Land Drop Attacking

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A 9-Hour Land Drop Attacker in his natural habitat

Land Drop Attacking (LDA) is a strategy in which a player seeks to acquire a large number of technologies (see teching) very quickly early in the round through research point gains from attacks. In order to make this a viable approach, a very large number of acres must be gained while maintaining a relatively low land size to avoid the higher technology costs that come with total land size increases. This is generally achieved by maintaining a very low Defense Power (DP) and focusing on a very large amount of Offense Power (OP), allowing the player to make many attacks with their army on similarly low defense targets. The low DP hallmark of the LDA strategy greatly incentivizes other players to attack the LDA dominion, which keeps their land size low, thus keeping technology costs from rising, and increasing the amount of land gained from their attacks on larger targets.

This strategy is not very suitable for a first round beginner, as it does require some knowledge of the game’s mechanics to execute properly, however with some experience and planning, it can be a very active and enjoyable play experience even for slightly experienced players. Acquiring a substantial portion of the technology tree allows for an LDA player in many cases to outmatch other players in their size range due to the greatly increased efficiency afforded by their technology bonuses. And for the advanced player, while no LDA dominion has yet won a round, some have finished quite competitively, and many contend that some LDA-based strategies could be quite competitive if played properly. LDA dominions can also provide substantial mid-to-late round support to traditional attacker or explorer realm-mates seeking a competitive advantage via use of magic and espionage boosting technologies.

The Importance of 590 Acres

590 acres represents an important breakpoint for the LDA player, as above this land size technology costs begin to increase linearly with land size attained. What is especially important is that this increase is permanent for the remainder of the round, and thus breaking through this cap once will increase the total research points needed to complete the desired portion of the technology tree substantially. For this reason, the LDA player’s primary focus during the early round is to remain under this limit and unlock their desired technologies as quickly as possible. This is done by keeping their DP low enough to incentivize enough attacks on them to remain several hundred acres below this limit, thus allowing them to attack many targets and gain the hundreds of acres per day necessary to rapidly unlock technologies.

Managing Your Protection, DP, and OP, and Buildings

The LDA player, during the early round, is not focused on gaining an initial size and power advantage on other dominions, and thus their protection strategy is different in some substantial ways. As opposed to designing a protection strategy that maximizes defendable land size and (for attackers) sufficient OP to hit one or more targets in the early hours of the round, the LDA attacker seeks to gain the largest amount of land possible while remaining under 590 acres. This necessitates a protection strategy that maximizes sendable OP while minimizing DP to the extent allowable with consideration to the 5:4 and 33% rules (no attack can be sent without a home DP equaling 4/5s the attack's OP and no less than 33% of a dominion’s total DP can be on an attack at any given time). Each race will have a differing implementation in keeping with these limitations, largely driven by their OP’s inherent DP values (turtle DP).

In general, during protection an LDA player will build an amount of home DP (DP troops not intended for attacks) that is minimally sufficient to backstop effective attacking in keeping with the 5:4 rule, and in sufficient amounts to not violate the 33% rule when all OP troops are on attacks. For races with low to no turtle DP (such as Dark Elf or Lycanthrope), the 5:4 rule will likely be more limiting. For races with very high turtle (such as troll) the 33% rule is more likely to be limiting. For races with moderate turtle DP, both rules are likely relevant at various stages of Land Drop Attacking. After considering these rules for DP, the LDA player will build the maximum amount of sendable OP during protection and continue to grow it during the LDA phase, allowing for the most attacks and land gain in the shortest time.

Upon leaving protection, the LDA player’s first priority is to lose as many acres as possible. In order to build up the maximum number of OP troops during protection, it was likely necessary to explore to a size of 500 or more acres. It is certainly possible to build troops to attack immediately out of protection, much the same as a standard attacker, however since the LDA dominion’s strategy revolves around land gains and not large size, this is not an optimal strategy. Instead, the LDA dominion should seek to have their defensive and offensive troops arrive no earlier than one hour after OOP. This will allow for the first series of attacks from the LDA dominion to be made from substantially smaller land size. An explanatory set of scenarios is described below:

Scenario 1 – Traditional attacking approach

LDA dominion exits protection with 2000 DP / 8000 OP and finds three targets at 550 acres with 2500 DP each and one at 250 acres with 500 DP. The total land gained from these attacks is:

Attack on 3 110% targets from 500 acres = 70 acres x 3 = 210 acres
Attack on 50% target from 500 acres = 17 acres
Total land gained = 227 acres

Scenario 2 – Optimized LDA attacking approach

LDA dominion exits protection with no or negligible troops and is hit several times, ending on 300 acres. On hour 2, 2000 DP / 8000 OP worth of troops arrive and the LDA dominion finds three identical targets. The total land gained from these attacks is:

Attack on 3 183.3% targets from 300 acres = 83 acres x 3 = 249 acres
Attack on 83.3% target from 300 acres = 27 acres
Total land gained = 276 acres

There are several benefits to the optimized approach described above.

