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Thread: The 5 basic positional strategies broken down

  1. #1
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    Default The 5 basic positional strategies broken down

    jwalker recently made an excellent post about the different basic strategies that each faction was strongest in. In this thread I want to simplify and generalize that a bit, and describe the 5 basic positional strategies for newer players.

    The first thing to always keep in mind is that the board in SW is an optical illusion. It looks short and wide, but in reality it is long and narrow. It is hard to get from one end of the board to the other. It is much, much easier to move side to side.

    the second thing to keep in mind should be the question - what is your identity? What are you doing on the board, and what is your opponent doing to you?

    There are 5 answers:

    1. Turtling: you are hiding in the bottom two rows on your side of the board. You do not want to risk your units in enemy territory. You have even given up position over your starting wall. By doing so, you are spending as little as possible, presumably to build up magic for a strong counter attack involving one or two champs.

    2. Hiding behind walls: you hide behind your walls, using them to shield your units from being exposed to more than one side as much as possible where they can be counter attacked. You are typically maintaining position in rows 3-4. You are using your units to mostly counter the enemy from safe position- you are spending less than they are to gain your advantage.

    3. Mid board: your units have left the cover of their walls to enter into the territory between your walls and the opponent's walls. Here your units are fighting to maintain their position and keep rows 4-5 free of enemies. You still want your units to be exposed from no more than 1 or 2 sides. You want to be winning the economic trade off battle. You want your opponent to be spending more countering you than you are spending to counter their attacks.

    4. Wall crowding: you have moved deeper into enemy territory, to the point you are pushing into the opponent's walls. By doing so, you not only have the cover of your opponents walls, but your units are eliminating possible summoning points. Typically you are fighting for rows 5-6. When setting this up, you will have to put your units in risky positions to maintain position, and overspend a bit, but the advantage comes when you have destroyed their walls and their ability to successfully counter is limited.

    5. Assassination: you are spending huge resources to throw your units deep into risky enemy territory to try and kill the opponent's summoner in as few turns as possible. If your units die after a single turn but you get a wound or two on the enemy's summoner, your goals are being accomplished. Assassination sees your units usually in rows 7 and 8. Beyond the opponent's walls, your units might be vulnerable to attack from as many as 3 or 4 sides.

    What you and your opponent are doing can change throughout the 10-12 turns that most games last. If you see your opponent turtling, that means they are giving up their walls, which means it may make sense to crowd walls. If they are trying to assassinate, you turtle. If they are winning the midfield, perhaps you hide behind your walls and see if you can draw them in.

    I am usually oscillating between these strategies on a turn by turn basis. I rarely play an entire game using only one strategy. This makes it harder for the opponent to set up effective counters without risking their units.


    there is a lot more to this game than positional strategy, but getting into this mindset improved my game.
    Last edited by Rdebruys83; 07-14-2018 at 05:14 PM.

  2. #2
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    I thought I would also follow this up just by going over optimal wall configurations.

    First, let's think of walls in pairs. There are three basic wall pairings I find most useful - the L-Shape, the 1 space, and the 2 space. There are two others I commonly see - the diagonal space and the adjacent walls.

    1. The L shape is probably the best overall. It is hard to crowd two walls spaced in a knight's move from each other, it maximizes the number of summoning points between the two without overlap, and you can counter from several summoning spots on one wall when an enemy had encroached on the other.

    2. The 1 space is when you put two walls on the same row but with a space between them. This will halt any advance, because the enemy has to funnel their units through the gap to get to you. However, it exposes your walls to harassment and crowding. I find particularly good use with this config when using grubs. Grubs peeks out to attack, then pops back into cover.

    3. I don't see a lot of wall pairings where they are in the same row but 2 spaces separate them, but I have been finding this is a solid defensive configuration. It's hard to crowd both, and you load up 2 of your units in the gap. This creates a line almost the width of the board that only exposes each unit to one side AND new units can be summoned right on top of them. Ideally though this config works best with ranged units. Melee units are susceptible to being picked off by the enemy's ranged units.

