Human vs. Undead: A Battle of Styles
Hello and welcome to my third battle report--2nd in recent memory. This will be another Warcraft III battle report. But whereas my last report was just my first game back, this game will have more of a teaching and explination focus. I continued my tear on my smurf, UConnTO, going 6-3 in the span of 24 hours. More importantly much of my knowledge and fine-tuned playing return to the forefront.
In an update of the fiasco I encountered during my last report, my video card will be coming back at the beginning of next week. This means I will soon have more than Microsoft Pain(t) at my disposal, so look forward to more EXTREME graphics!!! I'm talking EXTREME cropping, EXTREME collages, and EXTREME lines coming up. Can I get a hoo hah, two times tuesday?!?
I'd also like to mention I am going to experiment with a couple new ideas in my battle reporting. I will continue to finetune the unit tables that I had in my last report. Another theme I want to discuss is optimization. For this reason I will be introducing "Tactical Spotlights" to explain the subtle nuances of the game. The spotlights are mostly involved with the early game so there will be frequent interruptions in the beginning with more continous gametime during the middle and end of the report. I hope this allows less experienced warcraft III players to pick up a few tips, as well as let non-warcraft III players understand a bit more about the depth of the game.
Well get reading, and enjoy the report!
Once again I chanced the battle.net ladder waters, and went into auto-matchmaking. What I saw did not amuse or comfort me in anyway. Once again I picked Human, and my opponent, dragon_of_fire, picked undead. Now if you read my last battle report, you know that this is my worst match up for a variety of reasons. Basically anything that undead can turn out, I usually fail to beat. Back when I played regularly, my win percentage was in the high 30s, low 40s against undead, with my overall percentage around 50-51%. Also working against me was the level differential. Even though the difference in level became less important after patch 1.14 because "Estimated Ladder Level" or ELL determined your skill level and matchup, I still felt uncomfortable being matched up against a level 24 undead player.
The battle would be played out on Twisted Meadows. Twisted Meadows is a 4-player map with a starting location near the corners, although there are island expansions behind the main base. Each base has a natural expansion that is actually closer to the starting location of the player next to you. By natural, I mean it's the expansion within the natural barriers that contains your main starting location, my natural is just north of me. Twisted Meadows is a medium sized map that holds the usual amenities, goblin merchant, laboratory, and tavern.
Early Game // +0:00
My Town Hall spawned in the lower-left hand corner of the map. I sent all five peasants to the gold mine and I began an Altar of Kings shortly followed by a Barracks and Farm.
Tactical Spotlight -- The Split
The split is a very crucial part of the game. This isn't because one wrong click will derail your entire operation, at least physically. It deals with the mental aspect of the game. Most gamers understand that confidence is almost as important as physical ability in games. If you've played Warcraft or Starcraft, you know that when you accidentally send your workers behind whatever they're supposed to be gathering, you think to yourself, "Oh God, it's going to be one of those games". The economic impact is negligible, but the mental impact is much more significant. I can only speak from personal experience, but I believe it is semi-universal: When you mess something up in any part of the game, you begin to move slowly, perhaps more cautiously, but slowly nonetheless, and things get forgotten or ignored as a result. In equally skilled games, speed is everything. As a result, mastering and perfectly executing your starting split gives you a good feeling, and allows your gameplan to flow much more smoothly.
Now, more specifically: Depending on how comfortable you are with your precision mouse control, you may decide to select three or four peasants and send them to gold, and then send the remainder to build. This sounds easy enough to do, but in game-situations, especially with a sensitive mouse, it is often botched. Sending all five peasants to gold is a less micro-intensive method of starting off, but almost as effective. When peasants return to the town hall they are more spread out and easier to click and issue commands. You will not feel as rushed or pressed for time in this case, and you will feel more confident in your abilities.
I follow a normal build pattern for human, working towards the Archmage as a hero, and quick footmen to go creeping. I send my second peasant produced to scout clockwise in militia form. Shortly after I started my hero and my first footmen pops out, I discover my undead enemy at the top left position. Assuming the Undead goes Death Knight, this puts me at a disadvantage with early harass a near-guarantee. My peasant penetrates the base and discovers a typical undead build, ziggurat, crypt, and graveyard. The undead player will get just enough ghouls to mine lumber and quickly switch to fiends to harass and/or creep.
