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Shiri
04-03-2013, 06:39 AM
Analysis incoming, so no TL;DR available since I'm not confident enough of the existence of a problem to advocate trying to solve it.

"The Shieldbanger’s primary goal is protect his allies. Between his high armor rating and preventative passive ability, he should be your frontline defender."

This is a quote from the "Your Guide to Units (http://stoicstudio.com/forum/showthread.php?873-Your-Guide-to-Units)" thread. However, I almost never see shieldbangers actually doing this effectively. This is most obvious with a strongarm, who is usually the LAST unit to get into range rather than the first, but seems to apply to shieldmasters and provokers too to some extent - they seem to hide for a bit and wait until the raiders have gone in to do what you would think would be the shieldbanger's job from that description.

There are a few reasons I can see for this, but it should be noted that these are all back-formed justifications for what I'm seeing, I'm not starting from the theorycraft level and making conclusions as to how to play optimally - it may be that everyone I see, including myself, is doing it wrong and my analysis just isn't up to pointing it out.

The shieldbanger passive has its main value against two things - warrior splash damage, and break attacks/small damage attacks from frontline raiders. However, these two things are not actually the main threat they face. Because they're so fat, and slow, they can dictate movement but also have it dictated to them by smaller enemy units. This means that if you use them in the front line, they're in a prime position to have a tonne of work done on them by archers - both enhanced 4-5 breaks with willpower, the same as they might face from raiders but without their passive working, and from puncture, which rubberbands the amount of turns of break that needs to be done to them for them to start taking serious chunks of damage from archers. Furthermore, because warriors are held in the backline as well, the two do not actually encounter each other that often - if warriors were often placed in the frontline, a shieldbanger would probably be pretty good at dealing with it because the warriors can't just cleave over the top like they can with puny humans/other warriors, meaning the shieldbanger with its armour break would deal more effective damage per turn to the warrior than the other way around, in addition to the ability to control its movement.

Shieldbangers that are played in the front are also highly vulnerable to splash damage. Shieldbangers have high armour and cripplingly low willpower and movement (I think shieldbangers with 0 exertion are pretty terrible because it exacerbates their movement weakness to an even higher degree, allowing them to be kited for a very long time by archers), so ability usage is not a reliable "when maimed" purpose, and putting a unit in the frontline means it WILL get maimed. This means you're typically adding armour break where possible to provokers and shieldmasters. The upshot of this is that if they're in the frontline they can't have high strength - something like 8-10. This means the splash damage from warriors their ability counters, and ESPECIALLY siege archer ability use and coals, is actually really dangerous to them, as it even further reduces the chance they'll ever get a meaningful strength hit off, and furthermore means they might actually die while still having a tonne of armour (I saw a provoker die to a provoked warleader on a low % shot, a stray coal, and a thrasher, with 14 armour remaining yesterday, although there was some luck involved and he at least got a decent amt of returning the favour done.)

These weaknesses don't seem to apply particularly to the strongarm. Strongarms typically eschew armour break altogether, and go for very high armour and strength builds with 1 exertion and the base 2 willpower. These strongarms will typically stay in the back all game, boosting a friendly warrior or turtling raidmaster forward with a punt, and then just waddling around until the opportunity to pounce on a willpower-depleted enemy appears. If maimed, this unit is amongst the most pathetic in the game, not least because their punt becomes less effective as the game goes on and paths become a lot clearer, with less distance to close, less bodies to get punted through and more easy ways to get back around to the target a pesky enemy wants to attack. Also the fact they only have 2 willpower doesn't help here. So a frontline strongarm is almost never seen, and I've never been particularly concerned about them when I have. Here they fill a role more comparable to a warrior, playing as though they're too vulnerable to take any hits. This comparison to the warrior is also important because a frontline varl that essentially acts like a slower high-break raidmaster is also competing for team spots with other warriors, who are particularly destructive with the turn advantage you get by removing those high-break raidmasters (a warhawk with turn advantage is a lot scarier than, say, a backbiter or thrasher with turn advantage in a team with a slain provoker.)

