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Thread: Know your units: Episode 12, Warleader

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    Senior Member Kletian999's Avatar
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    Know your units: Episode 12, Warleader

    The last of the three warriors is certainly the most unusual. While Warhawks and Warmasters have focused on having lots of strength and making giant hits before being maimed, the Warleader can offer something entirely different. They could still be built for high strength, and they still have the passive ripple STR damage on their swings, but their greatest potential lies in their flexible stats and their power.

    Forge Ahead, the Warleader power, is a fascinating addition to the atypical turn mechanics of Banner Saga. As the game will tell you, outside of Pillage mode, turns are rigorously alternated between you and your opponent even when unit counts don't match. When everyone is alive, this simple counts down the initiative order of both teams into a cycle. When units start dying these cycles become out of synch, allowing units to act before an enemy that previously acted before them (part of what's referred to as "Turn advantage"). The Warleader power lets you artificially drag a unit up the initiative such that it will act your next turn. A level 1 warleader must be able to touch the unit he wants to boost, rank 2 gives a 4 space range, while rank 3 is unlimited range. It is VERY important to note that Forge ahead does not immediately grant the Warleaders turn to the target unit, your Warleader will do nothing but possibly move on his turn and 1 enemy unit will be able to act before your Forge ahead target. The second feature that demands understanding is once forged ahead, the unit's old spot in the init order is lost in favor of right after the Warleader unless other units are forged ahead. Thus the unit is not getting a "bonus turn", and the power is completely useless on the unit that already follows the Warleader, so a unit once forged ahead once likely cannot benefit again that fight.

    I'll cover more negative consequences of the power under weaknesses. What I must strive to prove now is despite these limits, the power can still be incredibly valuable (it'd be overpowered without them!). In short, this power is nothing but comboing with other units. As mentioned in my Warmaster thread, the first hit can be the key the victory. As mentioned in my Raidmaster thread advancing forward and making attacks exposes yourself to a counterattack. The Warleader gives you the freedom to either make an extremely effective first hit, and/or help reduce your exposure via retreat or a maiming hit on potential counterattackers. Any high strength unit (another warrior usually) is the simplest expression of this synergy. For best results the Boost target should go right before the Warleader in initial turn order. Other uses include:

    1. Archers can also benefit from the boost to capitalize on a puncture that they couldn't reach on their original turn.

    2. While harder to plan for, a unit with lots of will and in danger of death can get the chance to burn it all.

    3. If one unit on your team has their power active (like a skystriker trap) you can extend it's duration for another enemy's turn by forging "a unit that normally follows the power user" ahead of them. Similarly, you can immediately end the power (like Siege archer coals) by forging the power user themselves.

    4. If the enemy has provided a rare opportunity with his positioning for a unit power of yours, like a 10+ damage tempest or a 3 unit slag'n'burn, it might be worth forging as you may not see it again.

    5. Boost a breaker in the early game to increase the value of your STR hitters first turns.

    6. Special! During pillage (if you have the multiple units) Forge ahead actually will grant the target unit an immediate turn. Use this to turn a close endgame into a decisive victory. Two warleaders can even chain this effect on each other to move around the board freely together while their will holds

    Stats and Roles:
    Warleader stats are bizarrely flexible with high potential maximums outside of Will. Min 6/9/4/1/0 Max 12/15/9/3/4. Maybe you want him to act like the other warriors, but he can also be a powerful armor breaker, or something in-between.

    Armor: Like most warriors, it's expensive to get it much higher than 8-10, but if your goal for this unit is primarily breaks or power uses, you can transfer strength points here.

    Strength: With 15 Strength, he can two shot most raiders and one shot archers with enough exertion. That said, his power doesn't help the STR damage role like the other warriors do. Since his power can keep him towards the back, rather than charging in, you'll get better results letting his threat range protect smaller units. Getting high Strength here may compromise his break stat, making him one of the weakest units when maimed.

    Will: High minimum will for a warrior, so little need for investment. Whether you use it all on attack boosts or save it for forging ahead units, both plans are viable.

    Exertion: the only warrior capable of 3 Exertion, this gives him a potentially huge movement range. Taking advantage of this gives the flexibility for either large breaks or surprise 4 damage attacks on closely armored targets as long as your will holds. Unlike the other warriors, you could get away with less than 2 Exertion if his main job was to boost others.

