Sunday, February 17, 2013

East(DW) v West (CL) Team Game Replay

East v West Team Game

Hi all! This is a game long in the making, an epic game of East vs West, East taking dwarves and West taking council, lasting over 9 (?!) months and through a patch or two. Still, it’s done now, you, dear reader, get to take in all of the epicness. I was part of the game in the beginning, but as the epicness of this game grew, my ability to bear its epicness waned, and I dropped out midgame. So it’s like I’m seeing this afresh again!

It’s a Council (CL) vs Dwarves(DW) match, on the tribe map. Keep in mind that this is pre-patch (several, in fact!), so each of these crystals only have 3000 hp on them! Both CL and DW are strong teams, but in the months since, DW has come out as having the edge. Still, don’t count CL out!

Now the map as it was strongly favored crystal killing. Council in particular, if they had both gem tiles, could drop 2 infernoes at B7 or D7, using the inferno to hit 2 crystals at once, taking off two thirds of each crystal and almost 50% of the total crystal health. DW can’t do this, as their drill is a single target attack, but the gunner/grenadier can also hit 2 crystals at once with similar results.

Now CL is a very strong team, good at whatever it decides to do, whether crystal killing or unit killing, but is a very straightforward team. Your archers deal the damage, your knights soak the damage, and your clerics heal the damage - if you’re out of archers, your damage output is screwed, if you’re out of knights, you get really squishy, if you’re out of clerics, your have zip for healing. No weaknesses out of the box, but each unit fills a specific niche and not much else can replace it.

The DW on the other hand, are specialised at staying safe. Paladin aura, beer and bubbles meant that units take 1 or 2 extra AP to kill, and this generally results in DW staying clumped up near their paladins. If you can manage to take out DW’s paladins, then DW is crippled for the rest of the game (not much game left after that, really), but taking out a 1200HP (1100HP after the last patch) 30+/30+ resist unit is a tall order, even for the mighty ninja. =) Engineers are a surprising weak spot in the DW team - they’re generally squishy, as almost no DW will spend equipment on them, but at the same time, they provide the all important bubble. Without a bubble, DW loses the ability to resist massive burst damage. Similarly, if CL can take out the bubbles consistently, perhaps with splash damage, DW can slowly lose AP on each turn and end up being unable to keep up (e.g. too slow to keep up with deployment of units, too slow to deal with crystal damage and taking out of threatening units).

Now, I’m no master of either CL or DW, so I’m glad to have with me the players of the game itself, most of whom are ranked in the top 10 of the league, and the current and former #1, Trip. =D

Move 1
CL deploys knights at B1 and D1, and helms D1 knight

Trip: Uninspiring opening hand: 2 Knights, a Cleric, a helmet, an inferno, and a potion. Nothing much to do but get the Knights out there and hope for some offense…

Move 2
DW deploys a gunner, annihilator, and paladin. Not a bad draw - the annihilator debuff synergises well with the gunner, and keeping the gunner near the paladin will make it harder for CL to kill (CL needs 5AP instead of 4AP to kill with a 200 damage unit). Nevertheless, with 2 knights on the board, CL can’t credibly threaten DW at this early stage. If there was an archer on the board, things might be different!

Move 3
CL moves the knights up, deploys the cleric and spends more equipment on the knights. This is a bit of an old fashioned style play, with a helmed and shielded knight - it makes the knight nigh-unkillable, true, but so what - just dodge around the knight, or drop a drill on the sworded unit without the shield or helm, or lob a grenade over the head of the knight, and call it good. Still, you have to play what you get... =p

GreatGonzales(GG): At this point it is clear that West had a bad starting hand. Good news for East.

Trip: The offense we hoped for didn't arrive. Again, without the tools to mount a real offensive, West is forced to lie low and draw some tiles. We equip our Knights, get the Cleric out there, cross our fingers… and draw more items. Perhaps one of the worst Council opening racks I've encountered, but at least we didn't draw all three Clerics, right? ;p

Move 4
DW shields the annihilator, and moves up into the centre, as CL has nothing on the board to even threaten a knockout, much less a kill stomp. DW also rockets the middle crystal, dealing minor damage and knocking the knights out of position - now, any incoming unit is vulnerable to potshots from the annihilator.

Trip: East makes an aggressive center push here, recognizing that we are struggling with our draw.

Move 5
CL loses its mind, swords the knight, scrolls up and KOs the annihilator without stomping. AND leaves the sworded knight right next to the 300 damage gunner. If DW has a beer, he can move paladin up, rez, beer, and retreat, and then CL will have spent a scroll and a sword on a knight to force DW to spend a beer. Totally a bad trade.

