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Questions, Conduct, & Feedback => Conduct & Design Discussion => Topic started by: Demivar on April 18, 2017, 07:01:28 PM

Title: Exploit: Thralls During a Siege
Post by: Demivar on April 18, 2017, 07:01:28 PM
Standard stuff, we've managed to cut off a lot of the food being supplied to Valeria (http://mightandfealty.com/en/settlement/2288) and have been besieging it for some time now with a lot of our troops. It's suffering from severe starvation, and the food being supplied there is nowhere near enough to feed both the besiegers and the besieged, the food stocks have run out and the city is close to breaking.


There's a catch, however. Someone, who is obviously really clever had the amazing idea to start shipping thralls into the settlement, rather than food. Instead of the settlement breaking down and collapsing under the enormous supply weight, the walls remain fully intact thanks to a constant stream of thralls that we can't touch.


Not sure how this can be fixed without other updates, but it's exceptionally annoying. Supplying a besieged fortress to prolong a siege is one thing, but through M&F population mechanics it's at a minute cost to the ones sending thralls, and can presumably be used to prolong a siege indefinately.
Title: Re: Exploit: Thralls During a Siege
Post by: Cipheron on April 18, 2017, 08:36:36 PM
Yeah, that would seem to stack things too far to the defender side, since the attacker can't do much more than pile more troops in. It would change how you'd plan to fight if that becomes a common tactic, you'd want to repeatedly assault the town with waves of squads to wear the defenders down with sheer numbers. Much more costly.  It's too pro-defense, but it's a level playing field if everyone knows about it, so it's for the best for this to be discussed OOC. I'm kind of amazed that there are any tricks of that level of simplicity being discovered at this stage of the game, however. It just seems too basic to not have ever been stumbled on before.

One problem with a patch on this is that there's really no status of a town as "under siege" as far as I am aware. A siege is implemented as an outcome of the existing game mechanics, so the sending thralls thing is just bypassing that, because the game doesn't actually know you shouldn't be able to. We'd need a simple fix that could reasonably be applied to this situation and make sense.

Here's one suggestion:

Make the "Block Area" action include supply interdiction, if the receiving town's realm or leader is on the block list.

Some thoughts on a formula that would have some realistic parameters

- count each unit doing Block Area against the town

- effectiveness decreases linearly with distance from the town (since they can go around) and the angle you cover is half when distance doubles.

- effectiveness increases as square root of number of troops (because radius of your troop's area of full coverage increases as sqrt(troops))

- add up the "interdiction score" for each troop, then apply a log function, because a few always slip through.

What this formula would mean is that one huge army trying to do interdiction far from the town would be a lot less effective than many smaller forces camped right outside the town. Which is a realistic outcome, since 4 forces of 125 would be more mobile, thus better at interdiction than a single army of 500.
Title: Re: Exploit: Thralls During a Siege
Post by: Andre on April 18, 2017, 08:53:38 PM
What about something basic like every troop can block 1 unit of anything coming trough (whether its from trade or looting, thralls count as 1 unit), and mounted troops can maybe block 2 units? Doesn't have to be those numbers but I think something simple like that for block area would be good. Though I think an added button would be good, either an extra button like "Siege", or a checkmark for Block Area for whether you want to only block troops or also loot and trade.
Title: Re: Exploit: Thralls During a Siege
Post by: Cipheron on April 18, 2017, 08:56:54 PM
I think I like my formula better, which is has it that smaller more mobile forces close to the town block more than distance forces which are centralized into large armies. Humungous 500-man armies should basically be worse at intercepting supply than the same force split between multiple commanders.

And if you just creep over the border and block area there, it's not realistic for that to be just as effective a siege tactic, as a proper close-in siege.

As for cavalry being much more useful in a siege, than infantry, basically I think that's historically questionable.
Title: Re: Exploit: Thralls During a Siege
Post by: Demivar on April 18, 2017, 08:59:30 PM
Of course, if and when a siege system is implemented the system would change. Rather than the settlement being able to receive food, and both the besiegers and besieged being able to eat that food, it'd change to the defenders having their own food reserves and needing to be starved/assaulted out conventionally, with the attackers needing to find their own food. That'd change the dynamics of warfare slightly, but the system as is (without exploits) is good enough for both attackers and defenders to accept that they can delay the ending of a siege by pouring in food, but it'd take an astronomical effort to fully sustain a large settlement against a siege.


