Friday, April 27, 2012

Puzzle Time No. 2!

Hi everyone! It's time for more filler puzzles! The objective is to kill the wizard who's threatening to zap all your lovely crystals with 2 gem tiles active! Oh noes!

Ready? Remember, the wizard has 800HP, and 10% magic resist! Got your answer? Scroll down for mine!

2 Crystal attacks at 300 physical damage each, and 1 VM paaanch for 200 for the knockout! Remember, that 10% magic resist means that in 4AP, the priestess can only do 200*4*0.9 (or 180+180+180+180) which is LESS THAN 800! But why the shenanigans with the VM, you ask? Surely a priestess can move to "A" +180+180 for the kill (as helpfully shown in the diagram below)

For the purposes of the puzzle parameters, yes, yes you could. But then the cleric behind would move to the helm tile, raise, and wiz would have 3 zaps across the 2 double gem tile crystals!

Very very bad. Ouchy bad. And I don't mean my attempted drawing of a priestess. -_-

There's also a second solution involving the priestess that avoids this issue - can you find it? I still think it's not optimal since you don't get to develop the VM, but I'll mention it so that I don't get howls of outrage in the comments box. XD

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Map tips: 4 crystal square

Ok, so this series will be focusing on the maps and where the important areas on the maps are. This is important in the long term - you might not see the effects now, but you're almost assured to at some point in the game, and an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure! This map I hereby dub the 4 gem square, because there are 4 gems, and they are in a square. Creative, I know. :)

A: your ideal spot for a necro. He can control all of the area outlined in red, which includes the gem tile! You can protect this necro by having a bare VM pop from the bottom deploy tile and move forward 4 tiles (at the E). Very AP-efficient!

B: beware of archers here. They can hide behind the crystal, dash out for a quick 3 hits and hide behind the crystal again.

C: a priestess here can get an extra 20% physical defense (generally not very needed) while being able to rez/heal a unit that's on the gem tile. A good central location that should be able to heal most of your units. (including the VMs on E)

D: an imp on D can use 1 ap to move forward, and killstomp a unit on the opponents power tile. Generally this will be a high value target like a sworded necro or archer. You can protect this imp by having a bare VM pop from the bottom deploy tile and move forward 4 tiles (at the E).

E: if you have any units standing here, a grenadier can stand on the gem tile and splash your crystal. This is less effective since the patch, but you should be aware nevertheless.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Game replay: tabby_nat(DE) v. DrvUMad(CL)

Hi everyone! It's been a while since the last replay - this game took it's own sweet time in coming to a conclusion, but you know how it is with good things, right? ;)

This is a game between myself and the illustrious DrvUMad, who has been lurking around the top bracket of the league since its inception. And he's kindly agreed to put in his own comments, too! Lots of good insight to be had from this game, I'm sure!

So, without further ado, on to the match! I'm trying a new format now, left or right aligning the pictures so that you know whose turn it is/was. If it's too annoying let me know!

Fairly standard opening here - I want to control the power tile with my necro to deny him the top half of the map and the gem tile, and at the same time denying the bottom with the imp. He's CL, it's the two crystal map (pre patch, too!), what do you think he's going to do. :)

Drv: A mild, less aggressive opening than I am used to dealing with lately, especially considering you are playing Dark Elves.

Yep, archer hiding behind the crystal, ready for the move attack attack attack retreat pattern. Nothing I can do about that for now except make sure that he doesn't control the gem tiles.

Drv: I would almost rather deal with an aggressive Void Monk opening than one like this. I’m afraid of placing my archer anywhere up top and even want to avoid the attack boost tile on the bottom for fear of an early Scroll kill and stomp from your Necro. So because I am going 2nd I will play it on the safe side (for now) turn only 3 cards and try to gain as much center control as I can manage before you are able to stonewall me completely in my spawn.
Another note: One of my high level goals/strategies in every match is to turn 4 cards per turn for my first few turns. Typically the first 4-5 rounds of a match go wasted on placing cards, and jockeying for position, I do my best to keep my tempo high right from the start and hopefully outpace and out position my opponent once the opening phase has ended and the mid game starts. So for the first turn I will look at several different openings that allow me to turn through my cards faster than my opponent early on. When playing 2nd this is sometimes difficult to manage and I have to weigh my options between position and turning the deck.