Trip: Tough move. There was some support for dropping both infernoes, but we ended up going with Z3phyr's Crazy Knight Offensive, in the hopes that East didn't have a beer ready to crack open. If the Annihilator got beered, one plan was to proceed with Double Assault-boosted Double Infernos (Quad-ferno?), putting all our chips in on a crystal kill push. As it turned out, East was beerless and accepted the Knight (+3)/Annihilator (+1) trade.

Tabby: I was crazy against this move! It’s insane! Spending a scroll on just a +1 Anni? SWORDING THE KNIGHT? MADNESS!! Instead of this move, I was inclined to just take the top gem tile and drop the firebombs. Yes, we wouldn’t have gotten that massive 50% damage, but we could have cleared our hand and hoped for an archer or something. Now, with the benefit of hindsight and more experience with the CL matchup, I find that saving your infernoes to stomp archer-killed units might be worth more. Also, after the patch midway into the game, the crystals got a sizeable hp buff, so that move might have turned out bad after the patch.

Hamlet: This gambit is tough to swallow but you may have had no better option. Your predominant goal at this point is to churn tiles (a good point for people to take in--if you have a bad draw, you can’t spend a turn durdling around on the board to improve position, you have to dig). Right now potions can’t be used to any effect and fireballs really can’t either until about a turn from now when you could set up an assault tile offensive. So you can either be efficient and tile-swap, while still probably needing to Sword a Knight to have any presence on the board, or you can use the Scroll to make the only move that gains tempo. East has seen 11 total tiles so far and their chance of having a Beer (remembering Monty Hall: ) is 64%. So you are very likely using a Scroll for no material gain at all, which is painful to say the least. But you need time, and a +3 Knight takes effort and usually a consumable to bring down, so you’re going to delay him for at least two turns and have about ⅓ chance of getting the Annihilator off the board.

Move 6
DW spent a drill and a scroll to kill the +3 knight.

GG: A lot of discussion on this...but we decided to accept the trade and lose our precious annihilator. Very sad. But, still a pretty good trade for us. I think it was smart for West to sword the knight and scroll kill the annihilator, in light of their poor hand. They needed to stop our momentum and it worked.

Hamlet: I like this too. West’s previous hand clearly had no prospects and they’ve drawn only two tiles since then, so unless they pulled something like Archer/Sword, they may not be able to establish any map control if you move quickly. You can consider holding the scroll and KO’ing the Knight, even knowing that West probably has potions (because their hand had nothing deployable), but I’m in favor of bagging the +3 Knight permanently.

Move 7
CL deploys a cleric and moves it up, shields the knight (making it a +2 knight) and swaps the 2 potions.

Trip: And, with our two precious drawn tiles [ed. remember that CL spent a sword and a scroll the last turn, and so gets to draw 2 tiles to replace those 2 spent], we got… a Cleric and a shield. Ohhhhh boy. At this point, I didn't see too much hope for poor Team West. Still, we had to soldier on, so we debated our two main options: drop the infernoes, or turn tiles and ditch the potions. Without the benefit of double tile-boosted damage, we ended up hanging on to the fireballs and were finally rewarded with some offensive units!

Hamlet: Delaying and churning only two tiles got you no offense, and your makeshift attacker is gone, so you have no choice but to dig. As intended, after throwing something in East’s face to tie them up last turn, they’re not too threatening yet.

[No screenshot]
Move 8
Gunner retakes the gem tile, and DW deploys and advances a grenadier and an engineer.

Hamlet: Typical Dwarf development that had been delayed by one turn. I wonder if West thought the lack of swords was conspicuous.

Move 9
CL deploys and swords an archer, takes the gem tile with the knight, and gets the clerics out of the way.

Trip: Offense. At last. Still way behind on the development front, but at least we managed to get a real threat out on the board. The Cleric was moved to E3 as a kind of bait to try and tempt East into giving up initiative by attacking her, but they ended up making a mistake of another sort.

Hamlet: Note lack of map control here. Sworded archer has no upgrades and can’t even step off start tile without walking into a potential killstomp by a Drill. A patient Dwarf player here could use a turn to further set up upgrades on the forward units, and bubbles, and begin a push that you don’t yet have a great defense against.

Move 10
DW moves his top gunner forward, bubbles the grenedier and moves it forward, and shields the gunner. It looks like DW is intending to start killing CL’s crystals?

GG: This turn may have been the game-ending mistake in hindsight. Over-reach on our part.

Trip: I agree with GG that East probably pushed too far here. It just wasn't necessary to advance so far forward, especially when the on-board advantage was already so significant. The best way to get your off-balance enemy back into the game is to expose your neck right within his reach... ;)

Move 11
CL double fireballs the bottom 2 crystals and the gunner too, and uses the cleric to attack and stomp the shielded gunner. With this move, CL gets crystal damage and takes out a gunner and shield at the same time! Still, CL did spend both fireballs.

