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  #1  
Old April 2nd, 2009, 02:54 PM
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a meta-game change I'd like to see

One popular tactic I'd like to see a shift away from is armies composed of a large number (say more then 3) of the same common unit.

Now I understand that common units were intended to be used in multiples, and that's how they attain they're power, but in my opinion, using 'too many' of any one type of unit is detremental to the game.

I find such armies are not fun to play (or play against) since they don't require much (any?) thought in order marker placement and don't promote interesting 'combined arms' strategies. The problem, again in my opinion, is that these armies are often the most competitive out there.

Perhaps in draft/counter draft games, these armies wouldn't be so popular, since it's relatively simple to pick good counters against any one type of opponent. However, as things stand today, drafting is not really a part of the competive Heroscape landscape, and so these armie's one natural weakness cannot effectively be exploited.

I'd like to see a unit whose special ability was specifically designed to counter opponents with a large number of the same commons. Perhaps something like:

"After moving and before attacking, choose one type of common squad. All figures of that type within 5 spaces of you most roll the d20. If a 16 to 20 is rolled, destroy that figure."

I believe something like that would make people thing twice before fielding an army like Stingers x 8, but would still allow room for 2 or 3 squads of commons. As a benefit, it would also make things like the Hive more playable.

Any thoughts?
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  #2  
Old April 2nd, 2009, 03:02 PM
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Re: a meta-game change I'd like to see

I disagree that armies composed of many commons are not fun to play with or against. I enjoy both.

Have you looked at the data of tournament armies for tournaments in your area? Here's what I came up with for the data I had in the northeast during a conversation about the need for army variety in general and a restriction of A+ units and many multiple commons in particular:

Quote:
Originally Posted by ollie View Post
Advance warning: I'm a nerd.

I don't buy these arguments that there is a lack of variety. It must be some sort of internet meme or something, the data certainly don't support it.

I took the various chunks of data to which I have easy access to see if a type of army is dominating or if there is a lack of variety. Here is a list of units that have won tournaments in our area over the last few years along with the number of wins:

Code:
Winning Units	
	
Airborne Elite	4
Deathreavers	4
Isamu		4
Marro Stingers	4
Marcus		3
Charos		2
Krav Maga Agents2
Major Q10	2
Marro Warriors	2
Me-Burq-Sa	2
Ne-Gok-Sa	2
Roman Leg. 	2
Venom		2
Zetacron	2
10th Foot	1
4th Mass	1
Blastatrons	1
Braxas		1
Brunak		1
Dumutef Guard	1
Gladiatrons	1
Grimnak		1
Heavy Gruts	1
Kaemon Awa	1
Kelda		1
Krug		1
Laglor		1
Major Q9	1
Marcu		1
Marrden Hounds	1
Marro Drones	1
Microcorps 	1
Minions 	1
Morsbane	1
Nerak		1
Raelin (RotV)	1
Here is a graph that shows the maximum number of common squads in armies (not just winning armies):


Almost half of all armies do not have multiple commons; about three-quarters have at most two of any common squad. Armies with three or more commons are not all that we are seeing by any stretch and to ban them will reduce variety. I like playing with and against different types of build and I can't find any evidence that the A+ units are winning everything or that commons x4 or x5 are all we see. What am I missing?

If the argument runs "Let's use Format X because Format X is fun" then I'm all for Format X, whatever it is and even if I think I like it less than other formats. I like having different challenges. On the other hand, if the argument is "Let's ban this type of build to increase army variety" then I don't buy either that army variety needs increasing or that this approach will achieve it.

Sorry, got a bit carried away. Short version:

a) there's no need to fix imaginary problems,
b) let's do something fun.
Maybe the metagame is different where you are. Do you feel like running the numbers?

Last edited by ollie; April 2nd, 2009 at 03:04 PM. Reason: Quoting myself - insanyysity beckons.
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  #3  
Old April 2nd, 2009, 03:07 PM
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Re: a meta-game change I'd like to see

I actually agree that armies with more than 3 of the same common squad are vaguely boring/aesthetically displeasing. But really, you're only talking about TWO armies that are common in the modern "meta":
  • 4x stingers (and up)
  • 4x and 5x 4th Mass
Really, that's it. Sure, you occasionally see rats x4, or Knights x4, but not that often. spider_poison won GenCon with Gladiatrons x4, but change the point total from 520 to 500 or 550, and he plays something different.

So... the question basically becomes: is there something especially bad about stingerhordes or 4th Mass Hordes? May answer is no. These are good armies, but it's not as though they are so dominant that they need to be stopped. I may find them a bit tactically boring, but they're not the only tactically boring armies by any stretch.

