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Outwitters, Analysis, and You - Post #2!
08-23-2012, 05:53 AM (This post was last modified: 09-21-2012 02:44 PM by NathanDetr0it.)
Post: #1
Brick Outwitters, Analysis, and You - Post #2!
Outwitters, Analysis, and You!

While disarmingly charming and deceptively simple, a look below the surface of Outwitters reveals a highly strategic engine with high levels player knowledge, solid balance, and low-to-zero levels of luck.

Lots of player knowledge, balanced units, and low-luck means that Outwitters is ripe for some deeper analysis. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be taking a below-the-surface-level swipe at describing some of the more complicated mechanics in Outwitters— I don’t want to go into the super-deep weeds with this, instead keeping it relatively light* and accessible.

I will be breaking my analysis down into three primary sections:

Post #1: Direct and Derived Resources - Been there, done that
Post #2: Who’s Who of Outwitters Units - Installments I and II are Up!
Post #3: Dem’ Maps in Detail – [Still] More on the way!

Feedback and discussion is welcome, and thanks for reading!

* - Your mileage will vary :P

Post I: Direct and Derived Resources
Before we go nuts talking about resources and Outwitters, let’s define some terms. Yawn, definitions. OK, there’s only two of them, so bear with me here. This is important. The relevant terms are Strategy and Resource.

A Resource is a thing that can be used to achieve a goal.
A Strategy is a resource management plan to achieve a goal.

When you think of Strategy in this way (as a resource management plan), it becomes clear that nothing is more essential than a solid understanding of the resources at your disposal.

Ok, so resources are important. Can we talk about Outwitters now? Sure. Looking at our “Strategy” definition, the ‘goal’ of an Outwitters match is, at the highest level, to destroy your opponent’s base. Brief aside, here: I could write a whole paper on how few Fluffies and Clevers seem to understand this. Destroy the base. OK.

When it comes to trying to identify Outwitters resources, we get into some gray areas. You could argue that the only true “Resource” is Wits. You could argue that units count as resources, even though you have to use wits to produce them. What about Base HP? Is that a resource that can be manged? Sure is… we better include that as well. How about Time? Fog of War? Communication?

Given any system, you could argue incessantly about what can and what can’t be considered a resource. After thinking about it and trying to lump them together, I have come up with the four primary resources listed below. You’re free to disagree; it’s not a perfect system— but I think it is fairly logical.

The way I think of it, there are two direct (self-driving) and two derived (driven by something else) resources in Outwitters: The primary resources are Wits and something I’ll call Material; the derived resources I’ll call Liberty and Power.

Self explanatory; Wits are the number of actual wits a given side has at its disposal on a given turn. Along with Map Geometry, Base HP, starting units, and Space (see below), Wits are amongst the assets each side is given for free, and the five guaranteed wits each side gets every turn are the only thing your opponent can never influence. Learning to manage Wits is the most critical Outwitters skill a player can learn.

Material is unit-position on the board. The simplest measure of material is just adding up the wit values of a side's forces (I’ll call that number ‘Strength’). A truer measure of Material value, however, must take the position of those units into account. It is possible for material to be so well (or badly) arranged on the board that its value is actually much higher (or lower) that the simple wit value it took to produce those units; and a given unit’s value might even be dependent on where other units are at the same time.

Example I: How much is a Sniper worth, if it is buried at your own back door nine hexes from the nearest enemy? How much is that same Sniper worth if you have a Mobi? What if that Mobi is seven hexes away from your opponent’s 3HP Base, with a clear line of sight and three wits to burn?

Example II: How much is your 5HP Heavy worth if it is standing adjacent to your 3HP base, defending it from a massed-soldier attack? How much is that same Heavy worth if your opponent has nothing but three wits and a Scrambler in striking range?