I complete my plan to control the power tile and gem tiles, and see what happens next. I've got a lot of items that I can't really use, so I want to force something to happen. Maybe I'll sacrifice a unit to try and use a scroll, and rez/pot afterwards and retreat, something like that.

Drv: Nice aggressive board posture. You had early control of the center last turn so as expected you inched the lines forward to seal the deal. I now have very little room to maneuver. However you only managed to turn 2 cards. 

Out come the knights and clerics, right on cue. Looks like he's pretty much gotten exactly the hand that he wanted! I'm in for a tough fight.

Drv: I have a very poor hand at this point and need to continue turning cards quickly and safely. Because you sacrificed some tempo last turn for a better position on the field I hope I can gain back some ground on you by turning one more card than you and placing them in defensible positions.
I dislike having to build up my forces this much this fast but with my hand I have little choice. I placed my Knight at the top and moved him forward only 1 square to keep him safely out of Scroll range until I can draw a helmet for this unit. I hope that by turning 3 cards this turn I will draw a Fireball so that I can take care of that pesky Necro threatening me.

I bring out nompy and swap some items - there's just no way that I can make anything happen with the stuff I have in my hand.

Drv: Ooh here is my big break already! You used 3ap to turn 1 card and jockey your units around a total of 2 tiles, and then top it off by swapping 2 cards! From my perspective you just gave up any advantage you had from going first wasting your AP in this manner.

An early ninja, too. Not looking good! I need to make something happen soon - otherwise his armored knight will come stomping in and ninjabomb me to heck.

Drv: I wanted to take full advantage of your lost round and turn as many cards as I could this round, unfortunately with your Impaler now within 2ap range of my undefended Archer I need to jockey my knight 1ap to prevent an unfair trade. So I managed to defend my Archer and turn 3 cards one of which a Ninja! This gives me a net gain of 2 cards on you at this point and a near even tempo. I am happy the way this has played out thus far.

I decide to make something happen. I run in with my necro and scrollkill the archer. Notice my cunning position! While I'm standing on the shield tile, his units CANNOT killstomp me!

Drv: I did half expect this trade and I am glad I moved my knight below where I did and prevented an unfair trade with the impaler.

 I mean, unless he has a scroll. Meh. Now we're just even - we've both lost a scroll and a sword. Drv does have a better field, though - buff knight and a ninja are always dangerous, and a CL without archers is MUCH easier to deal with. I'm only glad he didn't get a chance to equip his archer. :)

Drv: With a scroll in hand I wasn’t overly concerned with this trade and welcomed it. While I would rather not trade an archer for a necro at least it will be apples to apples, you losing a range 3 unit with a sword and a scroll for my range 3 unit with a sword and a scroll. And because you took the initiative on the trade I was able to come out net ahead by using your wasted 2ap for position basically free. (meaning, I got to advance my knight and healer both 1ap each at no cost to my tempo where you burned that same 2ap to make the trade).

I re-take my power tile with another necro, just to warn off the knight from taking the top gem tile, all the time keeping in mind to stay at least 2 AP away from the ninja so that he can't killstomp AND retreat safely. (if you are only 1 AP away, ninja can move hit hit stomp retreat).

Drv: You turn 3 more cards and go right back to controlling the center. You still have better units in play as well as better position than I do, however I still think I am net ahead of you on the draw as well as tempo. While you have center control locked down for now I have a nice defended position.

He brings out his next archer, and has another sword. UGH. All my hard work.... Ninja moves up to the centre to control more space. Why not the square just behind the crystal? Maybe he's reserving that square for the archer...

Also, notice how the map magically changes to the patched version here. ;) I'm sooo glad that didn't happen when I was pulling that necro stunt a few turns ago!

