There are many different ways to play Final Fantasy XV: A New Empire. Most players focus on getting stronger offensively to better attack other players and gain new troop tiers. Other players enjoy the farming and slow accumulation of resources, and still others are really in the game for their friends in Guild.
There is another style that many players have heard of which is called Trapping. Trapping is different than a full attack style of play or even a standard defensive strategy just looking to survive against stronger empires. In this article, we are going to cover the requirements and overview of this playstyle including answers to common questions about the playstyle.
Trapping: A Definition
Before we talk about the Trapping playstyle, we need to define it. Trapping means to build your empire in such a way that you can win on defense against stronger empires while appearing weaker than you are at first glance. The primary goal of a trap account is to be attacked and win on defense. Unlike most other Empires, Traps *want* to be attacked.
To be an excellent trap, you ideally want to look like an easy target while actually being very tough and capable of destroying or crippling incoming marches. This requires different gear and different considerations than a purely offensive account.
Note also that Trapping is distinct from just playing defensively. You can make an account that is so big and so full of troops that almost every player avoids you.When playing a trap, you WANT to be attacked. You also want to win.
Why To Trap
Before we get into the specifics of how to trap, let’s discuss why you would want to. The primary draw for most trappers is that Trapping is fun for players who like to play the underdog and win against the “big guys”. It is also good for people who have a bit of a troll streak and like to frustrate their opponents.
If you like the idea of happily decimating incoming marches over and over as someone fruitlessly throws everything they have at you, or collecting a stockpile of heroes from very confused attackers, or getting back at bullies, then trapping is very possibly for you.
Another reason for Trapping is that it CAN be cheaper in packs than playing a very strong offensive game. Because you want to look weak (which we will discuss shortly), trapping tends to involve lagging behind in Citadel levels a bit and otherwise curbing all-out power growth. This CAN lead to fewer packs spent.
This is NOT to say that you can trap ANY attacking account without spending on packs. You can’t. The game just isn’t designed that way.
It’s true that you can trap as a free player, but you are generally only going to be able to trap one troop tier up from your highest (so if you have t2, you can trap t3 successfully). But it will take a long time to set up without spending on packs, and you will lag behind on necessary gear to tackle stronger opponents.
Depending on the power level you want to be able to beat, and whether you want to trap against rallies or solos (we’ll discuss that later) you might need things like better gear which are primarily found from packs as well. And you will need t3 at minimum to trap very strong accounts.
There is also troop training and instant hospital recovery for higher-than-t1 troops, both of which benefit from either speed-ups or gold.
For these reasons, it is best to look at Trapping as an alternate playstyle with different goals than a total "budget" option, although if you are willing to spend on packs you will be able to defeat opponents that have spent far more than you have. And that is very fun.
If you think trapping might be for you, the rest of this article will help point you in the right direction. Remember that the trap equation is to look weak while actually being strong. First let’s look at the primary way to appear weak.
Keep Visible Power Low
Most attackers look at two primary things when evaluating a target: the level of your Citadel and your Power.
These things tell the attacker a few things without scouting. If you are level 19, the attacker knows that you don’t have access to t3 troops, for example. Likewise a level 29 has no t4.
Power gives the seasoned attacker a rough idea of how strong you are likely to be. A level 20 account with 6 million power is probably going to cost way less in casualties to attack than a level 20 account with 13 million.
To understand why, let’s look at the primary sources of the Power stat: troops, hero level, research and buildings, and Empire Quest rewards.
The more troops you have, and the higher level your buildings and troops and hero, the more likely you are to be a tougher opponent. This isn’t always true (empire quests add an enormous amount to your Power stat, as do Siege troops, without much direct benefit), but it is true often enough.
Because your power can tip off an opponent to your strength, as a Trap you want to absolutely minimize unnecessary Power increases from non-troop sources so that you can maximize troop count without looking too huge. That means:
- Stop doing your Empire quests. Those are the ones at the top of the Quest tab. Those give Power in addition to Hero XP. Hero/Guild/VIP quests are still okay to do for gear mats, gems and hero XP (although see next point).
