Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Live replay! Great Gonzales vs Rayje Grand Finals Reegan Memorial Tournament

Hi everyone! We've got a real match going on today - this is the grand finals of the gigantic Reegan memorial 64 man tournament (the effort of running this one near killed him :p), and now we have the epic finale between Great Gonzales playing Council and Rayje playing Dark Elves! You know who I'm rooting for here. =) This game is being played LIVE, and all you gentle readers have now the opportunity to follow this match right here on this blog. So hang on to your seats, because this is going to be one wild ride!

Also, look out for frequent updates - I'll update this post as the players make their turns! Do you think they're making the right choices? See a horrendous mistake coming up? Want to throw legumes from the peanut gallery? Post your thoughts in the thread on the official Robot Entertainment Hero Academy Forums here!

Move 1
A knight and an archer - pretty standard opening. I wonder why GG placed his knight on the attack tile? This map is generally a Team Knock Out kind of map, since the crystals are rather far apart, and the only single gem attack tile is right in the middle of the map, easily controlled by the two attack tiles on either side of the map.That's not to say you can't park a knight on the gem tile and have the archers play peekaboo from behind their own crystals, but that's not so fashionable these days - knights are a lot more killable.

Move 2
Necro, imp and priestess for Rayje. That's a pretty good opening too! Shaping up to be a good match!

Move 3
Now we see why the knight was on the attack tile - by moving one square forward, GG's opened up the attack tile while having it protected by the knight. I'm used to my tanks (VMs) moving 3 squares, so I tend to stick the necros on the power tile first and move the VM up later. Council fans out there, take note! Out comes the cleric, and the trinity of Council powerhouses are on their way!

Move 4
Rayje opts for a very close formation, keeping his units in tight. I'm not so sure that's a great idea, but hey, I got knocked out in the first round of this tournament. ;) His necros are blocking each other, and the VM isn't really protecting anything. I'm curious as to what Rayje has planned...

Move 5
GG advances, as expected, putting the archer on the power tile and moving up in general. He's ignoring his bottom half, I wonder if that's intentional... I guess there's no point in messing with the power necro - the best defense is not be there!

Move 6
Rayje swords his imp and moves more units up, still in a very close formation! The sworded imp now threatens to put a phantom on the gem tile (how annoying), and the other necro is ready to play peekaboo at the bottom crystal. Both players are in very defensive positions, but GG seems to have the edge here - the archer can do a LOT more damage at range. The 2 VMs in front are protecting the squishies well enough, but next turn, either VM can splash both knights and the archer, and then GG will have to spend time healing 3 units. Either way, if Rayje doesn't find a way to get out into the middle and keeps jamming his units in that 3x5 corner of his, sooner or later a wizard or fireball is going to come in and ruin his day!

22 May 2012
Moves 7-12

Move 7
GG takes this lull to score some damage on the top crystal. I'm not sure what to think about this move - you can see it did about 15% crystal damage, at the cost of 5AP. Was that worth it? I'm not sure, to be honest. Unless his hand is completely full of potions scrolls and bombs, I would have developed more of my units.

Art: I agree that this is a seemingly curious choice. Rayje has a pretty substantial development lead already. However, to be effective, DE need to deploy aggressively and create multiple threats -- simple deployment alone doesnt necessarily bring with it the type of latent power that a fully deployed Dwarf team does, for example. Currently, Rayje is deployed passively. The fact that the impaler is upgraded actually makes it hard to generate threat with, because she cant be risked. What GG is saying with his move is that Rayje's deployment looks opitcally complete, but is too passive for imminent action, I have time, prove you can threaten me. I have to believe that Rayje's position has the potential to be transformed into an aggressive one, and that GG is potentially punishable for hsi lack of deployment. I like Rayje's position at this point, but lets see what Rayje comes up with.

Move 8
Rayje takes this opportunity to move up and equip his VM. The top imp appears to be gunning for the archer (possible to killstomp with a scroll), since there doesn't appear to be any other reason why the imp would be there.

