How to Play Isar's Cross

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chains
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How to Play Isar's Cross

Post by chains »

To Clarify: This Post ONLY covers Isar's cross tactics. Isar's is a very specialized map, and gameplay from Isars does NOT translate perfectly to Clash, Charge, or Blitz.

Isar's cross is arguably the most popular Wesnoth map currently played because it provides quick combat, yet has enough room for a complex battle to take place. Isar's is a fairly balanced map, yet it has some obvious features which make it harder on some races. The map has a lot of water making it harder on dwarf and undead. Also, this map really does have a lot of forest making rebel (especially shaman) stronger than on other maps. This post will attempt to cover the most basic aspects of Isars play so you'll make it to turn 3 without being called a n00b.

1) NEVER hire a scout. This includes all scouts:Elvish scouts,Wolf Riders, Calvary, Footpads (Except against undead), gryphon, bat. The only exception to this rule, is the undead ghost because it really can hold the water villages at night. However, I find that I do noticeably better when I hire an adept instead of the ghost, and a fighter instead of the gryphon.This map is small and a 5 move unit can reach anywhere on the map you want to be. Hiring scouts just gives you a waeker unit at a higher cost. Fog and movement is never a problem on Isar's.

2)
Isar's is a water map because it has 2 water villages. Side 1 and Side 2 both get a water village on turn 2. However, because of time of day and fixed start times, you can only take the water village in most cases but not all. Here are the times when you cannot take the water village:
Vs. A Loyalist player taking it is suicide (unless you are loyalist also)
Vs. A Drake player taking the water village is suicide even for loyalist
Vs. Rebel only if he has a mage/wose a fish and a leader in range.

A leader plus a mage or other strong unit can whomp your fish in 1 turn and his fish can reclaim the water village. This means you've lost your fish and the village at the same time. It is possible for a crafty Knalgan to take down a fish, but it is rare to see in actual play. If you lose your fish on turn 2, you have a huge disadvantage for the game.

Here are the times you have to take the water village:
Vs Northerner because they have no damage against you with sun up
Vs. Undead. They are even weaker at day than Northern
Vs. Dwarf because they will be too slow to kill your fish fish at the start.
Vs. Rebels if the leader went to a rear village

I do not take the water village as a Dwarf player, because 24 gold is too much to risk over 4 gold, and even if I take it, I won't be able to hold it against any faction with a gryphon. I DO attempt to take the village with an undead ghost. If I scout the enemy and see that they are northern, undead,knalgan, then I swallow up the extra village immediately!

If you scout the enemy and find that they are a powerful day faction like loyalist, then back your fish up as far as you can because a good loyalist player is looking for a cheap kill on turns 2 and 3 to win the game before it even starts.

The last thing to watch out for on this map is a Drake player with an aggressive leader. A Drake player can reach your villages with 3 units on turn 2 of the game! This means death for a chaos player in 2 turns! A leader + a burner + a fighter will ruin your day picking off units with 60% defense before you even see them coming. Be Especially weary of a drake player with a Fire Drake leader out front on turn 2! (Thanks for the awesome start CC2 I hope you don't mind me posting it here)

I will make another post that goes beyond the second turn on an isar's map in the near future. However, the following turns on Isars are not as black and white as the first two.
Last edited by chains on February 16th, 2008, 2:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: How to Play Isar's Cross

Post by Lorbi »

chains wrote: 1) NEVER hire a scout. This map is small and a 5 move unit can reach anywhere on the map you want to be. Hiring scouts will have your teammate screaming n00b on turn 1.

[...]

I do not take the water village as a Dwarf player, because 24 gold is too much to risk over 4 gold, and even if I take it, I won't be able to hold it against any faction with a gryphon.
?
-- ^ --
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Post by vetgirig »

A scout is an elf scout, wolf rider, bat, but it also exist semi-scouts lika gryphon. footpad, cavalry and ghost that can be used as scouts but also have other uses.

