The battle tactics in Castle Wars vary. This is because each and every game of Castle Wars have different players, different situations and the balance of power changes every game.
One useful tactic is to block off the corridor going around the teams room (the one you start in). Most of the time, each team will have at least one Ancient Mage. The Ancient Mage often tries to defend the castle from potential standard stealers by freezing them with spells like ice barrage. Once frozen this gives the melee attackers a chance to finish off the helpless thieves. Sometimes the ancient mages will also have a bow to use, so they can range after freezing enemy players.
Sometimes, a high-levelled player able to cast Ice Barrage and Blood Barrage, (some of them have level 99 summoning and come with a steel titan) might camp at the enemies spawn zone and use the area spells to demolish enemy players with the Protect from Melee prayer or Deflect Melee curse activated. The caster uses Ice Barrage to freeze enemies, but when the caster is getting piled by enemies, he quickly switches to Blood Barrage and uses to restore health. Most of the players tend to have low levels and weak magical defence, allowing the Blood Barrage user to stay alive a lot longer and give his team a diversion to capture the flag. The caster will end up racking a of lot kills when the game ends. If the ancienter is killed, it is only a temporary solution as he/she usually returns.
Ancients are also useful underground for stopping standard thieves as they try to infiltrate the castle from the underground passages.
Countering Ancient Magicks
A strategy to counter the use of Ancient Mages lies in the reduction of the magic stat. By lowering an opponents mage level, a player is often likely to prevent them from using their higher level spells. Due to the innate high mage levels required to utilise the Ancient Magicks, almost any reduction in magic level will render an Ancient Mage useless. The most readily available magic reducing effect comes as a result of the magic attack Flames of Zamorak (no longer applicable since it was removed with EoC). However, this attack is somewhat flawed in this scenario since an Ancient Mage will in all likelihood be wearing armour that provides good magic defence. However, it may take just one hit to disable an Ancient Mage so it is well worth the slightly reduced accuracy.
It should be noted that lowering an enemy mage's Magic level may no longer be as effective as of 15 March 2011. Ancient mages will continue to autocast their chosen spell, so long as their base level is high enough to use it. For example, a player with 94 Magic will continue to use Ice Barrage if their magic level is lowered below 94, provided they do not switch to a melee weapon or another spell. On the other hand, if the player is using boosts such as magic potions to cast a specific spell which they otherwise could not cast, they will immediately stop autocasting that spell if their Magic level falls below the required level.
Another way to hinder an enemy mage is to use bolas. These are a ranged weapon that deal no damage, but stop an opponent for twenty seconds (ten if they use Protect from Missiles). This can not only stop the mage from chasing your team's flag, but also allows your team to attack the mage with melee as well while they are still held down. The high range attack bonus of the bolas make it very likely to hit on a mage with a low range defence bonus.
The Lunar Magic spell Vengeance Group is another effective counter against Ancient Magiks. The spell gives the vengeance ability to as much as 49 people nearby. When the spell is used on a group targeted by an ancient mage's attacks, the vengeance abilities of all targets is triggered against the mage; potentially killing him/her instantly.
General mage and range tactics
Mages and rangers tend to hang on the top of the castle near the catapult where they can see enemies storming the castle. They then strike down potential threats at the safety of the wall. This however may not last long if a powerful melee shows up on the wall. Then they will attack the mages and rangers taking them down quickly because of their low defence due to robes and dragon hide armour. This has however been compromised if there are enough mages or rangers to quickly take the melee player down.
Strategies for lower-level players
Lower level players often stay in the underground with a pick and collapse the tunnels with explosive potions and picks. Normally they will wait for the person to walk under the tunnel when trying to attack them, then collapse the tunnel instantly killing the other player. Other methods for higher-level players wishing to use low-level strategies include ranging them in order to lure them under the tunnel or using an ancient spell to trap them under the tunnel have been used, although not as often due to expenses.
Lower-level players may also operate the catapult as a team and attempt to fire on the opponent. Another thing lower-level players can do is heal your teammates with bandages; a better target for your bandages would be the flag carrier and their bodyguards.
You could also set up barricades around the arena in strategic locations. Make sure you think before setting up a barricade because there is a limit of 10 barricades that can be set up at one time. Handy places to set up are around the stairs leading up to the flag or other narrow pathways.
There are a number of choke points in the castle where only one (or sometimes two) barricades are needed in order to stop a potential scorer from taking the flag. These are at the bottom and the top of staircases, outside the respawn room on the 1st floor, and on the 2nd floor. Barricades placed in these places can slow enemy scorers down, and while they destroy the barricade ancient magicks can freeze the perpetrator.
As a defender you are very close to your respawn room, so death doesn't matter. In fact deaths are useful because they restore your prayer, which allows you to kill scorers faster. As such don't fill your inventory with bandages but bring swaps for different combat styles and fill up on barricades.
