How to deal with [censored] happening?

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Lockon
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How to deal with [censored] happening?

Post by Lockon » May 19th, 2014, 2:02 am

Now, I know there's been the 5 million topics [censored] about luck in this game, this is not one of them. This is about what to do when you archer misses all 3 of his 60% killing shots. Not complaining about it happening, dealing with that problem. It's the thing I have the most trouble with in the game, and I want to know what those more experienced and learned than me do in those kinds of situations.

Velensk
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Re: How to deal with [censored] happening?

Post by Velensk » May 19th, 2014, 3:48 am

There's three parts to the answer to that question. Two of which mostly happen before the dice go down. The three sometimes contradict each other so it's up to your intuition as a commander to prioritize them.

The first part involves how to create situations so that the odds favor you as much as possible. This may not sound like an answer but I can guarantee you that to the extent that you can make the odds favor you, you will come out ahead. This does not mean that things will always go your way but if you can engineer a situation where you have 95% odds to come out ahead then about 19 games out of twenty you will and the twentieth game will leave you wondering why this always happens to you (to be fair, against any half decent opponent it's really hard to get those kinds of odds). This comes a lot in the form of you strategic and tactical decisions leading up to the point where you make your move and also requires you to try your hardest to never rely on a single combat result.

The second part involves using plans which risk little and which have built in contingencies for failures especially failures which are likely to happen. This involves a lot of thinking in terms of what could happen under any situation and actually can allow you to make moves which seem risky but are not by realizing that even if they fail, you can make it so that you are not likely to lose much. This factors in not only the cost of actions to you but the cost to your enemy of actions they can take. If you can make plans where even if things go poorly you can still salvage most of your units or alternatively if you can make plans where your enemy has to pay dearly no matter how the dice go down, you will do very well at the first part. This is a counterpoint to consider in your tactical decisions against the first. The first seeks the optimum chances to succeed while this one is more about minimizing the damage of failing.

The third part is frequently the weakest aspect and that is to know how to adapt your plans when things don't go as expected. It isn't worth the brainpower to plan for every single eventuality and sometimes things happen which make your best move something completely different than what it would be under normal circumstances. You need to be willing to constantly revaluate your plans to make the new best choice (this is also in effect when luck favors you).

The vast majority of the things you do to deal with luck happen before you roll the dice. After that it's just doing the same things you did before rolling the dice just with a different situation. I could comment on examples of how the first two aspects of reasoning work together and against each other but that would be a long essay and I don't have the time or energy right now. I'll give you only a brief example on how each comes into effect: The first one is fairly obvious as a concept but in application I'd give you the ToD cycle. In a lawful vs chaotic match if you can stop your enemy from retreating during your time of day you will enjoy amazingly favorable odds even if you had to make sacrifices to do so. An example of the second could be a dwarven thunderer choosing to attack a walking corpse on a village. Now the thunderer has only a 40% chance to hit, and I wouldn't like to engage in a plan at those odds, but the fact is that cost of the attempt is practically nothing if there's no enemy to trap the thunderer. The worst that could happen is that you could miss and then on its turn the walking corpse could attack you and hit twice which would be annoying but probably not irreparable. A lot of village stealing tactics and considerations revolve around this second consideration. For the third, I'll just tell you a story about a game I played a couple years ago.
-I was undead against knalgans and I didn't know my opponent, it was on Sablestone Delta. Now I had prepared a rush strategy and found my enemy in a poor position to deal with it initially but if I stayed around until he got ulfserkers and the first night ended I'd be in trouble. I fancied though that I could pick off one of his footpads with my three adepts (I only needed 3 hits) cover them with a ghost and a ghoul so they couldn't be killed by the counter or trapped (so long as the footpad died) and escape before it became too dicey. So I sent the first adept there and I missed both attacks. At that point I looked at my situation again. It is fairly probable for two adepts to land 3 hits between them and the same situation existed as before however now my odds were much less reliable. On the other hand if I didn't follow up with the attack the adept that I sent forward would invariably die without doing any damage at all. But after weighing my options, I actually decided to abandon it. I figured that I could commit to an attack where if the odds turned against me even slightly could cost me the game or I could continue trying to win short one adept (which I had the feeling I could do as my opponents moves seemed to indicate inexperience to me). So I told my opponent that if my adept wanted to live he should have fought better and I hung back. He killed the adept but I was able to win the game with an attack the second night after outmanuvering him and splitting his forces up. Now, it may be that if my opponent had been more skilled that I would not have been able to overcome him with that kind of handicap but then if my opponent were skilled enough to give me trouble in an even fight is it not fair that with a tiny bit of good fortune that he should come out ahead (most don't consider me an easy foe even when they get decent luck). It also might be that if I knew I was playing someone good (who'd somehow made such a mistake as to give me a footpad I could safely pick off) that it would have been better for me to press the attack then and hope to lever a slight advantage to help me deal with the trouble that would be coming my way soon (though again going back to the first point, if my opponent was skilled, he'd have created a situation where it would be either much less likely to fail or much more costly to try so it might not have been worth sending even the first adept).