Only noobs start the game by recruiting 2 scouts or more.
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Post by Doc Paterson »

vetgirig wrote:Only noobs start the game by recruiting 2 scouts or more.
I'm going to assume you're still talking about Isar's here, and that you don't intend that as a blanket statement for other 1v1s or 2v2s....

Generally speaking, people who spend a lot of time on Isar's probably ought not to be calling other players noobs.
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Re: How to Play Isar's Cross

Post by Thrawn »

chains wrote:Isar's cross is arguably the most popular Wesnoth map currently played because it provides quick combat, yet has enough room for a complex battle to take place. Isar's is a fairly balanced map, yet it has some obvious features which make it harder on some races. The map has a lot of water making it harder on dwarf and undead. Also, this map really does have a lot of forest making rebel (especially shaman) stronger than on other maps. This post will attempt to cover the most basic aspects of Isars play so you'll make it to turn 3 without being called a n00b.

1) NEVER hire a scout. This map is small and a 5 move unit can reach anywhere on the map you want to be. Hiring scouts will have your teammate screaming n00b on turn 1.

2)
Isar's is a water map because it has 2 water villages. Side 1 and Side 2 both get a water village on turn 2. However, because of time of day and fixed start times, you can only take the water village in most cases but not all. Here are the times when you cannot take the water village:
Vs. A Loyalist player taking it is suicide (unless you are loyalist also)
Vs. A Drake player taking the water village is suicide even for loyalist
Vs. Rebel only if he has a mage/wose a fish and a leader in range.

A leader plus a mage or other strong unit can whomp your fish in 1 turn and his fish can reclaim the water village. This means you've lost your fish and the village at the same time. It is possible for a crafty Knalgan to take down a fish, but it is rare to see in actual play. If you lose your fish on turn 2, you have a huge disadvantage for the game.

Here are the times you have to take the water village:
Vs Northerner because they have no damage against you with sun up
Vs. Undead. They are even weaker at day than Northern
Vs. Dwarf because they will be too slow to kill your fish fish at the start.
Vs. Rebels if the leader went to a rear village

I do not take the water village as a Dwarf player, because 24 gold is too much to risk over 4 gold, and even if I take it, I won't be able to hold it against any faction with a gryphon. I DO attempt to take the village with an undead ghost. If I scout the enemy and see that they are northern, undead,knalgan, then I swallow up the extra village immediately!

If you scout the enemy and find that they are a powerful day faction like loyalist, then back your fish up as far as you can because a good loyalist player is looking for a cheap kill on turns 2 and 3 to win the game before it even starts.

The last thing to watch out for on this map is a Drake player with an aggressive leader. A Drake player can reach your villages with 3 units on turn 2 of the game! This means death for a chaos player in 2 turns! A leader + a burner + a fighter will ruin your day picking off units with 60% defense before you even see them coming. Be Especially weary of a drake player with a Fire Drake leader out front on turn 2! (Thanks for the awesome start CC2 I hope you don't mind me posting it here)

I will make another post that goes beyond the second turn on an isar's map in the near future. However, the following turns on Isars are not as black and white as the first two.
1. I disagree. Scout units have their uses. Getting too many is bad, gliders, wolf riders, and horsemen/cavalry can be extremely useful.

2. Whether or not to take the village depends solely on whether they can then kill your unit the next turn. No need to make it more complex ;)

3. Same goes with enemy getting horsemen ;)

Also, I have yet to play a game of isar's cross that has taken less than 2 hours since I started playing again, unless my luck was terrible.

