The Mentor Match – FAQ

(note: this FAQ is an ongoing process and will be adjusted as we learn new things)

How do you know if a new Mini Match is a Mentor Match?

Answer: When you open the match, a message tells you.


How do I create a Mentor Match?

Answer: You start a random Mini Match. Then if you are a Grand Duke and the other player is a Lance (or less) – then a Mentor Match is automatically created.


What is a mentor Match?

Answer: A special training match between a new player and a Grand Duke. The Duke is playing to win the match, but also giving the new player as many unit kill/rout/point opportunities as possible. The higher the new player score, the more Mentor Points the Duke receives. But The Duke must win the match in the end to receive them. For the Duke to earn mentor points, new player must get between 4 and 9 pie points (red,yellow or blue), the higher the better. 


This message shown at end of match just before the Mentor Points Awarded message.

So what do I do first as a Mentor?

Answer: Kill a couple units to get things under control. Then dramatically cut back on flanking moves and attacks that remove new player pieces from the board. You need new player pieces on the board so that they can earn your mentor points. Make many big mistakes and see if the new player properly capitolizes on them. But don’t give away the farm. You must win in the end so you have to carefully gauge the new players skill level and just try to have fun with the training. Ideally – let them have spectacular kill opportunities. Let them grape shot you!  Let them charge and flank and rout your units. They need the experience taking out units. You need the Mentor Points. It’s win win.

What are typical Mentor mistakes?

Answer: Killing too many new player units early on. It will be awkward later when you want the remainder to kill your units and they just don’t have the manpower.

Don’t try to teach tactics at this point. Don’t play perfectly. Don’t overly protect your flanks. Show weakness. They can’t learn to capitalize on mistakes if you don’t make any. Every mistake you make is a great learning opportunity for them.

Playing perfectly with an aggressive attack and a rock solid defence is the worst thing you can do (unless it’s temporary because you are outnumbered).

One of the biggest mistakes is forgetting that you are training your own troops. Still thinking of the new player as the enemy. What is actually happening is you are training your second in command. If you don’t let him kill in every way possible, fill his gaps in knowledge then that will come back to haunt you on the battlefield. Think of him as the one who will soon have your back. Commanding half your forces. Is he not flanking properly?  Then lock a unit with it’s ass facing him so that he learns that 3 hits on the rear makes the unit go bye bye. Make sure he knows how to grape shot and charge. You already know that he knows how to die. Teach him how to kill. Do the full gauntlet of kill exercises, over multiple matches if necessary. Just let him make more kills. How hard can it be?

Actually it’s pretty hard because you have to also win. When you win a mentor match after letting the trainee grape shot you, charge you and flank and rout you many times, it shows that a commander of your caliber can take a severe beating and still come out victorious. It shows there is more to the winning than just man counts. It inspires them to not give up when it seems hopeless. Try to show them something impressive in the end game when you win wth just a few weak units.

Treating all Mentor Matches the same is a mistake. Many matches will be wildly different depending upon the new players current skill level. Often Mentor Matches will just be normal matches where you will struggle to get mentor points. What you have to be on the lookout for is the weaker new players. The weaker new players are really the whole point of the Mentor Match, not the stronger new players. What often happens is you play a few tough mentor matches and forget to tone down your attacks when you finally get a weak new player. Then they get crunched way too fast and you lose out on the rare opportunity to do an easy Perfect 4 point Mentor match with a final score of (10-9).

What would be the greatest Mentor Possible?

Do what this FAQ suggests but additionally play detective. Try to discover what knowledge the new player is missing. Then maybe present units in such a manner than they can learn to fix this weakness. If that’s impossible then maybe mention something to them. If they can improve play because they played a Grand Duke Mentor that noticed something and helped them, they will be grateful. I will be grateful. Our community will be grateful and your mission would be complete.

But this is completely optional. The priority is giving them more experience with removing your units from the board in various ways. You would be surprised how much difference that makes for the brand new new player. It’s huge!

Do I have to chat with the player?

It’s not necessary at all. But if they ask you anything then try to answer. Chances are they won’t even know it’s a Mentor Match and will just be playing normally. It does not say ‘Mentor Match’ on their side.  (I might change that soon)

What is the scoring chart?

First the DUKE MUST WIN and score 10 pie pieces. Otherwise below doesn’t count.

