Monday, December 23, 2013

TAST4 Finals Game Replay: Naveeshwa(DW) v TBKesq(DE)

Hi all! This is another TAST 4 finals match, between Naveeshwa playing dwarves, and TBKesq playing dark elves. It's everyone's favorite matchup again! :) this time it's going to be on the tribe map. It used to be a super fast crystal kill map, with each crystal only having 3000 hp, but since the crystals got buffed to 4500 each, crystal rushing isn't as strong as it used to be. That said, with two gem tiles on the map, those crystals can go quick!
Usually, the middle crystal is the first to go, followed by the crystal nearest to the gem tile. The hardest crystal is the one nearest the helm tile - it's really hard to hold the gem tile on that side and attack at the same time, since for that to happen you need to be heavily bunched up around your own gem tile, or out in the open in range of the sword tile.
Move 1
Naveeshwa opens with a gunner on the gem side and gren on the helm side. This is best, because otherwise your opponent would have the helm tile to add magic resist against any grenadier attack.
Move 2
TBKesq opens with a VM 1 ap away from Navee's gem tile, and a wraith on the bottom. Dwarves usually have A problem with stomping, so it can be nice to have a wraith around to deter DW from simply KOing and leaving bodies around. A lightly equipped or vanilla L3 wraith is scary too, and can be used to draw out drills or scrolls. Also, with just a single gem, a L0 wraith can take 3 hits from a 300 magic damage unit - much like the tribe shaman with shield or wizard with shield.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

TAST4 Finals Game Replay: MemoryStays(DE) v Eulero1987(DW)

Ok, so this is the first reported game from the TAST 4 finals! Done in 2 days - these guys are pretty quick, just like this map. ;)Just a quick overview of this map - generally thought to be advantageous for DW, as DW gets a bonus move from the speed tile (so it adds 3 move instead of 2, and a whopping 4 move for engineers!) and because of the ease with which the crystals can be destroyed (with 2 gem tiles, and only 3000 on the back crystal and 6000 on the front crystal, IIRC).PLUS, DW gets bonus gem damage from the gem tile, and a grenadier on your gem tile can easily take out the back crystal, which is the easier crystal to defend. Not that you can block LOS of a grenadier anyway. ;)DE's only hope is to hit the back crystal hard before DW can get started - the speed tile helps with this, as an imp on the speed tile can reach the opponent's gem tile, or close in to melee range of the gem tile. This can force DW to burn their consumables early, which is key to preventing DW from getting unkillable and taking over the map one bubble at a time.

Eulero: I think both gems have 4500 ;-)

Move 1-2
Interesting opening by Memory. Absent any other reason, I would usually open necro top and imp bottom, as imps benefit from the speed tile more than necros, and necros benefit more from the sword tile. Perhaps the imp is there to prevent DW from taking it with a grenadier early? Still, a necro at C2 is not killable second turn, and can deter a grenadier from taking the sword tile. The only way to take advantage is to deploy grenadier, move, move, helm, and 1 AP to spare. But even then, I might be happy with using necro to take the gem tile and letting DW spend 5 AP killing my necro (can't stomp without giving up gren), and developing the imp and priestess.

Memory: I chose to deploy Necro at the bottom to give myself the option to jump onto his gem tile and attack his back crystal. Due to the characteristics of Dwarves, I don't think Necro is very useful in this match-up, thus a better candidate to be sent on a suicide mission.
I deployed an Impaler at the top to deter enemies from coming close to the sword tile, then I upgraded and used him to hold my gem tile. This way I can set up for an offensive position to his middle ground and delay him from securing his gem tile.
In this map, I think speed tile is more important than sword tile (since it is very easy to set up for crystal kill in this map) and taking over the sword tile with Necro on the top wouldn't stop him from building a fortress at the bottom, to which he can develop and take control of the speed tile.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Video Replay: tabby_nat(DE) v TBKesq(SL)

Hi everyone, new video replay between myself and TBKesq. Enjoy!

Links to stuff mentioned in the video:

General DE v SL strategy guide

HA calculator

Dark Elves vs Shaolin general strategy guide

Right, so that SL/DE matchup. It's one of my least favourite matchups as DE, because it's so darn slow and grindy. SL can't attack because SL has problems attacking everybody. DE can't attack because combos. And shadows and monks are nigh unkillable. So what generally happens is that you and your opponent kinda line up opposite each other and a stalemate happens.

According to Trip's excellent FAR (Faction Achievement Rating) analysis, at high levels, SL outperforms DE by 30%. 30%! That's huge! I think that DE does do rather poorly against SL, but I don't think that it's a 6.5-3.5 matchup in favor of SL.

Anyway, on to the guide.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Game Replay: tabby_nat(DE) v Elagatua (TR)

Hi all! Here's an interesting game between myself and Elagatua - Elagatua has been running some very interesting live streams lately, and I thought it would be interesting to have a recorded game to show a match in its entirely, with interesting commentary from both players!

I'm playing my usual DE, and Elagatua is TR for this match. I'm not super comfortable with this match up - with 3 typhoons and 4 meats, and rage, it can be very difficult to account for all of TR's options, and especially TR, who aren't afraid of trading at all.

So, my strategy for this match is to generally turtle up - limiting the moves that TR can make. Pretty soon, he'll have typhoons and meats cluttering up his hand, and hopefully I can convince him to spend it on vanilla or lightly upgraded units. In the meantime, I'm looking out for opportunities to snipe his shamans and axe throwers.

Against TR, I like to use necros - phantoms are great for blocking and using up rage, and TR doesn't have any magic resistance, so the lighter punch of the necro is often still good enough, 3 shotting everything except shielded shamans and chiefs.

Once the axe throwers are out of the game, I can start relying on +3 VMs. Yes, I have to worry about the warrior's execute, but it's far better than trying to deal with axe throwers.

I usually call this map the DE map - it kinda fits, with the candle stands and everything. It's not a very good crystal rush map - the gem tile is in 3 tile range of the sword tile, making the gem tile hard to hold, and there's only 1 gem tile.

It's not so great for typhoon defence, though - with the gems so far apart and on the sides, the squares behind the crystals aren't very useful. The sword tiles are way out in the open, allowing for some damaging typhoons to happen.

Elagatua: I ended up randoming Tribe for this match, which was great because Tribe is my favorite squad to play. Ruthless aggression and room for creativity make Tribe a force to be reckoned with, although DE is one of Tribe's tougher matchups.

This map features a forward attack tile, making tidal waving stray units into range of a sworded witch a potent strategy. It's a little tougher to pull this off against DE due to the possibility of helmed VMs running around and smacking me in the face though.

The gem tile is difficult to hold on this map; Tribe has no magic resist units other than Shamans and the tile is within range of the opponent's attack tile. Tribe is less reliant on gem tiles than other squads, but the layout is a strong deterrent to going CK on this map. The open center makes this map great for sworded Chieftans doing massive damage, especially if one can sneak on to the opponent attack tile. I'll have to keep that in mind for this match.

Move 1
At this point, I don't know what race Elagatua is going yet, so I start with a nice and safe opening, putting my imp 1 AP away from his sword tile. This means that whatever range 4 unit Elagatua places on the sword tile can be 3 shotted by the imp.

Elagatua: Pretty solid generic opening. It threatens the attack tile yet forces me to occupy it lest the imp dive in the following round.
Move 2
It's tribe. Elagatua does a very defensive move, blocking his sword tile with a warrior (purely defensive) and shielding the shaman. Now the imp can't 3 shot the shaman (240+300+300=840 >880).

