Saturday, June 13, 2009

Castle Fight Strategies: guide to farming

Table of Contents
1. Introduction
2. History
3. Rational
4. In practice: how to farm
5. Farming counters what?
6. Specific ways to farm versus specific special buildings
7. Farming units other than murlocs
8. Ramifications
9. Conclusion

1. Introduction
“Farming,” the official term coined by the Koreans, refers to the strategy of trapping units in a box in your own base, so they remain stationary and do not engage in combat. Other terms it may be referred to include boxing and caging.

2. History
A few months ago, the strategy of mass special buildings seemed unstoppable. No matter how hard you tried, no ordinary strategy could be used to combat the combination of obelisks, wells of pain, magic tower ruins, and/or death pits. No matter what kinds of units you made, just a few of these special killer buildings would decimate all the units on the field. Many forumers who have not played against competent people who use this strategy will disagree, but I can assure you this is true. No responses to this post should be about mass specials vs mass unit producing buildings, as this guide is about farming.
The problem with this metagame was that it led people to turn off unit production to avoid feeding your opponent bounty. Then a long war of mass treasure boxes could ensue, until one courageous team would sync and release all their units. The combination of mass wizards and silver glades, at the time, seemed to be the only option that could overcome mass specials, until the farming strategy was discovered and employed.
The farming technique was developed long ago by Koreans to counter special buildings in any amount. As one of the first non-Koreans to play castle fight on the Asia server, farming seemed awkward to me at first as well. The Koreans would still always lose to us, because of their unfamiliarity of mass special strategies and our better timing. However, after they started adapting, we started to lose a few rounds. After examining and analyzing the replays, we began to suspect there was great validity in the farming strategy.

3. Rational
If you have never played the farming strategy, at first it may seem silly. Many people who simply hear about it do not the grasp the concept of why it works. I will try my best to explain the reasoning behind it. All killing special buildings work in a similar way:
1. Randomly select a unit out of all of your opponent’s units.
2. Apply a single targeted effect to that unit.
2. Apply an aoe effect centered around that unit.
Keep this in mind as I go on.

Normally on the battlefield, there are x units belonging to your team. Let’s say your opponent builds a death pit. Then, every 12 seconds, a unit on your team will die. To counter this, many people simply spam weak units. This is an effective counter, because you’re adding the number of units on your team, reducing the chance that your important big units are hit with the death pit. However, there are a few problems with this strategy. The cheapest spamable units are never good for actual fighting and they usually feed your opponent bounty instead of contributing to the battle. Once your opponent starts getting the good aoe damage units that are the best units for winning late game, these weak units will serve little to no use in actual combat. In addition, once these units die to either your opponent’s units/buildings or a rescue strike, the number of units you have on the battlefield goes down drastically and special buildings instantly become more powerful. To reiterate, the three problems are:
1. Spam units don’t add much to combat
2. Spam units feed your opponent bounty
3. Spam units lose some effectiveness once your opponent strikes them.
To alleviate these three problems, we come to the solution of farming.
When we farm units, we have them boxed in, unable to move or fight at all. In this way, they will take absolutely no damage from conventional units. There is no possible cost effective way to get rid of these units. The units will slowly build up, giving you a pretty much permanent source of spam, shielding you from unit killing buildings or unit damage buildings.
The one big disadvantage of farming is that the obelisk of the wild, the orc totem, and the silver glade become less effective, especially the first two. A buff to any of your farm units is practically useless, and with a big farm, these buff specials will almost exclusively buff units in the farm.

4. In practice: how to farm
What is the best race to farm with? The clear solution is the naga race. Murlocs are by far the best unit to farm with. One obvious reason they are good is that they spawn 2 units every few seconds at a very fast rate. They have, by far, the best cost per unit in the game. One murloc has 170hp, allowing it to barely survive one hit from the obelisk of light. The murlocs can also be upgraded for more hp, in case you have specials that do more than 170 damage at a time, ie tidal wave or well of pain. An overlooked advantage of murlocs is their small collision size. You can easily fit many many murlocs into a single 2x2 space, while you can only fit 4 grunts into that same space. In addition to murlocs, naga has the coral statue, which allows for cheap easy healing, healing damage from the obelisk of light, well of pain, and especially aoe damage like volcanoes.
I will talk about how to farm on the west side of the map. The east side is exactly the same, except everything is reversed. The best places to start your farm is at a corner, because you will only need 2 buildings to block off an area. The four best places for the west side are the top left and bottom left corners of the map and the top and bottom parts of the map directly to the left of the walls.
One misconception behind farming is that it is wildly expensive. This is completely false, as it only costs a mere 120 gold to farm and I sometimes find that a 120 gold farm is all I need. Simply have your ally build any random building for you in the appropriate place, and then build your murloc hut to close off the box. There is a specific way to do this. For example, the correct way to farm on the bottom left corner is:

