The Miniatures War College
Advenio paratus. Egressus melior paratus.
D&D Miniatures strategy and analysis.

May 24, 2005

Three Pillars of an Effective Warband


Command
This pillar can vacillate between being core and support. However, given the uniqueness of it's role when it comes to rally checks and enabling full speed movement it deserves it's own pillar. Without a command unit you will almost certianly lose. Of course there are exceptions like Ochre Jelly x10 + Grick, but the very nature of that warband is in itself non-traditional.

Some commanders are principally support and command pieces, the Inspiring Marshal and Cleric of Yondalla are perfect examples of those. Others are meant to contribute as core pieces. Red Wizard, Ryld, and the Eye of Gruumsh are examples of those.
Core
This is the most important part of almost any warband. What makes a model a core piece and not a support piece? The core of the warband are the pieces that will be principally responsible for eliminating the bulk of your opponents warband. The methods and means can vary, from melee damage (Frenzied Bezerker, Orc Champion), ranged damage (Centaur Hero, Half-Elf Bow Initiate), special abilities (Beholder, Purple Dragon Knight), or spells (Red Wizard, Deathlock). Generally speaking, however, they need to have the ability to remove enemy figures by themselves.

The core of the warband is also the part of the warband that cannot be foolishly squandared without losing the game. This is not the same as the part of the warband that your opponent may be initially targeting to take you down, but it is a part that you must ensure scores more victory points than it is worth.
Support
The last pillar is support. Not Fodder, not Filler, but support. Every piece that belongs in a warband that isn't in the core or command element provides a support role. Support pieces by themselves, and no matter their number or point cost, are not capable of eliminating the bulk of the opposition warband. However, they do provide important functions that enhance the core element's role of creature killer. Some figures provide direct secondary damage through spells like searing light. Others allow for core figures to deal more damage by enhancing stats with magic weapon or allowing for more attacks via snakes swiftness or transposition. Some increase the survivability by boosting AC, healing wounds, or (again) providing transposition.

Finally, some pieces provide support by being there to increase the activation count or to be closer to the opponent than any other figure, the fodder/filler role. Even when it has nothing more to offer than being there (*cough* Gnome Recruit *cough*) any piece can provide some support functionality.

May 12, 2005

Tourney Info Posted by WOTC

Wizards has posted information on two tournaments that we have been waiting for, first the details for the 2005 Gen Con Indy Championship and the Angelfire prerelease. I don't see them linked on either main page but they will be coming soon since my RSS reader picked up the news stories.

But WOTC deserves two bravos for their announcement. First, the top 8 for the championships will be on Sunday! Plenty of time to get more food poisoning and lose more sleep.

Bravo #2 goes out because they also announced the date of the Angelfire prerelease w/o a list of venues. First, this gives you opportunity to lean on your FLGS to try and host the event if they are vacillating. Second, this gives at least a months warning for a big tournament. It's actually closer to a month and a week. Yes, Angelfire is that close! I think that is better to delay the venue announcements or announce a partial list than to hold up the entire process for a few lagers. Adding venues, when properly announced, is a good surprise.

May 11, 2005

Running Blinds

Here is another instance where Skirmish is more like chess than some of the other miniatures games. The situation is that you need to kill the wounded Grim Necromancer who has so kindly summoned 20 points of undead. The problem is that one of them is closer than the grim necromancer, and he is an especially bashy undead as well.

Charging to get close won't work, since even an enemy spellcaster prevents you from casting a spell. And the safe spot on the other side of the Necromancer is far on the other side. What's a squishy warlock to do?

When I played paintball I did a lot of running from cover position to cover position. Just like in skirmish if they can't see you generally they can't hit you. Sometimes you needed to run a long way between bunkers but needed some cover so you wouldn't be shot out. One tactic was to "Run a blind" where you would use a third bunker between you and the person covering you. With this bunker in the way, even if it was 20 yards away, you could still run safely because you would be "blind" to your opponent. Because the bunker was in the way he couldn't see you. You could run up and down the corridor it formed all day, at least until someone else could see you.

The trick here is the same, to use some intervening walls to make the closest visible creature and the closest creature two different miniatures. If you move the warlock two squares to the right he now has no line of sight to the Minotaur Skeleton, and just barely has line of sight to the Grim Necromancer.

Unlike RPG Skirmish doesn't have ranged touch, so the obscene amount of cover the warlock has is not an issue.

With a little creative movement, the Warlock has just netted 55 points and 3 figures removed from your opponents squad. Not bad for being such a renegade!

May 3, 2005

Odds and Evens

Consider the following situation. Your poor old Gauth is about to get smashed by a Frenzied bezerker who has just finished off your thaskor, who did finish off another Bezerker. However, your opponent wisely (?) moved a wolf between the gauth and the beserker so that the closest target is a wolf. Time has also been called and 5 points won't win you the game. What is an LE trickster to do?

The player should do what any committed LE player does, exploit the counter intuitive but internally consistent rules. The rule we will exploit here is the odd/even diagonal rule, where the first and every odd normal diagonal counts one and the second and even diagonal count as two. Basically diagonals count as 1 and a half, rounding down, like everything in skirmish does. The strange effect is that you get two line "bands" where the distance is the same, even though "as the crow flies" one is further than the next. The trick is to make these two line bands overlap in one line a piece so that being one square back makes you just as close as a figure diagonal from you.

To illustrate this, I will draw some charts showing the distance between the squares the targets occupy and each square. Here is the distance chart for the Wolf.
5432111
54321-1
5432111
6543222
6544333

Here is a chart for the Frenzied.
7654322
6543211
654321-
6543211
7654322

Now when we superimpose them, we see that there are some distances that are exactly the same:
7/56/45/34/23/13/13/1
6/55/44/33/22/11/-1
6/55/44/33/22/11-/1
654321/21/2
7/66/55/4432/32/3

So if we move the gauth two squares down he can target the Frenzied or the Wolf. At least by the "counting squares method."

So as a player how do you keep from being surprised by odds and evens? Either line up your blocker even with the protected piece, line up the blocker two squares in front of the protected piece, or use two blockers. If the CG player would have done any one of these then they would have. Instead the LE player used rules to create a surprising win.