Playing Northeners

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mr_lolz
Posts: 6
Joined: October 27th, 2010, 10:42 am

Playing Northeners

Post by mr_lolz »

I'm new to these forums so hello; I have been playing wesnoth about a month, and in that time I have completed the expert difficulty orc campagin and played a huge number of online 1v1s. In other games I tend to favour macro, economic playstyles so I opted to pro-up with northeners on the logic that
a) they have the most HP/cost
b) they have the cheapest units
c) poison is an excellent way to remove HP of enemy units without any risk of losing HP from my own


However, I feel like I'm starting to hit a cap in competetive 1v1 where opponents of a certain skill level and certain faction can beat me infallably and I cant find counter-stratergies that work. these opponents make the most of the main weaknesses of northeners, which are:

1) They have the worst heroes- every other faction has a more powerful starting leader, in some cases vastly more powerful. the most important characteristic in a 1v1 leader is damage output- when an enemy raider comes too close to your inner villages its important that you can completely maul them in one turn, because it makes opponent avoid these tactics. none of the orc heroes are any good at this. the orc warrior and crossbowman both have poor damage output and lose 1v1 to almost every other factions combat-orientated heroes. the troll has weak damage and a low number of attacks, while the assasian relies on poison to deal damage over time, making him fairly useless at quickly stopping raiders.

this also has a knock on effect when powerful enemy heroes- like the drake heroes- enter combat and kill a number of my units- my hero cant enter combat and do the same (especially against the high damage output & mobility of drake units, which are ideally suited to ganking heroes in open 1v1 battlefields). It puts me economically behind, since northeners NEED numbers to win, and if I retaliate in kind it will be far less effective.

2) Their units have a poor damage output & low numbers of attacks- raiding is more effective against northeners than most other factions because the high hp low damage output units, while economic, are not good at dealing damage quickly. this makes attacking units on village tiles difficult, since it requires a larger number of northener units to focus fire an enemy down in one turn- which means you need to be able to move lots of units in place, since northeners dont have strong units- and which maximises the damage recieved because the only high damage units northeners have are melee attackers. bar undead, every unit has a melee attack, so by attacking with a large number of weak units you maximise the number of retaliatory attacks the enemy gets- all these from superior village terrain. if he survives and regenerates next turn, that is a proportionally higher amount work and damage received from your units to get it down again than it would be the other way round. these factors - melee attacks, strength dispersed in lots of weak units- maximum counterattack damage-hard to manuver to concentrate force with large numbers- make fighting around villages difficult for northeners.

Low numbers of attacks also greatly increase the wastage of attacks- fighting a unit on 1hp, a unit with a high number of attacks is likely to hit and kill- a grunt, with two attacks, can easily miss with both attacks at say, 40%, where a fencer would not (despite the grunts overall higher damage), and then factor in the likliness of taking return damage from counterattack and this is a major problem.

what this means is that village raiding- seizing villages deep in northener territory- requires an inordinate amount of northener units to remove them quickly, making these kind of raids extremely damaging. it makes attacking enemy held villages harder.

3) wesnoth combat mechanics dont favour numerous weak units & melee attacks- they favour concentrated power in a smaller number of mobile units. this minimalizes damage recieved from counterattacks, makes getting all damage dealing units into position much easier. in a combat with eg. elven archers, a grunt will be attacked on the elf turn by the bow, then on his turn by the enemys counterattacks, which add up to be far more than the damage dealt by the grunt in one turn. the lack of bows makes for huge counterattack damage to northern units throughout a game.

4) daytime REALLY hurts northeners- low damage units combined with a 25% penalty REALLY neuters orcs, making aggression very difficult even against neutral units. against loyalists, night-time is horrifiying. the primary difference is that loyalists retain enough damage at night to still hurt units- they just take significant counterattack damage. this does mean that even at night loyalists can finish off low HP northener units, which northeners will struggle to do the same.

