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Author Topic: Strength, an in depth look  (Read 3062 times)

The Dude

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Strength, an in depth look
« on: April 05, 2013, 03:26:28 PM »
We have spoken on both Mobility and Tempo, which are  important when you consider the final part of this tactical puzzle, which is Strength. Why is strength important, and what exactly is strength, as well as how we can use tempo and Mobility to create a greater Strength than just from cards alone. These questions are going to be the focal points of this penultimate article in this series on the importance of Tempo. So, without further ado, let us begin.

What is Strength?

Strength, in the most fundamental sense of the word as it relates to Mage Wars, is the average amount of damage a creature can do a turn. How can we figure out what the average amount of damage a creature can do per round of attacking? Well, Let us add up all the sides of the dice, ignoring critical damage: 0+0+1+1+2+2=6. Let's divide that by the number of faces on the die: 6/6= 1. So, on average, you will deal 1 damage per die. Remember, this is the average. The boon and bane of dice is that ofttimes you will either go under or over the average, but if we can judge them specifically on statistics alone, we can start to give a numeric value in regards to the strength of the card. Now, let's factor in armor. A creature with a single armor has the ability to block one die of damage. So, whereas a creature that does 2 die of damage will do on average 2 damage, it will only do one damage to a creature with 1 armor. Now, this really does change things in the grand scheme of things. You end up paying a lot more to deal damage. So, armor ALSO plays a huge factor in the strength of a creature, because it makes opponents pay more in mana and actions in order to deal with a creature that should be a lot easier to get rid of.

So, again, I will ask the question, why is strength important? Why not just jam all the creatures that deal the most damage and call it a day? As we all know, this game is not that simple. This will seem like a strange concept to some, but the fact of the matter is that there are better creatures than others. You, as the player, need to evaluate creatures based on four criteria:

1. Mana cost

This is where Tempo comes into play. Paying 15 mana for a creature that has 1 armor , 13 life, and 5 damage average is worse than a creature that costs 16 mana, has 2 armor, 15 life, and has vampirism. Figuring out what is better is an intuitive and studious task that can only be honed through trial and error. You need to play the most efficient damage creators with the least amount of mana possible. This will allow you to save mana to buff and support those creatures to keep them in play.

2. Damage average

A vanilla creature that does 2 average damage is strictly worse than a vanilla creature that does 3 average damage. This basis is incredibly important to figuring out what creatures should be played over others. We also need to realize that a creature that does 2 average damage and has a 25 percent chance to rot is better than a creature that does 2 average damage with a 50 percent chance to burn. Why is that? Because rot does not go away. It is a static effect that deals one damage at the beginning of each upkeep. So, a creature that deals two rot effects to the enemy mage will kill him in 16-20 rounds on it's own. This is completely different than a creature that can deal burns, because burns have a random chance of damage, therefore it does have a 33 percent chance to deal 2 damage. It also has a 33 percent chance to deal 1 damage. It also has a 33 percent chance to deal zero damage and be removed. 66 percent is not as good as a hundred percent, 3 grade maths will tell you.

3. Armor

 This is important when thinking about what creatures you should and shouldn't pump armor into. Having those creatures that deal a large percentage of your damage should have more armor than those creatures you use to help mobilize and increase your tempo while decreasing your opponents. Having your opponent sink spell after spell into your heavily armored creatures is what you WANT them to do. It denies them mana and actions, while netting you the same. Think about it. If you both had a static ten channelling, and you had a LoF out to his timber wolf, you have each paid 24 and 9 mana, respectively. Now, He casts a Thunderbolt on your LoF. He has now paid 19 mana and 2 actions to your 24 and one action. You ignore the timber wolf and attack the mage. He casts a second thunderbolt on your LoF, spending a total of 29 mana and 3 actions to your 24 and 1. You have gained a tempo advantage of 5 mana by offsetting your supply at first to threaten your opponent and frighten him into dealing with that huge threat.

4. What effects it can do

Finally, examining what effects a creature has is our final criteria for determining if a creature is playable in our deck or not. I have come up with kind of a quick list to the kinds of effects you want your creatures to have:

Flying, Channeling (free actions), Rot, Stun, Daze, Defense, Direct Damage, Incorporeal, Push, Ranged Attack, Weak, Taunt, Sweeping, Vampiric, Piercing, Unavoidable, Fast.

All of these effects will help you to gain tempo and hurt the opponent's tactics and strategy while setting you up to win.

Now, How can we use Tempo and mobility to help make our creatures stronger than just printed stats? Well, we can use cards like Force Push on creatures with slow to help get them into position to make their incredibly strong attack. Or we can use charge, or call of the wild even. I recently used two Rajan's Fury to turn two bitterwood foxes into attacking machines, forcing my opponent to lose tempo by dealing with these creatures and allowing me to take advantage of board position to send out two bobcats to really give him a hard time. You want to use the THREAT of dealing a lot a damage to help hinder your opponent into making subpar moves. Push your opponent into corners by using your strong creatures to force your opponent away from you and into retreat. You do not want to rely on a big creature to win the game on it's own. For the most part, I only win games when I use those big fatties to push my board position from almost winning to winning, and not as a means to an end. This is why understanding Tempo and Mobility is so vital to winning the game. Because the only way to win the game is through damage, and the only way to do that is through strength. Understanding when and how to use strength to your advantage is probably the largest learning curve in the game, and therefore it is one of the most important.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this! If you have any comments or feedback, feel free to tell me. As I am newer to the article writing scene, I am but gaining experience on how to write and think critically as it applies to game theory. Again, thank you and I hope you enjoy!
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piousflea

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Re: Strength, an in depth look
« Reply #1 on: April 05, 2013, 04:30:44 PM »
Strength is more than just "how many dice you roll", it should also include some measure of how easily those dice can be rolled.

