Illyriad Update Adds Crafting and Advanced Trade

In the largest single release in the game’s history, the game economy of Illyriad, the acclaimed HTML5 massively multiplayer online strategy game, sees a dramatic expansion today, with new commodities, equipment, an expanded gathering system, crafting system and an expanded regional trade system.

The previous 17 resources which could be traded in Illyriad are joined by hundreds of new items, ranging from grapes and wine to rare minerals and magical ingredients. With many commodities available only in specific parts of the game world, and some extremely rare, this opens up the possibility for elaborate player trade and crafting strategies, extending to monopolies and cartels.

“This huge expansion in trade, and the whole crafting system that we are bringing in, opens up new choices for player specialisation. Specialist traders and specialist manufacturers will both have an important place in Illyriad going forward,” explained Illyriad’s founder, James Niesewand. “Illyriad has always been praised for its depth, and this release does add more depth. For example, military players previously had 8 basic troop types to choose from, but with the new equipment produced by crafting there will be thousands of possible troop load-outs, allowing players to customise their soldiers for different missions, terrains and even climates. So, for the military players, yes, there is more depth. But what this update really adds to Illyriad is breadth, allowing players to explore complex trading and manufacturing strategies.”

This update includes:

  • 72 new weapons
  • 53 new armour types
  • 9 new mounts
  • 13 new specialist buildings
  • More than 50 new special resource types
  • Dozens of items lootable from animals
  • 187 new technologies to research, ranging from Wine Making, to Faction Markets, to Obsidian Blade

With such a dynamic change to the game, the full impact of the release could take several months to be felt by the players of Illyriad. All of the new buildings, equipment, researches and commodities in the release go live at the end of this week.

About Illyriad:

“An epic RTS but with killer lore and an awesome community.” –

“I could tell right away that this game was special.” – ThriftyGamer

“Illyriad has a great niche…. There is plenty to do and I would suggest that everyone with a few minutes goes and checks it out.” –

Illyriad is a browser-based Massively Multiplayer strategy game, in which players take control of cities, engaging in city-building, quests, diplomacy, warfare and trade. Developed by London-based Illyriad Games Ltd., Illyriad went live in 2010 and was officially launched on May 16th 2011.

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Preview: Commander Screen Re-design

With the introduction of gathering and crafting for troop equipment, armies in Illyriad are going to become much more customizable and can be tailored to suit specific combat situations. You can specialize for terrain, biomes, tactical roles or even day/night combat.

But who says the armies are the only ones who get to have all the fun? Your commanders will be able to use equipment items too.

Just like their armies, commanders will get to choose a piece of armor, a weapon and a mount on which to ride. So, for example, if you had equipped your army division with this specialized horse that gives a bonus to movement speed, you would want to make sure to give one to your commander also, so that he will benefit from the bonus as well. Or you may choose to give your commander the best equipment available, while finding more cost effective versions for the rest of the army.


The second part of the addition of equipment for commanders is the re-design of the commander screen.

Now, rather than being only a text-based screen, you can see all of the icons for commander abilities that you have researched.

Items in color are those you have researched, with the others in black/white.

The commander is shown as a silhouette with three slots available to add the equipment items.

Health and experience are shown in bars, so you can see how close you are to the next level or how much health your commander has left.

If you have the required experience you can click the button next to each ability to level it up.

The re-design of the commander screen, as well as the ability to equip your commander will be coming with the harvesting and crafting update.

Towards Trade v2

Trade is based on the notion that you swap what you do not need or do not want, for something you do need or want. For example, you want a new car and you have more money than you need, so you buy a car from a dealership which has cars but needs money. Or perhaps you are better at playing a certain sport than anyone else on Earth, so you swap your time for vast quantities of money at one of the top clubs (and then, oh, the cars you will buy!)

All of this is based on the idea of people needing and wanting different things, and having different things.

In Illyriad today, all settlements can make everything if they choose to do so, so there is nothing that you cannot make for yourself. On the other hand there is nothing that you have that is useless to you. Everything you want, you can get through manufacturing, with little need to trade. As a result, trade in Illyriad today is fairly limited.

But all of that is about to change.

Imagine if you awoke one morning to find that you had, near your towns, a mine and a patch of woodland where you can gather rare gems that are useful in magic. Now you don’t need to cast that many spells that often, so you can easily have more gems than you need. You could stockpile these, but you could also sell them. Now, you may want to defend your new-found resources, and you may want your spearmen to be able to defend well on both mountain (mines) and forest (woods) terrains; so, you may decide that to help your troops do this better you would like to equip them with defensive spears whose manufacture requires a rare metal from the far north.

Now suddenly, it is worth you getting involved in trade. You have something that magic-using cities want, and you would quite like some of that northern metal. And in order to buy these unusual items you will now have access to a specialist market – found at your nearest Faction Hub.