Strength (the sum of all unit wit values) can be simply compared between two sides— but it can also be expressed as an ‘Efficiency’ ratio of actual-to-maximum strength, where the "maximum material" is the total number of wits a player has had to spend minus one wit per turn (to clear the spawn space) i.e. S/(Wtot-1W/T). This gives an indication of how efficiently a player is using their spawn spaces: a low Strength efficiency indicates that a player is not producing enough units and is probably falling behind in Material.

Liberty is a derived resource summarizing the freedom of action a side has. Liberty might be driven by other things, but it is still absolutely crucial. It could be argued that objective of the midgame (or the whole game) is to restrict your opponent’s Liberty while maximizing your own. There are four ‘mini-resources’ that restrict liberty: I’ll call these things Base, Threats, Uncertainty, and Space.

Base is the amount of HP a side's base has. The lower this number, the more attention that side must devote to defending their base, and the less liberty that side has. It might be tempting to think of Base as a simple linear scale, but there is a deceptively large difference between a base with 4HP and a base with 3HP— and there’s an even larger difference between a 2HP and 1HP Base.

Threats are known enemy units that are in position to attack a side’s material, spawn spaces, wit spaces, or base. Significant threats must be addressed via wit investment, which reduces the number of other actions a side can take and therefore restricts Liberty.

Uncertainty is the sum of everything a side does not know, including the amount and location of the enemy’s Wits and Material. In some cases, uncertainty can be reduced simply by smart gameplay and careful observation of the enemy’s activity; but even the most copious note-taker will almost always have to deal with some uncertainty regarding an enemy’s resources or position. More uncertainty means more cautious play and less Liberty; likewise any effort to forcibly reduce uncertainty (i.e. scouting) requires wit investment, necessarily reducing Liberty.

Space is a difficult thing to quantify. Loosely, Space is the ‘Gap’ distance between an opponent’s force and yours, and also the amount of internal maneuvering room that your own forces have available. Like Einstein’s theory of relativity (yikes), ‘Space’ is also, to some extent, a measure of the ‘Time’ you have to react to your opponent or position your forces. Space can be ‘Good’ or ‘Bad’.

Example: A soldier that is five hexes away from your boosted sniper is, obviously, a completely different animal than a soldier that is three hexes away and within attack range. A superior force that cannot reach your units/base next turn is very different from one that can. Both of these are examples of ‘Good’ Space. Conversely, having to move a unit just to get it out of the way of another, or having to move your whole attack force just to get it into range of your opponent are both the result of ‘Bad’ Space.

Good Space means more Liberty, Bad Space means less.

The last major resource is the one I’m going to call ‘Power’. Power is a derived resource (driven by Wits and Material), but it is arguably the most important resource in Outwitters and is usually the cause of victory or defeat. Superior Power is what ends up tipping the game in your favor (or not) during those crucial, furious midgame turns of attacks and counterattacks. Power is what makes a seasoned Super Titan turtle in fear.

Power is equal to the assured damage a force is capable of dealing to enemy units and Base. This requires a combination of Material and Wits, and it involves Liberty as well.

To arrive at Power, you might be tempted to just add wits + material— and doing so doing so *does* yield a fast, useful approximation of Power. Maybe we can call that approximation 'Punch'. To accurately assess real Power, however, a little more needs to be taken into account.

As mentioned above, true Power is a measure of assured damage; that is, the minimum applicable damage a force can deal. To deal assured, targeted damage, note that you need two wits per attacking unit (one to move, and one to attack). Each unit that has two wits available to move and attack, then, is added to the “Power” value; units that have less than two wits available cannot deal assured damage and are not counted. What this reveals is that Power is not just having tons of Wits or tons of Material; it is the balance between the two that is critical.

There are lots of subtle influences on Power; the most important of which is initiative. Who is attacking first? ‘Defensive’, counterattacking Power (dPower) is different from normal or ‘offensive’ Power (oPower) for two reasons.

First, it is likely that the defending (counterattacking) side will begin his turn with enemy units adjacent to his own. Adjacency is a big deal: it reduces by half the number of wits the defender must invest to deal assured damage to those adjacent units.