The figure you suggest, by the way, doesn't really especially hurt a super-horde army. Stingers and 4th Mass can and will spread out to minimize the effect of that power. A 3x army that needs to clump up more or gets closer to the front lines would be much more damaged by that power. (As an aside - a figure with that power would have to cost well over 200 points, unless it was really frail.)
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  #4  
Old April 2nd, 2009, 03:12 PM
jschild jschild is offline
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Re: a meta-game change I'd like to see

I think the best thing would be to introduce more heroes with synergies/bonding. Something on the order of the Utgar Flag-bearer or the elf guy who bonds with the elf heroes.

Now through May 28th, the Louisville region is in desperate need of platelets - call the Red Cross if you are interested in donating!
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  #5  
Old April 2nd, 2009, 06:15 PM
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Re: a meta-game change I'd like to see

Quote:
Originally Posted by padlock View Post
I'd like to see a unit whose special ability was specifically designed to counter opponents with a large number of the same commons. Perhaps something like:

"After moving and before attacking, choose one type of common squad. All figures of that type within 5 spaces of you most roll the d20. If a 16 to 20 is rolled, destroy that figure."

I believe something like that would make people thing twice before fielding an army like Stingers x 8, but would still allow room for 2 or 3 squads of commons. As a benefit, it would also make things like the Hive more playable.

Any thoughts?
What about Braxas, Deathwalker 8000, Zelrig, AE, and Q9? Any one of those would devastate a common-filled start zone.

Contend, O Lord, against those who contend against me;
Fight against those who fight against me. Psalm 35:1
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  #6  
Old April 2nd, 2009, 06:15 PM
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Re: a meta-game change I'd like to see

All that needs to be done is decrease the starting zone size from 24 to about 18 or less.
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  #7  
Old April 2nd, 2009, 09:39 PM
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Re: a meta-game change I'd like to see

1. Zelrig.

2. Major Q9.

3. Krav.

4. Deathreavers. Though a common squad themselves, 2-3x are the best common squad counter in the game.

5. As ollie points out, this belief that certain common squads completely dominate the tournament scene just isn't true. In my experience, there is tons of variety in tournament builds, both in unit selection and frequency. I've played against Charos more often than I've faced the 4th Mass or Marro Stingers.

Are some heavy common squad armies good? Yes. Are they the only way to play? No. Are they ubiquitous? No. Are they fun? To me, most definitely, and removing that option doesn't help anyone.

The winner of the main event in GenCon 2007 had absolutely zero common squads, and he had six different unique cards in his army (only one of which was a squad- the Krav). Skyknight got in the top 8 in 2007 came in with just 3 heroes and no squads, while Brownsfan did something similar with 3 different heroes in '08. I'm pretty sure that only two of the armies that have ever made it to day 2 have done it without a Unique Hero- Revdyer's 4x Mass and 2x Sentinels in '07, and dustin's 2x Minions and 2x Marrden Hounds in 2006.

There is also some question at least in mind about how much your army, at least on paper, really determines your performance. Different players are more skilled with different sorts of units, and I find that the players who show up with just 1 or 2 sets of an underrated common also make careless or unknowing mistakes with them during play. Sure, there are players like spider_poison, lonewolf, MattserTruckRally & Mantrainchoochoo, etc... who can probably bring just about anything to the table and rock with it. The big difference to me between a common squad army and others is that you have many more little decisions to make each turn.* Good players gravitate to these sorts of armies because they allow you to improve your chances over the long haul and reduce your variance. Showing up with just Cyprien and Braxas doesn't really do that. (But showing up with those two is a pretty valid tactic against squad figures, so if you hate squads and expect to face them, then by all means...)

*But you say, well, you just put your order markers on the same place all the time with a common squad army! Where's the decision there? Location, location, location. Figure placement. Playing a unique army, especially with Deathreavers, takes a different kind of play and bluffing, but can be just as challenging to play. With a unique army, OM placement can be just as important as figure placement in the other, but the individual figures often plays themselves: keep Q9/ Krav at max range, on height, and in auras, then fire away, etc...

At the end of the day, any strong tournament army has to be able to do two things:

1. Hit hard enough to kill heroes.

2. Hit often enough to kill squads.

It needs to do both because both are equally threatening and frequently seen in tournaments. If your army can do that and you play smart, you'll do 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.)

