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Thread: Slimsy's Compact Guide to Factions Strategy

  1. #1
    Backer Slimsy Platypus's Avatar
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    Slimsy's Compact Guide to Factions Strategy

    I. Why Did I just Win That Game? / Why Did I just Lose That Game?
    II. Turn Advantage: What is it, Why is it Important, and How do I use it?
    III. Building a Team: The How To Pocket Guide


    Disclaimer: I am in no way the best player of this game, nor have I mastered it. It isn’t even uncommon for me to lose a match to embarrassing extents with more than half my opponent’s team remaining. I however have played this game religiously for months and often notice newer players making some mistakes that I think I might be able to help out with. So patience willing, bear with me and read through what I’ve put together to act as a compact and concise guide to getting you started in your epic Viking journey to melt faces.

    I. Why Did I just Win That Game? / Why Did I just Lose That Game?

    When I first started playing it was very difficult for me to grasp what I was doing right and what I was doing wrong. It definitely isn’t always intuitive as to why a match ended the way it did. This aspect of Factions inspired me to spend many matches focusing in on that exact question: why did that match play out the way it did? The following will sound very obvious once you see it, but the process of me learning this was not intuitive at all. Here’s my take on why you win matches (Slimsy’s Three Commandments):

    Slimsy’s First Commandment: You do more effective damage (STR or ARM) than you opponent
    Slimsy’s Second Commandment: You do the same effective damage as your opponent but have a larger pool of STR and ARM on your units
    Slimsy’s Third Commandment: You do the same effective damage as your opponent, but yours was mostly STR while your opponent’s was mostly ARM

    I know this sounds simple, but understanding these key concepts is the first step in being sure you utilize your turns most efficiently. Consider the following scenarios:

    Example 1: I can either do 8 STR damage to a Backbiter with my Skystriker, or prevent a Warmaster from doing 12 STR damage with Rain of Arrows
    Example 2: I can do 5 STR damage with my Strongarm, or I can do 2 ARM damage and put my opponent’s Varl out of range preventing 8 STR damage
    Example 3: I can use willpower to do 6 ARM damage to a Backbiter, or do 4 STR damage reducing his damage next turn

    In a vacuum each of these examples has a correct choice. Be sure to consider your opponent’s upcoming turns and the positioning on the board. Whatever choice results in a net advantage in the First or Third Commandments is correct.

    II. Turn Advantage: What is it, Why is it Important, and How do I use it?

    Turn advantage (simplified to the most basic extent) is the ability to use your turns to attack more than your opponent does. If you attacked during 15 of the turns within the match, but your opponent was only able to attack during 10 of them, you probably had a significant advantage. Consider the number of turns you use versus the number of turns your opponent uses as direct turn advantage. Having heaps of direct turn advantage causes you to do more effective damage than your opponent and will cause you to win the match (Slimsy’s First Commandment!) Here are the easiest ways to ensure you can generate some direct turn advantage:

    • When choosing a unit to attack, choose one that is out of range of your opponent’s other upcoming units
    • Move into positions while attacking so that your opponent can only choose one of their units to hit you (rather than being able to hit you from multiple sides with more than one)
    • Prior to the match, be sure your unit’s turn order does not cause you to waste their turns (for example don’t let your archers take their first turn prior to something to move in front of them)
    • When positioning your units at the start of a match, don’t put units in the back who take their turns before units in the front

    Indirect Turn Advantage can be considered more of a subtle art and could potentially be discussed to depth in never-ending circles. Indirect turn advantage is the advantage you get from doing things that might cause you to have to waste a turn, but will prevent your opponent from doing something very good. For instance, wasting your Provoker’s turn to Malice a unit that would otherwise kill an archer is a perfect example of indirect turn advantage. You “waste” your turn to use the ability, but it results in your opponent to effectively “waste” their turn which would have been better than if you attacked with your Provoker. Alternatively, indirect turn advantage can be generated by limiting what your opponent can do or by doing things more quickly than your opponent can. Here are some examples of indirect turn advantage:

    • Using a Skystriker’s Rain of Arrows to prevent your opponent from doing something very good
    • Forcing a unit out of attack range with a Strongarm’s Battering Ram
    • Using a Provoker’s Malice to prevent your opponent from doing something very good
    • Killing units that have armor remaining (contrary to your opponent having to armor break prior to killing)
    • Maiming targets rather than killing them (leaving them to take very ineffective turns)
    • Using a Warleader’s Forge Ahead to allow a unit to do something very good prior to your opponent preventing it

    Indirect turn advantage is what makes it very difficult to determine why you won or lost a match. Mastering the ability to use your turns more effectively than your opponent (based on the complex decisions you make) is how you promote yourself from a new player to a seasoned veteran.