Trip: Not much debate on this one. We desperately needed some breathing room, and the infernoes were the best way to take it. They wouldn't be able to afford leaving the Cleric on that tile, allowing us some precious time to get more offense out.

Hamlet: Alternative is to use Archer to drop Grenadier and one Inferno to stomp. Your move is more aggressive and sets up a nice counter-threat, I just don’t know if it’s necessary to stop their slightly weak push. But I’m not an expert crystal-rusher, and maybe on the 3000HP version of this map you needed to drop the unit on the Assault Tile without delay. At any rate, it is a nice illustration of the principle that taking the Assault Tile cuts off a crystal rush very sharply.

[No Screenshot]
Move 12
DW kills the bottom cleric with the thorns and the bubbled grenadier, and stomps with the engineer.

Hamlet: Taking the Assault tile with the Engineer here is where your start to take this aggressive posture too far. I don’t normally like retreating, but since the remaining Gunner is going to be lost if you make this move (for little gain to you), better to retreat him to make the stomp.

Move 13
CL deploys and advances the ninja, KOs the forward gunner, and deploys a wizard. Remember that DW does not have any ranged revive - CL doesn’t need to stomp as the paladin is too far away and too weak to risk reviving the gunner, even if they had a beer. Also, just by looking at the board, you can see that CL is greatly more developed than DW - many more units and better equipped units, and DW doesn’t have any obvious way of delaying CL to give themselves enough time to get set up again. The classic DW play is to stay safe, always, to bubble up and deal damage by attrition. There’s no way to do that if all you have on the board is a half-dead paladin, a grenadier, and an engineer!

Trip: We decided that getting the ninja involved was crucial -- we needed the extra mobility and offensive threat, and KOing that over-advanced gunner was an added bonus.

[No Screenshot]
Move 14
DW moves the grenadier up and bombs the crap out of the cleric and surrounding units/crystals.

GG: We decided that the best option was to go balls-to-the-wall and deal a bunch of damage to the crystals, while also KOing the cleric (which they may not be able to rez, and as it turned out they did not). Important to note that this was back when crystal hp was 3000 on this map.

Hamlet: I think this was a clearer mistake than move 10. You’re not developed enough to put forth a credible crystal threat. West is going to reply in the obvious way (exactly what they did), and they’re one turn away from establishing full map dominance (with a move of Ninja move x2, one-shot Paladin, swap for +2 Knight, and advance Archer or stomp). I’ve harped on this point a bit about East being underdeveloped to play this aggressively, but I think the one of the informative narratives for readers is how West recovered from a bad position by playing for initiative. To have a good position you need to not only have more stuff than your opponent, but to spend the AP required to deploy, advance, and equip it. See my comment on the next screenshot for an evaluation of this position.

Move 15
CL kills the grenadier with the ninja and stomps with the wizard.

Trip: General agreement on Team West that taking out the grenadier was a priority. From that position there was no way we'd win a crystal race. With two Clerics down, West's prospects for winning a long game seemed slim at this point, so we were still angling for setting up some crystal damage with the wizard and ninja.

Hamlet: As of the position in the above screenshot, West is down some valuable material (a scroll, a sword, both fireballs, and 2 clerics) and has done less crystal damage. But their on-board position represents 12 AP worth of time invested (9 deploying/moving, 3 equipping). East has 3 (5 deploying/moving, -2 for damaged Paladin that has to be healed off*). East is essentially behind by two turns of tempo with nothing to show for it except for a few holes in West’s reinforcements that they might be able to exploit.

*As it turns out, the Paladin never gets healed off this game; she eventually gets dropped by 2 Archer shots much later in the game. In this way the partial damage on her is still an on-board asset for West.

[No Screenshot]
Move 16
DW deploys a grenadier, moves up and uses a scroll to kill (but not stomp) the Ninja.

GG: We bluffed that we had a pally ready to spawn on B9 when we didn't

Hamlet: This stops the Ninja from running amok (even if he Potions the Ninja, charges and KO’s the Pally, and swaps him away, the Ninja has 100 HP and can be killed easily). It destabilizes West’s position and requires them to trade away a potion and ninja just to be able to stomp your Grenadier.

Move 17
CL pots the ninja to rez, attacks and stomps the grenadier.

GG: They took the bait! At this turn I begin to have a slight hope of victory. (I had been despairing our chances for most of this game).

At this point in the game:

Ninja has 100 HP.
Our center crystal has 1740.
Paladin has 370.
Our bottom crystal has 1740.
Their knight has 830.
Their top crystal has 1760.
Their center crystal has 280.
Their wizard has 80.

Tabby: What I don’t understand is, why didn’t CL just deploy the cleric, heal up the ninja and retreat? It’s already a material advantage to have gotten DW to waste a scroll, why spend a pot and a ninja just to stomp a grenadier? Is it because of the crystal threat?

