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Old August 26th, 2007, 08:23 PM
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The Idiot's Guide to Making a Competitive Army

Forgive the title; it is just used for comedic intent. I wanted to start this thread to act as a guide for any heroscaper to use in order to build a competitive army. So many threads in this forum are threads asking if an army is competitive, or asking how to make said army competitive. This rundown of tips and tricks will allow you to make a competitive army without needing to post an entire thread about it. It is of course not all-knowing, exceptions are bound to occur, and new insight and suggestions are always welcome and needed. Hopefully this will help some gamers make some good choices when making a competitive army. These next tips are in no particular order. When making a competitive army, you should consider:

1. The meta-game. Meta-game is what people in the area or tournament usually play, and what you can usually expect in a given match of heroscape. Some groups of gamers prefer certain armies, such as a viper army or grut army. This is very important to note as it can be essential to creating an army. For instance, the meta-game generally for heroscape tournaments at this point has been Vydar ranged units like Major Q9/Gladiatron/Blastatron, Stingers, or some combination including lots and lots of deathreavers. This has been said by many on the boards but when creating an army you must ask yourself the question, "can my army consistently defeat Q9?" If it can, you may have a good army on your hands (Thanks spider_poison). The big armies in the past and present that I tend to think about running into are the Q9 armies, rat infestation armies, 4th Mass armies, Stinger armies, and Blastatron/Gladiatron armies. There are many threads on this website that can help you decide what unit can counter another unit and how good a unit is such as the Books of Heroscape thread under the Official Units forum (thanks Revdyer and many others).

2. The past history and record of any given unit/hero. Again, the Books of Heroscape thread or the Heroscape Power Rankings under the competitive army thread are both good for this. Just look around. Anybody that can read can see that Q9's track record is superb, and would be a great addition to an army, while DW7000 is usually plagued with stories talking of it's failures as a figure. The Power Rankings thread is a great place to start when trying to make a competitive army. I realized a favorite army when I started to make an army consisting of the highest grade units on the Power Rankings thread. It turned into a dominant Q9/Krav/Deathreavers army that won very consistently.

3. Consistency. This is very important. You won't do well in a competitive setting if your army is not consistent. Even DW7000 can shine and kill a couple of heroes adjacent to him when he blows up, but he won't do it consistently. The Krav Maga Agents are a very consistent unit and continue to be consistent in most armies. If every unit/hero in your army can perform consistently, you probably have a pretty good army.

4. Synergy. This is one of the most important things about making a competitive army. Does your army work well together? You may have a bunch of really good heroes and units in your army, but if they don't work well together you may still perform poorly in a competitive setting. For instance, the Arrow Gruts are a very good unit. Many good armies have them, but they are crap if they don't have Swog riders to back them up. This unit may seem like an obvious unit that needs support but I've seen many people try armies in a tournament setting that have units that just don't work with each other. Grimnak is a great hero, but you really should draft him with either blade gruts or heavy gruts in order to maximize his usefulness. You would be insane not to take advantage of him by taking the bonding blade or heavy gruts with him. Raelin is the most used and easily thought of unit when one thinks about synergy. Not exactly what synergy is but since she supports everyone in range of her aura she fits really into any army. The question to ask is "does my army work well together? Does each unit help something in the army, or does everything work alone?"

5. Amount of attacks available on any given turn. This has been said many times on the boards: "The more attacks you have, the better you will do". My old roommate said something similar when he was explaining why my krug/arrow grut army always did so well: "It's because you have like 100 attacks every turn! You move 4 figures every turn and get to attack 5 times (3 with arrow gruts, 2 with krug)". This isn't even the most an army can attack, many armies can move and attack with even more than this. The reason this is important is because heroscape is a game of dice. The more times you attack, the more likely it becomes that your opponent will screw up a defense roll. Also, more attack means a higher likelihood that more units will be destroyed. You have heard of "A Deathwalker roll"? This is a classic example of how persistent attacking and multiple attacks can cause even an 8-9 defense rolling unit blank on their defense and be destroyed. Armies that win tournaments are almost always armies that can attack multiple times per turn. Sergeant Drake is a great hero, but you won't win a tournament with just him because he can only kill 1 figure a turn.

