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

July 28, 2005

Knee Jerk Analysis of Fane of Lolth Map

Wizards has posted the map that will be used for the 2005 GenCon D&D Miniatures Championship. After looking at it for five minutes here are my knee jerk notes about it.
  • Obviously the map is not symmetrical. You will clearly need a running strategy from both sides of the map.
  • Staring areas and exists break from the tradition. Exists are in the middle of the short sides and are not part of Player A's start area.
  • Player B has a huge swath of area on almost all of the Left side of the map, 3x18 squares except for two trimed off the the lower left side. Player A has two start areas, one 6x4 and the other 5x6. It is unclear whtether or nat Player A can split their assembly.
  • First turn assult points will be more difficult. Victory Areas are deep in the opponents side of the board, and both requre a speed 10 or greater unit to score the points.
  • Victory areas are easily defendable fromt he start area. A speed 8 beater can attack any square in any victory area on turn one.
  • Execllent line of site, and excellent cover for medium figures as well. You can move your figure and gain cover if all you want is cover, but ranged figures will still have sweet spots where htey can threaten larg areas of the board.
  • There is significant line of sight into Start Area A on turn one with a move of 6. This has huge impact for figures with sight effects such as the Gauth and Beholder and spell slingers like the Red Wizard and Elf Pyromancer.
  • There are still some rules questions: What about Scout and Wandering Moster creatures? Cave Setup?
Next week I will post a bit more on this map after I look at it better.

July 18, 2005

Basic Functional Analysis of AngelFire

So who are the winners of Angelfire, on a basic functional level? I'de Say Efreeti, Chrall, Wand Expert, WTF, Sword Archon, and Werebear. Although I'de have to say LG is the faction that least lived up to it's hype, and LE is the suprise winner in my book.

Functional Hit Points didn't set any new records or provide any suprises. The first efficient rare shows up at number 9, and it only made the list becuase it got 50% more hit points from conceal.

Attack wise, there are some suprise winners. The Wand Expert wins in average and full attack, because I'm counting the wands as attacks since they can be used when threatened. And a big WTF goes out to the Wrackpawn, winning the singe attack category thanks to it's DC 18 Pain 10 ability. It's painful just looking at that figure, so it's like another attack at +10 for 10 Magic. It must use it's third arm to feel around, since it poked it's eyes out and gimped a leg just to get some blind sight.

A new set also resets our percentiles to see what makes a great, good, ok, and bad number. (90%, 75%, 50%, and 25% respectivly).

Single Attack - .33 / .21 / .15 / .09
Full Attack - .41 / .30 / .20 / .12
Avg Attack - .36 / .26 / .18 / .11
FHP - 2.68 / 2.18 / 1.71 / 1.29

And now... the top ten lists.

Functional Hit Points Efficiency

1Caravan Guard3.70LG
4Dwarf Mercenary2.67L
5Kobold Soldier2.63LE
6Large Air Elemental2.48CG
7Flamebrother Salamander2.39LE
9Ghostly Consort2.36LE
10Longstrider Ranger2.35CG

Average Attack Efficiecny

1Wand Expert0.61CG
4Wild Elf Raider0.42CG
6Feral Minotaur0.39CE
7Blackscale Lizardfolk0.37C
8Sword Archon0.35LG
10Large Air Elemental0.31CG

Full Attack Efficiecny

1Wand Expert0.76CG
3Feral Minotaur0.52CE
6Troll Slasher0.43CE
8Wild Elf Raider0.42CG
9Large Air Elemental0.41CG
10Thri-Kreen Barbarian0.41CG

Single Attack Efficiecny

1WTF 0.47CE
2Wand Expert0.45CG
3Wild Elf Raider0.42CG
5Sword Archon0.35LG
6Blackscale Lizardfolk0.33C
8Talenta Halfling0.29CG
9Flamebrother Salamander0.27LE
10Ghostly Consort0.27LE

July 12, 2005

Tactical Implications of High Functional Hit Point Efficiency

After I did my posts on functional damage I didn't do any follow up posts on how to use that information. The biggest reason is that... duh... you go smash things with your high functional damage efficiency. All of the nuances in attack deal with other special abilities or with non numbers relate tricks. Things like how to abuse a cleave and patience in making your opponent to close so you can get the first full attack. But what about survivability numbers? Immediately I see two implications of this. One regarding your opponent's models and one involving your own.

