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  #1  
Old April 17th, 2008, 10:02 AM
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Too many cards: a very bad thing

One piece of advice I often give out, and see others give out, is that "You have too many army cards." This can be a confusing piece of advice to interpret sometimes, because we really mean more than one thing when we say this. I'll try to disassemble it and separate the meanings. Here are the example armies I'll be using:

ARMY S as in "swarm"
220 Minions x2
280 Aubrien Archers x4

ARMY M as in "military-industrial complex"
240 Iron Man
180 Major Q9
080 Old Raelin

ARMY V as in "valiant"
140 4th Line x2
140 Knights x2
110 Sir Gilbert
105 Alastair MacDirk

ARMY W as in "why?"
110 Old Drake
120 Deathreavers x3
120 New Raelin
060 Deadeye Dan
050 Marro Warriors
030 Eldgrim
010 Isamu

1. "You don't have good enough ways to spend order markers." When you draft cards into your army, you have to pay more points for a stronger card. But each card also has another cost: the order marker you expend to activate it. Marker cost does not get discounted on cheap units! Your first priority should be to invest major points in units that will put out heavy firepower when given markers. If you feel you have enough of these units, go ahead and look at cards that will give you something good without a marker. Only then should you turn to the units who need a marker to do anything at all, then generate poor attacks when they do get one. Think of the army-building process as making a machine. The main goal of the machine is to turn order markers into kills. Having all the most neat-o parts is no good unless you can assemble them into a machine that does the job.

Army S is reasonable in this category. Any marker can offer medium to high attacks unless the squad it controls has been all but wiped out.
Army M is also good to go. It will be moving Tony or Q9 on almost every turn and getting powerful ranged shots, with only a trickle of markers needed to keep Raelin in position.
Army V can do no wrong; both Knights/Champions and minutemen can really deal out the damage. Gilbert is the weakest individual attacker, but helps the offense in other ways.
Army W is the one with problems. It has 170 points of Drake, Marro Warriors, and Isamu, all with good attack power for what they cost. Then it follows up with 180 points of Raelin and Deadeye, who can hit hard, but not on demand. Finally, it has 150 points of Eldgrim and rats, who produce very few skulls per marker. It's not that W's individual units are worse than those in the other three armies; it's that not enough of them are going to turn markers into skulls on a regular basis.

2. "You have too many places to put order markers." When you have just one logical place to pile all your markers, you lose some opportunities for deception. When you have five or more places, you have to leave some cards obviously sleeping every round-- your opponent will know from the moment initiative is rolled that certain units will not be moving. You generally want to have from two to four cards that are serious candidates for markers on any given turn, and four is pushing it. One of the reasons comebacks can happen in Heroscape is because a sloppy, six-card 500-point army can go out and get its weak figures murdered, sometimes turning it into a tight 300-point army which can then battle back hard thanks to much better order marker placement.

Army S excells once again. The opponent will be spending much of the game not knowing who's going to move next.
Army M is also in good shape. Raelin will usually be standing still, but the shooters have a good chance to confuse the enemy.
Army V has four cards, but thanks to the power of bonding, only two places to put markers until the knights are almost finished. Excellent.
Army W starts the game with a very transparent style. With seven cards, it will constantly be announcing which three of them are going to sit the round out. Drake, Deadeye, the Marro, and Eldgrim all need markers to do their jobs, while Isamu, Raelin, and the Deathreavers will compete for the scraps. As filler dies and the rats begin to scatter, its secrecy and deception will improve.

EDIT: Of the three problems, this one is the easiest to solve in-game through tactics. Remember, what matters is how many cards are competing for markers each round, not each game. If you plan well, so that only two or three are good choices on round 1, and you shift smoothly to new units as those die off so that you continue to have only two or three more good choices on any given round, you can minimize this drawback.

3. "It takes too long for your army to move." Even an army with fast units can suffer from sluggish movement if it shifts a very low number of points on most markers. Me-Burq-Sa is fast; an order marker on him can move him a long way. Still, you're only moving 10% of a standard army. If the opponent then uses a marker to move 33% of his own army, MBS is in trouble, because even if those individual units are slower individually, the enemy is soon going to be throwing 100 points or more against 50 points of MBS. Tactical mobility comes from fast units with movement powers; in a way, strategic mobility comes from expensive units with extra-turn powers.

Army S is mediocre by this yardstick. Without making those fickle Frenzy rolls, it will take six markers to move every figure once.
Army M is the strategic-mobility champ. With only three heroes, it can completely evacuate its start zone in a round if the situation dictates.
Army V is saved by bonding once again. Thanks to double activations, it can move all figures once every four markers, even without Dispatch.
Army W technically takes nine markers to move all units. Because of Scatter and Vanish, it's not really this bad, but it's sure not good. Attacking in waves is a necessity.

Only you can decide how important each of these rules is to your armies. Certainly, there are ways to build and ways to play that can minimize the drawbacks of too many cards, even without bonding. You can use Carry and Summon. You can build around Red Skull. You can use units like the Airborne Elite that help simplify decisions. You can load up on samurai and auras so your sleeping units can still help you. But even with all those workarounds, I still think too many army cards is a real killer.

If you have an interest in exploring this area further, I highly recommend Jexik's in-depth order marker piece. It can definitely set you on the road to stronger armies.