Correct Way
|____|<-murloc hut |____|_____ ||||||||____| <-ally building ||||||||____| ^farm area In this way, you rally the murloc hut to spawn units all the way to the bottom left of the map. If your ally building is a unit producing building instead of a special, rally it to the top right, so units that spawn from that building will not get trapped. Wrong Way _____ |____|<-ally building |____|_____ ||||||||____| <-murloc hut ||||||||____| ^farm area You cannot switch the ally building with the murloc hut, as shown in the wrong way diagram. As murlocs spawn, they will bunch up to the right, because they want to travel to the right towards the eastern castle. If the area directly to the left of the murloc hut is completely occupied, new spawning murlocs will not be able to be spawned inside the box. This is the standard one box farm. You can make your starting farm bigger if you have more buildings to farm with. As the game goes on, you can make significant changes to your farm. You may also add onto a one box farm with more buildings as the game goes on. When your opponent gets a well of pain, you may upgrade your murlocs to level 2, and when your opponent gets volcanoes, you should get a coral statue to counter. Other Hints: 1. There is a coral statue bug where you do not need the coral statue to finish for it to heal life. Say, for example, you are saving to a naga siren. You can build an unfinished coral statue next to your farm, or anywhere else for it to heal your units during the time you have between 250 and 350 gold. Keep in mind, you only get the full gold refund back if you building does not get damaged. 2. As the game starts, I do not recommend farming or even placing buildings to get ready to build a farm. If you build too low and the main battle is near your castle, your ground units will run past this battle, probably causing you to lose your push. Flying units are even worse, directly flying past any battle in the lane going straight for the enemy base. 3. One point I want to stress is not to uselessly waste gold on huge amounts of murloc buildings, especially if your opponent stops building specials because of your farm (which most good people do). You will still need good units to push your lane, as farming is not an offense, it’s a simple defense verses their offense. 5. Farming counters what?
Farming totally counters:
Obelisk of light, City of magic, Well of pain, Magic tower ruin, Volcano, Oracle, Death pit, Chilling mushroom
Farming somewhat counters:
Tentacles(late game), Ancient Pyramid, Serpent ward, Starfall obelisk, Assassins
Farming affects in some way(positively or negatively):
Eraser, Skull Pile, City of Decay, Tidal wave, Frost launcher, Artillery
Farming does not affect in a noticeable way:
Eye of destruction, Shrine of Destruction, World Freezer, Stun ward

6. Specific ways to farm vs specific special buildings
1. Obelisk of light
Murlocs are perfect farm units vs obelisk of the light. In 1.11 obelisks do 165 damage instead of 175 in 1.10. Since murlocs have 170 hp, this allows them to barely survive one hit.

2. City of magic
Getting your farmed murlocs turned into sheep is not a very big deal.

3. Well of pain
Upgrade level one murlocs to level 2 murlocs, as level one murlocs can die to one cast from the well of pain. Farming is extremely effective versus wells of pain, because they cannot save mana on their wells when they are pushing and release the mana once you strike, killing all of your first units. Instead, there will always be a buffer of units protecting your main pushing units.

4. Forgotten Ones(tentacles)
Forgotten ones can give early murloc farms trouble. However, when the farms fill up, then tentacles will actually spawn outside the farm, and will only damage your buildings. Later on, mass sycned tentacles can mess you up, but you can trap in royal guard if you’d like, which almost instantly kill tentacles.

5. Eye of destruction
The eye is a global effect and is not countered by farming.

6. Magic Tower Ruin
The only effect you may have to worry about is the mutation effect, but a few murlocs do pretty well versus a mutation.