- Don’t level Noctis too much higher than your target gear, if you can help it. A high level Noctis certainly helps on defense if combat-spec’d, but higher-level heroes add an ENORMOUS amount of power. So if you want Sentinel, stop at 30 or just above. If you want Arbiter (which can be helpful) stop at 40 or just above. Then keep your hero in whenever you can. And don’t get Prompto. Multiple heroes double-up on Hero power. If they ever release a defensive hero, this might change, but Prompto is for attacking and you are playing defense.
- Minimize your non-combat research and buildings. Particularly your rss buildings, which are basically wasted Power in terms of trapping, since they don’t do anything for you combat-wise. The same is true of Econ research. You still absolutely need Defense and Combat research however, and Hero can be helpful for the mats from monsters (although not necessary). And you will want either hospitals or a mix of hospitals and banks inside the wall to mitigate casualties.
Minimizing Power gained in these areas should allow for more troops at the same power level, which is crucial to trapping. This is the primary method used to look weak. Coupled with an anti-scout, the attacker won’t be able to discern you from a weaker account that has been doing everything above and boosting their Power.
Two other sources of excess power worth mentioning are Traps (the type in your Wall) and siege engines. Both of these troop types give an enormous amount of power compared to other troops of their level. Granted, siege is useful for gathering and Traps buffed by defense skills can be powerful against solo attacks, but given the effects on visible power you will want to minimize siege and possibly do away with traps altogether (yes, it is possible and even possibly ideal to Trap without actual traps). Also, siege are so weak against other troops that they are a bit of a liability.
Now let’s talk about how you make yourself strong enough to survive against those attackers.
Max Combat and Defense Research
Specifically, you want to max any Combat research that increases troop stats (HP, Attack, Armor) and the City Defense skills in the Defense tree that also increase those stats. This is absolutely the most important thing at every level of Trapping.
You want your troops as strong as possible, and aside from gear (which we’ll cover later in the article), research is the most important way to do this.
Anything that increases Attack, HP or Armor is worth investing in. Whether you continue to go deeper in the Defense tree aside from the City Defense skills is a judgement call. Hospital Healing Speed and Capacity can be very useful, and if you are using Traps in your wall then the +Trap HP and Attack are key. But these are not 100% necessary.
The embassy skills look good on paper but in practice, unless you have a reliable source of higher-tier or same tier reinforcements, you don’t need to invest in these.
You might also think about maxing the lower-level Crafting research, due to the effect on Sentinel and other defense-focused gear.
Build Hospital Wards
The biggest barrier to successfully trapping is surviving with low enough casualties against incoming attacks, or keeping troop deaths within your hospital limit. By building hospital wards, you increase the number of troops that your hospital can hold, as well as giving your troops a slight boost to HP.
High-level banks give an Armor boost that outstrips the hospital’s HP in terms of mitigating casualties, and at certain levels this can be useful. An example would be a level 19 with t2 trapping against players level 20-29 that have t3: it is possible to get a greater effect out of banks than hospitals at this stage. But swap the attacker out for a t4 account and suddenly the casualties go up to the point that losses are unsustainable without using hospitals to catch injured troops.
Likewise, higher-level Promptos with Armor-mitigation are getting more common, decreasing the value of the Armor stat compared to HP.
You may have to do a bit of tweaking in regards to utility buildings to find the best mix for you personally, but sticking with Wards as the primary type is best practice as you can’t always control what you are being attacked with.
Additionally, the addition of the new City Guardian mercenaries in the Mercenary Fighting Pit release make for an excellent reason to expand your Hospital capacity. These troops are absolute beasts on defense, but very expensive, so having enough hospital space to hold them all is key if you get these troops.