Last edited by rdhight; April 17th, 2008 at 09:41 PM. Reason: round =/= turn
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  #2  
Old April 17th, 2008, 10:09 AM
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Re: Too many cards: a very bad thing

Good job, I like it (+rep, even though I don't matter yet)

I like your example of ARMY W, and while it looks like a hard to use army order markers style, a few tweeks and not only will it be much easyer to play, but maybe open up about 100 other points to use

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Old April 17th, 2008, 10:24 AM
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Re: Too many cards: a very bad thing

A couple more things. Raelin, Rats, and bonding are glue- they make otherwise wonky armies much more playable. AE and cleanup units are interesting because they often don't factor into an equation until you want them to or get The Drop.

Mattser, Ry, and Lonewolf's armies from GenCon '07 were all pretty slick. The first two had 5 or more places to potentially put markers, but the design of the armies made it such that you'd usually be putting active markers on just 1-3 (usually 2) cards in any given round. Because of the protection granted by Raelin or the Rats in these armies, it can actually be somewhat safe to have a few sleeping units.

Also, your point number 3 is good, and is something I often forget about. It's one of the reasons that a lot of people have trouble fielding the Einar Imperium. "Well, just get Taelord, Kiova, Raelin, and some Deathreavers, and then they'll be awesome!"

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.)

Last edited by Jexik; April 17th, 2008 at 01:48 PM. Reason: clarity
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Old April 17th, 2008, 11:10 AM
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Re: Too many cards: a very bad thing

Nice job. I like the analysis. You might want to include a caveat to point #2: While it is a good idea to have large, expensive units and thus limit the number of cards that need order markers, beware also of putting your eggs in one basket. Braxas and Krug, for example, can die quickly, especially against ranged fire.

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Old April 17th, 2008, 11:34 AM
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Re: Too many cards: a very bad thing

Another good read rdhight! Thanks for the insight. I used to play a lot of W armies, but through tournament play and articles like this one, I now roll with more V-type armies.

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Old April 17th, 2008, 09:04 PM
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Re: Too many cards: a very bad thing

Quote:
Originally Posted by Taeblewalker View Post
Nice job. I like the analysis. You might want to include a caveat to point #2: While it is a good idea to have large, expensive units and thus limit the number of cards that need order markers, beware also of putting your eggs in one basket. Braxas and Krug, for example, can die quickly, especially against ranged fire.
I purposely didn't talk about that, because I have another post brewing where I'm going to talk only about damage-soaking. I'll try and remember to link the two together when I get that one posted.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jexik View Post
A couple more things. Raelin, Rats, and bonding are glue- they make otherwise wonky armies much more playable. AE and cleanup units are interesting because they often don't factor into an equation until you want them to or get The Drop.
Yeah, I tried to put Raelin and rats in the "bad army" to keep it from being absolutely horrible.
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Old April 17th, 2008, 09:14 PM
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Re: Too many cards: a very bad thing

Quote:
Originally Posted by rdhight View Post
Army M is the strategic-mobility champ. With only three heroes, it can completely evacuate its start zone in a turn if the situation dictates.
I think you mean round.

Interesting read and definitely helpful.


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Old April 17th, 2008, 10:25 PM
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Re: Too many cards: a very bad thing

I like bonding because you swarm, and bust out a strong guy. Like the spiders and sujoan (if that is his name). Orcs and blastitrons are the best bonding so far in my opinion. I think the orcs solve all three problems:

When you use an orc, you can use any of the champions, who are mostly all good. (tornak and grimnak especially (sp))

You put all your markers on either arrows, heavies, or blades. Simple

It does take a while to move but the heroes move fast and you move 4 heavies or blades (which for me is out of 12) so it actually isn't that slow in my oppinion. Well, maybe a little.

EDIT: Warg harg harg!

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Last edited by Garet Jaxx; April 17th, 2008 at 10:27 PM. Reason: Add new idea
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Old April 17th, 2008, 10:25 PM
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Re: Too many cards: a very bad thing

I like the simpler armiesthat tend to have only 2 or 3 cards in it.
I brought this funarmy to a 450 point tournament.
3x Marrden Hounds-270
Major Q9-180
Very fun for being just 2 cards.

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Old April 17th, 2008, 11:20 PM
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Re: Too many cards: a very bad thing

I've got my eye on you, rdhight. I'm aware that this thread is really a cunning ploy to lure us all into embracing the suck that is Dund.

You have to get up pretty early in the morning to outwit me, sir. (Not really, I'm prone to sleeping in these days.)
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Old April 18th, 2008, 04:58 AM
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Re: Too many cards: a very bad thing

Man rdhight, I'm pissed at you. You know why? Because I bumped your rep a while ago and now I can't do it again. And you KEEP on putting up these AWESOME posts.

Great insight dude, I'm going to have to think about revamping my armies...AGAIN.

PS The last revamp was also inspired by one of your posts.
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Old April 18th, 2008, 10:51 AM
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Re: Too many cards: a very bad thing

I am notorious for playing "pile" armies. I know less places to put markers is the optimal situation. However, my approach to army building is a kin to setting up a pocket knife and what tools I want on it. As a result, I usually end up sacrificing ease of marker placement for situational power and counters.

What does it mean? It means that marker placement is a major consideration in any army build but there are situations where you might sacrifice marker simplicity for units that have quick strike ability, or long range ability, or situational counters.

It is brutal though; many opponents have seen me pulling my hair out trying to place my markers.

A must read for all 'Scapers!
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