    Break: Capable of having either 0 break, 4, or somewhere in between. When he's at 0 break his only value to you if maimed is forging or blocking movement, which lose usefulness as the game progresses. With high break, he's like a shield master with high movement but lacking survivability, and will be a priority kill target.

    Weaknesses:
    Read the important warnings in my original description of the power. As the number of units you have decreases, the less valuable the forge ahead is. There are plenty of additional cases where using Forge ahead is a bad idea. If the Forged unit is close enough to the enemy unit that moves after the forge, whatever you intended with the forge ahead can be thwarted. Either by blocking the path, maiming, or even killing the forged unit (completely wasting the power's use). Forging ahead a unit that had stopped on top of temporary siege coals will cause them to suffer str damage at the start of their turn they wouldn't have had otherwise. The change in turn order caused by forging delays your other team members, and can put one of your other units at the mercy of an enemy unit it formally acted before.

    The Warleader can have weak to reasonable armor, normal to high strength, and 0 to 4 break. Depending on what stats you sacrifice to make others high, you've created a weakness. If you keep everything balanced, the unit will lack a team role and have turns less fulfilling than others.

    While not a weakness per say, there's something to be said that his passive "warrior" ripple bonus is completely unusable (instead of synergized with power) when making breaking or forging ahead actions. The fact you've taken a Warleader means you are not taking another Varl class that would offer more survivability, break, or strength potential- so if you aren't using his power well you'd be better served elsewhere. That said, skilled opponents will be analyzing your turn line up to predict any planned forge aheads and limit their value if they can- a bad forge ahead is worse than just passing your turn.

    The Warleader is not a good unit for beginners, but those who have started the grasp the system will find a well executed Warleader immensely satisfying.

    Leveling:
    The positioning require to use rank 1 power often puts you in the tough choice between using the power, making a decent attack, or staying out of danger. The range bonus from rank 2 is a godsend especially for high str/low armor builds. Rank 3 seems like it's too steep a cost, as you should be planning the forge ahead enough to be close enough for rank . That said, if the opportunity for a cross map forge ahead presents itself, your opponent won't see it coming. The extra stat points, like on all warriors are welcome for shoring up weak stats.
    Last edited by Kletian999; 05-29-2013 at 10:06 AM. Reason: Posting works now

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    Senior Member Kletian999's Avatar
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    Thread is ready.

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    Senior Member Kletian999's Avatar
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    Hopefully the forum security snafus aren't keeping the replies from coming. For interesting use of High strength, low break warleaders working with archers, check out Ojustme's Twitch Tv stream. A while back Tirean played around with High break/High Exertion Warleaders which can also be informative.

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    Senior Member Kletian999's Avatar
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    No one wants to talk Warleaders? At least there's a debate on whether they make good breakers in Rodereve's thread

    https://stoicstudio.com/forum/showthr...r-Unit-s-Stats

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    Skald Aleonymous's Avatar
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    Hey Kletian!

    Warleader is one of the units I'd love to love, but he never really managed to make it work for me . I don't know why... Except for some WL+WH combos vs noobs, he rarely managed to do anything really special. I've been trying to use him as a breaker, but to very limited success. I think his best use is, as OJM uses him, a back-line "director" and/or as a potential endgame "sweeper".

    His Forge-Ahead ability would be truly great if he could "swap turns" with the selected unit, instead of making the selected unit "next-one-up". I guess that would be terrible OP though. His most invaluable use, mainly due to its relatively unknown/unexpected nature, is the "extra-turn" in Pillage

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    Senior Member Kletian999's Avatar
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    Indeed, it doesn't help that his "boost the warhawk into range trick" can often be done better by a Strongarm.

    I've wondered if Forge ahead would be more useful if it "created" a temporary turn in the queue rather than change the initiative order (so the power could be used on the same target more than once a fight, and be practical on any unit regardless of their init position). It wouldn't be as strong as giving an instant turn, but it would mean you actually gain some actions for the target unit rather than what we have now.

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    Skald Aleonymous's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kletian999 View Post
    I've wondered if Forge ahead would be more useful if it "created" a temporary turn in the queue rather than change the initiative order.
    You mean something like

    • [WL]>>[Enemy]>>[FA'd Ally]>>[Ally]>>[Enemy],

    with the yellow slot being the "temp" slot? This way, you'd get to act twice-in-a-row (like in Pillage)... I think that this would turn the FA into a truly powerful ability and I think it'd be imbalanced.

