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What's in a Swarm? (OM VI)

Posted December 15th, 2008 at 11:10 AM by Jexik
Updated January 19th, 2009 at 11:31 AM by Jexik (title was silly)
a discussion on Bread, Butter, and Cheerleaders...

Those of you familiar with my order marker series will know that I made up silly names and colors and divided up all of the units in Heroscape into groups based on how they play and associate with order markers. I’m going to write a short piece on each unit type, only this time I’ll apply more of the economic terms that I’ve recently introduced in other essays. First up are the Bread and Butter units and Cheerleaders, which complement each other both aesthetically and in gameplay mechanics. Although one of the easiest types of armies to do well with, they are often the last thing a player is able to field from his collection. From before:

Bread and Butter
These are the types of squads on which you never regret putting an order marker. You get a lot out of each turn, and they are usually durable enough to see their next one. In the case of bonding units, it is usually assumed that you’ll use the appropriate supporting players (i.e. Krug and Swogs for Arrow Gruts, appropriate Champions for Knights and Gruts, etc.) It is not uncommon for you to spend all three of your turns on (or build armies around) units like these.

Examples: Arrow Gruts, Valiant 4th. Massachusetts Line, 10th Regiment of Foot, Blastatrons, Heavy/Blade Gruts, Roman Legionnaires, Knights of Weston, Sacred Band

Uses: Build an army around these guys: they can do it all. Get more of them (at least 2-3 of the same common squads.) They don't work well in conjunction with Sharks. They work great with Cheerleaders.”

Put succinctly with our fancy new terminology, Bread and Butter units are very productive and efficient.* With the exception of their bonding options, they often have few complements- they don’t work that well with other units because it’s almost always best to put more order markers on them. The 4th Massachusetts Line and Sacred Band even have powers that encourage you to limit your army selection. All of these factors combined mean that they have great returns to scale. That’s a fancy way of saying “the more [of the same] the merrier.”

Bread and Butter squads are the best early game units around. If there is an Achilles heel of the banal yet delectable bread and butter based force, it is that their efficiency takes a nose dive in the later rounds of the game. Although perhaps true of any unit in Heroscape, they are best used in clumps. Roll them out slowly so that you can easily replace any casualties that you receive. Their strength is in their numbers, and when they can no longer strike from anywhere, and their inherently low defense catches up with them, they lose their efficiency quickly.

Which is why they need Cheerleaders. And when I say Cheerleaders, I mean Raelin.

These units are better seen and not heard. You might put an order marker or two on them in the early rounds to get them into position, but after that, they really don’t give you all that much out of a turn. They also usually have some sort of powerful aura that makes them actually useful without a single order marker on them! You should do your best to defend them, as your opponent will often try to ambush them. These units won’t kill their points-worth most of the time, but they will enable others to do much more.

Examples: Raelin, Laglor, Taelord, Venoc Warlord, Kyntela Gwyn, Sonya Esenwein, Acolarh, Hatamoto Taro
Cheerleaders that bond: Marcus Decimus Gallus, any viking champion, Sir Gilbert, Grimnak, Tornak, Nerak, Ornak, Swog Rider, Khosumet the Darklord, Nakita Agents

Uses: These fit in well with any army that they can apply their bonuses to. Just make sure to pick up enough units to actually go out and kill stuff for you.”

There are two main kinds of Cheerleaders: those that boost efficiency, and those that boost productivity. Both factors are important to winning games. Almost any tournament army should have some way to increase the difference between the output of its turns compared to its opponents’, either by drafting cheerleaders or defenders. You shouldn’t plan on ‘getting the right glyphs.’

Of the list above, Raelin, Laglor, Venoc Warlord (Scout Leadership), Kyntela Gwyn, Acolarh, Hatamoto Taro, Marcus Decimus Gallus, Eldgrim’s spirit, Thorgrim, Sir Gilbert, Nerak, and Nakita Agents are all primarily efficiency boosters. They are far more common than their productivity-boosting brethren. Recall that the three statistics I associate with efficiency* are Range, Defense, and Movement, generally in that order. In other words, Laglor and Raellin are really good. It’s probably important to note that 2 Range is not nearly as good as 2 Defense in my opinion. Range coming before Defense is largely when you’re thinking about the jump from 1 to 4, or 5 to 8. Sir Gilbert, Nerak, and Marcus Decimus Gallus are all great additions to their respective armies because they enhance the efficiency of already productive squads.

The best thing about Raelin is that she works great in any army. When thinking about Bread and Butter squads and the other factors of efficiency (Common v. unique status, range, movement) and their productivity, their only flaw is defense. Raelin makes sure that they stick around a bit longer, so that your opponent is never able to push them into a late-game situation.

Taelord, Sonya Esenwein, Ornak, Venoc Warlord (Frenzy enhancement), Swog Riders, Grimnak, Tornak, Khosumet, are productivity enhancers. They help figures go kick butt. Never leave home without them... except Taelord. He can stay. If point totals rise, even he becomes pretty playable in my opinion, simply because there are so few substitutes for a figure that can enhance the productivity of any other figure.

One thing to keep in mind with all cheerleaders is that a turn with them is not usually a well spent turn. So why use them? Why move them ever? When should you move them? Okay, now we’re getting somewhere. If they don’t bond, move them in the first round, preferably even the first turn unless you’re racing towards glyphs.** You almost never can attack someone on the first turn of a game anyway, and it’s a simple way to pass and see what the other guy is going to do. (Put another way, your first turn on your attacking unit would be just as unproductive because you’d get zero attacks, so you might as well move the figure that will enhance the future efficiency and/or productivity of other units). After that, you’re going to want to be using every turn you get attacking.

All cheerleaders can potentially decrease the efficiency of opponent turns by drawing fire away from your attacking units. They are also probably more potent than Defenders against skilled opponents because you always have control over the placement of your own figures, but you don’t necessarily know what the other guy will do with his. All three GenCon main event champion armies have used Raelin, and two of the three runner-ups have as well.

*What I call efficiency is largely a combination of survivability and the ability to choose your targets. Productivity is the ability to actually score wounds and kill multiple squad figures once you make those attacks, or the potential output of an order marker on a squad or hero.

**This is one great argument in favor of glyph use in tournaments- they alter the use of aura-based Cheerleaders and certain turtling strategies.
Total Comments 3


GreenLanturn's Avatar
Hi Jexik,

I've been following your OM threads/blogs, and understand why you have 11 green blocks. But I'm a tad lost; I can't find the 5th installment. I've noticed the roman numerals, and have come to wonder if it was just a mistake; you have I(1) II(2) III(3) IV(4) and VI(6), but no V(5) to be found.

Any chance you could point me in the right direction?

Thanks a bunch for the help (and the articles)!
Posted February 10th, 2009 at 12:36 AM by GreenLanturn GreenLanturn is offline
Jexik's Avatar
OM V is pretty useless.

It was just an exploration of something I suggested in the first article. The thought was that playing defensively, or simply including units that do something passively is the main route to winning a tournament, especially when glyphs are involved in the case of Deathreavers, but maybe less so for Raelin/Laglor.
Posted February 10th, 2009 at 10:14 AM by Jexik Jexik is offline
Curse_u_aerosmith's Avatar
Thanks... That should help quite a bit. It might seem kind of sad, but i (the guy who owns a lot of heroscape) seem to lose to anyone I play, even if they haven't played before.
Let's just say I'm not up to a tournament yet....
Posted February 19th, 2009 at 11:43 PM by Curse_u_aerosmith Curse_u_aerosmith is offline
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