@ Doc...I like Isar's cross... *cries quietly*
...please remember that "IT'S" ALWAYS MEANS "IT IS" and "ITS" IS WHAT YOU USE TO INDICATE POSSESSION BY "IT".--scott

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Re: How to Play Isar's Cross

Post by Doc Paterson »

Thrawn wrote: @ Doc...I like Isar's cross... *cries quietly*
Hey, I don't dislike it. :)

You know the deal with Isar's....It isn't held to the same standards of balance as the other MP maps.
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Re: How to Play Isar's Cross

Post by Thrawn »

Doc Paterson wrote:
Thrawn wrote: @ Doc...I like Isar's cross... *cries quietly*
Hey, I don't dislike it. :)

You know the deal with Isar's....It isn't held to the same standards of balance as the other MP maps.
yeah, I know

The sad thing is, I probably could write up a good isar's cross guide XD
...please remember that "IT'S" ALWAYS MEANS "IT IS" and "ITS" IS WHAT YOU USE TO INDICATE POSSESSION BY "IT".--scott

this goes for they're/their/there as well
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Re: How to Play Isar's Cross

Post by Doc Paterson »

Thrawn wrote:
Doc Paterson wrote: Hey, I don't dislike it. :)

You know the deal with Isar's....It isn't held to the same standards of balance as the other MP maps.
yeah, I know

The sad thing is, I probably could write up a good isar's cross guide XD
Do it. :)
I will not tell you my corner / where threads don't get locked because of mostly no reason /
because I don't want your hostile disease / to spread all over the world.
I prefer that corner to remain hidden /
without your noses.
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chains
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Post by chains »

After positive (and some negative) feedback on the first installment of the Isar's guide, I have decided to work on completing the guide. If you are an experienced player, and want to see something included (or reversed) in this guide feel free to chat with me at rylar22@yahoo.com or contact me on the game server for a good discussion! For the most part these guides are merely my own experiences, but thanks to some great feed back from svek and alpha one I am including as much outside input from great players as I can get!

Water Units (a.k.a. Fish) and Isar's Cross
Isar's is a very specialized water map. In a standard water map skilled players hire a lot of fish. Yet, in Isar's the top players all hire exactly one fish. While water units are generally good units, they are not quite the best units. In a tough Isar's match anything that would cause your first fish to flee, would also force your second fish to withdraw. Water units on 7,9 and 15,13 face attacks from leaders, who can come out quickly, deal a lot of damage, and retreat to recruit the following turn. A strong orc leader at night makes 1 merman run or die quickly... two or even three mermen do nothing to improve your chances of survival.

Having said to always hire only 1 water unit, I'll list a handful of expceptions to this rule:

When your parter has no water units, hire one for him!
When your in an orc vs orc mirror match, naga during the day time are quite powerful.
When fighting knalgans, a second water unit later in the game can place added pressure on the stodgy army's inability to defend the corner village easily.
A northern player in the first position can hire a quick naga at 11,17, and then a second naga can make for a risky yet powerful opening. The first player can attempt to claim both 15,13 and 16,11 on the opening move! You are certain to face a strong counter attack, but against another northern, dwarf, or undead player, you might be able to hold the villages long enough to win the game without any real fight.*

* (This tactic is considered a gimic play by most good players)

Recruiting for Isar's

Recruitment is always a topic of hot debate, so I am only going to give you my guidelines to recruitment. Many good players recruit differently than I do for various reasons. I use the units I like to play with. Obviously if I am facing an opponent that chooses his race ahead of the game, I will tailor my selections to face that race. Other than that my recruits do not vary in the first 5 units.

Here is the list of recruits I use on Isars when facing 2 random opponents. Listed in the order I like to play the factions.

Northerner: With ample hills I perfer trolls over grunts.
2 Trolls 1 naga 1 assassin.
vs drake add grunts and archers
vs undead add archers and more trolls
vs wose add archers

Drake: Isars is so small so, I attack on turn 2 unless I face loyalist or drake
1 Burner 1 Fighter 1 Clasher 1 Auger (auger claims villages) my leader and other 3 attack.

Loyalist:
2 x spearmen 1x merman ( the 4th varies between an archer, mage, and another spearman)

Dwarf: Isars has lots of forest so poucher for night time forest attack
3 x fighters
1 Poucher

I don't use guards because I like fighters more, and they are cheaper.

