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-   -   Cookie Cutter Army Discussion and Tiers (+D1 & GC '10) (https://www.heroscapers.com/community/showthread.php?t=23133)

Jexik January 20th, 2009 12:12 PM

Cookie Cutter Army Discussion and Tiers (+D1 & GC '10)
 
Part of the problem with my silly 4th>10th thread was that I don't think we were all on the same page. Although spider's rankings certainly do an excellent job, it's tough to talk about Heroscape units in a vacuum, or ceteris paribus, because more often than not, all else is not equal, and the rest of the army matters. So today I'm going to break down what I think are some of the most common and cohesive builds out there, and how they compare to each other. Where appropriate, I'll also mention who here on the site is 'famous' for different builds.

For all situations, assume a 24 hex format, and no marvel. There are a lot of variants in tourneys out there, but these are the two most common that I see around the country. I'll give a few optimal point totals for each army. If the event you're going to is a little bigger, toss in a filler hero like Marcu or Isamu.

Even within these tiers, there is some spread, and I really don't feel there are any 'tier 0' (automatic win) armies out there.

Tier 1 builds are those that can win a Heroscape tourney on any given Saturday. With the exception of a few tough matchups or unfavorable maps, it's up to you as a player to win unless the dice really screw you over. When a lot of people show up with armies like these, things get interesting. I really don't think they're imbalanced, because as you'll see, there are a lot of different iterations.

Tier 2 builds are those that were once Tier 1 builds, but shifts in the metagame, release of new units, and the expansion of the average player's collection have knocked them down a notch. Others are simply slightly weaker variations of Tier 1 builds, or use units that have always been just a step behind. On a good day, in the hands of a good player, they very well might walk away with the trophy.

Tier 3 builds make sense in theory, and have some good matchups against certain armies, but you rarely feel that confident in your chances.

Tier 4 builds either don't have enough commons or use unreliable units, or are just poorly made. You might get a few wins here and there, but don't get your hopes up.

Most of this is going from memory, so let me know if I bork anything up.

TIER 1

The Rat-Podges
Everything is small and annoying in Texas. Popularized simultaneously by DFW vets wisinger and Rˇchean, Deathreavers have become one of the tournament mainstays of Heroscape, and it doesn't really seem to matter what you pair them with. What we do know is that they help make Uniques and other poor units very playable, and they gel well with ranged units. Whether or not you use an army like this yourself, you should always ask yourself "but what am I going to do about rats?"

Low Variance is for Chumps (Mattser's GC 2009 winner)
3x Deathreavers 120
Braxas 330
Airborne Elite 440
Marro Warriors 490 (went 4-1 day 1)
Raelin 570 (added for day 2, went 4-0)

d's-bag-of-tricks (dok's GC 2010 winner)
3x Deathreavers 120
Major Q9 300
Fen Hydra 420
Raelin 500

Wisinger's original 400 point winner:
3x Deathreavers 120
1x Omnicron Snipers 220
Airborne Elite 330
Zettian Guards 400 (yeah, you read that correctly!)

Rˇchean's GenCon 2007 2nd place army
3x Deathreavers 120
Kaemon Awa 240
Airborne Elite 350
Krav Maga Agents 450
Marro Warriors 500

Funrun's GenCon 2007 top 8 army (I later copied this one and added a squad of rats for 535 points, and placed 4th out of 46)
2x Deathreavers 80
Nilfheim 265
Krav Maga Agents 365
Raelin 445
Marro Warriors 495

In Cold Blood (I took 4th place out of 32 with this one in MN)
3x Deathreavers 120
Nilfheim 305
Cyprien 455
Sonya 500
Marro Warriors 550

Blue Steel (killercactus placed top 8 with this at GC 2008- it cleverly solves the Cyprien problem)
Nilfheim 185
Major Q10 335
Zetacron 395
3x Deathreavers 515

As you can see, there is a lot of wiggle room with these kinds of armies. Get 3x rats and go at it.

Pros:
Strong glyph and map control
Great matchups against most common squad based armies.
Or really, anything without Braxas or a special attack.
Great opportunity to bring lesser-used units to tourneys and still compete.

Cons:
That look on your opponent's face when you say, "Scatter..."
Mirror matchups or Vydar Ranged armies can cause issues.
Opponents with disengage or Stealth Flight (CYPRIEN!) can be gnarly.
Provides numerous order marker and figure placement headaches.

Lizard Kings

What's that? A tier 1 army based around an Ullar squad? Yep. 3 of the top 16 at GenCon last summer were sporting this squad, with Nilfheim and/or Zelrig. Is even Charos playable at a high level now? Time will tell.

Greenroller
Charos 210
4x Greenscales 450

Christmas Tree ET86's top 8 GC 2010 army
4x Greenscales 240
Raelin 320
Zelrig 505

Zamboni (my top 16 GC 2010 army)
4x Greenscales 240
Nilfheim 425
Raelin 505

Pros:
Unless you're playing Charos, rats are no problem. And if you are playing Charos, he's pretty good at surviving a long time and isn't afraid of their bites.
Lots of attacks- when positioned well you're throwing out tons of dice each turn.
Great rewards, at the price of...

Cons:
... great risk. If your King goes down, you're pretty much screwed.

