As you can gleam from the image to the left, it appears that each side of a siege battle in Age of Conan will be able to bring 48 of their best players to the fight. For some reason or another the VN Boards are all a tizzy and so are the official forums.
To me, 48 people versus 48 people sounds like a pretty hectic and fun time. I imagine it's going to be a whole lot of fun when you toss in trebuchets, catapults, War Mammoths and Rhinos and the whole shebang... so what's the problem?
Apparently this little image, taken from the in-game beta manual, is not exactly what people wanted to see. Though Funcom never said how many people they were hoping to have in a siege battle, maybe they should have as it appears lots of players were hoping for 100s of players on each side taking part... which of course would be an astronomical feat.
I mean let's be serious. In WoW our biggest battles are 40 versus 40, and in WAR I believe WHOLE CITIES will be fought over with just about the same (though obviously this could change before launch). In a game like Age of Conan, with the visuals their Cheetah engine is sporting, it's amazing to me that they can even get 96 people together in a relatively small instanced area and not crash the server.
Not to mention the organizational logistics of a clan getting 48 people together, or 2 clans even. I suspect there will be a few clans that can on any given day, but for the most part I'm betting it will be a trial to gather that many players for a fight... which is where hired help from the general populace will come in.
Also keeping the numbers restricted ensures that siege battles will be relatively even instead of seeing the same 200 person clan overtaking the smaller 30 person clan each and every chance they get. With this set up, the 200 person clan is limited to 48 members at a time, and the 30 person clan must hire on some helping hands. Is it still lopsided in favor of the larger group? Probably, but at least the little guy stands a chance at holding his ground.
However, let's not forget that there are only going to be 8 keeps in the Border Kingdoms too. The rest of the fighting will be over smaller objectives like towers and other control points, and these will be up for grabs for any group of players from what I can gather. The Keeps are pretty much solely intended for the same set of Clans that would have been running Black Temple on day 1 in WoW. Whether that's a good design decision or not remains to be seen (I'm personally against excluding any of the player base), but the fact remains that the Keeps are intended for the most organized and active of clans and not just every group of 5 people who want to take part. For those smaller groups, there are other PvP objectives as well as the Mini-Games, and each have their own set of rewards for participation.
Call me weird, but I think 48 x 48 sounds damn good and whole lot of fun. I just hope I get to participate in a few of those battles during my time in Hyboria.