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2006 NICT commentary
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Ewan McNay
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 26, 2007 3:29 am    Post subject: 2006 NICT commentary

See attached. Flame on..
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joncleaves
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 26, 2007 3:11 pm    Post subject:

An '8'?? Good gracious, Ewan, you are going soft...

My experiment with 5 and 7E units of LI was to have them in three ranks and make them one more figure for CPF in a shootout. Worked surprisingly well, and in a situation where I could use the extra fgs shooting, I'd expand that last guy - since I would be shieldless anyway. I was very pleased with the list - it also helped that I played many of those Japanese players - until I ran into the Great Wall of (Mark Stone's army of) China....

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 26, 2007 4:06 pm    Post subject:

One thing that I'd like to see (and yes, this requires work on somebody else's part) would be for someone to take the craptacular lists (Swiss for example) and write up a "good" one. I think everybody would benefit (without giving away too many secrets) seeing some of these lists optimized. I think we have a good handle on the Alex Imperials and Japanese. Smile But take Mountain Indian, Swiss, etc.

A good example of this already done is Jon's Welsh.

This exercise shows one of the most bedevling aspects of Warrior. Sure, rule knowledge and execution and how they relate to your playing style are vital but I'm constantly amazed at how list concoction can in and of itself, win you a game or three.

And another thing. Ewan's comments on Derek's Khmer list raise an interesting point both in terms of player skill level, the ebb and flow of pairings and how, on paper, an army that looks outclassed against certain opponents often ain't. Go back 2 years and remember Derek running a different iteration of Khmer and he came up against Alex Vaeth's New World somethingorother. On paper, the Khmer looked toast. Derek won 5-3. I don't remember the details so for all I know, it was a close-run thing.

scott

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 26, 2007 5:32 pm    Post subject:

Charles outrated me again! I will be paying off his Milk Stout during Historicon.

Good work, Ewan. Always an enjoyable read.
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Ewan McNay
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 27, 2007 1:55 am    Post subject:

Glad people like it.

I think I may be done with this, at least for a while, though: this year didn't feel as though as though I had as much to say that was actually useful, and I'm not *that* fond of the sound of my prose.

Jon - thanks muchly for the LI explanation; I was thoroughly confused Smile.

I have been ungodly impressed with Derek's ability to win battles that there is no way in hell he should. The Mixtec-Khmer matchup is an example; but the two others that come to mind (against Todd's Berbers and Rob;'s Alexandrians) I have personally seen the dice... somewhere in a Jacksonville attic is a picture of a gambler eternally rolling -4.

Scott - I'll try to do a Swiss list sometime. I don't think that there is a list that would get above maybe a 6 on my scale, though. Mountain Indian might be doable. Viking certainly is. It would be neat if you were penalised for taking popular lists: every use of the list in the NICT, by someone other than yourself, over the past three years means you have 15 fewer points in your army or some such Smile. That would get us more Welsh, Tartessian, and Mountain Indian! [No, probably not serious as a suggestion. Nor is everyone bringing an army list and using it for the first two rounds, then everyone on Sat using random armies from the qualifying pool. But that would be pretty damn cool as a challenge Wink]
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Tim Grimmett
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 27, 2007 12:59 pm    Post subject:

Ewan--

I'd urge you reconsider the idea of ceasing these reviews.

I find them useful and entertaining. I'm sure the newbies scratch their heads as they try deciphering their meaning, but if they keep at it they will harvest dividends.

I wonder why this, and some of Mark Stone's think pieces, don't migrate to Spearpoint.

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 27, 2007 1:50 pm    Post subject:

Ewan: There are some very preliminary workups on somehow weighting a system with a connection to an army's performance in tourneys. Think of it as a degree of difficulty rating ala Olympic Diving.

None of this work has progressed beyond preliminary stages. At it's very basic level, you use a multiplier for the score with perhaps up to 4 gradiations of army level. The devil will be finding the right balance in the numbers.

It's an interesting concept and if it meant a greater variety of armies in play, it would be worth pursuing.

scott

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Mark Stone
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 27, 2007 4:46 pm    Post subject:

Ewan McNay wrote:
Glad people like it.

I think I may be done with this, at least for a while, though: this year didn't feel as though as though I had as much to say that was actually useful, and I'm not *that* fond of the sound of my prose.