5) healing favours low HP units- low HP units heal a higher % of their HP when on a village. orcs, with the highest HP levels, are the least suited to defending villages, which combined with attrition from ranged attacks that grunts/trolls cannot retaliate to, make northerns weak at defending.

these are all factors to why I find the following extemely difficult to cost effectively counter:

1) elves: spamming archers, keeping them in concentrated groups with a druid- I have yet not discovered what combination of northern units cost effectively defeats elven archers. grunts & trolls do not, in straight combat on equal terrain; the huge amount of ranged damage on the elf turn, then the counterattack damage from elves adds up to more damage received than taken, and it is difficult to concentrate units against a single elf unit with their smaller numbers and ability to focus fire down grunts/trolls in a single turn to no return damage. assasians take massive damage from ranged counterattacks and are not suited to this matchup- also, the druid heals poison. goblins often get annhillated in one turn by elven archers. orc archers do not cost effectively defeat elven archers.

2) undead: spamming skeleton/adept at about 2:1 seems to defeat any combination of grunts/trolls/archers for cost. assasians dont poison skeletons and get gutted by adept ranged counterattack. Skeleton defeats grunt and is about even with trolls in higher numbers (in lower numbers trolls win). however, adept does incredible damage to trolls, and if kept sandwitched between skeletons where only 1-2 units can melee the adept, the low damage output of trolls mean the adept can potentially survive 3+ turns of attacks, by which time its very high damage and that of the skeletons has crippled my units. retaliating with trolls/grunts 2:1 has not proven very succesful for me

I do not wish to stop playing northener- I like the style and tend to stay 'loyal' to one race- but how they are meant to be competetive at higher skill levels, particulary against these two unit combinations, escapes me.

are there any very skilled northener players out there who can give me advice and ideally replays of high level northener play against rebels & undead? any developers who can explain the strengths of orc heroes and where these are realistically applicable 1v1 on the existing 1v1 maps? I'm just starting to feel brutalised :(

monochromatic
Posts: 1549
Joined: June 18th, 2009, 1:45 am

Re: Playing Northeners

Post by monochromatic »

I'm not an expert player, do I do see a missing point in your layout of tactics:

IMO the best way, and perhaps the most idiomatic way to win: Villages. In a Northerners vs. Anyone match, villages are key. Northerners already have the unique ability to spam units because of their low cost, but unless you effectively control most of the villages on the map, upkeep is a problem. I've won matches with northerners (yes, against real players) when the kill ratio was something like me:him 2:5. I still won, because I effectively was able to control most of the villages on the map, while spamming my enemy to death.

So what does this call for in tactics? In one word: Blitzkrieg.

You've got a potentially powerful arsenal:
Grunts are hard-hitting at night and have the lowest hp to cost ratio: they are only 12 gold!
Trolls are slow, but they hold their ground very well. Regeneration plus resists for only 13 gold!
Assassins poisons poison units, and effects your opponent psychologically. Have you ever tried using this guy and a wolf rider for village stealing?
Wolf Riders are fast and deadly. Strong wolves at night they get a devastating 7-3. And when they level, it can be stronger or get a fire attack and a ranged slowing attack.

One thing in common: attack at night. You probably know this already. But let me change it: rush at night. Unless you are fighting undead press on and take his villages. Maybe send a cheap unit or two to the other flank and steal his villages to redirect his attention. You need to control many villages to send so many units onto field that your opponent cannot possibly handle it. You need to overwhelm not with power, but numbers. Grunts are only 12 gold, and have so much hp, right? Plop them on your villages during the day and prepare your forces for renewed attack at night while they throw themselves at your grunts. Also try village stealing during the day to distract them.

For your specific scenarios:

1. Trolls resist pierce, so they are the best defensive counter. Again force them off their forests. Again, village stealing and control villages is probably the most efficient way. Once their income drops, they'll need to get out of the forest and attempt to take the villages back. Then hit the archers with grunts and goblins, with wolf riders in support. I actually have more trouble facing fighters in this matchup: northerners have no real ranged powerhouse. You'd have to take them down with poison to wear off the hp and grunts to finish them off.

2. Again, trolls seem to be the best defensive measure here. At day (undead are stronger than at night) hit the skeletons with trolls and archers and the DAs with wolf riders and goblins. Undead are slow, you can easily maneuver around them. Yeah, I'm not going to repeat on the villages thing. I think you get what I'm trying to say already.
Last edited by monochromatic on October 28th, 2010, 12:40 am, edited 2 times in total.

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

Re: Playing Northeners

Post by Velensk »

All I can say is that I am fairly sure that you have not have hit the skill cap in a month. Northerners win a good number of top level ladder games so it is possible. The skills involved here are more subtle than in many games where good finger skills and force composition can win, as a result it is harder to see how to improve.