Hamlet: I think so. If West plays Deploy Cleric, move, revive, heal, retreat ninja: East advances Grenadier from B7 to B5 and attacks Cleric 4 times. That would KO Cleric (itself a big problem, as it’s the last one), destroy middle crystal, and reduce top crystal to 520 HP.

Trip: Ballsy move by East, but they were rapidly running out of firepower here… At this point I had decided that a crystal kill was unlikely for the dwarves. It's interesting, though -- West never discussed the possibility of East having another healer in hand, one way or the other. Would it have made much difference either way? That grenadier needed to go, and stomping appeared to be a necessity no matter what. (Note: This is also right about when Aratribal began composing dramatic interpretations of the unfolding battle...)

DRAMA: Blessed with the elixir of the fallen samurai, ninja is raised from the dead
Heavily wounded, he slowly moves towards the one-eyed pirate
His swords cut through the dwarf’s flesh like through butter

Move 18
DW deploys a gunner, shoots and stomps the 100hp ninja, and takes out the wizard with the barbed crystal. DW also helms the paladin, even though it's not at full hp.

Hamlet: The scroll play worked; initiative is balanced again or slightly in the East. Only slightly--the unupgraded gunner doesn’t threaten anything, but it zones out the Archer slightly (combined with the threat of a Drill).

Move 19
CL helms the sworded archer, moves her to the helm tile, and KOs the engineer on the gem tile.

Trip: East moved as we expected, and we wanted to keep them reacting. Primary targets were now the East's last two offensive units: the deployed Gunner and the Grenadier still in their deck. KOing the Engineer seemed like a good way to keep East on their toes and off of the assault boost tiles. We recognized the possibility of a Gunner/Drill attack, but decided that it was a fair trade.

Hamlet: We’re thinking alike that keeping tempo is important, and aggressive play keeps you ahead. I was initially not happy with this play, and probably would have ruled it out for myself, simply because I would not have been so sanguine about advancing an upgraded Archer into an obvious Drill KO (especially when a Cleric will soon be available to prevent a simple KO threat). In particular, DW’s main goal with Drills is to use them to drop sworded units, so you try not to let them have that exchange easily. But after seeing the line of play carry through, I actually like it (see next move). You could have advanced the Archer to E3 instead, requiring the Gunner to walk into slightly more certain death to execute a Drill KO.

DRAMA: Archer puts a hat on, and council immediately gains a huge lead in style points
Archer picks a spot with a strange helm drawn on the ground, and her hat starts glowing (there’s no recovery from this many style points now)
Archer releases an arrow to engineers knee
Second arrow strikes engineer’s chest through the left 6th intercostal space along the anterior axillary line, barely missing the heart
Engineer falls face forward, breaking the goggles
Archer adjusts her hat

Move 20
DW advances the gunner and KOs the sworded helmed archer with a drill.

Hamlet: Taking what’s given to them, really. Continuing the above comment--the key here is that East is very unlikely to safely extract this Gunner (although probably slightly easier if it had been advanced to E5 instead of D4). So the trade is really a +2 Archer for Engineer, Gunner, and Drill. Normally I wouldn’t like the Sword for Drill like I mentioned, but there’s a conflux of things that make it favorable here. 1) It’s their second Drill, and West only has one Cleric left. One of West’s major exploitable weaknesses, that their last Cleric could be picked off by a Drill, is gone. 2) One of East’s main advantages is having 3 remaining Swords, but after losing the Gunner they will have only one offensive unit left. So in a somewhat unique situation, a factor West can play for here is starving them out of Sword targets.

Move 21
CL deploys another archer and swords her, and KOs the gunner.

GG: Unfortunate that West had such a strong hand for this turn. But not unexpected, given their early draw trouble. That is our last gunner. Bad news if we lose it.

Trip: Time to put some heat on that crucial Gunner! We were somewhat torn between attacking with the archer for the KO and attacking with the Knight + Thorns for the stomp, but we ended up deciding that forcing East to play the healing game while we redeployed was the best way to keep them on their heels.

Hamlet: That Gunner was never going to escape with his life, given the two Archers still in the deck. I think the KO play is right, since there’s no practical way to revive him and escape. As we’ll see below, East tries to do it anyway and it gets them into worse trouble.

DRAMA: Little did the gunner know that killing the archer would immediately summon her twin sisters
Equipped with a composite bow and seeking revenge, one of them quickly released the first arrow. It barely scratched the gunner, who carelessly withdrew from defensive stance with a smirk on his face
On the second shot archers aim was true. Her arrow pierced gunner’s abdominal wall, ripped through the internal organs and lodged In the left renal vein
Gunner collapsed in agonizing pain. Field surgery with alcohol anesthesia may be his best hope.