    III. Building a Team: The How To Pocket Guide

    Now that we know how to and why we win, we are ready to build a team to do so. Is your team going to blow out opponents by capitalizing on high STR hits from Puncture and a late game Varl (and winning via Slimsy’s First Commandment!)? Are you going to build up a strong defense, and remain effective into the late game while your opponent peters off (and winning via Slimsy’s Second Commandment!)? Or are you just going to go over the top with high STR hits while not letting your opponent recover from the initial bang of your opener (and winning via Slimsy’s Third Commandment!)? Regardless, it’s good to start with a cohesive plan.

    After you know how you want to win, choose which units will best support that. A high strength opener is best supported by two Warriors, while a more balanced approach will typically use one Shieldbanger and one Warrior. Keep in mind that playing two archers (or more) will require a very carefully played positional game, as some matches will be very difficult to protect them (so if you are just starting out it might be easier to play with only one archer!). If you are depending on a Shieldbanger in your strategy, be sure to have a way to prevent archers from beating him to death with Puncture (Backbiters and Bowmasters are great choices!).

    When placing your stats in your units be sure they complement their role; generally units that hit first need high strength, and units that get hit first need higher armor. If you want a Raider to hit really hard in Turn Cycle 2, try playing him with 11 ARM and 9 STR. If you want to initiate with a large bang, pump their STR up to 12 but make sure you get a hit in with them before your opponent can knock off some STR. The best players typically do 4-5 effective damage each time they attack during the first two turn cycles (or more). Be sure your team can either defend against that and recover, or keep up!

    Prior to going to battle make sure everything in your build makes sense. Do not overlook the importance of turn order. It is uncommon for units to engage in the middle of a player’s turn order, so make sure the progression from left to right makes sense. Typically, the first three of your units should have a way to armor break (and have exertion) in the event a high STR and ARM Shieldbanger approaches first. Adapt and learn. Is there one unit type that seems to always be effective against you? Rather than going back to the drawing board, just move your Skystriker up in the turn order to prevent your vice from being effective (for example).



    Thanks guys for bearing with me through this mini-guide. The intent was to provide something dense enough that it could be easily read in a single sitting. I truly hope this will help some people progress in Factions. Please feel free to comment on something you may disagree with, or just speak up to spark a discussion! I always love to chat about this game and will be making adjustments accordingly.

    And as a final note, my gamer tag is Bold Brendan and I look forward to seeing you in battle! Feel free to friend me, fight me, or curse my name! For Strand!
    Last edited by Slimsy Platypus; 02-26-2013 at 11:37 PM.

  2. #2
    Junior Member eAZy's Avatar
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    Haven't read it all yet, just skimmed. Looks awesome! I'll add some real comments in a bit.

  3. #3
    Great guide. Solid theorycrafting on what leads to the best possible decision given the variables in play. Thanks for posting

  4. #4
    Great guide! That's a lot of stuff I've never thought about before. My brain overloaded, so I couldn't manage it in one sitting ; I don't know how new players will fare.

    I don't really understand this point:
    Quote Originally Posted by Slimsy Platypus View Post
    It is uncommon for units to engage in the middle of a player’s turn order, so make sure the progression from left to right makes sense. Typically, the first three of your units should have a way to armor break (and have exertion) in the event a high STR and ARM Shieldbanger approaches first.
    If everyone does put breakers first, is there no countervailing benefit from having an offbeat turn order that makes a good response to that? It seems like you should be able to turtle for part of the first round (say, three units/turns) before making the first aggressive move, effectively making that turn the start of the round. I dunno; this is just hypothetical, but the fact that turns are on a loop (instead of in formal rounds) leads me to think that there isn't an optimal left-to-right for the initiative order (unless you're working with a team that's designed for hitting hard in the first round, or something like that).

    By the way, I'd be curious to see your thoughts on Willpower-management in this guide as well, provided it fits in with the very compact "why you win > how to win in battle > how to win before battle" structure...?

  5. #5
    Backer stoicmom's Avatar
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    Way to go, Bold Slimsy, and thanks!

  6. #6
    Junior Member LegendOfMosef's Avatar
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    New player here; read your guide in its entirety and it's a very good primer. Kudos on the work you did, it'll be some time before I'm at your level but may we face each other in battle someday!

  7. #7
    Very nice read, good job! Will definitely send my frieds this way as a first-contact guide for advanced play

    To add to the discussion: having the first three units in the initiative to do armour damage and than having the other three do damage is a one way forward and definitely works.

    Another way I like to experiment is to have units paired up: for example the 1st, 3rd and 5th in the initiative break and the rest do damage, that way you could potentially initiate combat at 3 good positions during your initiative causing your enemy to retaliate with his attackers before his breakers had a chance to move. This can also lead to maiming units in successive turns (like break with RM for 4-5 and run through with BB next turn).

  8. #8
    Junior Member eAZy's Avatar
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    Great stuff Slim, you really helped me organize my thoughts and experiences into coherent reasons for why I win or lose games.