Focus on Defense Gear
Currently, gear is the most important component of successful Trapping after Research due to the enormous power it provides at no visible change to power level. Your gear focus as a Trap should be on defensive stats first (Armor and HP) followed by attack after you get casualties down to an acceptable level.
In rough order of “best” gear, you have the briefly available Undertaker gear that has gobs of HP, followed by Sentinel which has tons of Armor, followed by Gunslinger (for the HP and Attack), followed by yellow Hunter’s.
A useful rule of thumb when evaluating potential armor is that one point of HP is worth about three points of Armor. Using this rule of thumb you can identify which piece of gear would work better for you based on what you have.
How expensive the gear is to obtain will play into your choices here. Undertaker gear (which is now available in level 9 of the Proving Grounds), is top-tier Trapping gear but is somewhat expensive for good-quality pieces.
Realistically, the fastest and most reliable ways to get Sentinel and Gunslinger at the moment are the Proving Grounds level 3 and 4. These cost packs both to open and play in, but realistically you are going to have to spend on packs to get decent gear. Due to the way the proving grounds work, this is far more reliable than trusting gear-chest packs, but you also won’t get the rss and speeds that come from buying chest packs.
The Attack stat comes into play when you have reached a point that your casualties are no longer the problem against incoming attacks. For example, if your casualties are within the hospital limit but you aren’t doing enough damage to the marches attacking you, you might think about swapping out a defensive gear piece or two for a high-quality Arbiter piece (particularly pieces with pure Attack like the weapon).
Rally Trap, Solo Trap, Burn Trap
There are different styles of trapping differentiated by what type of attacker you are preparing for and what outcome you are looking for when attacked. All of the previous information in this article is applicable to all Trap styles.
- Solo Traps are built to win on defense against solo assaults from a strong opponent. This is the most common form of Trapping.
- Rally Traps are built to withstand rallies. These types of Traps by necessity require better gear and more (and usually higher-tier) troops, and are usually easier to spot due to much higher power. This also means they get attacked less, which may not suit your playstyle.
- Burn Traps are a variant of Solo Traps that are meant to win on points (or at least collect a ton of points), either in a KE or an RvR. They are slightly different from a Solo trap in that they are not necessarily meant to win against or hero capture an attacker. Losing may in fact be the point, so that the attacker keeps sending tons of troops to die but they think that they are “winning”.
A concrete example of Burn Trapping would be an attacker that sends a wave of 35k marches, hospitalizes 40k lower-tier troops per attack but only gets 5k survivors back per march. Technically they’re “winning”, but at ridiculous cost and probably losing on points to the defender in an event.
It is potentially possible to have a Trap account that is more than one type at once, depending on the strength of an attacker. A Trap that eats t4 solos may also be proof against most t3 rallies, for example.
This gets into the most important question as a trap: what power level and troop tier are you targeting as far as opponents?
The answer to this question is going to depend on your Realm’s metagame and what you expect to encounter in multi-realm events. It’s not worth it to try and target t5 solos if there’s only one t5 player in your Realm and they’re in your guild, for example. You should target your Trap’s strength to what you expect to face in battle.
This leads us to the next part of Trapping, which is troop composition and number.
Troop Type and Number
The third part of successful Trapping aside from Research and Gear is your troops. The number of troops you need, and the tier of those troops, is going to depend on how strong your opponents are and your own research and armor quality.
It is very difficult to give hard numbers on this part due to the extreme variation that is possible in attackers. A t4 player with level 36 combat research and a level 50 Prompto is going to be a vastly more powerful opponent than a fresh level 30 and a level 50 Noctis with the same troops.
Likewise, if you have a full set of Undertaker or Sentinel you are going to require fewer troops on defense than if you are making due with yellow Hunters and a couple green Sentinel and Arbiter pieces.
A good place to start as far as target numbers can be found in our article on Surviving Against Strong Empires, as well as information in the Combat Defense Guide. We’ll also cover testing your trap build later in this guide.
