How to Play Isar's Cross

Share and discuss strategies for playing the game, and get help and tips from other players.

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wy29
Posts: 13
Joined: April 13th, 2008, 11:53 pm

Re: How to Play Isar's Cross

Post by wy29 »

Just to add a tip with regards to holding the line in Isar's Cross:

Two things are essential for holding a line:
1. High HP units
2. Limited openings to be attacked.

If you line up units in a line, usually each unit will only have 2 openings for enemy to attack.
The amount of damage 2 units can do is quite low, unless your defense is on poor terrain or have weakness to the attack or the enemy has magical attacks.

And if you defend using high hp units, ex. units with >40hp, then they are almost guaranteed to survival 2 attacks from almost any enemy, except maybe mages. Resilient & Strong units are best suited for this.

It pays to get high hp units just to hold the line to absorb the first waves of attack so your stronger/lower hp units can prepare a counter-attack afterwards. And the wounded front line can retreat to village to heal.

Orcs grunts and Loyalist spearman in my opinion are the best line of defence because of their high hp(>35hp), good terrain(40-60%), and no weakness against most types attacks.
The dwarves and drakes have high hp, but their defence on most terrain are not as desirable(30-40%).
Undead skeletons could defend against conventional attack, but cannot be relied on to absorb magical and impact attacks.
Elves have wose and warrior, though the wose has poor defence and very weak to fire damage.

So if you want your front line units to survive, check your ZoC to make sure they are attackable from as few spots as possible.
And more hp will guarantee a survival from an attack.

Using this strategy will result in less units killed, though you might receive more damage since most high hp units are melee and enemies will exploit using ranged units.
TromboneStar
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wy29
Posts: 13
Joined: April 13th, 2008, 11:53 pm

Re: How to Play Isar's Cross

Post by wy29 »

One things that makes Isar's Cross fun is that it only takes 4 turns to finish off a n00b player, haha.

Wesnoth uses similar strategies as Chess and Isar's Cross is even more so since it's a small and symmetric map.
There are many strategies from Chess that one can use, the most important one I think is goal setting.
Now we all know the goal of the game is to defeat enemy leaders.
That's the main goal, we still need to set mini-goals to work towards the main goal.
Different goals occur at different times, so we divide up the game just like Chess:

1. Opening(1st 4 moves)
2. Mid Game(Moves 4 and beyond)
3. End Game(End game doesn't exist in Wesnoth because units can be recruited)

1. Opening:
In Chess, the goals in the openings are to develop the pieces, control the center using pawns, set up defenses for the king.
In Wesnoth, the goals are to grab villages, to scout the enemy and control vital hexes.

In Isar's, the 1st 4 moves should be to grab the villages and prepare them for mid-game assault.
I frown against offensive combat in the opening because:
Troops are spread out conquering villages and thus cannot support one another.
Attacking the enemy requires units deep into enemy terrain, make it easier for the enemy to outnumber and counterattack.

What this means is that if player 1 or 2 steals the water village on turn 2, one shouldn't waste time to attack them, wounding ones unit and allowing the thief to heal or retreat next turn, and losing gold from not capturing villages.

After grabbing the villages, one should gather ones army together to prepare for assault in the Mid Game.
That means moving all the units close together near the front line(but not fully in range of the enemy forces), so that they can support one another and attack together.

To summarize the opening turns:
1. Recruit and leader occupy 1st village
2. Leader returns to castle, units capture villages
3. Units gather together with leader and prepare for assault.

The mistakes that beginners would make include:
Attacking the water village on turn 2, occupy the center too early.

2. MidGame:
Midgame is when all vacant villages have been claimed and it's time to start conquering enemy villages.
In Isar's, the early targets are the water village and the center village.

Players 1 and 2 focus on protecting the center village and attacking the water village and center,
while players 3 and 4 focus on protecting the water village and attacking the center village.
(If players 1 and 2 stole the water village, then players 3 and 4 would have to conquer it back)

I think once a team has gained decisive control of the center village and water village, the game would be over.
The economic advantage is what sets Chess and Wesnoth apart; Can't recruit in Chess.
TromboneStar
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Yogibear
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Re: How to Play Isar's Cross

Post by Yogibear »

wy29 wrote:The mistakes that beginners would make include:
Attacking the water village on turn 2, occupy the center too early.
I disagree on this one. If there is a good chance to get the village back (say you are Loys and your mage and leader have a 80% chance to kill the village thief), i'd rather go for the kill, placing my own merman on it.

