Tutorial 1 – Setup Strategy
Part 1 of 3: Balanced and Defensive setups
We all have our favourite setups, and we all like them for different reasons. I believe this is a good topic for the first tutorial as your setup is your solid base from which to build your game; It is amazing how 1 or 2 flaws in your setups can let the rest of your game down. I hope this tutorial helps you realise flaws you may have and also lays down a few fundamentals to help you make good setups on the fly.
The more you improve and gain confidence the more you will try things, often resulting in crazy setups that look like they should never be used. Though these have reasons why they are the way they are, we are going to look first at more standard setups then move to more advanced methods of implementing bluff, attack, defence, and most importantly, surprise into your setups.
Based on my own experiences these are some of the general ways to make a good balanced setup:
Bomb in your flag, either corner or tripod is fine
Keep atleast 3 miners in the back 2 rows (4 is preferable)
Back front row pieces up with ranks 3-4 ranks higher (i.e. back up lieutenant with a major or a colonel)
Put all 3 majors in the front 2 rows, have atleast 1 in the back 2
Bomb off centre
Have more than 2 high bombs
Bomb in pieces higher than a sergeant
Have catch points where an opponent can entirely block off piece movement (mostly applies to endgame)
Based on these principles I have made a setup off the top of my head.
Now this setup is a bit rough, but it does include a good number of the basic elements that make up good setups. As you can see the front row scouts are backed up by sergeants or captains which are backed up by general and colonel. The setup offers good manoeuvrability for endgame and overall is not too bad for defense, or an offensive up the centre or down the right lane.
It’s time to tailor this to suit your own style, I will start with defensive options using a style of setup making (analysing each small part) that I like to use. A few of the previous principles still apply such as bombed in flag and backing up pieces but some tweaks will help a lot if you plan to play defensively.
I think that playing a good defensive game is about having a setup that is easy to move pieces around in, and also about how much information you give away/how much you can hide. Say for example the captain on the right, it’s fine there but if a lieutenant comes down and takes the scout, you take it with captain, your colonel is now exposed for a scout at I7.
A simple fix for this is to move the colonel behind the lake. This makes it harder to use the marshal on your right side, but it is better for keeping info down.
After each adjustment you should do a small analysis on what you have just changed and whether there is more adjustment needed.
Looking at this again there is a small thing I would change, I would swap the captain at I4 for the lieutenant at J2. The reason for this is that front row pieces often don’t survive long, and its better to be a lieutenant down rather than a captain.
However, this means that a captain coming down your right could hit J4, then J5 before you can swap captains. To solve this, you will have to play that lieutenant moves up one and you slot the colonel in behind it. Both methods of captain and lieutenant should work fine, you may want to try both and see what works best for you.
I think that’s enough adjustment on the right for now, let’s move to check the centre.
The centre is quite well set up for defensive play IMO, but it does allow you to quickly bring out the marshal if you see an opportunity to trap a valuable piece. You can either choose to leave the centre to play out, and let captains or lieutenants take the scout or sergeant, and take it from there, or you can move sergeant up and put major behind it, or move scout up and put marsh behind it, all of which are good options.
The only thing I might change is the miner. Having 1 high miner is not bad, but here it is not going to be used as more than a discovery piece, which is something I don’t think miners should be used for at all, leave that to the scouts.
The other benefits of swapping that miner is in the scenario where you use the scout at F4 to identify a piece, you find it’s a sergeant, he manages to swap serges, then captains end up swapping; not only do you have another piece to replace the captain, but you also are able to leave the miner near your flag until the end of the game; maintaining setup shape to keep your opponent guessing.
Let’s move on to the left side.
It is not too bad, but for me I can see that this could lead to some tricky situations that can make it very, very hard for you. Say he brings down a captain, you swap captains and eventually he ends up in some way or another with his marshal at B3.
This is very tricky for you, if you try to bluff the spy (C2-C3?) he traps your gen by B3-B4 or if you actually try to use spy he may or may not call it and just take the spy. If you try to clear out the centre to bring your general across, it leaves the major at B2 very unprotected and also the spy quite vulnerable. If you sit and wait he could diffuse the bomb, and then bring down a lieutenant or captain and take the sergeant, which will (in one way or another) result in the loss of the major.
If you do use a setup similar to this and get in this situation then there is not much really that you can do but maybe just sit tight and hope for the best and if you get an opportunity to get your general into the lane (blue B3-A3 after diffusing bomb) make sure you go for it and keep diagonal.
Of course, the easy way around this is just to change whole side of this setup .
For myself I decided the bomb had to go and did a complete re-arrange, just take a little time to think through brand new ideas and don’t hold onto your original plans for your setup, sometimes you just have to go back and redo a whole part or even the entire setup.
Finally take a look at the setup as a whole and see if there is anything that you would change, after all, you don’t have to rearrange with just the pieces close by.
I’m pretty happy with the setup overall, now its time to test it out. IMO you should always test in RANKED games. My reason for this is that I find myself playing different with known opponents/friends and often I will do things that may not help reflect my setups true potential. Some setups are just not suited to your opponent’s playstyle.
Just to wrap this part up, make sure that when testing you try to think what went wrong/right (recording your game for analysis is great), i.e. was the sergeant at B4 ok? Should you swap it to B3 with the scout? Where seems to be the best start for this setup? I4-I5? E/F4-E/F5? A/J4? Try to remember these things when playing and get confident with the setup.
Here are a few more examples to try/get ideas from.
Another standard style defensive setup
A defensive setup with a bit of extra flair.
Please note: all of the setups used in this tutorial have NOT been tested at all and may have flaws (hopefully only small) in them.
If you have any suggestions, comments or questions please feel free to ask them in my other thread found here: http://forum.strateg...-and-questions/
Alternatively, you can send me a PM but if it is a general question I think it is better that it is a public post so that all may learn/benefit from it.
Gl with your games,
Special thanks to Morx for his Setup Editor and Tilor for Editing.
Edited by Losermaker, 2 weeks ago.