Elagatua: Kind of a lame opening draw for me. The warriors aren't going to be threatened by the imp, but I need to keep the Shaman safe. There is nothing worse than losing a Shaman in the early game; one slip up can easily cost you the game. This is why I like to shield my first Shaman in most matchups; the extra HP makes him 4 AP to KO from a 300 attack magic unit, and putting him on the defense tile makes him safe from 300 physical attack units as well.

Move 3
Since my opponent is tribe, I swing into action, deploying a necro (aiming for a +3 necro in time) and deploying the wraith. Remote wraith stomps generally aren't worth it against TR, since your kills are generally going to come from necros (in which case you can remote stomp anyway). Even with just 1 nom, a sworded wraith can 2 shot most TR units, and with the wraith HP buff, wraiths aren't the fragile things they once were.

Elagatua: Pretty standard development from DE here. Tabby's Wraiths have given me nightmares ever since our streamed SL vs DE match. I'll have to keep my eyes open for an opportunity to get it off the board early. If it's able to eat a unit and get sworded, things could get out of control really quickly.

Move 4
Elagatua responds by deploying a chief on the top side, and putting a witch on the sword tile, blocked by the warrior. I'm troubled by the chief on the top side. Usually I would block with a VM (notice how Elagatua deployed his warrior first, then his witch, so that his warrior would block for his witch - DE does not need to worry about this, as VMs can move 4 tiles), but I don't have a VM. I definitely have to do something, though, or the chief can charge in and wreck shop by vacuuming all my units in. The chief vacuum effect is in the 5x5 squares surrounding him. At the same time, I need to avoid making a "C" shape, or his chief will certainly do so much splash that I won't be able to keep up.

For example, he could charge, move diagonally to C3, whirlwind imp, meat, and whirl again. That would take out the necro, and imp, and heavily damage the priestess and wraith. My subsequent move would probably have to take the chief with the wraith, but then I only have a wraith and a priestess in the board - easy pickings.

Elagatua: I have a decent amount of units to play with now, and I'm lucky to have both a tidal wave and a meat. I'm still fishing for my first sword, but for now I'll plop more units on the board. The warrior can protect my witch on the attack tile, and even though I'm threatening offense with the Chieftan, I want to stay defensive for now. The shaman is my crucial weak point, and I'm not going to feel too safe until I have a second one on the board. Also, as Tribe you generally only want to meat units that have swords unless you have a really good reason.

I end up getting an axe thrower, which will provide me with some true offensive firepower. Still no sword though.

Move 5
I decide to move the necro forward, take one shot at the chief (putting it at 800HP) and put an imp on the sword tile instead. It's an unusual move, but the intention is to force his chief away - with the necro where it is, the chief will have to move away, or he will get 4 shotted and stomped by the necro next turn.

If he decides to attack, he won't be able to KO (or move) the imp on the sword tile, which means I get an efficient trade. One chief for a helmed necro and a meat, not a horrible trade...

Notice my cluttered hand - I need to equip some stuff soon, but no VMs are in sight, and the necro that I have on the board is in a sacrificial position.

Elagatua: An interesting idea, but I don't think it can force my Chieftan away. As long as I heal, unless you are willing to spend a scroll on a +0 Chieftan, it isn't in actual danger of being killstomped. That imp on the attack tile is a strong deterrent to attacking that position though.

Move 6
Elagatua responds by simply healing his chief, and deploying an axe and witch. E can easily typhoon kill the necro. I'm actually ok with him spending a typhoon to do that, but lets see if I can get better compensation than that...

Elagatua: I'm starting to get a really strong offensive position set up here. The Chieftan blocks any offensive threat from the necro, while the axe thrower can still KO the necro in 3 AP. With the witch behind my crystal and a range 2 unit on the attack tile, I'm considering an early go at the top crystal. The crystal by the opponent's attack tile is the hardest to kill, and if I can get some big early damage on it, it may actually turn out to be too much to recover from. Remember that Tribe only needs to get a crystal below 25% health before the Warrior can poke it down in one hit.

Move 7
This position may look weird, and it does. But the reason why is that in trying to avoid getting into a position where his chief can splash lots of my units, and a 2x2 square is one position which is generally safe against major chief splash. That said, the VM looks very oddly placed there - perhaps that should have been the wraith, so that I would be in position to nom any unstomped units after a wave.

Elagatua: This move doesn't really deter my offensive options at all. I now have a big decision to make...

Move 8
I did not anticipate this. Elagatua moves in to trade his chief for 15% gem. Does he think that he can start a crystal rush now? I believe he swaps his meat out, and receives a shield in return.

Elagatua: So here's what I'm thinking: Tribe crystal rushes can be extremely hard to stop if I go all out on the crystals. I don't necessarily need to go all out in one single rush, but I need to deliberatley spend all my meat attacking the crystal. If I pick my shots carefully, I think I can pull it off. Here, the plan is to send the Chieftan in to do a bunch of damage on the crystal. The splash damage will open up the helmed necro in the next turn to be exploded by the axe thrower / witch combination. This takes advantage of the fact that Tabby's priestess is completely out of position for the coming exchange. Exploding the necro will do even more damage to the crystal, and then DE will have to choose between the axe thrower, warrior, and witch on the next turn. Ultimately, I am pretty confident that I can trade almost one for one, and most of these corpse explosions are going to do damage on the top crystal as well. And once that crystal is low, the bottom one is far more exposed thanks to the attack tile, so it will be easy sailing.

This is a huge risk that I'm committing to; once I make this move, my entire gameplan has to be focused around getting the crystal kill, but even a small opening can lead to a victory if it's exploited properly.

Move 9
I take the proffered chief - it's practically a forced move. I raise a phantom to help block the crystal, and put some damage on the warrior to make him 3 shottable next turn. I can't let Elagatua control the gem tile.

Elagatua: Yeah, pretty much exactly what I expected. The only thing that could have messed up my plan is if you had potioned the necro, and I'm off the hook there. Now to initiate phase 2 as planned...

Move 10
Elagatua finally takes the helmed necro with the axe, and corpse explodes the remains. I'm glad they nerfed witch AOE!

At this move, I realize that Elagatua is going in hard on a gem kill - leaving his witch exposed but in range of the crystal just looks fishy to me.

Elagatua: So far, so good on the aggression. I'm going to get one of these impalers for sure next turn.

Move 11
I take out the axe with the imp, and move to block the crystal in case he's thinking of a crystal kill. Considering the state of the board, I think a helmed necro for an axe isn't a bad thing.

I'm a little annoyed that you didn't try and stomp the axe thrower; it forces me into a tougher decision in the next turn. Other than that, we're still trading one for one, so everything is mostly according to the master plan...

Move 12
Elagatua takes out the top imp. So that's 1 chief for 1 helmed necro, and now 1 imp. I can either take the witch or the warrior.

Elagatua: Another straightforward move, and another corpse explosion that damages the top crystal. I'm going to run out of units to trade here pretty soon. I've done a decent amount of damage to the top crystal, but I would have liked to do more. Still, I've killed a bunch of units in exchange, so I should have a chance to pull back and regroup for a second assault.

Move 13
I decide to take the warrior with the wraith, for 1 nom and challenging the gem tile. I need to keep control of the gem tile if I'm to have any chance of holding off on a crystal rush.

Elagatua: And phase 1 of the crystal rush is officially over. That wraith is super exposed though.
Move 14
Elagatua typhoons column C, bringing the wraith forward and sending the rest of my units back, finishing off the wraith with the raged witch on the sword tile. That's one typhoon down for a vanilla wraith, 2 to go!

Elagatua: I feel like this is a great trade for me. That wraith could get sworded and start 2 shotting my units, and I know how dangerous Tabby is with that unit. It's a unit for an item, and I also knock back all the other units, which Tabby will have to spend AP on to move them back in position. With that pick off, I feel a lot better about my decision to try the aggressive play. There's still a long way to go, but the top crystal is halfway gone and I have a ton more units and all my swords left.

