The Conquest Evaluation Assembly has reinitiated a form of international mock-warfare known as "Conflict." The first phase of this project is an exercise called "Ballista," which originated in San d'Oria.
Comprising the bulk of each nation's forces are none other than the same adventurers that play a large role in the conquest.
Adventurers have long awaited the opportunity to cross swords with each other, so Conflict has generated a large amount of interest.
The rules of Ballista are simple. Players from each team dig up stones called "Petras" and throw them into common goals called "Rooks" to score points. The force with the most points when the time limit runs out wins the match.
However, to be able to score points, a player who has uncovered a Petra must achieve "Gate Breach" status by taking out an opposing player. Once Gate Breach status has been achieved, the player may throw the Petra into a Rook.
So the heat of a Ballista match may very well feel like the intensity of actual warfare.
Before the match began, I went to see the Herald, or referee, who was surrounded by adventurers. Players from each nation were discussing their strategies.
I approached several members of the Bastok forces for a pre-match interview. A Galka named Uroborosu told me with a laugh that the plan was to "Charge!"
The Herald soon announced the start of the match.
Uroborosu charged the enemy lines, just as he had said, knocking Windurstian after Windurstian to the ground.
With their legendary physical strength, Galka could be considered naturals for so-called "frontline jobs."
Of course, not all attacks are performed at close range.
Uroborosu was soon beset by spells cast from far away. Windurstian mages had stopped him in his tracks.
For those on the frontlines, nothing is more fearsome than the ranged and magical attacks of those referred to as "non-melee fighters."
Rooted to the ground, Uroborosu soon succumbed to a barrage of elemental magic.
But he was not the only one to succumb to Windurstian attack. Countless Bastokan players lay scattered on the ground before the Windurstian mages and rangers.
In a fight between adventurers, one might say that to control distance is to control the match.
The match finally ended with Windurst taking home an easy victory, 265 to 109.
After the match, I spoke with Windurst's Akaikiu, the leading scorer with 40 points.
--So what is the key to scoring so many points?
Akaikiu: I focus on achieving Gate Breach status and staying close to the frontline fighters.
It seems that frontline and non-melee combatants stand to gain from working together to balance out their strengths and weaknesses.
--What was the key to victory this time?
A: We work well as a team.
I posed this last question to others on the Windurst force. They all agreed that teamwork was key.
"Working together! Working together!" announced Cruel.
"Courage and friendship," said Akiy.
"Teamwork is everything," said Alef.
"Courage...and the other nation's willingness to overlook an adorable little Tarutaru who had wandered away from the safety of friends..." said Yusuko.
Magic users show their true combat value when they work in groups. Because Windurst has a higher percentage of magic users than other nations, perhaps the Windurstian force places more emphasis on teamwork.
Though Ballista is still new and its strategies mostly unexplored, the teamwork and skill that are fostered by fighting against other adventurers will surely prove useful for those who participate.