[Updated with Part II] Observations, Feedback, and Exploits for the new Caravan System. [e1.2.0 + hotfix]

Currently viewing this thread:

Bannerman Man

C# Sleuth
Knight
Best answers
0
[Updated with Part II below original post]

Since the patch, I've been tailing one of my caravans to see how it operates, and I've noticed some things that I think are worth commenting on.

At first, I thought that caravans were not replenishing troops after being attacked because the caravan party seemed to stay in a half filled state. This turns out not to be the case, but I don't think it's working exactly as intended.

Caravans appear to recruit troops from the following two sources:
  1. The freed prisoner pool after a battle, same as the player. This in effect fills precious party space mostly with low value peasants (technically part of the watchman tree), weakening the overall party strength. You will occasionally see them pick up Armed Traders captured from other caravans.
  2. Taverns in towns include recruitable Armed Traders, Thugs, and the Watchman/Mercenary line. These are recruitable by the player, but I think they are intended to be recruitable for caravans as well (maybe not thugs). However, it seems caravans will only recruit from the Watchman line, not Armed Traders. I saw my caravan pass up many towns with available Armed Traders and not recruit a single one. That may be an oversight, or just exceedingly rare.
There also may be others that I did not witness, but either way it is clear caravans do not place a priority on replenishing troops (money was not a factor).

So, as caravans need to find Watchmen, and Watchmen only make up a small portion of tavern recruits across the map, it takes a long time for them to return to full capacity, if they are even able to at all before being destroyed.

Also, when purchased, caravans start with roughly half a party of cavalry (the type of units depends on the town culture of origin). This affects the rate at which they travel, speeding them up overall. As your caravan is attacked and numbers dwindle, there are very few viable cavalry recruits to replace ones that are lost in battles, slowing your caravan down overall over time and making it easier to be caught.

[Method outlined in Part II is much better. Will leave this up in case the other method is patched out]
However, there is a work-around/exploit at this point. When your caravan is stationed in a town, there is a small red bar that you can click at the top of the UI to the left of the notables bar. This will switch the notables bar with one containing non-noble parties currently stationed in the town (i.e. caravans, villagers, and militia). If you click on your caravan you can choose to "donate troops" to your caravan. Using this, you can donate units from your own party to easily bring them back up to full capacity, and you can donate past full capacity. If you give them large amounts of horse archers and cavalry they will temporarily exceed max capacity until desertion brings them back to 30/30. Desertion is, however, randomly selected, meaning usually you will end up with fewer low value Armed Traders and a higher proportion of cavalry. This greatly speeds up your caravan and makes enemies less likely to attack it.

Exhibit A:


When you create a caravan it is immediately parked in the current town, allowing you to do this trick right away. You can also sell them extra horses once they exit in order to speed them up even further (until they sell them). Caravans don't seem to keep any extra non-pack horses in inventory purely for speed, so this is only a temporary boost.

Now this is probably the worst part of the exploit. I found you can also donate troops to both villager parties and village militias using this method. This works well to prevent villagers from getting attacked en route to towns and essentially gives villiges a garrison. These troops are permanent and free of wages, meaning that you can stack as many troops as possible in villages without drawbacks and not fear raids ever again. There is apparently a negative modifier to militia size for villages to keep them at the proper size, but this appears to be bugged at the moment.

[Works for towns and castles as well; see edit below]

Exhibit B:


So finally, I want to point out one final thing. From the e1.1.0 patch notes:
Caravans are now seen as more valuable targets by bandits and minor factions, which means that they will be attacked more. This will increase the number of battles that involve caravans. Previously, caravans were a nearly totally safe investment. Now bandits and minor faction lords sometimes attack caravans even if they are a bit stronger.
This minor detail makes quite a big difference in practice. One thing I noticed while following my caravan around is that it poorly judges the danger it's in. Smaller/weaker bandit parties will now travel to engage with a caravan that passes it, but the caravan continues forward like nothing is happening. They meet and get into battle. This would be fine, except bandits travel in packs, and now your caravan is pinned in place for others to pile on into the battle. It's fine for weaker parties to try to take down your caravan, but caravans need better detection when someone is chasing them so they don't get trapped so often.

[More detail in Part II]

Exhibit C:
Well, that pretty much wraps it up. Sorry for the long-winded post and thank you for coming to my TED Talk.

EDIT: Oh, and also Armed Traders lack any points in bow skill even though they are archers. If caravans are intended to fight, now might be a good time to give them some points in it. [Turns out, this may not matter; see Part II below]

EDIT 2: This exploit also applies to town and castle militias. You can see my comment on it here.

I feel obligated to say BE WARNED: Once you donate troops you cannot get them back out again. If the devs patch this soon you may lose any troops you shifted from garrisons to militias.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
[PART II]

I found a post on Reddit that discussed similar methods to the one I outlined above. In the comments of this post, a user mentioned you can access the troop management window for your caravan through the Keep menu, bypassing the need to donate troops at all.