The loss of one village means the loss of 4 income per turn. Even if you leave out 3 villages for that turn, killing a unit is still better economically. Plus, for the important water village fight your enemy has one unit less, which, if he replaces it, takes pressure off of your land units.
Smart persons learn out of their mistakes, wise persons learn out of others mistakes!
IB
Posts: 330
Joined: September 28th, 2006, 11:38 am

Re: How to Play Isar's Cross

Post by IB »

Actually attacking the water village is a mistake, if they have recruited badly for it, which a lot of people do. The solution is to recruit to attack that village, so the enemy doesn't take it, or if they are stupid, takes it and loses a unit.
csarmi
Posts: 288
Joined: August 13th, 2007, 1:57 pm

Re: How to Play Isar's Cross

Post by csarmi »

A merman fighter is 14 gold. So stealing might be a good idea even if your opponent recruited to take it back. If he needs 3 units to take it, you just got 6 or 9 gold back and if he fails, he's doomed.

I had also observed yesterday, that player 3 undead is weaker (if you plan to attack with adepts, at least), since your ally can't cover you.

Even more so, if player 4 is dwarf. He'll ulf your adepts and player 1 will cover. Ouch.

I was destroyed by a loyalist attacking me at night with mass spears. Funny.

(nice strat chains)
IB
Posts: 330
Joined: September 28th, 2006, 11:38 am

Re: How to Play Isar's Cross

Post by IB »

Not sure how you worked out 6 or 9 gold, but say you do get that much, you think exchanging 14 gold for 6 or 9 is a good idea?
ElvenKing
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Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: How to Play Isar's Cross

Post by ElvenKing »

IB wrote:Not sure how you worked out 6 or 9 gold, but say you do get that much, you think exchanging 14 gold for 6 or 9 is a good idea?
Because you have to use most of your units to attack the merman, you won't be able to take your villages. Still it's not a good idea because in the situation above the player stealing the village is still 5 gold behind and has given their opponent 8xp.

This of a course is only applies when your opponent has a very good chance to kill, but if they've recruited to take back the village, they probably will have a good chance to kill.
"if nothing we do matters... , then all that matters is what we do."
Angel- Angel the Series

"Sore thumbs. Do they stick out? I mean, have you ever seen a thumb and gone 'wow, that baby is sore'?"
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wy29
Posts: 13
Joined: April 13th, 2008, 11:53 pm

Re: How to Play Isar's Cross

Post by wy29 »

Seems like everyone has a view regarding the water village.
Let's analyze:

On turn 2, each player would have 1 village occupied(by the leader) and 5 units(including leader) to work with.
These 5 units could be used to capture the remaining 4 villages close to the castle.

If the water village is stolen by an enemy on turn 2, what can a player do?

There are 3 vacant villages to occupy, and 1 stolen water village to contest for.
Suppose 3 units are sent to capture the vacant villages, then only 2 units are available for the water village.
Given that the village thief is usually an aquatic unit, one would need magical attacks to have a chance to kill in 1 turn.
The most powerful leader with a magical attack in turn 2 would be a red mage leader, with 8-4 fire magical attack for a lucky 32 damage.
I think that's barely enough to kill a quick & intelligent aquatic unit, and magical attacks are only 70% accurate(3/4 for 24 damage).

Thus usually, 3 units are needed to take back the water village in a turn:
2 to attack and 1 to occupy.

What's the gain for attacking?
1 exp for initial attacker, 8 exp for killer, water village captured, 2 other village captured(by the 2 non-attacking units).
That makes 4 villages captured in total, and that's the ideal case.
The usual case is the village thief will survive and gain back 8 hp next turn, and the player would only have captured 3 villages at the end of turn 2.

If one chooses not to attack, one can move the leader back to castle to recruit, move 3 units to occupy the vacant villages and place 1 unit on a strategic location.
The gain?
Total of 4 villages captured, leader could recruit additional units.
1 turn later, one can move all units within strike distance of water village, or if one plays as the drakes, one can launch an assault on the water village immediately.


