Military Theory in Arowyth

The Red Kingdom Under Siege

Charge!

By understanding the theory behind war in War of Kings you will be able to use the military forces of your kingdom to their maximum effect to assert your claim to the imperial title of Aroywth.The scale of the game is very important in the combat system. As claimants to the imperial title of Arowyth, players are concerned with the high-level management of their kingdom at a high level. Therefore, the military aspect of the game is focused on high-level strategy rather than operational details. The key to military success in War of Kings is to weigh risk and reward. Manipulating the probability that the campaigns you undertake will be successful is key to victory.

When a player moves an army into a territory occupied by a defending army, the player offers battle to the opposing army. The defender has the option of withdrawing the army to an adjacent territory (and thus surrendering the territory to the attacker) or staying and fighting it out. If they choose to fight, the attacker rolls four 8-sided red combat dice and tries to roll as many warhammers as possible. Each warhammer rolled will potentially inflict a point of damage on the defender. The defender defends against the attack by rolling two 8-sided blue combat dice. For each shield rolled, a warhammer rolled by the attacker is negated. A damage counter is assigned to the defenders for each non-negated hit. The defender then gets to counterattack by rolling four 8-sided blue combat dice, and the attacker gets to defend with two red 8-sided dice. During the counterattack, the defender scores hits by rolling flails, and the attacker can negate hits by rolls shields. Then, any damage is assigned to the attacker. Finally, any army that has received three damage tokens is removed from the board. If both sides still have armies remaining, then the attacker has the option of withdrawing from the territory or offering another round of combat. This again gives the defender the option of accepting or withdrawing, and the combat round repeats. If you are looking for more detail on the mechanics of combat, the entire War of Kings rulebook can be found on the downloads page.

Battle Dice, Resource Dice, and Event Die

The symbols on the faces of the dice were carefully considered and tested through play, computer simulations, and statistical modeling. The following probability tables were generated by using a Python script to simulate the first round of combat between two sides one million times and then noting the probability of different occurrences. Table 1 assumes that there is one defending army in the territory and shows the probabilities of different outcomes based on the number of attacking armies. The first column is the expected result of a 1-on-1 fight.

Table 1 - In this and all tables below a tie is any result in which both the attacker and defender inflicted the same amount of damage upon one another. An "attacker win" is a round in which the attacker inflicts more damage on the defender than he or she received from the defender. A "defender win" is a round in which the defender inflected more damage on the attacker than was received. A "major" win is one in which one side was able inflict at least three more points of damage on the other side than was received. The number three is significant since armies are removed after sustaining three points of damage, so a "major" victory by one side would result in even a full strength army being removed as the result of single round of combat. In each case the "major" wins are a subset of the percentage of wins reported in the win column.

Table 1 – In this and all tables below a tie is any result in which both the attacker and defender inflicted the same amount of damage upon one another. An “attacker win” is a round in which the attacker inflicts more damage on the defender than he or she received from the defender. A “defender win” is a round in which the defender inflected more damage on the attacker than was received. A “major” victory is one in which one side was able inflict at least three more points of damage on the other side than was received. The number three is significant since armies are removed after sustaining three points of damage, so a “major” victory by one side would result in even a full strength army being removed as the result of single round of combat. In each case the “major” victory are a subset of the percentage of wins reported in the win column.

As can be seen, in a 1-on-1 fight there is a statistical bias in favor of the attacker. The attacker has about a 10% greater chance of inflicting more damage than the defender and the attacker has double the chance of winning a major victory (which would eliminate even a full strength defending army in a single round of combat). This encourages players to take action on their turn. It also increases the value of fortifications, discussed further below. So if you have one army and your opponent has one army without fortifications, and it is either attack or be attacked—the correct move should be to attack so as to gain the statistical advantage.

From there, a player can increase the probability of success in different ways. Bringing more than one army against a defending army is the most common way to increase the probability of success. When you outnumber your opponent you roll an additional six-sided bonus die for every additional army that you have. The second column of Table 1 shows the likelihood of each outcome in a 2-on-1 situation where the attacker is throwing a bonus die. In this situation, the attacking player is now twice as likely as the defender to inflict more damage than it receives. The third column of Table 1 assumes a 3-on-1 fight and therefore accounts for the attacker throwing two bonus dice.