    One of the most important things I learned after quite a bit of time playing is that this game really comes down to numbers as you said. The team with more overall armour and strength generally wins. Of course, this is assuming they can actually USE that strength: if a unit is effectively blocked or too far out of the battlefield then things change.

    Personally, mainly because the top players understand the idea of who to damage and when, I've started employing more things that disrupt their plans. Things like Warleaders, Skystrikers, Provokers, and Strongarms will only get stronger as the game evolves. It's very hard to account for what a Warleader or Provoker will do, and these "intangibles" can mess with even the best of players.

    Perhaps you can touch on this idea and give your insight on it in the future.

  9. #9
    Backer Slimsy Platypus's Avatar
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    Wow, I'm so glad to see the positive responses!

    Piotras and Franknarf you're absolutely correct regarding the turn order. That was a bit of an oversight on my part. I definately agree that your description of maintaining a logical order with paired units throughout your initiative order is certainly sound; I've made many rosters operate in just that fashion.

    The point I was attempting to make is that in the most frequent case (from my experience), when each player's units reached eachother, it generally is at the front of the turn order. So knowning this, we can build our team to function efficently in this case. I will rework that paragraph in the near future to better describe the flexibility of the initiative order and avoid this confustion.

    eAZY - you are absolutely right that "disrupters" in the game are really powerful! I takes some time to get comfortable with the game before you learn how to best use Malice and Rain of Arrows, but when you do there are these epic turning points in the late game, where a single one just wins you (or loses you!) the game. Rain of Arrows is espeicailly powerful because not only does it soak up your opponent's turn, but you have a limited amount of additional control in positioning your opponent's units, and it does damage. Sometimes a single RoA can cause your opponent to pass on multiple turns just in fear of walking into it, which allows you to cash in a free turn advantage. There definately is room to discuss that further.
    Last edited by Slimsy Platypus; 02-27-2013 at 06:23 PM.

  10. #10
    Junior Member Zedek's Avatar
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    Slimsy this is a great guide but I'm kind of annoyed at you for sharing it with the greater public. Way to blow my advantage, man!

  11. #11
    Backer DThrasher's Avatar
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    An excellent guide, Slimsy! Straightforward and concise.

    Forum mods: I cast my vote for making this sticky.

  12. #12
    Developer raven2134's Avatar
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    Hi DThrasher, there is a central thread for fan guides and this has been added to it. It's also linked to the mother sticky of the discussion.

  13. #13
    Any idea what I should be looking for in the turn order to suggest whether it's preferable to kill more maim?

  14. #14
    Backer Slimsy Platypus's Avatar
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    Share the Love - that is an interesting question!

    I'm not sure if there is enough information solely in the turn order to pick the best targets to maim. However, one thing I have noted is the spread of kills on my opponent's units. This can sometime give you an indication of their strategy. If two of their archers have 90% of their kills, they may not have a contingency play if you maim them early. Obviously you have to be cautious about this though, because they could have swapped out some of their units.

    The best units to maim typically are dictated by which class they are. For instance, a Warhawk is a great unit to maim because they normally are limited to 2 ARM break and don't have a large pool of Willpower to do anything really good other than smash in with high STR. That being said, Strongarms fall in a similar category.

    Thrashers can still do alot of damage while maimed with Bloody Flail, so usually it is preferred to just kill them when you get the opportunity. Similarly, Warmasters can still do 2 STR and 1 ARM to a single target with Sundering Impact while maimed, which is quite potent in the late game.

    The decision to maim versus kill isn't always black and white. Look at their remaining willpower and evaluate if they can do anything good while leaving them alive. If they can't do a significant amount of ARM or STR damage, then don't really worry if they are left up; if one of your unit's is threatened by something they might be able to do, go ahead and knock them off. The ability to use 1 additional Willpower via your horn can be really valuable, so often times if it's a tough choice I will just kill them to get that extra willpower option.

    Hope that helps!
    Last edited by Slimsy Platypus; 02-28-2013 at 08:54 PM.

  15. #15
    With respect to the initiative bar (that is, the during-battle turn order), in case that's what you meant, ... if the victim has just moved, the turn disadvantage from killing him or her will not kick in for a while, and so is less costly (in my mind) than it would be if the victim's turn were coming up soon.

    Is that right-ish? That's how I think about it, anyway.

  16. #16
    Good replies thanks. (Speaking in broad terms) what I was considering was looking out for their main threat and if killing another unit might move them above the pecking order to your disadvantage. For instance, late game if they had a high strength unit left and killing someone would move that unit ahead of a dangerous unit of yours (which might otherwise debilitate their big strength threat if it were to act first). Hopefully that made sense. And assuming that all to be reasonable what could be extrapolated about earlier situations.

    I have to say the beta community and developers did a great job with this game.
    Last edited by Share The Love; 03-01-2013 at 12:09 AM.

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