Raiders and Defences
Playing in hardcore mode includes you develop at your own pace, whereas rival raiders do as well.
Initially entering the Neolithic Age, but in larger numbers entering the Copper Age, raiders will start to pay your settlement regular visits around every 6 to 9 seasons apart. At first in small parties of 3 to 7, gradually growing in numbers and more frequent.
Blow the defence horn to rally your warriors to the center of your settlement. This can be done at any given time, for any type of emergency (or no emergency). When your village has fortifications, your troops will run to the nearest defence structure that has a raiding party approaching and start manning platforms and towers automatically.
Facing and overpowering a handful of raiders is relatively easy for the 25+ people you probably will have gathered before the first raid you’ll encounter. To defend your settlement without having defence structures as yet, take at least 3 warriors per raider and go out and meet them. Make sure you have back up following your warriors. There’s no need to get to building many defences as soon as it comes available. Raiders tend to be primarily focused on destroying your domestic animals, watchtowers, then houses and stables and at last your people. Or whatever they find on their way that belongs to you.
The spawning of raiders throughout the game is completely random. They can come form any wind direction, but will always have to travel the distance from the edge of the map. In primal vision mode, you can pick up on them accidentally, or in search of a red army. With a raiding party approaching, timing makes all the difference in being prepared and have sufficient armed warriors mobilised inside your towers and on the platforms.
Having watchtowers further out of your settlement borders will significantly save you time. Initially, it’s not too much of a tough battle killing raiders man to man, but later on in the game, you want to make sure you have the upper hand and at the same time keep as much of your people alive behind walls. Melee fighting is a business done best with protective shields, so providing your fighters with bows and spears and mostly defend from towers is your best option.
The dogs you have in your settlement will join the fight, and the greater in number, the killing they will do for you will be rewarding. Having lots of archers will be very rewarding as well. Having many towers can put high stress on maintaining them, especially on your stock of straw, a seasonal product. Placing a lot of shooting platforms is a good alternative.
Parallel with and behind the gate on the inside of your enclosure, you can set out a 3-square wall line onto which you place a shooting platform. Remove the ‘planned’ wall instantly. The platform will be built nonetheless. You will now have a platform in open space behind the gate. When the gate falls during an attack, you will have archers giving the invading party a full load of arrows. It works like a charm when needed.
Outside of selecting a number of your warriors to go out and meet them in melee battle, which is probably a high-risk-casualty option, there is not much you can do tactically as a player of the game. As programmed interactive objects, neither your settlers nor raiders show much intuitive actions, so their movements are predictable.
By laying out a path of ‘planned’ towers as a raiding party approaches, you can lure them to a certain direction and even split up the group of raiders so they come in waves, but then the entire raid may take longer to finish.
Building defences will become more relevant in the Copper Age, when more heavy metal weapons will make a difference. Raiders primarily go for structures, and if you place your defences slightly further away instead of directly onto your settlement, raiders will be drawn away from what needs to be protected. Instead of building a cramped up enclosure around the village, with towers and platforms, and still run the risk of raiders breaking through and destroy what you’ve built up, a more remote fortification will defend your village sufficiently. In time you will learn that raiding parties can come from all sides, so defences will have to answer that accordingly.
By drawing wall lines diagonally, you can make curves or guiding walls for approaching raiders.
Building your defences on hillsides in between impenetrable rock, is a good way to save material.
Do not build your gate in line behind towers and platforms, for your warriors will keep moving to standing in front of the gate as cannon fodder.
When setting out lengthy walls, the workload will probably increase tremendously, which can be balanced by building in phases. Canceling out every other planned palisade and having it lined out to fill in the gaps later will do the trick. Bringing palisade wall logs by hand is a time-consuming business. Having gained sledgemaking and crafted a few sledges by that time will certainly come in useful.
With their growing numbers, your original fortifications will probably not keep recurring raiders at bay much longer without causing casualties, so it will need expanding. Come masonry, you will be able to build stone walls, or replace the palisades with stone. The timber will become available again and boost the stock of logs. You will find trading for stones to become really expensive at this point, so consider mining boulder yourself early on. You might even want to make double-thick walls eventually.
Expanding your fortresses at will, you will find it convenient to build bits and pieces of wall to form a kind of maze at the entrance of your defences, to force raiders to come at your gate in broken up portions, or even one by one. It will keep them busy finding their way or end up in front of another watchtower and get pierced.
As time progresses, build your warning towers further out your borders each era so you’ll be in time preparing yourself for a raid. Don’t forget to disable (and enable them afterwards) distant towers nearby coming raiders from being manned by your warriors. They will not survive, and the closest towers will be destroyed anyway. Actually, raiders will destroy anything that comes in their sight, even planned structures. They can damage unfinished megalith projects irreparably.
With the addition of reinforced fortifications, you can now make serious work of your defence structures and swiftly deal with raiding parties and get back to what your people were doing. The building of reinforced fortifications will require a lot of timber, iron bars and straw to build and maintain. Make sure you can support that demand before moving forward and start early in the game gradually building up a large sum of stones to have available when you want to make a quick transition between palisade and stone walls.