Two Minute Warning // +2:00
At two minutes I am happy with where my game is going. I have found the enemy, my Archmage will pop out in about two seconds, and I have 2 footmen ready to go creeping. My enemy is doing a teching build, which gives me options. I have the choice to tech in response, or I can control the map by expanding. With more than one game under my belt this time, I feel relatively confident to early expand. I set my sites on the natural expansion of the lower right base, which is actually closer to my base than my own natural.
After my archmage exited the altar I selected my two footmen and proceeded to the nearest green creeps below my base. I put up a scout tower--soon to be transformed an arcane tower--in anticipation of the death knight that will likely make an appearance. Arcane towers do piercing damage and have a feedback ability that burns mana on any mana-bearing unit which is a useful ability against non-intelligence based heroes (who have larges pools of quick-replenishing mana) like the strength-based death knight. My scouting peasant actually survived its expedition and on its return journey I set it to build a farm just below the enemy base. About 15 seconds into its construction, the enemy death knight finally makes an appearance and plays right into my hands. Obviously the farm isn't for food, it is for scouting, and slowing down the enemy. The Death Knight, which was on the way to my base, decides to stop and destroy my scout farm. This scout farm slows down the Death Knight about 15 seconds, just long enough so that by the time it reaches my base I will have an arcane tower constructed and I will not have to Town Portal back from creeping.
While the death knight was hacking away at my farm-building peasant just below his base, I selected four of my lumber-harvesting peasants and turned them into militia and sent them, along with my footmen and archmage, to the lower right base natural, to creep.
Tactical Spotlight -- Militia Creeping
Another optimization tactic that can be used to enhance your game as a human player is militia creeping. Militia actually do more damage and have more armor than their footmen counterparts, though this is at the expense of about 200 HP. A peasant will stay in militia form for about a minute, giving you plenty of time to fend off an enemy attack, or in this case, creep more difficult areas earlier in the game.
Militia creeping is not applicable on all maps, so I will introduce general guidelines to help. Generally, large maps are not effective militia creeping maps, as the distance of the creeps from your town hall can be pretty significant. The last thing you want to do is have your militia turn into peasants just as you attack a difficult creep. Twisted Meadows is one such map where there are orange creeps at a gold mine near your starting location, and you can clear the expansion and often get a mid-level item for your hero. Lost Temple and Echo Isles are also popular maps for militia creeping. There are maps where using this technique can have disastrous results. Turtle Rock's orange creeps near the starting locations have two mid-level turtle and one high-level turtle that will absolutely demolish a low level army. A human player is better off gathering a few units, teching, and being aggressive against the opponent. Whether it's a good map or not, you still have to have the ability to effectively size up creeps. Twisted Meadows, which I already mentioned to be a prime map for militia creeping, still has orange creeps that can lay down the big hurt. What I have come to conclude is that when you mess with level 5 rock golems, you're going to get your ass handed to you. I've lost heroes to it's "Hurl Boulder" ability, as well as entire armies. In conclusion, understand when you can benefit from creeping, and when you are just going to get demolished, like in federal pound-you-in-the-ass prison.
Tactical Spotlight -- Human Economy
Militia creeping opens the doors to what I like to call, the Human advantage. Orc hold the brute force category down pretty well. Undead are next in line with their powerful tier 3 units and nuking heroes. Night Elves are more delicate and rely on range while Humans need to rely on their economy. Being a big fan of the 'cash-money' makes me a favorite to play the burly Humans. Militia creeping a gold mine opens up the ability for humans to create an expansion quicker than any other race, because when the militia phase out of their militia form, they can quickly set up a town hall, and guard towers. Human towers are the sturdiest in the game with multiple upgrades increasing their durability. Couple this ability with two lumber upgrades makes the humans the ideal control race. A human player can afford to be less aggressive as they can rely on towers to guard their expansions from marauding heroes.
