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Thread: Pretentious ponderings pertaining to positioning and placement

  1. #1
    Member Yth's Avatar
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    Pretentious ponderings pertaining to positioning and placement

    I kept trying to make this post, and kept failing because the topic is so complex. Each individual element of positioning is relatively simple or explainable, but properly integrating the different elements into a strategic whole is almost impossible. An example showing good positioning can be reversed to be horrible positioning if the turn order of units is slightly adjusted.

    Due to this complexity, I feel it is impossible to explain all the intricacies of positioning in a cohesive way. It doesn't help that positioning is one of my weakest fields. I will explain some of the basics as best I can, and hope that it indicates the way to go even if I am not completely there myself.

    The basic concept is that you want to put your units to the best use possible, and this means not losing turns or opportunities due to mis-positioning. Good use of positioning also allows you to block your opponent from using their units effectively.

    As I am not a master of this subject, I will post my tentative guidelines to positioning, and would very much request that others contribute their thoughts on this topic.

    The various sub-topics related to positioning are posted as their own separate replies:
    • Basic principles of movement and positioning
    • Positioning during pre-game setup
    • Early game positioning
    • Mid game positioning
    • End game positioning
    • Other positioning principles / the handbook of positioning tactics

  2. #2
    Member Yth's Avatar
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    Basic principles of movement and positioning:
    As the basics of positioning are very simple but are also required for a strong fundamental understanding of the more advanced topics, the following concepts will be introduced via picture form:

    https://imgur.com/a/WKosk
    Last edited by Yth; 05-14-2013 at 09:30 AM.

  3. #3
    Member Yth's Avatar
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    Positioning during pre-game setup:
    Placing your units correctly on the battlefield involves knowing how you want to use your units. An archer can be a sacrificial unit who goes in first and is part of the front line (SAs were often used like this before they were nerfed), or an archer can be held back and used as a lategame powerhouse unit after your team has destroyed the enemy's armor. Once you know how you plan to use your units, you place them accordingly.

    The few "firm" rules which are almost never broken in good team lineups are:
    -have a good mix of units who can hit hard and units who can armor break well
    -mobility is extremely important, therefore 2 or 3 exertion is essential for many units
    -don't have more than 1 or at absolute most 2 units who become useless when crippled

    There are other threads in the tactics section which analyze various team lineups. The one thing I would stress is that certain lineups work well with certain playstyles. If you are running a team which goes counter to your preferred playstyle, you will have to think harder and take longer to utilize your units effectively. As this game has a turn timer, I strongly recommend you run with lineups which match to your chosen playstyle to minimize time wasted due to confusion.

    You should also remember to have fun while playing Factions

    Some examples of initial unit placement are found here:
    https://imgur.com/a/38Ozz
    Last edited by Yth; 05-14-2013 at 09:30 AM.

  4. #4
    Member Yth's Avatar
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    Early game positioning:
    One player can gain an advantage over the other by carefully choosing the time when his units start to fight. The example of 2 warriors dueling each other is well known: whoever gets in the first big hit will usually win. When entire teams are considered instead of single units, this principle changes to: whoever fights at the right time and place with their units will usually win.

    Getting the first hit is not the key to winning, but rather getting your army to engage in a way where you can hurt important units at the right time, or use positioning to deny the enemy the chance to hit your own key units. Therefore, engaging at the correct time and place is extremely important.

    Because having your whole team ready to fight at the perfect time and place is so key, most players will deploy their armies at least 1 or 2 steps back from the most forward deployment line. This allows them to take time to adjust their formation, reposition units in reaction to the enemy's deployment, and gives them the freedom to properly choose the right time to engage.

    I consider acting in this way to be "defencive" early game positioning. In some cases and with some team lineups, it can be very beneficial to go the opposite route and go for a very "offencive" early game. By placing your units as far forward as possible and charging in all at once, it prevents your opponent from making the adjustments he wants to do which would give him an advantage over you.

    Regardless of which type of early positioning you use, you need to be able to identify if you want to advance or retreat, slowly or quickly from the enemy. The "safe" way to advance is to move your units up until they are barely outside of the zone of movement of the bulk of the enemy army.

    Examples of early game positioning and movement:
    https://imgur.com/a/YzN4N
    Last edited by Yth; 05-23-2013 at 06:31 AM.