Now, however we're faced with an issue. I haven't seen this done before, but there's no way to influence the siege. We've had a large proportion of our army outside the walls for quite a while now, and given how thralls work we can't increase the supply pressure to break the settlement as intended. I don't know where it's coming from, and even then there's nothing I can do about it.


As with a lot of things, it'd be nice if they just fucked off and let the siege end naturally, or if they really want to they can provide more food, which would at least cost them something. Right now, they've got a free, more or less indefinite siege at the opportunity cost of a couple of FOs walking around with some militia and looting.


Hopefully they'll stop doing it, but I think if I asked them they'd probably start doing it even more.

Edit: In regards to what you said, I'm pretty sure a siege warfare overhaul is one of the more prominent updates that are hoped to be made in the future, but it's the kind of thing where a temporary fix like you suggested wouldn't help very much, as it'd be a mediocre solution where a full, new mechanic could do a really good job. The exploit/loophole is being used right now, and it is seriously impactful.
Title: Re: Exploit: Thralls During a Siege
Post by: Cipheron on April 18, 2017, 09:10:02 PM
Block Area for a siege would effectively end the tactic straight away, I think. After all it would up to the devs how effective they want to make it. it could be 100% effective to stop thralls if they wanted. Which would end the loophole at basically no cost to an attacker, and without need to clutter the design with an entirely new subsystem just for that.

The only "cost" to the attacker would be the need to formally specify that they are doing the Block Area action, and to specify the target of the action in a list, which would then double as siege warfare. If there's a formal siege system in the future, at the very least there will be some type of "lay siege" action, and it might as well be Block Area.

I mean, what do you suggest for the mechanic of a siege in terms of player actions needed to indicate that there is a siege, and how that effects the game mechanics?
Title: Re: Exploit: Thralls During a Siege
Post by: Andre on April 18, 2017, 09:14:21 PM
I think I like my formula better, which is has it that smaller more mobile forces close to the town block more than distance forces which are centralized into large armies. Humungous 500-man armies should basically be worse at intercepting supply than the same force split between multiple commanders.

And if you just creep over the border and block area there, it's not realistic for that to be just as effective a siege tactic, as a proper close-in siege.

As for cavalry being much more useful in a siege, than infantry, basically I think that's historically questionable.
Its not historically questionable that cavalry would be better for making sure supply can't reach a fort. They wouldn't be as useful attacking the fort, but a few cavalry harassing supply caravans is definetly far more effective than infantry doing it.
Title: Re: Exploit: Thralls During a Siege
Post by: Demivar on April 18, 2017, 09:20:32 PM
I believe that there's been a lot of discussion on the matter in the past, and a full Siege/Assault warfare system would probably work really well in M&F. An interim system shouldn't be needed if this exploit wasn't there/wasn't used on this scale. This is a large realm fighting another large realm, and at the main focal point of the campaign the entire system has ground to a halt via this abuse.


What I said earlier is that siege warfare currently in M&F is quite functional, and I don't mind it. It serves its purpose and can continue doing so until a new system is in place. Even with people working their arses off to finally get the server move potentially sorted, the possibility for a fix to this is distant. Without this exploit, things are atleast fair. With this single exploit, the entire system grinds to a halt, and I've no idea how it can stop beyond asking nicely and hoping that people will want to play the game in good spirit.
Title: Re: Exploit: Thralls During a Siege
Post by: De-Legro on April 19, 2017, 12:21:30 AM
Its not a new tactic, simply one that is rarely used. It requires reasonable co-ordination and good sources to steal the thralls from. The block area suggestion is good, but would need a far bit of reworking so that the system tracks that action against settlements. How about if Thralls were not instantly transported to their target settlement, but took time to arrive based on the distance between the two settlements? Would that make it more difficult to abuse thralls or just delay the effect?
Title: Re: Exploit: Thralls During a Siege
Post by: Demivar on April 19, 2017, 12:22:28 AM
Its not a new tactic, simply one that is rarely used. It requires reasonable co-ordination and good sources to steal the thralls from. The block area suggestion is good, but would need a far bit of reworking so that the system tracks that action against settlements. How about if Thralls were not instantly transported to their target settlement, but took time to arrive based on the distance between the two settlements? Would that make it more difficult to abuse thralls or just delay the effect?
Given the timescale, I'm fairly sure that it would simply delay the effect.
Title: Re: Exploit: Thralls During a Siege
Post by: Constantine on April 20, 2017, 07:04:22 AM
What if you actually had to escort thralls from their original village to your settlement? You loot for thralls and they appear as your entourage. Then you have to march back home and dismiss them in your town.
Title: Re: Exploit: Thralls During a Siege
Post by: De-Legro on April 20, 2017, 07:24:13 AM
What if you actually had to escort thralls from their original village to your settlement? You loot for thralls and they appear as your entourage. Then you have to march back home and dismiss them in your town.