Another thing I've heard done with the human economy is have fun. I once was told about a clan called "Clan LMBR", I don't know if they exist anymore, but the whole premise behind the clan was to have your lumber/min score in ladder be over 1000. Typically it's around 120-200. They would get goblin shredders and countless peasants and tower into their base and chop lumber. I've tried it a few times, and actually ended up winning the games I tried it in. However, I really would not recommend lumber as a primary offensive or defensive tactic.
Back to the game, I sent those four militia along with my small army to the natural expansion of the lower right base. I spawned a water elemental while the militia were on their way, and another one as they joined up with my army. I sent the water elementals in first to absorb the damage and then stormed in the rest of my units shortly thereafter. It went off without a hitch, and my only casualty was a water elemental that expired. Since I had been slacking off on building peasants back at my base, I was about 20 lumber shy of being able to construct a town hall. My peasants swapped manly stories of the battle until the other 20 lumber was allocated, and I quickly put up a town hall, and a couple scout towers when additional resources were available. Guard towers are the most effective towers for defense, so I erected a lumber mill back at base to cover it. Much to my chagrin, the death knight decided against coming into my base since it blew the element of surprise.
It was about this time when I decided to go creep the goblin observatory northwest of my base. I gathered near full health footmen and my hero and communed right outside of the aggressive range of the creeps. I summoned a water elemental and ran in, expecting to run over the opposition. The infamous level 5 rock golem decided for me that I had to enter a world of pain. I always target the strongest unit first, so I hacked away at the rock golem. The problem is, due to its heavy armor, it takes 19% reduced damage of my footmen's 12-13 dmg attack, and to put icing on the cake the golem was being healed 25hp every 2 seconds by a nearby troll priest. I spawned more elementals and by the time the golem went down, pink had just entered my base, and I had lost three footmen and my dignity.
dragon_of_fire on the Offensive // +5:10
dragon_of_fire attacked with two fiends and a level 1 death knight, hardly a formidable offense, but I was still tied up with the creeps at the goblin observatory. It took me about 10 seconds after pink entered my base for me to kill the rock golem and begin my walk back to my base. The death knight targeted my peasants while the fiends slowly chipped away at my arcane tower. Maybe the rock golem was the biggest pain in the ass in the world, but I had a two level advantage on the death knight, and the returning footmen coupled with a level 2 water elemental would make defense of the base a piece of cake. I called to arms while my army returned, knowing that I could afford the loss in gold with an expansion still going up. We played a little game of tag as the death knight and fiends exited my base and came back to tag a few more of my units. Knowing that I now had the upperhand, pink decided to retreat. I used my summoned water elemental to block the path in front of pink's fiends, zig-zagging the elemental back and forth, resulting in the death of another fiend while significantly hurting the second.
Tactical Spotlight ~~ Blocking
I realize that this is the third interruption in the game to bring you one of these, but I promise you that this is the last one. It just happened that all the stuff I wanted to share today was brought up in the early game. This is just another tactic that is utilized by more experienced players who excel at micro. If you ever watch pro replays you know that units die very infrequently during the early game. It's like a constant chess match--in the beginning of a chess match there aren't often any pieces lost, but you continually attempt to trick and trap your opponent's units. Warcraft III is the same way. One way you can score that early kill is by blocking. First, you generally need to have the advantage in a battle, or at least be up against an enemy that is retreating. If you sense that you are going to win the battle you may send a unit--the bigger the collision size the better-- say a hero, or a summon to go behind the enemy army and wait for a few moments.
When the enemy breaks the engagement and begins to run, hit the ALT key, this displays the health bars of all the units on the screen, and you can see which are weak. Chances are if they are running, they have some critically injured units. In this game I chose the water elemental, it's like a real crappy employee, they move slow as ass, but they are great at just taking up space. The key is to keep your water elemental moving to confuse the pathfinding ability of the enemy units. Typically, you want to be moving in the same direction as the enemy, and constantly zigzagging your unit back and forth to keep them from getting around. This gives your ranged units, or even quick ground units time to catch up and get a few more shots off. If you kill a unit it can be a huge advantage, you may gain a level or earn priority in the game, allowing you to dictate where the battles are fought.