Ewan and I have tagged-teamed this for a couple of years, where he posts commentary and I point out the error of his ways. Wink

Indeed, I'll try and post some comments on Ewan's analysis later today. But I'd also be happy to reverse the roles after Historicon this summer, and provide the lead analysis with which Ewan will undoubtedly disagree.

Ewan McNay wrote:
Scott - I'll try to do a Swiss list sometime. I don't think that there is a list that would get above maybe a 6 on my scale, though. Mountain Indian might be doable. Viking certainly is. It would be neat if you were penalised for taking popular lists...


I'd actually support some sort of modifier based on the popularity/past performance of a list at the national level. I have a natural tendency to play outside the main stream anyway, so this might be the only way I'd ever have a chance at the NICT title.

I'm with Ewan on the Swiss: tweak the list any way you want, it still doesn't rise to above 6 or so. But I also think Scott is right, there's some real value in posting examples of list construction for armies that are not "A list".

And Ewan, I really disbelieve you could put together a plausible Viking list, even with the proposed irregular rules.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 27, 2007 7:55 pm    Post subject:

The thing that appeals to me about this is that it's fluid and takes into account the armies du jour. The modifier/multiplier/whatever can reflect the lastest tourney info so that if Alex Imp goes out of favor, it'll potentially slide somewhat while other armies potentially rise to the top.

Sure, better players running "lower tier" armies could skew the relative rankings of said armies but I don't see that any differently than better divers attempting to perform harder dives.

Not everybody feels this is something that's worth pursuing. Just sayin'.

OTOH, me, I like this at least on paper since I'm an inveterate tourney format tweaker.

scott

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 27, 2007 8:29 pm    Post subject:

Thanks for the critique Ewan. Yep, my samurai definitely could've used some LB when 8 Welsh knight units came in boot-to-boot. One of the uglier and quicker finishes I've ever played! Hafta work on the list more before they come out of the box again.

I'm hoping to make mini for CW, so we'll see if I can't come up with another bottom-tier list Smile I'm thinkin short, pointy sticks (fire hardening is optional!!

John Garlic

P.S. Sorry if this double posts, I don't know why. Sometimes I hit submit and nothing happens. Other times I have to submit twice to get through.
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 28, 2007 1:26 am    Post subject:

I have been waiting for this commentary, Ewan, for 6 months! This is just really one of the high points of watching the forum. Thanks for taking the time and trouble. I must say that I think you are overly generous in ranking my list, while your suggestions for improvement are entirely on the money. But abandoning my beloved artillery and the pigs (now that we have relevant rules clarifications) is painful. Oh well, I suppose I can reserve those units for non-competitive games!
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 28, 2007 1:52 am    Post subject:

Sicilian Hohenstafen, Jevon Garrett

Ewan McNay wrote:
6 'knight' units... plus a horde of generally decent but small lightish - certainly nothing to actually fight with other than the almughavars - support troops, making up 18 units. I don't like the LHI B units... I'd rather make them e.g. 6E units of LMI, or (better) give the armour to the JLS, Sh guys who can actually approach in skirmish to soak up fire *and* fight when they get there. The list also suffers from lack of optimising tricks: in order to get the almughavars, you're forced to have all-EHK knight blocks, for example, which are bad; and if the almughavars were that important to you, why only one 4E unit? Doesn't seem a good trade-off. However, the basic design (hit in one or two places, dance everywhere else) is one I like, and there are some units to play in an appropriate amount of rough, so: 6/10. Hang on: downgraded to 5/10 for claiming that those Spanish LI have shields which they lack, although the unit is costed correctly…


I actually agree with the substance of Ewan's comments here, just not the overall conclusion. The LHI should be the JLS,Sh guys, not the bow guys, and there should be more moogs.

Finding a list containing moogs that is actually tournament-viable is hard. Medieval Spanish lacks quality light troops, Italian Condotta has a similar dilemma... so Sicilian Hohenstafen may actually be the best list in terms of providing a high quality skirmishing force to accompany the moogs.

Overall this list has the potential to be about an 8, and I'd give Jevon a 7 for his effort here.

Nikephorian Byzantine, Mike Mallamaci

Ewan McNay wrote:
This looks to me very much as though Mike was reading the advice of Mark Stone and acting on it, with 2 SHC units and some massed LHI Varangians.


