How to decide if you will win if it goes late (1v1)

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How to decide if you will win if it goes late (1v1)

Post by iceiceice »

One important strategic issue which isn't discussed in the "How to play" sections is how to decide whether it is "safe" to play passively/conservatively, vs. there being a real burden on you to "make something happen soon". When I started to play wesnoth a year ago, I had a pretty poor understanding of this. My understanding is a bit better now, although probably mainly driven by examples of other players and maybe not from first principles.

It's an important issue because if you aren't sure about this, and you are playing a strong player, you are likely to assume the worst, that there is a heavy burden on you to attack, when in fact it might not be the case. I think this may advantage experienced players as much as anything else.

I would identify these as the basics:
- Northerners have a strong burden to attack, because while they have cheap, strong, and relatively fast units, they have poor damage per hex and so are not favored in a very long game. (The rules may be a bit different vs. Undead though?)
- Loyalists benefit greatly from variety in their unit composition, with great specials like skirmish, magic, charge, and many generally strong and cost effective units which synergize well, so they generally don't have a lot of pressure to end the game quickly.
- Drakes are somewhat the opposite of Northerners, having many powerful and expensive drake units with high damage. Over time they pay less upkeep and are typically favored once they hit critical mass. Access to skirmish and healing may put them into orbit in the end of the game. (An early saurian rush can be effective, but I don't think it is necessary in any matchup.) Drakes are particularly effective vs Loyalist when they get enough clashers and saurians, so Loyalist usually has to try to take initiative and make something happen before it is too late.
- Rebels and Knalgan in most cases should play defensively because of the nature of the faction, but it seems they are often forced to attack a Drake player for example.
- Undead are difficult -- having many very useful level 0s means the numbers game benefits them to some extent, but in most matchups they have the burden to attack. (Possibly not vs Northerners?)

Please share any thoughts / principles. Obviously one rule of thumb is "if you have more upkeep than your opponent, then some time soon you need to attack", but what other caveats do we have.

Depending on responses I think it might be valuable to put some notes like this in the "How to play" series, as those mostly just describe recruits and tactics and not so much the strategic question I'm asking, which does much to determine the character of the matchup. But even setting that aside I'd be interested to hear your thoughts about:

- Are Loyalists "compelled" to attack Rebels before the game goes too late, or can they afford to play passively? We often see this big loyal daytime push e.g. on second day, but it's not clear to me if this is necessary or just stylistic.
- Are Rebels "compelled" to take the fight to the Drakes in the first or second night? Some players seem to do this consistently and it's not clear to me if it is thought to be necessary or stylistic.
- Do Undead have the advantage over Northerners if it goes late? If so I would guess it's because of corpses to a large extent.
- Many Knalgan players like to recruit dwarves, but they also complain that it is very difficult to attack with dwarves, and especially to withdraw if the attack fails. Besides this there are some maps like Silverhead Crossing where if you camp with too many slow dwarves you open yourself up to "defeat in detail". For this reason many players take the fight to their opponent with an outlaw rush (or at least an outlaw heavy attack) at the start, and see where the game goes from there. Is this thought to be necessary or stylistic?
- Any comments on Loyalists vs Knalgan? Most of the time Loyalists seem to bring the fight here, but Knalgan has such a hard time attacking especially as the game goes on that it isn't clear to me what the Loyalist fears if they choose to play passively.

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Re: How to decide if you will win if it goes late (1v1)

Post by max_torch »

I think related to this topic is the concept of banking(which i have heard said many times). So what is banking, what is its purpose, and when do you bank?

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Re: How to decide if you will win if it goes late (1v1)

Post by Duthlet »

max_torch wrote:I think related to this topic is the concept of banking(which i have heard said many times). So what is banking, what is its purpose, and when do you bank?
Banking basically means not recruiting units although you can recruit. Its purpose is to save upkeep. I remember this thread where some opinions about when to bank are posted. (It's not as comprehensive as I remembered though)
iceiceice wrote:One important strategic issue which isn't discussed in the "How to play" sections is how to decide whether it is "safe" to play passively/conservatively, vs. there being a real burden on you to "make something happen soon"
I'm not sure what playing passively/conservatively means, to me they seem to be two different things.

