Strategy question

The new Heroes games produced by Ubisoft. Please specify which game you are referring to in your post.

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Banedon
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Strategy question

Postby Banedon » Sep 24 2008, 8:43

This issue of strategy is something I'd like to seek help on.

Imagine you're playing Mystic Vale in a player vs. player game, with two AI. The map, for those who do not know it, is a four-pointed map with routes between adjacent zones only (so opposite players cannot directly threaten each other). You and your opponent are adjacent, and you are playing Dungeon while he playing Fortress. The difficulty is Heroic.

Now Dungeon is one of the game's best creeping factions, and accordingly you trailblaze your zone. You've got some Stalkers and Blood Furies and a direct damage spell after the first week. You still have targets to attack, but you also (quite reasonably) want to use your early-game advantage. While creeping you push along the route to your opponent's zone, the plan being to seize his castle by surprise if possible, failing which to clear some of his creeps with your superior early-game. Getting caught by your opponent instead is a distinct possibility, but you're prepared: you use a secondary hero to carry off troops, leaving your main hero with ~10 Stalkers.

Your push does catch your opponent by surprise, but not enough so as to take his castle. You take out one of his neutral stacks and claim a treasure chest before he reacts. His main hero (Eba) has enough Bear Riders such that you cannot win a direct fight with 10 Stalkers (of course not).

So here is the question. How should you proceed? You want:

1. To continue clearing your area of the map. To do this you obviously need your hero (the difference between a level 10 hero clearing creeps and training a new level 1 hero to do it is huge, especially since you've used the easier creep stacks to bring your main hero to a higher level in the first place and the remaining stacks cannot be hit-and-run with Blood Furies for example.
2. To harass your opponent. If your opponent attacks one of your heroes, he risks getting hit by direct damage followed by a retreat, which can hurt, especially of course when cast by a high level hero (again, your main hero). In this game itself the strongest direct damage spell available on the main hero was Empowered Meteor Shower (I rushed Mage Guild 5) - but your opponent doesn't know that and certainly won't be expecting it.
3. If possible, not to lose a hero. Rehiring a hero costs ~3000 gold, which is serious on Heroic; you might even make a mistake and lose the hero in question (which ends the game if it's your main). A mistake is especially possible since you don't know what your opponent has; Stone Spikes for example could take out more Stalker stacks than you are prepared for. It is maybe a 4-day walk from your castle to his area, so if you harass your opponent will have a clear 4 days to move around, although he can't move around very much since you're constantly threatening him.
4. One thing to note is that such simple harassing isn't going to win you the game. If you're up against the AI then it will eventually, but against a human all you're going to achieve is impeding and slowing him down. Eventually his army is going to get larger and larger - you cannot neglect clearing your own area of the map.

Would you use your main hero to clear the neutrals or to harass your opponent, and why? If you choose to harass your opponent, how long would you do it? Would you train up a second hero to clear the neutrals on your side while at it? Or would you train up a second hero to harass him while the main clears neutrals? Or would you ignore the open path directly, be happy with the advantage you've earned + the advance reconnaisence of his area?
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Postby Asheera » Sep 24 2008, 11:33

I would clear the neutrals from my area, because I don't like rushes :P But that's just me, and I don't know if harassing is a better choice...
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Postby Jolly Joker » Sep 24 2008, 19:25

For me it depends on how many of his Bear Riders you will be able to kill with your stalkers (spell-wise, of course) before you have to flee. Killing most of his Bear Riders will cripple his 3rd week creeping ability a lot, which would probably be worth the investment of 3000 gold, enabling to clear the home area while he'd suffer under the loss of the Riders. Furthermore the AI opposition is bound to attack rather sooner or later and you don't want to get surprised by a level 12 AI hero with your good hero out in the fields.
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Postby Wolfsburg » Sep 25 2008, 0:27

That assuming you and your friends have decided to ALLOW hit-n-runs in your game. Because mainly thats what this whole strategy is based on. Losing a few stalkers at the cost of huge chunks of enemy's troops and then fleeing is banned in most PvP games (and for a good reason).

If your opponent(s) decided to allow this strategy, then, to hell with it, burn their teddybears to ashes, chill down their berserkers with empowered winter circles and whatnot.

Next time they wont be that thrilled about hit and runs though. :devious:

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Postby Jolly Joker » Sep 25 2008, 4:58

I wouldn't want to discuss that, but attacking someone with the main hero accompanied by his creeping force isn't hit and run, by no means, but if it is considered so, you'd have to ban the whole Dungeon, because strictly spoken their whole game is hit and run. Moreover, even if it was considered so, on heroic hit and run is always a major investment, especially as early as in week 2, so it's virtually not "cheap" and I can't see anything wrong with that.
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Postby Wolfsburg » Sep 25 2008, 18:20

Hi JJ!

This goes quite a bit against what I was tought.

The whole idea that was transmitted to me was: if you dont plan taking the combat to the end, dont begin it in first place. Specially when you have the power to cause casualties without having any loss (ex: staff of netherworld + ring of speed + arcane archers) or (stalkers + expert destructive). Which is basically the case here.