6. The maps available. This is more difficult to manage. For one thing you can frequently not know what maps you will be playing on for a tournament. One the times you do, you still don't know exactly what maps you will be on. But again consistency is important here. If your army can perform well on a variety of maps then you should fair well. A Q9 army does real well on an open area map where he can shoot anybody on the board, but a Q9 army will have trouble on a map with really high terrain in the middle of the map because of Q9's slow movement and the fact that most armies will be able to climb up and get height before Q9 gets up there. You can counter this by just upping your defense and making it so even if your opponent has height on you, he will only benefit more by coming to you. Make sure your army can do well in any setting, or at least limit your army's weaknesses due to the map.

7. The multiple roles needed in a heroscape match. This obviously varies because of meta-game, the maps used, and whether or not glyphs are used, but it is very important. I ask these questions of every army I create: "Can my army get and hold glyphs if they are on a map?" Obviously deathreavers are great glyph-grabbers, but many other units can do it too like the Elite Onyx Vipers and even using heroes such as Marcu to grab glyphs can be effective. "Does my army have a strong hero-killer in it?" Now-a-days this translates into "Can my army kill Q9?", but it is always important to have a hero/unit that can kill a high defense or strong hero.

Blade gruts and Grimank are a great combo and can do wonders against squads, but will most likely fail against a hero with high defense. If you wanted to use blade gruts and Grimnak in your army perhaps it would be wise to stick a very strong orc hero like Tornak, or even much better, krug. I know he isn't an orc but he is a great anti-charos/Q9 killer. You could stick some arrow gruts into your army and now you have a tournament-winning army.

And the other question you must ask is: "Can my army deal with multiple figures?" This is similar to considering how many attacks you can deal out in a turn. Some of the best armies out there right now are squad heavy. You may have heard people talk about how heroscape has been changed to "squadscape"? This is referring to how good squads are. Many heroes can only attack once a turn, and if they are facing a massive army full of Glads/Blasts, Stingers, or 4th Mass. Line, they will only kill 1 a turn, leaving 10+ (many times) to kill on subsequent turns, all the while forcing themselves to survive a barrage of many attacks every turn.

Another thing to consider would be if any unit in your army has any good special attacks. In today's competitive setting, special attacks are very important to bypass some abilities such as Sergeant Drake's Thorian speed and prevention of a deathreaver scatter.

While I'm talking about deathreavers it pays to talk about a strategy created by the little rats, but can be used with other figures as well, and that is the "screen". With many melee armies coming into the light in the tournament scene the need for a screen is more than ever. Ranged fighters are awesome, but they work best when the enemy is not right next to them (ie Krav). The rats allow for a tough-to-kill buffer that prevents characters from getting next to your prized ranged units. The screen can stop enemy movement, tie up key characters, grab glyphs, and cause general havoc around the battlefield. It is a growing strategy that wins tournaments and is constantly being tested and new units (Greenscales) have started to modify the screen's role although it will be some time before a unit surpasses the rats.

8. The rules of the setting. If you are at a tournament, and you find out that the scoring method used will include using point differentials, that would likely alter what your options would be for an army. This is the best example that I could think of, although I'm sure there are more, of how the way a tournament is run affects what an army's composition is. For example, if you want to use Cyprien, but you also want to keep him alive, perhaps you will have a few units in the back of your army acting as "food" for his life draining ability. This may be a fine strategy in some games, but in a tournament where point differentials are used, you would be killing your own units, causing your pt differential to go down. Perhaps it would be wise not to have units that will contribute more to your army than just die. If you can rationalize that keeping Cyprien alive by eating your own units, then more power to you, my point is that Your strategy and unit picking could change if you know that every point in your army that stays alive matters.

