Various thoughts regarding battling and battles
Greetings, people of Tamriel!
I am Empire Oathman, a 4 Magicka source of power and health for the strong-willed and agile.
This Hearthfire I wanted to try and seize the first Legend rank, commonly known as #1. Commanders who have maintained this position when the season ends are known as the best of the best, the most terrifying opponents you could meet on the battlefield. Meeting a wonderful combatant, like eyenie, RossPierrDol, amongst others, ought to make you shiver if your primary goal is to emerge victorious. To be on this list is an honor and a privilege for anyone. I have put up a fair fight. Seizing the first position for some time, then losing it, starting to tumble down, until eventually I reached my lowest point, both in terms of ranking and mentality, from which the only way was upwards. This has happened twice. This experience has been not unlike a series of important lessons, which I consider worthy of sharing.
The first one that I want to share with you is rather simple. Do not lose yourself.
Blaming the course of battle, the formation, your opponent or fortune itself will not improve your situation. Calmly reassessing what actually have caused your demise in this given battle, however, can lead to valuable experience and could pave you a way to success.
Your frustrations, regardless of how justified they could be, are not going to strengthen your performance as a commander. If you are at any point thinking that you “deserve a better start” or “deserve better fortune”, it is best to clear your mind before attempting to battle. It is an advice that you hear often in this situation, I know I have, and it did not sound reasonable at the time, however it truly is the best action you can take at this point.
Starting a series of battles with your mind devoid of negative perception of reality has resulted in some truly wonderful streaks of victories. Even though both have made me happy, one has certainly been more fulfilling. I shall describe both right away.
First one was a result of me leading a Crusader formation. It was not unlike the formation I have chosen for some of my Warpmeta tournament battles, however its structure has been changed to accomodate a bigger amount of Nord Firebrands. This meant three natural fighters as well as two Raiding Parties. In tandem with Shrewd Strategist, one could achieve unconceivable amounts of damage no opponent could withstand easily. This strategist, naturally, had more uses – improving further Mudcrabs for Old Salty’s Assault, making Candlehearth Brawlers even more of a threat than they were or simply adding power and bulk to other soldiers in the army, albeit… using some questionable means… I understand the fright devouring a fellow soldier would bring upon others who witness this, but surely there is a better way? At any rate. I have provided a code for this formation in a separate letter on Twitter, but I do not believe it belongs in this article, simply because the victory streak it has achieved was arguably a lot more lucky than I initially assumed.
I would like to call happiness that came as a result of this streak of victories, where fortune favors you greatly, an empty victory, making it the second lesson. While by no means a result of cheating – it is very likely that it came from correct actions taken in each battle, at least for the most part – it does not improve you as a combatant. One that activates your adrenaline and reduces your thinking to minimum. There is no positive experience coming from these victories. Quite the opposite – you might become a worse combatant thanks to this. Your brain starts to think that all you need to ascend in ranks continuously is a generous dose of fortune, being able to develop the exact kind of soldiers you want at just the right time. After all, your formation has worked tremendously in the past! You have shown to be a capable commander in your past battles, surely it is luck that affects how I perform!
This assessment, personally, has been fixed yesterday. I have ascended from rank #21 to #3 with this formation:
I won 15 out of 16 battles that I fought with it, losing only to what seemed to be, funnily enough, my own Empire of Cyrodiil formation from the same Twitter letter. But how was this different than the previous series of victories? Was it not a tale of who has obtained the Ring of Magicka and started the battle with a right set of soldiers? Not at all.
Many a time, in my worst times, I would consider majority of the battle beginnings yesterday as subpar. Being forced to send forth a soldier without anyone to back them up a day later or approaching the fight slower than usual, due to expectations that opponent’s attribute combination would impose. This is where the thinking has begun. If the first to emerge from my side was about to be Mournhold Traitor and I could not protect it from harm in following turns, I directed him to the Shadow lane to mitigate the loss of a soldier of this calibre. That way I presented my opponent with a dilemma right away – should they chase that soldier down or is it better to establish dominance in the Field lane? I should stress, however, that this was my decision only when I knew they would die swiftly. Taking control of the Field lane is key in any battle. This way you are capable of responding to your opponent’s moves right away, rather than having to delay this by a day and risking losing the battle due to an advantage enemy’s soldiers would represent.
Sometimes I had the opportunity to hide my intentions until the very next day. A key to this was Morag Tong Aspirant. Whether it was put in Field or Shadow lane depended entirely on my opponent’s attribute combination and the tools at my disposal. Sometimes, expecting no Warded soldiers, I put it in the Field lane, only for the opposing Barrow Stalker or Skinned Hound to be taken down by the Aspirant with Gavel of the Ordinator. Sometimes the Shadow lane was its original destination, which gave my opponent false sense of safety in the field lane, where I then Shadow Shifted my unit to reclaim the lane.
I also did not do damage beyond what I could respond to, in case of Prophecies. Not seldom was starving opponent out of resources by providing increasing amount of soldiers that warranted a response right away – Fifth Legion Trainer, Empire Recruiter, Young Mammoth, Cornerclub Gambler, Ahnassi, Clivia Tharn herself. The list could go on forever and double in size against formations capable of conjuring an Ice Storm. It got to the point where just the fact that the creature was very Agile lead to its end sooner than anything else only to prevent me from entering the battlefield.
Between calmer mindset, decisions I made during a given game that were rewarded with a victory and overall a calmer strategy, I have found myself back in top ranks in no time. At the time of writing this, the season of Hearthfire is going to end in 19 hours. Despite my initial plan to acquire #1 position, I reckon yesterday I have fought my last set of ranked battles this month. I realized how much better the battles go when the mind is focused on one task, can correctly predict majority of opponent’s moves and correctly decide your own ones, but I have also contemplated my achievements. I have reached a spot within the first 10 before. I have managed to emerge victorious against both eyenie and RossPierrDol this Hearthfire. I have influenced other combatant’s formation choices, both in ranked battles and tournament battles – first with the aggressive Battlemage army, now with the Empire of Cyrodiil formation being one of the most popular in yesterday’s Warpmeta. I have done a lot.
This is my last lesson that I shall describe in this letter. Never forget your true achievements. You are most likely a better combatant than you think you are. Write them down if you have to. If you believe you can do better than that at this time, similarly to me at my lowest points, then give it an honest try, but be wary of causing short-term damage to your own mentality in the process.
I hope what I have written has been of use to any of you reading this.
Glory to the Empire!