But after a long period of hearing different interpretations on the matter, I assume "Hit and Runs" are like God. Every person has a different concept of what it means..

I'd love to hear your opinion on the matter though, on a more adequate thread, when you feel like talking about it. :)

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Postby Jolly Joker » Sep 26 2008, 7:02

Hi Wolfsburg.
What would be wrong with H&R on heroic? You'll never have "enough" money, so each money spent is money not spent elsewhere. H&R heroes cost money and are limited, so what would be the problem?
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Postby Banedon » Sep 26 2008, 8:22

I don't think it's a question of hit and run here - there are specific complications that change the balance:

1. The attacking player might get off no more than one spell. This is because of split Skirmisher stacks, the Ballista, Rune of Charge -> Bear Riders, etc. Against this, he risks the game (if he loses the hero he loses the game) as well as the 3k gold for rehiring.

2. It takes ~4 turns to get from one castle to another. The hit-and-runs stop in the meantime, more than enough time to do something meaningful.

3. The hit-and-runs are occuring when there still remain things to do. Clear neutrals, flag mines, gather obelisks and stat boosts, etc. By embarking on a hit-and-run mission with the main hero, the attacking player is essentially sacrificing all these auxilliaries. And he will need them eventually. The enemy's army is getting larger; his spell power isn't.

4. The attacking player won't be attacking in the first place: much better to force the defender to attack by moving directly to threaten his castle or his neutral creeping, wherupon the defender will be forced to attack (plus hopefully for the attacker waste some movement points).

5. Given some bad luck the attacker might have to retreat before casting a single spell, which is certainly crippling.

Jolly Joker wrote:For me it depends on how many of his Bear Riders you will be able to kill with your stalkers (spell-wise, of course) before you have to flee. Killing most of his Bear Riders will cripple his 3rd week creeping ability a lot, which would probably be worth the investment of 3000 gold, enabling to clear the home area while he'd suffer under the loss of the Riders. Furthermore the AI opposition is bound to attack rather sooner or later and you don't want to get surprised by a level 12 AI hero with your good hero out in the fields.


So you'd basically pull off one and only one attack?
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Postby Asheera » Sep 26 2008, 12:02

Jolly Joker wrote:What would be wrong with H&R on heroic? You'll never have "enough" money, so each money spent is money not spent elsewhere. H&R heroes cost money and are limited, so what would be the problem?
You know, if you think H&R is not worth it on Heroic then why use it? You see, you use it because it's better than without, even with all money costs included. And, since it's an "abuse" (surely don't tell me entering a fight with such a low army and still do incredible damage to the enemy is not an abuse - it's just possible because the hero can't be "attacked"), it is often banned.
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Postby Jolly Joker » Sep 26 2008, 18:12

Banedon wrote:
Jolly Joker wrote:For me it depends on how many of his Bear Riders you will be able to kill with your stalkers (spell-wise, of course) before you have to flee. Killing most of his Bear Riders will cripple his 3rd week creeping ability a lot, which would probably be worth the investment of 3000 gold, enabling to clear the home area while he'd suffer under the loss of the Riders. Furthermore the AI opposition is bound to attack rather sooner or later and you don't want to get surprised by a level 12 AI hero with your good hero out in the fields.


So you'd basically pull off one and only one attack?

Right. It will do a couple of things for 3000 bucks, and since you escorted the Furies back you did everything right to pull this off (I mean this; my opinion is that from what you told I think you played a really good game so far; period). There will be stalkers that can disappear, and the question is how the opponent has arranged his Riders. Five stacks will allow him to sweep the board fast. If you can pull off a couple of spells and kill most of his bear riders, though, his creeping ability will be zero, since the simple stacks will have been killed, so going with Guards won't do any good
Secondly you'll be at home fast.
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Postby danhvo » Sep 26 2008, 18:21

I am of the mind that when players try to "fix" the game, either by mods or creating some artificial constraints, they usually end up creating more problems. Banning H&R is one of these. On the surface, it sounds fair, but in reality, it cripples some factions more than others. You're basically replacing one unfairness with another. Some heroes are just better suited to this strategy than others.

I do admit that attacking without any intention to finish a battle seems very cheap. I wish the game would make so that you can flee only on your hero's turn, and not on any of your troop's turn. It only seems logical that only the commander of an army can decide whether his army should withdraw or surrender. Thus, when it's the hero's turn, you have to decide whether to fire off that Meteor Shower, or flee. This way, H&R would be a lot less effective, without having to be banned altogether.

On the other hand, according to my own philosophy, this might introduce yet other unintended consequences, so I don't know.

