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Old May 25th, 2010, 01:16 PM
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True value of the Assassin

Or How a Single Grain of Sand Can Tip the Scales.
So you've read all the strategy guides, endlessly play-tested your army and know all the rules backward and forward. It is time to sit down and play and you look across the table and Surprise! Raelin again. That annoying Kyrie keeps showing up, and if it's not her, you get other central figures like Atlaga, Major Q9, Kurrok, or other linchpin figures that make winning tough.

In Heroscape as in life, simple is right and there are few simpler strategies than gunning down a key figure. Yet, often people may underestimate their target or move to fast jeopardizing map and glyph control. Taking out that key figure will at worst weaken your opponent, at best totally ruin their army. In any event knowing how to use and deal with an assassin will help in claiming victory.

Any Figure Can Be An Assassin
In that first master set everyone saw Agent Carr and knew this guy meant business. Ghost walk, Disengagement and a Sword that could make short work of any unit foolish enough to enter engagement, made for the original assassin. Times have changed and the stereotypical assassin has changed with it. In today's game any UNIT can be an assassin, not just hard hitting tricky heroes.

The key is the ability to get to your opponent and inflict significant damage is the essence of the assassin. First we will consider the latter. When taking out a figure we are normally talking about a Hero. For a serious attempt you should expect to get an average of 2+ wounds per attack, thus being able to take out a 5-6 life figure in one round.

First We Consider Hero Assassins.
Code:
Single attack 
Def  Required Atk   Wounds
     for >2 wounds
3         6         2.052 
4         7         2.330
5         8         2.405
Squads Are A Different Story.
Code:
Triple Attack
Def  Required Atk   Wounds
     for >2 wounds
3         3         2.250 
4         4         2.796
5         4         2.241
Clearly there are many UNITS that fit these guidelines. A Squad of 10th reg, with wait than fire, height and Marcus throw 5 Dice each easily making sort work of many figures. Some other Great choices are Dragons that hit hard or Ranged attackers like Kaemon Awa or Major Q9. Even a Fairly inexpensive Figure like the Wyvern can Throw 4 attack with a chance for auto kill and the bonus for flying its prey away from other support figures.

Get to your target.
Layout is everything when focusing on a single figure. If that Figure is nigh impossible to reach then it is better to focus on the front lines. On the other hand if a road leads up to the target or is on the front lines themselves then go for the kill. There are many ways to get to that figure with your assassin. Stealth Flying, disengage, phantom walk were all invented for this purpose, but some beefier heroes or fancy foot work as well. With a beefy hero you may be able to risk a leaving engagement shot to get to your prize.

Speed can be just as useful with the ability to side step screening forces or fly over them. Using frenzying vipers to sneak around enemy lines to wipe out a juicy target is an excellent use of 40 points. With speed it is all about finesse, setting up your forces just out of range then making a sudden move. Never underestimate carful planing when it comes to the assassination. Moving to quick will reveal your plans and the target will move out of range or front liners will blitz your strike force.

Whether by shear strength or quickness choose your timing. The first two rounds are usually best for set up unless you want to Fly in a heavy hitter like Zelrig or are luck enough to drop the AE. Making your move in the first two rounds is risky as it allows your opponent time to take position else where and execute a back up plan if you succeed and worse if you fail you lost all board control. The assassination is better in the early midgame when board control is divided and your forces are in position. Even better, if your opponent get the initiative you can use 3 turns to execute your plan and they only have 2 turns to adjust. By taking your opponent off guard with a bold move you can maximize you chance of a successful kill.

Friends Don't Let Friends Use The D-20.
It is worth noting there are many D-20 powers that can destroy a figure. While they negate defence they usually require a substantially high die roll. A sniper like Dead Eye Dan with a 10% chance of hit would require 7 attempts for >50% chance of hitting. This means you would have to roll the dice 7 times (over 2 rounds) before you would have the same chance to kill our theoretical 3 defence 5 life hero the 3 attacks of 3 over one round.

This simply is not the way to win the game, since with every die roll the opposing force takes one step closer to kill the sniper, and the D-20 is an all or nothing. Even if an attack with attack dice fails It may severely cripple a hero. A hero with one life left is unlikely to leave engagement, often hangs back out of reach of the front line, and is less likely to get an order marker than a bonding champion.

A couple of exceptions are Cyprien and Braxas. Cyprien has the uncanny ability to inflict wounds with the D20, so each turn can be productive and with move 8 stealth flying is the perfect assassin. Braxas simply creates so much havoc with her acid breath (that does can be used even when engaged) that taking a few shots with the D-20 are well worth the time, since you can take out some squads at the same time.