• More land gain equates to more RPs generated, which is the primary objective of LDA.

• Losing a large amount of land on the first hour OOP provides the LDA player with a specific understanding of how much land they can gain without breaking their land cap when their troops arrive on a subsequent hour.

• Higher probability of being hit several times to reduce land size.

• Less imperative to attack rapidly OOP to reduce DP to attractive levels, allowing more time for ideal target selection and planning.

Given that the LDA player will be gaining and losing land at a rapid pace, it is not advisable to attempt to maintain a large fraction of their land with constructed buildings. Instead, the LDA player will keep some nominal amount (considerably less than 590 acres) of their land constructed to maintain the basic needs of their dominion (food, mana, and some economy/mod buildings as necessary). Some LDA players will attempt to maintain as many schools as possible to accelerate their research point generation. Others will maintain diamond mines to attempt to maximize castle investments during and immediately following their LDA phase. Others will simply attempt to maintain the largest platinum production possible to continue to grow their sendable OP through the LDA phase. These are all viable builds, and the one selected largely depends on racial selection and broader round strategy.

Accumulating RP

There are 3 sources of RP: Invasions, Schools, and your daily land bonus.

Invasions will provide the bulk of the RP during LDA. You gain RP on invasion per the following formula:

(Conquered Acres * 17)

Schools produce RP by the following formula:

(1 - (Schools / Total Land)) research points per hour (minimum of 0.5)

The daily land bonus is a constant 128 RP and normally serves the purpose of not overly penalising people for taking it and therefore losing out on an incoming technology. However, as our goal is to remain under a certain threshold, this turns into free RP, provided you don't cross said threshold.

There are 27 total technologies. If you are attempting to accumulate them all, you’d need a minimum of 102,060 RP. Breaking the 590 land cap, especially early in LDA, can increase this number substantially.

OP/DP targets for OOP

LDA can be a strange play experience because unlike every other strategy you want to be invaded a lot. Your goal coming Out of Protection is to have as much sendable OP as possible with a low enough DP to be an enticing target for other dominions. It is not uncommon for LDA players to maintain a DP of ~2,000 or less with their troops out. As the LDA phase goes on, this number may creep up as additional OP troops are built and the 33% rule begins to limit the LDA player’s ability to fully commit troops, though usually it will remain less than 3,500 DP.

Target Selection

The LDA player will complete their desired technologies fastest by finding targets with high land size and low DP, thus gaining large amounts of land (but not to exceed 590 acres!) using minimal OP. Ideally, the LDA player would attack these targets as often as possible, limited only by their available OP and morale. In most cases, the best targets for the LDA player are other LDA players, whose large land gains and low DP are ideal. You can reference the Invasion page [link] to calculate the amount of land that will be gained from an attack. Before attacking, it is advisable to know how much land you can take without breaking the 590 acre cap.

It is just as important for an LDA player to be a good target as it is to identify good targets. It is critical that their land size remain lower, and ideally substantially so, than 590 acres. In some cases, the LDA player will send attacks on very small targets (which may still be within their 60 or 75% ranges) to gain small land amounts and send out enough troops to drop their DP to the desired low levels. It is also important for an LDA dominion to run a reasonable amount of spies and wizards which will allow them to gain information on targets but not present too much difficulty to others looking to attack them.

Due to the need to stay under 590 acres during the LDA phase, it may be necessary to spread attacks across multiple hours as opposed to committing all available OP troops in a single hour. It is easy to gain enough land in a single hour, especially when attacking from a low land size, to break through the 590 acre cap. As an example, a single attack on a 500 acre target from a size of 300 acres (a scenario an LDA player may likely find themselves in frequently) will generate a total land gain of 73 acres. Making 4 attacks of this size in this scenario is enough to break through the 590 acre cap, and in many cases an LDA dominion will have sufficient OP to make 5 or more attacks against a low DP target (such as another LDA dominion). If instead the LDA dominion spreads these attacks over two hours, there is a high likelihood that some of this land will be lost in the hour it arrives, building additional buffer from the 590 acre cap for the remainder of the land to arrive in the following hour.