Sending more armies into a battle confers more of an advantage than just the bonus dice. The more armies in the battle the more damage counters that can be  “soaked up” before the player may have to consider ending the battle and withdrawing. In a 2-on-1 situation where both the attacker and the defender inflict two points of damage upon one another in the first round of combat, the defender is now badly beaten and is only one hit away from elimination. However, the attacker is still in a position to offer another round of battle with the 2-on-1 odds. Even though the damage dealt was tied in terms of raw numbers, the defender only has one hit left compared to 4 hits left for the attacker.

So what can the defender do? One answer is to have more than one army in a territory. If a player attacks 1-on-2, then the defender will receive the bonus die for outnumbering the attacker by one army. Table 2 shows the likelihood of each of outcome when the defender has two armies.

2_Defend_No_Fort

Table 2

In a 1-on-2 situation the attacker only has only about a 30% chance of dealing more damage than is inflicted, whereas the defender will do so 50% of the time. Plus, the defender also has the advantage in the total amount of damage that the defending forces can sustain. This means that having two or more armies in a territory is an effective way to deter an attack from a lesser number of armies. Players generally don’t choose to attack with less than the number of armies the defender has in the territory. If you compare Table 2 and Table 1, (allowing for some slight differences in percentages due to the simulations), a 2-on-2 battle is fought at the same statistical odds as a 1-on-1 battle because the same dice are rolled to resolve it. Therefore, because of the game’s deliberate bias in favor of action on a player’s turn, the attacker regains the statistical edge in a 2-on-2 battle.

However, it’s not economically feasible to maintain multiple armies in all your territories to deter attack. That is where fortifications come in. When a fortification is present in the territory the defender rolls additional fortification dice when defending and counterattacking (one die for walls, two dice for a fortress, and three dice for a castle). Table 3 summarizes the effect the presence of walls have on the outcomes of the battle when the defender has one army in the territory.

Table 3

Table 3

The first column shows that the presence of walls significantly changes the odds that the attacking army will be successful. The attacker has to bring a second additional army to begin to counter the effects of the fortification. Just for fun lets look at the effect of a fortress in a territory, which is summarized in Table 4.

1_Defend_Fortress

Table 4

The fortress reduces the likelihood of the attacker winning a round of combat, and you will note that fighting 2-on-1 with a fortress present is very statistically similar to fighting 1-on-1 with the defender behind walls. This kind of “stepping” through the probabilities was carefully engineered.

Besides raising more armies and building more fortifications, event cards allow one side or the other to change the probabilities for a round of combat. “Heroic Charge” allows a player to roll an additional bonus die for one combat round when attacking. This is effectively like outnumbering the defender by one army for one round (although without the additional points of damage an additional army could absorb). The “Shield Wall” card is the equivalent for defense. There is also an event card that allows you to reroll all of your combat dice which can potentially save you from a disastrous roll. The “Bombardment” event card forces the defender to fight a round of combat as if the level of fortification in the territory is one less that it actually is. These cards are intentionally abstract and meant to represent any number of advantages in the field. Using these cards to gain an advantage in places where your opponents are not expecting it is an important part of the game’s military strategy.

Knowing when not to fight is an important part of War of Kings. In ordinary circumstances the defender does not have to stand and fight, but can withdraw to other territories they control. So if you mass three armies in the hope to attack 3-on-1 and crush the other army, that army might decline the offer of battle and just surrender the territory. If your kingdom has enough strategic depth, pulling out of a territory when the odds are against you can be a smart move, especially if the territory is not particularly strategically significant to you and it buys you another round to raise more armies and fortify yourself against the incursion. 

So that’s the theory behind combat in War of Kings. Because of the high-level strategic nature of the game, the combat system focuses on manipulating the probability of success for your military campaigns. Whether or not someone chooses to wage battle or not is going to depend on how they weigh the risks against the rewards. Plus, even if you are rather cautious with your own armies, you can always use the Malador when you have the opportunity to control them to take the high-risk high-reward option. Go ahead and throw the marauder armies against a heavily fortified city. They just might win, or at least grind the defenders down enough for you to launch your own campaign with much better odds!