned out, a ‘neutral’ 3rd party arrived at the hamlet with a superior force and drove us out anyway.
Meanwhile, the shard defense party was attacked by the hamlet owner’s alliance and friends. The defense spot that was picked was on a large, very high plateau, accessible by only one slow-moving lift. On the plateau itself are several large multi-floor buildings, each floor accessible by a small rope lift. The plan was to defend the top floor of a building, and rain down magic and arrows on the attackers as they make their way up the lift. Not a terrible plan, but one with a few flaws, the first being the actual position itself.
It’s my opinion that defending the first lift, the long one up to the plateau, would have been the superior choice. That lift has a much higher distance to travel, meaning more time to fire at the attackers and a death drop if they try to jump off and escape. In addition, anyone who reaches the top can easily be knocked back to their death with either a mount or the knockback skill. The lift has only one exit, and while somewhat wide (6-8 side-by-side in length), still easier to hold than the top of the building, which opens up on all sides. Finally, within a minutes run to the lift is a wilderness bank with a friendly tower. A secondary defense group could be placed in this location and instructed to rain arrows from a safe distance on those getting on the lift or dropping down from it, in addition to delivering killing blows to anyone who falls to their death to prevent them from being rezzed back up. Close proximity to the bank would also allow the defenders to quickly restock arrows or other needed gear, and the tower would ensure that only friendly-race players could get close, and no fighting between non-war declared players could occur.
The other tactical mistake defending the building lift over the first is the building itself. The rope lift stops at every floor, which allowed the attackers to ride up one floor, get off and heal, and wait to jump back on for another floor, greatly reducing the overall time the defenders had to spam magic and arrows. And since the lift is located inside the building, there is no place to knock someone back. The one advantage to this lift over the first is that it’s much smaller, so less attackers could make their way to the top each trip. However it’s still big enough for 10 or so attackers, so not a small force by any means.
Finally, the attackers used some unintended game design to grab the advantage. Currently in DarkFall when you first log in, you are given an immunity shield for two minutes, designed to prevent getting killed before your screen loads. The attackers used this in a ‘creative’ way, logging out just before the lift, logging back in, and riding up the lift with their immunity shield still active. Underhanded for sure, but not technically an exploit (although it’s likely a future patch will change this mechanic, as the last one did for shard carriers being able to enter friendly cities). Once the advantage of the lift was lost, the attackers overwhelmed the defenders 50v20 (according to forum posts by the attackers), killed the shard carrier, and ended the siege.
Had the shard defense been all 50-70 strong, we would likely have held off the attackers, even through the use of the invulnerability shield (it drops whenever you do something besides walking). In addition, had the defense been set up at the first lift, they could have held even with 20, since knockbacks work through the invuln shield, and they could have knocked at least some of the attackers off before killing the others (the first lift takes a good minute or two to travel up and down, giving the defenders plenty of time to kill the first wave before a second arrived) Even had the shard carrier survived, it’s unclear whether our force was strong enough to attack the hamlet and destroy the clan stone, but with both the tactical mistakes and the underhanded use of game mechanics, we never got the chance to find out.