    EDIT: My suggestion at post #5 of this thread was to have the FA as in:

    • [WL]>>[FA'd Ally]>>[Enemy]-->[Ally]>>[Enemy],

    where the WL ends his turn and the FA'd ally acts immediately after him, before the enemy unit, permanently changing the unit-order. I think that this one is a little less powerful (combo-wise) than your suggestion, but is still a big-buff to the current FA.
    Last edited by Aleonymous; 06-03-2013 at 07:11 AM.

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    Senior Member Kletian999's Avatar
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    No I what I mean is: if the init for my team Ally 3, WH, Ally 1, Ally 2
    it'd create
    Ally 3, enemy 1, WL, enemy 2, FAed ally 3, enemy 3, Ally 1. enemy 4, Ally 2, enemy 5, Ally 3, enemy 6, WL, enemy 1, Ally 1

    In contrast, the current power pushes the last Ally 3 and forever puts them after the warleader. What mine does is treat the FAed ally like a 7th member of your team that only lives for one round(or 5th in the case of my smaller example).
    Last edited by Kletian999; 06-04-2013 at 07:28 AM. Reason: Correcting Aleo's comment.

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    Skald Aleonymous's Avatar
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    OK, thanks. Now I seem to get it. Yeah, I agree that this less "intrusive" than what I meant, and has the advantage of not messing up the initiative order. In that way, you can potentially get your X/WL/X combos multiple times.

    On second thought -- Your initiative order was #3/WL/#1/#2/... Shouldn't it continue that way after the FA? You graph seems to have them #3/WL/[FA#3]/#2/#3/#1/... Isn't this messed up? Hmmm, I think you meant to write it as: #3/WL/[FA#3]/#1/#2/#3/... right?

  10. #10
    Actually the current "messing up" the initiative order allows for interesting chain-combos, when pulling WL+BB changes your initiative order so that you can use WL+WH next, for example. I really like it and i think this way FA is way more interesting.

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    Senior Member Butters's Avatar
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    I see where Kletian is coming from on this one, and I do like the idea, but it would be so hard to work with. The initiative bar showing only one turn would make it pretty much impossible to tell what the turn order would be after that, which I can see creating messes and frustration. Also, like in your example, make a unit go twice in 3 turns seems a bit weird. Actually with that rule FA'ing the next unit would have him/her go twice in a row ? I guess there could be a caveat for that but it makes the rule even more complicated and confusing.

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    Senior Member Kletian999's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aleonymous View Post
    OK, thanks. Now I seem to get it. Yeah, I agree that this less "intrusive" than what I meant, and has the advantage of not messing up the initiative order. In that way, you can potentially get your X/WL/X combos multiple times.

    On second thought -- Your initiative order was #3/WL/#1/#2/... Shouldn't it continue that way after the FA? You graph seems to have them #3/WL/[FA#3]/#2/#3/#1/... Isn't this messed up? Hmmm, I think you meant to write it as: #3/WL/[FA#3]/#1/#2/#3/... right?
    Good catch, yes I mean #1 to follow FA3.

    To Butters, yes the idea as it stands would allow the unit following the WL to go twice, I'm undecided as to whether that'd be a bad thing- FA is competing with Tempest as powers go after all- which is like going twice. The concept was make it useful even when team is small, but I wouldn't be upset if that corner case was deemed too much.

    Since you'd have to FA the unit first, the enemy can still see your plan make plans to move away or maim that unit as long as the units in his init are the closest to the FAed target- thus positioning gets a new metagame- proceed with the obvious double turn your opponent is expecting to counter, or surprise by FAing a different unit they won't expect.

    I'm not sure what you mean that inserting a temporary 2nd version of a unit's face would make Initiative hard to read... we already see duplicate icons when there's turn advantage.

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    Senior Member Kletian999's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ojustme View Post
    Actually the current "messing up" the initiative order allows for interesting chain-combos, when pulling WL+BB changes your initiative order so that you can use WL+WH next, for example. I really like it and i think this way FA is way more interesting.
    The question becomes, should the power require wrapping your team around it to make it useful? Right now, many players either don't or can't use FA like that effectively. My idea gives you and others the freedom to FA any unit with even more surprise on your opponent.

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    Senior Member Butters's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kletian999 View Post
    I'm not sure what you mean that inserting a temporary 2nd version of a unit's face would make Initiative hard to read... we already see duplicate icons when there's turn advantage.
    I meant that if it were to work like that, the turn order will be different between the current rotation (rotation = 1 full turn, every unit on the team acts once), displayed in the initiative bar, and the next rotation which is not displayed. This potentially makes it very hard to plan correctly because it becomes unclear if your unit will go before or after one particular enemy in the next rotation. These type of turn advantage predictions are difficult enough when all the information is clearly in the initiative bar but you have to account for deaths...

