There are many ways of playing PvP in Game of Thrones: Winter is coming. While some never fight at all, or unless in-game events where you can’t lose troops, many players love the original battles in which you can kill enemy troops or lose your troops too. Some like to play more defensively when some like to be more offensive. Some prefer to tank rallies from the enemy when for most, this might not be a wise decision. In this guide, I’ll review one of the most important battle game plays in this game that almost everyone should know the basics of if they want to play battles against other players. To play the game as an Eternal or Zero castle.
The general idea to play this game as a zero castle is to “hide all your resources and troops” and to “Not defend”. In other words, a zero castle attacks enemy and join/start rallies, and keeps the rest of their troops hidden so if the enemy decided to retaliate by attacking back, they won’t be able to kill any troops or take any resources from their castle.
This idea, as simple as it looks, has many important details that most players don’t know about or forget during battles.
Playing as a zero castle has some important requirements:
- Troop Count: Your troop count has to be low enough for you to be able to hide them. The general formula for the maximum number of troops you can hide is the following:
In other words, the max amount of troops you can hide is based on the number of deployments you can send out, your shelter capacity, and your army size. The 1.5x multiplier is based on a 50% summon buff that is in sept of seven. You can have 75% or 100% summon buff as well but those are rarer.
You can increase your number of deployments by leveling up your castle (to 5 deployments) and then by researching “New Procedures” researches to a maximum of 8 deployments.
- Troop Types: Bowmen are generally useless in this current meta especially for zero castle fighters. Zero castle fighters are playing more offensively and don’t defend, so it’s important for them to have enough frontline troops to help with the rallies and to counter the enemy. It’s important for zero castle fighters to have a balanced set with their troop types so they don’t lack a certain type when it’s needed.
- T3 and T4: Zero castle fighters who have T4 researches unlocked need to maintain a reasonable ratio for their T3 and T4 counts. If they have too many T3 and a low amount of T4 their attacks will lack the required damage or they’ll help as much with filling rallies. And if they don’t have enough T3, any damage to their troops will cost a lot of expensive troops, and the healing cost will be too high. Zero castle fighters should not keep T1 or T2 troops because they will only take space.
As you can see in the above example, this is a zero castle fighter with around 3m troops (which is enough for events like AC or SoW as well). The balanced setup allows this player to be able to join different kinds of rallies. The T1 bow is there to be used for gathering as they will not take hospital space over your important troops if your castle is directly attacked and if they ever get wounded, for example when the enemy attacks your gathering nodes, they won’t cost speed ups to heal.
Playing with less amount of troops reduce the chances of losing them. Players with around 1m troops can easily join rallies risk-free while zero castles with 3m or more troops will usually have to manage multiple marches and that is risky.
- Hospital Space: Zero castle fighters must have 500k hospital space or more. When playing as a zero castle, you’re risking your troops a lot. Without enough hospital space, any mistake can be your last mistake for a while as you won’t be able to continue the battle when your troops are gone.
- Zero castle lifestyle: Playing as a zero castle requires a certain personality. Playing as zero castle means not caring about any potential troop losses you will have. The idea is, your troop count is low enough that the enemy can’t hurt you that much, and you can retrain and come back to your previous power even after a defeat. If you think that your overall power is more important, playing as a zero castle is not what you should be after because playing as zero castle means constantly gaining and losing power.
- Reaction time: Playing as a zero castle is mainly about your reaction time. At many points during battles, your troops will start to come back to your castle (for example for you to change the setup or after a rally or attack) and since you might not have your lord or rest of the troops back in time, they will be even in more danger. What matters the most is your reaction time in sending them back out to safety in time.
Playing as a zero castle or being able to zero your castle, in general, has the following advantages for different players:
- Rebuilding is easy: When you have a lot of troops against a very strong enemy, any mistake can be very expensive. When you’re a zero castle, rebuilding after making mistakes (even if you lose all your troops) is easier.
- Less dangerous: When you’re joining an ally rally or reinforcing a great city you can’t port as you wish and your castle will be stuck in place. This gives the enemy an opportunity to attack you. If you’re a smaller player you can lose the battle with single or multiple solo attacks and if you’re a stronger player, they can run single or multiple rallies on you. When your alliance is in great cities or is rallying enemy your ally dragons are occupied and the damage on you with a rally can be huge. This is why many mid-spenders and average size players like to play as zero castles too.