Drv: So let me first say I hate having to waste ap on ghouls, however yours was in my way and needed to go! I did plan to eventually land my archer or my Ninja on that tile however I dearly needed some offensive units in play, so turning 3 cards took precedence over position this turn. For the moment I was still in good position to avoid death of any kind from your aggressive board control, so I dug into the deck to see if I could find another scroll, fireball or runemetal.

Back to deterrence with a sword on my necro on the power tile. My VM takes advantage of the new shield tile to move up.

Drv: Ok, now it’s getting kind of crowded in here!

You did well to turn 4 more cards as well as equipping yet another necro on the boost tile (sheesh). Right now I was thinking that I need to make my move if I am ever going to make one.

Drv takes this opportunity to move up. You see the knight wiz cleric train crawling along the bottom? That means bad times for your gem, bad times. *wince* The top half of the map is covered by his archer, though, and his ninja is always a threat. NEVER end a turn directly adjacent to ANY CL unit, unless you want to give that CL a free ninjabomb stomp. I'm not sure what to do at this point - there's no directly safe way at attack anything, so I'm thinking of using a fork. That's a chess term - basically, in one turn, you threaten to take out either one of two pieces, so that your opponent can't defend against both and has to choose one or the other. My options are the open attack tile (it's reaaally dangerous to leave your attack tile unoccupied - my bare naked VM can do quite a bit of splash there), my buffed necro, and the imp. The top VM can't really make anything happen now, because of the archer up there.

Drv: It’s funny that you mention the term fork here because that’s exactly what I was thinking when I made this move. So as I stated above, it’s getting very crowded and I simply do not need any more units in play to make my move. (I could use a few more buffs but you can’t always get what you want right?) So the time to act is now, you haven’t yet taken the initiative on the board so I may as well!

I don’t want to push up just one line here. If I were to only push along the top you could easily counter with your necro or VM and I were to only push the bottom the same would hold true. So I am going to threaten your board control from 2 fronts simultaneously forcing you into action. You will either attack one line, again leaving me with a 1-2ap round advantage of some kind or retreat giving up board control so I am going for it.

I make my move - one prong of my fork is the VM, and the other is the imp. He can't kill both my VM and my imp next turn, AND raise the cleric, so he has to decide. Both my VM and imp are rather low value compared to the ninja and archer, so I'm not too fussed about losing them. If he kills the VM, I use the imp to take out the archer. If he kills the imp, I use the VM to take out the ninja. I also have a follow up attack in the necro.

Drv: So as I had hoped you have sprung into action! The direction your attack took did throw me off my game just a bit, I wasn’t expecting an Impaler dive on my cleric. I had hoped for the top VM or Necro to make the first move. I remember planning out several different responses to a VM or Necro attack on the top, or a possible VM attack on the bot so I did end up taking more time this round thinking about my possible responses and where it would lead 2-3 rounds from now.

He decides to take out the imp with 2 shots from the archer, bring out another cleric and raise, and stomp with the ninja. Alrighty then, let's go!

Drv: So now that I have opened Pandora’s Box I want to make sure it doesn’t close (just yet at least)! So I 2 shot your Impaler from above with my Archer, use my free ap to drop another cleric and rez and rather than stomp with the wizard I decide to stomp the downed impaler with my completely unbuffed Ninja to threaten your position some and bait your last scroll on my side of the field.

I blow the scroll and  off the ninja. VM and necro are still in position to attack the archer, and there's no counterattack incoming! I can't read all the way to the end, but there's something to be said for organized chaos. ;)

Drv: KAPOW! As I hoped the scroll was been goaded from your hand which means there is far less uncertainty for me to deal with when thinking ahead rounds. The only real “what if” you have left is your Soul Harvests, but this deep into the game I don’t count those as “what ifs” I just plan on you having one at your disposal whenever needed.

Tabby: Do you really think that a scroll is worth more than a ninja? I dunno.. I'll gladly spend a scroll on a ninja, simply because of how often that ninja screws me. *thinking of previous games with Art and Jay :mad: *

He decides to take out the UNbuffed VM, mainly because that VM was on the power tile, I think.