Move 22
DW rezzes the gunner and beers him to get him to full health (and 3AP to kill for a sworded archer).

Hamlet: Maybe the Beer was a false sense of security, making it feel like an advance/revive/retreat play was somehow viable. But even with no added plays from hand, the Archer can just pluck away. East’s lack of Scrolls or Drills is crucial here--East can’t win a back-and-forth KO tempo battle without the threat of using one of those to revive and killstomp. Long story short, any attempt to revive the Gunner digs a deeper hole. This move ultimately gives West initiative from which you never recover.

Move 23
Sworded archer moves forward, kills the gunner again, and gets 1 shot off at the pally.

Trip: Not much debate here -- we all agreed that we had to keep the pressure on that Gunner.

DRAMA: Seeing gunner get drunk and jolly, the archer advances (D3)
Her Korean mother wtf-owned the archery at the olympics, but our archer never made it
It was time to shine
Three arrows hit gunner exactly where she wanted, with the third one pushing gunners left eye into his brain
Her next shot was aimed at the stocky Scandinavian lady
And yet again archer’s aim was true – her next shot pierced pally’s armor and her left chest wall, with the tip of the arrowhead nicking the pericardial sac
Thank god for that adipose tissue – pally would have been dead

Move 24
DW rezzes the gunner again, and heals once. Gunner and pally both retreat, and DW bubbles the gunner.

Hamlet: Another attempt at saving the Gunner, but from a worse starting situation, so guaranteed to be futile, and now the Paladin is going to drop as well.

Taking stock of this game, East has to consider its assets. If this Archer can be brought down, West’s remaining army is shaky. Their only remaining offensive assets are two Wizards and an Archer, none with upgrades, and East still has three helms in the game. In contrast, West as no helms except for what’s currently on the Knight, and East can make a +3 Grenadier with bubble and Paladin support. The lack of upgrades left in the West means an offensive Paladin might help out in the endgame as well. It’s a long shot because it all hinges on bringing down that Archer without losing too much, but it was basically the only route to victory. I think that after the attempts to save the Gunner it is too late--board presence has swung too far in West’s favor with the Paladin on the ground and the Archer advanced to midfield. I think developing as much as possible on turns 22 and 24 would have been the only hope.

Move 25
Archer moves forward to KO gunner and paladin.

GG: So a few things to notice:
1. They still have a scroll left (the only time they used a scroll was to KO our annihilator very early on as far as I can tell. I had to go back through the events to figure out whether they used a scroll or not, but I’m pretty sure they only played the 1. If someone thinks otherwise I can check again.)
2. That unconscious gunner is our last gunner, and after him we only have that grenadier for good offense
3. We are ahead in cards, but counting power already on the field we are about even with them, especially since they have 2 archers still.
4. They are out of fireballs
5. We are out of drills/scrolls
6. They still have a potion

Trip: Big opportunity here -- there was a sense of confidence on the West forums for the first time all game. (GG: I find this interesting! I thought that West had the advantage for the last 60% of this match.) East was backed up and unable to muster any meaningful offense, and was faced with more healing needs than they could handle easily.

DRAMA: The archer joyfully advances 2 squares forward to the regrouping enemy
Pew-pew-pew and the moustache man is stripped of his soap bubble protection
Pew-pew-pew below the waist, and he is stripped of half of his dignity
Pew-pew-pew to the other half. This is just too much and gunner collapses
Lastly, a shot for his bulky field surgeon. The arrow hits her belly, passes through a loop of the small intestine and cuts the big red blood vessel right next to the spine. Pally’s abdomen fills with blood in seconds. Heart has nothing to pump, and pally faints, to die in the next minute or so.

Move 26
Engineer clears the deploy tile and stomps her own paladin, but a new paladin is deployed, and rezzes and heals the gunner again, and the engineer bubbles again as well.

GG: This requires 4 AP to stomp gunner, and 1 to retreat, and since we have the engineer at d8 we could potentially pursue and move, attack x4 to KO. But of course, they probably have a potion in their hand, and so we’re still probably screwed in that case. But it may give us some options for bringing out the grenadier and KOing her a second time in 2 turns from now, after which they may not be able to rez her so easily.

Move 27
They shot 3 times, stomped gunner, retreated. So, yeah… What we hoped they would not do.

GG: Their remaining items:knight, wizard x2, cleric, shield, potion, scroll
our remaining items:sword x3, shield, helmx2, paladin, grenadier, engineer, beer

Trip: I pally down, and the Gunner ripe for the plucking. Again, very little debate here -- we knew that we needed that Gunner to be gone, and the potion in hand was a nice little insurance policy for Engineer aggression.

Hamlet: I was slightly wrong in that I didn’t think the Gunner would last even this long. But my point was borne out--attempts to save him were far too costly, and he still died without accomplishing anything.