9. Order marker placement. This is another very important factor when creating an army. Having all your order markers placed on a unit is really nice and easy, and keeps your opponent guessing what you will use (if you're using bonding units for example, like forcing your opponent to guess which hero you will move first), it can be disastrous if you lose all the figures for the card under those order markers. On the other hand it can be disastrous to have a different order marker on every single card in your army, because if one of those units gets destroyed, you risk the loss of a turn. The reason this is important in picking a competitive army is again going back to meta-game, etc. if you see that many people are using Dund, or pretty soon spiders, then perhaps it would not be wise to choose a bonding army that puts all order markers on one card, for fear that you will lose a couple of turns. In the current setting, I would say it is much better to have an army where you don't have to worry about order marker placement. My friend happyjosiah always leaves 1 roman legionnaire behind in his starting zone when he uses romans, just so he doesn't risk losing turns if his other legionnaires die. If you have your order markers on different cards, a lucky guess by your opponent can cause you to sit still in a round while your opponent reins havoc on the rest of your army. I once destroyed an entire 500 pt army with the Airborne Elite without my opponent getting a turn due to lucky guessing of what unit to shoot at. I kept killing the unit that my opponent wanted to move on the next order marker, and as a result he never got a turn.

10. The number of common squads in your army. I've seen this happen so many times. A player will make an army and only have 1 common squad in it. This hardly ever works, and is almost always a waste. As a rule of thumb if you are going to take a common squad make sure you have at least 2 squads of that common squad, or it isn't worth it. You need to have some backup when you lose some of your squad members. To not have more than 1 common squad if you want to use common squads is just begging for an order marker nightmare.

11. A ranged opponent. Can your army survive against ranged attacks? Since ranged armies are the dominant army type these days one must ask that question. Can you sit back and take ranged attacks and dish out enough of your own? Can your army survive the long walk across a map to get into close combat with your opponent without losing your entire army? If you can say yes to these you probably have a competitive army. Units such as deathreavers, krav maga agents and nakita agents are great for protection from ranged attacks.

12. How many hexes does your army take up? In today's setting, most tournaments allow for a 24 hex starting zone, this can really limit one's army. lonewolf from Gencon had to lose a blastatron every match since his army took up too many hexes. Now he managed to still do very well as his army is great, but generally it does no good to simply have to lose a figure right off the bat. We'd all love to field 5 squads of Yari and 5 squads of Harquebus in a 500 pt army but currently our 24 hex starting zones can't hold 40 figures. This is definitely something one must consider when making an army. Can I risk losing figures (and points) due to starting zone restrictions?

13. Does my army have multiple ways of winning? Alright, every one of us have had our beloved hero killed instantly in a whiff of defense dice, a chomp from grimnak, or mindshackled into opposition. It sucks, I know. I'll let you pause for a minute to gather your strength back from reliving that horrific event. Alright, good? Let me tell you a secret....the game must go on. So you lost Q9 to a single AE shot, that sucks. But will you be able to recover? A competitive army should be able to. If you lose Q9 and see that all you have left are deathreavers, then you have a problem. When making a competitive army make sure you have a backup plan, or five. Don't put all your hopes and dreams of winning on the chance that your Ne-Gok-Sa mindshackles a hero every game. it would be awesome if it happened, but let's face it, it's not likely to happen. You better have a plan to win (ie other figures) that can get the job done. Make sure you have many figures in your army that can attack and defeat your opponent just in case something goes wrong and your original army-killer fails to do his job.

14. Can my army deliver a high point differential consistently? Many tournamets now-a-days use a point differential system to decide rankings after a win/loss record. I have been in a couple of tournaments where my point differential has decided whether I have been in 1st or 2nd, or even 3rd! This can be a huge deal and should be considered when creating a competitive army. Although an army with Tor-Kul-Na, Su-Bak-Na, and a ton of nagrubs may seem like a great army, and it may even win many games, it may not have a great pt differential and therefore may no place very high. This will happen because although you may win, you will probably have to sacrafice many, if not all, of your nagrubs to succeed. Now if you have an army that will win every time guaranteed even though you will lose almost every figure then perhaps this will not apply. An undefeated record will usually give you a championship. But in many tournaments your pt differential will be a deciding factor on how you will do. So look through your army and make sure that you have an army that can withstand punishment and win without losing everything, your large, positive pt differential could cause you to win the tournament!

15. Does your army have a good/ too much/not enough amount of cards in it? This came from reading a wonderful article written by rdhight. His article talks about how many cards an army should have. This has to do with the amount of different units you have in your army and the cards that correspond to them. I outlines this a little bit in number 9, but it deserves a number on it's own. For example: If you have too many cards, it will be nigh impossible to move your army. This is but one of the many good points that is made in the article. If you want more detail in this I encourage you to read his thread about it. It is very important when considering what to put into a tournament worthy army. Keep a limit on the amount of cards your army has. You can find the thread here: http://www.heroscapers.com/community...667#post536667

16. What would you draft against your "winning" army? I thought of this quite recently while trying to decide what Gencon Championship army I would use. After making a draft of my army I was trying to decide how good it was. I play tested it and it seemed to go well, but I still was not set in my decision. I asked my Heroscape buddy a simple question: Since you know what my army is, what would you draft to combat my army? He said: "That's a good question". And we started thinking of units that would be troublesome to my army.

I think this is an important question to ask and answer while building an army because it can allow you to forsee some problems without ever play testing them. This is akin to the meta game and one should consult the meta game first to determine what units to look out for. If you know the Airborne Elite are used a lot in your area perhaps you should ask yourself if the AE could cause your army more trouble than usual. This method could also be called counterdrafting, which is when you draft units specifically to go against what your opponent drafted. Experienced players can simply come up with a list of units that could be problematic, while nonexperienced players may need to lay out all the army cards or look at the "Book" list on this website in order to see all the possible units of Heroscape. Either way you should check all the Heroscape units and see which units could act as good counterdrafts to the units in your army. If there is a long list of possible counterdrafts that you know that are popular in your area, perhaps your army isn't competitive enough.

A thing to consider is that Heroscape is a great game because every unit can be beaten. So naturally you will find some units that are made to beat your units. The thing you need to find out is if those units will decimate your army. Sure a Deathwalker will crush your vipers, but as long as you have a high attack unit like Drake or Carr you shouldn't worry about the DW.

In general there are a few very popular armies out there or units that should cause you to think about your army and how it could handle a certain opponent: Major Q9 - Go for something that has a high attack to get through the loads of defense. Deathreavers - Will your army get bogged down and shot from far away? Or do you have fast units or something with stealth flying or disengage to get around the rat screen? Glads/Blasts - Do you have a way to get around the glads and destroy the blasts, do you have a way to shoot at the glads before they engage your army? 4th Mass. - Can you shoot at them from far away, is there something that will prevent that army from just sitting still and shooting everything that gets near? Raelin - Can you get to Raelin and kill her to stop her from boosting the rest of the army, or will that +2 defense have you never able to kill anything? Loads of common squad figure armies (ie Stingers, Knights, etc) - Do you have a screen to slow them down? Do you have multiple special attacks or a grenade options or shotgun blast to deal with groups? Zelrig - If your starting zone is full it probably means Zelrig can put a hurtin' on you. Do you have a way of dealing with him or a strategy to spread your army out quickly?

I am sure that more people will chime in and let me know about others in the future. So here are some of those questions listed in a nice fashion to ask about your future competitive army:

1. Does my army perform well consistently?
2. Will my army perform well against most armies that I know will probably be there?
3. Does every unit in my army contribute something to my army?
4. Does my army work well together?
5. Can my army destroy multiple figures in a turn? Can it handle a high numbers army?
6. Can my army take out strong/high defense heroes/squads?
7. Can my army do well on a variety of maps?
8. Can my army fill the various roles needed in a situation such as glyph grabbing?
9. Will my army perform well considering the rules of the competition (pt differential)?
10. Can my army let me consistently place order markers without a high risk of losing turns?
11. If I am using common squads in my army do I have at least 2 squads?
12. Can my army survive against ranged attacks with some consistency?
13. Does my army fit into a 24 hex starting zone, and if not, can I afford to lose figures?
14. Does my army have multiple options to win, and not just one hero that if killed would spell doom for my army?
15. Can my army win and still have a large, positive point differential?
16. Does your army have a limited amount of cards (units) in it to limit the problems that can come from having too many cards?
17. Can my army withstand an army specifically drafted to combat mine?

I would appreciate any comments and tips of how to make this a better guide to help players figure out if their army is competitive. Check out the rest of the threads in the competitive section of this forum. It is filled with great armies. Here are some of the links to various helpful threads while making a tournament army:

The Books of Heroscape Index:
http://www.heroscapers.com/community...ead.php?t=6171

The Official Unofficial Heroscape Power Rankings Thread:
http://www.heroscapers.com/community...ead.php?t=6171

Thread for Strategy and Maneuvering in a Heroscape Match (can also be used to pick units:
http://www.heroscapers.com/community...ad.php?t=11193

Base a Competitive Army Around a Given Unit Thread:
http://www.heroscapers.com/community...ead.php?t=7019

Unit Strategy Review Index (Strategy for individual heroes/squads, thanks Firemaster!):
http://www.heroscapers.com/community...ad.php?t=10693

Official Site of Heroscape (Main website containing...well...what the designers feel is important to the game, obviously helpful:
http://www.hasbro.com/games/kid-games/heroscape/

Since the army point value for most competitive play is 500 points, here is the best thread for 500 pt competitive armies. The 1st page has a bunch of good armies, but there are many others in the last few pages that haven't been added on yet that are also very good (Thanks Khanbob42!).
http://www.heroscapers.com/community...ead.php?t=4396

Here is TyG17's 500 pt army thread where a list of a ton of popular 500 pt armies are placed:
http://www.heroscapers.com/community...ad.php?t=11914

Here is a list of the Gencon Championship army lists '07. Get some ideas from the best of heroscape!
http://www.heroscapers.com/community...=355983#384419

Here is a link to a fan-made website that has an army builder. Very easy to use and a great help since the main site doesn't have one yet. If anyone knows the guys who made the website let me know.
http://westend.d2g.com/heroscape/

Hope this helps! Enjoy!

Last edited by gamjuven; August 10th, 2010 at 01:41 PM.
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Old August 26th, 2007, 08:43 PM
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This will be very helpful for begginning players and others who want to make a fresh army. Thanks gamjuven!!!

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Old August 26th, 2007, 09:22 PM
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When building "tournament" armies I always try to incoporate the following.

1. Range - range is usually supreme in this game.
2. At least 1 unit with a special attack to bypass Drake and the rats and such, as you stated already.
3. Glyph grabbers, engagment shields - knights, rats, glads etc., work well to grab glyphs and tie up opponents.
4. Large and/or huge figures to bypass special abilities such as Braxas acid breath, Murphy's whip, Jotun's throw, etc. The large figures can run out and engage these figures that otherwise can cause some serious damage to your small and or medium figures.
5. Soulborgs - because of their immunities to toxic skin, chilling touch, etc.
6. Synergy, bonding is good, but there's other things such as Jandar's dispatch, and gilbert and Concan's knight enhancement, and other such things.
7. I think ASmiles mentioned in another thread that it has to be an army you enjoy playing, a lot. For example I'm pretty much a Jandar guy, but like to experiment here and there, but I wouldn't be able to play a Krug army in a tournament because I would get tired of using the "bad guys."