I would add a forth thing which is not something you do in the game but more of a life skill. Have a good attitude, keep going, remember that what you're trying to do and become is reflected over the course of many matches not just a single one (unless you're purely about the game telling you you've won and not the growth that represents in which case I'd suggest that wesnoth is the wrong game for you). There's no point in becoming fatalistic about how games (or important things in life for that matter) are won or lost by the dice; that simply denies what accountability you do have and the great depth which the game has for configuring your odds through your own decisions. Inevitably things will not always come out favorably for you but if you continuously increase your skills then you will grow in your ability to (in effect) make your own luck.

Hope this helps some.
"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."

Lockon
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Re: How to deal with [censored] happening?

Post by Lockon » May 19th, 2014, 4:25 am

Hmm, thanks, although this does seem a little more geared towards MP than I wanted (I'm mostly playing SP right now. Only managed to beat 4 campaigns, and only one of those I would say I won fairly.[For the other three, I was new, I was struggling and damn it, I had no idea what I was doing, still don't really, so I, regrettably, hit that reload button WAY too much.] Hilariously, that would be the hardest of the 4, Liberty, although I did go back and win it proper on normal, no reloads, beyond me realizing I made a bad decision and fixing it.) but it is rather helpful.

I'd also like to put out the question of how you should treat windfalls, especially dodging attacks you didn't think you would.

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Maiklas3000
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Re: How to deal with [censored] happening?

Post by Maiklas3000 » May 19th, 2014, 9:52 am

Know what your odds are. Let's say you want to know what chance your Mage has of surviving an attack from an Ogre, if he misses his magic attack to kill the Ogre. Select your Mage to melee-attack the Ogre and see, then cancel the attack. Sometimes you can't get those odds (e.g., due to having less movement than the enemy), and then you might have to just do the computation yourself. In your example, the chance of an archer missing 3 60% kill chances is .4^3=6.4%.

Establish what level of risk is acceptable. In campaign scenarios, I often seek a 95% chance of success when failure is going to be rather expensive, but obviously it depends on the exact risk and reward. For my leader and other criticals, I try to reject any attack or situation that has any chance of death, though that's not always possible. When everything goes wrong, maybe I'll lose the scenario. That's okay. I can restart from start. (I don't like to save-reload.)

Have a backup plan. Often that means having another unit that can attack if the first fails. Alternatively, you sometimes can move a couple up a couple of sacrificial units to shield a valuable unit whose attack failed. Recruit Horsemen or similar to serve as emergency shields and provide backup killing blows.

Formulate a strategy to avoid much gambling. If you form a line and just fight statically from there, then even if your archer kills the unit facing him, others may move to kill your archer. One alternative is to advance your whole line at once when the time is right. This gives your archers the ability to attack and then still be behind your line at the end of your turn. You can also flank the enemy, running around the end of his line to attack him from multiple sides.

You ask about windfalls, like luckily dodging attacks. You just have to assess the situation when it happens. One thing I can suggest is to keep other units close and lines of retreat open, in case a unit survives miraculously. Again, mobile units like Horsemen can help with screening. Powerful units can help free a ZOC-locked unit. If leveling up is a possibility, you can try feeding a kill to a ZOC-locked unit so that it heals and might survive another round while you try to free it.

Another thing I try to do is to go down swinging. If my unit is definitely going to die the next turn if I do nothing, then I might as well try to do some damage on my turn, even if it means my unit is likely to die now.

Maybe it's worth mentioning the opposite of that. If I attack and have bad luck to counterattacks, my unit might be so wounded that the enemy might be able to kill it on his turn. So instead, I often prefer to forego attacking, letting the enemy have the first attack, which then might cause the enemy unit to be so wounded that I can kill it on my turn. This is mostly for unwounded melee units versus other unwounded melee units, but there are other situations where it can apply.

Velensk
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Re: How to deal with [censored] happening?

Post by Velensk » May 19th, 2014, 11:32 am

Campaigns are indeed different though the same principles apply.

For most of the mainline campaigns on most difficulties, it is definitely possible to set yourself up with overwhelming odds in your favor.