Usually players stealing the flag will carry explosive potions with them, which can destroy barricades very quickly. Burning a barricade makes it makes it unable to be exploded which gives more time to kill/freeze the thief. You set a barricade on fire then set up another barricade behind it, which you can then set on fire when the first one collapses. You can also stand on a barricade (if you were the one to set it up) with a dragon or Zamorak spear.
Scorers will usually use protection prayers to make one style of damage partially ineffective, hybriding with mutiple combat styles allows you to get around this and kill the scorer faster. Ideally your team should have people using every combat style to stop the scorers.
Apart from barricades there are two main ways to slow scorers down, ancient magicks and bolas. Normal magicks are not suggested as the protect from mage prayer cuts the duration of the binding in half, ancient magicks aren't effected this way. Ice barrage freezes for 20 seconds and can attack multiple opponents going after the flag, however against opponents with very high magic defences, it may splash a lot. Bolas are more accurate, however they can only be used against one opponent, and their bind duration is halved by the use of the protect from missiles prayer.
Sometimes a low level will come and try to talk the flag. It may be advantageous to let the low level take the flag and go outside the castle before killing them. Your team can then pick up the flag and hold it. This strategy is dangerous as you could also let a high level player through with the low level, or when the low level dies a player from the opposite team could pick it up.
Scoring is usually undertaken by higher level players, high stats and good armour are essential. The player scoring will often have multiple users of ancient magicks attacking them, as well as meleers with claws and godswords. As such it isn't recommended for those new to castle wars to try to score. As high as possible magic defence bonus is required in order to get mages to splash, as getting caught often means death.
- Amulet: Amulet of Fury
- Ring: Seers' ring (i), Onyx ring (i)
- Body:Ganodermic Poncho, Pernix body, Armadyl Chestplate
- Legs: Ganodermic leggings,Pernix chaps, Armadyl Chainskirt
- Boots: Ragefire boots,Mystic boots
- Weapon: Greater runic staff, Master Wand, Chaotic Staff, Staff of light
- Shield: Divine spirit shield, Elysian spirit shield, Spectral spirit shield, Eagle-eye kiteshield
- Gloves: Goliath gloves, Spellcaster gloves, Castle wars bracelet (to wear into game then swap out/drop)
Scoring requires a lot of inventory space, so it is advised not to bring too much armour to hybrid/tribid with, though if using pernix or Armadyl some strong melee armour (torva or barrows) to swap with if you are not under attack by mages if useful. Also of use are extreme defence/super defence potions, they help minimise the damage you take. Prayer potions can also be of use.
By the time barricades are burnt down using a tinderbox, you will be barraged/clawed to death, so explosive potions are essential. Also essential are some barricades for yourself, to stop the other team from coming after you while scoring. Take around 12 explosive potions, 3-4 barricades, and fill the rest of your inventory with bandages.
Make your way to the opposite castle using your desired route (stepping stones/underground suggested, running through the middle is a quick way to die). When you get to the castle, sip some of your extreme/super defence potion and turn Protect from Magic and Turmoil/Piety on. Now climb up the stairs to the 1st floor and quickly blow up the first two cades in a line besides the opponents respawn room. As you do this drop a cade behind you and set it on fire. Now destroy the remaining cades between you and the stairs to the 2nd floor. Go up the stairs and then set on fire the cade likely to be at the top of the stairs, now blow up the cade likely to be at the bottom of the stairs to the 3rd floor. Run up and grab the flag.
Go down the stairs to the 2nd floor (blowing cades if necessary), and run to the stairs to the 1st floor. There may be a low-pid barricader here placing a barricade at the top of the stairs repeatedly. If this is the case then get a friend to use a stun ability. Now go down to the first floor. Blow up cades between you and the exit while setting up a cade behind you and setting it on fire. Set a cade at the top of the stairs to the ground floor. There may be ancients on the castle wall, so escaping by the underground tunnels is preferred. Set a cade up in the corridor between the area behind the walls and the supplies room, and go down the ladder.
Most of the tunnel is single file, so it is possible to set up a cade here blocking pursuers. You may need to destroy the rocks with explosive potions. It is advised to collapse the rocks behind you to throw off pursuers. Don't go up the ladder to the central island, as there are likely to be lots of players here. Instead continue down the tunnels to your base.
Just because you are home,doesn't mean you are safe, enemy barragers may be camping your respawn room, and several high level players could be waiting for the flag to respawn at the top of your castle. Catiously go the 3rd floor of your castle and score.
With experience you should tweak the amount of explosive potions and barricades you carry, as well as finding the optimal place to put cades, and how to blow up barricades quickly.