The Kenights of Weston
Although some people might debate whether or not any melee-heavy army should be in the top tier, if any of them should, it's the Knights of Weston. For how often people have the balls to play them, they seem to do rather well, even in pretty competitive tourneys, often in the hands of Matthias Maccabeus or matrixrenegade. Their power goes up a lot if the Movement glyph is in the pool and/or the maps are small.

Thanks to Ken Williams and contemporary maps, melee is becoming more and more playable, and the Knights are still the cream of the crop (if they have an answer for rats).

Core of the army:
3x Knights of Weston 210
Sir Gilbert 315

You can do a lot of good things with this base. I like to add Nilfheim for an even 500, and Eldgrim if it goes to 530 or above. Zelrig, or perhaps even Cyprien+Sonya seem like interesting options as well. Alastair is also very solid, and worth a mention, but I'd almost always go for Sir Gilbert first. Sir Hawthorne adds a special attack, especially nice if Lodin is in the glyph pool. Adding a little range with the KMA, Marro Warriors, or Major Q10 is also a good idea.

Alternate base:

3x Knights of Weston 210
Finn the Viking Champion 290

From here you can do what matrixrenegade did to beat me (and get to day 2 of the GenCon championship) by adding the KMA, Eldgrim, and Thorgrim. Super Krav are scary. Zetacron and the Marro Warriors are also a nice spots for Finn's spirit.

Pros:
Defense is the best offense.
Many players don't prepare heavily for well-played melee armies.

Cons:
Random jank might beat you, like Charos or Tagawa Samurai.
Very map dependent. No roads and open sight lines = pain.

KRS-WON TTO
Ever since spider's Kaemon, Raelin, and Stingers won the Tree Town Open in 2007, The Stinger-based hodgepodges are here to stay. A lot of these armies have so many robust, cheap figures that they have a tool for every situation.

Here's the original, which went 6-0 on NHSD in 2007:

Kaemon Awa 120
Raelin 200
4x Stingers 440
2x Deathreavers
Isamu 530

Lonewolf dropped Isamu to make it fit the 520 point limit for GC 2008. He took 2nd place, losing to spider's trons on Day 2, and Clarissimus' Tor-Kul-Na, 3x Nagrubs, AE, and Gurei Oni of all things on day 1. (go C-mus)!

Vanilla Ice- Nadom did well (4-1) by dropping Raelin and adding Nilfheim to make it 505 for a tourney he attended in the Northwest. I followed his lead and played it with Isamu and Nilfheim once in Illinois for a 5-0 victory, and again at GenCon to go 3-2, barely missing the cutoff for day 2. I attribute my losses to my mistakes and good choices by my opponents, more than a weakness in the army.

The Kansas City variant- By dropping the 4th squad of Stingers, keeping Raelin, and adding Major Q9, both Kahrma and darkmantle have had strong showings with this stinger podge. Kahrma took it to a top 16 finish at GenCon, while darkmantle won a recent 42 person tourney in Lee's Summit, MO.

Zelrig? I went 4-1 at a 510 point, 22 person tourney in Minnesota, playing 4x Stingers, Raelin, and Zelrig. I think this combo certainly has potential on the right maps. I beat spider_poison's Redcoats/Raelin army that day and lost to Q9 largely to bad dice. (An unsupported Q9 took out 12 Stingers and Raelin when I had height much of the time).

Why not just go all Stingers? Jormi_boced got 3rd in the GC 2007 championship with a Stingers/Hive combo, just 2 days after the Stingers were released. A kid from Team Nowhere in Minnesota regularly plays 6x Stingers and the Hive for 520 or whatever fits in the point total, he usually goes 4-2 or so. Hendal made the top 16 in GC '08 (and 2nd in '09) by just playing 7x Stingers, Raelin, and Marcu. Fallen Soldier took 4th with 6x Stingers, Krug, and 1x Arrow Gruts. Jacob P from Ohio played 6x Stingers and NGS in the mindshackle tournament, getting second place. But he did lose to spider's 4x Stingers, 3x rats (dropped one to make it 11 usually) in the final round, so that suggests that mixing it a little is a good idea.

Stingers are good, and have a wide variety of drafting options, but I think they're quite beatable.

Pros:
Order marker management can be tricky.
Few terrible matchups.
A huge wealth of drafting options- prepare for your regional metagame accordingly.

Cons:
No great matchups.
May struggle with Knights and Minions.

TRON!
Once a dark horse contender, this army is now a fierce and well known adversary. Because gladiatrons are so difficult to find for many scapers, many players are unused to dealing with this army and find themselves in a whole mess of trouble. It also takes a bit of practice to use well, but watch out for this one!

Core:
3x Gladiatrons 240
2x Blastatrons 360
Raelin (RotV) 440

For 500 points, Lonewolf added a squad of Blastatrons to this one (and dropped one Blast) and took 3rd place with it at the GC championship in 2007. For 520, Spider_poison won the whole thing in 2008 by adding adding a 4th Squad of Glads (dropping one glad). Between 440 and 520, this is a very potent build. Dignan did well in a 540 point tourney in Texas by adding the KMA. To be honest though, I think this could be equally dominant if point totals rose. (Just add Q9 and Laglor at a 24 hex/730 point tourney).

Pros:
Ridiculously easy Order Marker management
Raelin and Gladiatrons give excellent battlefield control
Few bad matchups- can achieve both quantity and quality attacks
Great against melee (whose use is on the rise).