Example: A group of four soldiers and six wits has an oPower of 6, because that is the maximum amount of damage that group could do (two damage per soldier times the number of soldiers with at least two wits available). If that group is attacked first, however, and the attacking player leaves units adjacent to two or more of that group’s soldiers (without destroying any of them), the group’s Power actually grows to 8, because he can now attack with the two adjacent soldiers for just one wit each, and will still have four more wits for his other two soldiers to use.

The second reason that dPower is different from oPower is that some of the defending side’s units are probably not going to be around for the counteroffensive! Looking at the above example, it seems like the attacker has given the defender some free power by leaving some of his units adjacent to surviving defenders. But what if, by doing so, he was able to destroy two of the defender’s original four soldiers? If the defender has only two soldiers remaining, it doesn’t matter how many wits he has since he can now only do 4 damage for a dPower of 4.

Consider how the scenario changes if the defensive player has a spawn near the point of attack. How many units can he bring to the battle now? Is it the same as before the battle started?

You can see that Power is a complex thing requiring unique analyses is each situation.

If you made it this far, you’re either a super nerd, addicted to pain, or you just really love Outwitters! Leave me some feedback, post some discussion, and look forward to the rest of the analysis coming soon!

Section II: Who's Who of Outwitters Units
And away we go!

There are a lot of ways to approach Outwitters units. Each has a specific set of use cases and there are also some overarching concepts that tie them all together. In this first post, I'm going to start profiling the individual units and thier use cases, while also beginning some discussion of the high-level concepts, building on Post #1 and increasing in depth as we go.

This first Units-related Post is going to talk a lot about one of the more common units in Outwitters, especially in low-level play: The Runner.

Unit Profile Format:
Unit Name
Base Stats:
Cost: (cost of the Unit, in Wits)
HP: Hitpoints the Unit has at spawn
Damage: The damage the Unit does when it attacks
Move: The distance the Unit may move

Derived Stats:
Vision: The distance the Unit may see (same as Move)
HP Boost%: The %HP gained from a Medic's Boost
Scramble: (Cost +2 — Damage — Range)
Power efficiency: (Damage / 2)

[Image: Runners.jpg]
Cost: 1
HP: 1
Damage: 1
Move: 5
Vision: 5
HP Boost%: 100%
Scramble: 3 — 1 — 6
Power efficiency: 0.5

Ah, the Runner. The Scout. The Lancer. The Noobhorse. Runners have an ungodly number of potential uses (and names!), but I'm going to leverage all of that reading you did earlier so I can boil it down into just ONE: Runners are all about Liberty. Ok, ok: they also contribute to Material and Power. But they primarily exist to convert Wits into Liberty. If you don't believe me, that's cool- it's my job to convince you. Read on.

The primary purpose behind the Runner actually becomes apparent before you even move it; it happens involuntarily and it happens for free. Yes, I'm talking about that instant, glorious, 5-hex radius of visibility around the spawn space. How many hexes is that? 90. Nine-Zero. A soldier, by comparison, reveals a paltry 36. The Vision that a Runner provides, even right out of the gate, is about half of what makes the runner so valuable. A single, well-placed Runner can reduce the percentage of Uncertainty on even a large map by 60%; a well-positioned Runner on SFI or Glitch can reduce uncertainty to zero or nearly zero. Uncertainty is a huge part of Liberty, and The Runner is unquestionably the most efficient recuder of Uncertainty available.

