TaKtiX: Chris Dyer

Chris Dyer is a lead playtester for Warlord, has been UK Champion in both Open and Campaign formats at the same time; he placed 2nd overall at his first KoHIT (2004) and highly in the second KoHIT (2005).

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The First Turn - Part 2

In adition to your starting characters you have one very important asset on the first turn: your Warlord. That's the most important card you have in play: for one, it's by far and away the most powerful character on the table at the start of the game, and second it's crucial to the victory of the game. Utilizing your Warlord effectively without undue risk is crucial, not just to the first turn, but to the game.

So, how well do you use your Warlord on turn one? Try this. Take your deck and draw a hand, then play that hand out as if you were in a game. ( I call this process Goldfishing, I've got no idea why. But it's a pretty good way to test your deck overall, before you get in to actual games ). Then, see what your Warlord does on that turn. Take a note of it, and then repeat the process a suitable number of times. By the end, you should be able to see what, on average, your Warlord contributes to the first turn.

Now obviously, this exercise is going to be different for every Warlord. For example, Ar'tek will almost always get to rank 1 and smash heads turn one, both because he has inbuilt movement and his decks are usually centred on him. Durin Kortouched will almost always spend to search for a weapon turn one, and possibly do a little bit of healing or readying as well. That's fine, some Warlords have a natural advantage in this bracket because they are naturally effective turn one. If that describes your deck, pat yourself on the back, nod happily and move on.

If, on the other hand, your Warlord isn't doing a lot turn one, I'd take another look at your deck. Let's take Albrecht as an example. I see a lot of his decks nowadays that slap a couple of items on him and then spend him up to tank 2. Now, to me, that seems wasteful. You've got a powerful fighter with three attacks, and he's not doing anything first turn. Worse than that, he's equipped a couple of items from your hand, and he's probably not used them for anything. That means that they're dead cards as well. On your first turn, you've wasted 40% of your hand and a potential three attacks. The result is that you're naturally going to struggle to compete on that turn against, say, a Feyd Rowan deck that churns out 12 stikes a turn.

Let's take a look at a Garn Hearthstone deck. On turn 1, Garn moves some wounds off Defiance on to himself. Is that the best he can do? No. Let's say he also plays Scourge of Dythanus later in the turn. That still isn't maximum efficiency, because you've still got a level 5 Cleric unspent in your army. To be truly effective he'd have to cast something like Avatar of Faith or equip and use a Lightning's Iron. That's getting the most out of your Warlord. Similarly, Wizards should be looking to cast a big spell, and Figher's and Rogues should be looking to kill characters. (Or possibly ready another character, which could be considered killing by proxy.)

Now, clearly there are grey areas here. Sometimes you really are going to draw a bad hand that'll leave your Warlord stranded (more on that next time.) Sometimes your Warlord is going to do a bit, but not a lot. However if that sometimes is cropping up any more thatn 25% of the time, you may have a problem. And as always there are exceptions to this rule. The above mentioned Feyd Rowan deck plays only two Spend Orders (Magic Missiles and Tzin's Attention) both of which are intended to be cast by a level 2 wizard turn one. Meanwhile the rest of the deck is full of Order: Ranged Strike type cards, maximising the number of strikes you can acheive in one turn. This deck is still efficient because Feyd does a massive amount of potential damage on turn one, but breaks the normal mold that I'd use to test this sort of thing.

The final part to consider here is how your opponent can interfere with your Warlord's plans for the turn. Exhaustion is the definitive example here: Ar'tek's campaign of pain is suddenly a lot less daunting when he's spent. Consider what your Warlord is doing and how you can protect those plans with cards from your deck.

More on that in part 3: your first hand.


At Wednesday, May 24, 2006 9:14:00 pm, Anonymous Rod (puzzlehunter) said...

Isn't it also possible to make a deck that is overly dependant on the warlord doing all the heavy lifting and if your oponent neutralizes the warlord (ie. exhaustion) for a turn or two your deck is in trouble. Just a precaution as this to me is a common mistake of new players.

At Thursday, May 25, 2006 9:32:00 am, Blogger Chris Dyer said...

Absolutely, but some warlords are naturally drawn to that build. Ar'tek is the obvious guy for this one - his standard deck might play some back-up offence from stuff like Rress, but the vast majority of his damage comes from himself. Moreover, I think that that's the best Ar'tek build.

You're right though, that deck is very vulnerable to anything that can neutralize the warlord, especially stun decks. To an extent the player can attempt to mitigate that by playing Amulet of Waking, Greaves and the like, and if you're a Cleric then you've got Aura of Protection as well, but I think to a certain extent you just have to accept that as a bad matchup.


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