Higher-tier troops are one of the biggest sources of combat power in Final Fantasy XV: A New Empire, but they are also one of the hardest things to defend against as a lower-level empire. In this article we are going to break down what you can do to protect yourself from much stronger empires while you are making the climb to tier 3 or tier 4 yourself.
All of the information in our previous Combat Defense Guide will apply here, but this article goes in-depth on defending yourself as a tier 2 or t3 player against a t 3 or t4 player. Note that this article is NOT about trapping, which is a playstyle where you want strong accounts to hit you and are pretending to be weak, but about basic survival against very strong empires.
An important point before we start to go over the tactics: there is no “magic bullet” in the game that will make you totally safe from every type of attack. The requirements to survive or win against a strong t3 player will not suffice against t4 troops. Further, there is an enormous range of power even within tiers; a level 20 Citadel with t3 troops will not have the same attack power as one with level 29 combat research, and the same is true for t4 in the 30-40 research range. Additionally, the success of a defensive build will depend very heavily on whether it is built to withstand an attack with the hero included.
Likewise, your own defense capabilities will be limited by your research, your hero level and skills, and your gear in addition to what tier of troops you have access to.
For those reasons, we can’t give exact requirements for every possible attack and defense scenario. What we will do is arm you with core defensive strategies, as well as setups that have been observed to work against specific power levels and scenarios.
Let’s start with the core strategies.
Core Defensive Strategies
There are a couple of principles that you can use at any power level to minimize losses and keep people from repeatedly attacking you. These are the following, in rough order of importance:
- Max your Combat and Defense Research
- Level up your utility buildings (hospitals, banks, barracks) for the boosts
- Train a Lot of Troops
- Hit monsters ceaselessly for loyalty
- Work on your gear
- Focus on HP and Attack in Hero Skills
Let’s dive into each of principles.
Combat and Defense Research
The most important thing is to increase your Combat and City Defense research; this makes your troops stronger. You should focus your rss and time here first because unlike troop strength, research cannot be taken away from you by a successful attack.
These researches make a huge difference, particularly as they scale very high as you continue to level them. They are expensive though, so you will want to use the strategies outlined in the Resource Guide to max your rss collection efforts.
Level Your Utility Buildings
Your utility buildings are the bank, barracks and the hospital wards.
Banks and Hospital Wards are your defensive buildings. Hospital wards increase the number of troops your hospital can take in, which is key to saving rss after a powerful attack. They also provide a modest amount of HP. HP scales better for preventing casualties point-for-point against armor, but the armor from banks rapidly overtakes the HP from Wards. So banks above level 10 are for preventing casualties, while hospital wards are primarily for taking in more wounded with a smaller casualty mitigation than banks.
You will want to balance these buildings with barracks at first, because you will eventually need a lot of troops. It may serve you better at first to build barracks and then replace them with hospitals or banks later, to make it easier to build up the troops. This is going to depend on if you are buying packs with speed-ups, and how often you are getting attacked while working on your defenses.
Train a Lot of Troops
How many troops you need to defend successfully depends on what kind of hit you are looking to survive and what your research level is.
If you are a level 19 with maxed combat and defense research with five level 19 banks, it might require 300k t2 or more to stave off a very strong t3 attack that includes a hero, for example. We discuss the particulars of this later in the article, but the important thing to remember is that lots of troops will protect you better as long as they are buffed by research and ideally hero and gear.
Note: If you are not spending for packs or are on a budget, it will be important to make some farm accounts that produce food. This will help you get around negative upkeep to keep making troops, as well as continue researching and building. Additionally, you will be able to put your hero skill points into HP or Troop Attack rather than chasing farm production or upkeep efficiency.
