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THE WALL OF STEEL AS A BERSERKER

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     This article is for newer players; more experienced managers will, I'm sure, have 
much more sophisticated ideas about warrior design and strategy.  This will enable a 
newbie to design a competent warrior who should be able to achieve a better than 50/50 
record.
     The wall of steel, or "waste," is often considered the second scummiest style in 
Duelmasters.  I love the style, but I don't run mine that way; I prefer to think of 
the waste as a fierce dervish ripping into his opponent like an airplane propeller.  
In accordance with this view, most walls of steel that I design couldn't scum if they 
wanted to (well all right, sometimes it happens by accident if the opposing warrior is 
going all-out and can't last very long).  It's fun to run them fast; they get the jump 
on people who don't expect it of them, and their fights are exciting.  Mind you, they 
don't win as much as if they ran more defensively, but the ones with good stats still 
do okay (I'll make practically anything a waste and run it, but this article isn't 
about the ones that a sane manager would DA).
     So, here is a design for a competent wall of steel:

ST   13+  Needed for endurance, damage doing, and weapon selection.
CN    9+  You need a passably good con for endurance.
SZ    7+  Teeny weenie wastes don't hit hard enough or take enough damage.  Real big 
          (15+) is bad because it hurts endurance.
WT   13+  Preferably 17.  Like any other style, the smarter they are, the better.
WL   17+  Needed for endurance, damage-taking, and sheer grit.  21 is recommended.
SP    3+  Whatever.
DF    7+  Higher deftness is better, but you can get by without it.

     As you can see, these are fairly easy requirements.  Of course, the more wit, 
will, and deftness, the better your waste will be (same as any other style).  If you 
don't end up with at least good endurance on the overview, the warrior probably isn't 
going to do very well.  With that high will, though, you can bump con a couple of 
times and you might get good endurance, so there's still a chance.
     Choose your weapons based on deftness, and your opponent's armor weight.  I 
normally use something like 0-8 SC, 9-12 BS, 13+ GA, backup SC or BS.  No shield.  
Some other good weapons for the waste are QS (only takes 11 ST, and can hit heavy 
armor), MS, and BA.  The war flail isn't a very good weapon, but you can play with it 
against leather armor.  For armor, I usually choose something middling like ARM & H, 
but will go with APL & H if he has a lot of con.
     For strategy--I heard a rumor (NOT confirmed) that a wall of steel gets a bonus 
if his OE equals his KD.  Since I don't like to use a kill desire above 6, I don't go 
by that in the first couple of minutes.  Keep the activity level moderate to low; the 
waste doesn't need to jump around a lot and the way he keeps his weapon moving, he's 
burning a lot of endurance without that added drain.  Attack and defend the arms, like 
a slasher; a waste is a sort of parry-slasher.  A typical strategy for my wastes might 
look like this:

Minute    1    2    3    4    5    6    Desp
Offensive 9    8    7    6    5    5    2
Activity  6    5    4    3    2    1    6
Kill des. 6    6    6    6    5    5    2
Att. loc. RA   LA   RA   LA   RA   LA   RA
Pro. loc. AM   AM   AM   AM   AM   AM   HE
Off tac.  none --   --   --   --   --   --
Def tac.  --   --   --   --   --   --   P

     I play with the numbers a lot, depending on what the warrior seems to like.  For 
example, if he doesn't parry too well, I'll give him a more offensive desperation 
strategy, like 8-4-8-slash.  (If I really like a warrior I sometimes use a 7+ KD to 
try and save his life.)  If he never manages to get the jump on anybody, I'll try 
running him more defensively, like with a first minute of 3-6-3.  It's not as much fun 
as going all out, but it's more fun than losing all the time.
     You can challenge pretty much any style (lungers aren't recommended).  When 
fighting a warrior you know to be very defensive (a TP, or a scummy variety of PS, PR, 
PL, or WS), slow down or you will be scummed.  For the most part, though, an offensive 
waste is very versatile and can beat any style.  The better his important qualities 
are (WT, WL, DF, endurance), the better the quality of warriors he can defeat.  In 
other words, if you have a so-so rollup that barely made the minimum requirements, 
challenge so-so opponents.  If you have a good rollup, go for the gold.  Challenge 
warriors with a few more fights than you, so you'll learn plenty of skills--but don't 
challenge way way up in experience, because it's no fun to lose a good warrior.
     For the most part, train skills--especially on your challenge strategy, when 
you're going after someone with more fights!  And for sure on the first fight, because 
you'll likely be matched against someone who can teach you a lot.  It's okay to train 
con once in a while if you need more endurance and damage-taking; and if you have bad 
luck on the rollup and get "does little damage" or something, you might have to train 
strength once or twice (no more!).  But it's best not to train any other stats until 
way, way down the road.
     Ask your DM sponsor or any experienced manager in your arena for more advice (if 
they tell you I'm full of hot air, they're probably right).  A little bit of good 
advice from a more advanced player can make a big difference in your enjoyment of the 
game!
     If you have any questions or suggestions, you can diplo:  the She-Puppy, mgr. 
Mordant Prison DM-1, and others.
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