Go Back   Heroscapers > Blogs > Jexik's Economies of Scape

Me + Basic economics + Heroscape
Rating: 5 votes, 4.80 average.

What's in a Control Army? (OM VII)

Posted May 15th, 2009 at 10:48 AM by Jexik
Updated May 15th, 2009 at 11:58 AM by Jexik
...or: "why Nilfheim and rats work well together"

Sorry for the long wait. I'm sure plenty of people forgot I was even writing anything about Order Markers anymore. With OM VI, I meant to start a series of essays about typical army archetypes- what they look like in terms of my categories, how they play differently than other armies, and to whom they might appeal.

Today I'm going to talk about my favorite type of Heroscape army: the control army. I'm borrowing the term from M:tG. The goal of a control deck in magic is to play to deny. You're not always attacking, but you're shutting down your opponent's options and slowly breaking him down.

People often look at the dice in Heroscape which have 3 skulls and 2 shields, and surmise that it's a mostly offensive game. For the most part, and for most players, this is probably correct. But thanks to the units I call defenders (most notably the Deathreavers), this doesn't have to be the case.

In case you forgot:

Very simliar in order marker usage to Cheerleaders, but the main difference is that you want them to draw fire. Thatís what they do best. If a Squad, they make great glyph-securers, and map controllers. If a Hero, engage the biggest thing you see.

Examples: Deathreavers, Brunak, Concan, Warriors of Ashra, Izumi Samurai, Tarn Viking Warriors, Gladiatrons, Sentinels of Jandar, Marrden Hounds, Marcu Esenwein
Defenders that also bond: Valguard, an unwounded Krug, Sir Denrick, Ne-Gok-Sa

Uses: Your goal when using this type of unit isn't to run around killing everything. It's to force your opponent to waste turns attacking them instead of your more vulnerable and/or dangerous figures, like Sharks, Cheerleaders, any ranged units, or Menacers.

As you can see from the above categories, Deathreavers and other good defenders work very well with a variety of unit types. In my pseudo-economic terms, they reduce the efficiency of enemy units. Since they have low productivity themselves, they often reduce your overall order marker efficiency as well, but the net change is often such that your opponent's efficiency drops much more than yours does.

Aside: Deathreavers have the added benefit of being able to move on your opponent's turns. Some people wrongly credit Scatter with making games with Deathreavers take so long, but I think the big reason is that they force both players to think through their moves more, and to often make extremely inefficient attacks against figures with high defense.

Now, if only there were other units that had high productivity, but low or highly variable efficiency to work well with these low-productivity, efficiency-reducing Defenders!

Oh wait:

These units appear at first to be identical in use to Bread and Butter units. They have lots of power and/or range, and they usually arenít a waste of an order marker. However, the main difference between them and BB units is that you have to keep putting order markers on them: they have to keep moving or they die. Theyíre usually one or more of the following: unique, low defense, or expensive point-wise. They have an uncanny knack for drawing attention: once you activate them, youíve gotta keep activating them and see how much havoc they can wreak.

Examples: Airborne Elite, Aubrien Archers, Jotun, Braxas, Cyprien Esenwein, Zombies of Morindan, Fyorlag Spiders, Armoc Vipers, Wolves of Badru, Marro Drones, MacDirk Warriors, Omnicron Snipers, The Einar Imperium, Kozuke Samurai, Grok Riders, Templar Cavalry, Venoc Vipers, Iskra Esenwein and her Rechets, Ashigaru Yari/Harquebus, Non-Valiant 4th Mass, Deathwalkers on a bad day
Sharks that also bond: Alastair MacDirk, Mimring, Wo-Sa-Ga, Su-Bak-Na, Sujoah, Venoc Warlord, a severely wounded Krug

Uses: These work well with Defenders first, and then Menacers and Cheerleaders about equally. Use the Defenders to tie up your enemies and allow the Sharks to choose their prey. Sharks and Menacers can both act as decoys for each other; pay attention to which group your opponent seems to focus on more and exploit that point. Cheerleaders might make them actually stand around for a bit longer than you think. Additionally, it is also important to note that Sharks do not make very good glyph holders. They need to take advantage of their mobility and attack values. Sitting in one place is a waste, and a common mistake when using Airborne Elite.

