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Thread: Know your units: Episode 11, Siege Archer

  1. #1
    Senior Member Kletian999's Avatar
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    Know your units: Episode 11, Siege Archer

    The last of the current crop of archers is the fiery Siege Archer. The Siege archer has been through many tough times, both in the story lore (having have set her own home on fire) and in the metagame (going though many revisions and adjustments). Their power, Slag and Burn, has held 2 constants through it all. The first constant being the attack creates a 5 square cross shape with the center target receiving greatest effect, the second being the creation of ground hazards that do static damage. In it's current incarnation, the arrow can be aimed in any space regardless of occupancy- the unit in that center square, if there is one, suffers 1 Str damage and 1/2/3 Armor break by level- no regards to the stats of the archer or target armor (but resistable by Raidmasters. The squares adjacent to the epicenter will do 1 Str damage to units in them. Varls occupying multiple effected squares take no more damage than humans in a single square. If any squares in the cross were unoccupied, the power would distribute "hot coal tiles" just like what's found in a line in the great hall.

    The number of possible coals created is 2/3/4 per level. If the center was open, the first coal would always be there, the rest would be placed randomly in open squares. If there were more open squares than potential coals, the rest of the squares would be filled with "harmless ash". If there were more coal potentials than open squares, every open square would have a coal, discarding the rest of the potential. The coals and ash disappear at the start of the turn of the unit that created them (or instantly if the Siege archer dies). Any unit walking over a coal suffers 1 str damage; if the unit somehow starts it's turn when the coal is still there (Turn Advantage, warleader, or being moved onto the coal via Strongarm push) it'll suffer another damage. It is possible for two archers to place coals on the same spot (and no indication is given when this occurs) except that the victim unit suffers 2 damage on that square. A Varl suffers from a single coal space only once a move despite having his "front" and "back" squares crossing it, but suffers both from crossing two coals at once when they form a line.

    In practice, this power can be used a few ways.

    1. By placing the center of the blast immediately in front of the unit, you can pull off a range 6, 100% 1 Str attack, like a Bird of Prey, with the added bonus of the center square being definitely a coal to discourage direct counterattack.

    2. Targeting a human unit directly to do a weak armor/str hit, while having the coals hopefully block their best paths- rank 3 ensures there's no escape. However, this can also preclude your own units from striking that target.

    3. Targeting a Varl with the center space will leave at best 2 spaces open on his corners, so even level 1 can reliably lay coals across a path.

    4. Targeting a row of units in tight formation to spread small amounts of Area of Effect damage.

    5. Dropping the coals in the empty space between the forces to discourage advancement. usually much better to at least scratch a unit with a tip square than do this.

    6. Take advantage of a combo with Strongarm, pushing a unit over the coals for additional damage.

    I know I'll get some disagreement on this, but with the current state of the power (recently nerfed, used to do with the direct hit +1 break at levels 1 and 2, and +1 str at level 3), most of these uses aren't as effective as having your archer make a 2+ Exertion break attack instead, or a puncture shot when available. Usage #4 and #6 have value, but your opponent's positioning must let you do those, so it's not a strategy you can count on. The math behind my reasoning is that 5 Break for 3 will becomes 7 strength damage to another archer with puncture (or 5 to any other unit), while the rank 3 attack on a single target does 3 break and 2 strength if he crosses a coal (2 direct +3+1 puncture damage). If it doesn't move, not only do you do 1 less strength but your melee friends lose a strength getting closer. The Rank 2 attack is 2 will for 2 Break and 1-2 Str damage if the coals fall right (you could be making a standard break for free and spend the 2 will for bonus strength next turn).

    As mentioned before, Strongarms pushing units over the coals is nice free Str damage. Raidmasters can resists the coals and thus can avoid being "friendly fired". Warleaders forging ahead other team members leaves the coals on the ground longer, forging ahead the Siege Archer herself clears the coals for your own units to move.

    Stats and Roles

    Min 4/4/6/1/0, Max 9/7/13/3/2. Like all archers, it's easy to cap all stats except Will. The Siege archer is slightly weaker and more fragile from having only 7 strength to use. This used to be a non-issue since the power had done significant damage regardless of strength, like Thrashers. Once, the Siege archer also could have 10 armor to compensate, but that nerf preceded the power damage reduction since they felt too effective surviving on the front line burning all who approach. Hopefully their armor will be restored giving them the niche of the "durable" archer.