  5. #5
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    Mid game positioning:
    I consider the game to be in it's "midgame" phase when all units on both teams are in range to do attacks on each other (with the exception of warriors waiting in the back, I guess). Basically once the armies are fully engaged on each other and are smashing each other to bits, it is the "midgame".

    Movement and positioning concerns change in the midgame. Zones of threat or zones of movement become much more restrictive, and blocking moves become extremely important. The game can be won with one or two key blocks which prevent a key enemy unit from landing a good hit, or by allowing your own key unit (usually a warrior swooping into the combat) to land a devastating blow.

    In the early game, turn order is important because your army needs to avoid blocking each other while they advance or retreat. In the midgame, turn order relative to the enemy becomes more important, highlighting key opportunities to block or hit. Large advantages can be gained by looking ahead and lining up your movements.

    In this phase, units will usually start dying, and killing units becomes one of the tools which can increase your mobility. By clearing away an annoying shieldbanger right before your warrior moves, it can open a path for him to jump into the backline and wreak havoc. Additionally, it is necessary to understand how the turn order changes when units are killed.

    Your overall strategy on how you plan to win and understanding how the enemy will try to win is still important, but the midgame is ruled by tactics.

    Examples of midgame positioning and movement:
    https://imgur.com/a/BOSDQ
    Last edited by Yth; 05-14-2013 at 09:31 AM.

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    End game positioning:
    Endgame is the time when only a few units are remaining on the board. Midgame is chaotic and constricted, with many paths of movement blocked by your own units or the enemy's. There is usually a frontline and a backline for both armies, and blocking tactics rule the board. The endgame, on the other hand, is blissfully free of restriction. Zones of movement and zones of threat suddenly become important again, as the victors of small fights on other ends of the board have to reposition and advance against each other again.

    In about 40% of my games, by the time the board is clear enough to be considered the endgame, the outcome of the battle is extremely clear, as one side has an overwhelming advantage over the other. No amount of tactics or perfect placement will save the losing side, unless his opponent's house suddenly catches on fire or some other act of God occurs.

    In the other 60% of the games, the endgame is close enough that tactics can still matter. Sometimes one side has a strong advantage, but sloppy play can still lead to a loss. Sometimes the matches are so even the outcome balances on the edge of a knife.

    The endgame is unique in that almost any situation can occur: one archer versus 3 melee units, a standoff between two crippled warriors, 3 health 10 armor shieldbangers hilariously whacking away at each other...

    Because the remaining units and unit placements in the endgame are so varied and unique, it is difficult to explain which tactics prevail and which types of positioning are needed. Rather, almost any kind of tactic might be the one key needed for that particular circumstance, whether it be the earlygame slow creep forward to find the perfect moment to engage, to the midgame's essential block which leads to a win, to the whole set of specific tactics which are only applicable to the endgame.

    The endgame in Factions also becomes very similar to endgame puzzles in Chess, in that certain specific endgame scenarios have a clear winner, but require specialized experience (or at least some experience) to execute properly. Again as in Chess, once these are learned they become rote/simple.

    Examples of endgame positioning and movement:
    https://imgur.com/a/wzUYr
    Last edited by Yth; 09-09-2013 at 06:47 AM.

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    Member Yth's Avatar
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    Other positioning principles / the handbook of positioning techniques:

    Some positioning concepts didn't seem to fit in elsewhere, so I put them here in the postscript. I will also include an album or albums of images related to random specific positioning techniques.


    Zone of threat:
    Every unit in the game is capable of attacking, therefore every unit carries the threat of dealing damage. The total area a unit can possibly attack is calculated by adding the unit's movement range and attack range together. For melee units, this means if you can stand next to something, you can attack it.

    For archers, it means if you can approach to be within 5 squares (or 7,8,9 for BMs) you can attack it. Furthermore archers deal additional damage to units who have reduced armor, as long as the archer does not move on that turn. This means that archers have a layered zone of threat, with 5 squares being their "high threat" zone, and their movement range (up to 6 sq with 3 exertion) plus their attack range (5, or up to 9 for BMs) making up their total threat range. A lvl 3 BM could, conceivably, threaten to deal damage to a unit 15 squares away!

    Reduced threat at extreme ranges:
    While it is true that a rank 3 BM could do damage to a unit starting 15 squares away, this would require the expendeture of 6 willpower for a str damage shot with no puncture bonus. As each point of willpower can usually be directly translated into a point of damage, the threat of an archer doing up to 8 damage by spending 6 willpower is not too scary - in most cases it can be seen as a net gain for your team if the enemy spends 6 willpower on a single action.

