By Zach Bunn– January 24, 2011
There has been an extraordinary amount of emphasis placed on the roll before the map hits the table. Those five a-die that decide who goes second and chooses map can be the most important roll of the game. If fate happens to bless you with actually rolling less strikes than your opponent, don’t let good fortune go to waste! Just as with going first (which we discussed in Day 8 and Day 9), you really should have a plan when it comes to how you are going to open up the game if you are going second.
From on High
In my fourth round of Monday Night Monster 3, I had the privilege of playing Spazz. He was lucky enough to roll less strikes on his opening dice roll, which meant that I was going first. I did a pretty usual opening, securing the Insurance HQ (plus two cathedrals actually) and blasting the Statue of Liberty for 5 power dice. Then Spazz responded by doing something I honestly did not expect. He secured some buildings, R&D’d a Brontox, moved it to a power zone, and shot a building (giving me 1 from insurance).
While I won’t get into the full battle report here, by him not disrupting my power base it allowed me to do some pretty mean things to him. After the game was over I showed him two moves that I was expecting and that I thought were superior to his opening. One of them would successfully disrupt me and have a 90%+ chance of removing two of my units (and getting 3 p-die).
The turn that Spazz did take allowed him to secure a few buildings and he had 3 power dice. While he did successfully get power dice, he failed completely to disrupt me. On day 2 when we were talking about your monster, I mentioned a macro level strategy. This is something I couldn’t stress to Spazz enough in this game. King Kondo is really, really good at getting power dice on his monster turn. Zor-Maxim is decent, but not nearly as good as Kondo.
Knowing that, Kondo doesn’t really need his units to provide a ton of p-die. He just needs them to disrupt and damage the opposing monster. Even further, knowing how nasty Maxim is when he has free access to power dice makes it even more critical that Kondo disrupt me. What makes it most painful is that he has access to two of the best units for disruption: Pteradactix and the Airborne Ape.
I cannot stress enough how critical it is to take into consideration you and your opponents Macro (highest) level strategy when it comes to your opening turn (going first or second). Disrupting isn’t nearly as attractive if your opponent doesn’t really need power dice. If this is the case, loading up on p-die yourself might be the right option. Either way, your turn two is going to be shaped by you and your opponent’s Macro level strategy.
Your Macro Level Strategy
Before you even begin to consider what tools you need to have in your arsenal to amplify your macro level strategy and to counter all the others, you need to define your macro level strategy. This is actually a pretty difficult task because of the general ambiguity of it. You could define your Macro level strategy in a 300 page book… and you could also do it in one sentence. While I must admit I wouldn’t mind reading your 300 page thesis on Tharsis, that’s not what we are trying to accomplish here.
If possible, try to sum up your macro level game strategy with your monster in 2-3 sentences. Rather than explaining it, let me just show you how I might define the Macro level strategy of Zor-Maxim:
My macro level strategy with Zor-Maxim is to be an a-hole by using this socially unacceptable monster.
Sorry… On a more serious note, here is how I would honestly define his macro level strategy:
My macro level strategy with Zor-Maxim is to use my superior damage curve to force my opponent into a very aggressive game. My superior range allows me to be aggressive without taking too much risk. While sometimes effective, doing damage with my units comes third to accumulating power dice and disrupting my opponent.
I haven’t had too much time to figure all of this out with Maxim, but in general those are the guidelines by which I play. Once you have that figured out, planning my opening move becomes relatively easy. Ideally I would like to accomplish the following:
1. Disrupt my opponent
2. Setup a power base
3. If possible, have access to shuffle
I can generally accomplish all three of these if I’m going second. Not only that, but it is very difficult for my opponent to do anything about it. When it comes time for his second unit turn, he generally has to choose between removing my soft disruption and disrupting my power base. Depending on how the first few turns went, disrupting me is somewhat futile. If I still have turn positioning, which I should, it makes it a rocky path for my opponent.
Two Turn Two Tools
While I am certain there a million things you could do on your opening going second, there are two things that I cannot imagine a turn two without: disruption and a power base.
You need a way to get a unit across the board next to your opponents power base. Regardless of whether you can remove his units or not, you have to be able to disrupt. Whether this is using command on a unit, tow, or just having a really fast unit like the G1 Strike Fighter, disruption is necessary. Not having a consistent way of soft disruption is just silly.
Thy Ole Power Base
Maybe you don’t need a power base… maybe you do. Either way, if you are going second and don’t have a strong power base set-up you had better be writing a very convincing case as to why not. The only way for your opponent to disrupt this is if they come to your side of the board and do something about it. A strategy that you should be very okay with them doing.
Even if you don’t plan on setting it up ever again this game, now is the time to be securing buildings. You likely get the advantages of this secure over the next two turns and your opponent is going to have to spend some serious resources to deal with it (assuming you used high defense units). By all means, welcome him to sending units to your side of the board for easy power dice.
It’s Your Map… Isn’t it?
Not only do you get to begin the game with superior turn positioning, you are also on your map! We discussed your map in day 7, but now it’s time to reconsider. While your map might allow for that sweet turn one power base or those amazing pockets for your monster, do they really align with your macro strategy? You not only got to pick this map, you should be stupid familiar with it. But I’ve played against too many opponents on their maps and realized quickly that they didn’t really have a strong foundation for why they were on this map. Please, please don’t let this be you after completing this challenge.
The true challenge of going second is maintaining your calm and not blowing the advantage that, by grace, you have been given. There is nothing worse that playing those first few turns (on your map nonetheless) and realizing that you opponent just played you like a fiddle. For today, you should write a blog that:
- Define your macro level strategy in 2-5 sentences
- Determine your top 3 goals on your opening turn going second and how this aligns with your macro strategy
- Define the tools within your units, building list, on your map, and on your monster that allow you to accomplish those 3 goals
- Define what it is about this map that gives you a distinct advantage going second
After today you’re officially 32% through the Mastering Monsterpocalypse challenge! For those of you who have made it this far, congratulations. Don’t forget that if you mention @MasteringMonPoc with a link to your most recent blog you could be retweeted! I’m always looking for good tips / links to great blogs to retweet. For those of you who haven’t started, head on over to the Mastering Monsterpocalypse page and get your playing and writing on!