The other Liberty-influencing facet of the Runner (and the necessary corollary to its vision) is its Move of 5. 5 is enourmous. 5 is a tremendous, wit-snatching, base-poking, spawn-blockingly great number. 5 is almost twice as far as the next-fastest Unit, and that is a big deal. When you're playing Outwitters at a high level, you are going to spend A LOT of time counting hexes, and the number you are going to be counting to the most is— your guessed it— 5. At least until you memorize all of the shapes that five hexes can take, and can see the Runner's potential path at a glance. A move of 5 affects Liberty in no less than ALL FOUR ways:

Runners and Base:
Move-of-5 affects Base, becuase no other single unit is as capable of reaching and reducing a player's Base than the Runner, let alone doing it for 4-5 wit total investment over as few as two(!) turns. The Runner is also one of the few units or unit-combinations that can hit the Base by surprise, and if you don't think that is important, you have not beeen playing this game for long.
Aside: The only other close contender? Mobi-Sniper, which admittedly does it at a greater distance (7) but for about 4 times the cost (3 wit sniper + 7 wit Mobi + 0-2 wit boost + 3 mobi moves + mobi trans + sniper attack = 17 Wits over FIVE turns or more. [Mobi-Bombshell can also perform this function to strike at range 8, but at an even higher cost].

Runners and Threat:
Put simply, Runners ARE threat personified. Runners are why snipers really cost four wits and not three, and why specials cost eight and not seven. Runners are why medics die young and why far-flung wit spaces require protection. Runners are why spawn spaces need to stay covered or defended at all times, and why another un-boosted runner is probably not sufficient to accomplish that defense duty. That 1-wit runner you built and the two wits you spent to boost and move it will probably cost your opponent tens of wits over the course of a match, just to keep his precious glass cannons and economy protected from it.

Runners and Uncertainty:
Beyond the ways we discussed above that Runners can decrease Uncertainty for you, Runners also influence Uncertainty by increasing it for your Opponent. They do so in three major ways:
1. Killing your opponent's Runners. This is a primary objective in Outwitters, given all of the things that a Runner can do for a side. This is the main reason that Runners get boosted, since doing so makes them much more powerful in Runner Duels (more on that later).
2. Hiding outside your opponent's LOS. If your opponent knows you are building Runners, or if you have shown him that you have one, every grey space outside his LOS is going to mock him. Can he really afford to move his sniper a hex forward? Can he really afford to abandon that wit space to press his attack? Can he really leave his spawn undefended? These sorts of hesitations and uncertainties are what plague the minds of even the best Outwitters players, and at the very least will require your opponent to invest a wit or two (and delay his attack) to find out.
3. Screening (stepping in front of) your forces during crucial moments. This is a crafty use of the Runner, but it should not be underestimated. Which is more likely to cause your opponent to respond: two lone runners on his northern flank with a Power of 2? Or a Heavy and a Sniper on his northern flank with a total power of 6? What if those two Runners move into position first, and are then secretly backed up by the Heavy + Sniper (for a total power of 8)? This is tricky to pull off, but devastating in effect if it is missed or ignored. Even if you opponent does repond, he is unlikely to commit large enough number to deal with the threat concealed behind; and the two-runner-screen also works well as a feint to draw your opponent's attention elsewhere and burn wits.

Runners and Space:
Runners are the major reducers of bad Space (and therefore creators of bad Space for your opponent), and their "Screening" ability also adds good Space for you in a pinch, by requiring your opponent to punch through the runner to get to your primary line of defense.

Runners: The Best Unit??
Hold your horses (Ha!), compadre. Runners have a lot going for them, there are some significant considerations that go into building one. Well, there's really just ONE consideration and a few sub-considerations. (What can I say? I like simplicity! ...and massive analysis threads. Maybe I just like simplicity where it is available, and complexity where it's not.)

- Installment II: The Runner (con't) -

Ok, the consideration. The consideration/deficiency from which the Runner suffers mightily is... Power. Did you guess right? (If you guessed "Strength Efficiency", you're extra-correct. Read on!)

The Problem:
We've seen above how Runners are amazing in their capacity to alter Liberty for both sides. Ok. The sheer flexibility of options there is staggering, and there's really no comparably open-unded Unit in Outwitters until you get to the Mobi. Even when looking for drawbacks, you aren't going to find one in the Runner's stats. They are that awesome. The problem with Runners, ironically, has nothing to do with Runners at all. The problem is created by two very non-Runner, Outwitters-central mechanics, and those are: Five Wits Per Turn (5WPT), and One-Unit-Per-Turn (1UPT). 5WPT & 1UPT are the bane of the Runner, and they are what make them a relatively underused (but hardly absent) unit in high-level play. Confused by acronymns? Example time!