This isn't necessarily a balance problem - strongarms are pretty successful, and shieldmasters and provokers aren't really BAD per se, although I have had some pretty bad experiences with provokers now I can't use them to force skipped turns with turn advantage or on archers. Also, it's possible that the metagame will shift, particularly if siege archers are nerfed again so they're not so destructive from relative safety. However, it does seem to contradict the stated purpose of the unit. I wonder if the ability to abstractly return the favour to archers might help here (there's no animation for that ability anyway so it's not super obvious how it functions diegetically, I don't think it would be immersion-breaking if I came into the game not knowing how it currently worked) without overpowering them, given their other vulnerabilities. Something to consider. Discuss!

franknarf
04-03-2013, 07:50 AM
Yeah, because units can be used in so many different ways, I think you've either got to (i) list a bunch of uses in the description or (ii) list none. For the wiki, I'm hoping to go the second route. Pretty much every melee unit can be used as a WP sponge (for your opp. to waste WP on bringing down), for example.

As far as balance, I can't wait until they remove the RtF for coals and RoAs. That's so annoying and counterintuitive! Maybe SBs will need a buff after that...

raven2134
04-03-2013, 07:50 AM
Nice post Shiri. Shieldbangers had been on my mind even from the beta days. I'll discuss my thoughts simply.

Before the Warmaster (after being buffed) and Warleader came in and the meta shifted to warmasters, Shieldbangers and the meta was in a very good place. This was mainly because there was only 1 unit that could significantly ignore armor - TH (and to hit a SB with flail came at a significant cost), and also because WH performed much poorer than Warmasters over the whole duration of the game (once maimed, the other player creates an advantage). In this point in the meta, Shieldbangers were the tanky units they were meant to be. You had to plan to use puncture carefully to nullify the shieldbanger. Or you had to play smartly between your raiders and Warrior to do the same.

What did the Warmaster and Warleader bring to the meta that changed how things played drastically? The Warmaster brought his guaranteed strength damage (on par with a TH from the AOE), and his incredible high strength. This strength and the ability damage effectively meant your Shieldbanger could be brought to his knees in a 1-2 combo. I have often voiced the amount of strength on warriors (especially the warmaster), has shifted the meta (especially in certain builds) back to how the game used to play before armor break was nerfed (when 1 break and 1 str hit would maim anything).

What did the Warleader bring to the table? On the still somewhat balanced side...the WL brought a 7 break strike. Now...this was sorta ok...but at the same time, this made SBs much weaker versus archers. In addition, there was also the WL-SA combo which totally destroyed any shieldbanger strategy and that aspect of the meta (thank Odin it was reworked).

At this point, I feel guaranteed strength hits and counters to shieldbangers on the existing units/builds hinder shieldbangers far too much. Guaranteed strength hits on the SA, WM, SS and in some cases the BM for harass, besides the TH, all make SBs significantly a less attractive choice because the amount of protection that armor gives them vs the trade off in enemy willpower spent, now leans against the shieldbanger. And unlike warriors, they cannot pump the strength to build against this inherent weakness.

Besides the guaranteed strength damage, the ease of use and the all important first strike advantage of warriors is also a disadvantage for shieldbangers. This again diminishes the significance of putting points into armor. Why? Because there is less need for armor when you can bring the enemy strength to a point where lower armor will manage.

Going back to my older theorycrafting, stats can mean turn advantage. And this double disadvantage for shieldbangers, stats put into armor when it may be better for strength, and losing the first strike advantage due to less mobility, mean they actually suffer from turn disadvantage twice over.

It's surprising then how high strength varl, including the SRM, have become the preferred strategy and why the meta is currently where it is. The SRM manages to avoid at least the stat disadvantages, and copes with the mobility by equating that armor into the first hit (As should be the case).

I have some pretty drastic ideas I'd think would be interesting to see, if we ever wanted to shake things up :p - alas the beta is over.

I am thinking these things though,

1. Reduce warmaster strength, or bring warriors down to 1 exertion to limit both maximum damage and mobility, effectively reducing their first strike potential (ever so subtley).

2. Rebalance shieldbangers to adapt to the new meta. Subtract points from maximum armor, add a stat point to the base class if need be, but in general allow all shieldbangers to spec like SRMs, meaning raise strength maxes and re-think the "good spot build" for the unit to lean on mid armor/mid str.