The result is that you have lots of choices to make. Do you use two building plots in order to gather the herbs and minerals? Do you sacrifice a plot to make those superior spears, or would you rather just pay extra for the finished spears and let someone else do the manufacturing?

And for the actual trading, do you rely on players who have specialised as middle-men, simply Accepting the sell orders that they have placed in your local Faction Hub, or do you maintain your own specialist trade units in order to access distant Hubs and place your own trade orders?

When all of these extra resources are in, you will still be able to produce everything that you absolutely need. Iron, wood, food, and so on, everything a town requires, will still be produced in your towns.  But now, you may find yourself with a shopping list of other things that you want, and you may also find yourself with the ability to gather or manufacture things that you don’t need but other people want.

Different players will react to this differently. You could, if you wish, fill your town with specialist crafting buildings to make troop equipment. You could completely fill your town with gathering buildings (though you’ll want to keep a slot for a market to ship the goods out, and very few people will have access to large enough quantities of resources to get a benefit from that many gathering buildings). And you might consider giving two or more plots over to trade buildings.

Or, of course, you might decide that some or all of your towns have other functions, perhaps preferring to dedicate all your town slots to the advanced magic or military buildings, leaving all the gathering and manufacturing and trading to others. Your choices will depend on the stage of your town’s development, what new resources you happen to have near by, and what style of play you prefer (military, magic, gathering, manufacturing, trade).

The result of different players making different decisions will be that their town buildings will become highly varied, and that their settlements will be producing and consuming different goods. For players who want to trade that means plenty of new opportunities. And for everyone else that means lots of choice in how to build up your cities.

From the Ground Up

Our last blog piece happened to mention Obsidian Mines. Obsidian Mines are unusual and I’ll get to explaining them in a minute. But first, let’s start with something easy, Silverthorn.

So, lets imagine that after harvesting is in the game, you log on to find a herb patch next to your settlement. (There will be herb patches all over the map. Lets assume you are lucky enough to have one on your doorstep.) You send scouts out to see what it is, and they report that it’s Silverthorn.

You build a Herbalist’s building, and recruit appropriate gatherer units. You send the units to the patch, and if they aren’t interrupted by someone else’s units, after a while they come back with the herbs for you. In terms of game mechanics, that’s pretty simple. It’s like sending out caravans to gather from the map, except you’re sending Herbalists, not Caravans.

But what do you do with your Silverthorn? This is not a herb you will need every day. It isn’t used for weapon making, and you probably only want to use one piece every couple of months, at least in times of peace. There are 80-90 patches of Silverthorn on the map, each potentially yielding two dozen pieces of Silverthorn herb each day. So what do you do?

You could share the patch with all your neighbours, and let anyone harvest when they wish.

Or you could put an army on the patch, reserving your spot and farming more of the herb every day: you might want to sell the herb on the market, or you might become your Alliance’s supplier. 80-90 patches sounds like a lot, but it’s still less than one patch per active Alliance in the game, and every Alliance is likely to want a supply.

And of course, you could destroy it, or an enemy could. It’s a herb patch – a growing thing – so if you just take some, it will grow back, but if you take every last piece of the herb then you have destroyed the patch.

The game mechanics are fairly simple, much like caravans. Where it gets complicated is that we hope to have nearly 30 herbs on the map by the end of the year, around half in the first gathering release.

So lots of people will have access to herbs that others need, and everyone will benefit from herbs that don’t happen to grow on their doorstep. The complexity is not in the mechanics. The complexity is in the questions it raises for the players. What do you do with a rare herb? Share it, sell it, give it away? What do you do if you would get an advantage from having a herb that isn’t available near you? Beg, buy, steal, or go without?

And in addition, where animals are slain patches of Hides, including rare animals parts, will be left behind (as in this image). And there are also minerals. Which brings us back to Obsidian.

Obsidian is a mineral, not a herb, so can’t be eradicated by over-farming. Its deposits are fixed on the map. There are not many deposits, and they are all in a fairly narrow geographical area. Its use is in weapon making: if you build a specialist Armourer or Weaponsmith (new buildings introduced with the harvesting release) and dedicate them solely to making, say, Obsidian Blades (swords) or Obsidian Platemail, then you could consume hudreds of pieces of Obsidian each day, which would require an Obsidian mine to be operated on an industrial scale. All of this makes it much more complicated than Silverthorn.

When gathering goes live, with the gatherer buildings and units, herbs and minerals and animal parts, and specialist weaponsmith and armourer buildings, it may look rather complicated.

But the result will be profound. Players will have different special resources available to them, and lots of choices in what to do with those resources.

The Right Tools For The Job

From time to time we’ve seen the players discussing, and indeed have discussed ourselves amongst the dev team, which troops are ‘best’. Is it Knights for their fearsome attack?