A Darkfenne hydra can roll 9 dice but it is Slow and easily Agonized so it actually isn't that amazing. While a Grimson with Hawkeye and archers tower rolls 8 dice and is unbelievably devastating.

From a math standpoint:

A creature with X dice will roll:
- An average of 0.5X normal damage (range, 0-2X)
- An average of 0.5X piercing damage (range, 0-2X)
- An average of X total damage (range, 0-2X)
- An average of 0.33X damage vs incorporeal (range, 0-X)

This means that, against an X dice attack, Armor can only effectively soak 0.5X damage. The other 0.5X is likely to be piercing. For example, when you are being hit by 4 dice attacks, having more than 2 armor does relatively little.

Because of this effect, the 5 armor on the Golem is almost equally effective whether you are rolling 3 dice Triplestrike, or rolling 9 dice all at once. Chances are, the armor will soak all of your non-crits.

On the other hand, a lot of creatures have just 1 armor, and that 1 Armor is much more effective vs a 3 dice attack than a 9 dice attack.

Basically: if you compare a single large-dice attack to multiple small attacks, they are exactly equal for 0 armor and approximately equal for 5 armor, but the large-dice wins against 1-3 armor.

sdougla2

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Re: Strength, an in depth look
« Reply #2 on: April 05, 2013, 05:11:30 PM »
I agree with piousflea on the analysis of armor and triplestrike.

I also think it's odd that you say not to play big creatures early. Dropping a Lord of Fire on turn 2 seems like a great way to pressure your opponent. As you noted in your example, your opponent will often spend more resources dealing with him than you invested in the first place.
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relknes

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Re: Strength, an in depth look
« Reply #3 on: April 05, 2013, 05:44:29 PM »
1 armor is NOT basically Aegis 1.
Consider this simplified situation: a creature normally rolls 2 atack dice:
Against no armor or Aegis, they average 2 damage with a range of 0-4
Agasinst Aegis 1, they average 1 damage with a range of 0-2
Against armor 1, they average 1.61 damage with a range of 0-4
In other words, the Aegis 1 prevents 50% of the damage and cuts the range in half, while the armor prevents only 19.4% of the damage while leaving the range untouched.
This is only one examle.  Obviously, this changes as the number of dice change, and for higher armor, etc.  But the fact remains, Aegis 1 is strictly better than 1 extra armor, and in many cases is MUCH better.
The numbers get even more extreme with the example you gave of armor 3 vs Aegis 3.  With Aegis 3, many creatures could not physically do ANY damage to you, where no matter how high your armor is, the crits still play so each die will do at least 1/2 a damage on average (more than that as the number of dice exceeds the armor value)

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Re: Strength, an in depth look
« Reply #4 on: April 05, 2013, 09:39:47 PM »
If you had read what other criteria I had posted, I stated exactly what you said. I took into account abilities and mana costs of creatures, although I guess I had not thought fully on the Aegis=Armor statement. I had looked at it from a logical, and not mathematical standpoint. I apologize for the flawed basis on which my argument stood, thank you all for your comments and suggestions.

And as far as the oddness of the big creature comment, I meant it more that you cannot depend on a big fattie to win you the game, because although it may be a great creature, oft times it alone is not enough. I was convoluted in my statement and again I do apologize.
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sdougla2

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Re: Strength, an in depth look
« Reply #5 on: April 05, 2013, 10:21:55 PM »
Quote from: "relknes" post=10467
1 armor is NOT basically Aegis 1.
Consider this simplified situation: a creature normally rolls 2 atack dice:
Against no armor or Aegis, they average 2 damage with a range of 0-4
Agasinst Aegis 1, they average 1 damage with a range of 0-2
Against armor 1, they average 1.61 damage with a range of 0-4
In other words, the Aegis 1 prevents 50% of the damage and cuts the range in half, while the armor prevents only 19.4% of the damage while leaving the range untouched.
This is only one examle.  Obviously, this changes as the number of dice change, and for higher armor, etc.  But the fact remains, Aegis 1 is strictly better than 1 extra armor, and in many cases is MUCH better.
The numbers get even more extreme with the example you gave of armor 3 vs Aegis 3.  With Aegis 3, many creatures could not physically do ANY damage to you, where no matter how high your armor is, the crits still play so each die will do at least 1/2 a damage on average (more than that as the number of dice exceeds the armor value)


When I work through the math, I get that the average damage a 2 dice attack will do against 1 armor is 1.44, which suggests that armor is a bit better than what you're saying, but aegis is still better.

The real issue in practice is that aegis is much more expensive to gain, and you can't stack it. Generally 2 armor is costed similar to aegis 1, and the difference between those is much closer. The average damage a 2 dice attack does against armor 2 is 1.11 (unless I did my math wrong), which isn't too far off from aegis 1. Against more powerful attacks, the first few points of armor should be closer in value to aegis, since the probability of getting no normal damage drops as you add dice.

You've also left off that aegis can't reduce an attack below 1 attack die, so aegis 3 is the same as aegis 1 against a 2 dice attack.
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