3. In general, there need to be less counters for shieldbangers. So either the units that are good against them get weaker, or the shieldbangers should get stronger- not ability-wise, I think those are in a good place, but stat wise.

No Leaf Clover
04-03-2013, 08:13 AM
Hello,
I'm not a very good player, and I'm not posting much here -though I'm reading a lot. I say this so that you understand that what I am about to state isn't coming from a top-killa player.
I use a build with two Strongarms. I tried PK and SM, but SM main role is to break armor and puncture -preferably with two bowmasters, I guess- at least that's the way I feel it, and I don't like to rely THAT much on puncture. The PK is fun, high armoured, but really he attracts shots and hits like mad, and he's quickly brought down and I felt him useless.
Strongarms aren't the solution to everything, but their push can delay a unit turn sometimes, his stats are all around closer to a warrior, but more resistant. And they can push each other.
So I use at least on of my two Varls as frontliners. I just had a game vs a 2 TH 2 SA 1 SM 1 WM turtling like a madman. I rammed one of my strongarms ahead, an move hime to block his TH and shot RoA so that his warrior wouldn't bother me. I won, my BB then safely made their way to the SA. Etc, etc.
My point is that some of us use strongarms as an offensive unit -14 strength is quite a thing to deal with- but I found I needed TWO of them to compensate their slowness. So I guess they cannot tank properly (the whole family, I mean) because they are so bloody slow. And to invest points in WP/EX is rendering them useless.
Sadly I don't know what can be done about this, as making them "quicker" would certainly make them OP.
That's it. Some of us Strongarm-lovers are playing the offensive way.
Oh, that and also you'd better not mind losses too much, because I really lose more than I win, lol. But that might be me.
EDIT : forgive my somewhat poor english please. :-)

Kletian999
04-03-2013, 08:47 AM
My "buff the shieldmaster thread" talked about this some. Here's a point I didn't mention there though: With such low mobility and puncture (and siege coals), shield varls are nearly hard countered by archers. On the other hand, Warriors and Thrashers, what shield varls seem designed to counter aren't as bad off. Because they can always outrun the shield varl until the varl has lost some armor, and once they've been rendered 2 shot-able they aren't doing their job. Only the Provoker vs. high break unit is an effective matchup, but that falls apart when a second breaker does the break for the provoked one.

Butters
04-03-2013, 09:07 AM
Excellent thread. Raven's post in particular was a great read.

I'm not completely sold on the idea that warriors need nerfing, but if they do let it be in max str rather than mobility. Having their max range on par with that of a 2ex SB seems extreme. Their high mobility seems to be the reason for most of the tactically interesting situations involving warriors.

I do however wholeheartedly agree that there needs to be less counters for them (=guaranteed str hits). One very significant step towards what would be a nerfing of the SnB, which as proposed by Tirean and others in the chatbox, could go from (assuming break stat is 2) 2/1 @r1, 3/1 @r2, 3/2 @r3 to a more reasonable 1/1 @r1, 2/1 @r2, 3/1 @r3. This nerf happens to be really needed independently from the fact that it would bring SBs back into relevance, but that's a subject for another thread (I'm amazed that thread doesn't exist yet...).

SBs could also do with a stat boost, indeed. I agree their abilities are where they should be. I'd be A-ok with a +1 on base stats of both SM and PK (possibly SRM too but that point should go to WP since he's already very viable).

@No Leaf Clover : everybody plays Strongarm offensively. He is, in the current state of the meta, not really a shieldbanger. I believe this thread is mostly about SM and PK.

Greix
04-03-2013, 09:34 AM
I typically play a heavily offensive set up: 3 Backbiters, a Warhawk, a Warmaster and a Skystriker. I don't play Shieldbangers often, but I do play against in almost every battle. So I'll speak from the opposing viewpoint.

My experiences fighting them often end with me reducing their strength just enough so they're almost not a threat anymore (4 or less strength early game, 2 or 1 late), and then ignoring them until I can get them with the splash damage of my Warrior archetypes, or using the Skystriker. Sometimes, I end up positioning my units to turn enemy Shieldbangers into roadblocks, blocking out enemy Warrior types until I'm ready to deal with them.