Most sharks are low to middling units in spider_poison's power rankings. They have potential, but they are not self-sufficient. Most of the time, this is because their defense is much lower than other units in their point range, or they are melee and low defense, and often get lit up before they can engage their foes. If they trade blows with B&B commons, they'll lose.

... but if they trade blows with enemy commons while the enemy is forced to tear his hair out in a swarm of Deathreavers or Sentinels... they win! Defenders essentially turn your entire army into tough, low-cost commons.

At first, Nilfheim was listed as a Shark on my list, and I might put him back there some day. He works really well with Deathreavers, because his special attack is so potent and his flying allows him to pick his targets extremely well. His biggest weakness is getting engaged by enemy squad figures, but rats help prevent that from happening. The nice thing about Nilfheim is that he is also very good against other control armies' rats thanks to his special attack. With his big normal attack of 6, he can also take out most enemy heroes when needed. Because heroes are often the ones with the scatter-denying special attacks, taking out heroes is often an important role in a rat-based control army.

Gladiatrons and Blastatrons cheat. They combine a solid constricting force with a cheap ranged common. It's no wonder that they do well in the hands of skilled players.

One alternative that I've seen very rarely in control builds is the use of healing. Self healing or replicating units, such as Cyprien, Sonlen, Zombies of Morindan, and Marro Warriors can be extremely effective behind a rat screen. If your army is particularly slow and you have a high defense/low life hero such as Q9, even the D+ ranked Kelda could have a place in a solid tournament army. Pretty much the only example of this strategy that I can recall is the time I went 4-1 in my second tourney. If your opponent looks like this, you're doing it right (that's me on the left):

Although I admit that control builds aren't that common, they have actually done rather well in tournaments at times. Revdyer's 2x Sentinels + 4x 4th Mass build has some control elements- I've often heard him say that it plays fairly slowly. Rˇchean and Funrun each played strong control armies at the GenCon Championship in 2007, with Rˇchean taking 2nd place and Funrun placing in the top 8. Killercactus also placed in the top 8 at GenCon 2008, beating a number of strong armies. I also seem to do better when I play a control army than when I play pure swarm armies. For these armies and other solid control builds, look at the "Rat Podge" section of my cookie cutter thread.

One thing I really ought to mention- Deathreavers and occasionally Sentinels really allow you to bring almost anything to a tournament and experience a certain degree of success. If you're a moderately cerebral player and don't want to drop a ton of money on common squads, pick up a few Deathreaver squads cheaply somewhere, and you'll be able to hang with the best of them, and be able to use your favorite units at the same time!

I'll be happy to supply links to battle reports and other information upon request.
Total Comments 9


1Mmirg's Avatar
Thanks for posting more, Jexik. I've missed your OM posts.

And, yes, duh, we would love battle reports and other info. We are obsessive-compulsive Scapers; well, I am anyway. Seriously, I enjoy seeing examples and I have to admit that I don't recall what Ry, funrun, or Killercactus played at any GC event, let alone the ones you mention here.

A related note: Despite the list of defenders you give, it seems that really only the Reavers efficiently perform in the control army you are discussing here (well, and the Glads in a Blast/Glad army). Sentinels and a few others have some promise, but am I missing something more? Are there other options to the control army, or is it mostly (not exclusively, of course) a Reaver thing?