Is it Trueshots as excellent all-rounders? Of course in most cases, the best troop type is the unit best suited to the task at hand: neither Knights nor Trueshots fare well when defending in forests, for example. But pretty soon, this answer will change. It will not just be the unit type best suited to the mission, but also the unit which is best equipped for the mission.

Enabling players to pick a unit’s equipment is an obvious step for Illyriad. We have always said that we want players to be free to do as they please in the world. And as most players enjoy their armies, we wanted to let them develop those soldiers to suit their own objectives and playing styles, with a variety of possible strategies. Thus we are developing the equipment system (what we are calling Crafting v1) to give players this freedom.

Different players may choose to approach this equipment in a number of ways. Which of these many approaches become popular is up to the players, and we wouldn’t presume to guess how they will make use of the available equipment. Some players may invest heavily in giving small Special Forces type units the absolute best equipment. Some players may collect only cheap equipment, or none at all. Some may hoard a single type of gear, so that their huge army becomes honed for one very specific role. Some may collect a range of weapons and armour, so that they can react effectively to any challenge. There is no one best way to use this gear: it’s up to the players to explore the possibilities.

What equipment is ideal will also depend upon the exact mission, as well as a player’s strategy. For example, when sending your Dwarven Halbardiers to defend a neighbouring settlement from an unexpected attack, you may want them to carry lighter than usual equipment so that they can get to their destination as fast as possible, before the attack strikes.

If they are to defend a wooded tournament square, then perhaps you want them to carry only shorter spears and armour adapted for woodland combat, so that they get bonuses based on that terrain.

If you want the same units to defend a nearby Obsidian Mine, then you may want really heavy armour that gives a bonus in defence and Pikes to fend of cavalry raiders, and as the troops won’t move often you won’t much care how much this bulky equipment slows their movement. And so on.

Obsidian Mines? Ah, yes. Not all of the weapons and armours will be made from common iron. And these rarer components will have to come from somewhere. So, the map may soon come to include Obsidian Mines, amongst other things. That, however, could take quite a while to explain, and for now I have descriptions to write for 26 specialist swords.

So the question of mining will have to wait until another day.

Player Spotlight: Shadow

This month’s Player Spotlight focuses on Shadow, a long time Illy player, active community member and shining example of good sportsmanship in the field of competitive tournaments. Shadow’s good-natured spirit of competition are what drew his peers to nominate him for this spotlight, and we couldn’t agree more. Learn more about the Player Spotlight program at our website and nominate players by sending an email to Now on with the interview!

GM Luna

Shadow's RL Avatar

What brought you to Illyriad and how long have you been playing?

I have always enjoyed “build and conquer” type games, so when I stumbled on Illy in January of 2011, I knew I found a game that could hold my interest.

Have you played many other online games or been active in other online communities?

Never anything with an online community. This was a totally new experience for me.

Any hidden talents or interesting hobbies outside of gaming?

Hidden talents….hmmm, I’m still looking for those! I don’t know how interesting racing is to the rest of you, but it’s always been a big part of my life. I grew up racing go carts, and have been hooked ever since.

What keeps you playing Illyriad?

My friends on here, are the biggest reason. Just pure curiosity is the other. We just never know what kind of mischief those crazy geomancers from the Circle of Five are going to create!

What’s your favorite aspect of the game?

Tournaments are something I take personal interest in. My alliance was created to focus on these, as well as the mysteries that are still out there.

What’s your proudest achievement in game so far?

The alliance I have formed, of course! I couldn’t ask for a better group of players to support it. Not only are they my allies, but also people I call friends. I am also proud of what I “almost” achieved in the Undead tournament….lol. I held the lead nearly the entire tournament, and had a great time while doing it. It didn’t matter that I was taken out and lost the lead (I think I finished out of the top 20…lol). I just loved the special attention I was given by other alliances. They made it fun!

What are you most looking forward to for the future of Illyriad?

I look forward to all the new features and updates to the game. It’s why I play. The game is constantly evolving, causing the players to evolve and change their strategies. It really keeps players involved in Illy.

What area of the game do you think needs the most improvement?

Defense. Mainly encampment defense. Armies should have the ability to “dig in” and defend themselves better. At present, there’s not much you can do about a large advance cav army coming at your occupying force.

What advice would you give a new player in Illyriad?

Hang in there! Illyriad can be a bit overwhelming at first, with all the research and buildings. Take your time and don’t get discouraged. The community is very helpful, and allows new players the chance to grow, unlike some games out there. Finding a good alliance that can support new members is very helpful early on. Just be sure the alliance suits your play style. Don’t just jump into the first one that invites you. Take the time to get to know players. Other than that, have fun, and welcome to Illy!