Those are most of the things I consider when putting together a "tournament army." I've only ever been in 1 tournament, so I'm not near as experienced as most of the others on this sight, but I did get 2nd place in the tourney, just missed first by point total.

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Old August 26th, 2007, 10:42 PM
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This is a a great resource. Excellent work. The links at the end are a helpful touch. I hope it is stickied.
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Old August 27th, 2007, 01:08 AM
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Re: Jobs a good 'un

Quote:
Originally Posted by DrLivingston
This is a a great resource. Excellent work. The links at the end are a helpful touch. I hope it is stickied.
Wish granted it seems. Sweet. Keep up the suggestions! Gencon participants, seem right?
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Old August 27th, 2007, 04:09 AM
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Excellent article, and a very enlightening read!

One very minor nitpick. In section 9: order marker placement, you mention Morsbane as a unit that could cause an opponent to lose some order markers. I'm assuming you meant Dund. Otherwise, thanks for the great tips!

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Old August 27th, 2007, 04:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Therminator
Excellent article, and a very enlightening read!

One very minor nitpick. In section 9: order marker placement, you mention Morsbane as a unit that could cause an opponent to lose some order markers. I'm assuming you meant Dund. Otherwise, thanks for the great tips!
Good eye, not sure how that happened. Fixed now. Thanks!
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Old August 29th, 2007, 12:29 PM
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Please do not skip over #4. Synergy is one of the most important and most overlooked aspects of making a good army. If you answer "yes" to every other question, but "no" to number four, I would still not be convinced that you have a quality army.

Great list!

Looking for a way to get casual players involved in Heroscape? Do your opponents lack the interest or knowledge to build/draft their own armies? If so, check out Project 500!
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Old August 29th, 2007, 01:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by happyjosiah
Please do not skip over #4. Synergy is one of the most important and most overlooked aspects of making a good army. If you answer "yes" to every other question, but "no" to number four, I would still not be convinced that you have a quality army.

Great list!
Then there's always an army like R˙chean's which semi-disproves it. I guess you could say there's a bit of synergy between Deathreavers and anything ranged, but his army (3x rats, Kaemon, KMA, AE, Marro Warriors) was probably one of the lightest of the top ones on synergy. He got rats and a bunch of solid unique ranged guys and went at it. People might actually be limiting themselves when they try too hard to stick to a theme.

Also, I've been thinking that when you have an army with really simple order marker placement (like an Arrow Grut or 'tron army) sure, it's really simple to know where to put your order markers, but your opponent will know exactly what you're doing as well.

That said, I tend to play armies with lots of bonding and synergy; I'm just playing devil's advocate for a second.

I think a very important factor with any army is how comfortable you feel playing it. I probably couldn't pick up any of these top eight armies and immediately find myself in the championship match. You have to know your opponents and maps, but I feel that it's important to know your own style as well.

Quote:
Originally Posted by fomox View Post
(I've also played many matches with great, fun people who were using Q9. So using Q9 doesn't make you a tool. But being a tool sure seems to make you use Q9.)
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Old September 3rd, 2007, 10:28 PM
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Gen Con 2007 Tournament Army Lists

Here is a link to a thread with many of the army lists used at Gen Con 2007, including the armies that made it to the top 8.

http://www.heroscapers.com/community...=355983#384419

I think it is a good resource for both new and experienced players.

(The whole thread should probably have been in this section to begin with...)
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Old September 4th, 2007, 03:38 PM
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How modest of you, But you are correct, this is a great place to have a link to that thread, it is very useful. There ya go!
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Old September 4th, 2007, 09:16 PM
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Nononononononononono

Nononononon!

What I meant was that I should never have posted it in the BATTLE REPORTS section, and that it should have always been in the COMPETITIVE ARMIES section as it is, after all, just a long list of very competitive armies.

I didn't mean it should have already been in THIS thread.

sigh

The internet is amazing in its ability to help you to make an unintentional ass of yourself.
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