The Eye of the Hurricane // +7:10
After the attack on my base, we entered a period of peace. My expansion was working full steam and was fully protected. I began to research defend in case pink kept pumping fiends, and finally I turned over a new leaf and was scouting very frequently. I sent a peasant every minute or two to check the expansions near the top of the base. I attempted to pierce the heart of his base to see his tech, but I was usually cut down by fiends and a lone ice-spewing nerubian tower. An arcane vault and a blacksmith were also added to the list of improvements and morale was at an all-time high in the land of UConnTO. As is the case with all military powers with a large army just sitting around, I went and demolished the rest of the creeps at that now infamous goblin observatory. The units there were eliminated with extreme prejudice and I put their heads on spikes in memorial of my fallen subordinates...nay...comrades.
I was finally feeling the pinch of having to call to arms earlier in the game, as well as the cost of putting up an extra expansion. Gold was plentiful and I began building houses out of it because of the scarcity of lumber. Every time an appropriate amount of lumber was available I researched a new technology, produced more units, or constructed more guard towers. My growing army ventured north into my own natural expansion, and found the orange creeps taking a brief doze. I slaughtered the indigenous population and took the prize of their civilization, Boots of Quel'Thalas +6 (which add 6 agility to the hero), and a periapt of vitality (which adds 150 HP). The usefulness of the boots was moot, but the periapt on a low health hero such as the archmage was golden. I claimed the land as my own and began planning in my mind for another expansion. It was at this time when a scouting peasant of mine came upon a large force of fiends creeping in the northeast of the map.
10 Minute Warning!! // +10:00
It's that time already! I had a wealthy expansion to the southeast of my base and a robust economy to accompany it. Lumber was still scarce, but the situation was improving. When the blacksmith I had started shortly before finished, I started riflemen in anticipation of the inevitable destroyers. The developing riflemen were delighted to find out they already had a 1/0 upgrade in thier advantage. My hero was at level 4, compared to the level 3 death knight parading around the map. Just after 10 minutes I started a keep.
The Calm Before the Storm // +11:30
At 11:30 my keep finally finished and I started my second hero, the mountain king. Normally, this far into the game is too late to tack on another hero, but I felt that the circumstances would support it. My scouting peasant revealed to me that my enemy only had a single hero and that it was only level 3. With only one low-level hero, the mountain king would be able to stand up well against focus fire and death coil while his level increased. Also, my overwhelming abundance of gold made the investment a no-brainer. I figured at the very least he's just like a very expensive super-charged footman.
One thing I always like to do throughout the course of the game is keep moving. More experienced players will utilize every available moment to creep. I try to do this, but I am cautious about weakening my army with too much creeping which could cause me to be overwhelmed if the enemy were to attack. I often joke about scouting with my entire army, but it is effective. If you chance upon a creeping enemy, you can catch him in a very precarious situation and either deliver heavy casualties or force him to use a town portal and then mop up the creeping duty and steal the items. It's for this reason I took my army and set off into the center of the map, looking for the enemy, and his possible expansion while still having the option to pounce on any tasty creeps.
I take my army/scouting party towards the enemy base and debate attacking. My scouting peasants still show no expansions, and I haven't seen even a glimmer of destroyers. When I chanced upon him earlier he had an abnormal amount of fiends, so I was curious as to what to expect. Since returning to the warcraft scene, a couple undeads have tried bizarre strategies on me to varying degrees of success. I've gotten early expoed against and swamped with an ungodly amount of tier 1 ghouls. Because of this, I worried about the power of massed fiends. With this in my mind, I continued with a forced march to the northwest.
My Archmage, Mountain King, and lesser units thirsted for blood as I meandered towards dragon_of_fire's base. I stopped at the mercenary camp nearby. I quickly and efficently eliminated the inhabitants and hired all the mercs within it's walls. I picked up an axe-throwing beserker, a troll priest, an ogre mauler, and a mud golem. And you know what they say about mercenaries, they are always more loyal fighters. Loyalty to an ideal or religion fades with the tide of events, but loyalty of money is always constant. My spending binge wasn't over as I started a second expansion at my natural. Money was no object, and the world was my burrito.