Well, I would never advocate taking more than 1 SHC unit, and I would never bother with the close order foot on this list. What this list does get right, though, is the Varangians. There are a number of lists on which you can get LHI that are 2HCW + JLS. By far, Nikophoran Byzantine is the best such list. The problem is similar to the "moog" problem: how to find a list with the right accompanying support troops.

Two units of LC and two units of LI is not enough of a skirmish line, and Ewan is correct that you need more than one general. Since the element which the general replaces is fairly expensive, the incremental cost of adding another general is low.

Still, for the strong Varangian contingent and some of the right support troops, I'd give this a 5.

Mongol, Scott McDonald

Ewan McNay wrote:
I think that the concept deserves a medal, and a 10, for style, honestly. However, I think that the execution lacks in terms of numbers of units - not enough 2E units of LC to play the game you're looking for, probably - and I'm not sure that all of the A class is realy needed compared to B (although it's a small extra cost). Oh, and giving JLS to the LC units is probably again missing the point - this is not an army that wants to fight anything frontally except opposing H/M/LC, and if you are lucky enough to get to fight that then you've already won. So, I'd probably have maybe one or two C class bigger LC units, B-only, and a lot more 2E B class. Plus, I can see why the HC are in 4E units, but I'm not convinced; still, that's debatable. This is definitely an example of the 'do one thing well' approach, I like the list, the list rules make it very much viable, and I'm sorry that I didn't see it in action. I'm giving this one only 7 as is...


Here I agree with Ewan almost entirely. I think there are several viable ways to run Mongols, even in 25mm, and I think it is quite a complicated army to build a list for. This is not a bad effort, but suffers from several inefficiencies. As Ewan says, no reason for every unit to have "A" class troops in it, and indeed I think some units (6 stand LC) could be left as "C" class with little performance penalty. The big thing, though, is having the back ranks of the 4 stand HC units as HC instead of MC. That's a big points sink. While I understand the reason -- avoid being shieldless MC when in skirmish -- I think this is a mistake. If somebody dramatically outshoots you, you're going to dismount and fight on foot (so might as well be MC -> MI). If you outshoot your opponent (the norm) you can pick your matchups so that the MC aren't vulnerable.

Finally, I think Ewan is wrong about the 4 stand units. Being able to dismount is key to this army, particularly when faced off against elephants. You don't want to go up to 6 stand units, and 2 stand units are too small when dismounted. But I agree with Ewan's overall rating: 7 out of a possible 9.

Late Feudal Japanese, Tim Grimmett

I feel unqualified to comment on the Japanese lists in detail as I haven't faced any of them. I am glad my Chinese didn't run into any of them, or I would have been much farther down in the final standings. Here are some general comments as I've thought about the Japanese since Historicon:
[list=]* You need some LI. They are cheap, scummy, and not very effective, but even the limited force-marching and delaying they can do is valuable.
* Fujiwara seems like a better list than Feudal. You don't have to use the LEHI on Fujiwara, but certainly can use as much of that as you want.
* Your "line" units should probably be 6 stands, and you should have some smaller units, probably 2 stand cav units with generals that are ready to dismount at the drop of a hat.
* One Ashigaru-type unit is not, contrary to Ewan's complaints, a horrible thing. You are going to have to anchor at least one flank in difficult terrain, and the Ashigaru are a cheap way to occupy that anchoring piece of terrain and feel confident that they won't be pried loose from it in a time frame that will matter.[/list]
Of the various Japanese entrants, Dave Markowitz seems to have had the best configured list (no surprise there), and I'd still only give it about a 6. There are just so many weaknesses in this army in terms of speed, ability to hold frontage, inability to deal with enemy lights, and inability to deal with quality shock mounted.

Timurid, Ed Bernhart

Ewan McNay wrote:
I wanted (and want) to like this list, and there is probably a killer army in there *somewhere*, but I haven't found it yet. Which is too bad as it's one of the very few plausible morphs for my Sassanids. Still, I quite like this in outline. I think that the Timurid infantry are better taken as all 1HCW - the shieldlessness in second-and-ongoing rounds of combat is too painful to take the 2HCW, and it's not much better - and I might even spring for some armour.


