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Choosing Frontier Terrain vs Attacking First

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Indrid Cold

Joined: 07 Jul 2016
Posts: 37
Location: Houston, TX

PostPosted: Wed Sep 07, 2016 8:09 am GMT    Post subject: Choosing Frontier Terrain vs Attacking First Reply with quote

Hi, I wanted to ask this of the experts because it seems so one-sided in my experience:

When winning the horde roll, do you generally choose to attack first rather than choosing the frontier terrain?

In my experience, attacking first has almost always been the better option. This is because in the beginning, it is unknown what the terrain faces will be and so the armies may not yet be optimally placed. It is kind of the perfect time to strike.

Perhaps there is something I'm missing, but it's been my experience that attacking first is a bigger advantage than choosing the terrain. I would like to know what more experienced players think about this analysis.
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Chief Wheedler
SDA - Rules NitPicker

Joined: 25 Jan 2005
Posts: 10794
Location: Cumming, GA - USA

PostPosted: Wed Sep 07, 2016 8:40 am GMT    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would say it depends on your army design.

Sometimes I design armies that either need the ability to attack first or run away first.

Sometimes I design armies that rely heavily on a racial ability tied to a terrain or to an 8th face. so I will give up the first turn to get that longer term advantage or to take away your terrain advantage.

I make this decision during every game after I see what units you brought and how you distributed them.

It's never a foregone conclusion with me.
Multiplayer Champion Gencon11/Battlefest Champion(tied) GenCon10/World Champion GenCon07/National Champion Origins05/Intermediate Champion GenCon02/Novice Champion Origins99
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Joined: 29 Jun 2008
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Location: Hillsborough, NJ

PostPosted: Wed Sep 07, 2016 11:43 am GMT    Post subject: Choosing Frontier vs Going First Reply with quote

After choosing your starting terrains and starting locations, this is the first critical strategic decision the players has to make after getting a full view of the battlefield.

There are several pieces of information to consider when making the decision to choose the Frontier terrain or go first:
1. What are the prospective match-ups of the opposing armies at each terrain? Note what looks favorable to you, as well as what looks favorable for your opponent.
2. What advantages would you grant your opponent by letting him choose the terrain, if you decide to go first?
3. How important is the Frontier terrain to your strategy, and how important is the Frontier terrain to your opponent's strategy? If your opponent is playing an army that has a terrain-dependent racial ability, that could be a really big advantage you concede by choosing to go first - especially if your army also has a terrain-dependent racial ability.

There are other factors that tie into these three assessments, such as the army compositions and the potential of what can happen, depending on the terrain rolls. The special Frontier terrains introduced in the Battlefields expansion can add some more wrinkles to this assessment.

In many instances, going first can be a sound decision, but I'll share some scenarios where choice of terrain is more important.

In my last two World competitions, the final match in each was very much influenced by the choice of the Frontier terrain. My opponent had a Firewalker army, and The Firewalker Terrain Flight racial ability was a critical element to that army's strategy. My army had Goblins, with a Lava Elf, Firewalker, Treefolk, Eldarim, and a Magic Item, so I chose a Swampland terrain for the Frontier (as well as my Homeland). I won the Initiative roll in each instance, and chose the Frontier terrain each time.

A first-turn attack in each instance would not have provided enough of an advantage as the choice of terrain proved to be. My opponent could only enjoy Terrain Flight from only his Home terrain, and I got to enjoy my Goblin racial ability at my Home terrain and the Frontier, and the Frontier terrain also had a lot of melee faces, which worked with my style of army. Had my opponent been able to choose his Frontier terrain, he would have been able to repos ion his entire Firewalker army at either his Home or Frontier, and the missile-based army he had would have been far more effective at causing casualties and wearing my army down. Maneuver rolls were very important in these matches, and that first-turn choice rewarded me several times and proved to be the critical decision of both matches.

In a preliminary round, I faced a Dwarf/Lava Elf army, so the choice of terrain was a big deal for both armies. The army match-ups looked favorable to me, and with the right random rolls, I saw a real advantage to going first, so I elected to go first, hoping to cripple my opponent on the first turn so the terrain advantage I conceded would not hurt me much later in the game.

Although I caused significant casualties, it was not as crippling as I counted on, and I had an uphill battle against an army that succeeded in recovering its losses, and I lost that game, as My opponent enjoyed terrain ability advantages during maneuvering as well as saves. In retrospect, the choice of terrain would have been the better strategic decision.
Daniel Burkley
US National Champion (DEXCON 2007, 2009, 2010)
World Champion (GENCON 2008, 2009, 2010, 2013, 2014)
Battlefest Champion: DEXCON 2008, 2011, GENCON 2009, 2010 (co-champion), 2011, 2017)
"No Magicians": GENCON 2008
"Single Race": DEXCON 2008, GENCON 2010, 2011, 2014 (co-champion), 2017
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