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Reinholt
27-04-2009, 18:34
Epic Strike and Duels

Given the amount of press that using Epic Strike in Heroic Duels (ESHD) is getting, and given the fact that I think the tactic is a bit overrated, I wanted to take a moment to comment on what the real outcomes of these kinds of duels usually are.

First, some assumptions:

1 - For the sake of argument, I'm not going to get into sequencing or if someone can get Epic Strike off or not in a duel; there are varying opinions on this, so let's assume it's always the worst case scenario where someone takes an Epic Strike in the face, and that someone is a hero being dueled.

2 - I am, however, going to consider might points. Given that using Epic Strike + Heroic Duel (or, in some cases, Epic Duel) necessitates using 2 points of might, we should carefully consider the return on might that using this combination gives you as compared to other options.

Second, Epic Strike + Heroic Duel outcomes:

Let us assume you're staring down the barrel of a captain being dueled by someone with Epic Strike. As the other player has called the duel, he has +1 to the resolution, and as the other player has called Epic Strike, he's fight 10. This, on average, is bad. The question is how bad?

Let's do some math. Nobody panic, it's simple stuff.

The number of hits you can expect to be inflicted on your character for each point the enemy wins a duel by would be .67, on average ( [1/3 * 1] + [1/6 * 2] ).

The number of hits you can expect to be inflicted on your formation for each point the enemy wins a duel by would be 1, on average ( [ 2 * 1/3 ] + [1/6 * 2]).

Thus, for every point we lose a duel by, we can assume we take .67 hits to the character and 1 hit to our formation. Now, that's on average; real world results can vary dramatically, and monstrous heroes are taking double damage (they are both the formation and the hero).

Third, How Bad Can It Be?

To figure out how badly we are going to get burned here, we need to figure out how badly we lose the duel by, on average. A typical captain, for the sake of argument, is going to have a fight value anywhere between 3 and 6, depending on your army. A typical Epic Striking Hero will have a fight value of 11 (10 + 1) for calling the duel, meaning that you will lose a duel, on average, by somewhere between 8 and 5 points.

So is that it?

No.

First, we can recall that we figured out our hero is going to take .67 hits per point that we lose by. Thus, if you are losing by 3 or more (for a R2 captain), it makes sense to burn any and all might you have remaining on your duel dice. Why? Because might does you no good if you are dead, so if you expect to die, use it. Most captains have 2 points of might to start, so let's assume that, on average, we'll have 1 when the duel happens.

Now our margin of defeat is down to 7 to 4 points, with 5 or 6 being average. This is clearly not great, but is it world ending?

In this case, our side would take somewhere between 2.67 and 4.67 hits on the captain (goodbye!) and 4 to 7 hits on our formation.

So our expectation is that the captain dies, and we lose somewhere between half a company to a whole company of our troops. Ouch! That's pretty bad, but not game-breaking in most cases, unless you sent in a tiny, expensive unit with only a captain (and why did you take that in the first place!?). Why?

Four, or how much did they pay for that?

Keep in mind most heroes with Epic Strike cannot use it constantly, and certainly, they cannot use it constantly in conjunction with dueling. The might expenditure is too great. Even for Gondor, Boromir could do this three times (if he used might for nothing else), Faramir twice, and Aragorn three times (on average). There's just not enough might to go around to manage otherwise.

Likewise, this only works if they are dueling a hero who is significantly lower fight. Calling an ESHD against Treebeard would be much less spectacular... or even any formation with a relatively high fight hero in it.

So your absolute worst case, if you took only people who cannot defend against this tactic in any way, would be losing a few captains and a few formations to it... which actually matches up almost identically with the points cost of people like Aragorn or Boromir. Faramir is the notable example (his points cost means this is a big win for him) of the examples I gave earlier.

Fifth, what else could we do for those points?

I think, at least if anyone has been on the receiving end of the sort of nonsense that Dtjunkie has been pulling with ringwraiths, that it's clear this is not always your best use of heroes.

Magic has been incredibly powerful, and likewise, large blocks of units with either an Epic Hero (with high fight and/or epic strike) instead of a captain, monsters, or units without command are all immune to this tactic. It's not a "deploy at will" sort of thing, and likewise, can backfire horribly in the event of losing your hero before they can do it (or having to burn their might elsewhere).

So is it good? Yes. Are you going to lose some companies and captains to it sometimes? Yes.

But is it unstoppable? Certainly not. Sometimes there will be spectacular successes with it, but that's true of anything (cavalry charges, magic, monsters fighting, etc, can all do the same); there are also times when it fails horribly and does almost nothing.