An interesting idea, or they could be a new class of "prisoner". If we are moving that way though resource looting should probably follow suit and require some sort of transport
Title: Re: Exploit: Thralls During a Siege
Post by: Andre on April 20, 2017, 09:21:25 AM
Would be intresting. I imagine this would also set limits to how much you can carry. Like you can't bring along a hundred thralls with one untrained light infantry and yourself for example. And camp followers could probably be the ones carrying resources and supply loot, seeing as they already do that for supply and food anyways. Though might be intresting to allow soldiers to carry some amount aswell, or if the carpenter could maybe construct carts that could be pulled by horses or maybe people even, which could probably carry a good amount of loot.
Title: Re: Exploit: Thralls During a Siege
Post by: Cipheron on April 20, 2017, 10:01:33 AM
idk if implementing a check for guards is needed. When you loot thralls, it's dependent on number of troops you have, and moving the thralls would require you to sort out logistics for that, e.g. food supply, plus you're slower since you have more total men. So there would already be ample constraints in taking thralls as prisoners.

A few troops can in fact control many slaves or prisoners in real life. Typical civilians aren't very brave, and these were civilians who already let themselves be captured, so you can assume the guards targeted the weak to start with when rounding them up.
Title: Re: Exploit: Thralls During a Siege
Post by: Andrew on April 20, 2017, 10:17:16 AM
We could add new buildable item for entourage to carry called shackles, and then make it so when you actually took thralls you had to carry them around a bit.

It'd make the travel speed calculations more fun to do though. Hm.
Title: Re: Exploit: Thralls During a Siege
Post by: Cipheron on April 20, 2017, 10:38:10 AM
We could add new buildable item for entourage to carry called shackles, and then make it so when you actually took thralls you had to carry them around a bit.

It'd make the travel speed calculations more fun to do though. Hm.

That would still leave the issue of where carried thralls are tracked in the database. A better solution would be an entourage member type which has an inventory which can hold the thralls. That could just be camp followers by adding a "thralls" option to the drop-down choices. Personally, I'd suggest this as the best all round solution. The system will be complex enough with this change, it probably doesn't need to be over-thought.

Then you'd just need to modify the thralls-looting code so it works more like the food-looting code, i.e. minimal changes and you have working code to base it off. You'd even get the "prisoner transfer" functionality, for free! The only thing you'd really need to code afresh is updating the calculations for food consumption, assume that the thralls get given food last, and how to deposit thralls into a settlement.
Title: Re: Exploit: Thralls During a Siege
Post by: Demivar on April 20, 2017, 12:57:19 PM
I quite like the idea of thralls joining the baggage train, I can think of a lot of scenarios where that'd make things interesting.
Title: Re: Exploit: Thralls During a Siege
Post by: Andrew on April 20, 2017, 01:11:57 PM
De-Legro posited on Discord that they'd be best as part of the prisoner system, because it's the logical placement for them.

The feeding system in general would need overhauled though, regardless of where we add them, if they become part of character unit groups.
Title: Re: Exploit: Thralls During a Siege
Post by: De-Legro on April 20, 2017, 01:58:51 PM
De-Legro posited on Discord that they'd be best as part of the prisoner system, because it's the logical placement for them.

The feeding system in general would need overhauled though, regardless of where we add them, if they become part of character unit groups.


And we would want to be careful that people don't find it a viable tactic to do things like load several characters with a few hundred thralls each and then camp them in a enemy settlement to starve them out.
Title: Re: Exploit: Thralls During a Siege
Post by: Weaver on April 21, 2017, 02:43:49 PM
Just loot all the settlement's pop, and problem solved. Who waits for starving anyway.
Title: Re: Exploit: Thralls During a Siege
Post by: De-Legro on April 22, 2017, 04:36:24 AM
Just loot all the settlement's pop, and problem solved. Who waits for starving anyway.


People outside of walls of large towns.
Title: Re: Exploit: Thralls During a Siege
Post by: willy on April 22, 2017, 07:37:51 AM
People outside of walls of large towns.
kek.