Let's say you and I play a friendly match on SFI. SFI has one spawn space and one wit space per side, and we're going to ignore the starting units to make this example simpler. Now, let's say you've read the first half of this post, and you (Understandably!) now love Runners. You think Runners are the highest attainable form of Outwitters Enlightenment. You love them so much, you build one every turn.

Let's say I'm an ignoramus that doesn't like analysis. I DO like tridents, though, so of course I love Soldiers. I build a Soldier every turn. Wooo, trident-wielding instruments of death! Just you WAIT for my analysis on Soldiers :)

Let's fast forward this scenario 20 turns. You went first, so you're coming up on your eleventh turn. You've got 10 Runners! Woo! And heck, it's your turn, so you build another! That's eleven Runners. That's a lot of Seahorses. If you've never actually done this in pass-and-play mode, it looks pretty cool. Do it now and then come back and finish reading this. I'll wait.
Ok. Now let's look across the battlefield (and with eleven Runners you WILL be looking across the WHOLE battlefield).

Uh Oh.

What happened? While you were building the Spartan Seahorse army, I've built ten soldiers. Now, wait a minute! Runners are WAY cheaper than soldiers; you should have like twice as many Units as I do! How do we have equal numbers?

The answer is 5WPT, 1UPT.

Aside: If you're thinking to yourself "this is child's play, elementary", I would humbly suggest that you think about this more deeply. This is a subtly influential mechanic that influences every element of Outwitters play and manifests itself in some extremely interesting and complex ways. We are considering one of the simplest examples, here: don't miss the forest through the trees, though.

5WPT and 1UPT means that, up to a certain threshold, Cost Is No Object in terms of which units you spawn. Do you remember in the first post where I wrote about "Strength Efficiency"? Here's where we're going to use it. Stay with me, math incoming.

First, a reminder for the memory impaired:

Material is the combination of all of your Unit's summed costs and their Position.

Strength (a resource related to Material) is equal to the summed damage output of all of your units.

Power (a resouce derived from Material, Strength, and Wits) is equal to guaranteed damage, or the total Strength of the units for which a player has two available wits, each, to spend on a move and an attack.

Do you see how different those three terms are? Definitions are awesome! Ok, one more:

Strength Efficiency is a little tricky, but not too bad: Strength divided by the total wits a player has had at their disposal Here's the equation:

SE = S / Wtot

Ok, back to Runners vs. Soldiers. Using the above definition for Strength, 5WPT and 1UPT means that on every turn a player has the potential to generate, at a minimum, 5 points of Strength. If each player generates 5 points of Strength on every turn, then, both of those players are generating the maximum amount of output possible. These players are said to be maximally Strength-Efficient; they have produced one point of Strength for every Wit they have had to spend.

Interesting Excercise: How many units in Outwitters cost 5 wits and then instantly clear the spawn hex for free? Hmm... Zero. Interesting. A spawn-moved Heavy is about as close as you can get.

What that means is that perfect Strength Efficiency is impossible, since at least one wit is always going to be spent every turn just to clear the darn spawn space so a new unit can be produced. I think my Efficiency equation needs to be adjusted. Let's see...

How about this?
SE = S / [Wtot - (s x t)]

I like it! What this says is that Strength Efficiency is really equal to Strength divided by [the total wits a player has had at their disposal, (taking into account spending one wit per turn, per spawn space, to clear the spawns)]. Whew! Let's call the original equation above the "Unmodified Strength Efficiency" or USE, and this snazzy new equation the "Modified Strength Efficiency" or MSE. USE is a pipe dream, so should I care about it? Naaaah. Do I care about MSE? Very much, I do.