Stalling, buying time and other hindering tactics
Also, if nearing the end of a close game, it may be wise to attempt to stall the enemy rather than outright killing them. For example, ancient magicks or the spells bind, snare, and entangle may buy valuable time. Time for your team to either set up defences or catch up with the enemy. Barricading the enemy castle becomes a viable tactic to prevent the enemy runner from scoring, as well as hitting them with the stun abilities, which stuns them for several seconds. This is because they have most likely used up their resources trying to steal the standard in the first place. Another, less commonly used, tactic is to open one of the doors to your teams castle, then when an enemy comes near and tries to go through the door, quickly shut it. The player will stop, or, if the other door is open go towards that one. Open the first door and the player go towards the door, close it and repeat. This tactic often is frowned on by players who do not understand what you are trying to do but can prove useful.
Flag holding is a tactic used by teams to ensure that the opposing team is unable to score points. This consists of a player grabbing their own team's standard after an enemy player has dropped it outside their castle, and then holding on to it, rendering the opposing team unable to pick it up. To retrieve the standard the opposing team needs to defeat the player holding the standard and pick it up.
When the opposing team has taken a team's standard, the team waits until their enemy is outside the castle and kills them, taking their own team standard in the process (if the standard is dropped inside the castle, attempting to pick it up will result in it being moved back to the standard stand).
A player cannot go into the base when holding their team's standard. This includes climbing up from the ladder underneath the supply room. Attempting to do this will result in the standard going back to the stand.
The standard is often taken to a corner of the field, near the stepping stones, with some players protecting the person holding the standard, as a player can be easily protected using two barricades, using the walls as defence from the other two sides.
Another tactic is to hide underground, next to the collapsible walls. The standard holder can then use an explosive potion or a pickaxe to collapse the walls when their enemies try to reach them, thus killing them. One way of using this method is by placing barricades on the spaces where a player can collapse the walls. The standard holder stands in one of the barricades, they put it down, then doesn't move. This way, if a player tries to attack the standard holder, the standard holder can simply collapse the tunnel. The attacker, having no way to move out of the way, dies. The only way they can reach the standard holder is by going around the other tunnel.
One more common tactic is to stay around the spear walls near the outer wall of your own castle. Running around these spear walls when attacked often traps the attacker on the other side, out of melee range. This buys time for the standard holder's team to kill the attacker, and prevents them from taking damage. This strategy also leaves the enemy attackers within attack range of the mages and rangers on top of the outer walls.
Another tactic is to have the player holding the flag stand in a the southern part of the 2x2 square area straight to the north of the large door in their own base. Moving any further north will result in the flag being returned to the top of the castle. Barricades are then placed in the northern two squares of the 2x2 area. This prevents the holder from being 'pushed' back into the castle with a kick. The holder then repeatedly closes the large door, preventing attacks.
A person with their own flag cannot hide within their own castle, or even within its walls. Upon returning to their castle, the flag will teleport back to its stand at the top of the castle.
Many people with their own flag will stand in the tunnels directly behind their ladder, with a barricade blocking one side of them, while the walls and ladder protect the others. This technique is very effective with other players acting as bodyguards, as just before death, the carrier can click the ladder to make the flag "safe" again.
Some players decide to try to regulate their teams border. Sometimes called patrolling it is common to a certain extent. Teams sometimes post guards at the stepping stones, usually mages or rangers, to attack people on the stepping stones. Another area that is often fought over is the centre castle. This provides a good springboard for people capturing the flag but has its disadvantages. Controlling the centre puts people in the range of enemy catapult and ballista. However total control of the centre means nothing without control of the cavern under it. Many teams with heavy fortifications in the centre have been annihilated by a group of raiders coming up the ladders, providing other players on the raider's team time to attack via the bridges.
- Some players who perform the following tactic correctly can easily win tickets. They gather a group of friends or random people, at least 15-20. They decide which team will 'lay down' and give up their standard by letting the other team run in and grab the standard. They then go into the castle wars arena with 10 on each side. After the 20 minutes, swap roles so the winner will lose on purpose. You can easily get 3+ castle war tickets every hour because of this.
- Getting past the underground collapsible rocks are quite hard. So when entering the game bring your pickaxe. Preferably the best you can hold. Make sure you are wearing the pick and bring your weapon in your inventory. This makes it much quicker getting past the rocks if you can't be bothered to take some explosive potions.
- To get into the castle without going through either of the doors, you can use a rope with the outer wall to climb onto the top, or enter through the ladder underground. These are also useful tactics when trying to kill the mages or rangers on top of the wall.
- When being pursued by the other team while carrying a standard, it is a good idea to set up a barricade while running. This blocks the path of your pursuers, buying you valuable time while they try to destroy the barricade.
- You could put barricades in a line in front of the stairs, have rangers, magers, and melee (melee should only be on the flag room) on every floor and then send out some more players to get points. Remember this will only work if the team is willing to work together. (Also have at least 1 player with 10 barricades so you put another barricade up after you destroy one).
- A formation that is very effective is the phalanx. If you group any mages/rangers surrounded by a wall of halberdiers surrounded by barricades, you can destroy enemies trying to kill you and snipe them in their tracks.