I think it all comes down to your opening style.
Do you play a patient opening, capturing villages and developing pieces(like in Chess).
Or do you take a risk to try for a kill and go for an early checkmate?
Given the volatility of Wesnoth's RNG, I would stick to a safe and sound game plan.
TromboneStar
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ElvenKing
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Re: How to Play Isar's Cross

Post by ElvenKing »

wy29 wrote:Given the volatility of Wesnoth's RNG, I would stick to a safe and sound game plan.
Yeah I completely agree. Unless you have a really good chance to kill the village thief, it is better just to do a normal opening.
"if nothing we do matters... , then all that matters is what we do."
Angel- Angel the Series

"Sore thumbs. Do they stick out? I mean, have you ever seen a thumb and gone 'wow, that baby is sore'?"
Willow Rosenberg- Buffy the Vampire Slayer
svek
Posts: 33
Joined: April 13th, 2008, 5:36 pm

Re: How to Play Isar's Cross

Post by svek »

Since you usually have a spare unit not used for villagegrabbing it's usually a good idea (well, I think it is...) to attack any offending fish with something(wose, mage, HI or leader depending on faction/recruits/type of fish).
If you get lucky you have a good chance to kill it with another unit - if not it's not that much of a loss. The prize isn't the village - you'll get it next turn anyways (probably) - it's the fish.
grrr
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Re: How to Play Isar's Cross

Post by grrr »

svek wrote:The prize - it's the fish.
:lol2:
csarmi
Posts: 288
Joined: August 13th, 2007, 1:57 pm

Re: How to Play Isar's Cross

Post by csarmi »

IB wrote:Not sure how you worked out 6 or 9 gold, but say you do get that much, you think exchanging 14 gold for 6 or 9 is a good idea?
Well if you steal the village, then if the opponent does nothing about it, you just gained 6 gold (usually for nothing).

If he takes it back using 2 units for the attack (not too likely), he is only able to take 4 of his villages, so he gives up 3 gold for 14 (6g if he doesn't manage to actually capture it).

If he takes it back using 3 units (more like it), he is only able to take 3 of his villages (so he loses 6 or 9 gold compared to you, depending whether he is able to put a unit in the vw itself or not).

So for 3-6-9 gold you give up a 14g unit, which doesn't seem to be such a big deal, however:

1) I saw it amounting to 12g even.
2) The opponent also has a chance to fail his attacks. If he does, he simply loses the gold. If his chances are low enough, you come up ahead.
3) This limits your opponent's strategy.
a) He won't be able to use his leader the next turn (possibly the next TWO turns) if he wants to recruit.
b) He has to spend time taking his villages at turn 3. Both can be lethal or at least problematic for him.
c) His leader might be injured or his troops in a position where he really doesn't want them to be (bad terrain and can be attacked, unable to take the right terrain for that turn, bad ToD tempo he's getting in).
Mabuse
Posts: 2130
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Re: How to Play Isar's Cross

Post by Mabuse »

A leadership powered mage + leadership powered, strong spearman + mermen
is ususalla enough to deal 38+ Points of damage (assuming the mage hits twice, the spearman and merman once), the mathematical damage is 39.x. (at day of course, since turn 2 is usually at day)

so if your fish survives and if the fish is < 40 hP its just luck for you, nothing else.

i always attack the fish if the opponent dares to take my village, esspcially if he does that with a weak fish - i should mention that i play only/usually loyalists

only unlucky case (for me) the attacker survises and in even more unlucky case (for example fish hits all attack on is attack next round) i take severes damage from it (and your mage is a quick and intelligent one ..so has low HP)

so if my opponent takes the village i always attack it (exceptions make the rule, for examplei have no strong spear and my mage has also low HP .. and the enemy fish is a solid HP merman (also loyalist for example)), he ususally needs luck to survive this against a loyalist, not otherwise

as long i get a mathematical kill and the retaliation on my mage my be not lethal its always worth the "risk" ;)

of course only if you have the right units, attacking with a bow and a spear only is lame and useless for example
The best bet is your own, good Taste.
nebula955
Posts: 82
Joined: March 1st, 2007, 2:33 am

Re: How to Play Isar's Cross

Post by nebula955 »

so: prepare so that if he takes it, you have a decent ctk on it, that way he probably wouldn't take it in the first place...
Ender_Wiggin
Posts: 2
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Re: How to Play Isar's Cross

Post by Ender_Wiggin »

General comments and strategy
Isar’s Cross (IC) is a small 2 vs. 2 map which tends to give advantage to races with water units and faster units, e.g., Elves and Northerners. Because of its small size, scouting units, such as bats and elvish scouts, are of limited value and should not be recruited except in special circumstances. An example of a special circumstance where scouts are of great use is when one person dies and you want to quickly scoop up their villages. For simply getting your own villages quickly at the start of the match, however, scouts are generally not a very good idea.