Hit Monsters Ceaselessly For Loyalty
You should also hit monsters constantly for loyalty. This is so that you can afford to stock a few shields. No matter how powerful you become, there are still some attacks that will be able to get past your defenses. So you should always have a shield or two on hand. As we cover in our How To Get More Loyalty article, level 1-3 monsters provide more loyalty-to-MP, whereas level 4 monsters provide better mats. If you have monster 4, you will have to balance the loyalty needs with the mats but be aware that level 1-3 monsters provide the best loyalty returns.
To hit more monsters to get the loyalty, you will want to focus on Hero tree research after your defense and combat research. Crafting a gold hunter set as soon as you can will also help you hit more monsters, and additionally gold Hunter gear has good Armor which helps with your survivability while you save up rares for the other gear sets.
Work on Your Gear
As mentioned above, a gold hunter set is where you should start with gear. The armor on the helm, boots and chestpiece is excellent, and additionally being able to attack more monsters is helpful for loyalty collection is very useful as well. You should trade the shears for one of the troop-specific weapons (and later an arbiter spear, if you can collect the mats) as the shears have no combat effectiveness.
Focus on HP and Attack in Hero Skills
The left side of the Hero skill tree is where you should focus for defense, particularly HP for the casualty mitigation. This is at the cost of the production skills, but these can partially be made up through economics skill research.
Now let’s get in to some specific scenarios.
Tier 1 and Tier 2 against Tier 3
A mix of Tier 1 and Tier 2 or just Tier 2 by itself can defend against tier 3 attackers as long as you follow the defensive principles above. A level 18-19 Citadel with maxed combat research and level 10 City Defense skills with level 19 banks and hospitals can become more than a match for any tier 3 solo from Cit level 21-30 if there are enough troops on defense.
How many troops you need is going to depend on the attacker; an attack by a level 29 Citadel with a hero in purple arbiter gear is going to be a lot stronger than a level 21 in blue Hunter gear.
100k each of tier 2 cavalry, warrior and mage will be sufficient to pull a win against almost any t3 attacker sending a force your way with a hero if you are following the defensive principles above.
200k-250k+ each of tier 2 cavalry, warrior, and mage should be able to decimate the march, and will also be capable of holding steady against many heroless t4 marches as well.
You can also use a t1 meatshield at a 2-1 trade for t2 in the numbers above, as well as archers. Barricades and reinforced walls can slow down t3 attackers, but the stronger ones with better combat research will usually walk all over them.
Protecting against t3 rallies is harder than solo attacks and requires way more troops. The full rally size for a t3 can range anywhere from 125,000 to 175,000, although in practice it is often as low as 40k-60k. Whatever attack you can take solo, you would need to multiply troops by the number of players to get within the range that you can take the rally, plus some additional. Due to the fact that rallies protect the troops in them by spreading out the damage. Additionally, hospital wards win out over banks in this scenario because your casualties will be a lot higher.
Practically speaking your best option is to shield when a rally is headed in your direction unless you have a ton of troops.
Tier 1 and Tier 2 against Tier 4
Tier 4 is a completely different ballgame than tier 3. In the following screenshots, you can see the difference between a t3 attack and t4 attack with hero by the same attacker against a level 19 Citadel with max defense/ combat and purple Hunter gear:
Everything was exactly the same between these two attacks except for the tier used on attack, and the t2 player saw a 149% increase in casualties from the swap to tier 4. Meanwhile the attacker saw the same size drop in casualties taken. And that is less than a full march, by an attacker at University 32 combat research in their monster-hunting gear.
Here is the good news: Tier 2 troops can defend against fresh t4 around Citadel level 30, at least at very high numbers. If the defending player had increased the t2 count by 7 times in the above screenshot, they would have eaten or nearly eaten that march (although if the attacker had been in Arbiter, their casualties would have been much higher and outside of hospital range).
Here is the bad news: At Citadel levels 35+, the combat research gets a LOT stronger and attackers tend to have much better gear and higher-level heroes. The combat research scales such that a level 39 can have almost twice the troop attack as a level 30 t4 player. That means any estimates for what you need will need to be doubled to cover the worst-case scenarios.