Tabby: Hmmm. Interesting view, I can't deny that this typhoon costs me a lot of AP to reposition. Still, I can't help but think that typhoons are necessary to pick off "hard" targets like VMs or +3 units.

Move 15
I have some time to develop now, since Elagatua only has 2 witches on the board and a shaman - nothing dangerous right now. Time to hang back and equip/heal up. I have control of the gem tile with my necro, so I'm not too worried about a gem kill (getting a witch or shaman for the 3 shots on crystal is acceptable now, given that after the trade, my board position will be seriously good.

Elagatua: Tabby develops his army, as expected. I feel like the last sequence of 6 or 7 turns has been really straightforward from a strategic perspective.

Move 16
Elagatua brings out a axe, swords and shields him, and a warrior. Odd position for the axe, but in retrospect, he's positioning for a crystal attack (it's exactly 2 AP to reach the crystal (axe will move on the black tiles).

Elagatua: That's correct about the positioning. It's also a high value unit, since I intend to sword it in the next turn. I plan on moving the warrior in front of him so that the axe thrower is safe from a scrolled imp or other threats.

Move 17
I get some protection for my necro - I don't mind sacrificing a vanilla VM if it means I'll get a typhoon or axe in return! Those are the only 2 ways Elagatua can get that vanilla VM.

Elagatua: More and more units on the board... I'm starting to get nervous about my ability to access that top crystal. The bottom one is still totally exposed, but overall this might become tricky. I need to deploy more threats ASAP!

Move 18
Elagatua deploys the chief and the shaman, and swords the chief. Notice that the chief can charge the crystal from where he is now.

Elagatua: Not true! The chief's charge range is 4, so I'm actually one square away from being able to charge to the bottom crystal. I can, however, move in front of my bottom crystal and then charge across the gap.

Tabby: Oops! My bad! =D
Move 19
I need to defend the crystal, so I move the imp up to KO the witch, and block the crystal. Even though I don't have the AP to stomp, Elagatua will need to burn a meat if he wants to save it, and I'm fine with that too!

Elagatua: Urk, I was really unprepared for this. Now my best threat at the crystal is marooned, and there's a unit blocking the crystal to boot! Things are going awry very quickly, and I'm starting to get desperate. I can't heal the witch and retreat her without exposing the warrior; if I move everything back, the witch is left behind my crystal with 100 HP. This makes for an easy kill from the VM by attacking my top crystal, stomping, and then retreating.

Move 20
Elagatua decides to spend a typhoon to take out the vanilla VM instead. Notice that the witch body prevented my imp from getting typhooned.

Elagatua: I'm going to have to get ready for my second crystal dive soon, but I'm not ready yet. I really don't want to burn another tidal wave, but when you're all in, there's no tomorrow. Taking out the VM will open up a path to the crystal, but also move the DE units back and force tabby to waste AP bringing them back to the front lines. In retrospect, I'm not sure how well this move accomplished my goals, though I'm also not sure of any great alternative either.

Move 21
I have to take the time to deploy and cover the gem tile, so my necro goes up again. I need to turn cards, so I spend a soul bomb on the bottom right corner to boost my units. It's not so much of an issue nowadays, since axethrowers got their damage buff, but it does prevent vanilla witches from making kills, and warriors from performing a 3 hit execute (200 + 200, execute). I'm still in defend mode - so far, he's spent 2 typhoons to kill relatively cheap units, and I still have all 3 swords available.

Tabby: Whew! Tabby sends more units on the board, but still no swords in sight other than the VM which is on vacation on the back row. If tabby stays passive for another turn, I probably will have bought all the time I need to make this work. That bottom crystal is so exposed!
Move 22
Elagatua spends his AP deploying stuff again. He's very bunched up, but in a manner that minimises VM splash - notice the "plus" shape he makes. There is only 1 place that I can go to splash 3 units (C7) but it's not very useful at this moment, and is probably a deathwish.

Notice that he's left his warrior in a very vulnerable position, though.

Elagatua: Deploying units, making plusses. With almost all my units on the board, I'm about ready to go. I figure that DE will be able to kill roughly one unit per round, and with all the units I have on the board along with the three meats, I should be able to get the crystal down. My approach to the center will be tricky, but I have one scary wall of Tribe on the board right now.

Move 23
I take the warrior that's been presented to me and spawn a phantom, protecting me from an immediate counterattack. From here, I threaten his sworded shielded axe thrower, so he has to respond. I don't know if this was a mistake or part of his plan, but it fits with MY plan, which is to out-turtle TR, so I go with it.

Elagatua: Crap! This was a bad mistake for me, I didn't see that vulnerability at all. Now things are even more desperate, but at least I have rage now. It's time to go ALL IN!
Move 24
This is a desperation move. Exposing both your shamans like this is unheard of, much less pre-meating 2 units, the axe and the warrior. In retrospect, I should have listened to the warning signs and taken the gem tile...

Elagatua: Everything is on the table now. Shamans are actually my least useful unit in this situation, since they aren't going to do much damage to the crystals, and I'm planning on giving up one unit per turn for the rest of the game. I pre-meat both the axe thrower and the Chieftan. The Chieftan's job will be to get the bottom crystal, while the axe thrower will go after the top. I expose two Shamans; I'm hoping that tabby will find them as appealing targetes to spend AP on. Whichever one tabby kills, I'll send the other to the gem tile while I attack with the Chieftan. I really only need this one turn to go well before I can dictate the whole flow of the game for the remaining turns.

Move 25
But I get greedy. My plan was to snipe the shamans, so I thought "woohoo, free shamans!" I blocked the top axe by placing the phantom at A6 - he can't move there unless he spends his rage, and you probably don't want to do that. Cute move, eh? ;) I stomp the shaman with the necro for another phantom.

In retrospect, in view of the clear intention to go for a crystal rush, a better move might have involved moving the VM to D5 (to block the crystal), imp to crystal tile, and 3 hit KO the forward shaman, forcing Elagatua to burn his rage on a rez, and perhaps a meat if he wants to save the shaman. If he doesn't want to save the shaman, he can take my imp with the witch, but that's a fine trade by any means.

Elagatua: Yeah, this move put you in a lot of hot water. KOing the Shaman was fine, but you had two AP to burn at the end and you used them on creating and moving a phantom. I think you would have been much better served by moving the VM onto the gem tile and leaving the Shaman KO'd.
Move 26
Elagatua takes the gem tile with the SHAMAN, and charges with the meated warrior, taking a good 30% in 1 turn. Ouch. It's clear that Elagatua is now going for an all out crystal rush.

Elagatua: Here goes nothing! I've been setting up this rush for the last 4 or 5 turns, and somehow the plan is intact. I'm thanking my lucky stars that tabby hasn't deployed either of the remaining swords, since that makes the Chieftan much more difficult to deal with. DE has to choose between scrolling down the Chieftan with the impaler, or taking the shaman off the gem tile. In retrospect, a scroll used on the chieftan would be almost fatal to my chances, but better lucky than good sometimes...

Move 27
Notice that I can't deal with BOTH the shaman and the chief in 1 turn, because I don't have any scrolls. This means that I can only either take out the shaman or the chief. I decide to take the shaman (really, the gem tile) and position myself to take out the chief next turn.

Elagatua: Brutal luck not having any scrolls. Still, one of the most important things to keep in mind during a crystal rush is that there's no tomorrow! Throw those swords on units; it'll save AP in the following turns (and it'll turn cards)!

Tabby: Great point about the sword - I could have sworded the necro or imp here. Bad decision making on my part!

Move 28
I forgot about the whirlwind, though. Ugh. completely messes up my positioning.

