Darkfall: Alliances and War
Since the writing of my last entry, massive battles have broken out across Agon, and with these battles, the formation of alliances are starting to shape the political landscape. In a previous entry, I mentioned the web of guild relations and the possibility of a political map to help everyone understand it. Apparently the Darkfall community has decided to take matters into their own hands and we are starting to see the community try to understand where the lines are drawn.
When you look at the larger map (Special thanks to Venatar from Societas Daemonica) , you can see the workings of what appears to be geopolitical relationships in some areas of the world. Specifically, the 4 sub-continents seems to have certain guilds who are working together in alliance to either fully control certain land masses, or who are bent on conquering them by driving off other guilds.
This very situation manifested itself over the weekend when one of the guilds on Nilfheim (Ice Island) became the target of a massive assault that brought hundreds of players to their city looking to retaliate against them for previous attacks. While the attackers inflicted massive damage to all of the structures, without a formal challenge, the city's ownership remained intact. The next day a formal challenge was issued, but this time the defenders were able to rally a coalition of their own and managed to hold off onto their city. Needless to say, the server was pushed to the limits and in some cases beyond leading to some people in the 300 man battle to suffer random disconnects.
In order for a city or hamlet to change ownership, and challenge must be issued by one guild to another. When the challenge is issued, it lasts for a period of 6 hours that is divided into 2 stages. During the first stage (4 Hours), the guild that issued the challenge will have its own city or hamlet vulnerable and up for grabs. This adds what can be a substantial risk to picking a fight with another guild as you can rest assured that that they will try to rally their allies to derail the attack at the issuer's city. Once that stage expires, the challengers will then be able to commence their assault on their target (2 Hours). If at any time during this entire challenge the guild leader who issues the challenge is killed or goes offline, it is considered a loss and the challenge ends. There is also a monetary price that I will touch more on later, but guilds issuing challenges who do not own land will need to pony up a large amount of gold to compensate for the risk factor. If they win they keep the gold, if they lose the enemy keeps it.
My Siege Story
I'll try to put some of this into context from my first siege experience which happened over the weekend. One of our allies decided they wanted to target a specific enemy city on a nearby remote island because one of its resources was a harbor, and they belonged to another alliance of guilds that they have an unfavorable view towards. The challenge was issued by our ally, and our first order of business was to assist in the defense of their city and protection of the guild leader until we could progress to the attack stage.
We all decided to saddle up and put on our Sunday's finest gear because after all, this is the type of situation we play for. As a hamlet owner, we found the city to be awe striking in both size and complexity. Upon arrival we saw the walls were lined with people on every side, and this particular city has large cannon towers on each side. I was able to take control of the cannon for a short period of time just to see what it was like, and it reminded me much like sitting in a turret seat in an FPS game. The guild leader who issued the challenge was held up in a very large keep, and the entrance leading into it was blocked by rows of people in the event someone breached the outer wall.
Since we showed up to the city in the tail end of the defense stage, we didn't really see any action as the enemy was making their own preparations for the likely assault we were getting ready to mount. There were probably upwards of around 200 people on our side inside making preparations, and my PC handled it better than I thought, although there were many in my guild who experienced some crashes and had to turn down settings. I found that I only had to turn down the number of sounds in the audio options, and I was surprised how well the client handled this number of people in such a small geographical area.
As the defense stage came to end, the challenge issuing guild began to hand out siege hammers at their bank to all who could take one. This was one aspect of the monetary costs I mentioned earlier, as these are the main tool for destroying structures at this stage in the game's life. Buildings in Darkfall can't be destroyed with normal weapons and magic, only by siege related equipment, so these hammers are the main tool being used since nobody is far enough along to roll out war hulks and large boats.
We soon traveled to the coast nearby and started making our way from island to island. I have to say it was definitely a sight to remember seeing so many people at once moving together as a large mass and some people even brought rafts along to make the trip easier. Unfortunately during this leg of the journey, some of the minor random disconnects that hit us earlier become a bit more frequent. Some of the people who ended up being dropped while in the water logged back in to find themselves back at their bindstone miles away from the battle.
It was at this point that tragedy struck. Among the large group of people who experienced a disconnect, was the challenge issuer. The current rules state that if that person goes offline at any time during the challenge, it counts at a loss. Needless to say there was a lot of anger and frustration on the part of the challenger. The previous 4 hours defending, the organization getting the army together, and the extremely high monetary cost all were wasted. A source from Aventurine tells me they are aware of the issue and looking at ways to make this aspect easier, so we can only hope that some changes to this part of the mechanic are considered to prevent future unintended forfeits.
Despite the upsetting setback, the remainder of us decided to keep going just to see what happens. As I was marveling at the sheer number of people we had, I wondered if it was really going to be necessary. When I finally arrived at the enemy city, I was in amazement at how many people were there waiting for us in a defensive position as the city was located atop a cliff (reports are upwards of 200). We were greeted by the largest volley of magic that I had ever seen, it reminded me of a scene from Star Wars with all the energy flying through the air, no screenshot or words I can say will ever really do it justice.
The enemy alliance had one of its guilds try to attack from behind, but the accidentally tipped their hand too soon and were discovered. With our numbers diminished from the disconnects and all the plasma flying at us from the well defended city, we decided to make the most of the situation and turn our focus to the guild trying to flank us. This led to an initial melee that quickly had them retreating into a chase that went into the ocean and nearby islands. The result was widespread fighting and chaos that left many of them dead, and quickly stripped naked of their belongings.
Apparently hell bent on getting every last one of these guys, someone on my side dropped a raft into the water where literally a dozen guys packed onto it, effectively chasing down and shooting at anyone who was still left alive. After we finished them off, most of the force decided to recall home and reflect on the evenings events. I have to say that despite how much it sucked to lose the challenge, many of us still had an experience that we will remember for a long time to come. Hopefully Aventurine will continue to evaluate and make changes to help streamline the siege process to prevent future incidents from occurring.
Co-Leader of Inquisition