An important part of having great odds to beat campaigns though, is to understand something about wesnoths dynamics. Many new players become enthused with the power of their leveled units and will try to recall them each scenario. They'll build up a small elite core which they'll always rely on (games like Fire Emblem encourage this strategy), however for wesnoth that is frequently a mistake though in the beginning it will seem to work fine.
-There's a few reasons why this is a problem but the biggest one is that units cost upkeep according to their level. A castle full of six level 3s will guzzle down the same amount of gold per turn as three full castles of level 1s. Initially it won't seem like much but it'll start adding up. Players who do this will frequently come into scenarios without enough gold to field a large enough army and will start having to try to keep everyone alive (which is something wesnoth isn't really built for). This'll also funnel experience inefficiently; the experience given to max level units does very little and it's more efficient to give experience to level 1 units than level 2 generally (for the same amount of experience points it takes to make one spearmen into a royal guard you can make three spearmen into swordsmen).
-In order to avoid this, it's actually best to rely mostly on green troops for most scenarios recruiting a few higher level units to help you get the most out of them and finish the scenario early (leadership and healing in particular make everything so much easier). This will keep down your upkeep/help you field larger forces, make it so that you do have expendable units to put out there to protect your valuable ones, and give you far more opportunities to level units up till even your level 2 and 3 units become quite expendable (and when you do get to a challenging scenario where it's time to burn your gold you can recall a massive veteran army)
-Playing this way will help you be much less susceptible slight winds of misfortune.
"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."

Anonymissimus
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Re: How to deal with [censored] happening?

Post by Anonymissimus » May 19th, 2014, 9:24 pm

In multiplayer, needing 1/3 vs 40% is good. In singleplayer, it is somewhat bad. You should have 1 more hex for a backup unit, or have it arranged so that the enemy is at worse defence, or use magic/marksman. The ai almost never hesitates to move onto bad def spots if it means it can likely kill a unit of yours (should be an expendable level 1), and often also not if it means it can damage a unit of yours without retaliation. In campaigns, I always center my army around mages, if possible, since those have the lowest chance of not doing any damage at all. If all that still fails, it often means that it's not possible to kill other enemy units you should kill, because the hex the unit which should be dead is on isn't freed. And that basically means that ai will kill quite some units of yours on its turn using those units you should have killed on your turn if the odds had been fair. If that happens too much, there's no way but to restart the scenario.
projects (BfW 1.12):
A Simple Campaign: campaign draft for wml startersPlan Your Advancements: mp mod
The Earth's Gut: sp campaignSettlers of Wesnoth: mp scenarioWesnoth Lua Pack: lua tags and utils
updated to 1.8 and handed over: A Gryphon's Tale: sp campaign

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iceiceice
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Re: How to deal with [censored] happening?

Post by iceiceice » May 19th, 2014, 9:48 pm

How to deal with [censored] happening?

I don't know, maybe get religion. Or a t-shirt. :)

http://www.thejaywalker.com/pages/[censored]_happens.html

I'm not sure yet what the equivalent wesnothism is for this (very old) list...

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nuorc
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Re: How to deal with [censored] happening?

Post by nuorc » May 19th, 2014, 11:48 pm

Make a screenshot of your frustrating moments and post it on the interwebs.

For example, here I had a unit dying instead of leveling:

Image

You could also make a sport of it: "+1090% damage taken; anyone more?" ;)
I have a cunning plan.

HomerJ
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Re: How to deal with [censored] happening?

Post by HomerJ » May 20th, 2014, 11:53 am

One little thing I like to mention one these occasions, for campaign play only though:

If there's a separated enemy unit that's one hit away from being killed, don't waste your strikes on it. Let it either kill itself from retaliation the next turn, or attack it later when no other targets are available.
Obviously, there are things to consider like can that unit kill any unit of mine, can it retreat to a village, does it block a pathway or favorable terrain, does it provide healing or leadership to other enemies, etc. but in the general picture, avoid to blast away on an orc grunt with 5HP with a Red Mage when there are other targets available.

This also spares you from the frustration of the Red Mage going 0/4.

Greetz
HomerJ
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Anonymissimus
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Re: How to deal with [censored] happening?

Post by Anonymissimus » May 20th, 2014, 3:13 pm

HomerJ wrote: This also spares you from the frustration of the Red Mage going 0/4.
Most of the time, red mages are better used to wear down some enemy which is still at high HPs yes.
Chance for 0/4 is 0.8%. If it happens, very likely a scenario restarter, if the target unit becomes unkillable, if it happens during the beginning or critical phase.
projects (BfW 1.12):
A Simple Campaign: campaign draft for wml startersPlan Your Advancements: mp mod
The Earth's Gut: sp campaignSettlers of Wesnoth: mp scenarioWesnoth Lua Pack: lua tags and utils
updated to 1.8 and handed over: A Gryphon's Tale: sp campaign

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