Positioning 101: A Retrospective

Hi guys GGH here, a long time ago but at least in this galaxy I was contacted by CPG’s Michel “Affinity” Langer and Louvain about writing “new player friendly” guides for the official page. It was a great honor and after talking with Michel for a few days we came up with the idea of writing a positioning guide designed to help scaffold players up to the initial plateau of play that I believed was the base level of positioning play in Duelyst’s S-rank. It has been almost two years since the article was originally released, and despite some great members of the community fighting to keep it available it is off of the official page. While you can find skeletons of it hiding on reddit and the official forums you are unlikely to be able to see the examples. I am very proud of the work that CPG and I did. But it is not in me to copy-paste my past work and this was a collaborative project in which the personalities of Michel and Louvain found their way into the article (this was certainly for the best). However in rewriting this article I will be using my own voice, and you will find that the result is more competitively focused than the original work. I do hope that it still helps younger players improve. I am confident that because Kirabi is the dedicated player that he is this article won’t fall off the site despite what changes may occur in Duelyst’s future. As always thank you for reading and I hope you enjoy the article.

Positioning 101: The three fundamental Stances

Welcome Dueler to the first lesson in your pursuit of wisdom. Understand that while I can give knowledge freely it is only through practice that you will achieve mastery.

Today we will discuss the basics of positioning on the battlefield, but before we can begin we must have some medium by which to communicate our intentions. Please keep in mind the below tic-tac-toe grid which we will use to discuss how to position relative to your opponent’s general:

Reference Sheet

Because of how the board is constructed in Duelyst on a completely naked board there are essentially only three fundamental positions you can be in relation to your opponent. Those are positions two, three, and six. Positions one, seven, and nine are essentially copies of position three. Eight is a copy of two, and four is a copy of six. Some of the more advanced students will be eagerly wanting to correct me on this knowing that each of the eight positions are unique, but they will need to be patient as for now we are not considering how specific cards can change the value of these various positions. Let’s start talking about how each of these three fundamental positions are used.

Clearing Stance (Position Two)

Clearing Stance.jpg

This position limits the vertical movement of the enemy general and presents a threat to their front and back from the minions you play. This is an offensive posturing that provides exceptional freedom of movement to both you and the opponent’s general. It encourages them to try and protect their minions by moving forward into your side of the board, or less commonly back into their own side of the board.

The Perfect ProvokeThese options of stacking their minions are the opponent’s best bet for protecting his or her minions. Position two is exceptional at attacking minions that will be played but it makes it easy for your opponent to drop into the perfect provoke position (see Example 1) along the bottom wall.

Aggressive Stance (Position Six)

Aggressive Stance This limits the horizontal movement of the enemy general and only threatens the front and back of your opponent’s general and their minions. This position provides aggressive posturing that is best suited to pressing your attacking advantage towards the opponent’s general rather than the clearing stance which is better suited for attacking their minions. From this position your opponent’s best option to defend themselves is to move two backwards and body block with a horizontal perfect provoke. However, unlike the vertical perfect provoke we talk about above the opponent will not be able to place the provoke minion in such a way that it can guard all of the places around the enemy general, or in the instance it can you will have eliminated as much of the enemy general’s freedom of movement as you can in a single move.

Aggressive Stance vs. Provoke.jpgIf instead the enemy general elects to move two vertical they will not be able to position their provoke minion in such a way that you can not dispel it and then attack the enemy general. Position six is the most aggressive of the positions because your opponent has to choose to give up the maximum amount of freedom of movement to get a perfect provoke, have unprovoked spaces next to their general, or be in a position that they can still be attacked with the use of a dispel.

Defensive Stance (Position Three)

Position threeThis is the most defensive positioning available. It allows you to play a minion immediately away from your opponent on position seven and it becomes very difficult for them to get to that minion. In addition it allows you a two-part play in which you would move immediately away (gain position three) and then play a minion where you stood thereby body blocking your opponent.