Surviving against a strong t4 rally as a t2 player is nearly impossible, especially depending on the attacker’s hero and gear and the number of troops in the rally. A full t4 rally (150-200k t4) with a combat-spec’d hero in Arbiter can cause hundreds of thousands of casualties to even a strong level 19 with over a million t2. While it is possible to survive smaller t4 rallies than this with 1-2mil+ troops, you will hit the troop cap before you can withstand a full t4 rally from a high-level tier 4 player.
Your best bet against t4 rallies is to try and focus your efforts and resources on obtaining t3 troops, and shielding when one comes your way in the meantime.
Tier 3 against Tier 4
It is a lot easier to defend against tier 4 troops when you have tier 3 troops, both due to the base troop strength and the research buffs in combat available at University 20 and 21.
The optimal troop numbers for t3 against t4 is similar to t2 versus t3; 150k-300k of each t3 troop should pull a win against all but the strongest tier 4 attackers depending on your research. A level 20 Citadel without access to the increased troop-specific attack and defense researches is going to have a more difficult time protecting against t4 and require a larger number of t3 to compensate.
Much like a t3 rally versus t2 troops, to survive a t4 rally you need to increase your t3 count by the estimated number of players in the rally you are expecting plus some extra. As with t3 rallies, your best bet is to shield when being targeted unless you are intentionally trying to take a rally strike.
Note: If you make it to t3 as a free or budget player, you WILL need a wheat source to keep making t3 troops. Either coordinate with your guild members that are level 15+, or work on some wheat farms yourself to compensate. $25 in packs on a new account will get you to level 15 if you focus on Citadel only, and you can then build up the farms to produce wheat.
Online versus Offline Defense
In all the cases mentioned above, it is assumed that you are online or able to log on to use the hospital in-between attacks or otherwise replenish your troops. If you are NOT able to do so, there is nothing stopping a determined attacker with a large amount of troops from throwing heroless marches at you until your defending troops are such that they can safely send a hero with their march. Or worse, calling for rally back-up from their guild.
This can happen at any time, but is most likely to happen during a KE or RvR because the stronger accounts will be hunting for points. During these events you should activate a shield at least while you are sleeping, or at the very least ghost rally your hero if you do not want them captured. This is one of the reasons that making sure you collecting loyalty daily is important.
A Note on Traps
If you look at the defensive principles outlined at the top of the article, you will note that it does not mention traps. This is because traps are situationally useful, but not in every circumstance. The tiered traps appear to be designed primarily to work against one troop tier upwards, which means that archers can work well against t3 solos but tend to be knocked over easily by t4. The reinforced walls are cheap and quick to replace, but do not provide a huge benefit when you get to very high troop counts.
Additionally traps really need Trap HP and Attack research to really shine, but these research skills should be pursued after the City Defense and Combat research. And all traps are much better against solos than rallies, due to the limited number that you can have. Lastly, traps tend to increase power lost during KE and especially RvR.
It is worth employing traps as additional protection against solos from a pure survival perspective, but be aware of their limitations.
Update 2/28/2018: As of the time of this update, it must be noted that Traps are not recommended for defending against any troop type that is higher than T3. You can read why here.
The best pure defense in all cases is going to be troops that are either the same tier or one tier downwards from the attacker’s, backed up by strong defensive and combat boosts from research and gear. Since there is a lot of variance in attacks, it IS possible to survive at lower levels with a very high troop count or if the attacker is sending attacks without a hero, but against higher-tier rallies and very strong heroes these defenses fall apart unless you have very good gear.
Given that the biggest common threat in the game is currently tier 4, your best bet is to shoot for tier 3 as fast as you can and increase your troop count. This will give you a steady platform to continue to build from and also dissuade most attackers.
For some tips on intermediate strategies you can employ to increase your defense, check out Hot Tips: Defense & Trapping 1.0