Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Mystifying Maneuver: The Buzzsaw

Good afternoon, cannon fodders.

Sometimes you have to make something out of nothing. Nowhere is this more true than the Thunderdome PvP arena, where combat is intense and your military resources are highly limited. Today we are going to discuss a technique called the Buzzsaw. This is a rapid fire tactic that can deliver several extra elite commander strikes against a siege camp.

Tiny Forces, Big Hits

Let's take a look at a Thunderdome battle report. Below is a siege from Treggar [GATE] against Grum. The opening attack by Grum is stalwart commanders into a forest. I believe this battle report shows both equipped commanders and equipped troops, but it remains a good example of the devastating power of elite attacks.

Figure 1: Dorf on dorf violence.
Let's talk commanders for a moment. Specifically a stalwart 4-pack with Heroism 10, short sword, woodsman chainmail. In a large forest, leading only 61 total troops, those commanders are enough to kill about 3000 slingers on their own. That's a kill ratio of 50:1. Using expensive silversteel swords would bring the kill ratio up to 95:1. That's a lot of killing power for spending only 61 actual troops in the elite army.

The Game Mechanics

The Buzzsaw is a cycle of attacks. The goal is to conserve troops via the Raid tactic, while generating enough commander experience points to make bonus elite strikes. With Heroism 10, a 5x commander strike can deliver the killing power of 1000 troops. As the battle unfolds, the bonus elite commander strikes will cause additional enemy casualties, effectively for free.

Victory in a Raid is determined just like an Attack command. If the attacker has more points than the defenders, they win. Otherwise, they lose. Raid differs from Attack in two specific ways. First, both sides only take 1/3 casualties. Second, the losing party has their commanders killed.

Raid is one of those maneuvers that gets a bad reputation. That's because weenies often use Raid to make it seem like they are pitching in during a battle, when in reality they are just holding their troops back while their more courageous comrades get killed by using Attack. There are very few situations where Raid makes any sense at all, because if you have the troops required to win the battle, it's usually just best to spend them and win decisively, rather than leave 2/3 of the enemy army in place. If you want to save troops, it's usually better to just send 1/3 the army set to Attack, so you don't have to wait for the raiders to march all the way home. However, like the oft-maligned Sally Forth, the Raid maneuver does have a few specialized uses. The Buzzsaw technique is one of them.

The best conditions to use the Buzzsaw are when you already know you can win a direct Attack maneuver. This will allow you to deploy the Buzzsaw with terrifying speed, shocking your opponent with a continuous short-range barrage. The maneuver truly begins with a fresh set of five t2 attack commanders that match your troops and the available terrain. If you don't have this particular setup, we will discuss how to compensate at the end of this article. For now, let's assume that you have the correct attack troops for the siege terrain, and that you know the opening Raid maneuver can be won. We will also assume that the armies involved are between 10000-50000 troops, medium-sized and manageable. These conditions are quite common in Thunderdome.

The fresh commanders are assigned to the attack army, and the army is sent on a Raid. The maneuver is successful, resulting in 1/3 of the defenders being destroyed, and your own army taking 1/3 of the expected casualties. All of the level 5 commanders receive an equal allocation of the experience points. It's best if the Raid generates at least 4550 experience points--that's 910 x5, enough to level up each new commander to Heroism 10. The next step is to construct an elite army with 61 troops (or enough to fully power commander Heroism). The five brand-new Heroism 10 commanders are equipped with powerful attack gear, typically a 3.4x multiplier for terrain items, and smashed into the siege camp in a suicide attack. This delivers the striking power of over 1000 t2 troops while sacrificing only 61. Five new level 0 commanders are immediately promoted, and then the Buzzsaw maneuver is repeated. Eventually you will reach a point where the raids aren't generating enough experience points to fully level up a commander to 10. At this point, the camp will be nearly dead, and the 5x elite commanders should have no problems finishing it off with a final strike. So, to recap:
  1. Promote 5 new t2 attack commanders, appropriate to the siege tile.
  2. Send out a winning Raid with the 5 commanders and your attack troops.
  3. Wait a few minutes for it to return.
  4. Level the 5 commanders to Heroism 10 and equip them correctly.
  5. Assign them to an elite army of 61 troops (or equivalent).
  6. Smash them into the siege camp for a bonus 1000 troop strike.
  7. Repeat the tactic.


A Tale of Two Cities

To fully understand the power of the Buzzsaw, we are going to look at two identical dwarven cities. Both have 6000 stalwarts, and are besieged on a large forest square by 20000 slingers. The first city just drops the hammer with 5 commanders and 6000 troops. One battle, chips all-in. The second city uses the Buzzsaw technique to instantly generate extra elite commanders.

For reference, 6000 stalwarts with no commanders will kill all 20000 slingers. 530/6000 stalwarts survive.

City #1: 5x equipped Heroism 10 commanders. 1329/6000 stalwarts survive. All 20000 slingers are killed.

You can see here that the Heroism commanders take the edge off the defenders. These two armies are at approximately the right size for that extra 1000 stalwarts of attack power to make a difference. About a one-seventh difference, actually, since the army hits like 7000 instead of 6000. But we can do better with a Buzzsaw. Much better.

City #2: Buzzsaw cycle. Four elite strikes, three raids. 3638/6000 stalwarts survive. All 20000 slingers are killed.

In this scenario, we use the Buzzsaw cycle to instantly generate extra elite commanders to wear down the siege camp. You can see the difference that the technique makes. Almost triple the number of stalwarts survive, even compared to City #1. The comparative survival rates of 9%, 22%, and 61% say it all. The battle of City #2 is over in less than an hour, with the besieged fortress striking with 20 elite commanders. No waiting or resurrection time required. So what does it look like inside City #2?