Cons:
Rather map dependendent- roads offer little benefit, but jungle is excellent. Castles, walls, water, and battlements can create significant hurdles for the gladiatrons.
Can really suffer in the late game when Raelin is dead and the Glads are dwindling.
4th Mass or even 10th Regiment of Foot can be murder. Proceed with caution!
Rats are REALLY bad news!

Critical Mass
Step 1: Collect 4th Mass.
Step 2: ???
Step 3: PROFIT

For best results, keep it Valiant. A flow chart could play this army and get top 25%. The valiant restriction isn't so bad as one might think.

If you feel like 'schooling' some newbies, here are some examples (drop or add squads as necessary):

Old School (TTO winner in 2006)
4x 4th Massachusetts Line 280
Charos 490 (490 was the limit)

Divinity School (top 8 GC 2007, Texas NHSD winner 2007, both by Revdyer)
2x Sentinels of Jandar 220
4x 4th Mass 500

New School (top 16 GC by Mattser in 2008 )
5x Mass 350
Sgt Drake Alexander (SotM) 520

Middle School (Messenger's 7-0 NHSD army in Ohio)
5x Mass 350
Sgt Drake (RotV) 460

Knight School (3rd place out of 60 at the TTO in 2007, popularized by gibberish_47)
4x 4th Mass 280
2x Knights of Weston 420
Sir Gilbert 525 (25 hexes- he dropped 1 KoW figure)

Beat up at School (yagyuninja went 6-0 with this one, beating rdhight's trons among others)
Captain America 220
4x 4th Mass 500 (I know I said I wouldn't include Marvel, but I couldn't resist)

Pros:
Favored in just about every matchup...

Cons:
Except Q9.
No special attack in most builds, so rats are trouble. That last one would be the army to play in mixed marvel/classic, IMO.

I like Big Gruts
Heavy Gruts are freaking awesome. They're like Knights with Disengage... and crappier defense. I mean, they've got Grimnak. He's on a T-Rex, man. And Nerak is cool, in a lot of ways. Like the Knights, these guys are brutal on small maps. Adding Raelin proved to work very well for both Matthias Maccabeus and Mantrainchoochoo in the GC Indy Championship in '09. Maybe they both would have placed top 4 if they didn't have to face each other ;).

Raelin and the 17 Orcs mantrain took... I want to say 2nd with this on NHSD in Ohio, and Matthias won the Nebraska Skirmish 2 with it a month or so later
Raelin 80
Grimnak 200
Nerak 250
4x Heavy Gruts

BroInLaw's army- 2nd place in Texas' NHSD '08, losing only to Dignan's Trons at a later date for bragging rights. Was officially the winner after 5 rounds of Swiss the day of the tourney.

Tornak 100
Grimnak 120
Ornak 220
3x Heavy Gruts 530
Isamu 540

Pros:
Disengage
Bonding
You get to say CHOMP! at least once a game

Cons:
Map and metagame dependent
Adjacency bonuses can be tricky to use sometimes, and don't match up to the Knights 4 Defense all the time.

A+ Junk "Apojee"
A favorite of Nwojedi, southwest ninja, and KaBoomboomboom, these armies answer the question, "What happens when I get together a bunch of really good units with little or no cohesion but play them well?" You win, and it's frustrating. I really wish these armies weren't Tier 1, but they keep showing up.

The Drop (your pants) (Nwo's 2nd place GC 2006 army- lost to spider's Gruts- this army is probably Tier 2, but it's here for posterity)
3x 4th Mass 210
Airborne Elite 320
Raelin 400

The first time I saw it in action (K-boom got 3rd place at a 32 participant MN tourney with this, losing only to Phloid's crazy Vydar Ranged variant- K-boom came up with the name Apojee for this one)
3x 4th Mass 210
2x Deathreavers 290
Major Q9 470
Raelin 550

Let's try that again (2nd place army at another MN tourney, K-boom lost only against S_P's trons with this).
3x Mass 210
Q9 390
2x Deathreavers (we debated for awhile about whether to go with these guys or Raelin, or even another squad of Mass. The glyphs were strong, so he picked rats.)

southwest ninja (3rd place at GC 2008. Results speak for themselves)
Major Q9 180
Raelin 260
Krav 360
2x 4th Mass 500
Marcu 520

Nwo's Wisconsin NHSD winner, 2008
Nilfheim 185
3x Redcoats 410
2x Deathreavers 490
Airborne Elite 600

Suicide Z (K-boom's top 8 placer at TTO IV. Came quite close to making the final, actually losing to Nakita Agents in game 5 because he lost his Zelrig early).
5x 4th Mass 350
Zelrig 535

Jandar's Finest Kinseth's Revelations 2009 winner (500 points, single-general armies)
Nilfheim 185
3x 4th Mass 395
Raelin 475

4th Mass don't cost enough! Brownsfan's 4-1 top 4 finisher in Ohio's NHSD '09
Taelord 180
5x Mass 530

Pros:
Will win games...

Cons:
...but lose championships.

Well, that just about rounds out Tier 1.

As you can see, I think there's quite a lot of variety so far, even when you limit yourself to "good" units. Once you broaden this out to all the Tier 2 armies which stand a very real chance of pulling off some upsets, I think this game is quite balanced and not degenerate at a competitive level. I have yet to get bored with it.