Let's look at the overall Strength Efficiencies for the Runner/Soldier scenario. Afterall, what fun is an equation if you don't use it? You built eleven Runners in eleven turns. The cost to build a runner is 1 wit, but it also costs an additional wit to clear the spawn. So the cost to spawn-move a Runner is 2 wits. Ok. You've had one turn at 5 wits and, barring any wit-space shenanigans, ten turns at 6 wits/turn. That's 65 Wits! You've built eleven runners, which have a mighty Strength of... yup, eleven. Hm. 11 Strength/65 Wits yields an USE of... 16.9%. Ouch. Is the MSE much better? It HAS to be! Let's see, 11 Strength/[65 Wits - (1 spawn x 11 turns)] = 11/54 = ...20.3% Ok, ok. Not bad.

Another way of thinking about Strength Efficiency (albeit a retroactive one) is simply looking at how many extra Wits a player is sitting on. How many extra Wits would you have left over from the eleven-Runner build? 65 Wits - 21 Wits (11 to build the Runners and 10 to clear the spawn) equals 44 leftover Wits. Wow!

Does that math make sense? Let's see, it'you're spending two wits per turn, so the first turn you'd have 3 Wits left over, and for the next nine turns you'd have 4, and for the last turn, all you've done is build the Runner, so... 3+4+4+4+4+4+4+4+4+4+4+5 = yep, 44! Look at what that means: You have twice as many wits as you'd need to move and attack with every unit you have. Since you have at least two wits per attacking unit, your Power is also 11.

How about 'ol Trident-lover over here? I built ten Soldiers in ten turns. I had one turn at 5 wits and nine at 6, so that's 59 Wits for me. It costs 3 Wits to spawn-move a soldier, and I've done that ten times. 30 Wits. 59 Wits - 30 Wits means that I've got 29 Wits left over! That's enough for me to move and attack with all of my Units too, and enough for me to build whatever I want on my next turn... AND move and attack with THAT Unit as well! Yikes... looks like my Power is 20+! That's double what the Runner build gave you.

Quiz: What should you be doing when your Power is Twice that of your opponent?

Answer: A victory dance.

So what about my strength efficiency? 10 Soldiers @ 2 Strength a piece = 20 Strength. 20/59 = 33.9% USE. We're already doing better than the Runners, and that's not even taking into account the wits I used to clear the Spawn space. I've had to clear the spawn 10 times, so my MSE is really 20/49, which is 40.8%. Now we're cookin! And who had the FTA in this scenario? You!

Runners and Efficiency, in Summary
Ok, Good gosh, was all that math really necessary? Maybe not. But if you've read this far, it should be becoming clear where the liability lies with Runners. Runners are awesome. Runners are just as tough and strong as a soldier or Heavy for the wits invested, and Runners can strike like lightning. But, ultimately, of no fault of their own, Runners are simply Wasteful; not of Wits, where they are very efficient; not of movement, where they go farther quicker than any other unit; but of Spawn Spaces and Turns themselves. 5WPT and 1UPT means that on most turns where you'd spawn a Runner you could be just as viably spawn-move a Soldier (or a Sniper, or even a Heavy), and those differences, over time, add up in a big way to lopsided Power.

And that, my friends, is the final nail in the coffin for the Runner as anything but a Liberty tool. You could argue that they are potent and flexible attackers, and you'd be right, but the fact of the matter is that as such they are just vastly inferior to simple Soldiers. This leads to a good rule of thumb that has served me fairly well. Every time you are considering building a Runner, ask yourself: Am I going to use this Runner as a Liberty tool, or am I going to pretend he is a mighty Warrior? If it's the latter... I (reluctantly) just build a Soldier.

Well, that's all for now.

Four major Runner-related topics I am putting off until Installment the-Third:
- Runner Duel Mechanics
- Two-Spawn maps (think it doesn't make a difference? Wronger than wrong! Check the MSE Numbers!)
- Runners as Force Extenders
- RunnerSpam, and:
o ...when you should fear it!
o ...when you should ignore it
o ...And when it should make you snicker with glee

Aw, I like you guys too much...