From what I can tell, the Shieldbanger cannot effectively defend his allies, because enemy units are too mobile to stop. I don't mean just against the Backbiter's charge, but the fact that the Shieldbanger moves but three tiles. He's hard to get into position and react accordingly.

Often, the most effective use of the Shieldbanger against me has been either the Strongarm, to knock an enemy warrior type forward and get him into the battle swiftly, or just being a rock formation: Shieldbanger up front, archers in the rear, raiders at the side and waiting for the enemy to get within range.

In my opinion, I think the best way to balance the Shieldbanger is to increase his Exertion and perhaps give him a single point more Willpower. Thus, players will have the versatility to use the Shieldbanger a little more defensively or offensively as they see fit. It would allow a player to choose between increased mobility and/or increased attack power (edit: or reserving that boost for later), but without drastically changing the balance of the game.

Option B is to give the Shieldbanger a niche role. Maybe give him an extra point to Break, so that he is valuable early on for shattering armor and making him a nice pairing with the archers.

Edit: One more thought. Adding a point to Break would also make the Shieldbanger incredibly difficult to ignore, even late game. Because Break cannot be reduced, it would mean you can strip an enemy of armor even if you only have a point of Strength left. Thus, the defensive stripping threat of the Shieldbanger (though indirect) would be very difficult to ignore. In retrospect, I think this is the way to go over giving him a point of Willpower.

No Leaf Clover
04-03-2013, 11:51 AM
@No Leaf Clover : everybody plays Strongarm offensively. He is, in the current state of the meta, not really a shieldbanger. I believe this thread is mostly about SM and PK.

Well, I read that in Shiri's post :


This is most obvious with a strongarm, who is usually the LAST unit to get into range rather than the first, but seems to apply to shieldmasters and provokers too to some extent -

But really anyway, Raven's post sums it up. his suggestion to be able to up PK and SM strength -a tiny bit- makes sense. They're too slow to tank effectivly, so maybe making them more threatening is a good thing?
EDIT : Greix proposal about break sounds good as well. I just wonder where one would take a point from to spend it in more break..

Leartes
04-03-2013, 03:59 PM
Imo most stat-adjustments don't cut it. They don't magically become stronger if you increase some max or min stat. People build their units mostly in extremes, therefore increasing a minimum makes a unit worse. Increasing a maximum mostly does nothing except when you increase a stat that is maxed all the time. I doubt increasing max strength does much when people build their SB with high armor anyway. Decreasing max armor does nothing as well as it is a restriction that only removes options thus makes the unit worse.
Also adding additional stat points messes with the general balance approach thus far (but might be neccessary). Finally, I'm not sure we can achieve the target role by simply buffing some stats or the ability. In all those cases we have to keep in mind that people could also use them as sweeper last (like they do with strongarms). If we buff the passive to be better vs archers, then strongarms become ridiculous. Imo the best move for now is to a) wait a bit longer if warriors stay in favor and then b) nerf warriors a bit (e.g. reduce max strength).

Shiri
04-03-2013, 04:52 PM
Your prescribed method aside, I'm not sure strongarms suddenly become ridiculous from a buff like that. Since they're played in the backline anyway because of how useless they are when maimed, archer armour isn't the most relevant thing by then. It makes a lot bigger difference to units that want to go in first since that's where the archers are dumping all their wp and attacks early, from behind the safety of something meaty.

Butters
04-03-2013, 06:28 PM
@No Leaf Clover : apologies, I failed at reading there. In my mind anyway, SRM is not really concerned as it is very viable right now.

@Shiri : SBs are not useless when maimed. Well the SRM is, but a PK or SM whith 3/4 break certainly isn't. [EDIT : apologies, misread again ; you were talking about the SRM, not SBs, so I actually agree with you fully] I'd go as far as to say that these units' role is precisely to get maimed, attracting multiple heavy enemy hits because they can take it. While a backline sweeper with high arm/str (so, a SRM) works, I think the typical SB role is precisely to stay on the front line taking the hits, not on the back line.

@Greix : SM already has 4 break and PK 3. I think that's plenty.