TIER 2

Vydar Ranged
Made (in)famous by Mattsertruckrally in his 2007 GenCon Championship victory, this army helped make everyone know that Q9 is a total beast. Why people don't complain as much about Raelin, or give more credit to Matt's playing skill will always escape me. He knew that people would play a lot of squads, saw that many of the maps were wide open shooting galleries, and he capitalized on that. You probably can't go to an Ohio tourney without facing at least one army like this.

Core of the army:
Major Q9 180
Raelin (RotV) 260
Laglor 370
Krav Maga Agents 470

At GC 2007, Mattser used Isamu and Marcu as fillers to bring it up to 500. He often just used Marcu as a glyph holder and never really needed to use Isamu.

Phloid (of Phloid and D Man) from Minnesota won a 550 point tourney by adding 2x Deathreavers to the 470 point core above. It's the army to beat at 550, I think.

Pros:
High range
High Defense
High Synergy
Almost completely unreliant on glyph pool

Cons:
Order Marker placement can be tricky.
A few bad defense whiffs early can be brutal.
Playing armies like this on the small maps popular at tourneys these days without a screen takes big stones.

Redcoats en masse
Onacara and Draconious both seem to swear by playing the Redcoats in a huge swarm and going buck wild. It's kind of like the Critical Mass armies, only not. It trades superior ability against melee heavy armies for weaker performance against well-crafted Q9 armies and rat-podges. And there's this nebulous flexibility that people keep throwing around. ;) I think they're almost better in the A+ Junk sorts of armies.

Onacara's "Kiss my ass, 4th Mass" Won the... ŅFall Brawl?
5x Redcoats 375
Marcus 475
1x Dumutef Guard 500

Draconious' army that he beat my 'trons in a win-a-wave with:
6x Redcoats 450

Eternalthanos86 won TTO V, going 6-0 with:
Marcus 100
Airborne Elite 210
4x Redcoats 510

Pros:
Easy OM placement, little to no luck involved in the game
Solid matchups against 'trons, Stingers, Knights, and other melee
"Flexibility"

Cons:
Get owned hard by Vydar Ranged
2 Ranged defense- TWO!
The 4th Mass exist

Dwarves
Depending on how popular large heroes (*cough Greenscales*) get, the Dwarves could be a big contender. I expected more out of them at GenCon in 2010, but who knows what the future holds. They really need a rat exterminator to even out their match-ups. Not fearing Q9 or Nilfheim is pretty darn cool though.

Dwarfroller?
5x Axegrinders of Burning Forge 350
Migol 460
1x Fyorlag Spiders 500

Matthias Maccabeus went 4-0-1 with this, winning aquilla's title in General Wars in 2009.

Long Division

Yet another reasonably competitive squad out of Wave 9. Although many people complained that they don't work well with the hive maybe they do? Are they best as an army unto themselves, or as a melee screen? Worldturtle made day 2 of GenCon 2009 playing 4 squads of these guys.

Awesome on a 17+ (3-2 day 1, highest SoS among 3-2's).
4x Marro Dividers 200
Kaemon Awa 320
Raelin 400
Krav Maga Agents 500

Made day 2 (TOP 4!) in 2010 too, wow.

Fish Tako's army
Major Q9 180
5x Dividers 430
Raelin 510

MM also won a small tourney with these somewhere, but he has done that with just about everything.

Pros: They're kind of like Stingers,

Cons: but without any range.

Hax Romana
I've always liked making Roman Legionnaire builds. They're just too much fun. There's something about making an army with these guys that works perfectly synergy-wise but looks ridiculous on the battlefield that is uniquely Heroscape. I like to think that higher point totals are the reason we don't see these guys any more, but I worry that even if we rolled back to a 400-500 point standard, Stingers/Rats would walk all over them. It was cool while it lasted. (I think. I wasn't actually there). I'm mostly going to mention Legionnaire builds. With a little imagination, I'm sure you can all come up with Sacred Band/Parmenio/Valguard builds. I really like MBS and NGS though, so my personal preference leans towards the Romans.

Some people like tossing the AE in here, but I don't because it turns a normally simple OM placement army into a nightmare. In fact, a 4th Mass/Romans/AE army was my original inspiration for What's in an Order Marker? I wondered how you could get a bad or less awesome army with such great units. If you don't play MBS or the 10th/4th, it seems to have merit though.

Now that the great Zelrig scare of '08 has passed, these guys seem to be able to compete pretty well again.

THE Original Roman Army (courtesy of UranusPChicago, and many butts kicked in the DFW area early 2006).
2x Roman Legionnaires 100
Marcus 200
Me-Burq-Sa 250
2x 4th Massachusetts Line 390 (It was even a 400 pt. tourney- I'm sure he'd swap out the Redcoats today, but I also suspect that he'd be reluctant to play Romans in this era).

The Louisville Buggers 2nd or 3rd place army from NHSD 2008 in KY, thanks to Utgarsrage
3x Roman Legionnaires 150
2x Redcoats 300
Ne-Gok-Sa 390
Marcus Genuine Draft 490
Me-Burq-Sa 540 (I like this one a lot; it was on my short list for the event in Iowa, but the maps and knowledge that K-boom was bringing Zelrig talked me out of it).

