Strategy + Tactics

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Dante_Mephisto
Posts: 5
Joined: January 29th, 2008, 7:24 am

Strategy + Tactics

Post by Dante_Mephisto »

Hello everybody! I've been an avid fan of the "How to play..." series, and think there have been some very well thought out treatises on Tactics in Wesnoth. By tactics, I mean how to use which units when, on what terrain, how to use ZoC, healing, etc. From what I've seen, Wesnoth is a very tactical game. I've played many an Isar's Cross matchup, as well as Morituri and other 2v2's... I tend to like them.
Lately, though, I've been noticing that strategy has played a more significant role in my 1v1 games. I recently joined the ladder at ladder.subversiva.org, and played three matches, losing all three because of (imo) ill-thought-out strategy. Fought vs Weeksy, LeGeR, and Owlface. I'm afraid I couldn't find my replays... I think I turned off autosaving... bad luck! I'll see if I can sum up what happened.
In all games, I did alright with tactics but lost the game with strategy.

Dante vs. Weeksy: Northerners vs Northerners on Weldyn Channel with fog, map auto-explored.
Both of us recruited a good mix of units. Weeksy charged a little impetuously on the right side of the map, and by using my leader on an overexposed Naga I was able to kill 2-3 units. I siphoned a few from the left side of the map to cover all my injured units healing on the right. Weeksy called my bluff and pressed the attack on the left, but by beating a slow, ZoC'd retreat with trolls on the two major mountains he lost more units to my none. Apparently, Weeksy had seen me put a Grunt on poor terrain on turn 2 (naga) and assumed I was a beginner player, and risked his units more than he usually would - resulting in this imbalance. At this point, I had killed 7-8 of his units without having lost any. All of my units were very low on health, and I didn't press the attack.
Although I didn't know (or expect it, having played lots of Isar's and very little 1v1), Weeksy stopped recruiting lvl 1 units and started spamming goblins, using his few remaining lvl 1s to cover them from good terrain.
By the time my units were done healing, Weeksy had a few goblins backing up his units on both sides. I was recruiting Nagas and took control of the sea, which I thought would be a good strategy for this Left - Sea - Right side Map, as I could send them to either side easily, depending on where I was fighting. It worked out ok, and I used them to tactically cover retreats when I attacked with insufficient force. It was a good idea Tactically.
Strategically, though, it gave Weeksy time. Time to recruit a Ton of goblins, and by the time I pressed my major offensive on turns 18-25, his sheer number of goblins won the war of attrition and when I made the mistake of placing my leader on terrain without enough ZoC protection, he was able to kill him.

Dante vs LeGeR on Silverhead Crossing: Northerners vs Rebels
I played alright tactically. There wasn't as large of a unit-kill disparity though during turns 1-12 (I was 2-3-4 ahead, but then LeGeR caught up and won). I used a grunt and an assassin to hold off the Northern forest and cave entrances to the left side of the map, and kept a naga on the waterway in the middle. I concentrated my forces on the lower half of the map, trying to use a cheap grunt rush with a troll or two in the caves to cut through to the middle castle. LeGeR took full advantage of this map's peculiarity in only allowing a given position to be attacked at most from 3-4 positions instead of the usual 5-6... by beating well-thought-out ZoC retreat during the night and stalling during the day, LeGeR avoided significant losses during days 2-3. I overextended myself by continuing the attack into day 4, and LeGeR launched a counterattack with fast units which I was not able to run away from, losing myself a good 3 grunts two trolls, with a few injured units taking cover in my villages. LeGeR then called my bluff on the other fronts, and gradually pushed me back on days 5-6. He won when he caught my leader with a 20% ctk ~turn 24 or 25 and got lucky, but would probably have won even if that had failed.