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Postby Asheera » Sep 26 2008, 18:32

danhvo wrote:I am of the mind that when players try to "fix" the game, either by mods or creating some artificial constraints, they usually end up creating more problems. Banning H&R is one of these. On the surface, it sounds fair, but in reality, it cripples some factions more than others. You're basically replacing one unfairness with another. Some heroes are just better suited to this strategy than others.
H&R doesn't mean to "flee". When you enter the battle with only 7 stacks of 1 Stalker, that is H&R. That is a cheap trick and abuse, and should be banned. When you enter a battle with your whole army, then by all means you have the right to flee if things turn bad.

danhvo wrote:I do admit that attacking without any intention to finish a battle seems very cheap. I wish the game would make so that you can flee only on your hero's turn, and not on any of your troop's turn. It only seems logical that only the commander of an army can decide whether his army should withdraw or surrender. Thus, when it's the hero's turn, you have to decide whether to fire off that Meteor Shower, or flee. This way, H&R would be a lot less effective, without having to be banned altogether.
Brilliant idea! I love it :tsup:
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Postby Jolly Joker » Sep 26 2008, 20:38

Why would you ban something that's Dungeon fighting style in the whole game? You could just as well say that Necropolis isn't allowed to fight against another hero with creatures gained by necromancy or use Raise Dead.
Moreover, try single Hydras instead of Stalkers.
In any case this is just a question of available money.
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Postby Asheera » Sep 26 2008, 20:45

Dungeon is certainly not about entering the battle with only a minimal of forces and nuke out the enemy, and then flee

btw, most fan-made ToH maps have the Shackles on the map to prevent this abuse :P
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Postby konfeta » Oct 1 2008, 4:37

Well this is fun.

The idea of a massive paladin stack getting stopped by a couple of lowly level 1 units is considered "unrealistic and should be removed from Heroes," while following a real life tactic of hit and run by using the logical accessories (a low profile commando/spotter team with portable artillery) with a faction who is fluffed to be filled with hit-and-run fanatics needs to be banned because it is too "lame" despite being a legit and reality reflecting tactic.

Yeah... Did Ashan hold a Geneva Convention I am not aware off? ;|


I agree, though, that this mechanic needs to be tweaked. See, here is another place (outside a full blown travel map spell school) HoMM could use a development. An actual well done support for raids, stealth, and hit'n'run tactics would be sweet.

<crosses fingers for H6>

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Postby Asheera » Oct 1 2008, 11:42

konfeta wrote:while following a real life tactic of hit and run by using the logical accessories (a low profile commando/spotter team with portable artillery) with a faction who is fluffed to be filled with hit-and-run fanatics needs to be banned because it is too "lame" despite being a legit and reality reflecting tactic.
Oh, the fact that the hero can't be attacked by the enemy (and especially archers and enemy hero) and you have to kill those "abuse" stacks (1 creature in a stack) to end the fight is soooo real. :rolleyes:
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Postby konfeta » Oct 1 2008, 13:31

:D

I can counter by pointing out that the hero is hidden from the archers and counter-strikes by the enemy hero while using information relayed by the spotters to nuke enemy formations.

When things get too hot (spotters start dieing, army closing in), the hero flees. If the hero risks it long enough to lose his spotters, he/she basically let the enemy secure his surroundings to prevent him from escaping and gets captured!



See why I make a point of calling this game an abstraction of fantasy warfare? (sorry for hijacking)

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Postby Grumpy Old Wizard » Oct 1 2008, 14:57

A "heroe" who continuallly retreated wouldn't be considered a heroe by his troops because such actions would not be very heroic. Who would want to join a "heroe" who fled every battle and had his troops always perish to the last man? "Run away, run away!"

Maybe there should be a kingdom wide morale penalty for retreats. So you can still use armegeddon bombs but they are going to cost your main heroe.The penalty could decay over a long period of time.
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Postby Jolly Joker » Oct 1 2008, 15:09

Hmm. What about partisan heroes? Rebel heroes?

In Star Wars the heroes are rebels as well, and they do a lot hit-and-run business.

In any case I'd consider this kind of warfare as in line with both Elven races. Dungeon level 1s are not called Assassins/Stalkers without a reason. :)
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Postby Borsuc » Oct 1 2008, 15:20

konfeta wrote::D

I can counter by pointing out that the hero is hidden from the archers and counter-strikes by the enemy hero while using information relayed by the spotters to nuke enemy formations.

When things get too hot (spotters start dieing, army closing in), the hero flees. If the hero risks it long enough to lose his spotters, he/she basically let the enemy secure his surroundings to prevent him from escaping and gets captured!



See why I make a point of calling this game an abstraction of fantasy warfare? (sorry for hijacking)
Since we're using the "realistic" arguments, then in a REAL fight, how hard is for 100 Paladins to kill 7 Stalkers? Or probably a whole ARMY.

How much can the enemy "hero" defend himself and hide from the advancing enemy ARMY with 7 STALKERS? ;|

Long enough to cast a spell and then run away, also assuming that the enemy can't catch him? How much will 7 stalkers hold out an enemy ARMY? 3 hours? a whole day? long enough to flee? or, more probable, 3 seconds?

realistically, it's ridiculous, and you used realistic arguments for this tactic?
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