Last edited by Jexik; April 2nd, 2009 at 10:14 PM. Reason: Jeez, I shouldn't have had caffeine with dinner.
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  #8  
Old April 2nd, 2009, 10:16 PM
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Re: a meta-game change I'd like to see

Thanks to everyone for the responses.

I fully acknowledge that my opinion on army's consisting of many units of one type isn't shared by everyone, and some do enjoy playing with/against them. I'm not looking to prevent people from fielding them, I'm really just hoping for a decent counter, someway to encourage a more more mixed army. Right now I believe the inherent drawbacks to putting all (or most of) your eggs in one basket aren't fully being realized due to the lack of counter drafting.

Units like Zelrig and DW8K are good against squads in general, but I'm more interested in something that's particularly effective against a large number of 1 type of unit.

Perhaps my suggested unit power wasn't the best answer, maybe something with a special that could debuff all units of a particular type, kind of like morsbane but that would work on commons and not negate all specials (that would clearly be too devastating).

I actually think that Dund, of all figures, comes closest to what I'm looking for since his ability, if it works at the right time, is particularly effective at countering people not playing a mixed army. Unfortunately, he just isn't quite good enough.
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Old April 2nd, 2009, 10:44 PM
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Re: a meta-game change I'd like to see

Mixed armies can do well. I went 4-1 at my second tourney with a deathreaver hodge podge (3x Deathreavers, Nilfheim, Cyprien, Sonya, Marro Warriors for 550). I had a couple of my most decisive victories I've ever had with that army, as well as a couple very close ones. BATTLE REPORT. Nilfheim punishes anyone with low attack or defense. Cyprien punishes squads, especially unique ones. Deathreavers punish anything without a special attack. Marro Warriors punish melee squads with 4 move or less. (As an aside, the only guy who beat me that day was playing 1x of a common squad, and the rest was uniques).

R˙chean pretty much always plays some kind of hodgepodge with 2-3x rats and he wins twice as often as he loses.

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 April 3rd, 2009, 01:25 AM
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Re: a meta-game change I'd like to see

I can't say I've ever seen more than 4x any common squad in an army that did really well. Certainly nothing but stingers or musket wielders would do decently, but they can go down to attrition by certain uniques pretty easily.

Regarding changing the metagame, you might want to look at the maps you are using. A lot of maps are basically wide open with just high ground here and there. These are great for common armies since they allow them to move forward as a group with easy. Maps with choke points and heavy line of sight blockers can force common squads to trickle in and make them easier pickings for one big hero.
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Old April 3rd, 2009, 10:15 AM
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Re: a meta-game change I'd like to see

Quote:
Originally Posted by padlock View Post
...some way to encourage a more more mixed army...
More mixed than what? I think there is plenty of evidence in this thread and elsewhere that armies are currently very mixed. Do you have a different meta-game where you are? What armies are you seeing at your events?
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Old April 3rd, 2009, 10:47 AM
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Re: a meta-game change I'd like to see

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jexik View Post
Mixed armies can do well. I went 4-1 at my second tourney with a deathreaver hodge podge (3x Deathreavers, Nilfheim, Cyprien, Sonya, Marro Warriors for 550). I had a couple of my most decisive victories I've ever had with that army, as well as a couple very close ones. BATTLE REPORT. Nilfheim punishes anyone with low attack or defense. Cyprien punishes squads, especially unique ones. Deathreavers punish anything without a special attack. Marro Warriors punish melee squads with 4 move or less. (As an aside, the only guy who beat me that day was playing 1x of a common squad, and the rest was uniques).
I'll second this. Unique-podges (especially with Deathreavers) are outstanding armies. I believe them to be the most versatile in Heroscape right now, and capable of beating just about anything.

Plus, no one will tell you playing Deathreavers x3 or 4 requires no thought. After Day 2 of GenCon, my head literally hurt from playing Deathreavers. As a matter of fact, the game I lost on Day 2 was because I Scattered a Deathreaver one space too far. One space. If my head didn't hurt from all the thinking/strategy it took to play those evil things, I don't think I'd have made that mistake.

Southwest ninja finished 3rd out of over 100 with this (I think):

Q9
Raelin
AE
4th Mass x2
Isamu

And, as Jexik said, MattserTruckRally won the year before with a Vydar range pod that included no commons. My buddy phantazm21zero regularly wins or places high with an extremely similar build, adjusted for point totals.

And, to toot my own horn just a wee bit more, I'll link my Battle Reports, which include a bunch of units that "no one uses." I even did decent with a couple of them.

Like battle reports? Click Tourney Reports (New 10/21/2012 - Cutters / Brutes!)
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