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Thursday, October 27, 2016

Wild and Wonderful Walls

When I started playing Tak, I thought that walls were just something you used when you were out of options...a desperate attempt at delaying defeat. But, the more I play, the more uses I see for walls. Almost all games at higher levels employ at least a wall or 2 on either side. I would like to learn to use walls more effectively, but for that, I needed to find out some of the uses I see others applying.

Everyone knows that Tak has walls. But, these are not your Momma’s walls. These walls don’t just sit in the garden and look pretty. Tak walls are antsy and schizophrenic--they rarely sit still and you never know which personality is going to rise to the surface. Below, I have attempted to categorize the wall personalities that I have come across. I’m sure there are more, and I welcome your additions.

Detour Walls – placed at the end of a linear run of opponent’s road to force a detour or abandonment of his road. This wall can easily turn into a Hoarding Dragon Wall if the opponent tries to circumvent the wall. Or, another type of wall can be placed a turn later to hamper progression of opponent’s road.

Deputy Walls – placed with the intention or threat of flattening with your capstone to create a deputy.

Lurker Highwaymen Walls (thank you r/tak user humanalog) – placed beside a linear run of road with intention or threat of moving on top of the road. I’ve heard some people call these “assassin walls”. That name sounds cool, but there is nothing stealthy about them...I think of them more as potential muggers that just need the slightest prod to attack :)

Peeling Walls – placed beside a single capture stack with intention or threat of peeling opponent pieces off to free prisoner. I believe Asgardiator called them Lego Block Remover Walls. I just tried to shorten the name.

Dragon Walls – placed to take control of a stack and sit on a dragon :) There are 2 kinds: Flying and Hoarding. Flying Dragon Walls have 1 or more of your own recruits underneath and have the intention or threat of flying across the board, raining down fire and destruction to your enemies…umm...I mean...leaving flats of your influence behind them. The second kind is the Hoarding Dragon Wall. This wall (sometimes called a Hoover Wall) gathers and sits on a stack of opponent’s pieces and contemplates how awesome gold is.

Bouncer Walls – placed in between opponent’s grouping of pieces and your own as a blocker. Especially effective against opponent’s Flying Dragon Walls.

Cap Trip Walls Hurdlestones (thank you r/tak user humanalog) – placed with intention or threat of tripping up opponent’s capstone. This only works if the capstone does not have a deputy. Opponent cannot flatten your wall without leaving a stack in your control behind it.

Notice the wording “intention or threat of” in the examples above. A wall does not have to perform the intended action to threaten it. It may never move from the spot that you put it. But, it can intimidate your opponent into shifting his focus elsewhere and give you some breathing room to contemplate your next moves.

 Always remember that there is a flat count cost for deploying a wall and a flat count cost each time you move it. So, make sure your walls are placed in relevant spaces and you would not be better served by placing a flat or capstone. Also, keep in mind, a wall cannot be built through by either side. So, be aware that what looks like a good move to stop your opponent can turn into a roadblock for your own road threats. Skilled opponents will use this to their advantage and build their own initiative while you figure out how to build around your own wall.

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