@Leartes : I was suggesting to up the base stat, specifically willpower, not minimum wp. The difference is that I wouldn't take the point away from an other stat. You may have noticed minimum point totals are different for each base class, so it doesn't seem too unreasonable. The thing is, shieldbangers already have the highest base point total (archer 16, raider 18, warrior 20, shieldbanger 21).

Kletian999
04-03-2013, 08:28 PM
Base movement speed is worth more than a few stat points. Especially since Varls have to move inefficiently at times.

erom
04-03-2013, 09:38 PM
While I think a +1 wp boost for bangers might be on the money, I'd suggest that we may need to wait a week or two for the meta to drift a bit before it'll settle from the rank 3 abilities coming online.

lysambrias
04-03-2013, 10:47 PM
One thing that Raven mentioned as an issue for Shieldbangers and other high armor units was the prevalence of high strength Warriors and units with guaranteed strength damage. Right now the meta seems to favor as much strength as possible (Warhawks, Warmasters) and abilities that are equally effective at full strength and when maimed (Thrashers, Siege Archers).

Even if none of the current units are changed, I hope that newly introduced units/classes will bring other benefits and provide greater team-building options. If they have lower strength than the Warmaster and abilities that don't guarantee strength damage, then I think things will be going in the right direction.

I'd also like to see what the game looked like if Shieldbangers had some sort of protection from archers trying to break armor (for example, a passive that reduces armor break damage by 1 to a minimum of 1-2). Currently an archer can break up to 5 armor without taking damage from "Return the Favor" or risking retaliation from the Shieldbanger on the next turn.

erom
04-03-2013, 11:41 PM
I imagine going over the top of armor with a warrior to maim a banger and then leave them alive, maimed, is going to be a pretty bad strategy once menders hit the field and you can buff that high armor/low strength unit in the late game.

Once everything that can go over a banger's armor is dealt with, a suddenly rejuvenated banger would be a scary lategame play.

Bertez
04-04-2013, 12:16 AM
I don't know about balance but I think it would be funny if shield bangers threw back arrows they are hit by for armor damage.

HappyRaccoon
04-04-2013, 01:27 AM
As far as I can tell archers and more specifically SAs just dump on SM/PK. Especially at higher levels. AS it currently stands I don't really know where SMs fit into the meta, where as provokers at higher levels can always be a nuisance.

Leartes
04-04-2013, 02:31 AM
The thing is, shieldbangers already have the highest base point total (archer 16, raider 18, warrior 20, shieldbanger 21).


When I suggested it last week people said stuff like "varl have all the same amount of points, only distribution is different" and "shieldbanger has -1 move so warrior and varl have same". Now you can break this symmetry, no problem. But you have to keep in mind that the srm should get the same stat-buff as the others. And I'm not sure if we really want to buff him.

Again, I think we should wait and see how power 12 meta evolves. Maybe nerf sa or warriors and see if problems fix themselves. There are several strong players that claim sm is not underpowered, only hard to use. Now, if the "hard to use" way is an unintended role, we still have to be cautious not to also buff this unintended useage of shieldbangers.

I mean, I partially agree. Shieldmaster/Provoker only work as frontliners if they have some protection vs archers. Do we really want to remove the designed weakness and create units that are bad to fight against for everyone? Especially since we don't know if archer heavy teams will prevail with new unit releases?

BrainFreeze
04-04-2013, 07:21 AM
From my point of view, SB is weaker than warrior not because of some strength concerns or something, but because 1 point of movement>1 stat-point. Really, if i could, i'd gladly remove 1 point for that 1 movement advantage.

Serum
04-09-2013, 01:30 AM
I've been using a 12/13 ab4 SM in the backline for a couple of battles now. I bring him out after the raidmasters have set up a bunch of breaks in the midgame to get a couple good strength hits off before he gets maimed. At that point he generally gets another couple breaks off for the archers.

It's worked pretty decently so far, even if his active is generally not useful. I'm wondering if a 13/12 ab3 PK could perform the same role, but I'm not sure he'd do it as effectively.