7. Volcano
The beauty of the farm is that volcanoes become completely useless once you have enough murlocs and a coral statue. In addition, volcanoes don’t stack with each other in the same area, so massing volcanoes will not work.

8. Eraser
You opponent won’t get an eraser until late game, at which point, your murlocs will probably get erased. This isn’t as bad as it sounds, because your mass expensive units will be safe from destruction.

9. Shrine of Destruction
It’s not a big deal if you let some units out because a blocking building was destroyed; just rebuild. Also, you really want your murloc producing buildings to be destroyed, as they’re one of the cheapest buildings in the game.

10. Starfall Obelisk
This building can actually do some damage. However, with enough coral statues, you will survive the stars falling down on you, as the 400 damage is not in a single instant, but rather over 8 seconds. As with volcanoes, starfall does not stack in an area.

11. Oracle
You want your opponent to steal murlocs; it’s a free one gold for you.

12. Ancient Pyramid
An aoe stomp is no big deal for these murlocs.

13. Tidal Wave
You must upgrade your murlocs to level 2 once your opponent builds a tidal guardian. The first wave will probably kill all your murlocs, but they can rebuild quickly. The beauty of the farm is that if you build the farm at the corners, as I suggested, the tidal wave will never go straight down a lane, killing all the units in the lane.

14. Skull pile
A skeleton spawning in your farm is not a bid deal, even if it is a general. You probably have unit production buildings around the farm whose units can kill these rouge skeletons. Later on, you can trap some big units in order to combat threats like this. Also, never underestimate the dps of 12 murlocs hitting one target.

15. Death pit
Spam perfectly counters death pits, rendering them pretty useless.

16. City of Decay
2 Coral statues prevents the effects of the city of decay on your farm.

17. Chilling mushroom
These things prefer air to ground, but if one hits a farmed unit, the world is not over.

18. Frost launcher
Will only freeze production and freeze murlocs in place. Not a big deal.

19. World freezer
Farming doesn’t counter world freezer, but world freezer doesn’t counter farming either.

20. Serpent ward
Again, aoe is not a big deal.

21. Stun ward
Farming is neither good or bad versus a stun ward.

22. Artillery
You already have coral statues to counteract the artillery.

23. Assassins
Although technically not a special building, farming somewhat counters assassins. Sometimes, because of the shear number of units trapped, enemy assassins target one of the murlocs. However, most of the time, the assassins are blocked off from reaching the murlocs and run around aimlessly until they die from a random cause.

7. Farming units other than murlocs
In addition to naga, other races can trap units. There are 4 types of units commonly trapped: spam units, magic resist units, damage units, and heal units.

Spam units: These units include grunts, footmen, trees, satyrs, frost wolves, zombies.
These spam units may be trapped in the absence of a naga or when you are playing a public game. Keep in mind that without a naga, you simple way to heal your trapped units, and they will give some bounty. A special note with grunts is that their collision size is huge; only 4 may fit in a box.

Magic resist units: These units include defenders, banshee, and spellbreaker kodo.
One may care to trap these units for their magic resist properties. This counters damaging specials, but not single kill specials like magic tower ruin, death pit, or oracle. Another problem is that these don't spawn nearly as fast as spam units and cost a lot more. A benefit is that defenders and banshee are very good units in battle. You can rally them in or outside a farm with some practice. Rally them in when you're either a. winning a push so hard you don't need the extra units or b. losing a push so hard, extra units won't help. An extra note about the spellbreaker kodo is that their collision size is one of the biggest in the game and is extremely difficult to farm. Also, farming with an orc on your team is generally a bad idea, because the only saving grace of the orc race is their totems. With many units in traps, totems become a lot less useful.

Damage units: Units with good aoe damage may be trapped
Units with high splash damage such as Royal guards, incubus, chaos champion, infernal maybe be trapped in the extremely late game when mass synced tentacles become an issue. 4 synced tentacles all hitting the same building for the complete duration of the tentacles can kill that building, even with coral statues healing. This is a problem for farms, because all the tentacles will probably target around the same area and your opponent can use the tentacles to focus one building(yes, you can control what tentacles attack). Splash units kill these tentacles almost instantly.
In addition, I've seen amazons being trapped close to the front lines. In addition to being almost magic immune, these amazons can use used as somewhat of a tower. However, in my opinion, amazons should be used whenever you can in a push, as they are such a great unit. Smart rallying can, as with magic resist units, be used to determine which amazons are trapped and which ones go into battle.