Fighting rebels: Elves can out damage you considerably but they cannot win in terms of attrician on the condition that you can kill their units before they get a chance to run and retreat or can poison them and prevent retreat. Naturally you must try to avoid fighting at day but when you must fight at day trolls and assassins are ideal but it is frequently better to just sit tight and conserve your strenght. As long as it is night be agressive, remember in order to counter attack you they must put themselves in the open at night and those elven archers go down in 3 grunt slashes.

Fighting undead: Try to fight at day as your trolls are much stronger there than anything the undead have (fearless only works at day, and regeneration is strongest when your opponent cannot reliably kill you in one turn. Keep a wolf around and try to give it kills as a pillager will be a strong asset, likewise conserve your archers with kills if you can as they also level up quickly and provide a fire attack. Despite skeletons make sure that a decent portion of your force is grunts.

As a final note: Don't worry about loyalty to a faction, there are no reflexes that don't carry over and most skills learned for one apply to most. The fastest way to learn how to give elves a hard time as northerners is to have an expert northerner player run you over a couple times while you play elves.
"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."

mr_lolz
Posts: 6
Joined: October 27th, 2010, 10:42 am

Re: Playing Northeners

Post by mr_lolz »

ok thanks for the advice.. will return after some battles with these tips in mind

geg_Ma3gau
Posts: 8
Joined: May 2nd, 2009, 2:30 pm

Re: Playing Northeners

Post by geg_Ma3gau »

Hi. Yes, you are right, northies are the suckish race over there because they were meant to be so. They have no tools to deal damage and have low mobility with no fliers or strong cavalry(overrecruiting wolves is a bad idea because they have bad combat stats for their cost) to be able to chase enemy or attack effectively. The effect you encountered when you start losing game on higher level has to do with the learning curves of diffirent races. Orcs might be ok in low skill games but on higher skill levels playing orcs is like one guy here said hitting an enemy's fist with your face. On higher skill level it all depends on how your opponent(using other race) plays: if he doesnt do mistakes and you dont do either you lose. Only luck or his mistake helps you. The concept of orcs is good as a cheaper race among others but i cant see it working as it is now. Maybe they are not cheap enough or not strong enough. You can try and prove me wrong but i was pretty bored already trying to do so.

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Herduk
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Joined: August 18th, 2005, 9:19 am
Location: Bergamo - Italy

Re: Playing Northeners

Post by Herduk »

geg_Ma3gau wrote:Hi. Yes, you are right, northies are the suckish race over there because they were meant to be so. They have no tools to deal damage and have low mobility with no fliers or strong cavalry(overrecruiting wolves is a bad idea because they have bad combat stats for their cost) to be able to chase enemy or attack effectively. The effect you encountered when you start losing game on higher level has to do with the learning curves of diffirent races. Orcs might be ok in low skill games but on higher skill levels playing orcs is like one guy here said hitting an enemy's fist with your face. On higher skill level it all depends on how your opponent(using other race) plays: if he doesnt do mistakes and you dont do either you lose. Only luck or his mistake helps you. The concept of orcs is good as a cheaper race among others but i cant see it working as it is now. Maybe they are not cheap enough or not strong enough. You can try and prove me wrong but i was pretty bored already trying to do so.
I would like to play against you, me with orcs, you with everything you want :whistle:
Don't bother a dwarf.. you can argue with his hammer!

Huumy
Posts: 292
Joined: October 15th, 2009, 9:52 pm

Re: Playing Northeners

Post by Huumy »