Butters
04-09-2013, 01:38 AM
I imagine going over the top of armor with a warrior to maim a banger and then leave them alive, maimed, is going to be a pretty bad strategy once menders hit the field and you can buff that high armor/low strength unit in the late game.

Once everything that can go over a banger's armor is dealt with, a suddenly rejuvenated banger would be a scary lategame play.

While nothing has been revealed about menders at this point (besides the name, some art and that it's a base class), the devs have been heard saying that they tested regaining health and that they disliked the effect on the global flow of the game, so they will not be implementing that (or at least not in Factions, as I understand it). Which means that contrarily to what their name can be understood to imply, menders will not heal (unless there is a radical change of heart from Stoic).

Kletian999
04-09-2013, 07:10 AM
I figured menders would repair armor. While that'd potentially make high armor units better, it also weakens breakers and makes super strength units and direct damage even more powerful. So non-Strongarms might suffer more.

Greix
04-09-2013, 09:42 AM
I've been trying a few strategies as of late to maximize the effectiveness of the Provoker. Basically, I pumped points into armor, then I changed the initiative order to put him up front. I haven't had a chance to test it yet (I tried, screwed it up) to see if a Provoker can have Malice cast on two people at once (using the Warleader's ability). I think the strategy would be easier once I get the Provoker's rank up so he can use Malice from more of a distance. If it doesn't work, I'll raise a second Provoker.

The Provoker has a ridiculously high armor potential. Although my strategy didn't work quite how I wanted, I noticed interesting benefits. First, my enemy had to exert tremendous amounts of willpower from their raiders just to bring down the Provoker's armor rating, and he did this as early as possible. My foe realized the danger of letting my Provoker use Malice early, so he was determined to bring the armor down fast to nullify any critical impact to the flow of the battle. The last thing he needed was his Warhawk whiffing away a turn on a 30% chance of striking.

Two things crossed my mind.

1) Does playing with the initiative change things for the Shieldbanger? By putting him forward in the order, he can move forward earlier and turn himself into a roadblock. I think there's room to experiment on this because it's common to reserve the varl for last, not first.

2) Is the Shieldmaster's ability useless? It's just... it doesn't wow like the other two.

Kletian999
04-09-2013, 10:18 AM
Griex- early in initiative can leave you with nothing to hit while granting your enemy the opportunity to hit you with everyone (this is why Raidmaster leads are so popular). Going in the middle might let you pick off an enemy's advance melee but generally only when they overextend. It's SO easy to outrange a shieldbanger and have his turn be wasted. At very least, when he goes first he's taking your enemy's willpower away from other units being hit.

As for the power, it is probably the worst in the game. Whether it is totally useless is a matter for debate. It appears to rely on your opponent making the mistake of putting all his melee, with low break stats, stuck in range with only your not-yet broken Shieldmaster, or being downright foolish/inattentive and attacking him instead of another target. I would be happy to see it replaced.

Greix
04-09-2013, 12:31 PM
I would be so tempted to try and use the Shieldbanger archetype as bait. Put him high in the initiative, let him walk out there and have the enemy rush around him. Then bring the hammer down.

I mean, when I break down what a Shieldbanger can do versus can't, I recognize that he is the one unit in the game with no amazing offensive strengths. Raiders have mobility and willpower, Warriors have sheer strength and AoE, and archers have range, willpower and puncture. But Shieldbangers only seem to offer a kind of grinding attrition to outlast their foes. And a decent natural break.

Another point is that of all the passive abilities, his is the only one that is reactive. You can build strategies around Puncture, Shield Wall and the Warrior AoE. Perhaps they need something you can build a strategy around?

No Leaf Clover
04-09-2013, 05:37 PM
Has it ever been evoked that they could get some resistance to puncture? No immunity, but something like 2 points damage bonus for like 4-5 armor loss?

Haeso
04-09-2013, 08:41 PM
I think it would be interesting if instead of increasing the reflect damage it made them reduce damage to armor, but not health.

R1: Break attack and ignores 1 armor damage until next turn. R2: Break attack and ignores 2 armor damage until next turn. R3 Break attack and ignores 3 armor damage until next turn. Perhaps make it useable without a target as well.