Trainee PIES Scored: (with your help)

  • 4-6  (PAYS 1 MENTOR POINT)
  • 7       (PAYS 2 MENTOR POINTS)
  • 8       (PAYS 3 MENTOR POINTS)

The Mentor Points awarded message. In this case the Score was 9 for New Player and 10 for the DUKE.

(note: Currently if the new player exceeds the rank of Lance while in the middle of the mentor match, no mentor points will be awarded at the end.)

Why not just let new players matchup with only new players?

We already tried that and the problem is there are not enough daily new players to have someone to play. Also some new players just stop playing and the match just waits forever. Sometimes there many hours or even days between match-ups. Then reviews would appear like “Great game, nobody online to play unfortunately’.

What does the new Leaderboard Look like?


Will the TOP SCORES of this new leaderboard be on the main page of the iPad?

Yes, but not in the initial 1.81 version.

How often will we get to see a Mentor Match?

Not often. This last week we averaged only 24 new mini match starts a day. Out of that maybe 2-4 a day were potential Mentor Matches. When you snag a Mentor Match you should think of it as a precious match.

What is a real example of real mentor match?

I myself was lucky to snag one on the first day and play it through to completion. It was a lot tougher than I expected. The new player had decent skills AND an extra handicap unit.

The player made only one minor mistake which combined with my extensive play experience (and luck) would probably have resulted in a (10-2) final score. However instead I tried to let him get some kill experience and boost his score first. It was hard. I had to UNDO at least 7 times each round and re-think how to not let him win and not let myself win too early.

The new player seemed to know that I was playing a mentor match and deliberately avoided my base, knowing that taking the base would give me my mentor points and cause me to cache out and win. I was surprised about this extra layer of complexity and so found myself really enjoying the match a lot more than expected.

At times I was concerned if I could win or not. It took a lot of will power to hold back my most offensive attacks and stay the course. Owning a base really helped.

I had to finally take the win (a base) when the new player made a good move and got 6 points and was going to win with a base in the following round. The final score was  (7-10) and I scored 2 mentor points. It was a good match for both of us. The new player got to experience killing 7 units in just 1 match with another player. A dramatic improvement over our existing system.

I’m pumped!  How can I help?

Try to leave a match waiting in the random Mini queue. That way when a new player comes they don’t have to wait. Then try to play out the match in real time if possible. A lot of new players are new to online turn based matches and don’t get get the concept of the waiting. So ideally the first match or two with them introduces them to the concept. Likewise just playing lots of mini matches helps. Updating your written review makes it show up when people look at the reviews. I think you can update an existing review just by re-saving it. Those of you good with video can make videos of some aspect you think would be good to share. I can host those videos on the blog in a new video section if that happens. And of course going for a perfect 4 point Mentor Match whenever you can would be a great help.

We all love a good fight. Lets see if we can battle this problem together and elevate the Musket Smoke community. I don’t expect to quit my day job anytime soon, but it would be a dream to get to work on Musket Smoke full time and perhaps make sequels. That hope is a distant unlikely dream, but it never hurts to try.

First lets make the community healthy and growing again and then maybe add some new instructional videos.

Why should I help?  I just want to play normal Musket Smoke.

Our pool of players is gradually shrinking. If the community doesn’t start growing then I may stop supporting Musket Smoke – eventually. If a new version of iOS breaks the game then Musket Smoke could suddenly be gone with the wind..

It’s a small price to pay. Maybe 1 in 10 matches will be a Mentor Match. Do your part. Be an honourable Duke. Also support Musket Smoke by updating your written review every time a new version comes out. This helps to help draw in new players and gives you more Mentor Matches.

If you guys really help make the community grow then I will be inspired to gradually add new features as spare time permits: For example:

  • Features to reduce defensive play tactics. (fragile artillery, looming rainclouds)
  • A public chat board where we can chat with each other like as if it were a board-game night. Players who are Friends can also private chat with each other directly outside of matches.
  • A normal in-match chat function where you can back and forth as much as you like no matter who’s turn it is.
  • Activity page  – a list of current battles being waged (who vs who, which battle).
  • Ability to save full replays to iCloud and watch later. Even if you delete the match.
  • New Mini Match Maps.
  • More refinements and bug fixes.
  • Eventually maybe even a new campaign (further down the road).

Can I get more info about this somewhere else?

Yes. There is another post on this here. Dukes vs New Players – The perfect match?

One response to “The Mentor Match – FAQ

  1. Pingback: Dukes vs New Players – The perfect match? | Musket Smoke

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