Rebel I prefer fighters over archers because of cost and the shaman slow.
2xfighter 1 merman 1 shaman
Last edited by chains on March 20th, 2008, 5:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by chains »

How to Fight in Isars

So we've beat the discussion of water villages, scouts, fish, recruitment, and leader placement to death. Now it is time to learn what to do once you've got the basics of recruitment and the water village. There are two categories of solid play for Isar's cross, one is a more aggressive hold the line play, and the other is a more standard back and forth like waves in an ocean. Holding the line requires that both players on the team participate in it because if one player is retreating, while one holds, then both die. The most important thing to do is: Always respect time of day. If your team is chaotic then you must attack at night to win, this is the most basic strategy in wesnoth and is No different in Isar's.

Holding the line consists of forming a solid line of units. Where you make the line differs slightly from game to game, rebels obviously want forest hexes, but against dwarves giving up too many hill hexes is bad news! Use your best judgement on where to make the line, but ideally you want your units on 60% terrain and the enemy on 40%. You then make a line so no unit in your army can face attacks from more than 2 hexes. You can rotate out hurt units and keep the line strong for many many turns even if you are losing the game. However, if the line cracks even a in 1 place and allows the other team to get 3 units on 1 defender, then your game is probably lost. This makes the strategy extremely hard to use against loyalist,drake, or undead. This strategy is very commonly employed by northerner,dwarf,and rebel players. It is also rarely seen in games where 1 or 2 of the players are new. Generally, good games beteween 4 games exibit some form of a hold the line mentality... this does not mean the line doesn't move back and forth with time of day! Always Respect Time of Day

A unit is worth 14 gold, a village is worth 6 per turn. Units are worth more than villages. The other main strategy is to retreat at the bad time of day, giving up the center of the map, and charge full force during the good time of day. It can be complex with mixed lawful/chaos on one side, but in this case the players take turns charging, one player holds off, while the other takes over. In this case, the most common strategy is to give up the tower hex, and hold at the village 12,9/10,12. This forces the other player to cross the center of the map with one turn, then commit to fighting from bad terrian if he wants to kill you. Sometimes the player may also be forced to attack 13,15. This is almost always good news for you, as its extremely difficult for the enemy to take the village, and if they do, your leader is right there to take it back when Time of day turns. The second most common way to play this strategy is to abandon the center all together, because with only 1 village in the center, there is nothing you can't take back once time of day is on your side. an enemy holding that village will surely die as he cannot form a line and hold the village.

The most important thing to remember in a attack retreat strategy is not to commit your forces at the wrong time of day! If it is dawn and you are undead, don't push forward to finish off that last 14 gold spear man. It will often cost you every unit you leave forward. Instead of attacking at dawn, take that turn to put as much distance between you and the enemy as possible. In this style of play, the middle is worthless and the defending team is willing to give up the center village, because they know they can take it back when the sun comes up.

An important mistake many players make from side 1 or 2 often make, is that they commit to attacking the water village. This rarely results in claiming the water village, and often just weakens your push through the center! Only hit the water village if your enemy empties the center of targets, or you are nearly certain you can kill the fish with little damage to yourself. If you have no other target, and he leaves his fish forward, then kill it! But, if your opponent is using a hold the line strategy against you, do not waste time hitting his fish, go straight for those meaty center units. Your leader is so much more powerful in the center of the map, than stuck off to the side behind the water.