Right now I'm in the it's useless camp. It gets some limited use against melee heavy teams on maps with limited mobility like fire pits map and the one with the posts in each corner area where it can be hard to get around a shield master. But generally speaking it's useless.

raven2134
04-09-2013, 08:46 PM
Wonder if I'm still considered a high level player...

Anyway, I am also of the line that the SM is being underestimated by this discussion (a number of it's participants therein). No offense meant at all by this to anyone.

The key difficulty in using the SM has already been pointed out, it's positioning. How do you get the SM in position to do what he needs to do without becoming a liability? (Indeed, that's the difficulty with all shieldbangers, they are 1 tile short to sync up with your other units' formation which either takes an extra turn, 1 more willpower or extra exertion).

That said, there's merit to the ability being reactive. Once it is active it is

a. highly unlikely the SM will be struck by melee and so a chain of breaking begins
b. even if he is struck my melee, the chain of break begins anyway because of BtP
c. soaking willpower from archers is not a bad trade off, as this limits ability use, powered shots on your vital units after first break, and puncture +wp kills.

In these situations, it's damned if you do, damned if you don't. (for the opposing player)

The issue I think is that people have become very accustomed to counternig shieldbangers, especially the PK and SM.

When they are in position to create threat in the early-early midgame they are focused on, and atm with RoA buffed in higher ranks and SAs with coals, the zone control is especially harsh for these units with average str.

Because of the same strength issue, and the nature of their abilities, it makes little sense to keep them hidden in the back. The PK and SM are poorer finishers in comparison to the SRM.

Comparing the units,

SMs are best for early game and a fronter, because break done faster is better so you can reap the returns on str attacks sooner.

PKs are best early midgame once enemy's have advanced a bit. It then becomes possible to plan and intercept. In the heat of the middlegame when the skirmish ensues and the fight is close quarters, they gain the maximum potential to disrupt the enemy's battle flow.

SRM are best midgame to late game, as a clean up unit. As such it makes sense to keep them safe and you still get near maximum returns from the high armor and str in the late game.

The above is probably why it feels hard to use a SM, compared to the other 2. However, there are undoubtedly ways to play to achieve the proper positioning and the desired result (I used to do this when going against the old/beta PK SA mirror combos, and even until now SM mirror battles).

On another interesting note. I've been playing an SRM lately, and to me it feels like it's the only unit to achieve both good break, good str, and good armor (at r2) because of it's ability. You can save on the AB points for wp and other stats because of the ability which can substitute the break (3 at rank 2).

It would be great if the same could be done for the other SBs. Undoubtedly they would achieve greater utility if their break wasn't exclusive to attack but could be substituted for ability.

If we compare the units again,

SRM gets +2 break on ability per ability rank (+units rammed thru)
SM gets +1 break on ability per ability rank (+retaliation and has a naturally high max break, meaning you can go for middle break and achieve similar to max returns if played right)
PK gets no break bonus on ability (meaning the unit is a trade-off between offensive output-breaking and ability use)

I would argue we need more efficency on the PK. While what is looking like a wp buff on SM should be enough to see his positioning and usage improve.

There's 1 other buff already proposed that I think will be coming, which will be good for all SBs. I think Stoic is letting RtF/BtP also affect a unit enacting the finishing blow on an SB. :)

Ratatoskr
04-13-2013, 07:15 PM
I have to agree considering that my current favorite build uses both a SM and a SRM in pretty much exactly those roles. I'm rather fond of my SM actually, he rarely gets many kills but I think of him like a dike to break the waves of the enemy and by the time he goes down I can usually mop up with the rest.

GreenDread
04-13-2013, 08:35 PM
That's exactly my strategy with the SM, ratatoskr :D

The one major difficulty is to get him next to an enemy unit. If he's just standing in the middle of nowhere, he probably takes one or two break-shots and then gets killed or maimed in the first cyle, because of course the enemy doesnt want him to use BtP. But hey, at least he takes a ton of WP and attention with him and if killed, even gives me some turn-advantage early on.

But when he manages to use BtP in the first clash, he somehow gets ignored more, because there are juicier targets and he can deal a lot of armor-break and maybe one strength hit.

Best scenario for me is when the enemy gets freightened by his high armor and tries to whittle his 9 strength with abilities down. It takes forever and for breaking he does not need strength.