    Regarding if a unit going twice in a row is a problem, I think it is. In early game, when going for archer harassment (which is currently one of the if not the main use of FA), that means you can put your WL in 1 and your archer in 2, and get the same result except the enemy will have one less turn to react to the archer's attacks. This tactic would become pretty much impossible to counter. Also, as you said, it would become very powerful with less units on your side - if you are left with WL + 1, that unit will get 2 out of 3 of your turns. That is huge. 2 out of 4 turns with 3 units on the board is still very good.
    The current FA is made so that it keeps the "each unit acts once per team rotation" paradigm intact (notwithstanding pillage), and IMHO it is a good thing.

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    Senior Member Kletian999's Avatar
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    Each units acts once per rotation, except that the WL isn't really doing anything. We all agree instantly giving his turn to another unit is too much, but arguably what it does now is too little, thus my compromise.

    Ok, I'm convinced we can forbid FAing the unit following WL corner case.

  16. #16
    I like the warleader, use it extensively. But you have to fit your team around him. The initiation, placement and stategy. Honestly I like it. If we do have a sport annetote (hopefully written right). There are certain really good players in a team sport that only work if the team is built around their talent. For a example a striker in soccer who is a really only good in heading the ball. You would need loads of guys good in crossing the ball. ANd then there are others that do not need that help or that the team is built around them to work. I like the bit a bit. Warleader is this niche unit. You have to build around him.

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    Skald Aleonymous's Avatar
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    Lets revive this thread, with some (relatively) recent material from this other thread/post:

    Problems with the Factions' Warleader: First off, successfully completing one of the so-called "FA combos" (e.g. with Archer: Break>Puncture, or with Warhawk: Double-Tempest or Charge>Tempest) is quite hard against an opponent who's aware of them. In the end of the day, the main problem is that using his ability means that in one turn your team does no damage. That "lost turn" can make all the difference in a match where your units take an average of ~20 turns and deal an average of 2-5 damage/turn... His stats are also a bit peculiar:
    • ARM / STR: I think this he should have maximums of 13ARM / 15STR, so that he's got max 28 "Hit-Points", just like WH & WM.
    • WP: The 4WP minimum is a little cruel. All other Varl have a 3WP min (WH has got 2WP min!), and this makes a big difference in the current metagame where people are reluctant to spend a lot on WP.
    • EX: The max 3EX is an interesting option for warrior-standoffs. However, the min should be allowed at 0EX, which is in-line with the WL's role of staying in the back and using all his WP on commanding allies.
    • AB: The minimum of 0AB is ridiculous... How can his massive Warhammer deal 0AB ?!? The max of 4AB is just a tease, and not in-line with the Warrior's natural ability: dealing STR damage, not break.

    Don't get me wrong; WL stats allow for some interesting units, but none of them seem to work well atm... In short, the WL is a freak!

    So, concerning possible changes to Forge Ahead... Hmmm, there's a lot to say here. I'm gonna outline a couple of ideas:
    1. Range change -- FA range is increased, e.g. 3/6/Inf tiles for ranks 1/2/3.
    2. Ally stat boost (as Fazolt suggested) -- WL boosts FA'd ally's WP (1/2/3WP for each rank) Note: As Tirean pointed out to me, this was tested in beta and was proven "broken" when two WLs FA'd one-another or boosted RM Stonewalls. So, more thought is needed here.
    3. Drastically change FA -- The WL is giving his present turn to some ally, without changing the turn-order. Timer keeps ticking, so FA'd ally has got less time to act. This is kinda OP, so we need to balance it; here's two variants:
      1. Ally cannot use active ability nor increase attack with WP/EX. Also, he/she cannot move if WL moved before commanding him/her.
      2. Ally can only use active-ability; he/she can neither move nor perform a regular attack; only allies with at least 1WP and an "executable" ability are valid FA-targets (for example, a Shieldmaster with no adjacent enemies is not valid for this FA)
    Last edited by Aleonymous; 08-28-2014 at 06:22 AM.
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    Skald Aleonymous's Avatar
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    Also, here is another year-old thread with some useful WL-related information: Tips on how to use WL effectively? (by Tatski)

    Input from players who've extensively used the WL, like ojustme or grumpyoldman, would be highly valuable here
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