favour macro, economic playstyles so I opted to pro-up with northeners on the logic that
As far as I understand macro and micro are used in Economic Real Time Strategy Games best example I know is starcraft broodwar and starcraft 2. In these games it means how you use your resources, in simple way good macro means -> You spent all your resources, you constantly make workers (which get you resources faster), you constantly use your unit building structures, you expand at right times.
So if you could please explain a bit more what you mean by macro?
1) They have the worst heroes
I strongly disagree with this. I think they have the best heroes right after mages, dark adepts and leaders. Why? Because they have big HP pool so they don't get bodied so easily.
1. Troll, big melee blunt damage, 20% resistance to pierce and slashing + regeneration.
2. Ranged troll
3. Archer, good hp and ranged fire attack.
4. Grunt, Good hp, ok damage
5. Assassin, I think this is the weakest heroes of orcs, easily killed but 6-3 marksman makes it best orc hero to clear villages.
2) Their units have a poor damage output & low numbers of attacks
This is 100% true. But why northeners are still balanced? They have high HP and cheap units use it to your advance. You know hard is to fight when you have 3/4 of your opponent units?
this makes attacking units on village tiles difficult
That's why you want to pick of other units if you can't kill unit on village.
In general you don't focus units with northeners, yes you try to kill as many units as you can, but even if you can't kill an unit you want to make maximum damage to it so that unit can't attack you next day.
Low numbers of attacks also greatly increase the wastage of attacks- fighting a unit on 1hp
You should always have atleast 1 goblin and archer with your army (3 attacks).
3) wesnoth combat mechanics dont favour numerous weak units & melee attacks
the lack of bows makes for huge counterattack damage to northern units throughout a game.
Again 100% true, that's why you have so god damn many cheap units.
4) daytime REALLY hurts northeners
This is why you do as much damage and poison as you can during night, so your opponent has to heal his units instead of attacking you. During day you have 2 options retreat or defend, think which give you less losses and do it.
5) healing favours low HP units
Poison anti-favours low HP units, so use it.
1) elves: spamming archers, keeping them in concentrated groups with a druid
Elven archers suck if they are not in forest. So if it looks like you can't break the elf defense back up and go sit on forest hexes in defensive position.
2) undead: spamming skeleton/adept at about 2:1 seems to defeat any combination of grunts/trolls/archers for cost. assasians dont poison skeletons and get gutted by adept ranged counterattack. Skeleton defeats grunt and is about even with trolls in higher numbers (in lower numbers trolls win). however, adept does incredible damage to trolls, and if kept sandwitched between skeletons where only 1-2 units can melee the adept, the low damage output of trolls mean the adept can potentially survive 3+ turns of attacks, by which time its very high damage and that of the skeletons has crippled my units.
I'm not sure how you try to fight, but here what it looks like the ud perspective: I have this junk of units and my orc opponent has same junk of units +20% more. So basically if you get sandwiched with orcs you are doing something wrong.
I don't know why you try to explain how your opponent unit A beats your unit B because it's not single units vs single units, in this case it's 2 different units vs 3 different units. So when it's your turn:
1) kill skeletons with trolls and archers.
2) kill adepts with grunts and trolls.
3) try to end your turn so that your archers are protected by grunts and trolls.
4) (This applies to every single matchup) try be on better terrain than your opponent.

Btw, I find it much harder when they mix lot of walking corpses and ghouls with their skeletons and adepts small tip for ud players.
are there any very skilled northener players out there who can give me advice and ideally replays of high level northener play against rebels & undead?
Go to ladder.subversiva.org go to one of the top players match histories (they all play random), try find a game where northeners won.

I wish you best luck to getting good with northeners.
"And the girl that you want is directly out in front, And she’s waving her caboose at you, You sneeze achoo, She calls you out and boom!"
The offspring, trolling you since forever.

siowy
Posts: 29
Joined: April 18th, 2008, 10:12 am

Re: Playing Northeners

Post by siowy »

i specialise northerners.

i can only say that you're probably undervaluing grunts.

or you are undervaluing trolls.

when i played the other races, then i realised how expensive the other units are relative to these discount troops. use and abuse them.
i play as foreverfighter on official server and ladder

5dPZ
Posts: 198
Joined: July 11th, 2006, 7:20 pm
Location: Vancouver, Canada

Re: Playing Northeners

Post by 5dPZ »

If grunts make up 40% or less of your totol army, you are newb northerners
If grunts make up 60% of your totol army, you are ok northerners
If grunts make up 80% of your totol army, you are good northerners
If grunts make up 100% of your totol army, you are godly northerners

siowy
Posts: 29
Joined: April 18th, 2008, 10:12 am

Re: Playing Northeners

Post by siowy »

well said, 5dPZ.

any problem you are trying to overcome, using assassins or archers or wolf riders or whatever...
you can usually overcome with more grunts, used strategically.
i play as foreverfighter on official server and ladder

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

Re: Playing Northeners

Post by Velensk »