While what is looking like a wp buff on SM should be enough to see his positioning and usage improve.

There's 1 other buff already proposed that I think will be coming, which will be good for all SBs. I think Stoic is letting RtF/BtP also affect a unit enacting the finishing blow on an SB.

So you're psychic now, raven? :P

raven2134
04-13-2013, 09:04 PM
I said that after Arnie had mentioned in chat it was gonna happen :)

Arduous
04-20-2013, 05:19 PM
Perhaps a good way to balance Shield Bangers would be to allow them to ignore the first point of armor break done to them by archers. That would serve to balance the fact that archers can ignore SB's passive.

Shiri
04-21-2013, 06:29 AM
They got an extra point of WP and an extra point of armour break when they die (unless it's to archer/etc.) so that might be enough for now.

Rensei
04-21-2013, 10:33 AM
I can't imagine going into a fight without a teddy.

First, because I hate Raidmasters and their ability to walk around Your side like a bunch of Japanese tourists hurting and weakening Your designated endgame. And the whole teddy class does very well against them (Shieldmaster goes through with his amazing break while launching the "come at me bro" mode, SRM pushes them away from fragile spots and Provoker wastes their move while turning off the block for the next round).

Second, because at some point in every game someone will get hurt - nobody gets hurt in such a profitable way like a teddy.

Third, I'm in the "break armor with team A, so team B can mop up" camp, so I need someone who can advance forward without the fear of being oneshotted (teddy), cover the advance of raiders (teddy), limit the enemy advance (teddy), break big chunks of armor fast (teddy), drain enemy archers willpower (because peeling that armor with melee could result in a loss of good position, turn or armor, again - teddy)...

I can totally imagine dual Warrior (or one Varl) team doing very well, but don't think I would have as many options with them as I have with my Shieldmaster.


The Provoker has a ridiculously high armor potential. Although my strategy didn't work quite how I wanted, I noticed interesting benefits. First, my enemy had to exert tremendous amounts of willpower from their raiders just to bring down the Provoker's armor rating, and he did this as early as possible. My foe realized the danger of letting my Provoker use Malice early, so he was determined to bring the armor down fast to nullify any critical impact to the flow of the battle. The last thing he needed was his Warhawk whiffing away a turn on a 30% chance of striking.
You are trading a lot of willpower and 3 turns for no willpower and 2 turns of Your enemy. If You don't catch perfect targets at perfect time he can just take the remaining 4 units and seriously hurt Your other 4 units, who would want to try and take down the 2 taunted ones (I assume - not much point in taunting otherwise).


1) Does playing with the initiative change things for the Shieldbanger? By putting him forward in the order, he can move forward earlier and turn himself into a roadblock. I think there's room to experiment on this because it's common to reserve the varl for last, not first.

2) Is the Shieldmaster's ability useless? It's just... it doesn't wow like the other two.
1) That's how I do it. My warrior type goes first to adjust to the enemy, avoid speedy raiders and lurk in the shadows. Banger goes second to block way, followed by raiders who peel his attackers/refill his armor/setup archer gank. Seeing power 6-8 teams with teddy last in line, sometimes unable to move, blocked by repositioning friends makes me wanna cry.
2) FOUR armor damage on every melee attacker (plus tricky movement - walk through siege archers trap, stand next to her, autohit her for 4 armor and deal 4-6 break to someone standing near her) doesn't "wow"? Even if You take him down in 4-5 hits that's a lot. Right now it's even better since he also punishes the killer.

roder
04-21-2013, 12:55 PM
The point of shieldmaster is armor break, with highest AB without use of willpower. Leave him alone, he can continue to dish 5AB with only using up 1WP. The ability isnt used until he's about to die, but reinforces the idea that you're not supposed to hit him.

As for teamcomp, he's good with raiders because of his 4squares he can always be around them to activate their passive. Also good with archers because of a meatshield and the armorbreak for their passive. He does stay alive relatively longer than most, so the turn advantage usually goes to enemy first (meaning bad against 2warrior comps IMO). He does counter thrasher and bb ability, and can get in 2AB even after raidermaster stonewall