Sixth, the conclusion

So is this unbalanced?

Probably not. It's good, but the inability to deploy it endlessly (or at all, against some foes) means that you are going to pay quite a few points for something that is likely to be used once or twice in most games.

To fight this, throw a cheap unit at the hero first to burn their might (most can't do this over and over, and if they can, either kill them with magic or your own heroes in combat, or overwhelm their unit with cheap troops), and make sure not to take captains in your tiny units; as long as you have a suitably beefy unit with enough bodies, even losing the captain and a company won't slow you down much. That's not going to stop, say, eight more companies of orcs, and if they didn't bring a big unit to support their hero, you might well wipe them out on the counter attack.

In short, if you are terribly worried about this, don't be, as long as you play smart. It's good, but no better than any number of other things you'd pay 100+ points for. I think, as time goes on and people discover some of the other dirty tricks in the game, this will remain the most obvious, but perhaps not the most effective (especially against anyone who realizes that half the key to this game is taking a decent number of companies in your force).

Jorgen_CAB
27-04-2009, 18:53
I will agree with you to a certain degree. But most Epic Heroes only have to use this tactic once in a game to really gain from it. The trick is to know when to employ this tactic. A good skilled player can try to avoid it.

The problem with weak captains are that once you placed him in a unit you are stuck with him there so you need to manage the unit accordingly.

You must know when to employ them.

The biggest problem are not the casuilties that they do, in average the will cause about 6-10 against a fight four and 5-9 against a fight five. The problem is that it give you a rather increased chance for getting that Heroic Fight.

My experience so far is that it is important in smaller games to avoid these problems. And one way to deal with it is to have only Epic Heroes in your biggest combat units and captains in your support units such as archers, rangers and flanking forces. Not in the center or smaller cavalry units. Your epic heroes can move to whatever unit they are most needed in... they have more might and usually in the case of Gondor most are inspiring leaders as well.

xxRavenxx
27-04-2009, 20:10
One of the options people havn't thought of, is that its possible to function without a hero in a unit.

It is possible that the game designers saw the posibility for heros to be too much of a "must have" (their ability to make extra moves, pass charges, etc is very valuable), and thusly made it so that having them in every unit could pose as much of a downside as an upside.

A simple solution to powerful dueling characters, is to not let them have anything easy to duel.

Jorgen_CAB
27-04-2009, 20:31
I would say that a mix of formations with Heroes, Epic Heroes, both Heroes and Epic Heroes or none at all is what really works best.

The bigger the games you play the more you will realize that troops will trump Heroes and Epic Heroes in the end. But using no Heroes or Epic Heroes at all will certainly make you loose. The thing is when and where to deploy them, and ordinary Heroes are trickier because once they are there you can't change your mind or move them somewhere more useful.

If you don't plan on moving a formation very much you are usually better of not placing a Hero there but add extra troops instead. Granted a captain could save the formation from offensive magic by the expenditure of Might, but a temporary Epic Hero might do that as well.

The usage of Heroes must be judged case by case and what your intentions are. In a low points game it might be more useful to take the counterspell fortune if you think that you are going up against someone who are magic heavy, that also leaves you with one additional company of troops.

Emissary
27-04-2009, 20:53
It's also going to depend on the army as to if you need those captains. No captain = no "at the double!" and no use of the overlord rules which can suck. As a mordor player and slow 6" orcs, I need the at the double and the extra courage. They also help to compliment my wraith's lower might totals as well. Captains in units also help to provide might for will of iron rules if you're up against a magic heavy list.

xxRavenxx
27-04-2009, 21:12
I still cant decide if 6" is slow or not. At the double seems good for final maneuvers, trying to shift round the side of people, or turn sharply. So far as covering distance, I've not met an army yet with enough ranged power to just stand back and gain an advantage while I wander up.

Given the inherant problem of outpacing my trolls too, I find that saving the points on captains and just buying an extra rank of guys seems to work well.

I've also had success with lurtz, on his own, leaping from unit to unit adding 6" to each in turn to get all of them lined up ready for the peak of battle (around turn 3 I feel it normally all kicks off)

Jorgen_CAB
27-04-2009, 21:12
It's also going to depend on the army as to if you need those captains. No captain = no "at the double!" and no use of the overlord rules which can suck. As a mordor player and slow 6" orcs, I need the at the double and the extra courage. They also help to compliment my wraith's lower might totals as well. Captains in units also help to provide might for will of iron rules if you're up against a magic heavy list.

I would say that in general the Good side have less use of captains than the Evil side. The Good side have many very useful cheap Epic Heroes with lots of might.