So, to add whatever troops you would like to your caravan use the following steps:
  1. Create a caravan or track down an existing one.
  2. While the caravan is stationed in town (it will be upon creation), go to the Keep menu and click on the portrait of your companion to speak to them (press "Talk").
  3. Click "Inspect Troops" in the dialog window.
  4. Take all troops, or just non-cavalry troops (Armed Traders), out of their party and add whichever troops you want. Click done.

You now have a caravan consisting of only the troops you want. So, which troops are best? Generally high tier cavalry, as the only factors that seem to be taken into account by autoresolve currently are tier, and whether or not they are mounted. This post on Reddit discusses how the autoresolve calculations work on a code level. To simplify, the formula boils down to this:

[(2 + Tier Level) * (10 + Tier Level)] * (0.02) * (1.3 only if unit is mounted)
This formula is used to determine the "Power Level" of each troop individually. The term on the right means that cavalry get a flat 30% bonus to power. From there the algorithm basically faces off units from either party one vs one unitl a winner is determined. Click through to the Reddit post if you want to see the calculations in more detail. Skills and formations do not seem to affect the strength of a unit in autoresolve at this time.

So, by sticking to purely high tier cavalry you will greatly increase your caravan's battle capabilities. This is great, however, it is more important to survivability to avoid getting in fights in the first place. Here, high tier cavalry win again, as they are faster than foot soldiers and deter more powerful enemies from giving chase. I haven't delved into the code to find out what exactly the AI accounts for when deciding whether or not to attack, but I can offer three separate examples of the power meter vs. 78 looters (the enemy only chased in the first example).
29 Armed Traders
17 Armed Traders, 7 Caravan Guards, 5 Veteran Caravan Guards
29 Khuzait Heavy Horse Archers
It's only a marginal improvement from case to case, but it will deter some extra percentage of stronger enemies from trying to engage, and again avoiding fights is the best way to keep a caravn alive. If anyone has actual numbers/formulas on what the enemy factors in to decide whether or not to chase I'd love to see them.

Lastly, I know this has been posted about before, but bandit parties have a quirk with their behavior which makes them take into account units in hideouts as reinforcements when deciding to engage, even though those units don't actually join them in battle. This can trap caravans into battles they otherwise wouldn't get into and whittle away units over time. Here is a video illustrating this issue:
 
Last edited:

beanywalrus

Veteran
Best answers
0
Hold up.
You mean I can actually give troops to villagers so they can actually defend themselves?
Why is this not explained to us? Maybe its a bit broken since you don't have to pay wages, but considering the king takes ownership of all village parties, just make him pay it and make peasants cost nothing.
 

Bannerman Man

C# Sleuth
Knight
Best answers
0
Yep, it's super exploitable. I don't think its intended to be used like that. Notice the little (-13) next to Militia in the second picture. That currently doesn't do anything.

Also, you can donate to allied caravans as well. If say, you wanted to sabatoge a caravan by flooding it with recruits to slow it down so it gets caught so you can swoop in for the loot afterwards.
 

Pejot

Knight at Arms
WBVC
Best answers
0
Hold up.
You mean I can actually give troops to villagers so they can actually defend themselves?
Why is this not explained to us? Maybe its a bit broken since you don't have to pay wages, but considering the king takes ownership of all village parties, just make him pay it and make peasants cost nothing.
You can donate troops to every villager party You meet in town friend/neutral/for.
I think it wasn't intended.
 

Bannerman Man

C# Sleuth
Knight
Best answers
0
It's super helpful for caravans too. After a certain point I couldn't even keep pace with my own caravan. 7.4 speed was the highest I saw IIRC.
 

Bramborough

Veteran
Best answers
0
Great post. The kind that makes me wish there was some sort of "Like" or "Upvote" feature on these forums. Thumbs up.
 

Ichon

Sergeant
Best answers
0
Great post. The kind that makes me wish there was some sort of "Like" or "Upvote" feature on these forums. Thumbs up.
+1 never noticed that little swap bar or thought to apply it to villages. I have done the donate recruits to caravans whilst buying all their horses to swoop in for the loot as I slowly trail the caravan towards a town. Mostly because it is so easy to get over party limits on recruits and more horses for cavalry upgrades always handy.
 

Heratik

Recruit
Best answers
0
Appreciate you sharing your efforts.

In regards to the giving troops to villagers thing. How would that benefit someone compared to effort and investment to raise troop ranks?
Just genuinely curious, I am still getting to know game mechanics.
 

Bannerman Man

C# Sleuth
Knight
Best answers
0
In regards to the giving troops to villagers thing. How would that benefit someone compared to effort and investment to raise troop ranks?
Just genuinely curious, I am still getting to know game mechanics.
I'm still getting to know the mechanics as well, but I think there are a couple of factors to take into account here.

The AI seems to choose its targets based on balance of power. If you look at the two-toned bar at the top of the screen when you engage with another party, this is how the game interprets the relative strengths of each of your armies. It's based on, at a minimum, both overall quality and quantity of your respective troops. You may notice that as your party grows, bandits go from chasing you, to ignoring you, to fleeing from you. This is because the game judges its ability to beat you in a simulation/autoresolve and plans accordingly.