Elagatua: This move worked out nicely. I don't need no stinkin' gem tile, I have a rage+sworded Chieftan! Now the bottom crystal is down and I feel victory within my grasp. Keeping that meated axe thrower away from that top crystal is going to be mighty difficult, especially with that last tidal wave in my back pocket.

Move 29
I don't have any scrolls, and I'm desperate to turn cards, so I sword the half damaged necro and place him on the sword tile to take out the chief and defend against the next attack. Keep in mind that the warrior can execute the crystal if it's below 25% HP, so once that happens, I have to block the melee tiles around the crystal at all costs.

Elagatua: Even with a scroll, I'm not sure the situation is salvageable at this point. The scroll would save you another AP, but there's no way you could block both tiles in front of the crystal and also take out the chieftan.

Move 30
Axe doesn't even need the gem tile to do massive damage to my gem - at 500 damage a pop, he takes me down to 9%.

Elagatua: And now the final phases of the rush; using the meated axe thrower to bring the last crystal into Warrior KO range. I'm pretty sure that no amount of creativity can prevent my Warrior from getting in range thanks to the tidal wave. Tabby will still have to spend a few AP to kill the axe thrower, so this limits his options even further.
Move 31
I now have to block the melee tiles. Notice I left the axe unstomped - that prevents the phantom from being typhooned, since I know he has a typhoon in his hand.
Move 32
Unfortunately, I couldn't stop him from moving to C5, typhooning at column D (separating my necros), opening up the sword tile and moving in for the execute.

Elagatua: I held on to the last tidal wave for this exact purpose! With the axe thrower and warrior combinations, gem tiles are so optional.
Move 33
The end. Good game to Elagatua! I think I really messed up at move 25 - it was painfully obvious that I should have started defending the crystals, and tried to take out the shaman as a bonus, but I got too greedy and couldn't stop the gem rush as a result.

Elagatua: Yep, that was the fatal move for you. I feel very fortunate to have won this game, because looking back at the sequence, I made a few bad mistakes and your play was solid. You made the big strategic error on move 25, and combined with some bad luck with scrolls and reluctance to sword your units, it was too much to recover from. It always surprises me how quickly CKs can spiral out of control despite a formidable defensive effort. GG tabby! You can blame DEaDA for inspiring me to try this strategy :)

Friday, June 21, 2013

Elagatua's Shaolin Tutorial and matches

Elagatua, one of the top players on the Robot Entertainment Fans' League, has been streaming Hero Academy recently. Last week, he did an episode specifically for Shaolin, introducing how to play Shaolin, and showing off some Shaolin moves and strategies. I'm on one of the games too! =D

So without further ado, here they are. =)

Check out his youtube channel if you want nice easily clickable timestamps!
Check out his twitch channel at too!

00:01:10 SL vs TF (reallgt, tele map) (Use of monk/dragon against Spy)
00:03:31 SL vs TF (ArtNJ, train map) (working with poor starting hands for SL, taoist tactics) 
00:05:55 SL vs DE (tabby_nat, train map) (working with poisoners) 
00:09:10 DE vs DE (bwsquad, train map) 
00:09:40 SL vs TF (reallgt, tele map) (Use of bamboo against tiles, playing against heavies) 
00:13:16 SL vs TF (ArtNJ, train map) (dealing with demo and crystal killing on train map) 
00:20:06 SL vs TF (reallgt, tele map) (AOE weakness of Shaolin, how to evaluate moves and possibilities) 
00:29:31 SL vs TF (ArtNJ, train map) (general TF analysis) 
00:34:21 SL vs DE (tabby_nat, train map) (general DE analysis) 
00:39:05 TF vs CL (Moontz, trapezium crystals) 
00:39:19 SL vs TF (reallgt, tele map) (dealing with your own KOed units) 
00:48:50 SL vs TF (ArtNJ, train map) (using windblade splash) 
00:52:06 SL vs DE (tabby_nat, train map) (general DE analysis, grabbing VMs) 
00:56:55 SL vs CL (jgkoch, tele map) (general SL analysis) 
00:59:56 SL vs TF (ArtNJ, train map) (engineer analysis, general SL analysis) 
01:05:47 SL vs TF (reallgt, tele map) (general SL analysis) 
01:10:31 SL vs DE (tabby_nat, train map) (general SL/DE analysis, Shadow/Poisoner combos) 
01:15:10 SL vs CL (jgkoch, tele map) (general SL, CL analysis) 
01:19:03 SL vs TF (reallgt, tele map) (general SL analysis) 
01:23:26 SL vs DE (tabby_nat, train map) (general SL/DE analysis) 
01:30:45 SL vs CL (jgkoch, tele map) (general SL, CL analysis, ninja potentials)

00:00:08 SL vs TF (reallgt, tele map) (poisoner and positional analysis against TF)
00:03:43 TF vs CL (Moontz, trapezium crystals)
00:06:00 DW vs DE (DaveofDisdain, Shaolin map)
00:08:47 SL vs TF (reallgt, tele map) (getting ponied)
00:10:52 DE vs DE (bwsquad, train map)
00:13:05 SL vs DE (tabby_nat, train map) (positioning against DE)
00:16:38 SL vs TF (reallgt, tele map) (more ponied, sanviched pyros)
00:28:13 SL vs CL (jgkoch, tele map) (making things happen without poisoners, bad draws)
00:34:05 SL vs TF (reallgt, tele map) (using dragons, playing against TF, desperation moves)
00:38:39 SL vs DE (tabby_nat, train map) (taking impaler. Muahahaha)
00:41:47 SL vs CL (jgkoch, tele map) (dealing with sworded ninjas)
00:48:33 SL vs TF (ArtNJ, train map) (turning cards)
00:56:30 DW vs DE (DaveofDisdain, Shaolin map)
00:57:38 SL vs TF (reallgt, tele map)
01:00:47 DE vs DE (bwsquad, train map)
01:03:27 SL vs CL (jgkoch, tele map)
01:09:27 SL vs TF (ArtNJ, train map)

00:04:21 SL vs TF (reallgt, tele map)
00:07:55 SL vs DE (tabby_nat, train map) (wraith eats converted imp)
00:17:39 SL vs CL (jgkoch, tele map) (conversion of knight)
00:21:34 SL vs TF (reallgt, tele map)
00:26:14 DE vs DE (bwsquad, train map) (pre-scrolling of imp)
00:28:06 DE vs DE (KevinSpinti, DE map) (best of the rest tournament game, DE stalemates, 1090HP VMs)
00:35:52 ===================== HA CRASHES ======================
00:37:11 SL v DE (DaColonelSanders, Shaolin map) (early game deployment)
00:39:19 SL vs TF (reallgt, tele map) (management of items, turtling/running away from spies, shadow shows up)
00:45:18 SL vs CL (jgkoch, tele map) (consideration of potential crystal kill, windblade/bamboo/combo pot synergy)
00:50:01 SL vs DE (tabby_nat, train map) (only 1 poisoner left, dealing with a potential monster wraith)
00:59:40 DW vs DE (DaveofDisdain, Shaolin map)
01:00:37 SL vs DE (DaColonelSanders, Shaolin map) (dealing with bad draw, shaolin map power boost and speed boost)
01:02:43 SL vs CL (jgkoch, tele map) (dealing with a +3 ninja)
01:07:00 DW vs SL (TBKesq, DE map) (Don't trade away your shadow!!!!)
01:09:36 SL vs DE (DaColonelSanders, Shaolin map) (setting up to protect your shadow from sworded imp)
01:11:32 SL vs TF (reallgt, tele map) (too many ponies)
01:14:18 DW vs SL (TBKesq, DE map) (defending against crystal rush)
01:16:54 SL vs DE (tabby_nat, train map) (cute train trick move)
01:18:33 SL vs DE (DaColonelSanders, Shaolin map) (considering saving unstomped taoist, dealing with sworded imp)
01:20:45 SL vs TF (reallgt, tele map) (mounting a comeback with the shadow)
01:24:23 SL vs DE (tabby_nat, train map) (monk debuffing)
01:25:50 SL vs CL (jgkoch, tele map) (advancing after ninja has been neutered)
01:30:55 SL vs DE (DaColonelSanders, Shaolin map) (deciding on a defence against sworded imp)