Art: The answer is not much. Rayje creates a single threat (on the archer) which is easily dealt with. The upgraded impaler is still buried, doing absolutely nothing. This is a good example of the problems associated with upgrading too early -- unupgraded, and aggressively deployed, the impaler might be a threat, rather than a doormat.

What could Rayje have done? Without more study, I dont have a concrete proposal, but something more aggressive was called for. On the bonus tile the archer takes only 2 shots to kill a voidmonk without an upgrade, 3 to stomp, and that is scary. However, if you advance 2-4 units, it may be possible to create enough threats that GG cant deal with them all. That is what you have to look for in this position anyway. The fact that your opponent only has one deployed offensive unit is a clue that its time to get seriously aggressive. Coupled with Rayje's next move, we see that Rayje does not really have an effective plan here, so this is a good turn to look at for improvement. That said, Rayje still has a nice development lead and the potential to punish GG for his lack of development may remain, depending on what GG does.

Move 9
GG responds by taking more shots at the top crystal and retreating behind HIS top crystal. Hmmm. We're down to about 70% now, but Rayje gets another 5 free AP. The superior range of the archer is really showing itself now, but I wonder if ignoring development like that is going to come back and really bite GG in the butt!

Art: Rayje's last deployment wasnt aggressive/threatening enough, so this is consistent with GG's strategy of making Rayje prove he can create effective threats. The crystal lead isnt huge, and GG is still not developed. Rayje still has time, but aggressive action is called for.

Move 10
Rayje moves a naked VM up to protect the crystal, pre-scrolls the imp and positions to kill the archer. Buuuut.. he made a mistake. Can you see it? :)

Art: Clearly, Rayje was feeling the pressure to do something, but this starts a brutally costly trade that only makes sense if we assume GG has a lousy hand. Did Rayje have temporary blindness, or is he gambling that GG's position collapses without its only offensive unit? I think it will be tough for Rayje to get enough value for the sacrifice, but we'll see. Could Rayje have played VM B2 (2 AP), scroll and attack twice to KO the runemetal archer? Where does the archer go after its healed? If that doesnt work, some combination of advancing other units has to be possible here, GG is just too under-deployed. 

Move 11
GG takes out the fully buffed imp in 2 shots, and chooses to bomb the corpse instead of stomping with the knight, doing significant damage to the lower side of the map. Ouch! Rayje is forced to take the trade to cut his losses.
Move 12
The imp takes the offered trade, and gets retreated to the gem tile. The ball's in GG's court now!

State of play:
So let's take stock of the situation: Rayje's units are all kinda softened and ready for the picking, but GG doesn't have any units ready to go in with. GG definitely needs to think about bringing out more attacking units. On the other hand, he's ahead in the long game, having taken out 3 pieces of equipment and a scroll already. GG is also obviously ahead in the crystal game, but on this map, the hard crystal to take out is the one next to the sword tile, and IMO you'll never get a crystal win on this map unless you were going to take a TKO win anyway. =)

Not having attacking units on the field means it's a lot harder and more inefficient if you are forced to trade units, and loses you control of the board. If you don't have control of the board, you are forced to clump your units up, opening yourself up to VM attacks and providing easy leech targets, and reducing the effectiveness of your own units (units getting in the way of each other means you need more AP to move around and attack). On the other hand, there is nothing really bad about GG's position at this moment - short term, the only real threat is a trade of an imp for a cleric (and remember, Rayje's already lost an imp - losing more imps means loss of burst damage). Important points might be to move the buffed VM diagonally up, so that he can threaten to take the sword tile, as well as having access to the top crystal to take hits when he can. Swording the necro and VM at this point also seem to be super important - note that GG has not yet lost a single helm or shield, which means you need 300 damage units if you want to actually kill anything worth killing. Other than that, the game now depends on what GG has in his hand. :)

At this point, I think GG is solidly ahead.