    4. I generally avoid the diagonal set up because it overlaps summoning points, thereby reducing possibilities, and it creates a space in the middle that can be vulnerable to crowding. Diagonal wall pairings are generally susceptible to crowding. But your units are undeniably better protected behind them, and there is a time and a place for that. Waterd showed me an excellent trick - when the enemy crowds your wall on two sides, you can place a wall between them, cutting off one unit behind enemy lines and making them vulnerable to counterattack.

    5. I also avoid putting two walls beside each other, for the same reason I avoid diagonal walls. However, just as with diagonal walls, even though the walls are more vulnerable, your units are better protected behind them.

    So how to put all three walls down? In reality, any wall pairing can be used depending on the situation. It's not uncommon for me to have a 2 spacer and an L shape in the same game. However, some 3 wall configs just work better for certain strategies, if only generally.

    1. Turtling: deep in your own territory, where crowding is tougher, a diagonal, adjacent or 1-space makes more sense. L shapes work too. L shapes work good everywhere though.

    2. Hiding: the 2 space is especially good for this strategy, even if you're not hiding as much as you are exposing your units, but to only 1 space each. True hiding would involve diagonals. I wouldn't often attempt adjacent configs in row 3-4, I would use the 1 spacer.

    3. Midfield: stick to 2 spacers and L shapes. This is the first position where the "devil horns" begin to make sense. Since most starting walls are in row 3, you space walls 2 and 3 in L shapes from it along row 4. This is the most aggressive wall config, and pretty much from this point forward it should be all devil horns. Note that the devil horns open up all 6 columns in Row 4 or 5.

    4. Wall crowding: devil horns. Occasionally you can sweep back one horn and make a 2 spacer or an L shape if the enemy's walls are similarly forward.

    5. Assassination: devil horns.

    Having said that, you should always bear in mind that your walls should respond to the enemy's walls. You don't want to both create identical devil horns - that would create three channels to funnel opponents.

    You also want to avoid wall placements that allow the enemy to attack your wall from the cover of theirs. This can happen when you put a wall in row 4 against the edge of the board. On the other hand, you may wish to clog up lanes by exploiting that when the enemy does it. An opponent who eagerly summons devil horns can fall victim to a clogged right side of the board after you have used a wall to seal off the one side.

    And finally, if you can, place your walls in such a way that the enemy will have to work to take them apart. 2 diagonal spaces away will prevent ranged units from being summoned and hitting a wall without moving.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rdebruys83 View Post
    jwalker recently made an excellent post about the different basic strategies that each faction was strongest in. In this thread I want to simplify and generalize that a bit, and describe the 5 basic positional strategies for newer players.

    The first thing to always keep in mind is that the board in SW is an optical illusion. It looks short and wide, but in reality it is long and narrow. It is hard to get from one end of the board to the other. It is much, much easier to move side to side.

    the second thing to keep in mind should be the question - what is your identity? What are you doing on the board, and what is your opponent doing to you?

    There are 5 answers:

    1. Turtling: you are hiding in the bottom two rows on your side of the board. You do not want to risk your units in enemy territory. You have even given up position over your starting wall. By doing so, you are spending as little as possible, presumably to build up magic for a strong counter attack involving one or two champs.

    2. Hiding behind walls: you hide behind your walls, using them to shield your units from being exposed to more than one side as much as possible where they can be counter attacked. You are typically maintaining position in rows 3-4. You are using your units to mostly counter the enemy from safe position- you are spending less than they are to gain your advantage.

    3. Mid board: your units have left the cover of their walls to enter into the territory between your walls and the opponent's walls. Here your units are fighting to maintain their position and keep rows 4-5 free of enemies. You still want your units to be exposed from no more than 1 or 2 sides. You want to be winning the economic trade off battle. You want your opponent to be spending more countering you than you are spending to counter their attacks.

    4. Wall crowding: you have moved deeper into enemy territory, to the point you are pushing into the opponent's walls. By doing so, you not only have the cover of your opponents walls, but your units are eliminating possible summoning points. Typically you are fighting for rows 5-6. When setting this up, you will have to put your units in risky positions to maintain position, and overspend a bit, but the advantage comes when you have destroyed their walls and their ability to successfully counter is limited.