So remember If your partner is weak, holding the line probably won't work well, and ALWAYS respect time of day. Do not make the mistake of holding the center of the map with only 1 unit in the tower for no reason. It is better to lose a village, than lose a unit. Keep your formation tight and always have an overall purpose with every turn. Don't let the enemy bait you into giving up your formation, or attacking at the wrong time of day. If you find your self behind, suiciding units at the wrong time of day won't catch you up! Do not hope to get lucky, make your own luck by giving yourself the highest possible chance to win!
Last edited by chains on March 20th, 2008, 6:12 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Post by IB »

chains wrote:in Isar's the top players all hire exactly one fish.
Wrong. 2 fish is generally better so you can rotate out the first fish if hes attacked/attack the water village with 1 fish and take it with another/or if luck screws you attack it with 2.
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Post by Mabuse »

the water village isnt that important, if the situation is good you take it on round 2 if you are player 1 or 2 -

if not you do something else with the fish - maybe attack enemy water vilalge or block but more than one fish isnt needed for that

if you defend (P 3 and 4) one fish is also enough to hold the village if it is badly wounded (or anyway in danger getting even killed) you retreat it anyway from the village.

i summarize: one fish is enough, i see rarely sitations were 2 fish paid off, it often ends that they are used on land anyway.
(in my opinion)

if you think you need 2 fish for defense (P3+4), in case enemy steals water village - you should condsider to get a mage instead ;)

LATER in game you may get a second fish IF you have use for it
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Post by grrr »

IB is right though the defending players (p3, p4) get more out of the 2nd fish (yes, rotating fish IS annoyingly powerful).

Actually, I always get a 2nd fish IF I decide to fight mainly for the water villages (in case of an overpopulated center).
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Post by Mabuse »

more of a problem for defending player is that most dont make a initial recruit that is able to kill a fish that takes the water village. i often see even loyalist fail at that, and also i see often that players position their leader in first round so far away that it even cant support defnding unit with leadership bonus (if it has one) - leaders without leadership bonus must of course kept in a position where they can attack the fish for themselves -

so i see often insufficient defenese, and i ask myself what these people think when placing their units

people with insufficient defense also tend to attack the fish nevertheless only to end up with only 1 or 2 villges and half of their units wounded and enemy fish is stil alive -


so a proper loyalist defnse is like this:
in case you play loylist its enough you get a mage and a spearman (and place them properly) (supported by a leader with leadership) to kill fish in most cases, if its not enough your fish has to finish it, but usually the fish will take the village then -

this will also fence off the naga rush*, but also undead dont have to fear a naga rush* much since they should get at least 3 adepts (including leader - so if leader is adept, get 2 adepts, if leader is skeleton or gouhl get 3 adepts - that should trouble attacking nagas enough, even at day, of course a ghost and the leader also help, if one naga is dead remaining units get cities)

*naga rush = two nagas get two villages of a defending player, if the orcs get just one city you have to evaluate what is better (if you are undead), since you cant attack with many units in case of bad luck


my initial loyalist recruitments as loyalists:



P1,2: spearman, cavalryman, mage, fish

this allows me in best case get 6 cities on turn 2 (including water village of enemy) the water village can be hold for 1 or 2 Rounds (but dont blame me if not, you have to evaluate the situation of course), but the additional gold is welcome - to get 6 cities the mage must be a fast one with 6 move also though, but 5 cities in every case



P3,4: fish, mage, spearman, spearman
(for the two fish lovers: fish, mage, fish, spearman)

this allows also in round 2 to buy the next spearman immediatly (and get 5 cities or set up a proper defnse in case enemy take water city)


btw, last note about the recuitments: of course you also have to think about where you place them on your castle to get most use out of it ;)
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Post by Nebiros »

it ... has enough room for a complex battle to take place. Isar's is a fairly balanced map
No it doesn't, and no it isn't. It's popular because it's small and people expect it to be quick, but it's nowhere near as balanced or complex as Clash, let alone Hamlets, Loris etc. And quickness tends to be determined by whether the players go AFK a lot, which isn't really map related.

Anyway...

I find that in many cases the water village is a trap. Isar's doesn't really have that many villages and most of them are in well protected areas anyway; so it's almost always won and lost on casualties. Village grabbing is something you do *after* you've destroyed their army. (Unlike more open maps where a raid-and-run strategy can actually work; and yes, this is one of the ways I think it's less complex and balanced. It's hard to even stall until a more favorable ToD on Isar's; there's nowhere to go.)
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