    This leads to the principle of reduced threat at extreme range: if it is not a key unit being threatened, it is acceptable to place it within the edge of an opposing unit's threat range - the willpower investment the opponent must make in order to hit your unit usually counteracts the damage they deal to you.

    The exception is, of course, archers. Archers should not be casually placed into range of enemy melee units because it is usually worthwhile to hit archers even if you have to spend willpower to do so.

    Examples of specific positioning techniques:
    https://imgur.com/a/iMtk4
    Last edited by Yth; 09-09-2013 at 06:54 AM.

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    Senior Member Butters's Avatar
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    That is a pretty ponderous post ^^

    Will comment when I finish reading it ; I just wanted to commend you on the alliteration first.

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    Member Yth's Avatar
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    Thank you for alerting me to your acclaim of my attempted alliterative accomplishments.

  10. #10
    Question1: This build of yours, with 3 BMS, couldn't it be easily countered by Backbiters or by your melee fighters being overwhelmed against 2 Warhawks for example? Are those situations easily avoided just by positioning?

    Question2: I have fought lots of battles in a situation of "who moves in range first will lose", it happens every time there are two strong warmaster or warhawk on a team, is there any tips about how to aproach an enemy like that?

    Very nice post and thank you for sharing information! Hope to see more of your posts in the forum!
    Last edited by Space_Ghost; 05-15-2013 at 06:11 AM.

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    Senior Member Kletian999's Avatar
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    Regarding your second question, I had a thread on that topic. On a specific note, when fighting 2 Warrior builds, I would clip the first down to 9 Str with two raiders or a breaking archer followed by a raider, while having your warrior threaten his second. Then move the first anti-warrior team toward the second such that when the second warrior attacks your warrior gets the hit. I advise using shield varls to keep the enemy's raiders busy.

  12. #12
    In your countering PK example SS can move to another tile behind provoker and shoot RoA 5 tiles straight ahead so that you can't counter.

    upd: I've looked through all the examples - great job! I guess this guide is just exactly the thing new players need to improve a lot. It shows a lot of needed beautiful examples that can make new players see the moves they couldn't see before. I remember now one book on chess which was very very thin - it just mainly contained a lot of examples of beautiful midgame combinations so that it improved my quality of the game greater than anything more fundamental. That's just what this guide is. I think i'll be advising any new player i meet to read it.
    Last edited by ojustme; 05-15-2013 at 03:02 PM.

  13. #13
    Really good guide, thanks

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    Senior Member Kuba's Avatar
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    Great guide, I really like picture examples, sometimes picture can say thousand words and I think that is absolutely correct right now.

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    Member Yth's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Space_Ghost View Post
    Question1: This build of yours, with 3 BMS, couldn't it be easily countered by Backbiters or by your melee fighters being overwhelmed against 2 Warhawks for example? Are those situations easily avoided just by positioning?
    Regarding this question, I went with the 3 BM team versus various lineups which included BBs and/or Warhawks. The build is exciting and challenging to play because you always have to position your extremely vulnerable archers safely, but at the same time you always have to commit to a range of 5 in order to break/attack efficiently.

    Every game (against competent opponents) feels like you are fighting to avoid drowning as his melee units get closer and closer to overwhelming your front line of blockers. A lot of the time you have to sacrifice an archer and send her to the front line to act as an additional blocker, or send your archers in 2 different directions so the opponent has to choose who he will chase.

    Positioning is the key ingredient I used to fight versus such aggressive teams.

    Good example games of that build fighting BBs or WHs can be found in my battle report thread:
    https://stoicstudio.com/forum/showthr...the-Tournament

    In particular:

    Game 1, vs 2x BB:
    https://imgur.com/a/4YJTL

    Game 4, vs WH/BB:
    https://imgur.com/a/JBqrc

    Game 9, vs a crazy all-in melee team
    https://imgur.com/a/rFyhl
    Last edited by Yth; 05-16-2013 at 09:19 AM.