Art: Its true that the trade was very costly for Rayje, and the damage to his units offsets his development lead somewhat. Still, Rayje has some at least temporary compensation, and may be able to get ahead on crystal and/or create problematic threats. Assuming GG has quality offensive units in hand, GG is probably ahead. Rayje may be gambling that GG does not have deployable offense, based on assumptions about GG's prior play. If Rayje is right, Rayje may well have sufficient or more than sufficient compensation for the sacrifice. However, its very hard for me to believe GG would be nibbling on crystal without offensive units in hand. If Rayje envisioned this position, he may have outsmarted himself, but we'll see.

If GG busts out an effective deployment here and the game goes south for Rayje, I think this sequence of turns will be where things started to go wrong. Conversely, if GG makes a weak deployment or trades tiles, Rayje's gamble may pay off, and it will be GG's play that we will have to examine for errors. 


 Move 13
GG doesn't bring out another archer! Looks like it's a wizard and a shield, and him opening up his sword tile - I wonder what's up with that? GG also knocks the imp back off the gem tile. Perhaps he's thinking of taking out the necros with his wizard and hitting the crystal at the same time, while keeping the sword tile open for a future archer?

Art: Perhaps GG didnt have an archer. If he did, moving up the priestess, deploying the archer to the sword tile and 2 hit KOing the impaler looked pretty attractive to me on initial analysis. Deploying the wizard is not necessarily inferior though given how many of Rayje's units are damaged. Does GG have another sword and scroll, and perhaps a fireball?

Tabby, the sword tile was already open, GG just didnt close this "hole" chosing to use two AP to gain space from the impaler and prevent a kill taking the boost tile. Presumably GG only had the one shield, and needed it for his only offensive unit on the board. If GG can use some combination of threats and defense to catch up in development, he has both a crystal and equipment advantage, and that is what GG is trying to do here. Does leaving the "hole" open create problems? It appears that GG calculated deeply here and concluded it does not.

Tabby: Uh, yeah. Oops. >.> Point still stands though, 2 limbs of a "T" next to a sword tile generally means bad news when VMs are around.

Move 14
No such luck - Rayje spots the open sword tile and goes for it - I would have too, tbh. But 3 hits is a bit odd - you can't inflict lasting damage because of the cleric, and you waste 3 turns attacking when the cleric can spend just 3 turns healing up again. I would have gone for the single hit to threaten a kill next turn, and getting GG to spend 2-3AP healing up.

Art: Squatting on the sword tile and 3 shotting looks optically compelling on first look, but GG comes up with a defensive scheme that leaves us needing to look deep to see if Rayje accomplished anything.

If this doesnt achieve anything, what should Rayje have done? If Rayje really wants to try to create mayhem using the sword tile, querry whether trading the impaler for the priestess on B1 is a reasonable set-up move. Not sure if this achieves anything if GG has another priestess, but it could be looked at.

Another option is to stick the +0 VM on the assault tile and use the +2 VM to wack the wizard 3 times, damaging 3 units and doing 3 boosted hits worth of damage to the crystal? With the priestess blocking the deployment tile, it would take 3 AP to get an archer to the sword tile, if GG even has one. GG could, however, potentially deploy an archer to D4 and shoot 4 times for 1000 damage after armor to the VM. Does that KO the VM, or is the VM over 1000? Even if the VM is over 1000, it could be a worthwhile use of GG's second scroll to kill the VM. So this move scheme is highly risky. If GG doesnt have an archer, or if the VM is over 1000 and GG doesnt has an archer but no sword/scroll, its highly punishing, but if GG has those things, its going to get ugly for Rayje. Still, the same deployment could be looked at with only 2 hits and retreat of the +2 VM to safety. While it doesnt necessarily guaranty maintaining the initiative, at least its a try at fight for it.

So I'm currently not seeing anything overly compelling that Rayje could have done, and it may well be that Rayje's move was as good as any. In fact, although GG seemingly comes up with an effective defense to the move Rayje actually played, it causes a subtle redeployment of GG units that may be helpful to Rayje. We'll look at this more below.