    5. Assassination: you are spending huge resources to throw your units deep into risky enemy territory to try and kill the opponent's summoner in as few turns as possible. If your units die after a single turn but you get a wound or two on the enemy's summoner, your goals are being accomplished. Assassination sees your units usually in rows 7 and 8. Beyond the opponent's walls, your units might be vulnerable to attack from as many as 3 or 4 sides.

    What you and your opponent are doing can change throughout the 10-12 turns that most games last. If you see your opponent turtling, that means they are giving up their walls, which means it may make sense to crowd walls. If they are trying to assassinate, you turtle. If they are winning the midfield, perhaps you hide behind your walls and see if you can draw them in.

    I am usually oscillating between these strategies on a turn by turn basis. I rarely play an entire game using only one strategy. This makes it harder for the opponent to set up effective counters without risking their units.


    there is a lot more to this game than positional strategy, but getting into this mindset improved my game.
    I would like to add

    6) Timing push - one of the (if not THE best) offensive strategy. Here you normally play a rather conservative early game (either defensive or midfield control) while building up a healthy pile of magic. Often, when I see my opponents plays slow (for example has great cards in hand and doen't want to burn them) I speed up my burn rate and build for a huge push. This is often a combination of wall crowd and assassination and your move is close to an all in. The idea is that your superior force clears most of the opponents and abuse their relatively low banked resources. I give some examples of a timing push

    Nikuya Na: Juju + Elephant + cheeta to bring both units vs. the opponent summoner OR the summon spot of the opponents wall and clear the commons. Holding back one spirit of the jungle and positioning Niki in a way so next turn another elephant or Rhino can immediately join the frontliners and niki can clear units with posion cloud as well.

    Rallul with Reform stone a golem +channeled summon into draw power to get enough magic to summon several golems + champ deep into enemy territory

    or just super classical Grognak pushes into the midfield + 2 champs + 2 freezes on the opponents key units while they are lower on magic.


    @wall placement:

    Midfield control: often you want W - blank - wall in row 3 as this is both good for offense and defense, while avoiding choke points that could happen with forward wall + forward wall. With walls in row 2 you might loose the opportunity to crowd the opponents walls if they fall back.

    Assassination: I would avoid "devils Horn" if you haven't already destroyed a wall. As otherwise your opponent can place a unit in front of it and use 1 own wall to immediately block all offense. If my opponents wall is on my right side I sometimes play W4 - Blank - starting W3 - blank - W3. This way the opponent must use both his walls to create a line of walls but then his other side is open.

    @walls next to walls: this is the strongest defensive build you can do. These walls only give a single spot for your opponent. However, you also only have 2 sides to attack the wall crowding units, which means you give up position. This can still be useful in certain defensive builds/situations, especially if you are desperate of have other means to attack (for example jacob behind the wall)

  4. #4
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    Thanks for the input jwalker. I concur with everything you stated for sure.

    With a timing push, and i know that the answer varies depending on the faction, but at what turn would you normally say you want your push to begin, and how many turns are you transitioning from row 3-4, then 5-6, then 7-8?

  5. #5
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    Timing push isn’t about the “time” of the game. But dropping 2 champs and maybe bringing your strong summoner forward when opponent doesn’t have the magic and tools to counter you

  6. #6
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    I'm going to borrow a bit more from jwalker's playbook and list the positional strategies each faction in the app tends to be strongest with:

    1. Phoenix Elves: hiding behind walls

    2. Tundra Orcs: Turtling

    3. Guild Dwarves: midfield

    4. Cave Goblins: wall crowding

    5. Vanguard: hiding behind walls

    6. Fallen Kingdom: hiding behind walls

    7. Cloaks: assassination

    8. Jungle Elves: assassination

    9. Mountain Vargath: wall crowding

    10. Deep Dwarves: hiding

    11. Filth: Turtling

    12. Mercs: Turtling

    13. Swamp Orcs: wall crowding

    14. Benders: Turtling

    15. Sand Goblins: midfield

    16. Shadow Elves: assassination

    For a more comprehensive and detailed list, check out jwalker's post under "the 6 offensive summoners" in the general discussion forums. I've deliberately left this list more basic.

