Friday, October 29, 2010

Running on Empty

The point of any game is to win. From there it's a subset of having fun, and in some cases making sure your opponent has fun. Today I'm going to explain why when it comes to HeroClix in a standard scenario running from an opponent is an empty premise.

What happens when winning is not an option?

Once upon a time, point denial was a strategic factor in winning. Back when players added Victory Points to their Survivor totals, point totals could make a big difference after three rounds. Today, most tournaments are won by W/L records, with only ties decided by points. Points still play a factor in an overall victory, but perhaps not as big a roll.

I recognize when the game has reached a climax and I know I'm beat. In these cases running would just be a lousy move for my opponent. They've already beaten me. Now I don't just roll over, wave a white flag, and ask for a merciful death - I'll attack until the end. But I won't run. I may even fall back strategically, but I'm there to fight, not run, so no matter what the odds - I'll stick to my guns.

Never tell me the odds! - Han Solo

I've also been playing the game long enough to see crazy things happen: I was recently getting pwned by the Iron Man and War Machine duo up until he rolled two crit misses on one duo attack! I think it shook the player to his core and defeated his confidence, which in turn affected his game. I barely won, with my remaining figures on their last clicks.

Know when you're beaten.

As a player, it irks me when opponents run, especially if it's part of their strategy. I've watched teams built on the premise of sniping one figure, then retreating for forty minutes. It's a horrible strategy that sucks the fun out of the game.

I recall one match where I had little hope of winning - my opponent already KO'd most of my force, and was ahead on VP's - and when the judge announced there was less than 5 minutes left, I moved all my figures closer to my opponent. I didn't want to run from him and deny him more points and I knew I couldn't hope to deal enough damage to him to earn a win myself. I also knew his pride was at stake, so I didn't tell him I was making it easier for him. What did he do when I moved close enough to take easy shots at me?

He ran away.

I even pushed to chase him, and he pushed to keep running. It was the most amazing, bizarre choice I've ever seen. He easily could have wiped me out in those 5 minutes, but made a choice based on fear. Fear of critical missing me. Fear I would somehow successfully attack his strong force with my weakened figures in under five minutes. I should note this was Pre-Armor Wars, (so think: toploaded figures with a distinctive downward curve on combat values). I honestly had no chance in the time given. He won the round, but...

In the end, he lost the tournament (on points), and didn't get fellowship either.

Speaking of fellowship, I witnessed a match where a player was clearly beaten, with a wounded Veteran Lockjaw as his only remaining piece. Lockjaw ran. The other player had no taxi, no TK, low to no range and low speed, so had a hard time catching up to the pup. Likewise, Lockjaw was injured, and had little hope of doing anything effective to the opponent, who had high defenses and damage resistance. I didn't see how it ended, but I can imagine the frustration on the chaser's part, with the Inhuman's high speed and Phasing.

Running can be disrespectful to your entire venue.

In some situations I can almost understand running. Some scenarios may lend more credence to the strategy. However, in my example with Lockjaw above, what if the two players were holding up the entire tournament? There's ten other players waiting to start the next round, but Lockjaw's player decides to run out the clock. To me, that's really poor sportsmanship -

the runner's just wasted 12 people's time

(10 players, his opponent and the judge) and why? Just so he can prevent 38 points from going into his opponent's hands.

Finally, consider it's also a bad move if the runner wants fellowship - the player didn't win the round AND they have possibly angered 10 other players by making them wait on him needlessly. That's 10 players who are probably going to vote elsewhere for fellowship.

I therefore consider that running is a good strategy, only when you're moving toward your opponent.


Ignatz Mouse said...

Hey mouse... it's your fellow mouse, Ignatz.

One, I'd argue that having fun in the point, and winning is the subset!

Second, running when you are getting hurt (but still ahead on points) is a valid strategy to win. It's lame, but there are times when, if winning is important, it's the go-to move. For instance, my weakened tentpole may have killed half your team and is now an his final clicks-- and the rest of your team is deadly. Running may be the best move, if winning is the goal

Anonym0use said...

I agree with you on both counts especially having fun.

Running makes sense when you can still win - I was referring to an incident where winning is no longer an option. At that point you're just wasting time, which of course is fun for no one.