VM: Your VM on the power tile was more of a threat than the VM up top at this moment plus by killing and stomping it allowed me to advance my mage’s position to be more of a factor in this fight than where he was before. So back to full health he goes and I am ahead on trades and position I press submit and wait for your inevitable retreat from my territory.

Alright - I'm going in! I have to admit, I was counting on him killing my VM because archers are long sighted, but...

Drv: So this turn of events did take me by surprise, and I didn’t plan for you to continue your dive (at least not in this manner).

Archers have legs you know. Sigh.

Drv: After sacrificing my Ninja, and trading an earlier Archer with sword I can’t afford to trade off any more archer’s unless it’s completely one sided in my favor. This is one trade I do not actually want, so rather than kill and stomp your necro here I use my last ap to heal my archer back to full so your VM couldn’t finish the job on me and goad one of your Soul Harvests you surely have in your hand.

RETREAT! Remember folks, if it doesn't work, it doesn't work. No use throwing good units after bad, cut your losses and get outta dodge.

Drv: As I hoped you burned a Soul Harvest to save your buffed Necro as well as gave him a potion to top him off an buff his health yet higher. I think your Necro is sitting at 930 health right now which makes him a 3 shot kill now from my buffed archer. Eventually I will draw my last Scroll and have to burn it on this Necro!

He heals up, buffs the archer even MORE (now my necro can't touch her) and advances. The sight of two buff knights standing in front of my gem attack tiles gives me hives.

Drv: So you wasted 3 of your 5ap last turn retreating your units which allows me some freedom to be liberal with my action points this turn. I figure I have you on the ropes now, by my count I am well ahead in tempo, units in play and in good position to start making an assault on your crystal. So I use some of my buffs I am still holding and place my archer in position (I am still hoping for my last scroll to draw) and burn my last AP healing my cleric to full.

Confucius say, if top half of map terrible for you, go to bottom half of map.

Drv: I’m not sure what to make of this. You wasted an entire round shifting your forces from top to bottom but not gaining anything either offensively or defensively in the process. I remember thinking that maybe you were ready to give up, perhaps the sheer length of time this game has gone on is getting to you, or perhaps my counter to your assault has you demoralized, regardless I was going to press on!

Confucius also terrible at Hero Academy. Do not listen to Confucius.

 (Drv starts with the wizard zapping. He leaves his cleric on the power tile so my necro can't go in and clean shop. Luckily, the zaps all completely miss my gem. It looks like I don't have a priestess, but I have one in my hand, ready to pop out at the lower deploy tile for a nasty surprise!).

Drv: It’s like you wanted me to start chaining lightning around by placing 3 units in a line just 1ap away from my wizard. I know he’s not buffed like my Archer up top, but I CANNOT resist chain lightning! So now I have managed control of at least one power tile and covered our flank with the cleric on the attack tile. By placing my cleric on the attack tile it ensures my wizard at least one more round of chain lightning attacks on his pile of units. You won’t dare go after my wizard with the healer sitting there. 

Hey, free cleric, right? Well.. I'm not so sure about this move now, to be honest. With the benefit of hindsight, I should have tried to fork his archer, rather than worrying about the knight cleric wizard combo at the bottom.

Drv: This is exactly what I was planning for, however…

 He decides to spend an inferno and kill my wraith in safety. I have no idea why he did that, to be honest. Maybe afraid that I would go down, scroll, and kill his wizard? Oh, and a zap.

Drv: I’ll be honest here, my math was off in my planning earlier, I had thought that I would be able to lure your necro out by baiting him with my cleric on the attack tile and leave my wizard alone for a round thus allowing me to kill/stomp your necro and double fireballing your pile of units. However after you made your move and took the cleric it turned out that I could NOT in fact both kill and stomp that pesky Necro even with both fireballs in my hand! So, change of plans mid stride, I’ll take a free Wraith, get some AOE damage in on your units and another chain lightning to either allow me a few kills on your weakened units next turn, force you into wasting time with a priestess, or back you into a corner thus prompting you into another attack.