Mess with the Strategy.
This whole discussion hinges on one fact, that your opponent has a strategy. When facing down an army of 4th mass and sentinels there is no one figure to target (unless one is holding a glyph) so assassination is moot. Instead you have to know where your focus will do the most damage. Killing off Taelord or Raelin is usually the right thing to do, but committing the vast majority of your forces may have the opposite effect of leaving you open to counter attack.

The bottom line is you only need minimum forces attacking a figure at the right time to ruin your opponents strategy. With luck 2 squads of stingers, 3 squads of vipers, or one medium point hero should get the job done. If you are using more than 200 points to take out a 100 point figure something is wrong. Assassins are creatures of opportunity. At any moment you can evaluate the map and see if a unit is able to take a small risk to get a huge reward. Even the lowliest squad figure can be the difference when you choose the right time to attack.


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Old May 25th, 2010, 01:39 PM
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Re: True value of the Assassin

Good summary. I think you are right that ANY unit can be an Assassin. Especially the one your opponent expects the least

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Old May 25th, 2010, 02:40 PM
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Re: True value of the Assassin

One other way to reach your target is to be able to hit your target from far away. The Airborne Elite are great assassins for this reason.

I have to disagree slightly with the d20 hate. I think people have a tendency to equate the d20 with a chancy, long-odds strategy. While that can be the case, of course, it's not inherently true. It's simple enough to do the math for any given figure and figure out whether autokill powers are a better or worse way to handle them than the alternatives you have available.

Sure, rolling for sharpshooter against a typical 3D/5L hero is a poor use of an OM. But how about against the Hulk?
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Old May 25th, 2010, 03:22 PM
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Re: True value of the Assassin

Quote:
Originally Posted by dok View Post
I have to disagree slightly with the d20 hate. I think people have a tendency to equate the d20 with a chancy, long-odds strategy. While that can be the case, of course, it's not inherently true. It's simple enough to do the math for any given figure and figure out whether autokill powers are a better or worse way to handle them than the alternatives you have available.

Sure, rolling for sharpshooter against a typical 3D/5L hero is a poor use of an OM. But how about against the Hulk?
Your point is very valuable. I actually like the D-20 in many cases, however for the purpose of setting up a well timed assassination, the D20 is too likely to fail. There is a great post about making your own D20 luck in the thread list in my sig.

The reason why I noted Cyprien and Braxes, was to show there exists D20 powers that can be used as assassin's tools, as for using Ne-Gok-Sa or Deadeye it is still too much of a long shot/risk to be a long term winning strategy.


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Old May 25th, 2010, 03:38 PM
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Re: True value of the Assassin

I agree with Dok, too many people irrationally fear the D20. Not surprisingly, 3 of my favorite Assassination units are Morsbane, Sudema, and Atlaga. Even Sudema has an almost 40% chance to auto kill a hero given a mere 2 rolls. All 3 of these units can radically alter a game with a single roll from distance. If you auto kill or negate their Braxas early in the game, it is often game over.
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Old May 25th, 2010, 03:53 PM
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Re: True value of the Assassin

Quote:
Originally Posted by Devil's Advocate View Post
I agree with Dok, too many people irrationally fear the D20. Not surprisingly, 3 of my favorite Assassination units are Morsbane, Sudema, and Atlaga. Even Sudema has an almost 40% chance to auto kill a hero given a mere 2 rolls. All 3 of these units can radically alter a game with a single roll from distance. If you auto kill or negate their Braxas early in the game, it is often game over.
Actually:

Quote:
Originally Posted by aldin
20% requires four attempts for a >50% chance of activation
Morsbane – Rod of Negation (Negate)
Sudema – Stare of Stone (Heroes)
Braxas – Poisonous Acid Breath (Heroes)
I grant that these powers are really good in a fun game, but I could not in good faith recommend bringing these figures to a competitive match for the purpose of excuting a assassination strategy.


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Old May 25th, 2010, 06:07 PM
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Re: True value of the Assassin

Quote:
Originally Posted by wriggz View Post
Actually:

Quote:
Originally Posted by aldin
20% requires four attempts for a >50% chance of activation
Morsbane – Rod of Negation (Negate)
Sudema – Stare of Stone (Heroes)
Braxas – Poisonous Acid Breath (Heroes)
I grant that these powers are really good in a fun game, but I could not in good faith recommend bringing these figures to a competitive match for the purpose of excuting a assassination strategy.
Sudema and Braxas have an almost exactly 50% chance to work within 3 activations on a Hero. (49%)

With Morsbane it really does not make sense to not include the auto kill in addition to the negation. With Morsbane there is a 44% chance of it working within 2 tries and a 58% chance of it working within 3 tries. Both odds I consider quite good, and with 6 range and 6 life should easily survive for at least 2 or 3 attempts.
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Old May 25th, 2010, 06:35 PM
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Re: True value of the Assassin