DRAMA: Guenevere exhaled slowly, watching her condensed breath drift eastward in the cool morning air. A very slight tailwind — that was a good sign. She checked the status of her target, the bearded man whose explosive trickery had taken the life of her sister just a few days earlier. He hadn’t moved, no doubt still recovering from the wounds sustained in their countless games of cat-and-mouse. Dwarven magic had saved him from his fate several times before, but now he was cornered, with nowhere to run and nothing to shield him from Guenevere’s long-planned vengeance.

It had come so suddenly, his attack. A blast from the fiery, mysterious weapon his kind always carried, a sudden rush of sparks and steel — a staple of Dwarven magic — and her sister had fallen. With no healer in range, and no supplies left in her pouch, she had died alone under the shadow of an enormous thorned crystal as the bearded man slunk back into the shadows. There had been no time for mourning; immediately the order to initiate a counterstrike had gone forth, and Guenevere had gladly — desperately — volunteered.

Dropping from the branches of her small tree, Guenevere grabbed her weapons and rolled to her feet in one fluid motion. Stretching her fingers she nocked an arrow into her bow, which sparkled and glimmered in dawn’s faint light. The Dwarven gunner still sat motionless, unaware of Guenevere’s focused gaze; unaware that these few moments were to be his last. With practiced ease, the archer drew back her arrow, checked the wind once more, and let fly, immediately replacing the arrow with a second from her quiver. Loosing the second one right behind the first, Guenevere wasted no time, shouldering her bow, unsheathing her knife and sprinting forward. This time, she would not allow Dwarven magic to thwart her sworn mission.

Arriving at the Dwarf’s camp within moments, Guenevere saw immediately that her aim had been true — both arrows sprouted obscenely from the gunner’s gut, and he lay writhing on his bedding. Without a moment’s hesitation, she leaped upon him, slitting his throat with a guttural cry. For Megan. This one was for Megan.

A single tear rolling down her cheek, Guenevere raced back toward home, already hearing shouts as the remaining Dwarven forces mobilized behind her. This wasn’t over, she knew. But at least it was for one of them.

Move 28
DW swords the engineer, advances and KOs the archer.

GG: I know that some forum people thought it was strange for East to have a runemetal’d engineer. Well, I hope you understand why we did it now! We needed to force West to retreat their archer - using their last potion to do so - and prevent them from dealing massive crystal damage.

Hamlet: The right play here. Driving them back is all you can do. Given the time the Archer has to waste retreating, you have one more chance to develop your pieces while West regroups, but you’ve lost a Paladin now.

Trip: East joins into the game of prose!

DRAMA: After a *very* extended pep talk, Flower, the gawky young engineer was given a gold wrench and reluctantly stepped forth to battle. Ignoring the pee dribbling down her leg, she swung her mighty wrench. As the blood began to fly, she gained confidence, swinging again and again until the smug faced human archer was lying on the ground, covered in blood with teeth scattered all over the battlefield. The Dwarven crew began singing a mocking song, anticipating that the supposedly mighty archer would lack the courage to stand and fight little Flower and instead try and run away to taunts, hoots, derision and the throwing of objects.

Move 29
CL uses a potion to rez the KOed archer, KOs the sworded engineer, and retreats behind the middle crystal.

GG: Pretty the best move they could have done, not surprising.
Reminders of what people have: They have: Knight, 2 wizards, cleric, shield, scroll

Move 30
DW swords the pally, rezzes and heals the enginner, and brings out the last grenadier.

GG: We have: 2 swords, shield, 2 helmets, pally, grenadier, engineer, beer

Move 31
CL advances the archer and brings out the cleric, and deploys the wizard.

GG: They have 4 items remaining: knight, wizard, shield, scroll

Trip: The final pieces started coming into play. Our #1 goal here was to take out that last Grenadier! Of course, the reality of how hard that would be was starting to sink in… My thoughts at the time:
- Crystal Kill is no longer a realistic goal/threat. This is partly due to dwindling forces, and partly due to beefed up crystal with the last patch. That grenadier is our top priority.
- I think the armor simply has to go on the runemetal archer. She’s our primary damage dealer, and must be kept alive. (At least until the grenadier goes down.) The wizard would be resilient if armored, but so what? Against pallys and gear, his attack will be largely ignorable. I’d rather see him used for disposable shield removal/harassment, and as setup for our archers.

Hamlet: With West ahead in deployment and with the Archer still alive, this game is mostly over. With a scroll still in hand and a few unupgraded Wizards to use for cannon fodder and/or sacrificial stomping, East shouldn’t have a way to finesse a +3 Grenadier into a surprise victory. Their only hope is to rush in and drop the Cleric (West has no reviving ability left) leaving West helpless in a final toe-to-toe showdown. But two Archers against 4 melee attackers, West might even be able to power through it with no heals. Still, as East, my only remaining play would be to try to make that happen.