I'm sure mechanics to disrupt/block trade and thralls will happen eventually. Wouldn't mind seeing it possible with spys, to be honest.
Title: Re: Exploit: Thralls During a Siege
Post by: Cipheron on April 22, 2017, 09:15:19 AM
Does pop looting during a siege work near the town? Well then it seems the exploit isn't as one-sided as claimed.
Title: Re: Exploit: Thralls During a Siege
Post by: The Vintroth on April 22, 2017, 09:53:53 AM
Does pop looting during a siege work near the town? Well then it seems the exploit isn't as one-sided as claimed.

You can loot for thralls (which is what I assume you are talking about) outside the walls yes. However, you will understand that it does not help if I loot perhaps (I don't remember the exact number from when I tried) 6 thralls when they just sent in 50-100 thralls. It is not really viable. Even more so considering that the cooldown to loot is the same.
Title: Re: Exploit: Thralls During a Siege
Post by: Demivar on April 22, 2017, 10:12:09 AM
Does pop looting during a siege work near the town? Well then it seems the exploit isn't as one-sided as claimed.
Yes, but the effects are negligible. The effects of several parties consisting of over a thousand men looting purely for thralls from outside the walls, against a decent sized garrison with defences takes almost nothing away from the population. When the defences broke down to only wooden walls, and the ratio of thralls to civilians was 6:1, economic security remained "adequate". Do also note that thralls taken does depend on settlement size; the population was down to the wire for some more defences breaking, and as such this number was very small. If you consider that the besieging forces would need to loot for thralls rather than for food (which has been exceptionally scarce), this becomes even less viable. If I had coordinated perfectly with all of the people there, and had them loot every 4 hours, we could have provided a bit more pressure on the walls.


The number of thralls that can be sent without issue from miles away is vastly higher than what can be looted from the settlement. The population drops in the settlement per recalculation have been very large, but even then, these thralls if dispatched in a semi-well organised way can at-least delay a siege by a significant amount of time.


We were almost completely sure that the walls would drop within a day, and hence we allowed our hungry/near starving mercenaries and cannon fodder troops to stay outside the walls so that they could partake in the assault and go home. We lost 80% of our mercenaries and all of their camp followers, as well as burning through vast amounts of food beyond what we're comfortable with (or had supplied our parties to sustain) due to the age old issue where you assume a delay is temporary, and more and more delays pile on. If we'd known, we would have rotated our besieging forces more, however other than a sudden influx of thousands of food we saw no viable way that the siege was not going to end.
Title: Re: Exploit: Thralls During a Siege
Post by: willy on April 22, 2017, 10:35:24 AM
I guess a sieging army can't always control all in-out peasants. A underground slavery railroad might exist, that the folks looking at the gates miss. I'd rather see looting your own settlement for thralls to be the viable tactic to trying to survive a siege. Press-ganging all your people until the siege breaks/town rebels, rather than min/max trade.
Title: Re: Exploit: Thralls During a Siege
Post by: Demivar on April 22, 2017, 10:40:41 AM
I guess a sieging army can't always control all in-out peasants. A underground slavery railroad might exist, that the folks looking at the gates miss. I'd rather see looting your own settlement for thralls to be the viable tactic to trying to survive a siege. Press-ganging all your people until the siege breaks/town rebels, rather than min/max trade.
Particularly in this case, this is a large scale siege on what was at the time a substantial settlement. Also, if you were to look at the map, please do tell me how in this instance it would be viable to get the thralls even to the border of the province?

Actually, 2 more things. The thralls are coming from absolutely miles away, yet even if they came from nearby(ish), M&F population works on equilibria. The population that they take from their homes to the besieged settlement will be naturally replaced in a fairly timely manner, at a negligible temporary cost to the sending settlement's owner.

The next is that I wouldn't refer to trading in this situation as min/maxing. The settlement could have withstood a siege if other people were willing to send thousands of food from their own territory for an unknown amount of time at great personal cost. The game currently doesn't work off food inside/outside the walls, so as I've said before I don't mind how the system works (if it does so as intended) in absence of a full siege/assault warfare system.
Title: Re: Exploit: Thralls During a Siege
Post by: willy on April 22, 2017, 11:14:40 AM
It is what is what it is for now. I think they'll tweak it, though.


As for trading, I don't see the smuggling of food any different than thralls. Controlling flow in/flow out is what a siege is supposed to be about. Cut 'em off, taunt them, hope no one backdoors you. Pop min/maxing when people are born with a hammer in their hand (by the buttloads from food) it's the same as the slave workforce. Either way there's no "Ha, you are cut off from everything and can't do anything about it." "But, ahah sir, my friends promised to help me! It's only a week march...and they need time to gather...and they haven't been that reliable before..."
Title: Re: Exploit: Thralls During a Siege
Post by: Demivar on April 22, 2017, 11:23:13 AM
It is what is what it is for now. I think they'll tweak it, though.