So, villager parties are solely made up of a varying number peasants, which are very weak from the AI's perspective. This means that any medium sized or greater bandit/looter party will always try to catch villager parties, and once they do they usually destroy them. The economy of a town is in part based on how successfully villagers can bring their goods to market by travelling back and forth. This directly impacts the quanity of trade goods a town has available in its trade menu (and how cheap they are). If villagers constantly die on the way, town prosperity will be low, food stores will be empty, and trade goods will be high priced. However, I don't know how great the impact is of any one villager party dying.

This is where villager bodyguards (donated troops) come into play. If you stuff many troops into a villager party, bandits (and enemy lords) will be less likely to harass them, and they will successfully reach the town more often. Even low value recruits will act as a deterrent in great enough quantities. Foot soldiers will slow the party down, while cavalry will speed it up, so you must be careful not to let the villagers get too slow or they will be easy targets for large nobles' parties. Recruiting tier 1-2 troops is cheap and you will probably make your money back from the resulting increase in trade, but I can't say to what extent.

Now, town militias work in much the same way. Enemy lords look at a village's militia strength when choosing targets (as they have to fight militia before they can raid), so having a "garrison" in each of your villages makes it less likely to be raided and stay operational for longer. Once a village has been raided it has to build its prosperity back up from zero after a cooldown, so it's advantageous not to let that happen.

It's hard to say where the line rests that makes buying and training new units not worth the benefit gained as a result, but if nothing else you can just discard unwanted units into these parties since they cost no wages. It's definitely worth investing something into it.
 
Last edited:

Heratik

Recruit
Best answers
0
I'm still getting to know the mechanics as well, but I think there are a couple of factors to take into account here.

The AI seems to choose its targets based on balance of power. If you look at the two-toned bar at the top of the screen when you engage with another party, this is how the game interprets the relative strengths of each of your armies. It's based on, at a minimum, both overall quality and quantity of your respective troops. You may notice that as your party grows, bandits go from chasing you, to ignoring you, to fleeing from you. This is because the game judges its ability to beat you in a simulation/autoresolve and plans accordingly.

So, villiger parties are solely made up of a varying number peasants, which are very weak from the AI's perspective. This means that any medium sized or greater bandit/looter party will always try to catch villager parties, and once they do they usually destroy them. The economy of a town is in part based on how successfully villagers can bring there goods to market by travelling back and forth. This directly impacts the quanity of trade goods a town has available in its trade menu (and how cheap they are). If villagers constantly die on the way, town prosperity will be low, food stores will be empty, and trade goods will be high priced. However, I don't know how great the impact is of any one villager party dying.

This is where villager bodyguards (donated troops) comes into play. If you stuff many troops into a villager party, bandits (and enemy lords) will be less likely to harass them, and they will successfully reach the town more often. Even low value recruits will act as a deterrent in great enough quantities. Foot soldiers will slow the party down, while cavalry will speed it up, so you must be careful not to let the villagers get too slow or they will be easy targets for large nobles' parties. Recruiting tier 1-2 troops is cheap and you will probably make your money back from the resulting increase in trade, but I can't say to what extent.

Now, town militias work in much the same way. Enemy lords look at a village's militia strength when choosing targets (as they have to fight militia before they can raid), so having a "garrison" in each of your villages makes it less likely to be raided and stay operational for longer. Once a village has been raided it has to build it's prosperity back up from zero after a cooldown, so it's advantageous not to let that happen.

It's hard to say where the line rests that makes buying and training new units not worth the benefit gained as a result, but if nothing else you can just discard unwanted units into these parties since they cost no wages. It's definitely worth investing something into it.
Thank you!

Appreciate your time, was very helpful.
 

Lord Irontoe

Master Knight
Best answers
0
I don't know if it was intended or not, but giving them troops doesn't sound like an exploit to me. That should be a basic feature
 

Bannerman Man

C# Sleuth
Knight
Best answers
0
I don't know if it was intended or not, but giving them troops doesn't sound like an exploit to me. That should be a basic feature
It's not so much giving them troops that's an exploit. It's that you can give them an unlimited amount and pay no associated wages (even town garrisons cost wages). Seems like it was an oversight to me, but I think the way you can abuse it classifies it as an exploit currently.

And the way you can finesse your way into super strong, super fast caravans doesn't seem intended as is either. After all, the game explicitly doesn't allow you to take troops out of a caravan if you desired to do so.
 

bigbalzzz

Regular
Best answers
0
steppe bandit
speed:7.8
job: destroy every khuzait villagers/caravan and destroy an entire faction economy
these exploits cant save you from the STEPPE BANDIT!
 

Bannerman Man

C# Sleuth
Knight
Best answers
0
Lol not even the beefiest of Steppe Bandits will mess with a hundred man villager party. (Probably)

Steppe Bandits are the only thing that can save us from the Khuzait Horde washing over Calradia. They are actually the good guys.
 

bigbalzzz

Regular
Best answers
0
Lol not even the beefiest of Steppe Bandits will mess with a hundred man villager party. (Probably)

Steppe Bandits are the only thing that can save us from the Khuzait Horde washing over Calradia. They are actually the good guys.
but i am a khu za yeeet