Heal units: Currently the only healing unit in the game you can trap are wizards.
Wizards can be trapped for their heal properties. You can either use them to heal in the absence of coral statues or in conjunction corals statues. Again, you can rally them either in or outside your farm depending on when you need them in your push. They also do good damage, especially with a good chain lighting.

8. Ramifications
The introduction of farming brings about a huge changes in the metagame. The first change I would like to directly address is that this strategy is EXTREMELY effective versus special buildings, so effective that a small farm of 120 gold will counter many specials. Once your farm builds up, the following special are made almost completely useless and not at all cost effective to the other team: Obelisk of light, city of magic, well of pain, magic tower ruin, volcano, oracle, ancient pyramid, death pit, serpant ward. To a lesser but still great extent, tidal waves and starfall obelisks are made weaker. Yes, 120 gold can counter all these buildings.
The downside to farming is that your own special buildings with become less effective: These buildings include obelisk of the wild, silver glade, and totem. If farming become prevalent, we should see a huge decrease in the use of special buildings, both killer and buff varieties. As a result, castle fight will become more unit dominated, the way it was intended.

The balance of races is extremely disturbed by the advent of this new strategy. No longer does the combination of elf, chaos, corrupted, and night elf dominate every single other strategy. Elf, corrupted, and chaos have gotten worse, because their best buildings, obelisk of light and well of pain, will be drastically reduced in power. While elf still has the extremely good units to stay a top race, corrupted unfortunately does not and is relegated to the bottom of the race balance ladder. Chaos also got the short end of the stick, as their best building, the magic tower ruin cannot be spammed anymore. Naga is now obviously a lot better because it is the best farming race. Although undead's pits are less useful now, undead never really relied on their pits to be useful. The combination of skeletons and banshee still allow undead to be a useful race. Night elf loses their 2 specials, but I argue that they are still a good race. The 2 night elf specials it lost were both meant to counter of specials to some extent, and now that the use of specials has decreased, OotW and silver glade are not in as high demand anyways. In addition, night elf still has the extremely good units that can dominate at all stages of the game. Farrie dragons are extremely good in the early game, assassins run rampant throughout the whole game, and Amazons are a game changer, defeating whole pushes with ease. Ice/northern didn't directly become anymore powerful, but now that other races are worse and killing buildings don't kill everything in sight, ice got an direct buff. Maybe now we will be able to see frost queens owning up lanes. Orc is really hurt by this new technique. Even though it wasn't spectacular before, Orc's best building, the totem, is completely incompatible with farming. In addition, orc units are on average, terrible. Human has the most interesting change because of farming. Human now possess the only unit-affecting special that isnt' affected by farm: the horn. Now that units can actually survive combat, the horn, adding 60% to attack speed is huge. Although defenders and knights are human's only good buildings currently, spamming them is still a decent option and your teammates can make up for the lack of diversity.

Without further ado, I present an approximate new race tier list
High Tier
Mid Tier
Night Elf
Low Tier
Bottom Tier

9. Conclusion
Farming is such a useful technique that everyone attempting to get decent at this game should learn it. It is revolutionary and metagame-changing. Most specials are near useless now, almost as if they were taken out of the game. In the next version, there should be some type of fix to balance specials: make them less powerful without farming, but more powerful with farming. The only change I can think of is a change to how specials target, similar to how the chilling mushroom prefers to target air.

I worry that once again, the game will be centralized on one concept, as it had before with mass specials. More specifically, people will start to build unit producing buildings that are hard to counter, such as dragonhawks or wizards. Clearly, some races are better than other and will probably see more use in pro-private games. But castle fight is once again turned into a new and better game, even without a new update. I see more games won on timing, syncing, and strikes, rather than who can mass the most specials.

So, in conclusion: farming is extremely powerful; it counters specials very well; massing units can work now

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