So it Begins. . . // +13:38
We had been pussyfooting around the issue for far too long now and I decided that with the economic advantage I thought I had, my army just had to be stronger or larger. I plunged into dragon_of_fire's base with exuberant zeal, an archmage, a mountain king, a small outfit of mercenaries, a couple rifles, and a handful of footmen. The base is unguarded with not even a lounging fiend to offer resistance. I pounce on the nerubian tower that had taken so many peasant lives and burned it to the ground. I continued the assault, and waited for pink to show up with his abnormally large crypt fiend army. I saw the death knight sprint in. It was at this time I took a look around the base. I saw the graveyard, the black citadel, the crypt, a few ziggurats, the sacraficial pit, nothing out of the ordina..... wait a minute... Oh... My.... God...... He was teching hardcore. Three Frost Wyrms soared over head and ripped into my footmen with 100+ magic damage per icy blast. My two rifleman were not feeling very ambitious so I decided it was time to go. I triggered the town portal and went into a frenzy of orders. I sent a peasant to begin a workshop a minute before with a queue to build another one after it finished the first. I queued up a slew of riflemen and started building scout towers, but of course "I need additional lumber". Apparently you can't even purchase lumber with gold these days.
That is No Orc Horn // 14:39
Oh wait... Yea it is. It took just over 30 seconds for dragon_of_fire to realize he held the advantage and march over to my base to begin the apocalypse of human civilization. I had largely the same army I had when I attacked his base with the addition of a two flying machines. This means my anti-air capabilities consisted of a level 4 archmage, a level 2 water elemental, 2 riflemen, 2 flying machines, and 1 rabid axe thrower. Morale reached an all time low as I was informed my archmage had dysentery and had taken a turn for the worse. Pink came to the big dance with a level 4 death knight, 9 crypt fiends, 3 frost wyrms, and an obsidian statue. Oh dear...
Pink takes the initiative and charges into my base. The frost wyrms immediately go to town, demolishing everything in their path. Knowing that I had to take down the damage jaberwockies that were the frost wyrms, I used my mountain king to storm bolt one of the hulking beasts with all available anti-air following up with focus fire. My flying machines were webbed and became eligible targets of ground units. The Death Knight gained level 5 on the destruction taking place and I decided to devote a few of my ground units to issue damage to the marauding undead knight. The damage actually started to pile up on the death knight, but even if I managed to kill the death knight, there was still little hope. My flying machines were quickly eliminated, but more were constantly entering the battle. Only one of my two workshops was operating due to low lumber. I reached for the ALT key and cringed at what I found: Most of his units were at full health. The Death Knight reached level 6, but luckily his mana was too low to use his ultimate at the time. This also means that his hero has gained two levels while my heroes gained none. I took a look at my archmage and saw that he was hovering on level 5, with only one unit needing to be killed to reach the goal. I summoned water elementals constantly, and they constantly put out damage. My footmen with Defend activated were actually effective against the fiend army, managing to take some of them down over the past 90 seconds. The slaughter continued and my mountain king was targeted by the three frost wyrms and death knight and was cut down in a hail of ice. The Death Knight moved to level 7 as my army dwindled.
The Great War Continues // +16:10
As you can see from the unit chart, my army had been utterly vanquished. The Mountain King had been dead for quite some time, and I hadn't even started to revive him yet. I managed to kill a single frost wyrm, but other than that they were proving quite resilient. A level 7 death knight means he can use level 3 death coil to heal any injured unit. Which means on a frost wyrm, they're gaining roughly 50% of their hit points back for only 75 mana. I kept grinding down the enemy units with dwindling confidence. There were a few weak crypt fiends that I targeted and eliminated, finally dinging on level 5. I fell back into the bowels of my base, tapped the call to arms button, and cast level 3 water elementals as fast as I could.
I queued up the mountain king to be revived and continued pumping flying macines. The Wyrms continued their tirade as the death knight reached level 8. With a strength-based hero 3 levels above my archmage, I was beginning to feel that the death knight could tackle the rest of my base by itself, but I fought on. My peasants gathered their swords and put on their crude armor and marched to the front. Just as I had hoped, my peasants formed a front between my farms on the left and my barracks on the right, keeping the majority of his army from flooding into my base, which left my archmage alive for awhile to continue casting water elementals.