As for trading, I don't see the smuggling of food any different than thralls. Controlling flow in/flow out is what a siege is supposed to be about. Cut 'em off, taunt them, hope no one backdoors you. Pop min/maxing when people are born with a hammer in their hand (by the buttloads from food) it's the same as the slave workforce. Either way there's no "Ha, you are cut off from everything and can't do anything about it." "But, ahah sir, my friends promised to help me! It's only a week march...and they need time to gather...and they haven't been that reliable before..."
Of course they'll tweak it. It's taken loads of work to get M&F in a position where the server can move and development can continue for the first time in... years. The point still stands that M&F would do very well with a new system, however the current one is mostly fit for purpose in current circumstances.


Whether you see food smuggling & thrall smuggling as the same it doesn't matter: You're wrong. Atleast with food, it actually costs something to the person sending it, and by sending thousands of food, the siege will last longer, but there's the drawback of the besiegers actually eating the food that you sent there. It's one of the reasons that I don't mind the current system, some of its inaccuracies actually work out in the end in a relatively consistent manner.


You're forgetting that to besiege somewhere is a massive commitment of resources, you're talking about putting a large contingent of your army in a settlement where there's nearly nothing to eat, purely with the intention of breaking down the defenders, causing mass flight & starvation and (in M&F terms, see some of their defences crumble for a less horrendously expensive assault



Title: Re: Exploit: Thralls During a Siege
Post by: willy on April 22, 2017, 11:44:32 AM
Of course they'll tweak it. It's taken loads of work to get M&F in a position where the server can move and development can continue for the first time in... years. The point still stands that M&F would do very well with a new system, however the current one is mostly fit for purpose in current circumstances.
Agreed


Whether you see food smuggling & thrall smuggling as the same it doesn't matter: You're wrong. Atleast with food, it actually costs something to the person sending it, and by sending thousands of food, the siege will last longer, but there's the drawback of the besiegers actually eating the food that you sent there. It's one of the reasons that I don't mind the current system, some of its inaccuracies actually work out in the end in a relatively consistent manner.
Ah, you're talking mechanically. I was thinking literally. Yeah, there should be ways of helping hold a siege town for gameplay reasons...I just don't think anything through the gates makes sense. Maybe better peasant/thrall efficiency during siege. Maybe players strategy becomes about stockpiling food with a quick way to do that. A 'work day' action for the peasants to stockpile food and no other labor, keeping a emergency reserve stockpile. Something you'd have to build up with some time.


You're forgetting that to besiege somewhere is a massive commitment of resources, you're talking about putting a large contingent of your army in a settlement where there's nearly nothing to eat, purely with the intention of breaking down the defenders, causing mass flight & starvation and (in M&F terms, see some of their defences crumble for a less horrendously expensive assault
Way things are now, a town with a good food reserve in storage would outlast an army looting, right? I'm not 100% on who eats when. An assaulting force could rotate troops and resupply? 2 companies hold the town, 1 heads back for fresh troops/trainees. Rinse repeat depending on who's starving. I think that is essentially how it should, and kinda does, play out. I'm all for anything else that would make the sieger/besieged get to know each other really well. How long is 10 years IG? Probably long enough for someone to say "f this...my character built a big horse now let me in and lets just end this".
Title: Re: Exploit: Thralls During a Siege
Post by: Cipheron on April 22, 2017, 12:07:40 PM
Well here are some ideas:

- the ability to loot food and send it to a character. Then, siegers could be sent supplies by their countryfolk.

- a granary building. It would add some food production bonus (better storage keeps food fresh) and it reduces looting of food, if you're outside the settlement.

Title: Re: Exploit: Thralls During a Siege
Post by: De-Legro on April 22, 2017, 12:21:28 PM
Well here are some ideas:

- the ability to loot food and send it to a character. Then, siegers could be sent supplies by their countryfolk.

- a granary building. It would add some food production bonus (better storage keeps food fresh) and it reduces looting of food, if you're outside the settlement.


The plan always was to set it up so that food stored is not available to sieging forces. We can already loot food into camp followers, so if you then had a way to transfer that food into storage you would be set I guess. Extra bonus that if you have to move things via characters we already have a mostly working block area action.
Title: Re: Exploit: Thralls During a Siege
Post by: Weaver on April 22, 2017, 01:11:21 PM
I am pretty sure Thralls don't count towards building maintenance. And you always steal away civillians when you loot.