Quote:
Originally Posted by Devil's Advocate View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by wriggz View Post
Actually:

Quote:
Originally Posted by aldin
20% requires four attempts for a >50% chance of activation
Morsbane – Rod of Negation (Negate)
Sudema – Stare of Stone (Heroes)
Braxas – Poisonous Acid Breath (Heroes)
I grant that these powers are really good in a fun game, but I could not in good faith recommend bringing these figures to a competitive match for the purpose of excuting a assassination strategy.
Sudema and Braxas have an almost exactly 50% chance to work within 3 activations on a Hero. (49%)

With Morsbane it really does not make sense to not include the auto kill in addition to the negation. With Morsbane there is a 44% chance of it working within 2 tries and a 58% chance of it working within 3 tries. Both odds I consider quite good, and with 6 range and 6 life should easily survive for at least 2 or 3 attempts.
Okay, So I was lazy and did not run the math, you are right ~50% hit after 3 turns would be more accurate. However a 50% chance of having no impact after one full round doesn't feel like a good use of resources.

Considering your target in the current metagame is likely to be Raelin using 140 points to take out a 80 point hero is not a good use of points. Perhaps if you were sure to face a taelord, spartacus, kato and Greenscale/dragon army in the round robin it might be advisable, but that is very unlikely.

*Edit
By the way I ran the numbers, for a group of stingers trying to kill Raelin you have 99% after 35 attacks, or about 11 turns, for the Sudema 99% kill success would be about 21 turns.


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Old May 25th, 2010, 07:25 PM
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Re: True value of the Assassin

Very good read, and great use of examples and summary.
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Old May 25th, 2010, 07:30 PM
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Re: True value of the Assassin

Quote:
Originally Posted by wriggz View Post

Okay, So I was lazy and did not run the math, you are right ~50% hit after 3 turns would be more accurate. However a 50% chance of having no impact after one full round doesn't feel like a good use of resources.

Considering your target in the current metagame is likely to be Raelin using 140 points to take out a 80 point hero is not a good use of points. Perhaps if you were sure to face a taelord, spartacus, kato and Greenscale/dragon army in the round robin it might be advisable, but that is very unlikely.

*Edit
By the way I ran the numbers, for a group of stingers trying to kill Raelin you have 99% after 35 attacks, or about 11 turns, for the Sudema 99% kill success would be about 21 turns.
There are some factors you are not including.

1-Sudema, Atlaga, and Morsbane can use their Specials even when engaged with someone else which is very nice.

2-They also have a much higher probability of accomplishing it quickly than do the Stingers. For exampe I bet the odds of 3 stingers taking down TKN in 1 Turn is not high. A single good roll early in a game with either can be game ending. Others have said this but it is worth repeating, at 90 or 100 points I bet Atlaga/Morsbane will have more game changing moments than almost any other similar attacking piece.

3-The heroes also only take up 1 start zone space. In most armies stingers aren't just used as a 1x common
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Old May 25th, 2010, 07:39 PM
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Re: True value of the Assassin

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Originally Posted by Devil's Advocate View Post

1-Sudema, Atlaga, and Morsbane can use their Specials even when engaged with someone else which is very nice.

2-They also have a much higher probability of accomplishing it quickly than do the Stingers. For exampe I bet the odds of 3 stingers taking down TKN in 1 Turn is not high. A single good roll early in a game with either can be game ending. Others have said this but it is worth repeating, at 90 or 100 points I bet Atlaga/Morsbane will have more game changing moments than almost any other similar attacking piece.

3-The heroes also only take up 1 start zone space. In most armies stingers aren't just used as a 1x common
I agree with all 3 of these points. I just feel that in the current tournment metagame advising some one to draft Sudema, Atlaga and Morsbane for the exclusive reason of running an assassin strategy is not sound advice.

The Thesis of my argument is that almost any unit can work as an assassin. This is important since many armies feature a figure worthy of assassination. However Drafting a figure for the sole purpose of a single kill is not a way to win a tournment, since your stratgy will fail against hord armies.

This is why I mentioned the exception about Braxas and Cyprin, since they can thrive against hord armies as well. Atlaga is a funny example since he only has once chance so he works much differnt than other figures mentioned, though his point cost and ranged flying attack make him a fairly competive figure.


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Old May 25th, 2010, 07:41 PM
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Re: True value of the Assassin

I think Cyprien is one of the best assassins in the game. With his large move of 8 with Stealth Flying, he can his fast. Then he gets both Chilling Touch, a chance at unblockable wounds, and his normal attack, which is decent.

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