Move 15
GG spends his turn healing up and knocks Rayje off the sword tile. Was move 13 just a fantastic bait by GG? In retrospect, maybe, but I sure would have fallen for that. Still, Rayje can retreat with ease and get 4AP advantage. Not so bad.

Art: The priestess on the deployment tile can be taken, but if it is, the VM falls to the warrior doing 300 damage a hit (VM cant be pushed onto the deployment tile so the warrior doesnt need to chase). So the VM needs to leave.

Lets look at a variation of the dual VM deployment we looked at above. Rayje can take the bonus tile with the +0 VM, move the +2 VM to B4, and attack x3. Given that the sword tile and eployment tile are blocked, an archer is no longer a risk. Its true that a Ninja could still be problematic if Rayje doesnt have a Soul Harvest and the VM is at or below 1000 health, but this may be a risk that Rayje can live with to get some mayhem going. I think Rayje needs to try this, and that if Rayje can maintain initiative for a bit, it could be Rayje pressing for a crystal win.

Move 16
Rayje indeed retreats and brings out more units. Lots of naked units for Rayje means lots of potential sacrifice material - except for a wizard, I feel that a 1-1 naked trade with any CL unit is a net win for DE - naked DE units just aren't that useful, apart from the imp of course.

Art: I dont like Rayje's move here. Without the initiative, Rayje is behind on crystal and gear. The wizard is obviously a threat to gain initiative and do more crystal damage, and passive deployment is therefore problematic. I think Rayje needed to try the dual VM idea I proposed above, and that Rayje's deployment here hands GG the kind of edge that can often be worked into a win.

Tabby: Actually now that I look at it, maybe the VM should have taken a shot at the "T" and forced many heals. That's a big AP advantage that Rayje passed up. So I would have spend one more AP to do that instead of say, bringing out the second priestess.

Move 17
GG goes for the bottom crystal - the most important crystal on this map for Rayje. Together with a fireball, GG manages to get it down to half health, and KO the necros. Rayje's options are limited at this point: He MUST either take care of the knight or the wizard, or the bottom crystal will almost certainly be killed in the next 2 turns. The shield on the wiz means that the imp needs 4 hits to kill - ouch. Same with the knight - 4AP (I think). At least the imp doesn't need to move to take out the knight, though. And the necros, well, no time to save the necros, unfortunately. =( Oh dear...

GG also trades a tile, which could be important if he doesnt have much back up. GG's crystal lead is now fairly problematic. Counsel doesnt often lose to DE with this type of crystal lead and an otherwise acceptable position.

Rayje is in a dificult spot.

Move 18
Rayje decides to take out the knight, but doesn't stomp, deciding to equip the imp instead! I'm... conflicted. My initial response was OMG WHY DIDN'T YOU STOMP but after considering this move for some time, it's a very crafty move. With the gem, the imp is now full health and 880 HP, preventing a 4AP kill by Wizard. At the same time, if GG moves up to rez knight, the wiz can only get 2 shots off on the crystal, leaving a very weak knight on the gem tile and a cleric right up next to the VM for easy pickings. It's a smart move, a very corner cutting move that Rayje needs if he wants to get back in the game. But at the same time, it's very.. unsettling to me. Assuming a pot, Wiz gets 3 more shots off, leaving the bottom crystal 2-3 tile assisted hits away from death. Only 1 more necro, so the power tile is going to be pretty useless if the bottom crystal is smashed - that side of the board can be pretty much ignored. On the other hand, the board looks reallly weak for GG - no development at all! GG is committed to the gem kill now, I think - if he takes the time to bring out more units and equip them, Rayje's units are going to lock GG down by sheer numbers. Wizards can pierce units, but remember that there's damage falloff nowadays, and that's assuming that GG can even get control of the crystal tile. I would definitely park a VM on that tile now, and trade with anything to stop the loss of that tile.