I'd take playing passively as being close to only ending the turn, which would indeed be banking. I think it only works if the other player plays passively as well and you have good chances to win a battle with large armies of roughly the same cost. These "good chances to win" seems to be what your ideas later in your post cover. However, only few games go this way. If your opponent doesn't play passively you can't afford to do so, because you won't live to see the late game.

I would consider playing conservatively to mean playing without taking high risks. The goal should be to play as actively as possible without taking real risks. Try to get the initiative and harass your opponent without risking your own units. Here there's no big burden to attack: you attack when you will gain an advantage by doing so. Usually you will decide to go for a somewhat more risky attack (also giving you bigger advantage if it works) when your opponent makes a mistake. If you don't do that you might be able to get a slow victory pushing him back a little further every powerphase, but you might also not ever get such a good opportunity again and lose your initiative due to mistakes or due to a good (and if necessary lucky) defense of your opponent another time. Here the decision to attack or not to attack depends more on the position than on the factions.

In both cases you might also want to consider the strength of the players: With more units variance of the hits you get has a smaller impact on the game which might favor the stronger player. Also the longer a game goes the more likely the weaker player is to make mistakes. However, playing with many units and playing with few units are pretty much two different games, and players can be strong at one and weak at the other. If you are the considerably weaker player in all circumstances, attacking quickly even against the odds and hoping for luck might be the best strategy, but you probably won't improve your play by doing that.

PS: Please take the whole post with a grain of salt as I'm not exactly the best player around.

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Re: How to decide if you will win if it goes late (1v1)

Post by Marche »

I'm also not a fantastic player, but I believe I can weigh in with some input from what I've seen around here and my own experiences.

In the OP you mention 'stylistic' choice of attacking with/against time of power. This depends largely on terrain and overall outlook, however, and isn't something that can be discussed generally without being clear on the differences between circumstances (if not writing a full essay on the differences).

For example, Rebels are compelled by their 25% power advantage over Drakes to attack as soon as possible during night, but if that requires spacing units out unprotected or across dangerous terrain, it may be better to amass forces instead (assuming the villages are split evenly; if they are in your favour you're generally better off playing conservatively, and if against you you'd be better trying to aggressively retake). This all falls under the caveat that you're keeping a close eye on Drake pressure, because while you're amassing they are too and Drakes are known for strong tile-per-tile pressure - if you've not got cover of forest you could be in for a world of hurt by letting Drakes collect their units. And all of this isn't taking into account the strategies you may be involved in by trying to redirect the Drake units with your own, which can be quite difficult considering their above-average range. Overall it seems theoretically that Drakes get larger map control over time if you play conservatively versus them, which is a great impetus for the strategy of bringing the fight to them - massive range means squat when the enemies can already reach them and the best terrain is out of their control, after all.

So while it may seem stylistically optimal to follow known patterns like attacking Drakes early and Loyalists + Undead follow strong ToD wave attacks, there's a fair amount of simple gameplay strategy that goes into these general attack strategies, and I think the first step to skillful play is understanding when these variables do or don't apply to the situation at hand.

If that's too simple of an explanation, I'd love to hear another voice on the matter. The microplay in Wesnoth fascinates me, and perhaps I lose track of the macroplay in it all; that would explain why I play campaigns so terribly.
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Re: How to decide if you will win if it goes late (1v1)

Post by Hannibal777 »

I also find this topic fasinating. However the discussion is only relevant if you assume your opponent is not making a mistake and is giving you an opening. For example in loyalist vs northerner, both would recruit and try to build up a strong force. Both races have relatively inexpansive units while one is good during the day and the other during the night. So it is in some way close to a mirror match but strength at different time of the day. Normally the defensive position should be strong enough that it can hold even during unfavourable time. So the attacker need to make a tough decision where if an attack is not successful, he would end up over extending and let the defender overrun him when day/night switch. The other option for the attacker is of course not to chance it and let the game run long and wait for the defender to make an obvious mistake.

Also some map is big enough or interesting enough where you can attempt some flanking and try to pull the defender away from his strong defensive position but not all maps are possible like that. Some maps, it really boils down to one big fight in the center.

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