The Timurid infantry are key to this list, and worth spending some points on. Perhaps take them with 2HCW, but I lean towards Ewan's approach of all 1HCW. And definitely get the armor upgrade for the front rank.

This is one of the most difficult lists to put together successfully. When I get a chance, perhaps I'll post the version I wrote up for Alex to run at "The Shield". It seemed to work pretty well.

The problem is you have one set of tactics you can pursue with the elephants, and another set of tactics you can pursue with the SHC, but you can't really integrate your SHC tactics with your elephant tactics since the SHC can't be elephant-proof. So it is very easy to end up doing several things moderately well instead of one thing really well.

Because of these difficulties, I'm starting to conclude that Timurids might be better run as a counter-punching army than as an attack army: keep swordsmen, elephants, and SHC largely in reserve, and respond with the correct mix once your opponent has committed himself to a plan of attack.

There is an 8 or a 9 army in here somewhere; I just haven't found it yet. I'd rate Ed's version just as Ewan says, about a 6.5.

Later Carthaginian - 1st Punic War, Bill Low

Ack! I hate this version of the list (sorry, Bill). Ewan rates it a 6; I'd give it about a 3.

Several problems: the use of peltasts on this list strikes me as silly, and a waste of points. If you want to operate in the open, use the very servicable Africans who fight in two ranks, and don't waver for being charged by mounted. If you want to operate in the rough, use Spanish. The pelts give you the worst of both worlds, not the best.

What is the obsession with Irr A Spanish?? These guys are a siren song to disaster. They roll down just as a capably as Ds, give you a false sense of security based on their prospect of rolling up, and have to be impetuous in situations where you might not want to be (since impetuous troops cannot recall from a charge without contact). Take Irr B over Irr A.

And 12 figure units are brittle. 18 is a better size. Make one unit 2/3 HTW,JLS and another unit 1/3 HTW,JLS. That way you always hit hard, and hit with more durability.

This is a list that could be a 10 (though not in the 1st Punic War). Just not this version, by any means.

Mike Kelly, Mongols

Ewan McNay wrote:
TWO Mongols? Ah, wow. I'm impressed. I'm less impressed with this list, though: the restrictions on detacgments do not seem to be close to worth te 5-point saving in their command, and there are way too many 2E HC (conversely, way too few 2E LC) units here: they can and will be shoved around, caught, shot up, and/or eventually fail a counter with consequences likely much worse than would be the case for a LC unit failing.


Overall I agree that this is the lesser of the two Mongol lists, mainly for the reasons Ewan states. I do want to weigh in on the detachments, though. They aren't just a points-saving measure; they actually have a purpose.

Here's the problem: fighting as a shock troop type, you want lance-armed cavalry in 2 stand units. It is more maneuverable this way, fits on flanks more easily, and generally the same number of stands exerts a wider reach of influence this way. Yet when the Mongols dismount, you want to be in a minimum of a 4 stand unit to avoid vulnerabilities suffered by small 8 man units. Can you have your cake and eat it to? Yes! Note that when mounted, the HC and its detachment can operate separately, giving you the needed 2 stand lancer unit. When dismounting, the detachment can join up to the rear, giving you 2 stands of HI LTS,B,Sh in the front and 2 stands of MI JLS,B in the back. This is slightly worse than LTS all the way through for fighting other foot, but most often you dismount to fight elephants, and having the JLS in the back is actually better in this context.

For units that are neither generals nor have detachments, though, these should be 4 stand. And being HC throughout is too expensive. And buying both shield and pavisse for some units is definitely too expensive.

I give this a 5 overall.

Nike Byzantine, Steve Hollowell

Ewan McNay wrote:

This is by far the closest we've come thus far to a combined-arms force, and is clearly better than the previous Byz in some ways: decent LI, a single unit of SHC... Looking at what you can buy with the points available, I may have to concede to Mark that skipping the close foot altogether is the way to go


Ah, music to my ears. This is really the main problem with the Nikes: if you look at all the cav you want to have, all the close order foot you want to have, all the light troops you want to have, and all the Varangians you want to have.... well, you can't have it all. Not on 1600 points. Of those items, the close order foot are by far the least useful. So they have to go.

Enough for today. I'll comment more later this week when I get a chance.