Troop ratios, i.e. whether to use an even number of each troop or whether to go heavy on one or two troop types, is hotly debated. An even spread of troops will almost always result in fewer casualties due to the way damage is applied (as we cover in the Combat Attack and Defense Guides), but if you have a huge amount of Attack in one troop type over another (due to Hero skills, usually) it may be best to play to your strengths to make it more difficult for the attacker.
Some players try to go heavy on one troop type at a lower tier, or use a single type of Trap (say, targeting Cavalry) and then use the counter-type at the higher tier. This is not recommended in most cases because the math still leaves you open to an attack from a canny opponent who studies their battle reports carefully.
Meat Walls and Traps
We cover the concept of Meat Walls and Trap usage, as well as how damage is assigned,in the Combat Defense Guide. If you are unclear on how combat damage is assigned when using multiple tiers or traps, it is recommended to refer to that for a full explanation. But a quick refresher is provided here on the basic concepts:
- Damage is assigned to your lowest tier or troops first
- Traps all count as one tier lower, and there is no tier 0
- Reinforced Walls, Barricades and Archers all count as t1 troops for purposes of damage
- Pits count as t2 troops for purposes of damage
- Wards count as t3 for purposes of damage
- Higher tier troops WILL NOT take damage until all lower-tier troops are eliminated
- Damage is assigned in equal proportion depending on how many of each troop type you have, and each trap is a “type”. So if you have 50% t1 cavalry, 20% t1 warriors, 10% Ice Archers, 5% Fire Barricades and 5% Fire Archers, each of those types will take that percent of the base damage modified by what is doing the damage. If you had the same traps but t2 troops, your traps will take ALL the damage when attacked.
These points are very important to understand when working on your defensive set-up. In practice it means that if you are going to use traps (archers, Pits, etc) at all, you need to pair them with troops at the same damage level or they will be destroyed very quickly. This is one reason that many players prefer not to use actual Traps when trapping.
Traps lower than pits may be capable of damage but tend to fall down quickly when attacked. Pits can do a decent amount of damage when buffed by defense research, but the Power addition from Pits is significant.
Let's discuss the Meat Wall: The Meat Wall is a defensive tactic where you use two troop tiers (t1 and t2, t1 and t3, t2 and t3, etc.). The lower tier is meant to take the damage and be hospitalized, while the higher tier is meant to cause the damage to the enemy.
In observed testing, better results are seen by using your highest tier only due to buffs scaling better for higher-tier troops.That means if you have access to t3 troops, you lose less power and fewer troops by just using t3 troops. This also makes traps like pits less effective since they take the brunt of the initial damage and cannot be healed by the hospital (although they can be rebuilt rapidly if you have gold)
The only advantage seen to using lower-tier troops is that t1 troops can be put back instantly on their feet by using the hospital without using gold. Casualties tend to be extremely high against t1 from t4 though, so this is less an ideal situation than a necessary one if you are a free or low-spend player who can’t afford gold for instant hospital healing.
Important Note:. City Guardians are an EXCELLENT meatwall troop due to their strength on defense and their relatively low Power, way better than a lower tier troop. If you have unlocked the Mercenary Fighting Pits, you have access to the City Guardian troop type You can read more about this in our article on Mercenaries.
One of the goals of a Trap is to keep casualties in the hospital range as much as possible. But the hospital only holds so many troops, and attackers will usually send more than one march when attacking, often in very quick succession.
That makes quick hospital use vital for preserving troops, and also for saving on training cost for wheat troops (t3 and up).
Ideally this means you want to be online at the time of the attack so that you are able to bring troops back online with the hospital, or even bubble if the attack is too overwhelming. Since you can't be online at all times, you may want to consider leaving notifications on so that you can hop on if attacked, and stock up on bubbles. Good trapping is an active playstyle; you can’t ultimately stop a determined attacker from zeroing you if you aren’t online and they are willing to spend the troops.
