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).

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

The first turn

Warlord has always been a quick game. It's designed that way. Look at your deck, and then ask yourself how many turns a game usually takes. At this late point in the CE arc the average is probably somewhere around 3 turns.

Of those turns, the first one is the most critical. Why? If you're playing a blitz deck the first turn represents your best chance to do damage to the opponent. If you're playing a slower deck then the first turn is crucial to building a stable base from which your deck can unfold. Either way, a bad first turn can mean at best a long uphill struggle to recover, and at worst a quick loss.

So what makes a good first turn? First off, lets look at the different elements that can affect the turn. There are three of these: initiative, starting armies and the first hand.

Initiative is a funny one. It can prove to be vital, though that's less true on the first turn than in later turns. However there's not much that you can do to swing the balance in your favour, beyond some substandard cards like High Tide or incidental bonuses from a few characters like Taika the Disjoined. Generally speaking, you're going to have to accept that the initiative for the first turn is a straight dice roll and accept the consequences.

That brings us to starting armies. On your first turn, on average, you're going to be seeing eleven cards. Six of those start in play. As a result, your choices have a huge affect on your first turn, and it's really important to get this start right.

First off, look at what your deck is trying to do. Find, in one sentence, how your deck is going to win. Some examples would include "My deck wins by holding off the opponent at the start of the turn, then moving high level fighters to the front" or "My deck wins by creating lots of small melee strikes quickly, backed up by low level wizard spells."

After you've done that, take a look at your characters. Are they helping you acheive that goal? For example in your deck aiming to stall early on a low AC, 1 hit point character isn't likely to help, irrelevent of his attack profile. Take the standard dwarf start of 3x Defiance and 2x Will. This start is chosen because it provides you maximum stability, though it sacrifices offence to do it. Would you choose this line up in an Ahdi Akkhar blitz deck? No, because the strengths of your starting characters are totally the opposite of the strengths such a deck would want.

Having said that, it's often worth fudging your start slightly. What do I mean by that? Your deck won't be played in a vacuum: it's going to be matched against other decks. On a purely local level, if you know that your playmate is heavy on DC checks then choosing characters with high skill may become important, even if you sacrifice some offensive capacity. Similarly, if you know that your opponents are likely to be playing very fast aggressive decks a slightly more defensive start may prove beneficial. Llyr Militia is a good example here: that's a card that'll let you soak up your opponent's early offence and still mount a decent amount of pressure later in the turn. On the other hand, if you're opponent is starting purely defensive characers, like Shield Wall Knights, that start is ineffective. Basically, try and take in to account what your oppoinents will be doing when you design your start. As an extension to this, consider using your start to cover up any weaknesses that your deck might have. For example, is your deck weak against Astral characters? Maybe you should start Kun Iacob.

The last point to consider is how your deck interacts with your characters. Is your deck heavy on wizard spells? If it is you should definately consider starting a level 2 wizard. Intent on playing Veiled Passing? Make sure that your start contains some clerics. Basically, try to use your start to ensure that your deck contains as few dead cards as possible. That's something I'll look at in more depth in part 3.

Next time I'll look at the most crucial part of your starting line up - your warlord.

As always, comments are welcome.


At Thursday, May 18, 2006 4:48:00 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are always welcome to link card names to www.uwodb.de.

Example: Taika is http://www.warlordccg.de/uwodb/detail.php?id=3054 .


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