Mordor I think are one army type that really needs to move along at a rather fast pace, so you need to make sure you can do that. I know because I play them too. Although, I only play relatively small battles and so far I haven't had the need for that many captains.

Emissary
27-04-2009, 21:54
I've also had success with lurtz, on his own, leaping from unit to unit adding 6" to each in turn to get all of them lined up ready for the peak of battle (around turn 3 I feel it normally all kicks off)
I'm not sure if you're doing this right by how you describe it so I'll just put it out there. An epic hero can only move once a turn and only right as his formation begins to move. Hence he can only be there for the at the double roll for one formation a turn. Either his own if he stays in it, or the one he moves to if he moves at the beginning of the formation's move.

As for 6", it has been for me. I like to use it to pin in my opponent if I can get them with their back to the terrain. You can also use it well to get around to their flanks or out of a charge arc. The last thing for me is how you lose 1/2 of your movement once you get within 6" of the enemy. At that point 3" really isn't much at all.

dtjunkie19
27-04-2009, 23:26
I think, at least if anyone has been on the receiving end of the sort of nonsense that Dtjunkie has been pulling with ringwraiths, that it's clear this is not always your best use of heroes.

Well they don't call me "evil Mike" for no reason! :evilgrin::evilgrin:

I have to agree with all of Reinholts points here.

Yes Jorgen it does help for heroic fights, but heroic fights are mainly good for cavalry formations who get charging bonuses or if you can make a second charge into the enemies flank.

However I do like an epic strike/Heroic duel/Epic Rampage/Heroic Fight combo (call the heroic fight with a captain not epic hero). Yes its 4 might, 3 from the epic hero but it can often be enough to wipe out an entire formation and get a second charge into the flank of another already engaged formation. In fact, that combo is going to play a role in the dwarf army I am making :D

Axis
28-04-2009, 03:34
Good post Reinholt. I agree with you 100%. I've used epic strike/heroic duel combo a few times. It is good but only once did it win me the game and i had some godly rolls that time.

Heroic duel with a character like Gil-galad, elendil or galadriel (protectress not lady) is nastier because you can do it so many times. Gil-galad can do it 6 times!... The other side of the coin is that you pay through the roof for those characters.

Jorgen_CAB
28-04-2009, 08:33
I'm mainly arguing the use if this in small games, where it really will effect the entire battle to do it just once. If you play it right you can probably draw in half of the battlefield (points wise) into one big fight and that is when you pull this... You Black Breath one captain (or other hero that does not have Epic Strike) and then duel one or two (depending on your characters), with or without epic strike it will hurt bad, you fight and then Heroic Fight. I have seen this happen, I have done it myself.. it really is not that hard once you begin planning for such occasions to occur.

In a battle where you only have 1000p killing 500-600p from the opponent in a turn will make a different.

I do agree that in a 3000p game it is not as viable because you don't have that much more epic strike characters, but then again I have not played such large games yet.

Jorgen_CAB
28-04-2009, 08:44
Yes Jorgen it does help for heroic fights, but heroic fights are mainly good for cavalry formations who get charging bonuses or if you can make a second charge into the enemies flank.

Well, tell that to my Mordor Orcs with 2-H weapons and a five (magic) in strength... they dish out nine attacks when they charge, cavalry get eight. They both get +1 on the dice and the Orc get +2 support for each company in support. I really think it is as viable for them as it is for cavalry, flank or no flank... And the Orc start the game with nine companies... sometimed they even get to the enemy line with most of them intact as well, that is when all the fun start. :)

I don't say it is the end all of tactics, but you really can exploit weak characters like that in a nasty way.

But as I said earlier, in my Mordor army I only have one good Epic Strike character. In a bigger game I would have to rethink my options. But at 1000p it really is a good strategy. When I add the Dark Marshal this strategy becomes even nastier, pretty much instant death to anything I hit in round two unless the Marshal is Dueled and killed, Borormir are good at that... :(

xxRavenxx
28-04-2009, 08:57
I'm not sure if you're doing this right by how you describe it so I'll just put it out there. An epic hero can only move once a turn and only right as his formation begins to move.

Thats what I intended to imply, I guess I wasn't clear enough. Its why I said "theyre generally lined up by turn 3), ie:

Turn 1, move a unit at the double, turn 2, switch units, double, turn 3, the same, making most of my troops be in the same place (even the trolls have moved the same ammount as the men)

dtjunkie19
28-04-2009, 16:19
Well, tell that to my Mordor Orcs with 2-H weapons and a five (magic) in strength... they dish out nine attacks when they charge, cavalry get eight. They both get +1 on the dice and the Orc get +2 support for each company in support. I really think it is as viable for them as it is for cavalry, flank or no flank... And the Orc start the game with nine companies... sometimed they even get to the enemy line with most of them intact as well, that is when all the fun start. :)

I don't say it is the end all of tactics, but you really can exploit weak characters like that in a nasty way.