- Can still stand solo attacks: Some players and not everyone, who has decent buffs and bonuses can stand “some” solo attacks from stronger enemies relatively well. When you have the option to zero your castle, you can play offensive and tank enemy solo attacks while when they start a rally you can hide your troops and dodge their damage.
- Tricking enemy: Playing as a zero castle gives you an opportunity to be able to trick the enemy. All enemy can see are the arrows on the map. To fake zeroing and entice the enemy to solo attack you can be very risky however since your troop count is not high and the enemy might decide to coordinate to do multiple solo hits on you.
Playing as a zero castle or being able to zero your castle, in general, has the following disadvantages for different players:
- Less useful in events: When you don’t have as many troops as the rest, you’ll have a harder time in events like alliance conquest and the siege of Winterfell.
- High adrenaline: Playing as a zero castle is a very intense type of playing the game and for people who like a simpler game style it might not be suitable.
- Less mobility: When you've zeroed out you’ll have less mobility as you can’t port out of your location.
- Low Power: Zero castle fighters will not have a high power rating. Zero castle fighters are usually stuck in certain power ranges as the best way to increase power is by training troops and they don’t want to have many troops.
- Great city restricted area problem: As a zero castle rally leader, you can’t hold great cities from the great city restricted area because since you’re a zero castle, the enemy can defeat you by attacking you directly and your castle will be randomly ported out. Playing in great cities from outside of the tree line area is more expensive as you will need to use rally speed-ups to reach the target faster before the enemy can counter your marching rallies formation in there.
Where to hide?
So we discussed what’s a zero castle but we didn’t talk about how to be a zero castle. To be a zero castle you have to send all your extra and unprotected resources to an allied bubble castle before breaking your bubble and then make some decisions about the way you want to hide troops. In this part I will explain different useful places that can be used for hiding and every point about each one of them:
1 – Shelter:
The shelter is the most important place for hiding your troops and your lord. The shelter building is right under your castle and next to Tavern and Warehouse.
Shelter capacity increases as you’re increasing your base march size. Upgrading the castle and its glory levels increase shelter capacity. You can also earn shelter capacity from owned bonuses of some castle exteriors such as Crimson Fort, Silent Prayer, Rose of Highgarden, and Northern Pine and some of the marching animations such as Dragon’s Rage, Dancing Flowers, and A Dance of Snowflakes.
Some important notes about Shelter as a hiding spot:
- Shelter is the most secured location for your troops and Lord. Nothing can happen to your sheltered troops for the duration of you being unbubbled.
- Enemy can’t see if you recall troops from the shelter if you have anti-scout on. Sheltered troops can be seen in the scout report but otherwise are not detectable.
- You can access the shelter from the map if you keep at least 1 troops there. It’s very important to never completely empty your shelter during the battle.
- As a rally filler, try to keep a balanced amount of back troops in the shelter that you think might be useful for future rallies. This way you can easily replenish your troops before joining the next rallies without the enemy noticing it.
- Hiding troops in shelter won’t add fervor so it’s a perfect way to start the battle (first hide your troops then go into fervor so the enemy can’t kill your troops at the start of battle before you can completely zero out)
2 – Rebel Camps
Rebel camps are the second most reliable location for hiding troops. You can start rebel camp rallies or join your allies ’ rallies to keep your troops hidden. Some notes about Rebel camp rallies as a way of hiding troops:
- Try to run the rallies for the longest possible time (8 hours) at all times.
- Never join your friend’s rallies without notifying them to be sure they won’t cancel their rallies. Never cancel your rally unless if you’re sure no one else is in it.
- You will not get fervor for hiding troops in a rally on rebel camp. It doesn’t matter if it’s your rally or someone else’s. You can hide troops this way before unbubbling and you can bubble if your fervor is ended without recalling troops from these rallies.
- If you’re hiding troops in others' rallies, you won’t be able to recall those troops. Your friend has to send them back to you. Because of this never reinforce AFK player’s rallies.
- Try to rally rebel camps that are far from your hive. Some enemies start running fast rallies on rebel camps around your hive to return your troops and attack you.
- Rebel camps reset every 8 hours. Keep an eye on their timers to make sure your troops are safe.