00:00:00 SL vs DE (DaColonelSanders, Shaolin map) (comboing with windblades, combo potions)
00:05:44 SL vs TF (reallgt, tele map) (trying to attack with SL)
00:12:46 SL vs DE (tabby_nat, train map) (monk debuffing, dealing with VM harrassment)
00:21:16 SL vs DE (DaColonelSanders, Shaolin map) (recovering from a downed shadow, gambles)
00:27:40 SL vs CL (jgkoch, tele map) (positioning SL)
00:33:26 SL vs TF (reallgt, tele map) (use of bamboo to extend combo reach with windblade)
00:34:03 SL vs DE (tabby_nat, train map) (positioning SL)
00:39:08 SL vs TF (reallgt, tele map) (pondering moves)
00:40:39 SL vs DE (DaColonelSanders, Shaolin map) (map control)
00:41:42 SL vs TF (reallgt, tele map) (pondering moves, dead air)
00:46:31 SL vs DE (DaColonelSanders, Shaolin map) (map control)
00:48:48 SL vs DE (tabby_nat, train map) (defending threat against shadow)
00:58:29 SL vs TF (reallgt, tele map) (pondering moves)
01:01:03 SL vs CL (jgkoch, tele map) (dealing with pre-scrolled ninja, attacking in with SL)
01:04:38 SL vs DE (DaColonelSanders, Shaolin map)
01:07:16 SL vs TF (reallgt, tele map) (resign, chitchat)
01:19:26 SL vs DE (tabby_nat, train map) (HP limits for VM, Shadow)

Friday, May 24, 2013

Basics: Numbers are Important!

Throughout this blog, I'll be talking about numbers. A lot. Some of you might be put of by this - man, I don't want to have to pull out a calculator every time I play! Yeah, I understand, but nevertheless, numbers mean the difference between staying alive with 5hp and getting KOed.

Thankfully, most of the common situations in HA don't require too much calculation. Take a look at this.

Is shows you how much damage a 300 physical damage attacker does in 1 shot. It's 300 on most units, as you would expect. But what's this? The archer only does 240 damage against a knight? That's because of physical resistance of 20%, which generally. A few of each team's units have.

A generic unit has 800 hp and no resistances. The keen eyed among you might realize that that means that an archer can kill this generic unit in 3 hits, for 900 damage! But what about if the archer has a shield and helm on, which makes gives her 20% resistance to magic and physical damage, and increased health? That 20% resistance means that each shot will do 240 damage, same as to the knight. And 3 x 240 is only... 720 damage. So the archer can no longer kill in 3 hits. But if you add one more hit, though, that would be a total of 960 damage, and the generic unit, with both shield and helm, have exactly 960 hp!

Look at that!

The more you play, the more obvious these number thresholds become. So watch out for them.

For 0% resist and 200 damage, the numbers are 200, 400, 600, 800 (generic unit gets KOed here), 1000.

For 0% resist and 300 damage, the numbers are 300, 600, 900 (generic unit gets KOed here), 1200 (almost all units get KOed by now), 1500

For 20% resist and 200 damage, the numbers are 160, 320, 480, 640, 800 (unupgraded Void Monk gets KOed here)

For 20% resist and 300 damage, the numbers are 240, 480, 720 (low hp units like shielded but not helmed poisoner and annihilator get KOed here), 960 (most dual upgraded units KOed here), 1200.


Keep track of the important numbers ( you'll get a feel for them eventually) and you won't have to keep whipping out the calculator! :)


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

New Player Guide to Hero Academy

Hi there! You're here because you're a regular reader of my blog (in which case, hi again!), or you're a new player who's just found Hero Academy!

Well, if you like asynchronous turn based strategy games that you can play on your iPhone, you're in luck. because this is the best one yet. I should know, I've been playing this for over a year now. =p

So, what is Hero Academy like? It's kind of like the old-timey turn based strategy games like final fantasy tactics, crossed with chess, that's playable whenever you have a spot of spare time. Since it's asynchronous (each player takes his turn, and there's no time limit), most players tend to play 10 games or so at a time, so you always have turns to make. If I'm playing a tournament game or a league game (more on leagues later), I can take up to 20 minutes on a single move, and I commonly close the game to think about my response before coming back half a day later to see if I still think that move was a good idea.

If I had to compare it to other games, I would actually compare it to turn based Street Fighter, of all things! As opposed to Outwitters (another fine asynchronous strategy game), which is more like a turn based Starcraft.

Your aim in this game is to destroy your opponent's crystals, or KO all of your opponents units. You do this by killing his units and attacking his crystals. But if you're reading this blog, you know that already. ;) How you get to the end point of killing his crystals and his units, though, is by limiting his options, creating threats, and making favourable trades.

How to get good at Hero Academy
You might be overwhelmed at first, but here's a few tips:

1. Learn what everything does. You can do that by clicking on the question mark and then on the unit or item. You can find out what your opponent's units do too! Don't rush, though. There's a saying in Go or Chess, lose your first 100 games as fast as you can. ;) Trial and error is great too! There's always a time for learning.

2. Think ahead. Well, start by thinking about the move you have in front of you, and then think about what happens after. This is where the undo button comes in handy!

Basics: Take it back! The undo button!

3. Think strategically. After playing for a while, you'll notice certain patterns - where to stand, where not to stand, which units are most effective against which race, and so on. If you lose to something, think about why you lost to that, and do better next time!

4. Think tactically. This is the other side of the coin - sometimes, there'll be trick plays and gimmicks that your opponent doesn't know about or didn't see at the time. If you can see these moves, you gain a BIG advantage! You'll need a lot of experience, though. =)

External Links You Should Know About
The Official Hero Academy Forums on Robot Entertainment Website - lots of interesting information here, and the place to talk about the game with your fellow players!

The New Player Assistance Thread on the Forums - Sign up here to play teaching games against people who (mostly) know what they're doing! There are also guides for all the teams here, so that you know what to do to get started.

The Robot Entertainment Fans Player League - Sign up here if you want to play in a player-run league. The ingame stats are a bit rubbish, but this League uses an ELO ranking system to make ladder climbing a bit more.. interesting!

This post is going to be a collection of the new player help guides that I'll post in the future - I'll come back to edit this post to add new links to posts which I think would help new players, so feel free to send a link to this post to your friends that want to get into Hero Academy!

Basics: Take it back! The undo button!

One of the best things about Hero Academy is not its variety of playstyles (although that's great), is not its depth of play (which is excellent), is not its funny and emotive characters (they're funny!), but the undo button. Huh? Yes, the undo button. You don't know how much you miss it until it's gone. The undo button lets you try out a turn before committing to it, so that you know where you'll end up, and how everything will look before you press the submit button. You can use it to figure out how much damage you'll do to a certain unit (if you don't feel like breaking out the calculator). You can use it to figure out if you'll actually kill a unit with the scroll, or without the scroll. With the sword, or without the sword. With both the sword and scroll? With both sword, scroll and fireball? The undo button is there to let you experiment without consequences! I have to say, I use the undo button at least once every turn, most of the time. Here's a video that shows you just how you can use the undo button.


Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Game Replay tabby_nat(DE) v KevinSpinti(DW)

Hi all!