A Cycle of Destruction

Below is the sequence of battle for City #2. This is optional reading for all maffs-hating muggles. If you need to actually deploy the Buzzsaw in a real situation, these are the exact steps that you would follow.

Note: I will abbreviate to make the cycle easier to read. H10-CMD is an equipped stalwart commander with Heroism 10, short sword, and woodsman chainmail. 0-CMD is a brand new level 0 commander.

Opening elite strike.
5x H10-CMD, 61 stalwarts.
61 stalwarts killed.
4014 bow killed.
15986/20000 bow remain.

First raid.
5x 0-CMD, 5939 stalwarts raid.
1457 stalwarts killed.
4481/5939 stalwarts survive.
5328 slingers killed.
10657/15986 bow remain.
10657 xp generated, 2131 per commander.

Level stalwart commanders to Heroism 10, equip.

Elite strike.
5x H10-CMD, 61 stalwarts.
61 stalwarts killed.
4014 bows killed.
6643/10657 bows remain.

Fresh commanders.
Promote 5 level 0 stalwart commanders.

Second raid.
5x 0-CMD, 4420 stalwarts raid.
605 stalwarts killed.
3814/4420 stalwarts survive.
2214 bows killed.
4428/6643 bows remain.
4428 xp generated, 885 per commander (enough for Heroism 9).

Level stalwart commanders to Heroism 9, equip.

Elite strike.
5x H9-CMD, 55 stalwarts.
55 stalwarts killed.
3418 bows killed.
1010/4428 bows.

Fresh commanders.
Promote 5 level 0 stalwart commanders.

Third raid.
5x 0-CMD, 3753 stalwarts raid.
92 stalwarts killed.
3661/3753 stalwarts survive.
336 bows killed
673/1010 bows remain.
672 xp generated, 134 per commander (enough for Heroism 4).

Level stalwart commanders to Heroism 4, equip.

Final elite strike.
5x H4-CMD, 61 stalwarts.
23 stalwarts killed.
38/61 stalwarts survive.
673 bows killed.
0/673 bows survive.
1346 xp generated, 269 per commander

Final tally.
3638/6000 stalwarts remaining.
5x stalwart commanders, Heroism 6.
All 20000 slingers killed.

While this cycle seems very long when written out, keep in mind that it will happen in less than an hour during an actual battle, giving your opponent very little time to react.

A Screwdriver for Nails

Ok, so now let's talk about what happens when you have the wrong troops for the job. This happens all the time, although it should happen less often in Thunderdome. The forest siege of Ayraelf is a great example of having enough troops to win a battle, except that they were the wrong troops for the job. So how do you compensate for that situation?

It turns out that Heroism has more options than the typical "61 matching troops". That's just the easiest way to power up a commander's Heroism, but it isn't the only option. All you really need is enough total attack points in the army to match the commanders Heroism. The commander's Heroism 10 is 61x Attack of his base troop type, which is why the "61 matching troops" is easy to remember.

Say what?

Figure 2: A 1000 word picture.

The picture explains it all. Here we have a Heroism 10 death pack commander. He has 3599 attack. A death pack's base attack is 59, and not surprisingly, 61x 59 = 3599. Note that his division only contains a single death pack to convey elite status on the commander. The 400 kobolds in the army supply 3600 attack points (400x 9), and since that's more than the commander's 3599 attack, his Heroism is fully powered up.

Now for the muggle translation. As long as you have just enough attack troops to promote to commanders, and 1 matching troop for each of their divisions, you can use whatever troops you want to power up the commander's Heroism. The meat doesn't matter as long as the total troop attack points is more than the commander's Heroism score.

I frequently hunt with an army of 4x death pack commanders, Heroism 10, 1 death pack soldier each, and 400 kobolds. It's a dynamite combination on plains, with the added bonus of watching kobolds get eaten by wildlife. All the real killing power is supplied by the elite death pack commanders and their equipment.

The Slow-Motion Saw

The final scenario we will evaluate today is the situation where you don't have enough troops to successfully win the Raid maneuver. This can actually be a survivable situation. You will be using a suicide attack, not a raid. Here it is very important to use only the bare minimum of troops required. Your goal is to generate enough commander experience points to level the 5 fresh commanders with Heroism. Generating more than that for fresh commanders is just wasting your precious troops.

You might assume that your goal is Heroism 10, but let's take a moment to remember the curve of commander experience points. The levels you should be most interested in are: 5 (210xp), 7 (430xp), 10 (910xp). Note that level 7 is 70% as good as level 10, and requires less than half of the xp. If you are in dire straits for troops, it might be better to aim for 5x430xp and just get your commanders to Heroism 7. You can still do a lot of damage that way.

In this situation, you are sending your troops on a one-way Attack. Include all five commanders in the army. You want to use the Battle Calculator to measure how many troops you require to generate the necessary experience points. Because you do not know your enemy's commander level, equipment, skills or defensive prestige boost, I will recommend that you pad your estimate by 25%.

Because your army dies, you will need to wait for an hour to resurrect all five commanders. That's perfectly alright. Remember, sieges take 12 hours to set up and start bombardment. You can still get in 10 elite shots using the Buzzsaw technique, and your city will take many hours to wear down to raze levels. Also remember that if you knock the number of siege engines below 30 catapults, the siege will start firing slower (which is why serious siege camps always send redundant engines).

Die Hard

Techniques like the Buzzsaw are your last line of defense. They exist to stretch your final armies when you are in a fatal situation. In the words of Dylan Thomas: Do not go quietly into that good night. Rage, rage, against the dying of the light.

Never go out with a whimper. Nobody respects that. Die like a cannon fodder, stabbing with relentless abandon, and your enemies will always remember you.

Misbehave. Kill lots of stuff.

<^^^^^^^^||==O    Skint Jagblade

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