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Old April 30th, 2010, 05:53 PM
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The True value of Common Squads.

Or, why is squadscape so dominant.

We all know common squads are strong but knowing exactly why can help with fielding them and dealing with them in the future. There are 3 aspects of common squads where they draw strength; Multiple attack, Survivability, and Board Control. While the first one might seem like a no brainier insight can be useful. As for Survivability and Board Control many players may ignore how powerful these power are failing to use squads to their full benefit.

1. Multiple Attack:
We all know that Stingers throwing 3 attack against DW9000 will eventually bring him down. What may be surprising is that the death walker will go down 11% of the time. This means that after 1 full round of attacks (9 total) one can reasonably expect for the Deathwalker to fall. More attacks simply mean that you increase the likely hood of a kill. However there is a common fallacy that 10 attacks with a 10% of succeeding is a guaranteed kill, this is false. This is where Half-life comes into play. A stinger attacking another stinger or 3 attack on 3 defence has a ~50% kill rate.

Code:
Number      Fraction  % survival 
of attacks
0            1/1        100  
1            1/2        50  
2            1/4        25  
3            1/8        12.5 
4            1/16       6.25 
5            1/32       3.125 
6            1/64       1.563 
7            1/128      0.781 
...           ... ... 
n             1/(2n)    100/(2n)
This shows that one can be reasonably certain that a stinger attacked 7 times by an attack of 3 will be killed. Clearly Single attack Heroes cannot possibility compete. For example it would take Deadeye Dan attacking with 1 dice to 0 defence, 7 full turns to kill a squad figure with 3 defence, while it only takes 2.33 round for a squad of stingers. If you need to kill something multiple attacks are the way to do it.

2. Survivability
Attacks against Common Squads are easily absorbed. A simple statement, and one that explains the ultimate strength of squads over heroes, but what does it mean? Imagine an angry Krug (9 attack) swinging at Shori. He is likely to do 3.5 damage... Twice! Krug also has an 96% chance of wounding her, so one can reasonably expect her to be dead after 1.5 turns. Poor Shoiri doesn't stand a chance. On the other hand our lonely stinger Standing next to Krug can ONLY take one wound. All that extra smash is wasted. Properly spread out Stinger could force Krug to take 3 Turns to finish them off, all the while shooting back at the big lug.

Common Squads are also able to stay at full power longer. While Shori is done after 1.5 turns, the 3 dead stingers have friends waiting to ensure they keep up 3 attacks of 3 on the angry Krug. This is even better understood when comparing with Unique squads or only drafting one squad of commons. When one Krav agent is killed your attack output is reduced by 33%, with 2 gone your down by 66%. This is diminishing returns. With each squad of Stingers added you can increase the efficiency of attack.

Code:
1 squad of 3 figures (3): 33% loss/figure
2 squads of 3 figures (6): 16% loss/figure
3 squads of 3 figures (9): 11% loss/figure
4 squads of 3 figures (12): 8.3% loss/figure
5 squads of 3 figures (15): 6.7% loss/figure
...
n squads of 3 figures (n*3): 100/n*3 loss/figure
Clearly as you add squads for reinforcements each figure represents less of a loss to potential attack output. Also having deeper reserves allows players to avoid the dreaded loss of turn due to an order maker placed on a unit that has been completely destroyed. While high costing squads may have a better chance of survival cheep Squads have the added benefit of being able to spread out over the board.

3. Board Control
Board Control is a phrase thrown about a lot, but it is not always clear. The Deathreavers are annoying not because they are hard to kill, but because they can maintain board control. Any given figure has a range of 6 spaces that they affect by engaging the opponent and forcing leaving engagement strike. Melee figures also have these 6 spaces as their area of attack. Range is even worse. A figure with a range of 5 can potentially hit 57 spaces! This is a huge area of influence. By being able to move 3 or 4 figures a turn a player is able to quickly take control over hills and glyphs that dramatically added to their survivability or attack output.

Controlling the Terrain can force an opponent to make tough decisions allowing a player to stay in control of when an where a battle occurs. While Single figures may be able to keep a small area under control the sheer mass of a swarm of squad figures can prevent enemy movement. One should not discount the simple fact that a figures body takes up space on a the board and can block advancing forces. Using Deathreavers to tether your opponent is one of the simplest ways of dictating how the battle progresses. Often a 10 point figure can slowdown or prevent the movement of a 200 point figure.

While I love fielding Heroes in Heroscape, one cannot deny the absolute power of Common Squads when ultimate Victory is your goal.


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Last edited by wriggz; April 30th, 2010 at 06:27 PM.
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Old April 30th, 2010, 06:14 PM
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Re: The True value of Common Squads.

Very true, having a fully hero based army is a risky thing to do. To be successful, these players would either have to draft squad killers, or have severly limiting terrain for their opponent.
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Old April 30th, 2010, 07:29 PM
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Re: The True value of Common Squads.

Squad killers ... or at least common squad killers should be a priority for designers. There are some really good units that excell at this...Braxas and Zelrig. But there are more units that excell at the hero killers.

There are some other units that were probably designed with this in mind, but they require clumped units -- those with shotgun blast or the newer chain lightening ability.

All the clumped unit attackers do is counter a few army builds dependant on adjacency. And those do not solve the common squad issue because when the clumped unit attackers on the field just changes how people move their commons squads. Avoiding the area of effect attacks are more important than getting maximum movement in most situations.