Minion Defense StanceMoving into this position is often a preparatory step and you only get to take advantage of it during your next turn. However, because it is a two-step maneuver the player who moves into it first surrenders the initiative to their opponent (see Example 3 of your opponent taking advantage of the position first). So if they so choose, the opponent can either take advantage of the defensive positioning first or respond by resetting to their original aggressive stance. Simply put, you took the preparatory step for them. Note that we will get more in depth on this position in the third edition of this series when you will get to see why this position and your understanding of it will become critical to your success.

Reviewing Today’s Lesson

Having finished the lesson on the three fundamental stances of Duelyst, lets review what we’ve learned to help “lock it in:”

– The Clearing Stance is used to maintain aggressive posturing towards your opponent’s minions.

– The Aggressive Stance should be taken when your goal is to attack the enemy general.

– The Defensive Stance consists of a two-part maneuver that lets you withdraw on the following turn or protect a minion that turn.

Next on the “Temple of Enlightenment”
Michel’s idea to give the series this sort of Zen theme was pretty cool, but while I could write it I had to concentrate a lot on the theme and I won’t be maintaining that for this retrospective.

The next article Positioning 102 will talk about combat maneuvers. This will mix elements of the fundamental stances and how they interact with single minion placement.

My best advice after reading this article is to go out and play some Duelyst. Try to remain aware of how you are positioning your general in relation to the enemy and how it impacts the flow of the game. Try and remember that Duelyst is not a game you get good at overnight. Most of the guys who entered into Duelyst on the top had extensive backgrounds in Chess and Go. Those games are the common threads that I found from the elite of the game in the early days. Often players who had to develop before becoming good had backgrounds in more “casual” games like Pokemon, Hearthstone, Gwent, Shadowverse, Scrolls, etc. I find it intriguing that the heavy position based games of Chess and Go had such an impact on initial player skill for Duelyst and it was one of the reasons I felt (and still feel) like the game has such competitive potential. Positioning is a skill that takes hours of play to internalize. I am going to do my best to help you knock off some of those hours, but the worst thing you can possibly do is be dismissive of its importance. I often hear younger players ask about card quality or ask for tier lists, but if you really want to be getting better you should be asking “What mistake did I make?” not what card or deck can make you look better. On the handful of occasions when they really wanted help I’ve gone back and watched their games and often it is a positioning error three or more turns before the loss that caused them to lose. At the moment (May ’18) I am sitting at S-rank #1. It’s not a position unfamiliar to me, but what makes it interesting is that I have not ground out the 200+ games I would normally have to to get and stay at S1. Mostly I have been playing my dailies and then watching others play, and I would contest that my currently high win percent can not possibly be from a depth of understanding of the meta because I took a long hiatus, and must come from the fundamentals I drilled into myself before that hiatus. There seems to be a de-emphasizing of positioning in Duelyst by the community right now and I can tell you that the success I have had and am having is built on the back of internalizing these positioning decisions. Even now my losses can often be traced back to a positioning error, and I make sure to chastise myself heavily for those mistakes. I’ve heard many people in the past say that they “just want to have fun” when they talk to me about what went wrong in a game and when the conversation starts to get really detailed. I want you guys to have fun too and eventually through sheer force of repetition you would learn these positions on an intuitive level, but if you memorize them and remain aware of them on an intellectual level you can start to take pride in recognizing when you played the positioning game well and that pride will help you internalize the positioning fundamentals much faster. And once those decisions are internalized you will win a lot more and that will be fun, I promise. 😉

Alright, I will get off my soap box. Thank you guys for reading. I hope that your future success comes from the hard work you put in today.

Much Love,

P.S. – Sorry it took me so long to redo these, I had to recreate some of the Visual aids since many of them were lost when the official page was removed.

Can’t get enough of GGH and his antics? Follow the positioning GOAT on these sites as well:
Twitter –
Twitch – https://www.twitch.tv/goodguyhopper
Discord – https://discord.gg/ZzjMD52


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