Much to my surprise, the militia fought with passion and began inflicting casualties on the unsuspecting ground forces of dragon_of_fire. And although they did their civilization proud, they were all in bloody heaps on the ground within 45 seconds. The constant construction of riflemen and flying machines had put a serious drain on my economy. Even though I fell to no upkeep and had two expansions going full strength, I was running low on gold and had nearly exhausted my lumber supply. But it's been nearly 4 minutes since the battle started and I was still alive. With the miltia dead there was no longer a buffer preventing the enemy from penetrating my base. The death knight broke in and, along with the frost wyrms, began to target the most essential unit in my army, the archmage. Even the hero armor of the archmage was little protection against the devestating attack of the frost wyrms. He was quickly brought into critical health. I ran my archmage further into my base, and tried to evade as many attacks as possible. My mountain king finally returned and immediately began to try and stop the focusing of my archmage. However, being only level 2 limits his ability to dish out stopping power. The Archmage cast one last water elemental and cast his town portal on the castle he is standing next to in order to regroup my units and prolong the inevitable. But the inevitable is called so for a reason, and the archmage went down with a loud cry just 18 seconds after the reemurgence of the mountain king, with the death knight reaching an amazing level 9 on the kill.
But the archmage and his level 3 water elementals had done more than I could've imagined. The frost wyrms were low on health and the death knight was out of mana and also below 50% hp. The flying machines continued their never-ending assault on the frost wyrms as my mountain king storm bolts the death knight and is focused by him and a nearby rifleman. It was only a few more seconds until all the frost wyrms were dead, the death knight flees, and the mountain king gains level 3. Just like that, it was over and I was left in awe that I had just won the battle. The only unit I had at the end of the battle that I had at the start of the battle was the mountain king, and he was dead for over 3 minutes during it.
Even though all I had in addition to the MK was 2 riflemen and 2 flying machines, I was in great shape. I still had two expansions and I was rebuilding my peasants at my main base to resume operations there. It was likely that my enemy did not expand during the battle, which meant his gold mine was nearly empty and I held a huge advantage. Just to make sure, I sent out one of my flying machines to check the expansions, which were occupied, but just by creeps.
Twenty Minute Warning // +20:00
As twenty minutes rolled around, I had two well guarded expos, in addition to my main base. My archmage had just returned and joined my mountain king, 3 rifleman and 4 flying machines to form my army. It was meager, but probably just as big as dragon_of_fire's and growing quickly. Also, right around the 20 minute mark a scouting flying machine happened upon an acolyte trying to haunt a gold mine, and I mobilized my forces to take care of it.
Late Game // +20:50
That expansion was simply not going to happen on my watch. My forces gathered and I quickly razed the expansion without any resistance. That's because his forces were on their way to my natural expansion in a last ditch effort to stop my conquest.
It's curious to note that their were more units in this battle than the big one that occured earlier in the game, but this one went by nearly three times as quick. Pink threw in his army and began to pick away at the four guard towers guarding it. This gave me time to town portal in to stop it. dragon_of_fire had his level 9 death knight, 4 frost wyrms, a couple fiends and a lone obsidian statue. My army was again considerably weaker with my two heros, 5 rifles, 6 flying machines. However, I had the advantage of 3 still-functioning guard towers.
I focus fired the frost wyrms with the flying machines (which were now upgraded with flak cannons which apply area of affect damage) and began to gun them down in short order. The Death Knight was running low on health, but continued to pose a threat as he distributed death coils like poisoned halloween candy. I continued focusing him as he cast his ultimate--animate dead. My own units rose from the grave to serve the undead prince, but it was too little, too late.
I storm bolted the son of a bitch and put him down for good. The frost wyrms were eliminated. I just move my army out of my expansion and let animate dead run its course. Just as my first knight leaves the barracks, dragon_of_fire concedes and the game is over.
- Again to my girlfriend for proofreading the report!
I hope you guys enjoy this battle report a bit more, and at the least learn more than you did from the last one. I definetly want feedback on the tactical spotlight as well as my refined use of unit tables. This game was all about two different styles of gameplay, teching and economic control. It's an individual prefrence and it is important to decide based on your own style of play. If you play warcraft III, I hope you see the difference between the two. Thanks for reading! I will leave you with a illustration of my favorite unit drawn by your's truly.