Pax Romarricana arp12, 4-0 and winner of Marlboro v. the World
3x Romans 150
MBS 200
AE 310
Marcus 410
NGS 500

Pros:
Me-Burq-Sa is king of pimps
Ne-Gok-Sa could play linebacker for the Raiders (yes, this is a reference to SBEMAIL 84)
The number and power of the attacks in this army help it hang with contemporary squad based armies

Cons:
Q9, and Rats screw this army over... basically, it's the modern meta.

TORKULNARMIES!!!
I'm kind of surprised that more people don't try this. TKN isn't so bad against a lot of the meta, and pretty much everyone has him. I guess everyone is too busy playing Stingers. When he can get stomp rolling, watch out. Try to bring some ranged units to give your opponent a second look, but don't get Wo-Sa-Ga. She's like TKN, but worse. The defense and life make a big difference between engagement and a premature death.

Core:
Tor-Kul-Na 220
3x Marrden Nagrubs 310

From there, you can do a lot of things. Nilfheim or Q9 bring it close to 500 points. Clarissimus even had a respectable record in some small tourneys with KMA and DŁnd to bring it to 520. Still tweaking the build, he actually brought Gurei-Oni and Airborne Elite to the GenCon 2008 Championship, going 3-1-1. With that army, he was Lonewolf's only Day 1 loss! He would have made it to Day 2 had Passtimes counted ties as he had expected. Both he and Cleon were listed as 3-2 essentially, even though they tied each other, knocking each other out of Day 2.

Pros:
People don't know what to do against TKN- many hardly know how to prevent Trample Stomp.
TKN is a solid Q9 counter, and can stomp rats and other tough squaddies.

Cons:
Map dependent, even for a melee double-spaced figure. Highways and Dieways? Good. Hot Heights? Bad.


PodgeK's?

I think the Phantom Knights have a lot of potential. Much like Stingers and Rats, they can work with just about everything. I'd like to see some more experimentation with them!


Tier 3

Arrow Gruts
I freaking love these guys. They were my first common that I bought doubles. Well, actually the second was a gift. I still remember the look on my girlfriend's face when I told her that I wanted little plastic half-naked blue men for my birthday in the summer of 2007. She never let me hear the end of it, but 2x Arrow Gruts + Krug owned faces all across the Forsaken Waters. Disengage+Range+Bonding= Too much fun.

Good times. Like the Romans, I think some combination of rising point totals and the arrival of Stingers/Cyprien contributed to their downfall. Zelrig was pretty much the nail in the coffin, but I keep hoping!

Core:
3x Arrow Gruts 120
Krug 240
3x Swog Riders 315

spider_poison won GenCon 2006 with the above core plus Raelin (old of course- SotM wasn't out yet!) for 395/400.

In March of 2008, I went 2-3 (17th out of 32) with Kitten Hug, which was his GenCon winner above with 6 swogs instead of 3 for 470. At that same Minnesota tourney, spider went 5-0 with Glad/Blasts. Codeman also went 2-3 with a Mimring-based build, as Valiant Mass and Stingers made up the majority of the middle and higher contenders, with the exceptions of K-boom's A+ Junk and Matthias' Knights. The performance of the Arrow Gruts at that tourney and in other ones before it convinced spider to change them from an A all the way down to a B+.

Pros:
With Krug for Q9, Arrow Gruts for whittling down Raelin, and Swog Riders for engaging Krav, this army is as close as you get to a hard counter for the Vydar Ranged army.
Disengage minimizes the effect of enemy rats, even if you don't get Mimring's special attacks.
Simple Order Marker placement with great bonding options.

Cons:
Arrow Gruts really need to be firing on all cylinders to keep up with Valiant Mass or Marro Stingers- they're in trouble when their support falls.
A lot of players are much more used to dealing with Krug than they used to be.
Several new units cripple them: Gladiatrons, Cyprien, Zelrig to name a few.
[B]

Flay, Minions!
Minions are just brutal, and one of the squads that I most dread to face (largely because I typically play Nilfheim). I strongly disagree with the notion that the extra minions you get when you buy lots of drones are a waste. Just try 3-5 squads some time. It kills. Much like the Redcoats, they can hold their own against about half of the Tier 1 armies (Stingers, Vydar Ranged, A+ Junk), and get owned by the other half ('Trons, 4th Mass, 3x Rat-podges)... Minion armies should be designed around covering up their common squad weakness.

550 points? Why not? Codeman- 7th out of 32 at the same MN tourney where I played Cyp/Nilfheim
5x Minions (Note: Was voted "Most interesting or unusual army" at the event)

Red Wings of Death Codeman: 3-2/18th place GC championship 2008
3x Minions of Utgar 330
Zelrig 515

I see the red dragon and I want it painted black... Theoretical army I considered for NHSD
3x Minions 330
Braxas 540

Cowboys From Hell Ollie, 3-1 and 3rd place at Marlboro v. The World
3x Minions of Utgar 330
James Murphy 405
Johnny Shotgun 470
Guilty 500


GRISHNAKH LIKE RED! (4-1 at Islandscape)
4x Redcoats 300
2x Minions 520

Pros:
Awesome against most heroes, especially Q9
Give Stingers a butt-whooping
Flight is nice for melee
Defense can shrug off a lot of attacks

Cons:
Squads with 6 or more range are torture.
Rather dice dependent- smart plays aren't necessarily rewarded
Deadly Strike is often overkill or a complete miss against squaddies

