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Siege is the basic mechanism by which players reduce the structural defense of enemy cities, and ultimately destroy or overtake them.

Players may start producing siege equipment once they have a level 15 Barracks and have researched Siege Engineering for basic siege units and War Machines for advanced siege units. However, before a player can actually use siege, he must first research Siege Encampment which will require their barracks to be at level 20.

The basics of siege are relatively simple, but the interactions between competent attacking and defending players in a siege can be quite complex and even confusing. The sections below outline the basics, but also mention as many strategic relationships and counterpoints as can be predicted. It is advised to read both sections in full whether performing a siege or defending against one, and before starting any actions.


Besieging other players

Starting a Siege

Once ready to besiege a city, add siege units as desired to some division of an army and send it to the target city with the siege stratagem selected. Before launching, the military orders screen will require a choice of open, adjacent tile for the siege camp to deploy. Not all tiles can be occupied. Examples that cannot include water, volcanoes, swamp, and non-allied cities. In the case of siege camps, allied and even your own cities may not host the camp either. It is very possible for some cities to be invulnerable to siege attacks due to being surrounded by tiles the army may not occupy. Siege armies may set camp at tiles already occupied by friendly armies, allowing coordinated defenses to arrive before the siege. It is desirable to use strong defensive forces in reinforcing armies on an easily-defended tile such as mountains or hills, but the siege army itself should use strong offensive forces since it will make the final assault alone.

Once launched, siege armies travel at the speed of the slowest siege unit in the direction of the city itself. The distance, appearance on the world map, and time to arrive will all precisely match a trip taken to the city itself rather than the adjacent tile which the army will occupy. This is to prevent users from determining by technical means where the camp will go, which creates an unintended tactical advantage for the defender. When the army arrives, it will instantly appear as a camp at the chosen adjacent tile. It will spend 12 hours deploying the siege equipment during which time the army cannot be recalled by messengers and no attacks will take place. It is however vulnerable to direct attacks as any other camp. Siege engines themselves never contribute to the attack or defense strength of an army or camp, but do take losses in the same manner as other unit groups. Meaning from each attack, each group of siege units loses a percentage of total count based upon the relative strength of the opposing force. To minimize loss, divide siege engines amongst as many divisions as possible, so that the smaller numbers will gain greater benefit from rounding. (All integers are truncated, so losing 2.9 of 3 siege engines means actually losing only 2.) For this reason it is also prudent to keep the number of siege engines deployed to a reasonable limit, or potentially perform multiple separate sieges on a city. However, each siege or blockade camp must occupy a separate tile. It should also be noted that commanders receive a lot of experience from destroying siege engines due to their high gold upkeep.

Bombarding and Siege Defense

Once deployed, actual siege begins. Basic siege units will target the walls and never hit anything else. Each successful hit will lower the wall's level by one, until no wall remains. Walls can be rebuilt during siege, but won't likely last long, and will often be more costly than they should. For example, upgrading a level 14 wall to 15 during siege could result in several level losses during upgrade. The final result could be paying and waiting for a 14→15 upgrade but getting a 5→6 upgrade by the time it is finished. Advanced siege units target and only ever hit randomly chosen structures other than the wall. Structures like farms and mines which graphically appear outside the walls are included. Like the wall, buildings may be rebuilt during siege. Blockades, thieving, and sabotage can help prevent a besieged city from rebuilding by blocking incoming resources, depleting resource stockpiles, and canceling construction in progress.

During actual siege, all surviving siege engines will automatically participate in launching one volley at the city every 60 minutes until the operation is concluded by recalling the siege army, razing the city, or taking it. Without intervention, this operation continues until the occupation time is concluded. Maximum occupation time for any camp is 15 days. This is much more than required for a successful siege operation. During the siege, the camp will still be vulnerable to direct attacks from enemy armies and now also Sally Forth attacks. Sally Forth attacks include every army with a living commander occupying the besieged city including reinforcements, and operate like attacks using the Raid stratagem, which means neither side may lose no more than one-third of its forces. These attacks may be launched by the besieged city's owner once every 6 hours per siege camp. Since any confederation or NAP partner may reinforce a besieged city, these attacks can be very formidable. The most valuable defense against Sally Forth is the use of assassins to make defending armies leaderless. Each leaderless army will stay behind when Sally Forth is launched.

Initially, siege engines are wildly inaccurate and usually hit nothing at all. The longer a siege continues, the more accurate siege engines become until every engine hits a targeted structure almost every time. At this point, keeping a city intact is essentially impossible.

The Final Assault

Once a city's population is reduced to 25% of the amount it had when bombardment by this siege camp began, the final assault may be launched. When launching, the attacking player chooses whether to raze or--if owning another city is possible—capture the city. The siege army then attacks alone—still bringing along any surviving siege engines which will do nothing—and must defeat any forces found in the city. If successful, the city is razed or captured and the siege army returns to camp as a regular occupation. Otherwise, the siege is broken, and any new or auxiliary siege must bring the city to 25% of the population the city had when that siege began. If unknown, scouts can provide troop counts including leaderless armies to help assess whether the final assault will succeed. And if necessary, independent assaults by third-party armies can weaken or eliminate remaining defenses with direct attacks while the final assault awaits. Third-party attacks are best executed either at the earliest opportunity (before substantial defenses arrive) or just before final assault (when the wall's defense bonus is minimized or eliminated).

When a besieged city launches troops at a camp by direct attack or using Sally Forth, the city itself is left defenseless. Though the siege army attacks in final assault slowly (due to the siege engines), it can--if launched in immediate response--reach the city before the attack from the city returns. In this case, the armies will pass each other without confrontation, and the city will be taken unless sufficient leaderless or otherwise excluded armies remain to defend. At this point the launched armies owned by the besieged city will disband, and those of other defenders will occupy the city as defenders until they return home. Such defenders, being actually hostile, will fight any friendly defenses/attacks that arrive.

Because higher building levels increase population at geometrically-increasing rates, low-population cities are much harder to successfully besiege. This is particularly so when they are just as well-defended, due to the increased duration required to sufficiently lower population. If a siege against a powerful enemy fails, it may be more prudent to let the player rebuild than to try again immediately.