Move 32
DW advances the grenadier, swords him, and brings out the other engineer.
Grenadier to D7
Deploy engineer at D9
Sword grenadier
D6 engineer moves to E7
E7 engineer bubbles grenadier

GG: In which we make an error in bubbling with E7 engineer rather than E9 engineer. I blame myself for the error, though it is worth noting that at this point of the process there was not a lot of participation in team discussions, and so this turn was rushed out the door in order to avoid an auto-forfeit.

Move 33
CL advances the sworded archer, KOs the engineer (removing the bubble from grenadier), and shields the archer.

GG: FYI: 4 hits to KO archer with grenadier
3 hits with grenadier and pally adjacent does not KO archer
3 hits with rez’d engineer does not KO archer

Trip: Key moment, and a good example of how tiny decisions can have major consequences. I didn't even ask Aratribal which Engineer had done the bubbling, since I was so sure they would have picked the safe one. As soon as Ara reported that East might have made a mistake, I knew what it was, though! This was in essence a donated AP, since we were able to take out the shield without needing to waste an attack on it directly.

Move 34
DW rezzes the KOed engineer and retreats, while bubbling and shielding the grenadier, and moving it up.

GG: We are able to rescue the engineer who perished due to our bubbling blunder. But at loss of tempo.

Move 35
The wiz moves forward, takes 2 shots at the centre crystal (popping the bubble, dealing a bit of damage to the grenadier and the top crystal, and moves down to block for the archer. And taunts.

GG: Important hp numbers: Grenadier: 730 hp; Top crystal: 3940 hp; Center crystal: 1630 hp; Bottom crystal: 2610 hp

Trip: Lots of discussion again. The aim here was to start harassing their crystals while keeping the grenadier unshielded.

Hamlet: This is the only time in the whole game that something was attacked by a Wizard.

Move 36
Grenadier moves down, KOs the wizard, and gets bubbled.

GG: Critical moment for us. Looking ahead, I did not see a path to victory with the archer and wizard in play. West smartly set themselves up to get a slow march to crystal kill via wizard harass, and we would not be able to stop them or risk losing our precious grenadier. Seeing an opportunity to get what was probably the best trade possible for our grenadier, I recommended that we take the trade. [ed. note - the grenadier can be scrollkilled and stomped by the archer from this position.]

But, in doing so we basically gave up our last hope of winning this game.

Move 37
Archer moves up, breaks the bubble, and scrollkills and stomps the grenadier.

Trip: East called us out -- no decent response here except to accept the trade. Two more major units off the board!

Hamlet: West finally does simply trade the Archer (and a Wizard) for the +3 Grenadier, leaving them safely ahead in a slow endgame. East has no threats left. With the Cleric remaining safely on her starting square ever since my last comment, they never had the chance to try an all-in play that involved KOing her.

GG: I think it’s important to note that though losing the grenadier is a tough pill to swallow, West essentially forced the trade, or otherwise promised to force it in the future. I saw this opportunity as the maximally great chance for East to slow the progress of West (who could have slow marched to crystal kill unless we sacrificed the grenadier) and got what was probably the best trade that could be expected.

Move 38
Pally KOs the archer in 2 hits, moves up, and the engineer moves up and bubbles the top crystal.

GG: Leaving the archer un-stomped was a calculated risk.

Move 39
CL moves the cleric to the top, advances the archer, and deploys and advances the wiz.

GG: I am interested to see if they considered this:
Guys I thought of something. This is actually something I considered, but ultimately dismissed…but now just realized that maybe it is a problem. What if they respond with:
Cleric to C6 (3 AP)
Rez Archer
Heal Archer
Now, we require all 5 AP to kill/stomp the archer. I think we have to, or face crystal rush doom. Maybe I’m wrong on that point, and we should actually KO the cleric – but let’s say I’m not, and we kill archer, stomp with D9 engineer. Then:
Cleric moves to C8
Cleric attacks D8 engineer to KO
Cleric stomps d8 engineer
Cleric moves to D4 (2 AP)
Now, we can retaliate with our D7 engineer. Move and attack x4 to KO. But then, they will surely KO that engineer at D5 with the archer, leaving us with only 2 units, the 2 paladins (unless we are able to save the engineer, which we may be able to do). What do you think? Would this be a good move for them? Would certainly make for an interesting game. :)

...BUT they did not do this, as you can see.

Trip: Tooooons of discussion on this one, including every possible means of healing the archer. =) In the end we decided that giving up that last Cleric was too big a sacrifice to make without a sure path to victory. The long game now favored West, thanks to the East's loss of ranged damage-dealers, but losing the ability to heal would have dramatically increased the ability of West to threaten East's crystals if necessary. With the Cleric I felt that we could still force a stalemate if necessary, but still have a chance to whittle down East's crystals for the win.