A Braxas/Sudema hybrid that impacted only commons for a price in mid-range would be a start. But we need at least 3 more heros that can do this well without having adjacent units to really put the hero back in Heroscape.

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Old April 30th, 2010, 07:37 PM
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Re: The True value of Common Squads.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Riggler View Post
Squad killers ... or at least common squad killers should be a priority for designers... We need at least 3 more heros that can do this well without having adjacent units to really put the hero back in Heroscape.
I could not agree more. I wrote this on a whim as a way of condensing a few stats I have seen over the threads. However, as I was writing it became clear just how powerful squads where. I would love to see these "Squad Killers" at a reasonable price. That is a Metagame change I would love to see.


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Old April 30th, 2010, 08:22 PM
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Re: The True value of Common Squads.

As I've blogged about, the movement toward smaller maps and/or advanced deployment zones strongly favors common squads. One of the key disadvantages common squads face when compared to multi-life heroes is that they are often forced to decide whether to attack with figures at the front, or reinforce with figures from the back. By allowing an army to be placed close to the front immediately, you greatly mitigate this order marker tension. A map like the aptly-named Ratcatcher makes life much more difficult for a common squad player than a map like Just Passing Through.

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Old April 30th, 2010, 08:31 PM
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Re: The True value of Common Squads.

For some reason, I think Designer's thought that Explosion attack was extremely useful for Squad Killing which is why so many zillion units have it or a modified version but in reality it only impacts a few army builds. It isn't a coincidence that the only top quality units with explosion attack have the ability to hit the opponents start zone on OM1 (AE/Zelrig).
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Old April 30th, 2010, 10:14 PM
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Re: The True value of Common Squads.

Zelrig sucks when he can hit your starting zone packed full of Stingers!

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Old April 30th, 2010, 10:21 PM
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Re: The True value of Common Squads.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hendal View Post
Zelrig sucks when he can hit your starting zone packed full of Stingers!
I had Zelrig in my army last GenCon championship, and I was frankly shocked at how UN-useful he turned out to be. I know some people have had some success with him, but proper starting zone placement and a lucky initiative roll can take the wind out of his sails pretty quick.

Check out Gulp's Glyphs Not Worth Grabbing and Gulp's Abilities Not Worth Activating! Very Useful Thread: The Heroscape Library

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Old April 30th, 2010, 10:37 PM
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Re: The True value of Common Squads.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Devil's Advocate View Post
For some reason, I think Designer's thought that Explosion attack was extremely useful for Squad Killing which is why so many zillion units have it or a modified version but in reality it only impacts a few army builds. It isn't a coincidence that the only top quality units with explosion attack have the ability to hit the opponents start zone on OM1 (AE/Zelrig).
I think you've got it completely backwards.

They didn't make explosion attacks to counter squadscape. They made explosion attacks because dudes had shotguns and rocket launchers.

"Hey guys, this Deathwalker 7000 guy that we released last wave is just way too good! Let's make something that can kill him from 10 spaces away so I don't lose Agent Carr to a stupid d20 roll again. Hmm... let's make it a sniper!"

As near as I can tell, the designers' main goal is to make the units feel right with as few powers as possible.

Even units that seem as meta-gamey as Krav Maga Agents, Zelrig, Phantom Knights, and Quasatch Hunters have strong thematic reasons for acting the way they do.

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(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.)

Last edited by Jexik; April 30th, 2010 at 10:43 PM.
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Old May 2nd, 2010, 12:04 PM
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Re: The True value of Common Squads.

Hey cool power to the common squads!!!!!!!
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Old May 14th, 2010, 12:54 PM
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Re: The True value of Common Squads.

I've put a bit of thought into the types of powers that would work well against common squads while not being too effective against heroes. I'd like to see heroes come out with some combination of the following:


Ability 1: Tough

Just as 1 shield defense is a good power against strong heroes, Tough is a fantastic power against common squads. Common squads don't often have special attacks, and are often throwing a relatively small number of attack dice very often, situations were Tough shines.


Ability 2: A more general form of EMP Response.

A version of EMP response which isn't restricted to soulborgs would do wonders against multiple attacks (something common squads rely on for their power). It would work even better against multiple weak attacks which would hurt common ranged squads even more (bonus!).


Ability 3: Something similar to Crippling Gaze

Common squads benefit hugely from simple order marker management. Crippling Gaze makes it risky to place all your order markers on one type of card.


Ability 4: A modified version of Blood Hungry Special attack

I like Blood Hungry special attack against commons. On a melee hero, I'd like it even more if you were allowed to move 2 or 3 spaces between each attack.


Ability 5: The ability to Curse a type of unit

I picture something like Morsbane's rod of negation but instead of negating heroes, it would de-buff (ie. defense -1) all units of particular type if successful.


Ability 6: Ability to move order markers from one card to another.

As mentioned before, one huge advantage of commons over uniques is order marker management. If we were able to give some of that advantage back to uniques, it would go a long way into making a lot of them more playable.
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Old May 14th, 2010, 01:15 PM
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Re: The True value of Common Squads.

What if there was a Hero whose abilities directly increased with the size of the army it's facing; maybe something like:

Sucidal Charge 15 - after attacking with Bugbear Johnson, roll a 20-sided die. If you roll a 15 or higher, you may take another turn with Bugbear Johnson. If the targeted figure's army has more than 15 figures on the battlefield, add 1 to your die roll for every figure in that army in excess of 15.
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