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Tim Grimmett
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 01, 2007 12:25 am    Post subject: Another Japanese Response

A couple of responses to Mark and Ewan

*I purchased the LI and Ashigaru for the express purpose of using the LI to puchase ditched palisades to stick the Ashigaru in. The problem became twofold: 1) they still attracted way too much attention and 2) the ditched palisade purchase allowed my plans to go up in smoke, literally, against Derek when he then purchased a bunch of incendiaries that (gulp) made my usually invulnerable-to-shooting Samurai all too vulnerable.

*I remain convinced 8E is the way to go; any smaller and a single KN unit can recoil me disordered on even dice.

*I've evolved to a Samurai only army, but Ewan is dead on that the key is getting the mounted/dismounted mix right.

* I think Late Feudal are better; the HK upgrade makes this army work.

* Major water feature/marsh are the best anchoring terrrain: it can be shot over.

Not sure if I'll play them this year. Of note I really "only" won one game, but the army usually pulls a 3 even in defeat (5 of 6 contests). That alone allowed me to finish in the upper half and my contest with Derek was a near-run thing--granted, thanks in part to some ungodly die rolling on my part

Tim

Late Feudal Japanese, Tim Grimmett

I feel unqualified to comment on the Japanese lists in detail as I haven't faced any of them. I am glad my Chinese didn't run into any of them, or I would have been much farther down in the final standings. Here are some general comments as I've thought about the Japanese since Historicon:
[list=]* You need some LI. They are cheap, scummy, and not very effective, but even the limited force-marching and delaying they can do is valuable.
* Fujiwara seems like a better list than Feudal. You don't have to use the LEHI on Fujiwara, but certainly can use as much of that as you want.
* Your "line" units should probably be 6 stands, and you should have some smaller units, probably 2 stand cav units with generals that are ready to dismount at the drop of a hat.
* One Ashigaru-type unit is not, contrary to Ewan's complaints, a horrible thing. You are going to have to anchor at least one flank in difficult terrain, and the Ashigaru are a cheap way to occupy that anchoring piece of terrain and feel confident that they won't be pried loose from it in a time frame that will matter.[/list]
Of the various Japanese entrants, Dave Markowitz seems to have had the best configured list (no surprise there), and I'd still only give it about a 6. There are just so many weaknesses in this army in terms of speed, ability to hold frontage, inability to deal with enemy lights, and inability to deal with quality shock mounted.

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 01, 2007 5:19 pm    Post subject:

Ewan and Mark - please keep them coming. I for one enjoy the read and the different philosophies for chosing the list choices that people make. I agree that the newbees who read these learn a lot about the strengths and weaknesses of each army.

We have seen that the NICT is all about matchups. Yet, at times Derek has shown this to be more of skill and/or luck. Derek's victory over me 2 years ago Khmer/Berber was very frustrating for me. I thought I had him right where I wanted - I had broken a line unit and had a unit of elephants being pushed back by moogs. I also had a unit of elephants hitting a spear block - his elephants had only 1 crew w/ Jls. Well... luck and some skill were on his side. Derek had flanked my army on the right w/ his lone reg HC Jls,Sh unit and had charged a unit of moogs in the flank.

"IF" the roll had taken the battle from my left to right, instead of going from right to left I would have broken the elephant block w/ my spear and it was surrounded by C elephant units and another was in front of another LTS,Jls,Sh unit. Alas, the cav broke my moogs - causing the spear block fighting the elephants to shake and break, causing the 2nd spear block to shake and eventually break next turn - game over. Mad Still a 5-3, but not what I had anticipated.

Luck favors the bold.

Derek also didn't give up when Tim Grimmitt had him all but defeated and Derek pulled it out of his butt.

Todd K

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 01, 2007 5:58 pm    Post subject:

Todd Kaeser wrote:
Derek also didn't give up when Tim Grimmitt had him all but defeated and Derek pulled it out of his butt.

Todd K


To me, this is one of the most fascinating aspects of Warrior: watching your opponent take his "peronsal morale check" under adverse circumstances, or feeling yourself doing the same when things turn sour. One thing I have learned over the years -- and Chris D'Amour is a great one for exemplifying this philosophy -- the game is seldom over as soon as you think it is, and there is often more time and opportunity to turn things around than you feel at first.


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