Non-KMA Agent builds
The Krav Maga Agents are really awesome. Armies with Nakita Agents, Microcorp Agents, and Skahen would probably be more common if the KMA didn't exist. They're a little expensive, a little REALLY vulnerable to Braxas in the case of all of them, and any special attack in the case of the Nakita Agents or Gorillinators. Laglor's the bomb though. He's equal parts cheerleader and solid cleanup figure. The big thing that stinks is that it makes a lot of sense to play Deathreavers with them, but if you do that, your entire Nakita/Gorillinator/Deathreaver army can get wiped out by Nilfheim or Q9 single handedly. Sad but true. I'm not all that experienced with builds like this, I'm sure you guys can figure out some good ones. They probably get better as point totals rise, so that MCA become worth the points and still not run out of hexes.

There Better Not Be Dragons!
Nakita Agents 120
3x Gorillinators 390
Laglor 500

We get height With a little help from our friends Bengi- went 4-1 and won the Saratoga Slugfest with this.
3x Microcorp Agents 300
Laglor 410
Brunak 520
2x Deathreavers 600

Fomox's TTO army from 2008. Went 4-1, including a close win against spider's trons (3x Glads, 2x Blasts, Krav, Raelin)
3x Microcorp Agents 300
Major Q10 450
2x Deathreavers 530
Isamu 540

Pros:
Great range
Nifty abilities
Quite good against Trons and Mass; passable against Stingers

Cons:
Their special abilities are highly metagame dependent: Q9/Braxas ruin all of their fun.
The KMA and the Q Brothers benefit from nearly all of the same synergies, so I don't know how these guys can make the leap to Tier 1, unfortunately

Scout/Frenzy Armies
There are many iterations of these, and the only real common theme is Mittens (that's Venoc Warlord for the uninitiated). They are swingy, both because of the d20, and because of their low defense. Their mobility makes it hard to put Raelin with them, and their low cost makes it hard to include Deathreavers. Additionally, the kind of people who pick this army are also the type to not like Deathreavers.

With the addition of the Mohicans, they don't get a ton better but there's certainly more variety. The Mohicans fare much better against rat-podges than most frenzy armies do.

Frenzilicious Uprising's 3rd or 4th place army at Chaos in the Capital, a tourney near Albany, NY. Apparently he actually beat Shades Fan's Q9 army so badly that he caused some sort of religious epiphany in the impressionable lad that has caused him to play "fun" armies ever since
Venoc Warlord 120
3x Aubrien Archers 330
4x Venoc Vipers 490

Serpents
5x Venoc Vipers 320
Nilfheim 505
Venoc Warlord 120
Clarissimus wanted to play Venocs, but was worried about rats, so he played this, whipping spider_poison's bro pretty badly and going 3-2 for the day. He actually beat just about everyone with this during our playtesting. Perhaps Nilfheim is underrated or underutilized much of the time?

Steamroller
Long foretold in ages past, people waited so patiently for its release, but it didn't quite live up to the tourney-winning hype that some (incorrectly) expected.

3x Capuan Gladiators
Crixus
Spartacus 500

Simple order marker management and the ability to brutalize many weaker (low-hex) armies. A known threat.

Kato Kaelin
Ashigaru have low defense. Raelin adds defense. Lots of attacks are good. Use Izumi Samurai to grab glyphs. Try to win.

bunjee's recent NC tourney winner:
Kato Katsuro 200
Raelin 280
Izumi Samurai 340
2x Ashigaru Yari 420
2x Ashigaru Harquebus 540

Pros:
You can finally bring a samurai army to a tournament and not feel like a 14 year old japanimanga fan. 1000 apologies to the japanimanga fans here.

Cons:
The 4th Mass, Trons, Stingers, and Redcoats still exist.
Typical 'squad army' weaknesses.

Blade Gruts
Although never a dominant army, there's a lot to like about this squad. Great movement, strong bonding options, and disengage. They're a great bargain for 40 points, but that's also what makes them run out of spaces so quickly.

Lightweight winning army GC '09, Matthias Maccabeus
4x Blade Gruts 160
Grimnak 280
Nerak 330
Isamu 340

Pros:
Bonding + Disengage = Very flexible
Great value for 40 points

Cons:
Low defense + Melee = Death
Quickly run out of starting zone spaces in most tournaments

Zombies and Drones
I keep expecting both of these squads to have some breakout game, somewhere, somehow. Maybe I should try. I think I'd take a page out of Clarissimus' book and sprinkle the KMA or Major Q10 in... or just Nilfheim. :D SotM Raelin giving them that crucial 4th Defense for a melee squad could also be big.

Aahzmandius played this and got 2nd at NHSD 2007 in Dallas of all places, losing only to Revdyer's Sentinels 'n Mass
5x Zombies 300
2x Shades of Bleakwoode

How cool is that?

Pros:
They actually have decent map control sometimes, with their two abilities going.

Cons:
Attacks of 2 just don't cut it sometimes, and the Onslaught attack can be tough to pull off on some maps.
Can't eat some things.

Confidence

Until someone purposefully designs maps around the Protectors of Ullar, they're unlikely to dominate. But they're fairly decent. I think RocDoc went 3-2 with a number of them in General Wars at GenCon '09.

Pros:
Awesome against expensive heroes.