But as I said earlier, in my Mordor army I only have one good Epic Strike character. In a bigger game I would have to rethink my options. But at 1000p it really is a good strategy. When I add the Dark Marshal this strategy becomes even nastier, pretty much instant death to anything I hit in round two unless the Marshal is Dueled and killed, Borormir are good at that... :(

Yes that is quite dangerous. But those orcs will be defense 3. If they are making it to combat unscathed the opponent is doing something wrong or has no ranged. Also, you are assuming you get priority for heroic actions. If the opponent can epic strike/duel (maybe even epic duel) your duelist character they can stop the damage will do against their captain.

Then your charging heroic fighting orcs are in combat and, being so large a formation should be flanked at least once. Then they will probably lose the fight.

I would suggest to good players that by building lists to combat The Nine, you will be effective against most evil regardless of whether they have them or not.

Jorgen_CAB
28-04-2009, 16:35
Yes that is quite dangerous. But those orcs will be defense 3. If they are making it to combat unscathed the opponent is doing something wrong or has no ranged. Also, you are assuming you get priority for heroic actions. If the opponent can epic strike/duel (maybe even epic duel) your duelist character they can stop the damage will do against their captain.

Then your charging heroic fighting orcs are in combat and, being so large a formation should be flanked at least once. Then they will probably lose the fight.

I would suggest to good players that by building lists to combat The Nine, you will be effective against most evil regardless of whether they have them or not.

All your points are correct... and they usually are between 7-9 companies when they reach their target, but it all depends on how many missile troops they have. In a 1000p game I usually have one three company Morannon formation in front of it and one troll on each flank, so sometimes the enemy only get one chance to fire so they are pretty unscathed actually.
Gothmog also has 'Epic Defense' so they usually are defense five in the first fight, sometimes even in the second, it all depends on the circumstances.

But in all, nothing is certain and they certainly can be flanked or rear charged, has happened as well, and it does not work every time. It is all very situational, and I think we could argue this and that all day long... :)

dtjunkie19
28-04-2009, 16:40
Very true, very true. I'm actually eager to fight against these powerful combos with a good army and try to find counters.

Reinholt
28-04-2009, 16:47
To me, the problem is this:

If your opponent is foolish enough to position themselves such that they can be nailed in this fashion, they deserve precisely what they are going to get. It's not a tactic you can't see coming, to say the least, and likewise, it is one you can counter with your own maneuvering, charging, and positioning. I've had more than one player think they've set up a coup de grace against me, only to fail miserably.

So far, it seems to me WotR is won or lost on maneuvering. There are any number of terrible things you can do to your opponent; the question is who deploys them more effectively.

ESHD isn't even the meanest thing I've seen running around so far; some of the combinations with magic or heroic fights have been a lot more brutal.

Jorgen_CAB
28-04-2009, 16:50
So far, it seems to me WotR is won or lost on maneuvering. There are any number of terrible things you can do to your opponent; the question is who deploys them more effectively.

These are indeed very wise words...

dtjunkie19
28-04-2009, 16:54
ESHD isn't even the meanest thing I've seen running around so far; some of the combinations with magic or heroic fights have been a lot more brutal.

Like Wings of Terror + Strength From Corruption + Epic Strike + Epic Duel + Epic Rampage + Knight of Umbar to Copy FV 7 to the formation + Heroic Fight? :evilgrin:

Nu Fenix
28-04-2009, 17:25
You forgot adding The Betrayer for re-rolls ;)

Sarah S
28-04-2009, 17:52
Pfft re-rolls. Just have enough Strength and bonuses To Hit so you do so automatically.

dtjunkie19
28-04-2009, 17:57
Indeed, I was trying to be merciful :p

Quannum
30-04-2009, 10:43
Great post Reinholt. Agree with your assessment. ESHD is not overpowered.

However, my main problem with it is that, regardless of its power, people are starting to build lists around it, which then begats more lists with it as people try to find an answer! I don't like the fact that it is almost a requirement now. Thats my only problem with it.

As a result of this discussion though, I've seriously rejigged my Galadhrim army to avoid Captains in my small units and thus give ESHD denial. I've also put a nice twist on the ancient grudge between Elves and Dwarves. Check it out, I'd love your input.: