Shadowbane was designed around the central concept of PVP (Player - vs - Player) combat. One of the unique features of the game was the ability of players to create their own cities. Player cities allow for the creation of high quality items as well as the placement of trainers necessary to train characters. The best part about the ability of players to build and manage their own cities is that enemy players are able to siege other players' towns to the ground.
Over the course of Shadowbane's lifespan (and beta testing) the siege environment has changed considerably. Prior to the most recent changes to Shadowbane sieging, banes could last over 24 hours. Significant prep work was performed (or at least attempted) to an enemy town the night before or even a few nights before a bane went live (this is when the actual siege starts). Under the new rules, the walls of towns are now invulnerable until the bane is actually live. As long as the owner of the tree has protected all the buildings and assets (up to 20 buildings and 8 barracks) with the Runemaster, nothing can be sieged until the actual time of bane.
Placing a banestone
Banestones are rolled (created) by an NPC called a sage and cost money. Due to recent changes, a banestone must be of a rank corresponding to the city you wish to siege. There are eight city ranks in Shadowbane (one through eight) and are, therefore, eight ranks of banes. If you want to bane a rank 8 tree, you will need a Rank 8 Scroll of Summon Bane Circle (banescroll). A banescroll is the inventory item you use to place the bane (I will be explaining this in greater detail later). However, if you want to bane a rank 1 tree, you can use anything from a rank 1 banescroll to a rank 8 banescroll. As long as the scroll is of equal to or higher value than the tree, you can successfully bane the tree. Rank 1 banescrolls cost 1 million gold. Rank 2 banescrolls cost 2 million gold, etc. Rank 8 banescrolls, however, cost 10 million gold (because rank 8 tree are realm capital trees).
Once you have your banescroll rolled (which can take over a day's time), remove the scroll from the vendor and approach the town you wish to bane carefully. When placing a bane it is VERY important so make sure you are aware of exactly where you are planting it.
Here are a few things to keep in mind before placing the bane:
- Determine whether the city has walls that reach the limit of the city grid. If it does, observe the outermost section of walls and stand a good ways away from it. Make sure to place the bane well out of trebuchet range (if the trebuchets were placed just inside those walls). This is VERY important so that the defenders cannot hide inside their city and fire trebuchets at the bane while you try to take down a wall. (I will explain this in greater detail later).
- There is an additional layer to the city grid on the south and east sides of the city. I do not know why its there, but it is. This allows for another layer of walls. Keep this in mind!
- Uneven terrain is NOT a good thing for banes. It will cause all kind of pathfinding problems that you do not want to deal with. Place the bane on a fairly level area of land. (I will explain this in greater detail later).
- Place the bane near a corner of the city. Corner sections usually have fewer HP than straight wall sections.
- Because of the extra layer to the city grid on the south and east sides, there might be an extra layer of walls on that side. This would obviously require you to destroy more wall sections in order to reach the tree. To avoid this problem, you should place the bane on the northwest side of the city. Of course, use common sense based on the city design. Your goal is to make sure you're going through the fewest wall sections possible. Furthermore, make sure the bane is placed by the fewest barracks, because guard stacks are hazardous to keeping the trebuchets set on target.
You are finally ready to actually place the bane. When you double click the scroll it will automatically be planted right where you are standing (if not too far away from the tree or hindered by other objects). Congratulations! You are now at war. This is called the Challenge phase of the bane.
The defenders have a window of 24 hours from the time you place the bane to set the bane. There are two windows of time which are important to setting a bane: (1) From the time of the placement the defenders have 24 hours to select a bane time. (2) The defenders may select any time during the 24 hour window starting from 48 hours after placement, to 72 hours after placement. For example, if the bane was placed Thursday night at 9 PM, the defenders have until 9 PM Friday to set the bane. The defenders can set the time of the bane for any time between 9 PM Saturday night and 9 PM Sunday night. If the bane is not set by the defenders, the bane will default to 72 hours after placement. You can find the menu to set the bane time by double clicking the bane and clicking on the small clock in the popup window. The condition and time of the bane can easily be found by double clicking on the banestone. The defender can also set the bane time by double clicking on the banestone. Once the bane time is set you have entered the Standoff phase of the bane.
Bane prep is not as involved as it used to be. Now, all the attackers have to do (or choose not to do) is place bulwarks and/or siege tents (buildings of war). The defenders can also place buildings of war. Common buildings of war include: siege tents, bulwarks, mangonels, and ballistas. All of these buildings of war may be purchased by a siege engineer. A siege engineer may be slotted in either an inn or a siege tent. There are limitations regarding how many buildings of war can be placed on the battlefield. The attacking guild has the ability to place 15 buildings of war if they planted an r8 bane and fewer if they placed a lesser bane. The defenders are always limited to placement of only 4 buildings of war.
Because you have the ability to place 15 buildings of war (assuming you placed an r8 bane), you have the ability to fill the battle field with lots of stuff. DO NOT DO THIS. Creating a mess on uneven terrain (because nothing is flat in Shadowbane) will hinder you greatly in the upcoming battles. Mobility or a lack thereof will hinder the attackers far more than the defenders. Place a siege tent as close to the banestone as possible, but out of range of any bulwarks placed by the defenders. The tent will be used to buy water buckets to heal the banestone if it takes damage, to buy command rods to control trebuchets, and to purchase additional bulwarks if needed. Place 4 or 5 bulwarks close to the bane, but make sure they will be in range of the first wall you need to take down. You can place these buildings at any time after the banestone is dropped because they will be protected by the banestone until the bane is active.
Do not waste a building of war slot on a siege tent. You only have 4. Artillery captains can now be placed in inns. Sack your carpenter and put one there! Place 4 bulwarks in range of the banestone but keep them as close to your walls as possible. If the battle is going poorly, it is very likely you will have the opportunity to /stuck off the wall and claim a trebuchet. You may be summoned back up onto the wall, or inside the city, and attack the banestone from there. Now, some attackers will not have read this guide, or will otherwise fall victim to a common and avoidable error in bane placement. Many months ago, the developers changed the game code regarding bane placement. Until that time banes had to be placed inside the city zone (definable by the details of the minimap). A defender who had a pulse could win a bane without ever leaving the safety of his walls simply by œtrebbing it over the walls. Banes may now be placed out of range of trebuchets from bulwarks inside the city walls. If you, as defender, have the opportunity to place bulwarks inside your city, but still within range of the banestone, because of poor bane placement, DO SO. Someone just wasted 10 million gold.
The Bane Go Live
When the bane goes live you have entered the War phase of the bane. There are so many situations that could occur during the War phase that I will not even attempt to cover them all. Instead, I am going to list general rules and advice with regard to commanding a siege, from both perspectives: attacker and defender. Hopefully you can take some of this information and implement it at your next bane.
- COORDINATION - COORDINATION - COORDINATION. If you have coordination you WILL win. Keeping the members of your nation (and others if the situation arises) in line and focused on the goal at hand is very important. This can be accomplished in many ways. One, which I STRONGLY recommend, is voice communication. Teamspeak and Ventrilo are both excellent voice chat programs. Whether through voice chat or in game chat channels, you need a central leader. The leader is responsible for making all siege decisions. It is very important that the orders issued by the leader be followed immediately and without question. Unnecessary questions or complaints can affect morale and result in defeat. Make sure the leader (or someone assigned to do so) is calling targets.
- Group Composition. Having multiple high level characters on your accounts is extremely important in Shadowbane. You need to be able to throw different types of groups (melees/casters/stealthers) at the enemy if one of them is not working. Here are a few examples of proven successful groups at banes.
- AoE Casters - Compose your groups of heavy AoE casters such as channelers, druids, necromancers and prelates. ALL groups should include a bard with grand mastered (40 trains) Song of Spring and one or two heal priests. Although not a necessity, having a buff priest in each of the groups will also make things easier. While calling targets in AoE groups, it is often best to say AoE off of this target or even AoE off of this grave stick.
- Archery - There are some very solid bow and crossbow templates out there (such as the crossbow warrior or bow ranger). If the archers are following targets, they will fall fast. Of course, include priests and bards in these groups as well. This group is extremely effective for wall fights if the archers use bow/xbows with the of Marksmanship suffix, which add 30% range.
- Melee - There are dozens of effective melee templates that can be made, however, not all melee builds are able to contribute in a bane situation. Centaur great axe barbarians are great in open field PVP, but might not excel in a bane situation. Given the number of buildings of war placed on the battlefield and existing sync errors it is sometimes difficult to close on the enemy and attack them. To solve this problem, throwing templates are very effective. Throwing axe, dagger, and hammer are all viable. Again, keeping everyone on the called target is very important. Make sure you have a bard for the damage chant, run speed, and resists and heal priests in all melee groups.
- Scouting - If you do not have scouts, get some. They are vital in acquiring information regarding enemy numbers and movement. They are also excellent for debuffing called targets during battles because they have GM Bow powers.
- Buffers - Standard siege buffs include Priest 60s (con/dex/str) with group 50 def, single target 100 def, -40% weapon speed, and 150% mana regeneration. Furthermore, bard int/spr is very important for most groups. Other buffs that will help significantly are the huntress Phaedra's Fury (+25 con/dex/str), Warlock Int Buff (+25), and Necromancer Embrace the Void (-40% to power cost). Entering battle unbuffed is a highly effective suicide method in Shadowbane.
Notes to the attackers
Your objective will be (most likely) to tear down walls sections to get into the city, so you can destroy the tree. You also have to protect the bane from being destroyed. If your bulwarks are near the bane, this makes both tasks easier, because you can have your entire force in one place.
- Mix melees and casters. It is often best to have a mix of melees and casters when sieging a city. Place your casters on the bulwarks, and put your melee on the ground where the steps to the bulwarks are. Make sure the enemy is forced to engage your casters first. This ensures the enemy does not mow down your tanks while your casters cannot reach them. The melee should remain near the bulwark until the enemy tanks rush. The melee's job is to protect the casters.
- Snares and stuns are very important so make sure you have plenty of classes with access to those powers in your caster group.
- Summon back your dead and sanctify(remove their death shroud) them as soon as possible. Some fights can last a long time and become a game of who can summon back the dead faster.
- DO NOT LOSE ONE BATTLE. If the bane is already active and you lose a battle, you will most likely not have the time to get everyone back in time to prevent the enemy from knocking the banestone down. This often depends on how many people are on each side.
- Destroy enemy bulwarks before you start destroying walls. The enemy can use those trebuchets to knock the bane down even if they are not outside the safety of their city. Destroying their bulwarks also gives you a slim chance to get back in time if you lose a battle.
- As soon as a corner tower falls, place a bulwark there. This will clear the area from the rubble of the fallen wall and give you trebuchets closer to the next wall that needs to fall.
- If there is room inside the enemy's town for bulwarks, either place them inside before the War phase, or place them so that they are built by the time you reach the inside of the city. Keep in mind the buildings of war limit of 15. If there is not room, destroy the largest and lowest rank building in the town (using a Battle Magus and tanks with siege hammers or bows). This will most likely be the bank (Cathedral or Church).
- Once you are inside the city and have trebuchets attacking the tree, it is extremely important to be aware of what is occurring at the banestone. Make sure the enemy is not forming up there and trying to knock it. This will most likely require multiple mass movements of your force from the tree to the banestone and back. Keep everyone together! Do not worry if you lose control of trebuchets inside the city while fighting at the bane. They can be reclaimed. Another tip on claiming trebuchets: do not stealth if you have one controlled. You will lose control of it.
- A tree can be either destroyed or reclaimed. A tree is reclaimed if the character that banned the tree is in a guild that does not currently have a tree. You can put your character in a guild to reclaim the tree at any time before the tree falls. If the person that placed the bane is in a guild that has a tree, the tree and all its fortifications will be destroyed. The buildings that were protected by the runemaster (20 in total if the runemaster was rank 7) will be unprotected if the tree was destroyed, but will remain protected if the tree was captured.
- If your guild has a fighter base character with the Sapper rune applied and trained, and a Rogue base character with the Saboteur rune applied and trained, you may be able to avoid much of the prep work outlined in this guide. These powers are buggy. However, in theory you can use this combination to enter a city and disable spires, even with "No Flight" and "No Teleport" spires running. The Sapper must use Open a Gap to find a weak spot in the wall. The Sapper then casts Point The Way In on the Saboteur. This allows the Saboteur to use Infiltrate, which is a spire proof teleport. The Saboteur then uses Sabotage to disable the spires for a short time.
Notes for the defenders
Defenders have an extreme advantage over the attackers. You will always have the protection of your city to regroup if you lose a battle. Additionally, you can reform and rebuff quicker than the attackers. This can benefit you because you might be able to attack the enemy right after a large battle before the enemy is prepared.
- Spires - There are many different types of spires that can be placed by the defending guild, with a maximum of three spires placed in a city. The two most common spires prevent flight and teleport. These spires make it impossible to enter the town and siege the tree unless walls are knocked down. The third spire you choose will depend on the group composition you plan on using for the defense of your town (assuming you have a rank 7 or 8 tree). Some of the most common types of siege spires include summon prevention, reduction to attack rating or defense, and reduction to a particular resist, such as fire or holy. Plan accordingly!
- AoE groups are your friend. You can utilize both walls and bulwarks to protect your paper thin mages.
- Try to protect your bulwarks as much as possible by sanctifying (healing) them.
- The walls are very important, so use them as often as you can. Make the enemy struggle to see you and get to you.
- As soon as you have cleared the enemy away from the banestone, start tearing it down. Blunt weapons, siege weapons, trebuchets, Battlemagi, and necromancer pets all work quite well.
- Finally, be persistent! Wear down your enemy until they fold.
- Artillerist is a profession that can be put on most fighter and rogue base classes. They have a spell that can increase the damage done by trebuchets.
- Sanctifier is a profession that can be used to remove the death shroud of an ally, heal buildings, and make buildings resistant to sieging.
Damebix, CoolWaters, Merek and Angelmar for their help with editing and formatting.