The most important thing to do when playing any 2vs.2 is to communicate with your partner. If you don’t want to do this then you are better off playing 1vs.1 or playing both sides of a 2vs.2, assuming you can find two people willing to play against you alone. If your partner is weaker than you and does silly things, like recruiting units at the back of the castle hexes instead of the front, let them know how to fix things for themselves. When I get a partner who doesn’t know how to recruit at the front of the castle I explain how, and then explain the benefits. For example, if they have the North castle recruting at the very front will often allow that unit to attack the centre North castle hex on the first turn, instead of taking two turns to reach the centre. Don’t be mean or insulting. Conversely, if your partner is better than you don’t simply ask them what to do everytime. Make the moves you think are the best and if they disagree ask them to explain to you why another way is better. If they become very bossy suggest that they might enjoy the game more if they were to play both sides by themselves.

Aside from talking with your partner and assessing each others strengths and weaknesses, try to identify whether your opponents are unbalanced. That is, whether one side is much stronger or weaker than the other. If your opponent to the North is not as good a player as the opponent to the East, you should try to exploit that fact. In such a case what I try to do, if I am playing South, is to always threaten battle to East by positioning units in striking distance of his water village or castle village. The idea being to force East to take steps to counter the threat, thereby drawing off support he might rather send West and North to assist his relatively weaker team-mate. I might also try to occupy the centre South castle hex in order to prevent him from sending units across the map to assist his team-mate in any attacks on my team-mate to the East.

Along the same lines of thought, assume I am playing South position and am Northerners, West, my partner, is Knalgans, and North is Loyalist and and East is undead. Two things are clear immediately: First, my partner has no really good unit to capture and defend his water village. In this case I should recruit a naga and send him to my partner to assist in taking the water village. Because this could lead to some unbalanced gold income between us, I might offer my center village to my partner when needed to heal, or earn extra income. Second, although recruiting an assassin is a bad idea against undead, such a unit might be very helpful to my partner. If North were to place a Heavy Infantry unit in the centre North castle hex, an assassin could help remove him in order that my partner could occupy the castle hex with a dwarf guardsman. Similarly, a dwarf fighter is an excellent skeleton smasher, and he might send one to the centre South castle hex in order to assist me if I happen to lose the troll or two I’ve recruited to a couple of Adepts.

The point of the above example is not to give specific strategy for each race, but for you to consider what units you have collectively and how you might best deploy them to meet the threat posed by your opponents. You must think of you and your team-mate as one team, keeping in mind the move order. For example, I might use an assassin to dislodge an emplaced Heavy Infranty unit, but I’d have to first consider whether there was a second Heavy Infatry that might be placed there, or whether East has a Goul in range to take that spot. If I move first and dislodge the enemy Heavy Infantry, North moves next and can replace him with a fresh unit, or East moves after him and can replace the empty spot with a fresh unit. This is what is meant by thinking about turn order.

Imagine if night was falling and there was a Goul in the centre north castle hex, and my partner was able to strike at it with a Thunderer and two archers, but had nothing left to occupy the hex once he killed the goul. Before deciding that to attack would be a bad idea he should see whether I have a unit or two that could be brought up to defend his units after the successful attack. If I had an Orc to occupy the castle hex, and a Naga to defend his archer’s flank, he might ask me whether I could use those two units to support his attack by defending him should it prove successful. In this case it works very well because I move immediately after my partner. Of course, when you move before your partner it can make it very hard to give spaces back. How would I retreat my orc from the castle hex without giving North and East the opportunity to take it? It cannot be done easily, so you need to think carefully about using such tactics. Always, always look at your team-mates units before planning your attacks or defenses.

In many cases my team-mate and I have one easily when facing opponents who have opposite races (loyalist and chaotic) and who fail to consider what their team-mate is doing. With Northerners and Undead against Loyalist and Knalgans, you might find that the smart Loyalist player will fall back at night to a more defensible position. Normally this is the smart thing to do. However, it allows me and my team-mate to double team the Knalgans at night. If I were to steal the water village and my partner were to push the dwarves off the centre hills with adepts, by the end of the night we would have a significant gold advantage as well as total control of the centre of the map. Even when day breaks and the loyalist try to punch out, an assassin and a goul will slow down any Loyalist advance. Our leaders will use the gold advantage to recruit more units and the next night will be even worse for the Knalgans than the first.

In IC the object is to destroy one leader only, because once a team has control of three areas (e.g., South, West and Centre) they are winning. Once they have control of four areas (e.g., South, West, centre and East), they have won. Keep that in mind when you are playing with someone and they are dying off too quickly or do not appear to be able to defend their area. If you partner is losing control of his area then you must swoop in and take control before your enemy does. This is the one situation where a scouting unit would prove very useful. If your partner is lucky enough to survive then he can retake his villages slowly with you continuing to support his position until he is ready to defend it alone once more.