This is a game between me and KevinSpinti, both of us are in the league, Kevin being ranked around 1450 ELO. An interesting game! I hope you enjoy. =)

Move 1
I don't like this map against DW. If you want to use the sword tile, you have to clump up between the crystals. One standard tactic for DE is to have a necro on the sword tile, and an imp either behind the top crystal or near the shield tile to be in position to swoop in and drag units into range of the necro.

However, this means that you'll have at least an imp and a necro within splash range of the top crystal. Add a priestess, and you're not going to be able to recover from grenadier splash.

I really think that these original maps were not designed with DW in mind. >.>

So anyway, DW - this match is tough for DE. DW has 2 scrolls and 2 drills, and you can only have 3 monster units. The aim is always then to force DW to spend that stuff early - VMs are good for this, as are helmed imps. These units take 4 hits to kill normally, so DW has to spend a scroll or drill, and then you gain the advantage. Notice how I'm ignoring the gunner when I say 4 hits - although the gunner is technically a 300 damage physical damage dealer, it's quite easy to avoid him, so position yourself accordingly.

My early game aim is therefore to get a helmed imp or VM in his face, create some threat and force him to spend stuff early so that I can wreck his face with my +3 monster VM in the end game. :)

Looking at my hand, the imp/necro combo is still good, so I go with that opening for now. Lets see what kind of an opening Kevin has.

Move 2
Kevin comes out with a grenadier and 2 engineers. I'm hoping this means that he's trying to flip cards due to having rubbish in his hand. Usually, DW will deploy their pallies early to get maximum benefit from the aura.

Kevin: not a great opening draw here. Grenadiers are usually the MVPs for dwarves on this map due to the AOE with the crystals near the middle, so I put a shield on the grenadier and put him in a spot where he can jump out for a quick 3 crystal hits. This will put some early pressure on Tabby, especially if i can control the crystal boost square. I'm hoping for a sword and a paladin on my next draw.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Game Replay: ikarigendo (TF) v masterpiece2 (DW)

Hi all, here's a new replay, ikarigendo (TF) v masterpiece2 (DW)!

TF and DW are two of the best teams in the game right now, but for different reasons - DW takes damage like a boss, with the bubble absorbing attempted one hit burst damage, and the pally aura making unequipped units +1 AP to kill most of the time. DW needs a lot of time to get the "dwarf fortress" set up with pallys in the right spots, engineers behind bubbling, and so on. DW also excels in spreading AOE damage around, with grenadiers and gunners both doing significant splash damage. Single target damage is a bit more of a weak point, though, as DW only has 2 drills and the Annihilator to do massive single target damage with (and gunners in melee range, but those are much easier to defend against, as compared to an archer or even an impaler).

On the other hand, TF is great because their units are expendable - they get more units than any other team, and the units are great right out of the box (they have the most vanilla 300 damage dealers) - just deploy them and go! If TF manages to get a stomp, they can always retreat from the stomp due to the bonus AP that TF gets when stomping, or use that bonus AP to deploy or set up your next attack. Having a jar means that your opponent's high value units are never completely safe when there are high damage units around, but on the downside, without the jar, TF doesn't have good single target damage - unlike every other team, TF can never 2-shot another unit barring exceptional circumstances (like having a spy backstab or medic link).

Let's see how this match goes. =)

Masterpiece: as this was our first game blog, we forgot to take 2 shots for each turn, and we did not take screenshots that showed HP on each turn.  I’ve done my best to recap each move which will shed light on how much HP each unit has.

ikarigendo: this match started in the previous patch, before the Pali, sniper, and heavy nerfs. We knew that balance changes were on the way, but didn't know exactly what they would be or when they would hit. I can't remember which turn the changes hit, but it was near the end of the game.

The stats say this map/team matchup is dead even, with emphasis (though statistically not significant) on a 40ish turn crystal kill. It’s worth reviewing the opponent’s strengths and weaknesses before getting started.

TF2 strengths / weaknesses in this matchup:
·         Trading offensive units: When playing them with the Dwarves, I have to be particularly careful to not get into trade situations since I have 7 offensive units and TF2 has 12 if you count the re-spawns.
·         Crystal kill: this team is a powerful CK team.  Demo-Man, Soldier and Heavy are deadly crystal killers.  With the Scout’s ability to get on the gem tiles quickly, this makes them a CK-capable team.  That being said, Dwarves are a bit better here in my mind.
·         Speed: TF2 is faster than DW, both out of the gate and once they get settled due to the team AP advantage.
·         Jarates: Jarates are a ridiculously strong item, the threat of them has a powerful effect on board position

TF2 Weaknesses:
·         2 healers. This is the best weakness to go after in a TKO attempt, with the Dwarves lack of range stomp and 2:1 offensive unit disadvantage, this is pretty much the only way to TKO TF2, the problem is it is usually accomplished via gunner-suicide mission which creates an even bigger offensive unit gap.
·         Squishyness: This team has no physical defenses other than the invisibility of the spy and the 10% magic defense of the Medic.  This leaves them vulnerable to the ever-present AOE of the Dwarves.
·         2 Jarates: with only 2 Jarates, i can build 3-4 3+ units with dwarves by spreading out the helm/scale upgrades situationally.  Once the 2nd Jarate is used, the final super unit(s) become quite difficult for them to take out.

General Strategy
I play more of a "take what the field gives me" than a pre-determined strategy type of game. That being said there are 2 ways to win, those Dwarven-win scenarios are:

TKO Kill
In a TKO match, I cant trade units unless I'm killing medics.  That being said, Killing one medic early changes how far TF2 can position their offense without risking losing the 2nd.  This has a huge effect on how well Dwarves can do against them since any extra bunching plays into the hands of the Dwarven AOE.  I’m more than willing to sac a drill and a gunner for a medic early.  I’d even contemplate a +1 unit and a scroll depending on where the game is.  I will be looking to position a gunner or engineer in a spot that will threaten this move early in the game.  Gunners are my favorite kamikazes.
A 2nd strategy is forcing TF2 to waste a Jarate on an un-sworded unit or un-upgraded Annihilator.  This is pretty unlikely against a good player, but it is such a huge win and would favor the Dwarves in the late game since their beefy/aura-ed/bubbled units can be difficult to kill, that I will go out of my way to set it up if possible. 

Crystal Kill
Dwarves are a better CK team than TF2, and on this map, if I can encourage clumping either through a well protected grenadier on the attack tile or a early down medic, the drill will do AOE that costs TF2 AP to heal up and do massive crystal damage.  I may look to set up a 2x engineer gem tile drill situation if the opportunity arises – this move ends games and no sacrifice is too great to set it up.
I cant over extend early with this matchup, so i will probably look to set up a favorable defensive position. My only pre-determined strategy is to secure my side of the board, and then work for good board position.  I’ll know pretty early if I’m going for TKO or not (if I use a drill on a medic or not) so that will help me pick a kill strategy and stick with it.  

Move 1
Masterpiece2: So he takes 4AP by using the scout and plops him on the gem tile. and then dumps 2 snipers on the deploy tiles. I don’t get too worried about snipers seeing as though Pallys can heal as much damage as they can deploy. I wont put a valuable unit in front of them because of the Jarate threat, but i can anticipate him moving one to in line with my attack tile in the near future.

ikarigendo: In general, there's no such thing as a bad opening hand for TF, but this isn't great. Especially against DW, TF needs to put on the pressure early, and I didn't draw any offensive threats. Snipers, medics, and scouts are all supporting units. Among these, the sniper is the most threatening, because with a jarrate it can kill something. So, put these down, plus the scout, because that lets me clear my hand faster and hopefully draw an offensive threat (particularly pyro, soldier, spy, or heavy).