I would disagree that using entirely grunts (even strategically) is a good idea assuming your opponent is competent. That being said, if you had to do a strategy involving one type of unit there are probably few or no better choices than grunts.
"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."

mr_lolz
Posts: 6
Joined: October 27th, 2010, 10:42 am

Re: Playing Northeners

Post by mr_lolz »

OK, finally won a decent orc vs elf matchup but only through an all-in assasination attempt- if it had failed, my kill death ratio was poor and I only held 3 more villages so I would probably have lost...

replay attatched; if anyone watches it I would be grateful for any advice as I still think northener v elf matchup is very difficult
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Huumy
Posts: 292
Joined: October 15th, 2009, 9:52 pm

Re: Playing Northeners

Post by Huumy »

OK, finally won a decent orc vs elf matchup but only through an all-in assasination attempt- if it had failed, my kill death ratio was poor and I only held 3 more villages so I would probably have lost...

replay attatched; if anyone watches it I would be grateful for any advice as I still think northener v elf matchup is very difficult
I watched till turn 3. I think there is no point give any advice on this game. How about you send a game where you play non rush game and lose? A long game of you losing would tell much more about what you are doing wrong than game of you winning with a fast all-in attack.
In general if you want to improve your play, you should not think losing as "bad" thing, just watch replays of you losing and figure out why you lost, if you still can't know why you lost send a replay here and I'm sure people are glad to go trough it and tell what you can improve.


Edit: I fastforwarded through the game it was quite long game, still I would like to see replay of you losing in non-rush game.
Anyway here's one advice: Take all of your villages at the beginning.
And one advice to your opponent: don't recruit 2 woses at the start of the game unless playing vs ud.
"And the girl that you want is directly out in front, And she’s waving her caboose at you, You sneeze achoo, She calls you out and boom!"
The offspring, trolling you since forever.

mr_lolz
Posts: 6
Joined: October 27th, 2010, 10:42 am

Re: Playing Northeners

Post by mr_lolz »

hummy, all-in =/= rush
all-in = commiting all units & leader to attack

its a fairly good length game for that map, and I dont think losing is a bad thing, and I do watch all my replays...

I agree that I shouldve made some faster units on the left flank, losing my villages to cavalry was a blunder, but i was trying for an early push up the center and wanted maximum early grunts.. how well that worked is up for debate, he had to pull out of the villages to stop himself getting rolled over so the recruit arguably worked out fine in that sense :D

I will post my next northener v elf matchup, most likely it will be a lose. in general though I wanted an analysis of my recruit and the combats I commited to.. in that replay I commited to large attacks twice, with superior numbers and terrain, and in both cases took far higher losses, which is why I chose it as an example

Gwynnedrion
Posts: 136
Joined: February 26th, 2010, 8:42 pm

Re: Playing Northeners

Post by Gwynnedrion »

Huumy wrote:
OK, finally won a decent orc vs elf matchup but only through an all-in assasination attempt- if it had failed, my kill death ratio was poor and I only held 3 more villages so I would probably have lost...

replay attatched; if anyone watches it I would be grateful for any advice as I still think northener v elf matchup is very difficult
I watched till turn 3. I think there is no point give any advice on this game. How about you send a game where you play non rush game and lose? A long game of you losing would tell much more about what you are doing wrong than game of you winning with a fast all-in attack.
In general if you want to improve your play, you should not think losing as "bad" thing, just watch replays of you losing and figure out why you lost, if you still can't know why you lost send a replay here and I'm sure people are glad to go trough it and tell what you can improve.


Edit: I fastforwarded through the game it was quite long game, still I would like to see replay of you losing in non-rush game.
Anyway here's one advice: Take all of your villages at the beginning.
And one advice to your opponent: don't recruit 2 woses at the start of the game unless playing vs ud.
Sorry, but your opponent in this game was clearly a noob (no offence, we all started as such). He attacks with his leader at night while knowing that Orcs are strongest at that point. He lets himself get encircled so he can't recruit new units and he hardly takes any villages so he lets his economy bleed to death while you capture villages. You used a good setup for the Orc faction but you could have won the match much faster if you just mass attacked him.
”Rise, adept, and tell me about the enemy.”

You are a Horseman: you charge ahead without thinking of the consequences.(80%)

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