For troops higher than t1, you need gold to get them instantly back in the fight. So if you don’t have gold handy, training a minimal t1 Meat Shield as discussed in the section above may be necessary.
Note also that using the hospital at any troop level requires food. Since you are likely to have a lot of troops as a Trap account, you may often be at negative food upkeep unless you only have t3 and up. This means that if you are being attacked, you will want to quickly crack open a food rss item so that you can pay for the hospital. All tiers of troops use food in the hospital regardless of what is used to train them.
Reinforcements from a higher level player can be very helpful if you can swing it. Reinforcements do not add to your power and cannot be seen if you are using anti-scout, which means reins are free invisible troop strength.
It is important though to get either higher-tier reins than the troops you have, or same tier minimum. Lower-tier reinforcements die rapidly and do not end up in the hospital. Higher-tier reins will do damage across repeat attacks without taking damage (your normal troops act as a meatshield).
Some important things to remember about reins though: you have to send them home from the embassy before you can shield, they will be left behind (and walk home) when you port, and the player who donates them cannot shield (but can port) as long as the reins are in your embassy.
Anti-Scout and Boosts
It’s important as a trap to not let the enemy see your hand, if possible. You want to use anti-scout if and when you anticipate being attacked, especially if you are using reinforcements.
Anti-scout is mutually exclusive with other combat boosts such as +HP and +Attack, which are better when you are actually being attacked though. This is another reason that you want to set an alert and log on when being attacked; so that you can swap Anti with a combat boost of you need to. HP is generally more useful than attack due to lowering casualties.
Or if you’re confident that you can completely decimate the incoming marches, go ahead and leave the anti-scout up and leave your opponent scratching their head over an empty battle report.
Because of the variance mentioned in the troop section above, you will want to test your Trap. This is something that all dedicated Trap players do. A friendly attacker account is the best case scenario for initial testing because you can compare boosts and battle results, which is likely to be harder with an actual enemy.
For this reason, joining a guild that has one or more high-troop-tier accounts can be helpful in getting your trap working. It is also helpful in terms of general defense for those times when you are offline; having a “big brother/sister” account looking out for guildmates is extremely helpful for all types of accounts.
If this is infeasible, you may have to rely on “live” testing against actual enemies.
Unless you are on a very war-torn server, you will probably have to do some legwork to get attacked regularly. This means provoking attackers. There are many ways to do this, but some suggestions to spur your creativity are included below:
- Tile hit players (it may take multiple attacks if they have higher-tier troops)
- Attack farm accounts
- Smack-talk in Realm chat (keep it PG though, to avoid a chat ban)
- Port into the middle of a hive
- Steal the last hit on monsters
- Attack with a single troop against the same person every hour or so for several days
- Hit weaker players in a guild that has a couple of stronger accounts, ideally stealing their heroes to provoke a rescue mission
- Port into the middle of a crystal battle and/or one-troop the crystal when contested
If this sounds like being a jerk, well, it sort of is. None of these suggestions are against any rules, and the goal is to get someone into a blinding hot rage that can only be quenched by trying to squash you.
Due to the social consequences of this type of behavior, you may want to keep a stock of Empire name changes on hand and leave your hero with the default name.
Realm versus Realm combat has a point structure that impacts trapping. Notably, you only get one point for every power of damage you do on your home realm versus five points when in the other Realm.
This point spread is next to impossible to beat on defense in your home Realm. However, this may not matter to you if you can hero-cap a stronger opponent or are just looking to get points for your guild. Feel free to try any or all of the above suggestions on provoking attackers against invading empires if this is the case.
Trapping is a fun play style, but reactive playing isn’t for everyone. If you have read through this Guide and feel it is not for you regardless of your power level, don’t worry. There is no wrong or right way to play the game.
If it does sound fun (and it is), you will find the points in this guide useful for any style of Trap. If you are interested in more info on this popular playstyle, make sure you sign up for site updates to stay on top of future Trap-specific articles coming soon!