Art: I am not clear Rayje had any great choices, and this might have been the lesser evil. Rayje is still maintaining a development lead, and GG has no clear counter. The wizard to the sword tile, runemetal, scroll and hit the bottom row is certainly intriguing, but a soul harvest, scroll kill of the wizard wouldnt be helpful to GG. Nonetheless, I keep coming back to the fact that Rayje is 50% on crystal, and the trading battle has thus far favored GG. Rayje still has decent chances, but GG has the kind of edge that is often sufficient for a win. Rayje will need to find a way to use the remaining development lead to start ramping up the pressure. 


Move 19
GG moves his cleric up and rezzes the knight, moves the wiz forward for a few more hits on the bottom crystal. No necro to take the sword tile - sigh! GG is looking to close this one out quick!

Art: This far behind in crystal, with Rayje having nothing like a defensive shell to protect the crystals, and no upgraded units out, GG is thinking its time to RUSH. GG is still lightly developed, but Rayje needs to immediately lock down the center tile and kill that wizard to have any chance at all.

Move 20
Rayje kills the knight with 2 hits from the imp, and summons the wraith to stomp. The last AP, he chooses to stand between the wizard and the crystal, probably to cause splash damage reduction on the crystal, and to ensure that the wizard dies if GG pushes for the crystal.

Art: Rayje realizes that GG is in crystal rush mode. Rayje should keep in mind that GG can still segway to the long game if needed, but offering the unupgraded wraith for the upgraded wizard is safe...GG has no interest in such a trade.

Move 21
GG indeed does push the wraith off, takes the crystal tile, and does more damage to the bottom crystal.

If GG should lose, he clearly could have played slower, developing and setting up for a longer game. I'd be surprised if that happens, but just saying that playing more slowly and setting up for a more coordinated rush was an option.

Move 22
Raybe decides to stomp with the VM instead of eating, which means that it's going to be very hard for GG to dislodge the VM and control the gem tile again.

Art: Rayje does need to lock down the tile, so this is probably the right move. Still, the wizard is the only real offensive unit, and its going to attack effectively. So killing the wizard had to be seriously looked at, even if it probably would not have helped.

Move 23
GG takes the open sword tile with the wiz, and deals another 10% to the bottom crystal and severely damages the wraith and the imp. The bottom crystal is effectively lost at this point, I think. Notice that the additional units brought out in Rayje's back row haven't been touched, and effectively aren't there at all - this is a sign that Art was right, and these units weren't critical at this point - preventing all that crystal damage was!

Art: Important question: under what circumstances does Council lose a game with this type of crystal lead? Answer: where Council is out of wizards and fireballs, and one crystal can be surrounded with a shell. That almost never happens, its very hard to pull off. Council can also lose on units, BUT GG has enough units/equipment that a unit loss would be a big surprise, and probably the result of a strategic failure.

With so little development, GG's rush may superficially look a little like a noob rush. However, it clearly isnt -- GG used careful positioning and cautious nibbling at first, and was able to build a nice crystal lead before starting a sacrificial run. Rayje didnt waste too much time with insufficiently aggressive redeployments, but Council doesnt need all that much gifted time to successfully rush. Currently, GG hasnt sacrificed much at all to get here, and Rayje does not have an overly dominating board position, with well deployed and equiped units. If Rayje starts to spend time building a shell, and it looks like that can be pulled off, GG can always bring out another runemetal archer with proper support and play a little more slowly.

Rayje's best chance is probably to keep equipping units, try to get completely dominating board position, dont give GG time to assemble a multiunit coordinated rush, and hope GG overextends and comes up just short. Alternatively, if the last wizard can be killed, there is an outside chance that a shell can be assembled in time. This position is probably a win for GG, and I expect GG basically put on a clinic showing how you close out with a big crystal lead.

Move 24
Rayje finally gets to deal with the wiz, and takes the time to upgrade the imp and stomps with the VM. Now the field is... 2 clerics on one side, and a whole army including 2 very upgraded units on the other. Dicey! By my count the fireballs have been used up, so Rayje doesn't need to worry about those, but is 20% crystal health enough to hang on for the 10+ turns more that Rayje needs to get a TKO?