Move 40
DW deploys the last paladin, heals the engineer, helms the engineer and bubbles the bottom crystal.

GG: FYI they have only 1 reinforcement remaining: a knight.

Move 41
CL moves the knights in front to block all possible attacks (from the all-melee team of DW) and hides the wizard behind the crystal.

Trip: Setting up a secure fortress up top and preparing for wizard harassment… ;)

Move 42
East resigns

GG: At this point, I’m not sure how to improve our position in a dramatic way. We are at the point in the game where there aren’t big moves anymore, only small ones. I was toying with this idea:

C8 pally moves to C4 (2 AP)

Pally hits mid crystal x1
C4 pally returns to C8

Call me crazy. That’s the sort of thing I’m thinking at this point…there’s just no justifying an offensive move right now where we will only be vulnerable. I toyed with the idea of taking the assault tile with an engineer, but then – what are we going to assault? And how? We just need to hunker down and hope to pick them off, or otherwise make the game unwinnable for them. I am also considering:

D9 engineer bubbles mid crystal (unbubbling bottom)

D9 engineer moves to C9
D8 engineer moves to D7
Helm something?

And end turn. Because I don’t know what to do with the last AP. This is the move I was favoring.

I think there is some chance that we would be able to secure a stalemate in the eventuality where we only have our bottom crystal remaining, and we are able to stomp the wizard (sacrificing an engineer most likely). But I have serious doubts that West would allow this; they are simply too smart over there. I don’t think they will make a mistake; looking at the last few turns, they’ve been playing very carefully. As long as they keep that up, they would win eventually, just after a long while. Smart, safe use of their wizard, while protecting cleric through use of archer threat, will virtually guarantee a win for West. Thus we forfeited the match, out of respect for our opponents.

Hamlet: this was a very close game; nearly any added asset remaining in East’s hands would have given them a chance at the end. Interesting that it came down to attrition after all the talk about initiative during the game. A lot of people are focusing on the aggressive play on turn 10, but I think that in itself wasn’t disastrous. In fact, if they had backed off immediately after that turn and West’s arguable overreaction to it, they would have been down only a Gunner in exchange for a Cleric and both Infernos. Pushing it on turns 12 and 14 when it was clearly not going to amount to anything was more of a problem. Overall I think the story of this game is East’s inability to get their pieces developed. They rarely had more than 3 units on the board at once. They first drew a sword on turn 10, but didn’t equip it to anything until turn 28.


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  2. Above comments were deleted to fix a typo and so that they can be consolidated into a single comment.
    Hmm, on Move20, why did the DW not move the Gunner to E6 rather than considering D4/E5? Those two positions would put the gunner in range of the thorns.

    I had initially thought of what you might have been thinking at the time, and I came up with the response "The Gunner was in melee range of potential positions of where the CL Healer might go to heal the Archer. Or to simply prevent Archer from retaliating from the first AP up." But if so, then E5 would've been more ideal than D4, where two Thorns could reach and attack the Gunner for 600HP.

    E6 for DW would accomplish the same purpose if all you wanted to do was to KO the Archer, and E5 would be perfect for preventing first AP retaliation from the Archer?

    Extra note: I mean prevent an _effective_ retaliation on first AP up from the Archer, since the dmg done by Archers at melee range is not what the situation would call for.

    I also meant to make a note and refrained from doing so, but since it now relates: E5 would also give a single 300dmg Thorn attack. It'd take 3 AP for Healer to reach and rez the KO'd Archer, leaving 2AP left for CL to use.

    But at that point,.... CL would have three options.
    1)Heal up the Archer with 1AP and walk away with remaining 1AP. -- This wouldn't work, since any walking distance will be covered by Gunner and stomped by DW regardless.
    2)Heal up Archer to full HP with 2AP. -- Gunner promptly kills archer next turn and walks.
    3)Run the Archer to behind the bottom left crystal. -- Gunner could follow and then execute a trade with Archer and even get one shot off at the CL Healer. Or simply trade himself and take out the Healer. I do believe it's the CL's last Healer. And then turn the game into a turtling game with the DW Grenadier.

    Since none of those options would be very good for CL, they'd probably just do what they did anyways: pop out an Archer and go for the Gunner. But then if the DW Gunner was located at E5 or E6, the CL Archer would have a much harder time reaching him... 2AP or 3AP respectively. If anything, DW would be able to bait the Archer out, or at least have an easier time to heal up the downed Gunner...

  3. Truly, I have no idea. =p I think either D5 or E5 would have been better than D4, too. But the result would probably be the same in the end, maybe a 1 AP advantage at most.