I know this might not be the best timing to write a new guide, since the upcoming patch is now upon us. With that being said, I hope that what I discuss in this guide is general enough that it won’t be affected by the new modification and has its place to help other players before or after the patch.
This guide aims to explain the trading and the control of the center as the most essential object in GOL. In a relatively short period of time, new players could well understand the basic mechanics of the game is to trade equally, that is, not to lose a pioneer for your opponent’s warrior, lose a master for a pioneer, a hero for a master, etc. However, this game is not that simple and the calculation cannot be made in such a reductive approach. I’ll first discuss the value system that I use during my game as the reference of counting (I), and in the second part, I’ll talk about the necessity to push forward, especially with your 3R units, even if it might not be a good trade in the beginning (II).
I. Judging the value of your pieces
In chess, although we have the general assumption that all light pieces are valued equally, we could argue that bishop is slightly more important than the knight in most of the scenario. In GOL, the same thing is true. By the time you are reading this guide, you should already know that the hero and the guardian worth 10 morale, master for 3, pioneer for 2, and warrior for 1. Yet you should also have more or less understanding that your units, although in the same rank, do not have the same impact on the game. Moreover, the same rank units from two players should not be seen as equal pieces, unless they are playing the same race and more or less same deck.
I’ll start with the evaluation within your deck. Let me use my Nordur deck as an example:
DECKLIST: Otis Honorsword - Fabyor Allmann - Night Prince, Rudolf Berlof, Volgar The Seer - Ador Icestar, Bjrn The Pathfinder, Cyrill Whitehorn, Janis Seiberg, Jesper Jorgath, Lorik Bormbart, Viktor Traudor - Aegir Bormbart, Aegir Bormbart, Aegir Bormbart, Elmar Wolkrenn, Elmar Wolkrenn, Elmar Wolkrenn, Frallga The Sea Woman, Fyora Flithor, Gantur Laubrock, Liv Brandor, Maaro The Companion, Runa The Seeker, Runa The Seeker, Runa The Seeker, Ulf Bormbart - The Bow of Portheim, The Grey Bear Armor, The shoes of the Shieldbrothers
There are 7 pioneers in the deck, yet most of us can agree that Lorik (8/3/1/3) and Viktor (6/3/3/1) are just better and thus more valuable than the others. The main reason is that the 3M and the 3R units are by far the most important tactical beings in the game right now. The latter provide a safe zone in a given area and the former are, most of the time, the only answers to the latter. The same thing occurs for warriors: although Runa (2/1/3/2) might not have the same amount of damage than the others, her being herself is enough to make some differences to the game. She is important to take down your opponent’s unit without putting her in a dangerous position in the first place.
Another factor is the equipment. You should rate the units with equipment higher than those who do not. For example, the two +1M equipment from Naphas (Luukus) and Nordur (The Shoes of the Shieldbrothers) can either create an additional 3M units or make a 1M unit useable. In the present meta, for instance, Naphas players tend to put the Luukus on Juuk Juz (9/7/2/1), Jask Juz (3/5/2/1, assassination) or Kishk Ora (7/4/2/1) in order to make a powerful 3M unit for which the Naphas lack, or on Orax Juz (3/10/1/1) so that you can benefit from this heavy pioneer that is not easy to stop.
For simplicity purposes, I argue that units with ability should be estimated higher than those who do not, at least in most cases. And not all abilities have the identical worth: some of them are just better than the others. I make a simple indication to explain my point of view of their value.
This ability adjustment also occurs on the hero. Some players argue that hero trade is always an equal option, while one of the goals of this article is also to debunk this myth: No, even though they have theoretical same value in the game, alnarasz eph is just simply more valuable than most of the other heroes.
Imagine there is a game between Alnarasz Eph (10/9/3/1, 2 damage AOE around the target) and Vralak Juz (11/10/2/2, reduce opponent hero's defense by one when slay a unit), and let us just assume that all the other cards are identical. I would note that Alnarasz Eph has a much better chance to win this match if his player does not “waste” his Alnarasz too early. The reason is following: of course this game is complicated and strategically difficult, there is a clear ceiling of the game and some of the experienced players have already come close to it. That is to say, it’s not extremely hard to trade efficiently and “equally” throughout the whole match and go to the end game (when both players have around or less than 10 morale). At that time, the player who owns more 3M units has the better chance to win the game. Alnarasz Eph, in this case, is an additional 3M force that can guarantee to kill a pioneer in the last push, while Vralak Juz has no way to come close to this impact. If the Alnarasz player merely exchanges the hero at the early stage of the game, it actually means he/she abandons the most valuable nature of Alnarasz. Also, if we think about their abilities: the only purpose of Vralak Juz is to kill your opponent’s hero. We should be delightful if your opponent just trades the hero without any other cost from you. On paper, it’s an equal trade, while in reality Vralak Juz has fulfilled his destination yet Alnarasz did not.
To conclude this part, I want to point out that there are some nuances behind the “equal” trade on paper. Neither the same rank units in your deck nor from both sides have universal value. A Night Prince (7/5/3/1) for Juuk Juz (9/7/2/1) with Luukus (+1M equipment) could be a decent trade for you; yet it’s definitely not worth it in itself if you trade for Lasthella (6/7/2/1, manipulation) from arachnids. I can’t discuss all situations here, since it will make this boring guide even more unbearable. However, it’s still worth mentioning that the simple calculation of the morale is over-simplistic and thus incorrect.
II. Strategic push could justify your temporally lost
Beernchips said that this game is all about contesting and threatening, which is a true statement yet not a comprehensive one. Combined with what we have learned from the first section of this guide, we should now understand how to activate the real value of each card.
So what is the “real” value? Basically, as we have deduced in the first part, some units are better than others, and this is not only because of their own strength, but also their potential to make a better impact on the game. Lorik is rather insignificant if he just stays at your front line, yet he can become dramatically more powerful if he can push even one hexagon ahead. Since the latter is such a meaningful strategic privilege to earn, it is thus possible to sacrifice some of your units to gain this advantage.
Let me illustrate this point in a much more concrete way. This was the starting position of one of my games. If we follow the general calculation of the units’ value, we won’t be able to do much here, apart from taking Xico or Thera with your Viktor.
However, this was how I reacted to the game:
As we can see, I traded Lithana (7/6/2/1, pioneer) with my Night Prince (7/4/3/1, master), which was not a good trade in itself, yet it allowed my Lorik and all the other units push forward. This created a huge pressure on my opponent’s left side and made him difficult to deploy his units properly even in the first round. Therefore, although I lost one additional morale from the early trade, I actually benefited more than what I lost at the end. This was a classic example to show that we don’t always have to care about the equal trade every time, but whether it could serve a better strategic purpose. It might be less clear to recognize when it will become an available option, but it should be a concern or lesson that we could learn from once you get familiar with this game.
In this guide, I have discussed some somehow “advanced” technic to enhance your win rate even further. Both evaluate the units in a much more nuanced way and trade your units not merely based on the value of the cards, but the potential of them are crucial to improve in this game. It is not that hard to defeat an experienced contestant, yet it’s also not that easy to crush them constantly. If our victory only rely on their miscalculations, most of the game will just lead to an unbearable length of time with lots of boring exchanges. On the other hand, if we know how to create or forced the mistakes, the game will be much more dramatic and funnier to play.
I hope this guide can be helpful for not only experienced participants but also new guys. Please feel free to ask your question down below or in the discord. I’ll be more than happy to answer and see the GOL community become stronger and vivider.