If you are faced with this sort of scenario, facing double chaotic while you are loyalist and your partner Neutral, you may need to sacrifice a unit or two if only to slow down the enemy so that your partner does not get ganged up on at night. Of course the neutral force must take the lead in defending at night, but you must be prepared to prevent the double-teaming against your team-mate, by throwing away units if necessary.

On the importance of villages
Of course villages are very important in IC. You should always try to get all five villages available to you in the first turn. It is not always possible to do this safely, in which case you should not risk losing a unit. Just to give some example of what I mean by this: Assume you are playing South with Northerners, it is possible to capture six villages by end of turn two. You send a naga to capture your opponents water village, an assasin to the centre, etc. However, if your enemy is undead and it is night, you will fall quite easily to an adept, skeleton and ghost. Even if you keep the water village you have traded 14 gold for 2 and given experience to your enemy unit. On the next turn he recaptures village, as well as gathers up his remaining villages and he has lost 6 gold in exchange for xp. You have lost 12 gold and have nothing to show for it except a slight tempo advantage. You may try to use the delay in getting all villages to mount a quick attack, but it is far more difficult to wage war far from your castle than in close. All things considered he still has advantage because his leader can support the defense of his area, whereas yours is far behind the action trying to recruit more units to take advantage of his slight delay in grabbing all his villages. Against any decent player this strategy cannot win.

On the other hand, if you are both Northerners and his leader has taken the northernmost village in the East area on turn one, it makes sense to take that village because it is unlikely he will be able to unseat you from it. In fact, he would be far smarter to simply gather up his remaining villages and prepare to mount a terrible assault on your lone naga. In the meantime you can use this time to bring in more units threatening a terrible counter-attack should he focus all his attention on your one naga, or else use the time to double-team his team-mate to the North.

Whether or not to take a village does not just depend on whether you can hold it for a turn and survive. You might take a village simply to block opponent from moving somewhere else, like to support his team-mate. You might take to earn more gold and so out-recruit and overwhelm the enemy. Or you might take in order to distract the enemy, knowing full well you will likely lose the unit. The point is that villages are not valuable in and of themselves. They are only useful in so far as they serve a purpose. Healing. Gold. Distraction. Blocking.

Specific strategy and tips
Elves are very powerful on this map. There is much forest, water and hills, all of which elves can exploit to great advantage. They are also useful at all times of day. If you are just beginning to play always choose elves. Always recruit one merman on first turn. Two fighters and either shaman or archer are also very good. Do not recruit Wose on first turn unless you know that enemies are not Drakes. If Drakes are on the map, wose is not a good idea, unless they are far from you (e.g., you South they North) and enemy close to you (e.g., you South and enemy East) is undead. Also, woses are bad against Northerners. A couple orcish archers are all that is needed to take down wose at night. Against loyalist one mage can destroy wose during the day, so think carefully about Wose in this situation. Two or three fighters with a shaman to heal and support are very powerful. Against Kalgans or when team-mate has no water unit a second merman is a good idea. Also, shaman can slow ulfserker and fighter finish off at almost any time. If you are facing Drakes get lots of mermen and archers, and avoid the sand!

Northerners are second best race on this map. They are very cheap, can control water villages and assassin can quickly uproot enemy from emplaced positions like centre castle hexes. Trolls can kill skeletons easily, fight off poison and archers kill ghosts. If you are facing undead with Northerners you have a very good position!

Knalgans are difficult but very dangerous in hands of capable player. Not a good idea for beginners to take Knalgans on this map. Do not recruit ulfserker until you have at least five units already. Ulfs need defense once done killing. It is no good to trade one ulf for one mage, because they cost about the same and you give xp up to a spearman or heavy infantry. Be very careful with ulfs against ghosts, they will almost always kill and remain mostly unhurt.

Drakes are powerful and fast, but on this map it doesn’t mean so much. They are not so good at defending the centre, but with a good team-mate are very good for double-teaming enemy. If you and your partner are both drakes against loyalist and undead you should probably resign, unless you are both quite good and your opponents both quite bad.

Loyalist are always good, but it is important to know your enemy and recruit units to out-match your opponent. Spearmen and mermen are drake killers pure and simple. Mages are powerful, but slow and need protection.

Conclusion
Many people think IC is beginners map and unbalanced, and is true that is somewhat unbalanced. But also can be very fun, offering sharp gameplay and quick battles, while still having room for more complex strategies and tactics. This guide is more for beginners and more experienced players will disagree with some things. This is also part of the fun of IC!
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