Free preview of Installment III!

The Runner, in Summary
Runners are:
- Liberty enhancers (for you)!
- Liberty demolishers (for your opponents)!
- Great for dueling with and killing other Runners (but only when boosted)!
- Great Force Extenders!

Runners aren't:
- Power!
- Efficient!
- Soldiers (and boosting them only makes it worse)

- Installment III: The Runner, Concluded - is on the way!

Section III: Maps

Map Analysis Format
Map Name: Map Name
Map Type: Small/Medium/Large; Mirrored/Inverted; 1v1/2v2
Map Size: #Open Hexes/#Obstructions; (shortest spawn-to-enemy-base distance)
Wits: Starting wits; +Wit Space #1(distance from spawn); +Wit Space #2(distance from spawn)
Spawns: spawn space #1 (minimum distance from friendly base - maximum distance from friendly base)
Starting Units: the units each side starts with and anything notable about their configuration
Interesting Geometry: interesting points on the map; backdoors; attack points
Analysis: Surface-level Analysis including some typical openings, progressions, and endgame positions and responses
Other Notes: anything else worth mentioning

Some Notation Definitions:
R Runner
S Soldier
M Medic
N Sniper
H Heavy
B Bombshell (not used)
O Mobi (not used)
C Scrambler (not used)
Blue Star – ideal attack hex for blue
Red Star – ideal attack hex for red
N/NW/NE/SW/SE/S – Directions, usually from or adjacent to a source hex
Lowercase letters, e.g. “a; c; etc.” – Refer to specific marked hexes on each map.
1P – First Player or “Attacking” Player
2P – Second Player or “Defending” Player
FTA – First Turn Advantage; the +5 wit advantage that 1P always receives

A brief note on Symmetry:
In this guide, I will use the phrases “Mirrored” and “Inverted” to describe the two different types of symmetry found in Outwitters maps. Mirrored means one axis of symmetry: that is, if you placed a mirror down the center plane of the map you would see the exact same thing in the mirror as you would if there were no mirror there. Inverted means two axes of symmetry: the map is mirrored and “flipped” according to a second axis.

For examples of what these two terms mean and the effect they have on gameplay, you need look no further than the first two maps below.

I. Sharkfood Island (SFI)

[Image: Sharkfood_Annotated_NGM_v1.jpg]

Type: Small Mirrored 1v1
Size: 68/6 (8)
Wits: 5(4)
Spawns: (4-6)

Starting Units: M H S
Given the map size and unit concentration, SFI’s starting unit combination is deceptively solid, allowing for strong formations to be developed rapidly. This offsets somewhat the map's small size by helping 2P to field a strong counter argument to a rush.

Being mirrored rather than inverted, Sharkfood’s attack zones directly overlap one another, rather than being offset or “opposite”, meaning that for blue to reach blue star he must traverse the same hexes that red must in order to get to red star. In-game, this means SFI (like all mirrored maps) tends to produce large, decisive, tactically-oriented battles rather than the more abstract and strategic play common in larger or inverted maps.

Blue and red star represent the most difficult points to defend and therefore the likeliest points of attack for each side. Almost every game on SFI will eventually see a Heavy at a or b, taking advantage of the short northern attack path. A soldier at c can strike the base in two spots, claim either +? space, or block the map’s northern edge. Scouts at e or f can attack (but not occupy, thanks Alvendor) wit spaces or spawn block.

The traditional SFI opening is the boosted soldier wall, beginning one space SE of the medic and extending slowly upward and rearward as the force grows. The soldier wall opening starts with 1-Soldier and sees endless boosted soldiers stream out of the spawn, with action generally beginning at c or b by turns 5 or 6.

A 1-Runner variation of the opening is also fairly common; 1-Runner saves an additional wit and provides a fantastic visibility advantage (given the small map size) but leaves the user much more vulnerable to an early rush.