I'm not optimistic for Rayje, but he does have a legitimate shot at this. GG may never get the gem tile back, but has a LOT of units to throw at these crystals, including a potentially scrolled ninja still in the deck. At 3 move, it's really hard to block a ninja. :p A sworded wizard can also do a lot of damage even if the crystal tile is off limits.

Art: If GG has no fireballs, its true that is good for Rayje, and the development gap is huge. However, if GG still has wizards, archer, ninja, runemetal and scroll left, its probably over.

Lets watch how GG plays this -- lot to be learned here about closing out a game.


EDIT: Updated with commentary!

Move 25
Archer moving up, in position on the sword tile, and a ninja on the deploy tile, buffed with a sword. A ninja with a sword is dangerous to crystals, even if you can't control the gem tile - 600 raw damage is no joke, especially with a scroll!

Move 26
Rayje responds by making a shell around the top crystal, which he really has to do in order to survive. The wraith takes one for the team, and blocks for the fully buffed VM.

Move 27
GG takes out the wraith and moves a wizard into position. GG wants to take the gem tile and start zapping, keeping in mind that if Rayje takes the crystal tile or places a unit anywhere within 3 squares of the archer, that unit is probably toast.

Move 28
Rayje takes the crystal tile with a relatively disposable but sturdy unit (the VM!) and continues to build the shell around the top crystal. Notice that now, GG has to break the shell before he can attack the crystal directly. The buffed imp can also threaten to take out units and retreat, but..

Move 29
The archer takes out the imp with a scroll. Ouch! A gamble taken, but which unfortunately did not pay off. Without a quick way of taking out units, Rayje is in a far worse position. Now, none of Rayje's units can take out the wiz in less than 4 hits, which is painful! Also, Rayje is forced to deal with the archer before doing anything else, otherwise, the archer can easily take out the necro or priestess.

Move 30
Rayje chooses to buff the VM, kills the archer, phantoms the corpse, and moves it up to help block. In the de-brief, Rayje mentions that he perhaps ought to have sworded the necro instead of the VM, and I tend to  agree. Notice how the VM, where it's standing now, can't actually hit anyone, and is unlikely to be in a position where he can hit anyone. =)

Move 31
GG swords and shields his wiz, and starts zapping, even without the gem tile. With the shield, 200 damage physical damage units need way too many hits to kill a wiz. A wiz has 10% innate magic resist, so the necro can't do it either. But still, with a helm in hand, swording the necro wouldn't have made a difference either way.

Move 32
Rayje has to shuffle VMs around just to get into a position where he can take some hits on the wiz. And the Wiz is still there!

Move 33
GG drops a potion on the Wiz and keeps going. Remember the shield! at 20% resist, a 300 damage unit needs 4 hits to drop a 880 HP unit. But even if Rayje stomps, there is almost no way that he can stop the ninja from running to the back of the crystal and dealing what I think would be the final hit.

Move 34
Rayje chooses not to stomp, and spends 1 AP on raising the priestess instead. He doesn't know that GG has a pot, of course, but even then, moving a cleric up and raising that way would I think deal enough damage to finish off the crystal. And there's still the ninja in the back...

Move 35
And there we have it, the top crystal is gone, and the bottom crystal is soon to follow...

Move 36
Rayje tries (in vain) to protect the bottom crystal...

Move 37
... but the ninja takes it.

And that's a wrap! Brutal crystal rush from start to finish - looks like my initial analysis of this map never ending in a crystal kill was a bit off eh? ;) Very interesting decision making from GG and Rayje during the course of this match, a very subtle match with the one key highlight being the loss of the buffed imp. Which really, was a gamble that was made and lost, rather than an outright mistake. Of course, everyone has 20/20 hindsight XD.

Good games both, and a fitting end to an epic tournament! :)


  1. Enjoying this. When's the next instalment?

  2. The next installment will be ready when it's ready! :p they're going at a pretty good clip, so I expect the next update to be sometime during the weekend or early next week!