Cons:
Awful against cheap commons.

Taelord and Omnicrons
Sure Taelord costs too much, and the Omnicrons do too. But if point totals keep rising, these can be a legitimate competitor in my opinion. Rats could probably help lower that cost/hex ratio and grab a hold of attack glyphs (although at that point you also run into a too many supporters/not enough attackers problem). Heck, even at the 520 point level, Buddy Lee did decently enough at GenCon 2008 with this:

Taelord 180
2x Omnicrons 380
Raelin 460
Zetacron 520

I also hear there's some guy who's pretty sick with this combo up in the Pacific Northwest? His name's Greg, or something?

Pros:
Could theoretically be awesome.

Cons:
Costs too much.

Marrden Hounds/Deathstalkers
Personally, I don't trust the blue dice nearly enough to even consider an army like this, but Pilgrim and Aldin seem to swear by one or the other of these squads. They help support my recent hypothesis that defense is really what matters in this game, because it helps you maintain position and momentum. Again, combine them with a sprinkling of ranged units, and you might do alright.

Pilgrim (I'm pretty sure he won a tourney with this in the Northeast).
3x Marrden Hounds 270
Major Q10 420
AE 530

Pros:
Really high defense, large/soulborg immunities

Cons:
Cost too much.

Wolves, Spiders, and Armocs

All three (or 4 if you count the Anubians) of these squads suffer from the same two things. 3 figures and only one bonding option. They just don't quite measure up to the slower and tougher melee squads out there, but they can be decent if you feel confident in your dice.

Don't Believe the Hype
Sure, if you get into an argument trying to tell me that the Tagawa Samurai Archers are better than the Stingers, expect for me to bring up facts and math. But there's definitely something to be said for knowing certain units well and playing them to the best of your ability, whether or not some jackass on an internet forum agrees with you. Results matter, even to me. I might ask you to do it twice though. ;)

Jumpman's 5-1, 2nd place (out of 60) finisher at TTO 2007
Krug 120
Kaemon Awa 240
Raelin 320
Isamu 330
3x Tagawa Samurai Archers 515 (He lost to K-boom in round 1, but won his next 5 games- Point differential was the 2nd criterion there, not SoS, so his place might have been different elsewhere... but still, 5 games in a row is 5 games in a row).

Tchop's Rochester Gamer's Reunion tourney winner
Nilfheim 185
Major Q10 335
Tornak 435
1x Heavy Gruts 505

Brownsfan's top 16 GenCon army
Nilfheim 185
Zelrig 370
Major Q10 520

Tier 4

If I haven't listed it yet, and you can't win with it against people your own age, it's probably Tier 4.

Here's an example:

1x Fyorlag Spiders 40
Sujoah 225
Thorgrim 305
Tagawa Samurai 425
James Murphy 500

If your army looks like this... reconsider!

Now, here's a question. Was this whole mental exercise just spinning my wheels? Does the army configuration matter as much as the general 'strength' of the units involved? The Stinger and Rat podges seem like strong counter examples to this line of thinking, as do the A+ Junk armies.

Is there really anything to be learned here that can't be synthesized from a careful reading of Rˇchean's Tournament Armies Played thread and spider_poison's power rankings?

Part of me says no.

Clarissimus January 20th, 2009 12:47 PM

Re: Cookie Cutter Army Discussion and Tiers
 
I like how this article shows just how many options there are on the table for competitive armies, and you haven't even listed the Tier 2 choices (there would be way more than six, that's for sure.)

I think it's interesting how Zelrig fails to make many appearances in this Tier, despite the predictions of how he would shatter the metagame. Ditto that for the 10th Regiment, but I'll save that argument for another thread ;)

ollie January 20th, 2009 12:56 PM

Re: Cookie Cutter Army Discussion and Tiers
 
Onacara has done very well recently with the 10th Foot (11-0 over two events I think). I'm not sure how many of your Tier 1 armies he has faced while compiling that record.

A few successful armies from tournaments I've attended that fit your descriptions:

Glads x3, Blasts x3, Q9. (Kinseth won Revelations, 600pt themed armies.)

Q9, Airborne Elite, Rats x4. (I won an 8-player alley at NHSD, 450pts.)

4th Mass x5, Raelin, Marro Warriors, Isamu, Morsbane. (To Serve Man won Battle at the Border, 500pt armies from a 600pt pool.)

Nadom January 20th, 2009 01:24 PM

Re: Cookie Cutter Army Discussion and Tiers
 
Great analysis and write-up, Jexik! (+rep)
It's worth mentioning that Yagyuninja went 6-0 and won a Mixed Marvel/Classic tournament with "Beat Up at School" against some of the biggest names the Pacific Northwest has to offer.
Thanks for the name-drop, by the way. I echo your comments about the "Vanilla Ice" army; an exceptionally skilled opponent capitalizing on my stupid mistakes (1st round Nilf-death on "Winter Holdout") are what made for that one loss. My army was far better at playing 'Scape than I was. For what it's worth, "Vanilla Ice" rocks the metagame. I went 17-1 in playtesting with it.

Jexik January 20th, 2009 02:00 PM

Re: Cookie Cutter Army Discussion and Tiers
 
Thanks for the input guys. The 10th Regiment (and a nod to Onacara) will definitely be at the top of Tier 2, and I'll go from there. I don't think I'll post it until all of Tier 2 is done, so it'll probably have to wait until this evening.