I also played Owlface (yeah, I know =P) on Den of Onis, Drakes vs Loyalists.
I was soundly defeated by turn 13. I tried defending the upper left village with a cavalryman reinforced with a spearman (who arrived too late). He took the upper left village with a saurian, two augurs, and made my sending further reinforcement very risky by exposing a Burner on the upper left Mountain. I figured with all those units there he would be weak elsewhere, and send off a Mage and Strong, Resilient Spearman on the right side of the map while all the fighting was happening. I was unable to kill the saurian (didn't think out spearman movement, he was 1 away from arriving in the morning), and when Owlface reinforced with his leader and a fighter I lost both. I had a bowman, a spearman, and a HI (recruited on turn one on the off chance he was dwarf or undead) in the center, and when he combined forces from both flanks he crushed my resistance and won the game.

These three games were very fun for me, and highlighted for me not only the importance of tactics (Owlface game) but also strategy (all three).

In the game against Weeksy I tried using a boxing analogy for my game strategy; I would bluff my defensive side of the map by putting all of my units on that side in his line of sight (and on good terrain, thinking that he would assume I had 1-2 more that he couldn't see), while rushing 2-3 of my faster units to the other sider where I would launch an attack with that side, the 2-3 side switchers, and any Nagas I had controlling the ocean. It worked very well, and would easily have won me the game if I had risked losing more units early in the game. Controlling the middle waterway with Nagas proved especially effective, as I could use them to quickly defend one side or the other to counter an attack - attacking with one side and then the other, moving units between them to gain a temporary advantage where I fought. 1-2 punch anyone?
Another strategy trick that helped was that I put a grunt on weak defensive terrain early on, leading Weeksy to incorrectly think me a newbie to the game... very helpful when the players don't know each other =P

In my game against LeGeR, I used bluffs effectively during the early turns of the game, and then massed my grunts in the South... and it could well have worked had I brought along an assassin to force fighters from the dwarven castle terrain back to villages. I bluffed defense in the north, while concentrating my forces in the south; in the first 3-5 turns, I sent my assassin and fighter on a fake northern offensive early on in the game, and only pulled them out of harms way when LeGeR siphoned off an additional 1-2 units to defend against my fake northern attack, weakening his southern flank where I was getting started on my real attack.


Anyways, this probably seemed very disjointed. I'm very curious what kind of strategies you have seen used effectively in Wesnoth. This is more psychological warfare than tactical warfare:

The Bluff - mislead your opponent into thinking one flank is considerably stronger than it is. A Feint can be used to accomplish this.
The Feint - a feint is where you lead an aborted attack in one part of the battle, with a few units, to siphon off enemy troops from another more important part of the battlefield.
The Quick Response - in a multi-front battle, having a small force that can move quickly between fronts can give you localized advantage, as oftentimes only one front will have active conflict at a given time.
The Newbie - this was accidentally discovered in the game vs. Weeksy. Playing a misleadingly poor attack or opening turn can tempt an opponent into exposing himself in his excitement to capitalize on your weakness. If you have a few hidden units, you can often lead a ver productive counterattack. I'd call this a special case of the Trap.
The Trap: use a few less important units as bait on poor terrain to tempt your opponent out onto poor terrain. This only works if you can effectively counterattack and kill more units/more gold than you lose.

I don't know if this seems overly simple to any of you, but let me know what kind of strategies or game psychology you use! If the Weeksy game is any clue, I'm going to need to pay more attention to the economy of the game... lvl 1's having no upkeep was a bonus I hadn't considered... but let me know what you think!

Dante

Velensk
Multiplayer Contributor
Posts: 3991
Joined: January 24th, 2007, 12:56 am

Re: Strategy + Tactics

Post by Velensk »

One major point: Isar's cross and morturi don't give you lots of room to monuver, or retreat. You have to be up at the front making the most of your units at all times. Stratagy can help you make sure that you are olny engaging when it is a good idea to engage. I'd need to watch replays to tell you more.
"There are two kinds of old men in the world. The kind who didn't go to war and who say that they should have lived fast died young and left a handsome corpse and the old men who did go to war and who say that there is no such thing as a handsome corpse."

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