Other less used openings include an early 1P two soldier rush at d or a Soldier + Runner rush at d+nw, but an experienced 2P should easily turn either of these aside for a lasting material advantage.

In a traditionally developed match on SFI, the midgame of will probably begin around turn 5, when one or both players will reach +8-10 wits; at this point one of two things will occur: either a special will come out, or one player will empty his wit pool in an attack, aiming to eliminate at least two of the opposing players soldiers and gain the center. If both players special, SFI can easily devolve into turtle vs. turtle, or into an exciting and fast paced material-trade fest.

Notes and Trivia:
You Heard it Here Second: SFI gets its name from This Awesome Game. (...And not, as I originally mused, from the northern Heavy and his alluringly short northern attack path. Although I still think that sounds highly plausible :)

Coming up next!
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08-23-2012, 06:50 AM
Post: #2
RE: Outwitters, Analysis, and You!
Sharkfood Island ACTUALLY got its name here. Really enjoying this thread, by the way.
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08-23-2012, 07:08 AM
Post: #3
RE: Outwitters, Analysis, and You!
(08-23-2012 06:50 AM)oneadamleft Wrote:  Sharkfood Island ACTUALLY got its name here. Really enjoying this thread, by the way.

Banjo Kazooie, what a game. Thems were the good ole days for platformers.
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08-23-2012, 07:36 AM
Post: #4
RE: Outwitters, Analysis, and You!
+1 Rep from me and I look forward to the extensions of your analysis.

I am in no way affiliated with or authorized by One Man Left Studios, LLC.
Any information on Outwitters I present is founded on personal experience, public knowledge or the Outwitters Beta Test.
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08-23-2012, 08:28 AM (This post was last modified: 08-23-2012 09:05 AM by NathanDetr0it.)
Post: #5
RE: Outwitters, Analysis, and You!
Thanks for the encouragement, all!

One of the things I'm really hoping this will be useful for is to spur commentary forward, which I'm super-interested in. With most great games I reach a tipping point somewhere where observing the metagame is just as enjoyable as playing the game itself (hey, i'm weird, OK?) and I can sense the rising of the metagame tide already with Outwitters.

Looking forward to (slowly) working on these.

Visit Outwitters, Analysis, and You! — an epic thread of Resource, Unit, and Map Analysis!
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08-23-2012, 08:46 AM
Post: #6
RE: Outwitters, Analysis, and You!
Love this analysis.
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08-23-2012, 08:49 AM
Post: #7
RE: Outwitters, Analysis, and You!
(08-23-2012 06:50 AM)oneadamleft Wrote:  Sharkfood Island ACTUALLY got its name here. Really enjoying this thread, by the way.

Called it! Yay! Big Grin

+1 Nathan, btw.

I AM THE 99.9997%!

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08-23-2012, 09:23 AM
Post: #8
RE: Outwitters, Analysis, and You!
Good you brought up the adjacency aspect when defending! I don't think that has been discussed on the forum before.

You might wanna change the description for e and f to only threaten a spawn block. You can't take the wit space from there unless you are on the opponent's side of the map and I don't think you want to do that regularly.

Soldier spam FTW
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08-23-2012, 09:32 AM (This post was last modified: 08-23-2012 09:36 AM by NathanDetr0it.)
Post: #9
RE: Outwitters, Analysis, and You!
(08-23-2012 09:23 AM)Alvendor Wrote:  You might wanna change the description for e and f to only threaten a spawn block. You can't take the wit space from there unless you are on the opponent's side of the map and I don't think you want to do that regularly.

You are correct, I was actually just noticing that myself... Fixed and credited.

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08-23-2012, 12:00 PM
Post: #10
RE: Outwitters, Analysis, and You!
Wow nice haha. Looks like the first steps towards writing AI for this game Tongue

I am confused by the 2nd number associated with "Spawn" though (6 for the example sharkfood map). How is this the maximum distance from the friendly base (and why is it even important)? I could argue that it is 11 if I wanted to go around that little lake in the middle. Or infinite if I'm retarded... lol
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