Tabby: Remember that the scout gives 1 AP when deployed. This map has always been vulnerable to crystal killing because of the 2 gem tiles, and remember that DW are slow starters - this means that TF can get an advantage by going in early and splashing the crystal, forcing DW to either forgo development for healing/taking out the crystal killing units, or spending drills scrolls or other equipment on less valuable targets just to get a bit of a breather.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Thoughts on the 1.4.2 patch

Right, so RE dropped the last patch on February 6th, and it's been 3 weeks or so since the patch hit. Just as a reminder, here's what got patched.

Dark Elf:
Wraith Starting HP increased by 150 and soul charges reduced by 50 HP

Paladin HP decreased to 900

Monk moment increased to 3
Poisoner debuffed increased to 50%

Team Fortress 2:
Sniper Crouch bonus reduced to 250
Heavy HP Reduced to 1100

I'll take them in turn:

Dark Elf:
Wraith Starting HP increased by 150 and soul charges reduced by 50 HP

This was supposed to be a "meaningless" type buff, raising the bottom end while having the top end remain as it was. But we all forgot that equipment raises HP by 10% of base health! So, instead of a helm and soul gem giving +65 hp, they now give +80 hp each.

This means that a L1 Wraith (a wraith with 1 nom under his belt) with just a smidge of bonus HP (gem, helm, soul bomb or pot) will have enough HP to take 3 300 damage hits. At the top end, a L3 +2 wraith will have 1100 + 160 = 1260 HP, just 90 HP short of 1350 (the magic number at which a wraith can survive a scrolled 450 physical damage hit). Just a single pot and soulbomb will tip that wraith over the edge, whereas before, you needed at least 2 soul bombs.

As a result, I'm finding that just a L1 +1 or +2 wraith is pretty darn hardy now, and needs a lot less babying. Great! Except that Tribe never had trouble taking down high HP units, Shaolin combos and poisoner still tear any single unit a new one, and dwarves still have that annie+drill combo. Ah well. Still, this buff really boosts the wraith now, and it's actually a valid decision to deploy and equip a wraith, rather than just keeping him in reserve for a remote stomp. If you're thinking of spending a soul bomb, and you have a wraith in hand, consider deploying him first so that he'll get that HP buff and be ready for action late game!

Paladin HP decreased to 900

This warrants a solid "meh" from me. Seriously? Before the patch, everyone agreed that Dwarves needed to be taken down a peg - at the late game, the dwarven fortress could be literally unkillable, with their 1200HP 30/30 resist paladins, bubbles, beer, aura, all that defensive goodness. So we all expected the dwarves to get hit with the nerfbat. But this? taking 100HP off the pally? This was their grand scheme to balance things, a HP nerf that doesn't actually reduce any AP to kill? Bah.

Innately, pallys have 10% defence. This means that whether at 1000 HP or 900, a 300 damage unit will take 4 hits to kill, and that doesn't change with the nerf. Dwarves are still as strong as ever! Practically the only race this nerf affects is tribe, who can now 3 shot a naked pally with an axethrower. That's... not all that impressive.

I don't see how this changes the game against dwarves, to be honest, but I'm still open to suggestions. League data seems to indicate that this has increased the win rate against dwarves, but I really, really don't get why.

Monk moment increased to 3
Poisoner debuffed increased to 50%

In one of my earlier posts, I showed that the poisoner and the monk were not BFF - they tend to get in each other's way a lot, due to their movement range and attack range, and even with that, a poisoner couldn't 2 shot a vanilla unit with another unit to combo with. Now, all of that changes with the new monk and poisoner buff.

The monk can now run in from directly behind the poisoner, or more likely from the side, to combo. And this combo now does 200 + (400 * 1.5) = 800 damage! Which means that a poisoner and any other unit will be able to 2 shot a vanilla unit. Not only that, but a sworded shadow and a sworded poisoner can now do 300 + (350 * 1.5) = 825 damage, which is enought to kill a vanilla unit! And the shadow is right there to convert the KOed unit. Dragons now do 600 * 1.5 = 900 damage against a pre-poisoned unit, or 810 against a 10% resist unit (like the medic or the shaman - that's a one-shot kill right there against most non-equipped healers), and with the bamboo bug being fixed, you can ranged stomp right there too. Sniping medics has never been easier, unlike before the patch, where you had to get 45 damage from somewhere else.

People who want to see big combo numbers will be disappointed, as the usefulness of this buff tapers off as the combo count increases (I mean, really, is an extra 10% of 600+ damage going to make or break anything), but 2 hit combos have become vastly more powerful.

That said, league data still shows that the Shaolin still apparently suck. Meh. These 2 buffs, while great, didn't succeed in making the Shaolin more offensively capable, it seems - the strength of the Shaolin still remain in their crazy high damage turtle.

Team Fortress 2:
Sniper Crouch bonus reduced to 250
Heavy HP Reduced to 1100

These 2 nerfs don't seem to have much in common, so I'll take them separately.

The sniper nerf now means that an upgraded sniper (crouched damage 430) and an upgraded soldier/pyro (390 damage) can no longer 2 shot a vanilla unit (820 total damage). This... had never seemed like a major issue to me, to be honest, and now with the crouched shot doing 350 and 380 with ammo upgrade, snipers seem even more irrelevant. Most healers will be able to heal that crouched shot damage with 1 AP, making using a sniper a net zero AP. Also, I used to use 4AP to take out vanilla units (430+130+130+130=820) and stomp with some other unit, such as a scout, but that's out with the new nerf as well (380+130+130+130=770).

Now, the sniper is solely for harassment and denial of a row in conjunction with a jar (which means that that row is denied to high value targets, as no TF2 player is going to spend a jar on a vanilla unit or non-essential unit). Still, that's 1 less AP for your opponent, which could mean the difference between a stomp and no stomp, or a kill and no kill, and games are often won or lost on those margins.

As for the heavy, again, the reduction from 1200 to 1100 seems odd - no AP savings for 200, 300 or 450 damage units, which are the main numbers when you're talking about damage. There are AP savings when talking about 390 damage units (which implies a TF2 mirror match, which is by definition balanced), but that's about it.

The net effect of these buffs/nerfs, I think, are that TF will come down in the rankings by a bit, the dwarves will barely be affected. Neither of their bad matchups (mostly against each other) changed, and they both still will steamroll shaolin, as nothing changed about the shaolin's vulnerabity to lobbed AOE damage. Shaolin will probably go up by a quite bit against DE, CL and TR, but I'm not sure if they'll be competitve at the end of the day. DE will go up by a bit against CL, DW and TF due to the wraith buff (CL because CL got nuffin, TF because DE can now force a jar against a wraith, and DW because DW has trouble getting rid of corpses.

Those are my predictions, but the league data seems to say that DW dropped more than I expected - I, of course, did not expect that. =p I can't think of any reason why that would be the case, but I assume that the reason was all the DW players flocking to the other races to try the new buffs out, while nobody wants to play the boring old DW all the time.

Right, so I've cross-posted this post to the RE official forums here - leave a comment here or on the forums if you want to discuss!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

East(DW) v West (CL) Team Game Replay

East v West Team Game

Hi all! This is a game long in the making, an epic game of East vs West, East taking dwarves and West taking council, lasting over 9 (?!) months and through a patch or two. Still, it’s done now, you, dear reader, get to take in all of the epicness. I was part of the game in the beginning, but as the epicness of this game grew, my ability to bear its epicness waned, and I dropped out midgame. So it’s like I’m seeing this afresh again!

It’s a Council (CL) vs Dwarves(DW) match, on the tribe map. Keep in mind that this is pre-patch (several, in fact!), so each of these crystals only have 3000 hp on them! Both CL and DW are strong teams, but in the months since, DW has come out as having the edge. Still, don’t count CL out!