3 - Gathering Nodes
Gathering nodes is the third place you can hide your troops in. Here are some notes about hiding troops in gathering nodes:
- If you’re still marching toward a node, the enemy can use the second dragon (purple dragon) ability to instantly finish that gathering node you’re going to. If they do it, your march will start to come back toward your castle. The best way to hide troops if that happens to you is to use march speed ups to recall them fast and then send them out as fast as possible again. If you have multiple marches returning that are very close to each other you won’t be able to hide your troops in time unless if you speed them up one by one and send them out before the rest come back.
- You can use speed-ups to reach the target gathering node before the enemy can find your troops. Gathering nodes are not detectable in any other way besides the marching arrow that goes out of your castle. Returning marches are also a safe way of keeping troops hidden as the enemy can’t make them come back faster.
- Wagon Upgrade research in the formation tree will increase your march size when you’re sending them to a gathering node and is very useful for hiding troops there.
- Marching toward or from a gathering node, or having troops in any node will not trigger fervor. If you’re unbubbled and an unbubbled enemy fills the gathering node before your troops get there you will attack them. This being said you can hide your troops in gathering nodes before breaking your bubble and you can bubble if you have troops in nodes or marching from or to them as long as you don’t have fervor.
4 – Garrison and Reinforcements
One of the most popular and easiest ways to hide troops is hiding them in your ally bubbled castles. Here are some notes about this way of hiding troops:
- You can send more troops out when you garrison a target as you can also send commanders then. Only one player can garrison each target though which makes it important for players to communicate with each other about the castles they want to garrison.
- Each castle can take around 1m troops as reinforcement. Zero castles with a higher march size can fill this space alone and for most zero castles maximum of two players can hide in the same player castle with reinforcements.
- Sending garrison and reinforcement to the same target is dangerous. If your garrison and reinforcement reach the target at the same second, one of them will come back.
- Sending garrison and reinforcement will trigger your fervor. Even after your fervor, you can’t bubble as long as you’re garrisoning or reinforcing someone else.
- To be able to bubble, you need to recall your reinforcements and garrisons. This will mean the enemy can try to snipe the returning troops. Because of this, it’s important for you to only reinforce and garrison castles that are next to you.
- It’s important to recall all reinforcements and garrisons at the same time and to make sure they will be back to your castle as close as possible.
- It will help if you ask your protector or spouse to spam bubble for you when you’re recalling troops and are busy with speeding them back. This way the number of clicks you need to do to bubble before you’re hit reduces.
- Never feel rushed for recalling troops. The enemy is probably watching. Let the momentum to pass and the environment to cool down before recalling your troops but when you started recalling, do that as fast as you can.
5 – Marches
Finally, the last place for hiding troops is marching. Here are some notes about it:
- Never send a march to an empty spot on the map (to set up a camp/occupy). The enemy can port there before your troop arrives, and that will turn your peaceful march into an attack march. If the enemy ports out after that, your march will instantly hit their castle. Since they are defenders they will even have a bigger advantage against your troops.
- Any marches toward an enemy is not safe. The enemy can decide to take it instantly by random porting. In case they have defense your troops will die, and in case they don’t have troops, your troops will march back toward your castle sooner. The enemy will wait and attack your returning marches.
- No one else but you can’t speed your returning marches. You need to be aware that the enemy can see the time of their arrival and use speedups to recall troops when they’re not ready for sniping them.
- You can’t bubble when you have an active battle or resource transport march deployed on the map.
- Rallying or attacking far away alt accounts or allied accounts from other alliances is a good way for hiding troops, as you’re sure they won’t instantly port. You need to be careful about the timing for recall, however.
Some important general notes:
- Never rely on other players especially without talking to them. Remember that others might like to unbubble and play too.
- Always empty your hospital and keep it clean. You won’t know when things go wrong and you need to be prepared for the worst.
- Never lose your Anti-Scout buff from the Sept of seven. Anti-Scout is your best friend as zero castles. Not just because the enemy can’t be sure when you’re a zeroed castle or if you have troops back, but also if a stronger ally wants to garrison you, you might be able to trap some of them when they’re trying to snipe your returning troops.
- Be wary about tricks other zero castles might pull off. Strong zero castle accounts can tank solo hits really well. They might try to send 1 troop out to fake that they are zeroing their castle to encourage you to solo attack them.
- Losing troops isn’t the end of the world. Just move on if it happened.
I hope you all enjoyed reading this guide about zero castles! I'm going to end this guide with this quote from Tyrion Lannister:
There is no shame in having a strategy, based on your strength. Picking the battles you want to fight in and running away from the rest is the way of being an Eternal Castle.