Morale

An LDA player’s morale is an important resource which should be monitored and incorporated into planning their attacks. An attack on any target above 75% land ratio will reduce the attacker’s morale by 5%, with attacks against smaller targets taking progressively more, up to a total of 10% when attacking a 40% land size target. Since the LDA player will be making a large number of attacks, often over a range of 1-3 hours, it is entirely possible that they will run out of morale before running out of OP, especially if attacking small size / low defense targets which will expend additional morale.

Prestige

One of the largest penalties of pursuing the LDA approach to teching is the loss of prestige that will likely occur during the LDA phase. Due to prestige gains being nullified on targets which have been recently invaded (which will account for a vast majority of the LDA player’s targets), and the 5% prestige loss from being invaded, many LDA player’s prestige will be near 0 if they complete the entire tech tree. If your strategy in LDA is to acquire the full tech tree as quickly as possible, you should accept that your prestige will be very low at the end of your LDA, and hence you should not be concerned about attacking targets under your 60% land ratio. It can provide a significant boost to your overall land gains, and hence research point generation, to attack these targets if you have excess morale and offensive troops. Attacks on these targets (which will always generate at least 17 total land) are often the most OP-efficient land gains, especially if you have identified small size dominions on or near land defense. The only limiter on this strategy is morale, which will deplete quickly when attacking small size targets.

Tech Order

There is no single ideal set of technologies, nor an ideal order to acquire them, however depending on the LDA player’s round strategy and racial selection, some technologies will be more useful than others early in the LDA phase. Most LDA players will build a large number of troops during the LDA phase, rezone a large quantity of land, and take a large number of casualties. For these reasons, technologies that enhance these areas can be useful during LDA. Racial selection also plays into this: Firewalker, Nox, and Halfling all have significant casualty reduction on their offensive units, making casualty technologies somewhat less desirable. This is even more the case for Dark Elf and their (near) immortal OP, and Spirit and Undead LDA players are only vulnerable to a select few races. Ultimately, the most important aspect of LDA tech selection is the total technologies the player intends to acquire before transitioning to more traditional strategies for the rest of the round. It is wise for the LDA player to consider multiple plans for exiting the LDA strategy and prioritize those technologies most important for their round, as it is possible that targets will become scarce or the player will inadvertently break through the 590 land cap substantially and need to transition before achieving the full level of desired technology.

Transition to traditional play styles

Upon completion of the LDA phase, the LDA player will need to spend some amount of time, in many cases days, transitioning to a more traditional build for exploring or attacking. Given that over a week is likely to have passed during the LDA phase, other players are likely to have built up substantial armies and will be a threat to the LDA player if they become too large. For races with substantial turtle DP, keeping their military at home may provide enough DP to maintain a modest land size on which to construct a more traditional build and economy. For others, they may be forced to build DP at lower land size and grow slowly as their DP rises. At this stage the LDA player may seem substantially disadvantaged, but the substantially greater efficiency of their technology enhanced dominion will in most cases allow them to gain a foothold and begin to compete against the other players within their land size, growing steadily throughout the remainder of the round.

Racial benefits and downsides

Each race will have differing experiences during the LDA phase and the remainder of the round. It is difficult to separate a race’s performance in LDA from the likely experience they will have through the rest of the round, however there are certain racial characteristics that can enhance LDA performance. In particular, races with 9 hour attackers can be expected to perform well during LDA, both due to the overall greater number of attacks they can make and the greater strategic variability of their attack timing. Races with substantial turtle DP will have more challenges with the 33% rule; however they will have less trouble with 5:4 limitations and will find it far easier to transition from the LDA phase to traditional strategies. Races with no turtle DP have the greatest strategic agility during LDA, but must very carefully manage their DP to allow for attacks due to the 5:4 rule, and will likely struggle in the transition out of LDA. “Efficient” races are likely to get the most overall benefit from LDA, as their racial preference for slow and methodical growth is enhanced by technology and they will find less challenge in climbing the ranks against other, less efficient, races. “Fast” races can still perform well, as their lack of efficiency can be countered to an extent by technology, however the same admonitions should be considered on the need for some of these races (e.g. Kobold) to be on top to perform well.