  16. #16
    Member SeraphimLoki's Avatar
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    Thx man, unit placement was my weak spot. After reading your post i did pay some attention to that problem and learnt some important things ;*

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    Skald Aleonymous's Avatar
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    What a great thread Thanks, Yth! Hope you come back again, soon

    I have a lot of trouble with positioning and this could help me sort/focus on some things. However, the 3BM build you use means that you have to count up to 9, which is very-very difficult I have trouble counting the base-archer-range and calculate puncture-damage at the same time!

    What you didn't cover as much as I hoped were the zone-control abilities, SnB and RoA, and their effect on positioning. Well, hopefully some other time in the not-so-distant future...

  18. #18
    Member Yth's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aleonymous View Post
    What you didn't cover as much as I hoped were the zone-control abilities, SnB and RoA, and their effect on positioning. Well, hopefully some other time in the not-so-distant future...
    Positioning is supremely important to get your full damage potential from your units, especially melee units or archers hoping for puncture damage. I don't find that the active abilities you mentioned have a huge impact on positioning per-se.

    In it's current nerfed state, SnB (siege archer's ability) has very little impact on the board, it just does tiny bits of damage. It isn't often that someone will avoid running up to your archer for a big hit because they have to take 1 damage from coals. Furthermore because the coal placement is random, it is very common for the coals to have no meaningful impact on movement paths of raiders or other small units. The best case with SnB is that is causes your opponent to change their formation a bit.

    RoA (skystriker's ability) can impact positioning, but since it's location is secret I classify this ability more as a "Mindgames" ability than as a positioning tool. RoA would be much more a positioning tool if you could lay 2 or 3 arrows which are visible to both players, or something like that.

    The reason that I had my greatest success with 3 BMs is that they are so forgiving on positioning. If any other archer is even 1 square too far away to get puncture, you lose a huge amount of damage. The leeway you get from BMs lets you worry a little less about perfectly placing the archers (for damage), which gives you more space to place them for other reasons, like safety, baiting, or reserving their strength for the endgame.

    I was told that back in the beta days of stacking teams with thrashers, melee positioning was the paramount difference between a win and a loss. I never got into that style of all-melee teams, so I never got good at them and can't tell others how to play that style properly. Of those I've faced, Tirean seemed to have the best grasp on that style of play.

  19. #19
    Superbacker LoliSauce's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aleonymous View Post
    What a great thread Thanks, Yth! Hope you come back again, soon

    I have a lot of trouble with positioning and this could help me sort/focus on some things. However, the 3BM build you use means that you have to count up to 9, which is very-very difficult I have trouble counting the base-archer-range and calculate puncture-damage at the same time!

    What you didn't cover as much as I hoped were the zone-control abilities, SnB and RoA, and their effect on positioning. Well, hopefully some other time in the not-so-distant future...
    I totally didn't realize this was an ancient thread revived until seeing this post. I was going to comment on how the thread was pretty great except it left out a lot of stuff (relating to other archers and more offensive build types, mostly). Unfortunately the original poster probably doesn't even come around anymore, so I guess this is sort of a pointless post!

    Edit: I spoke too soon!
    Last edited by LoliSauce; 10-21-2013 at 05:54 AM. Reason: The Yth is back, baby.

  20. #20
    Skald Aleonymous's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yth View Post
    I don't find that the active abilities you mentioned have a huge impact on positioning per-se.
    I believe that SnB and RoA are of predominant importance to positioning. Well, actually, not to positioning per-se but rather to movement & engaging tactics. I attribute your low-opinion of those abilities to your particular playstyle, i.e. long-range archers behind meatshield breakers: you seem to prefer short movements to accurately place your BMs with perhaps just one rush-up for the SM to activate his ability (something like "first hit", but for AB). Its true that you won't suffer too much from RoA and SnB in those cases. However, when builds based on highly-mobile and high-damage units, namely warriors and mini-varl thrashers, are concerned, taking 1-3 damage from burning coals (SnB) or being unable/stopped from a critical attack (RoA) makes all the difference in a match.

    Quote Originally Posted by LoliSauce View Post
    I totally didn't realize this was an ancient thread revived until seeing this post. I was going to comment on how the thread was pretty great except it left out a lot of stuff (relating to other archers and more offensive build types, mostly). Unfortunately the original poster probably doesn't even come around anymore, so I guess this is sort of a pointless post! Edit:I spoke too soon!
    That was a crazy coincidence indeed! I revived that post and then, after 3-4 days of silence, the OP gets you ninja'ed within 10 minutes! What are the chances?

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