Tier 2 is big by the way, as Clarissimus points out. A lot of people don't realize how close armies get to the top, or how many go 3-2 and give good, close, games to 'good' armies.

killercactus January 20th, 2009 02:17 PM

Re: Cookie Cutter Army Discussion and Tiers
 
Good stuff, Jexik, as per usual. If you'd asked me to list the top tier armies, that's what I would've said.

Of these, my favorite is obviously the Rat-Podge. Blue Steel (which was Top 8, btw, and VERY close to Top 4 :x) was an army that I felt could deal with anything. I beat a Vydar-Range, a Stinger-Podge, a Critical Mass and an Apojee at GenCon, and I felt like I could compete with Trons if I set up a good rat screen. My two losses were to Stinger-Horde (6x Stingers and 7x Stingers), but in those two games I felt I was really beaten by the dice (and one stupid, retarded, idiotic one-hex mistake in the Top 8 game. I'm not bitter.).

The toughest thing about Rat-Podge is that it is very mentally taxing. You have to apply all of your mental strength to using Deathreavers to their complete potential.

Also, it might be worth mentioning that Vydar-Range had an amazing showing in the GenCon Unique Hero tourney (by subbing the Krav for Skahen), taking both 2nd (ManTrainChooChoo) and 4th place (me, with my only loss to ManTrain). I didn't see it much throughout the rest of the Con, but it was out with a vengeance in that tourney.

ollie January 20th, 2009 02:24 PM

Re: Cookie Cutter Army Discussion and Tiers
 
Rat-podge is actually my favourite Tier 2 approach. A screen of rats makes anything better and lets you get some less common units into action while still being pretty competitive. I've played:

Templar x2, Major Q9, Rats x2 (500pts, 3-1).
Deathwalker 9000, Nakita Agents, Isamu, Rats x3, Morsbane, Dund (500pt armies from 600pt pool, 4-1).

However, the Minions are my vote for best challenge to the 10th Foot at the top of Tier 2.

killercactus January 20th, 2009 02:37 PM

Re: Cookie Cutter Army Discussion and Tiers
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by ollie (Post 745371)
Rat-podge is actually my favourite Tier 2 approach. A screen of rats makes anything better and lets you get some less common units into action while still being pretty competitive. I've played:

Templar x2, Major Q9, Rats x2 (500pts, 3-1).
Deathwalker 9000, Nakita Agents, Isamu, Rats x3, Morsbane, Dund (500pt armies from 600pt pool, 4-1).

However, the Minions are my vote for best challenge to the 10th Foot at the top of Tier 2.

That last bit is only true if you don't have Runa with them. If you do, it's Tier 1. ;)

I agree with Rat-Podge doing well to catapult up Tier 2 armies. Right after GenCon, I was determined to play DW8000 with Rats and win, but my head was angry enough at me for all the Rat play. I haven't played Rats since GenCon.....

Jexik January 20th, 2009 10:33 PM

Re: Cookie Cutter Army Discussion and Tiers
 
I added tier 2... and 3, kinda. Poor Elven Wizards, Blade Gruts, Drudge, Groks, Templar, Dzu Teh, Anubians, Badrus, and Gladiator armies get no love. Like Ollie says, you can combine 'crappy' units with Raelin/Krav/Q9 and at least get a Tier 2 army out of it pretty easily.

I am aware that this might in general be a bit "Midwest/GenCon results" biased, but that's what I know, and a lot of those areas are the heart of 'scape country. I bring up Codeman, K-boom, spider_poison, Clarissimus, and myself a lot because I think we're all cool dudes. ;)

Creepy tidbit?

I didn't refer to any other threads *today* for this info. It's all directly from memory. (or the couple bits of memory jostling that you've already seen in this thread from Ollie and killercactus).

Matthias Maccabeus January 20th, 2009 11:01 PM

Re: Cookie Cutter Army Discussion and Tiers
 
Man, I've read this thread like 4 times today and I just now got the Kenights of Weston...thanks for the shout out!

For the Micro
Fomox went 4-1 on NHSD with Micro x 3, Q10, Rats x 2, Isamu

I also heard that Marro Warriors and Krav work well with Kenights and Gilbert.

Nadom January 20th, 2009 11:04 PM

Re: Cookie Cutter Army Discussion and Tiers
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Jexik (Post 745259)
Taelord and Omnicrons
I also hear there's some guy who's pretty sick with this combo up in the Northwest? His name's Greg, or something?

Fixed. :) He won a streak of 3 tournaments in a row up here with armies based on Taelord and 'Crons x3. The loss I mentioned in my post above? It was him.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jexik (Post 745259)
Unknown Guy played this and got 2nd at NHSD 2007 in Dallas of all places, losing only to Revdyer's Sentinels 'n Mass
5x Zombies 300
2x Shades of Bleakwoode

How cool is that?

That's very cool indeed.

Jexik January 20th, 2009 11:05 PM

Re: Cookie Cutter Army Discussion and Tiers
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Matthias Maccabeus (Post 745675)
Man, I've read this thread like 4 times today and I just now got the Kenights of Weston...thanks for the shout out! (even though they should be the kenights of Maccabeus)

Yeah, I figured only about 10 people would get that. It makes sense to me.


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