    Now this isn't to suggest that players should for example, turtle with Demagogue and never move your units up into the midfield until you are ready to execute your late game push. Any faction can and should use any strategy, when the time is right. But what this is saying is that generally, when your faction is able to do what it is best at, it should be at an advantage.

    I note that I was a little surprised to see how few factions tend to be strongest in the midfield, give the fact that's where most of the game is played. I stand by my choices in the list for each faction though.
    Last edited by Rdebruys83; 07-15-2018 at 11:57 AM.

  7. #7
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    On the app, every faction wants you to come to them: every faction wants to play defensively. The reality is some have action starters when others don’t or simply stronger action starters.

    Abua is actually NOT assassination bc though his tools are meant to do that, they’re WAY too weak to reliably assassinate

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by commandercool View Post
    On the app, every faction wants you to come to them: every faction wants to play defensively. The reality is some have action starters when others don’t or simply stronger action starters.

    Abua is actually NOT assassination bc though his tools are meant to do that, they’re WAY too weak to reliably assassinate
    I did just kind d naturally assume Abua was meant for assassination. What do you think that Abua would be better at than assassination?

    As you may notice from our games, I rarely use Vlox to assassinate, although I believe that if I was going to pick 2 factions other than Shadow Elves to assassinate, it would be Abua and Vlox, probably in that order.

    Tundle actually has a pretty good assassination potential, but unlike Abua or Vlox I think Tundle is better at other things than just assassinating.

  9. #9
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    Abua was meant for assassination. But they overrated the strengths of those tools. The tools are not that strong and unless you get lucky a really good player will almost never lose you abua assassination.

    Abua is best seen as a jack of all trades and master of none. He can assassinate if opponent messes up. He action start somewhat with Makeinda Ru or Miti mumway. He has some economy with chant of Life, Miti mumway, Gorillas if they pummel. He also has some counterattack. Best case scenario against good players is you economically out trade them.

    Shadow Elves are best actually at champ push. You’ll see when Robert plays offense that’s how he plays it. Not assassination.

    Vlox assassination tools are really bad. Even though he has stronger assassination tools than many iOS summoners they’re really bad tools. Vlox is an economic summoner without an action starter. He hopes to get lucky with a spy and discard a champ, and then just outtrade (via MD, Raid, I’m surprised you rarely use because it’s always an economic gain, and, like you play with mundol and AMs). As you’ve seen, it is very hard on app for summoners without magic engine to lose a champ against Vlox and still win. I think you won every such game against me when you spy’d one of my champs, except for one game.

    Sera is not so much about defense as much as she needs to play slow to actually use Summoning Surge, setup Holy Judgment,get a big magic pile for Leah, be able to sacrifice an Attack to heal her champs. Mugglug for example is app Sera worst nightmare as it’s a really hard matchup for Sera.

    Mugglug has no action starter. Besides his offense can overwhelm some foes, especially with a champ push, like what you’re seeing against my Sera. You define him as Wall crowding but really he’s just about midfield or power champ push

  10. #10
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    Abua: I wouldn't have him pegged for being particularly economical, given his expensive units, expensive summoner ability.

    Selundar: the "champ push" is not what I would call a purely positional strategy, as much as I would say it's a positioning over time" strategy. I would say the champ push is one step above the very basic concepts I was trying to set out in this post. Having said that, I still think that if Selundar had to pick one, he tends to be good at assassination. I am not Robert, but I prefer to use SE for assassination, they are the best assassination deck on the app.

    Vlox: is he better at anything aside from assassination? That's pretty much why I pick it. He's a weak faction.

    Sera: I am thinking she's not great at economic trade offs in the midfield, her limited attacks, costly heals, and ambush event all tell me she's best behind her walls.

    Mugg: Almost can't help but crowd walls with his vines.

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