Okay, let's see if this works. If he wants to kill stomp, he won't be able to raise with his other cleric.

Drv: I was rather hoping you would drop a priestess and waste some ap healing everyone and giving me a few free ap to reposition a couple key units, but alas!

Darn you, CL, with your irritating pots. Darn you to heck!

Drv: POOF double potion!

So rather than stomp I opt for another chain lightning attack on your lower group for two reasons. First maybe I can goad your second (and last) soul harvest to save a lowly unbuffed Impaler, and second both of your advance units on the bottom have helmets so I need as large a headstart on them as I can muster if I ever intend to kill them with my wizard.

Alright smarty pants - no more pots, you're going to have to move.

Drv: Again you surprised me, I didn’t REALLY expect you to use a soul harvest on a single, unbuffed, overextended Impaler only to KO a cleric with it! But I’ll take it!

And move he does. Wait, what was the plan again? O.o? Uh.. I was.. supposed to fork..


This is what happens when you don't have a plan.

Drv: So first things first kids! It’s very important that as Council you never limit yourself to only one healer. This is like painting yourself into a corner and any smart opponent WILL sacrifice units to ensure your final healer bites the dust once this happens.

That being said, this game is SO close to the crystal dive tipping point I could ALMOST afford to give that healer up, but I’d rather be safe than sorry this far along so I opt for the rescue and rather than stomping I send another chain lightning to your group below. (It would take you 4ap next turn to spawn a priestess and rez this impaler so there is no sense me wasting ap on the stomp)

Right, so I pop my priestess to try and salvage the situation, and top off my necros in the back.My next plan is to surprise Drv with an imp from the top deploy tile. Maybe I can make a play and take out his clerics.

Drv: Finally the Priestess arrives!

Drv takes advantage of the lull and heals up. Fine.

Drv: I knew eventually you would have to bring out a priestess and mass heal the lower group thus giving me a free turn to reposition and top back off as well. I took this opportunity to rid your ghoul from my attack tile as well. Let’s see if I can also lure that pesky Necro back out again and actually get rid of him once and for all!

Hey youse, yeah, youse. offa da power tile.

One cleric left, I'm planning my surprise imp...

Drv: *chuckle* Like clockwork!

[I think I'm missing a picture here - what I'm guessing happened was, Drv came down and kill fireballed my necro.]

Drv: Funny thing, if you look at my screenshots this is the ONLY ONE I am also missing! But in fact I did scroll+fireball your necro with my archer this round.

I move up my necro in the back, and take a shot so that if he doesn't heal, my VM can take the archer out next turn. Situation is looking precarious!

Drv: Your VM beats up my Knight and Mage well within range of killing them next turn if I do not heal them immediately and you also position your necro aggressively so that I have to choose a one path or the other. Hmm decisions…

Mz arches goes why thank you muchly and takes out the necro, heals up, and starts on the crystal with TWO gem tiles.

Drv: I didn’t really like the choices you offered me so I made up my own.

As I see it, I am in position for the win, and probably could have gotten away with this dive sooner had I not played it so passively. I figure my Knight and Mage combo on the bottom do not have long to live so I better take advantage of them while I still can and start in on the crystal. I don’t foresee any problems with this dive from anything currently in play so I go for it! I ko your necro, I highly doubt you will waste ap rezzing him at this point, knockback the bottom VM so he can’t stop my archer, move my top knight onto the boost tile (more to prep for the following turns attack and not this) and use my 2 remaining ap on your crystal for 1050 a shot.

I decide to take out the wiz and knight team first, but the writing's on the wall. Mz archer doesn't need both gem tiles to do the job. There's not much I can do at this point, but to play this out and cross my fingers...

Drv: Not much to say here, I left you with no real option other than KOing those 2 units or sacrifice other units to prolong the inevitable! =)

Drv: Again, not much to mention here, 750 750 750 750 750

Drv: I pop back up without bothering to heal and try to finish your crystal off, but believe it or not it lives with 70hps!
Yeah..... naaahh.....