Now the map as it was strongly favored crystal killing. Council in particular, if they had both gem tiles, could drop 2 infernoes at B7 or D7, using the inferno to hit 2 crystals at once, taking off two thirds of each crystal and almost 50% of the total crystal health. DW can’t do this, as their drill is a single target attack, but the gunner/grenadier can also hit 2 crystals at once with similar results.

Now CL is a very strong team, good at whatever it decides to do, whether crystal killing or unit killing, but is a very straightforward team. Your archers deal the damage, your knights soak the damage, and your clerics heal the damage - if you’re out of archers, your damage output is screwed, if you’re out of knights, you get really squishy, if you’re out of clerics, your have zip for healing. No weaknesses out of the box, but each unit fills a specific niche and not much else can replace it.

The DW on the other hand, are specialised at staying safe. Paladin aura, beer and bubbles meant that units take 1 or 2 extra AP to kill, and this generally results in DW staying clumped up near their paladins. If you can manage to take out DW’s paladins, then DW is crippled for the rest of the game (not much game left after that, really), but taking out a 1200HP (1100HP after the last patch) 30+/30+ resist unit is a tall order, even for the mighty ninja. =) Engineers are a surprising weak spot in the DW team - they’re generally squishy, as almost no DW will spend equipment on them, but at the same time, they provide the all important bubble. Without a bubble, DW loses the ability to resist massive burst damage. Similarly, if CL can take out the bubbles consistently, perhaps with splash damage, DW can slowly lose AP on each turn and end up being unable to keep up (e.g. too slow to keep up with deployment of units, too slow to deal with crystal damage and taking out of threatening units).

Now, I’m no master of either CL or DW, so I’m glad to have with me the players of the game itself, most of whom are ranked in the top 10 of the league, and the current and former #1, Trip. =D

Move 1
CL deploys knights at B1 and D1, and helms D1 knight

Trip: Uninspiring opening hand: 2 Knights, a Cleric, a helmet, an inferno, and a potion. Nothing much to do but get the Knights out there and hope for some offense…

Move 2
DW deploys a gunner, annihilator, and paladin. Not a bad draw - the annihilator debuff synergises well with the gunner, and keeping the gunner near the paladin will make it harder for CL to kill (CL needs 5AP instead of 4AP to kill with a 200 damage unit). Nevertheless, with 2 knights on the board, CL can’t credibly threaten DW at this early stage. If there was an archer on the board, things might be different!

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Game Replay: tabby_nat (DE) v edotensei (TR)

Hi all! Thus far, in all my replays, I haven't done TR yet, and that's because quite honestly, I don't exactly have a strategy against TR - the wave is just too crazy to constantly guard against, and trying to test all combinations of axe and warrior really gives me a headache!

DE tends to have an advantage against TR, in the sense that DE never needs to worry about spiked shield resulting in weakened attackers and getting counter-attacked against weakened units. That said, DE doesn't exactly have "explosive" AOE attacks in the first place, and axe throwers are just crazy good against the high HP DE units.

So, my TR games tend to involve me turtling HARD behind crystals and whatever else that will stop me from sliding over to the TR side, staying extra out of range, littering the board with phantoms, and hoping that I can force enough trades so that I get into the late game with both sides low on "stuff", and I can stop worrying about waves and meats so much. Because of this (and axes), I tend to focus more on the necro and the imp. VMs are only good if I can somehow catch 2 or more of the shamans together, and strike a decisive blow against TR's healers, but this doesn't happen often.

Thankfully for you, I've managed to get a showmatch against edotensei, who appears to be reasonably competent with TR. =p So here goes!

Move 1
3 imp opening hand. I'm loving this game already!

Move 2
Edo has a good start with a chief and a shaman out already. No cheap kills for me this game, it seems. At least I have the imps out so that I can conceivably trade for the chief if he decides to come in early.

Edo: So im delighted to play vs Tabby and his Dark elves. Dark elves seem to have a slight advantage vs tribe due to negation of the tribe shield and just the ability to do well in the endgame coupled with the fact that when i ko multiple targets it helps the wraith with ready made meal to become a god unit. my advantage lies in being unpredictable with the wave and trying to get some free kills. 
My 2 losses in my league games came on this map so im not to delighted about it. here tabby opens very aggressively with both imps challenging my sword square and looking to take advantage of any opening mistake, i proceed cautiously. 

Monday, January 28, 2013

Quick tip: Soul Harvest

Ah, the soul harvest. So stylish, so underutilized. As you probably know, soul harvest (or the soul bomb, as I like to call it) has several effects. The main one is, it revives all KOed friendly units on the board. It also increases the max health of units, as well as dealing 100 damage to enemy units in a 3x3 square.

Reviving KOed units
Yes. It does this. You know this. Next.

Increasing the max hp of units
DE thrive on getting increased HP on their units, and even a little bit of HP means a whole lot. For example, a VM at 960 HP takes 4 hits from an unupgraded archer. But add just 5 HP for 965 HP, and suddenly that VM takes 5 hits! That extra AP to kill? Priceless. This is basically why people complain about unkillable monster VMs. :) To give your opponent even more grief, aim for >1080 HP VMs - those will survive 3 hits from a sworded archer (that's a scrolled hit!), and truly live up to their name of "monster VM.
This is not to say units other than VMs can't benefit from soul harvests - check out this Impaler. Without even a single piece of equipment, she's over 900 HP, which means it'll take 4 hits from an unupgraded archer to take her out. That's as good as a unit with a shield! And remember that the buff applies to all units on the board, so you could conceivably have your whole team effectively shielded.
In particular, this is a real boon to your priestesses, as you would normally never think to spend equipment on them. With souls harvests, your priestesses get a free ride and additional protection for free!
I can hear the outraged cries now. "Damage?!" You cry. "You mean that paltry 100 damage that gives even the puniest cleric the tickles?!"Yes, damage. Specifically, damage on 650 units, and especially against TF. Why?
Check out the HP of this spy. 550. It may not occur to you right now, but remember that every action in this game is governed by AP. 650 HP might as well be 800 HP for all that does - your 200 damage units still need 4 hits to KO, and your 300 damage units still need 3 hits.

But wait! After the soul bomb, spies have only 550 HP! That's 3 hits and 2 hits respectively! That's -1 AP, and that is huge! Also, keep in mind that the soul bomb has an area of effect - you can rack up a whole lot of -1 APs to kill in just 1 soul bomb!

Even outside of 650 HP units, 100 damage can come in handy in lots of situations - take for example, newly rezzed units. Apart from the cleric and upgraded medic (boo) freshly rezzed units have 100 HP or fewer - feel free to drop a bomb on them and then spawn a wraith to stomp for good measure! There's no hiding from the soul bomb. :) Soul bombs are also fantastic for taking out phantoms (you can get ridiculous HP buffs this way) and for dealing crystal damage (remember that they deal full gem assault tile bonus damage, which can be really significant especially when you get hit 2 crystals at the same tile, like on the tribe map or the staggered crystals in a field map).

Blobertson also reminded me that this piddling amount of damage? Also breaks bubbles, beer, TF medic link, stuff like that - it's particularly good against TF medic because the link target needs to get healed up before the link can be re-established (shades of matrix), whereas it's not that good against bubbles because soul bombs that don't do damage don't give bonus health. Still, it's a good option to look out for!

All of the above
But you know what the best thing about the soul bomb is? It's the fact that all of the above advantages aren't mutually exclusive! If you're lucky (or you plan ahead), you can have the soul bomb Rez your down unit AND bump it above 900/1080 damage AND damage a whole bunch of spies AND deal crystal damage with a cherry on top!
Now that? Is the perfect soul harvest. :)