When dealing with your own creatures with high FHP efficiency you need to realize that their most important role is as a pin cushion. Generally speaking the role of pin cushion is most important in the round that your figures close. When the contested ground has basically been determined, and you know where both of you are going to collide within the next round of movement, I like to send in as my first figure someone who will give me the most bang for the buck. Because whoever you send in to that death zone is going to get hit... a lot. And if they are hitting a creature they will get a low VP return from for their efforts you are setting yourself up for a victory when time is called.

My favorite creature in this regard for limited play is the Wood Woad. Cheap at 15 points, AC of 17 means about half of the lower costed figures will miss it, and 60 HP means that when they do, it's like whittling away at an oak tree. When we know where the collision will take place I send my bladeless lumberjack right in the place that will cause the most problems for my opponents navigating around. I do this fully intending for him to have four to six mid to low costed figures thrown at him to chop him down. That's a really good exchange, because that is four to six figures hitting my one figure. I can now take most of my other mid to low costed figures and attack the vulnerable weenies who haplessly tried to fell my timber terror. Striking second does have it's advantages.

The second implication deals with your opponents efficient figures, or more particularly their inefficient ones. In a timed environment, and especially in a sealed timed environment, games are often called before the victory condition is met. And even when time isn't called other ways of scoring victory points can leave many figures on the losing side still alive and kicking on the battle grid. The key here is, when all other considerations are equal and you are given a choice, focus on creatures with low efficiency first. These creatures are the ones that will reward you with more victory points for the same amount of effort.

This is most often seen when playing against the Zombie White Dragon. I usually do my best to ignore and/or distract this frozen lizard with as many crunchy fodder pieces as I can. While my 3 point wonders are being served to the winged icicle I focus the rest of my efforts collecting tile points and working on the rest of my opponents army. Four rounds of tile points are all it takes to not have to eliminate the Zombie White Dragon and still win the round. Since the amount of support pieces I tempt the dragon with average around 25 points I almost always come out ahead in that exchange.

Efficiency may not be everything, but an efficient strategy can go a long way towards victory.

July 5, 2005

Functional Hit Point Efficiency

Much like attack efficiency, not all miniatures are created equal when it comes to their survivability. Some are pin cushions while others fall over if you sneeze too hard. The formula I used to calculate the functional hit point efficiency is the same I used to calculate attack efficiency: FHP/Cost. Almost all figures have a ration greater than one, and unlike the Functional Attack Efficiency the curve has more of an even middle group than a consistent drop off.

To give a perspective, 90% of the figures have an efficiency of less than 2.75, which is nearly half of the high water mark at the Dwarf Phalanx Fighter (and that is without special abilities). 75% are lower than 2.18, the median efficient is 1.71, and the 25th percentile is a paltry 1.29.

Here is the current top 20 list (still waiting for Angelfire spoilers) dominated mostly by the lawful folks. Bloodhulk Fighter doesn't belong, but that is because I haven't factored in the impact of his fragile ability, he has between 85 and 50 HP depending on who's hitting him, so his efficiency lies somewhere between 2.04 and 3.05, still high on the list however. This also shows how big a deal undead are when it comes to durability, not having to make morale saves makes a big difference!

1Dwarf Phalanx Soldier60.755.06
2Zombie White Dragon162.504.39
3Dread Guard60.754.34
4Wood Woad63.004.20
5Medium Astral Construct42.004.20
6Bloodhulk Fighter110.004.07
7Gnoll Skeleton20.254.05
9Troglodyte Zombie39.003.90
10Hill Dwarf Warrior15.003.75
11Gnome Fighter22.003.67
12Zhentarim Fighter25.003.57
14Thayan Knight103.133.44
15Halfling Veteran37.633.42
16Stalwart Paladin30.003.33
17Human Thug12.753.19
18Timber Wolf15.503.10
20Celestial Dire Badger27.133.01