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Efficient Play Wins the Day

Posted December 12th, 2008 at 11:30 PM by Jexik
Updated December 13th, 2008 at 06:21 PM by Jexik
(and here's why)

Iím going to let you all in on a little secret. Productivity will only get you so far in Heroscape. You need to be at a certain level (get 3 or 4 attacks per turn with a decent amount of dice) to win games, or place in the top 50% in a tournament. But if you want to win close games, or place in the top 25% repeatedly, you have to play efficiently.

But what does that mean? If we look at what wikipedia has to say about Economic Efficiency, I think the part of the definition I like the best is ďMore output cannot be obtained without increasing the number of inputs.Ē If Iím talking about order marker efficiency, the number of inputs refers merely to the number of order markers. Get the most output out of your order markers.

So, to play efficiently, the first step is to put your order markers where theyíll create the most output, i.e. be more productive. [For more on how to place OMís efficiently, I recommend UPCís article]. While fairly obvious, an Order Marker on a dead card will not be a productive use of your limited resources: there will literally be zero output. This is one reason why commons are inherently more efficient than uniques, the chance of losing turns due to figure death is very low, until youíve received a lot of casualties. Even for unique squads, losing just one figure severely reduces your output for awhile, and they therefore become a less efficient order marker choice. Even while unique squads (or heroes for that matter) are at full health, they are often a less efficient order marker choice because they can only move and attack from a few places at once: itís easy to engage Deathwalker 7000 and limit his options, but 16 4th Massachusetts Line? Good luck. Common squads that can bond are even more efficient; they explicitly give you an extra turn with each order marker, and without the risk of placing any order markers on their bonded heroes. Although Unique figures are generally less efficient than commons, those that have Special Attacks are usually more efficient, not necessarily because special attacks themselves are required, but because a special attack represents an alternate way of using an otherwise limited turn.

Aside from order marker placement, figure placement is key as well in efficient play. Good, efficient players will be using most of their attacks every turn. They will get the most out of the attacks they do make by securing height advantage and using any other beneficial auras to their benefit. They will move up additional figures when itís appropriate and always have a back up plan. One die roll will rarely cost them the game. I could go into great detail about explaining efficient plays, but UranusPChicago already did that better in Donít Forget to Move, To Disengage or Not to Disengage..., and In Game Point Value. His articles should be required reading for anyone wishing to improve their play.

I already touched on why commons and bonding are efficient, but there are a number of other factors which improve efficiency. If the number of attacks and attack dice rolled are the hallmark of order marker productivity in Heroscape, Range, Defense, and Movement are the three key efficiency stats, and in that order. Having a high range, or even one of 5 or above ensures that you will almost always be using all of your potential attacks each turn- melee figures are inherently less efficient than ranged ones, all else being equal; extremely high range often means that you can even move far enough away that your opponent wonít be able to attack you back at all. Having solid defense is extremely important in Heroscape; not only does it allow you to maintain your position on the map and allow you to stay in range of your opponentís figures to attack them on your own [efficient] turns, it also reduces the efficiency of your opponentís turns- an attack which is blocked entirely is essentially wasted. Movement, the third efficiency stat, allows you to get where you need to be to make your attacks. Movement enhancing powers such as flying and disengage strengthen this factor of efficiency.

These last few sentences should start to make something abundantly clear. The key to winning in Heroscape is not just making efficient plays on your own turns, but to set yourself up in a way that you reduce the efficiency of your opponentís turns. Tossing your 1 or your 2 on your Deathreavers or Sentinels in the middle rounds of a game is almost always a reduction in your own offensive output, but doing so can sometimes reduce the output of your opponent even more. In that case, the net change in efficiency can be in your favor, even though you are rolling fewer attack dice. Even the X can be placed in such a way that it decreases the efficiency of your opponent's turns by drawing fire away from your real attackers- it should be used efficiently too.

To sum up the concept of efficiency, Iíll compare three popular squads: the 4th Massachusetts Line, Knights of Weston, and Heavy Gruts. The 4th Massachusetts Line have the lowest productivity of the three squads, but their Range makes them the most efficient. The Knights of Weston and Heavy Gruts have comparable productivity with their bonding and base Attack of 3. The Knightsí defense alone increases their efficiency above that of the Gruts, even though the Heavy Gruts have 1 more movement and Disengage. In order to increase their efficiency, a wise Knights player would do well to include Sir Gilbert for movement, and an Orc general should select Nerak to boost their defense; these two squads are so productive that while Grimnak and Alastair are great, they should not necessarily be the first picks. What the basic productivity levels also suggest is that in ideal situations or in the hands of a more efficient player, the Knights of Weston or Heavy Gruts can outperform the 4th Massachusetts Line.

I'll also point out that although 3 attacks of 3 isn't the most productive or offensive use of a turn, Major Q9, Raelin, and Laglor is the most efficient combo in the entire game. Compare to The Einar Imperium, who can make 6 attacks of 3, but are limited by their range of 1 and defense of 3.
Total Comments 6


Cleon's Avatar
Yet another outstanding article Jexik! This was very interesting and will alone help out my play. I'll check in to the other threads you suggested by UPC later.
Posted December 12th, 2008 at 11:55 PM by Cleon Cleon is offline
Revdyer's Avatar
A very nice piece of work, Jexik. Thank you.
Posted December 13th, 2008 at 08:49 AM by Revdyer Revdyer is offline
RageAngel's Avatar
So who is more efficient, the Roman Legion or the Sacred Band? It's a point of discussion on the Disciplined Soldier army thread.

Both have 2 base defense. With an all disciplined army (which can include the 10th and Marcus) the SB get 3 defense, but the Legionaires require adjacency and more restrictions on movement/proximity. Many times, you cannot keep at least 3 Romans in a triangle (to get +2 Def each) AND let them all attack. But, the SB cannot get their defense as high as the Legionaires.
Posted December 13th, 2008 at 02:03 PM by RageAngel RageAngel is offline
Jexik's Avatar
I answered the question in a couple other place, but I think it's a great question. The short answer? Usually the Romans because of their bonding options, unless the map makes Shield Wall really hard to use.
Posted December 13th, 2008 at 02:38 PM by Jexik Jexik is offline
Bones's Avatar
excellent tips, thanks!
Posted December 14th, 2008 at 01:24 PM by Bones Bones is offline
gmartin's Avatar
very helpful thank you
Posted December 14th, 2008 at 09:42 PM by gmartin gmartin is offline
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