In the traditional TBS format of exactly one tile per city, siege warfare is a straightforward modification to open-field combat, the only differences being the bonus to defence from city fortifications and the ability of siege units to reduce this bonus. However, since Elemental has multiple tiles in a single city, the system of warfare becomes much more problematic. In the traditional format, both attacker and defender are fighting over one tile. The same holds for open field battles in Elemental (I believe). However, in Elemental the city combat is not as simple due to the larger cities. A few issues I see that need to be addressed:
- Garrisoned units
- Blockading/strangulation of cities
- Single combat vs. multi-stage battles
- Who owns the city?
And here are my proposed solutions:
In a one tile city, any unit on that tile could logically be assumed to be defending that city. In a multi-tile city, a unit on a tile only occupies a part of the city, and therefore can be assumed to be defending only that section of the city. This makes defense unfairly difficult. In order to adequately protect the city, there would have to be an entire unit on each tile of the city that borders the outside world. This would require many units for all except the most basic cities. Another plan that is both more realistic and simplifies game play is to give units the ability to directly occupy walls and other defensive structures. They would no longer have an icon on the cloth map; the building itself might change appearance to indicate the occupation. In the tactical battle, the attackers would have to drive the defenders from the buildings they occupy in order to take control of the city, adding strategic depth to the battle. Where does the defender position their forces? Do they hold the walls, or fall back to the palace/keep? The defending units could also simply occupy the individual tiles within the city, fighting the aggressors in the streets.
Blockading/Strangulation of Cities
In most TBS games that I've played, units can surround a city, cutting it off from the resources of the surrounding land and economically vital trade. IMHO, Elemental should have a similar system. Again, multi-tile cities provides complications. To have a city need to be completely surrounded to cut off trade forces the attacker to unfairly spread his resources thin. However, having any enemy unit adjacent to a city cut off all trade is both unrealistic and brutally unfair to the defender. I suggest that cities have a number of gates proportional to the geographic size of their city. Having enemy units block these entrances cuts off all significant trade and resource delivery to the city. A small amount of food can get through to the city by way of secret entrances and such, but the city will have to depend almost entirely on its existing stockpiles (question: will the economic system even support these, or will this be abstracted away?) to support the existing population and troops.
Single Combat vs. Multi-Stage Battles/ Who owns the city?
When cities are represented as one tile, the attackers capture the city when all of the defending units have either left the city or been defeated. With multi-tile cities, it is possible for attackers to be in the city while there are remaining defenders. I think it would be interesting for the defenders to be able to lose the walls but still hold the keep and the city streets, or have the attackers breach the walls only at one point, etc. But this raises the question of who controls city development/production at what point. Can the enemy use the city's infrastructure to bolster their own forces when they control all of the city but the keep? One solution is to have the city be considered 'contested' as soon as a single attacking unit enters the city. All production stops until one side or the other is completely driven from the city. This is simple and reasonably logical solution. However, since Elemental already keeps track of where exactly on the map the production buildings are, I think that as soon as attackers occupy the tile on which that building resides, they should be able to use it. Are the smithies right inside the city walls? If the attackers are able to grab them and hold them, they should be able to repair their weapons and armor. Conversely, the defenders would lose that ability. The defenders will control the city in name until they completely leave the city, but if the attackers continue to press forward they will slowly use the functionality of the city.
If you've read this far, thank you. Thoughts? Questions? Objections? Comments on the attractiveness of the author?