    The Siege archer can make good break shots without caring for her strength, so she can advance with your raiders unlike the bowmasters. Her low strength should get her killed fast for some turn advantage.

    Weaknesses: Backbiters can reach them if you keep them hanging back for puncture like normal archers; Thrashers can chip their low health away. High Strength warriors can afford to lose a point or two to coals to make a devastating blow. Other archers can pick her off in two shots without raider shieldwall.

    Leveling: it used to be that Rank 3 archers were fantastic, people would use 3 in rank 12 matches to burn meleers harmless. Post-nerf however, since hitting two+ targets should be your threshold for using the power, rank 2 is probably the highest that you'll use. Rank 1s are capable enough to make their break shots.

  2. #2
    Developer raven2134's Avatar
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    Coal laying only overlaps on Great Hall. SA coals overwrite each other if they happen to occupy the same square, dealing a total of 1 damage only.

    Great hall is the exception, because the coals count as terrain. When an SA coal overlaps a Flame pit coal, they both remain in effect, dealing a total of 2 damage for that tile. But when another SA coal overlaps that same tile, it overwrites the previous SA coal, and the damage remains at a max of 2.

    Note, units only take damage for every *new/unique* coal tile they step on for that turn. If they start on a coal tile, that tile is considered "new" because their turn just took effect with them on that tile (as would be the case if they walked over the tile during their turn).

    It's interesting to note, if a raidmaster stonewalls on top of a coal tile, they take damage for the turn they walked on top of the tile and activated their ability. However, at the start of their succeeding turn, the raidmaster takes no damage because stonewall protects them from the damage as their turn takes effect.

    There's a bit of bias on the unit commentary which I somewhat understand. But besides looking at how the damage trade-off looks in comparison to a full-on willpower boosted break, we need to note also:

    1. SAs become more devastating if you bring more than 1. You cover 4 tiles with coals using 2 SAs, and higher ranks of the ability see better returns when you focus fire using more than 1 SA. 2 SAs using their ability cover 4 tiles, and do a total of 4/2 damage.
    2. Arguably, even in the said situation, pulling off 2 break (5) attacks on different or the same target would be more efficient. The ability is still meant to emphasize a choice of making a positional play, however. With the coals in place, it allows your melee units to achieve better positions, while your opponent must tread over any of the 4 said coals to advance. The ideal setup is to time your positional play to take advantage of the coals and when they clear up.
    3. Lastly, the main focus for the write-up's analysis was versus single target. One of the perks of the ability is its AOE. Again this is far more effective when you have more than 1 SA. If the opponent takes up a very tight formation, the SAs do 2/1 each at level 2 and then the 1 str damage per enemy adjacent to target. If you got 2 S&Bs off, the units around the target would take 2 str damage (which is quite devastating for archers especially, and can make the difference by hobbling units).

    Still, it's best appreciated that the ability is not meant to be the best option all the time, but to have a situational use. Perhaps we will see some buffs to the ability in the future, but definitely not along the vein of improving its str damage.

    I will also go so far to say that 9/7 seems like a good max for SA stats. It means you can't be careless and use them as blockers (which 10/7 allowed). What admittedly feels off for me right now are BMs, who can stat 9/8, have 2 natural break (+3 exertion), and then get 7/8/9 range on their ability...and have enough willpower to adapt to any situation. She's clearly the superior archer.
    Last edited by raven2134; 05-28-2013 at 07:56 AM.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Kletian999's Avatar
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    Thanks for the clarification regarding stacking coals, I had thought they'd overwritten but I remembered some discussion in chat stating otherwise (and I hadn't used a Siege archer since the nerf). To be clear, it's impossible for "Safe Ash" to overwrite a placed coal correct?

    Thanks also for the Raidmaster standing on coals case: I had mentioned that factoid in their thread, but it's good repeated here.

    I thank you also for the alternative perspective on the SA power in it's current state, though I did mention AOE attacks was "Use #4", it's just that you can't "make your opponent stand in a clump" and good players will avoid giving you the chance unless they want to bait you into the open.

  4. #4
    Developer raven2134's Avatar
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    Live coal stays live. A dud tile from a newer S&B won't overwrite a live coal tile.

    Welcome, and you are correct there too sir . It's a case to case thing.

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