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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Luring versus Deployment

Magic Realm is a game that is both very complicated to learn, and very rich in detail. The strategies we use to get the best score vary from character to character, and often from game to game. You never know where you'll find the next treasure site, or if it will be in a cave or a mountain. You can't be sure that you'll ever encounter the tremendous flying dragon, or find the motherlode of goodies in the Hoard. If you are lucky enough to find one of the magic swords, you can change your course in the game from being a lowly peasant, to being the king of the realm, but then only if you know how to wield it in combat.

That's what it all comes down to: combat in the realm. If you don't know how to handle yourself when besieged by monsters, you will die before you even make it through the week. If you are smart and/or lucky enough to have hirelings, you may be able to survive even longer, especially if you know how to use them. In a recent discussion on the Magic Realm mail group (see for joining information), the strategy behind luring and deploying was dissected, and I thought it would be worth bringing forth here.

The luring stage comes before the deploy stage, and the end result is similar: your hireling is battling a monster on a separate combat sheet. What really differentiates these two actions, is what happens during battle resolution. A hireling that lures a denizen, gets to choose its side and position and will not be affected by random placement or changing tactics. This can be very important if your hireling has a definite power attack on one side. The most dramatic example of this is an archer, who has no attack on one side, and a speed 1 attack on the other. If you lure with an archer, you are guaranteed to at least undercut the lured opponent, and score a hit. If you deploy an archer, you lose that control, and the archer even has a chance to "change tactics" (ie., flip) and become virtually worthless for one round of combat.

Why then would you ever deploy? Where luring only allows a hireling to bring one denizen onto his sheet, deploying enables you to pile your hirelings onto a denizen's sheet, and better your chances of getting the kill. It's true that you cannot guarantee where they will end up during battle resolution, or even which side they will be on, but the numbers are in your favor. Remember that when you deploy, the LAST attacker on the denizen sheet, is the TARGET of that denizen.

If you are playing by yourself, this enables you great control over how the hirelings will lay out on the sheet, and lets you choose which hapless hireling will be the target. However, playing with multiple people can definitely mess things up a bit. You might lure with your archer, assuring a kill, but then lose the advantage when another player deploys his hireling assassin to your target. What happens in this case? The target moves to its own sheet, with the assassin as the first attacker. The luring archer is now added as the second attacker, and the target of the denizen. Not only is your archer a target of the original lured denizen, but his position and tactics are randomized, limiting its effectiveness! (Thanks Vincent for pointing this out!)

If you are confused about the comings and goings of luring and deployment, this example (provided by Vincent on the discussion group) does a good job of bringing it all together:

  • A lures monster
    • Monster moves to A's sheet, A is the defender.

  • B is deployed against monster
    • Monster moves to its own sheet with B as the target
    • A is now alone, so A moves to Monster's sheet
    • Monster switches to targeting A since A was the last to enter his sheet.

  • C is deployed against monster
    • Monster targets C since C was the last to enter his sheet.

In summary, lure when you want to have control over your hireling, deploy when you want multiple attackers against a single denizen. When playing with others, watch out for luring/deployment combinations that might change your battle plans.

Update - I just got this note from Steve M:
But there is another obvious reason to deploy rather than lure. You can only lure unhired denizens. If you want to attack a character or another hired denizen with your hired Rogue, you've got to deploy!


MWrynn said...

I kinda-sorta figured this out by trial and error using Realmspeak, but this clears up this issue nicely. Thanks!

Steve Schacher said...

In the solo game, the real trick to getting by this is in understanding that there is a difference between the behavior of the first deployed native and subsequent deployed natives.

I just played a combat (which I screwed up) where the Captain, who hired the Guard and the Patrol, were attacked by three bats. I sent the Patrol to lure the bats so that the Guard can deploy to the bats, thinking that the Guards' armor would make them invincible. However, I got the sequencing wrong.

What happens is that the Patrol, now alone on their sheet, follow the Guard to the Bat's sheet, practically like an automatic deploy. This make the Patrol the bat's target when I wanted the Guard to be the target.

Note that if there were a third native deployed, then that deployed native would be the target. Bottom line is, keep in mind that with only two attackers of a denizen, the luring native will be the defender after all.

To conclude the story of my combat, I lucked out. Two of my Guard lined up with bats before they could kill my patrol, and the third bat went after Patrol 1 with the heavy horse. The Captain's army easily defeated the remaining bat.


Yxklyx said...

Clarifying further I think for solitaire play, the only time tactics are not randomized (important with an archer for instance) is when a native lures a denizen and no one deploys against that denizen. Note that you could still have the archer lure and have your character attack that same denizen (if he is hidden or has no one else to lure) since characters don't deploy. This would be the only way to get two attacks against a denizen attacking one of your own denizens with no random tactics involved.