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map discussion: String (set 2, page 13)

Posted: Thu Dec 08, 2016 8:55 pm
by rhaining
I don't remember why I failed this map ~5 times in my first pass through the set 2 maps. When I revisited it, I beat it on my next attempt.

Strategically, I decided to try join my territories along the top of the map. For my starting base in the SE, this meant making my way northward along the easternmost part of the string. For my base in the mid-west, this mean zig-zagging up and down as I made my way westward then north along the westernmost part of the string, with the goal of ultimately taking the top part of the string that runs E-W to join these 2 bases. For my central base, after a few turns, it seemed pretty clear that it wouldn't survive (which helped shape my strategy to join the other bases along the north) so I switched to just trying to keep the central base alive as long as I could, denying as much tax revenue to others as possible.

Tactically, I normally like to use castles along borders, and this is probably what was causing me so much trouble with this map earlier. Instead, this time, to the best of my ability, I tried to build only L1 grunts and L3 knights. I did have the occasional L2 spearman, but IIRC the only castle I built was in my central base when I tried to help it to survive as long as possible against stronger foes on both borders. Ultimately, this one castle ended up stopping two halves of one AI player (yellow?) from merging for about 10 turns, which was awesome (and stupid on the part of the AI).

Instead of building castles, I saved up cash, and tried to rely on manipulating the AI. The AI will pretty much always shrink away from a neighboring territory with a larger troop type somewhere in it, and it feels weird to rely on this because the AI shouldn't always play that way, but if you don't take advantage of this, you'll have a much harder time of beating some maps.

In my SE base, I started going S a little bit. I was concerned that one of the brown AI players to my S could grow too quickly because there were too many single brown hexes between the two of us. Then I immediately changed and went N for many turns. Later, the brown AI player to my S ended up re-taking one of the hexes that I took down there as I didn't try to defend it. Brown could not immediately advance further because my next hex was in range of my town hall so he would have needed a L2 spearman. (Was going S for a turn a mistake, or did it cause brown to grow a tiny bit less quickly and thus change everything? Probably a mistake but I mention it on the off chance it matters.) Later, I upgraded to a L3 knight and continued proceeding N around the bend and W along the top of the map. I was worried that brown would suddenly make a grab for my town hall and my troops would starve, but this never happened, as brown was harrassed on his other border. Now brown had a territory of 10 hexes or less guarded by a single L2 spearman and the enemy behind him was advancing with an L3 knight. So I felt confident continuing my advance around the north end of the map with my L3 knight. At some point, I would have to be concerned about brown being entirely eliminated and then I would be threatened by a new enemy AI with an L3 knight. I decided to upgrade to have 2x L3 knights, one for each border, but I made a mistake and did this without checking my math and I ended up starving everyone. This mistake probably added 5 turns to my victory score but did not prove fatal. In any case, this territory had 2x L3 knights for a long time, one for defense along my southern border and one for advancing westward along the top of the map.

In my central base, I was blocked from going N immediately (IIRC that hex was protected by a town hall so I would have needed a L2 spearman) so I went S instead. After several turns of advancement, I met an enemy who had 2x L1 grunts on my border. I could save up for a castle and just wait. I decided to upgrade to a L2 spearman and kill one of his grunts, hoping this would prevent him from making an L2 spearman. I don't remember exactly what happened here but ultimately it didn't end up working and I started losing territory on both ends. I built a castle as far away from my town hall as I could (trying to use my town hall as a defensive mini-castle on the other end), but the enemy kept advancing in both directions. (IIRC it was yellow on both sides.) But the castle did prevent the AI from joining his two medium sized territories for several turns, which was great.

In my base in the mid-west, I made slow and steady progress through a forest of castles as I made my way up and down to the west. IIRC I didn't leave any defense behind me on the other end of this string, as the player there had a L2 spearman at best and was thus pathologically incapable of taking on of my undefended territory. Later, when that border was threatened by a player with a L3 knight, I ended up building a L3 knight of my own to stop him from advancing along my rear flank, while I still made steady progress up-and-down westward.

Now I had two large territories, protected by L3 knights at each end but no castles, and I was trying to join them in the NW corner of the map. The player between me (yellow) had 1x L3 knight and several other troops. I counted hexes and found that he was barely able to support what he had. And with just 1x L3 knight, he couldn't protect both of his ends, so I would advance at whichever end he left open. Ultimately, I was able to starve this yellow territory, but by this point, the main threat for this map (light brown?) had just made a L4 super knight and was starting to advance with it towards the east. I decided to rush as fast as I could to join my remaining territories, building lots of L1 grunts whenever I could take open territory, leaving L3 knights in my rear flanks (inset by 1 hex to avoid them being eaten by the enemy L4 super knight).

Now my territories were joined and it was down to just two players. The AI (light brown?) was slightly bigger. But, he had made a L4 super knight while having tons of other support troops, so I was hopeful I could win. This was by far the best I had ever done on this map.

My tactic now was to let him eat a few of my L2 spearmen and L3 knights. I could virtually halt his advance with just 2x L3 knights; I could plant one on each end of my territory (1 hex in from the border in each case) and the enemy would be able to take at most one of my hexes, despite having a massive force to feed. I did a big count and found that he was actually losing a small amount of taxes every turn. But I wasn't confident I could survive just playing defense and hoping he would starve before he gained enough hexes to become self-sufficient. I wanted to make an L4 super knight of my own and thus I allowed him to eat a few of my troops to thin out my forces a bit first. Then I did make an L4 super knight. Wherever his L4 super knight was located, I left a L3 knight one hex in from the border as defense, then I poured all my other troops on the other side. For some reason, he relied on a mixture of L1s, L2s, L3s, and castles to block his rear flank, but rarely L3 knights, so I was able to advance several hexes along his rear flank while he could only advance one hex along my rear flank. I realized that every troop of his that I killed made it easier for him to survive, but he wasn't programmed to intentionally sacrifice many but not all of his troops, so I was picking them off a few at a time. At one point, he had relied on just a single defender on his rear flank while leaving his other troops scattered all over the place, and I was able to kill that defender and build several L1 grunts to scoop up a big stretch of undefended territory. Shortly after that his troops starved and he offered surrender. It took a few more turns to eat up the remainder. I probably could have gone faster but wanted to make sure I didn't accidentally overbuild. Took the final hex on turn 42.

Re: map discussion: String (set 2, page 13)

Posted: Tue Mar 21, 2017 5:34 am
by Bradyj23
Thanks for your post. I still cannot come close to beating it however. My east base keeps getting destroyed by brown. Maybe I need to go south for a bit. Any advice on how to meet on the northern boarder? I get nowhere close before getting overrun on the west by dark green. Probably lost 20 times. Hopefully success soon. These are the maps that I really don't enjoy. One wrong move and you have to grind again forever.

Re: map discussion: String (set 2, page 13)

Posted: Tue Mar 21, 2017 6:25 pm
by rhaining
Given how much detail I wrote before, I might be able to recreate this and take screenshots. Not sure when I can carve out time for it, but I plan to find time and give it a try.

Re: map discussion: String (set 2, page 13)

Posted: Tue Mar 21, 2017 11:58 pm
by Bradyj23
Well you won't need to. I just read your post and gave it another shot and I beat it. No idea what I did different but it worked. Thanks!

Re: map discussion: String (set 2, page 13)

Posted: Thu Mar 23, 2017 12:08 am
by rhaining
Oh good! One less task on my plate. :^) And congrats!