So, good game DrvUMad! I hope that was a game well played!

Drv: GREAT GAME! I very much enjoy long thought out games however I am sorry that it did drag on as long as it did, 21 days is unusually long, even by my standards!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Puzzle time No.1!

Ok, I'm tired of working to put up those posts - here's a chance for you to have some fun and solve a puzzle! (answertopuzzlemaynotbeavailableinallstatesallrightsreservedofferinvalidwhereprohibited)

This is the scenario on the board. Your opponent only has 2 pots left in hand. What is the best move?

Scroll down to see what I did!

The VM takes 3 hits to kill (he's at 1050HP, but the answer remains the same at 1010HP, which is what you get with 1 pot and 2 items), so my opponent can only kill with ninja in 3 hits. I have a soulbomb, so if he doesn't stomp, I can revive and kill ninja next turn. If he killstomps and pots the ninja, he will not have any more clerics (which I think is his best option at this point). If he pots a cleric, my imp can hunt his ninja down  the next turn.

What do you think? :D

Monday, April 9, 2012

Cutting Corners: Not stomping

Hi everyone! I'm back from my vacation - you have no idea what hell is like until you go on holiday to a country without good 3G coverage. >.>

So anyway - cutting corners. I've heard in Starcraft that the way the game is played at high levels is "who can cut the most corners and still win". If you can get by with making one less Zealot, that's more resources you save, and so on.

Well, it's true in pretty much every game that you have to be as efficient as possible, and HA is no exception! So here's a mini-series on how to cut corners and take names in HA!

NOT STOMPING. That's.. that really crazy and out there. WHAT? Not stomp? And have them undo all the sweat your poured into killing that dang gunner?

Yes. Not stomping. Stomping is ingrained into every newbie to HA every time they forget, and a cleric waltzes in (or even just stands there, in the case of particularly forgetful newbies). So almost everyone learns to stomp stomp stomp. But stomping isn't really all that!

1. Dwarves.
This has always been a problem for the dwarves, so exploit that! Dwarves have no item that rezzes. So if there are no Paladins on the field, and the downed unit is more than 2 tiles away from the spawn, feel free not to stomp! (1AP to place the Paladin even if he has one in his hand, 2AP to move, 1AP rez, 1AP heal... and your killing unit is probably still in range, so go ahead and do him in again, stomp this time, and get ready to threaten a Paladin kill!)

2. Make the Cleric walk
The CL Cleric only has 2 move and 2 range, so if he needs to walk 4 tiles, that's 2 AP. Rez, 1AP, heal, 2AP. You just wasted all his AP moving his cleric! And you're probably in range to kill his unit again.

So, your opponent is as smart as you are, and doesn't take the bait (or doesn't have a cleric in range, or doesn't have a paladin in hand). You just saved 1 AP! And that's cutting corners. But contrariwise, cutting corners can sometimes backfire bigtime (oops, he had a pot, oops his Ninja is up again, oops, he teleported and healed up, DAMN). So if it's really important, and you don't wanna guess or you just wanna play it save, sure, go ahead and stomp. That's where skill comes in, knowing when you need to stomp and when you don't. But always think about it and keep that option in mind!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

One hit is better than two

Just a quick tip - think about why your attacking someone. Remember that 1 heal can heal 2 hits (approximately), so don't waste 5 ap wailing away if your opponent only needs to spend 2ap fixing up the damage - CL is especially good at this.

Think instead about damage as a set up - 1 hit now, so that you can threaten a killstomp the next turn. 1 hit from a vm to burst bunched up bubbles, potentially wasting 3 of your opponents earlier ap. 1 hit from a priestess to debuff and waste a beer, to set up for a kill next turn. Then use the rest of your ap to move into position to support your threat to killstomp.

The magic numbers are usually 1 and 3 hits - 2 hits is usually worth 1 heal, and 4 hits are usually worth 2 heals.

Corollary: clerics need to spend ap to move, too! So don't just count the heals - count the moves to get to the heals!