NWP: Terrain Defence

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WSNPP – NWP Edition #7: Terrain Defence

Hello and welcome to the sequel of ‘Terrrain you pain’. In this guide we’ll be taking a look at just terrain defence, which is basically the chances of not being hit, how to use the terrain to your advantage and what you should not get yourself into.

As mentioned in the introduction terrain provides defence to the occupying unit. The defence or avoidance chance of the unit depends on:

  • 1: The unit
  • 2: The terrain type

For example, many units will have 20%-30% defence on shallow water or deep water (like undead armies) but mermen and nagas have roughly 50%-60% respectively. So what these figures means is that the mermen/nagas have a 50% (Example remember, probably not the actual defence) to avoid being hit and taking damage. This is when the Wesnoth feature ‘luck’ comes into play.

Think of a six sided die. Now if we had a 50% chance of being hit, that means if we roll lower than 4 (1,2,3, is miss / 4,5,6 is a hit [just to simplify]) we’ll miss the target, however if we roll 4 or more, we hit the target. This is just for one attack, if the attacker has multiple attacks on the one target the die will be rolled as many times as the unit attacks. And so that is pretty much how defence works in Wesnoth, other factors such as magical attacks ignore defences but that’ll be explained in Weapon abilities (Edition #9).

On to the next topic, how to use terrain to your advantage. Well, there is a set process to this and the outcome that you always want is that your units are on terrain that gives them high defence and the enemy is next to you (or attackable) but is on terrain that gives them low defence. You’ll find when fighting CPUs they often fall into the trap however player don’t often do that so you use deceit with the power of fog but first what is this process I’m talking about?

What you basically do is your bait the enemy with a weak unit or a unit that seems to be alone (hide the rest of your army using fog but keep them in range of your bait for support). Make sure that your bait is placed in an advantageous point, for example there is a forest hex that gives the elf archer 70% defence, surrounding it is shallow water and surrounding that are more forest hexes. The enemy are orcs and out of their site lays an army of elves waiting for the go signal.

Once you paced your trap, you now need to hope that the enemy falls into the trap. Why do I say this? Because most players would see it as a trap, or not. They could be thinking anything such as:

  • IT’S A TRAP!!! RUN!!!
  • Should I take it? Should I not? I think I’ll wait a bit and see what happens.
  • Hey look a free target, let’s take it out
  • One lone unit. Must be a trap but I know, I’ll foil the trap with my own trap. Trap the trap.
  • ETC.

From my experience the chances of it succeeding is approximately 40% against most people, and near 0% against the top ladder players, in fact it is likely that they’ll pull off a neat counter attack to your trap, foiling it and crippling you. Why does using terrain to your advantage like this cripple you? Because you’re dedicating a fair amount of force (usually 5 units are needed for the trap to work effectively) worth around 70-110gp in respect to your race and to lose all that is very very bad. Especially early game since that’s pretty much over 60% of your force.

However if your trap does work, it’ll be the same for your enemy. The enemy will lose all his forces unless they get lucky and manage to escape but by then critical damage was done. The chances of you losing any units when utilising a trap (and not being countered with a trap of their own) is near 0%, if they do break out, you might lose a unit or two but it is worth it. You may kill off 4-5 units with a loss of 1-2 units. The enemy is crippled, has to heal and build his forces up whilst you can take every village, or push onwards, or fall back to heal and build up. So either way, you’ll end up with a larger force throughout the game giving you a big advantage.

That said, what should you not get yourself into? I’m mainly talking in the perspective of the enemy in this case and what you should not get yourself into is into a trap. Tada! Even if the bait is the enemy leader you have to consider that your luck may not pull its full effort during the battle. Losing your whole army just to cripple his leader to 1 hp may make you feel awesome, or depressed that you didn’t kill him but it’s just an illusion. You are dead, no matter what you died even if the game goes on for another 15 long turns. You have simply died and lost.

It’s a risk to also make a trap. What if the opponent decided not to take the trap but go around it? A trap can only cover a certain area, and devoting yourself too much on the trap can definitely mean your end. Why? Your army has to be in set positions before the trap is sprung for it to work, so that when it does spring, your army can surround the enemy and kill them and trap them with ZoC so that they can’t escape. However if the enemy leaves a unit in your sight just sitting there, chilling whilst he send the rest of his army on the other side of the map. What can you do? Well the most common solution is to screw your trap over and retreat your units to support but because your units are in set positions and because the enemy is on the other side it’ll take 2-4 turns to regroup your troops in a nice set formation and reach the other side. By that time, the enemy could have:

  • 1: killed off your troops on that side of the map
  • 2: took all the villages and form a solid wall to fend off the rest of your army
  • 3: killed your leader before you could say ‘Hi there, my name is...’

As mentioned before you should also look out for the possibilities that the enemy is using your trap to use their trap which can happen often. I do it often =P and it can be really painful for the player initially setting up the trap.

COUNTERS! How the heck do you counter this? Well for both sides, the counter to a trap or the counter to a trap-the-trap is simply, a scout or unit with high movement and sight (9movement is preferred). WHY? Cause you can see the units waiting for you to take the bait. ‘Oh!’ says you. Now you know why intelligence is highly recognised in the army. Now I do notice that I haven’t mentioned much about terrain but terrain is used to form many strategies and tactics. The ‘trap’ process is one of them and is one of the main and common processes used.

Another long guide yet I hope it make you realise the uses of different terrains in tactics and it’s a fact of life that generals in the army using geographic locations to utilise their plans.

Next Edition – Edition #8: Traits

Previous Edition –Edition #6: Resistances

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This page was last edited on 6 April 2014, at 18:59.