Thanks for the post.
Posted May 15th, 2009 at 11:22 AM by 1Mmirg 1Mmirg is offline
Shades fan's Avatar
Has anyone told you that you over analyze sometimes!
I'll be bringing Nilf & 3x Sentinels to the Beantown Beatdown V tomorrow and hope to have a lot of fun!
I determine this after talking with Rev & ollie [After all it was inspired by Rev]

Nice write up!~Shades
Posted May 15th, 2009 at 11:33 AM by Shades fan Shades fan is offline
Jexik's Avatar
A related note: Despite the list of defenders you give, it seems that really only the Reavers efficiently perform in the control army you are discussing here (well, and the Glads in a Blast/Glad army). Sentinels and a few others have some promise, but am I missing something more? Are there other options to the control army, or is it mostly (not exclusively, of course) a Reaver thing?
It depends. In Heat of the Battle (or if you otherwise expect to face a lot of melee), Warriors of Ashra are probably superior to Deathreavers in this role. The main problem with the Izumi Samurai and Tarn Vikings is that they are not common; in a lower point or limited-commons environment, I could see squads like this seeing more play.

Similar common squads, like the Knights of Weston, Roman Legionnaires, or Sacred Band can often fill this role as their numbers begin to dwindle and you bring in Nilfheim, Kaemon Awa, or some other cleanup unit.

I'll dig up some links.

(But you're right... Deathreavers generally perform the best in this role, just as Raelin is the best cheerleader, Q9 the most menacing, etc...)

In a way, this blog post is a very long way of saying, "hai d00dz, ratz r t3h h4x!" But I'm trying to figure out why their teh h4x.

I think the most potentially innovative consequence of this article is to see more people combining rats with healing units (or perhaps even the Hive!) and Unique units to try to win games specifically on time/points when partial scoring is not used.
Posted May 15th, 2009 at 11:34 AM by Jexik Jexik is offline
Updated May 15th, 2009 at 01:38 PM by Jexik
kolakoski's Avatar

So that's what it's called!

Well met!

I play almost exclusively "control" armies. I do not have any Deathreavers, or any more than 1 squad of any common, so I have been using Brunak and/or Krug to engage. Control can be exerted in many ways. I do have Dund!

Posted May 15th, 2009 at 01:46 PM by kolakoski kolakoski is offline
That is a great article. I have noticed a few times myself that if you can get your opponent to spend more order markers dealing with small expendable characters like the deathreavers, you have an advantage. My friend actually took the Elf Wizards to a recent tournamenr, and he made Morsbane the distracting figure that most opponents spent a lot of time attacking, while he simply laid waste with the other figures. I really like the way you categorize the other types of units. The differences between BB and Sharks is really distinct once it is described the way you did. I think this will definitely help me implement that strategy in future games. Thanks!
Posted May 15th, 2009 at 02:50 PM by Oestedb Oestedb is offline
arp12's Avatar
Looking forward to the next essay, Jexik.
Posted May 16th, 2009 at 06:51 AM by arp12 arp12 is offline
CheddarLimbo's Avatar
A great read, as always Jexik.
Posted May 16th, 2009 at 08:35 AM by CheddarLimbo CheddarLimbo is offline
nyys's Avatar
Had I only read this last week, it probably would have tipped the balance and convinced me to go ahead and bring Rats x5, DW8K and DW9K to this past Saturday's tourney.

I didn't have the stones to do it, so I brought a so-so Samurai and Krug army that went 2-3.
Posted May 19th, 2009 at 08:46 AM by nyys nyys is offline
Jexik's Avatar
5x Rats is just cruel.

I almost brought 5x Deathreavers, Major Q9, Raelin, and Kelda to a 24 hex, 540 point tournament where everyone had to have at least one D+ figure or below. Kelda is a D+, currently. The event didn't work out for my schedule, but I was kind of glad because everyone would have wanted to kick me in the balls by the end of the day.

I think that 3x Rats is the sweet spot though. 1 is better than most 1x Commons. 2 is definitely worth it, and 3 is just nasty. Once you get into 4 and 5 territory you'll end up oscillating between games where they're ridiculously good (against an all common army) and prohibitively bad (against Braxas or Q9).
Posted May 19th, 2009 at 10:00 AM by Jexik Jexik is offline
Recent Blog Entries by Jexik

All times are GMT -4. The time now is 03:25 PM.

Heroscape background footer

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8
Copyright ©2000 - 2021, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
User Alert System provided by Advanced User Tagging (Lite) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2021 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.