Positioning 102: Combat Maneuvers (Retrospective)


Good evening Duelers, this is the second of the positioning articles I wrote for CPG. I had originally written too much into the article and it was because of Michel’s wisdom that we split this guide into two parts. This first section Positioning 102 originally encompassed a large portion of the Positioning 201 article and Michel let me know I was trying to get too advanced too quickly. After dividing up the article I saw that he was correct and Positioning 102 became a fantastic lead into the 200 level courses. I also think this is where the series really takes off. I think a lot of people read positioning 101 and went, “duh.” But I think that 101 is better in reflection than in the initial telling because you get to see how important those most basic of fundamentals actually are after you get through the whole series. As always I hope that you enjoy the read.

Positioning 102: Combat Maneuvers

Welcome back wise pupil to the temple of enlightenment. I see that your desire for knowledge is not yet sated. Today you will need to be particularly attentive as the lessons presented to you are going to become more complex, require more foreknowledge, and be narrower in scope. Before we begin lets make sure we are on the same page by pulling up the reference sheet.
Reference SheetIn yesterday’s lesson we talked about how to position relative to Reva treating her as the opposing general, but today we will be treating position five as if you are Reva. Additionally, in today’s lesson we will be discussing how to position your own minions relative to your general. We will talk about the minion positioning options using the terms Pushing, Pulling, Scouting, and Avoidant, which collectively we will call maneuvers. As a quick refresher when we are discussing how you position your general we describe that as a “stance” and when we are talking about your general plus a minion we describe that as a “maneuver.” Today we will cover the maneuvers; Pushing, Pulling, and a little about Scouting. Avoidant will be discussed in a later course.

Pushing Maneuver (Positions Three and Nine)

Pushing ManeuverPushing Strategies are designed to either get the enemy general to move away from the minion or to attack into them. Maneuvers intended to push your opponent require you to place your minion adjacent to your and the opponent’s general. Assuming your opponent is standing at position six these placements would be positions three and nine.

Here is where things can get a little tricky so make sure you are really paying attention. If you keep in mind last week’s lesson what the pushing maneuver does is occupy the spaces we would think of as the Aggressive and Clearing Stances. These are the two more aggressive stances and by occupying both you are limiting the opponent’s vertical and horizontal movement options while at the same time opening good attacking options for both your general and your minion.

*In retrospect I would like to note that If your opponent was at position two then a pushing maneuver would be at positions one and three. This is all comes back to those fundamental stances, and it is why a lot of complex ideas can be boiled down into three fundamental stances (Notice how clever I am dammit XD).

Pulling Maneuver (Positions One and Seven)

Pulling ManeuverPulling maneuvers are designed to get your opponent to move to specific points on the board in relation to your general. You are effectively encouraging your opponent to move towards you instead of running away from you. This is particularly effective when you do not have good options for fully defending a minion with low health and your opponent is looking to retreat and keep their distance from you. There are plenty of times when you are ahead and you are forced to play a card you would normally want to play if you are behind. So to make the best use of the card you can position it in such a way that your opponent must decide between staying engaged with you or letting a potential threat remain on the table. You have to find a way to get value out of your cards outside of what they are designed to do, and this is one of the best examples of using positioning to gain a tangible advantage with a card that would otherwise be sub-par for the situation.

Using a pulling maneuver you can potentially buy an additional turn of their general being engaged with yours, or pressure them into leaving a vulnerable minion behind. Positions one and seven enable the pulling maneuver (assuming the opposing general is at position six). But I know a clever student is thinking “what about position four?” Position four is absolutely a pulling maneuver because it does attempt to draw in the opposing general or force them to leave the minion alone. However unlike positions one and seven position four allows the opposing general to move in whatever direction they would like to approach the minion. While in our example we are in the middle of the board this is not always the case, and dictating to your opposition which direction they need to maneuver could potentially be important. Because it may matter in other circumstances it is the best practice to position in such a way that limits your opponents options as much as possible. This will take effect later when you are in a situation where it does matter the positioning process becomes automatic and does not consume as much time.

Scouting Maneuvers (Positions Two and Eight)

Scouting ManeuverA scouting maneuver is essentially a combination of a pushing maneuver and a pulling maneuver, but worse than both at each of their purposes. While it does limit your opponent’s ability to move towards you, and it can block off access to a second minion placed behind it (which we will get into in the next course), the position is simply worse than its competitor’s when we are only considering one minion positions.

So why would scouting warrant its own section in what boils down to the one minion positioning article? The main goal of this maneuver is to derive information about how your opponent perceives themselves in this match. When you are first getting started this is usually a binary information gathering maneuver; do they see themselves as the aggro deck or the control deck? If they treat the play as a pushing maneuver they think of themselves as the control deck. If they treat the play as a pulling maneuver they think of themselves as the aggro deck. Pretty simple right? From this description you may think that you would stop playing scouting maneuvers once you had a really good knowledge of the meta game, but this is simply not true. As you develop more knowledge of the meta game you will start playing scouting maneuvers more to gain information about what specific cards the opponent has in their hand and to attempt to bait out critical cards for sub-par plays. The scouting maneuver is the best finesse maneuver you can make and it takes some practice to see what you have gained from it. It is not always the maneuver to use though. Just because it is a good finesse maneuver does not mean you should be using it all the time. If you are using this more than once a game (or twice a game in long games) you are probably using it incorrectly. I am going to end on this note today because getting into the scouting maneuver starts to dive pretty deep into the psychological aspect of competitive games, and that is probably its own topic. For now simply be aware that this is a play that can be made, it does surrender the initiative to your opponent but it is by no means “worthless.”

Today we’ve covered a lot of ground before you take off for the day please try and practice the same thing I recommended yesterday, go out and play Duelyst! Keep in mind what we discussed today and take mental notes of how your different positioning decisions impact what your opponent does on the following turn. Positioning is all about influencing your opponent’s decisions so if you are not paying attention to that what they do you will not reap the rewards of improving your positioning. So take a deep breath, try to internalize what you read today, and then get out there and practice.

Tomorrow we will be covering advanced combat maneuvers, in which we talk about the finer points of two or more minions being placed. As always I hope you have enjoyed the read and I look forward to chatting about the article.

Much Love,

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