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Codex article - Battlefield Review - Fulcrum

Posted March 2nd, 2015 at 07:05 PM by dok
This is a reprint of the article I submitted for issue 6 of the revived Heroscape Codex. You can always find their latest releases here; as of this writing they just released issue 8.

In this column, Iím going to go over some of the strategy that goes into playing a game on the BoV map Fulcrum, by Dignan. This isnít really a review of the map itself; rather, itís a discussion of the choices you make when you play on the map. Hopefully these ideas will help you approach games on this map as well as other maps.

Where do I want to fight?

As with most maps, one of the first things you should ask yourself when you sit down to play on Fulcrum is: where do I want the battle to take place?

Of course, you donít always get to decide. At first approximation, in Heroscape, the longer ranged army decided where the battle happens. Speed matters too, of course.

The obvious approach on Fulcrum is to make a run for the high ground in the middle of the map. Most players will make a run for the high ground on their right side. This makes a lot of sense, of course: the central hills are the highest spot on the map and give you a strong position to move towards other spots on the map. However, remember that the highest height is not always needed. All that matters is who has height advantage on who. If your opponent is attacking up from level 1, it does not matter whether you are on level 2 or level 8. Either way itís one extra die.

With that in mind, it is often a good idea, with a ranged army, to start the game by reinforcing the 3-space level 3 hill on the right side of the map. If your opponent brings any figures into your range after you set there, then you can force your opponent to push towards that small hill through the narrow gap between the ruins, which is a strategic advantage for your army.


dok vs. Kinseth, OHS Season 15 round 4. Note the Nakita Agents on the bottom hill, forcing the Dividers to move forward to engage.

Another advantage that hanging back in this area affords you is the use of the ruin as cover. This is especially useful for cheerleaders - at times, the best spot for Raelin on this map is not on a perch, but rather on the inside corner of the ruin, offering her protection to figures on your end of the map without being exposed to advancing figures at all.

This is not to say that you should plan to stay in the back of the map most games, or even most games where you have a mostly-ranged army. But my default approach on this map is to build my army on the right side, and then see how the game is developing from there.

Also, there are definitely times when you do want to go directly for the central hills. The most obvious example is dragons like Nilfheim, who can quickly reach the middle height and attack down on the advancing figures. Additionally, in a range vs. range showdown, any figure that sits on the level 3 sub hill will probably find itself shot at by opposing range on the central hills. So range vs. range showdowns do usually push to the center.

Whatís a melee army to do?

The discussion above may make it seem like a ranged army has a huge advantage against melee on Fulcrum. However, this isnít really the case (or at least, not any moreso than usual in Heroscape). Fulcrum actually offers a number of tricks for a melee army to use.

First, and most obviously, the jungle terrain. With a little effort, you can ensure that every figure moving up through the center of the map is either hiding behind the ruin, or stuck next to jungle terrain. Try to be diligent about this - if you put half your approaching figures on height or next to jungle, and the other half not, then you may as well not have any next to jungle at all, because your opponent will have plenty of exposed targets to choose from. If you can only put two or three figures in protected places in the center, then use remaining activations to move figures up from the back, or to advance around the sides of the map.

Speaking of the sides of the map, going over the top that way is a valuable strategy. Even if you need to advance to the far side of the map, the center hills can still offer your figures height advantage as they move up, increasing the odds that they survive to first contact.

Finally, if your opponent is set on hanging back, then you have no reason to push forward until your opponent is actually shooting you. This is, generally speaking, one of the big lessons of playing melee against range - be patient. If your opponent is unwilling to move ranged figures forward past the back hill, then you can mass your entire army just beyond the reach of ranged figures sitting on that hill. This is a win-win for the melee army - either the ranged army will creep forward and you will have a chance to fight them on even ground, or you will be able to put your entire army into position without taking a single hit in the process.

That said, there are armies that can and should rush across the map and attempt to disrupt the opposing army while it is still moving out of the startzone. Fulcrum places the startzone on low ground, and a quick rush can sometimes pin your opponent back. However, this is a very risky play with many armies. If you rush hard and lose steam, you can end up in the very worst situation for a melee army: attacking with only one or two figures each turn, while you ferry other figures up from the back and your opponent never lets you get established.

How can I use the features of the map to my advantage?

Iíve already covered the importance of jungle terrain and height on this map, but there are other features that are important. First is the water. Many players seem to treat the water on this map as, effectively, an impassable boundary to work around. However, if you intend to move to the level 4 height, then the water on your left-hand side offers one of the most efficient ways to get there. Any 5-move single-spaced figure on the front row of the left side of your startzone can reach the water on their first movement. Particularly for ranged commons, this can be a very strong opening move. Sir Gilbert also particularly benefits from dunking knights with Jandarís dispatch so they can climb the height on their turn. This can be a great way to get height on figures in the middle of the map if things get clogged up there.

Speaking of clogging things up, understanding the choke points on the map is another key. If you are sitting back on the right side, then two figures (or one double-spacer) in covering the 2-space gap between the ruin and the water can screen off that side of the map; Iíve won several games on this map by controlling that real estate. If the game centers on controlling the center hills, then the level 3 spots stepping up to the hills become the key real estate on the map; in some ways more important than the level 4 height itself.

Conclusion

Fulcrum is a map that offers many choices to the player. Understanding those choices, and using those choices to manipulate how the battle develops, is the difference between winning and losing more often than not.
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