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.

Move 2
Masterpiece2: Oops, forgot to take a snapshot of my turn – this ends up happening a bunch.. My draw was: Pally, 2 Gunners, Shield, Scroll, Engineer,

I like my draw (minus not having a helm against this predominately magic-powered team), best thing about it is that it includes a pally - so critical in this matchup as they take a bunch of AP to kill, and the aura support they offer is often times the difference of an extra AP needed to kill. (I love using an upgrade + 5% aura to make a unit take 4 AP to kill from a 300 attack damage unit of either the magic or physical variety ). I don't like not having a helm since so much of TF2's strong attack comes from magic.

I've dropped a gunner, moved him up, supported him with a pally to nix the sniper threat and shielded him to turn my cards.

Tabby: Also note that that the gunner shot knocks the scout back, and forces TF to spend an additional AP getting the scout back in position if TF is thinking of going for crystal damage. 

Move 3
Masterpiece2: Early medic on his side. He's moved up the sniper and kept him in line with my deploy tile which is seemingly where he is going to stay all game since any row but the back row for this unit is done purposefully. Moving out the demo man, ill have to deal with him first, and I have no helm on the board.

ikarigendo: I drew a demoman, which can be a huge threat in the midgame, when units start to clump up. He's not great in the early game, but he can be pumped up with medics and lob explosives from range 3, so I'll deploy him and a medic as the best threat I've got. Medics are one of the weak points of TF, and I don't have any respawn tokens, so I want to keep him protected. DW has 4 burst damage possibilities, so I have to watch out for a possible suicidal gunner that could take out my medic. Therefore, I shield him with the sniper and grenadier. The gunner is still a big threat, because I don't have enough firepower to kill him if he charges in. For example, he could advance three times (to the sword tile and attack the grenadier twice, which would knock him out, and I wouldn't be able to knock him out in retaliation (unless I used a jarate, which would be pretty sad to waste it on a +1 gunner). Therefore, I take a pot shot at his gunner with my sniper. This can be undone with his pali, but it's an even trade in AP, and prevents the above situation where he charges in and I have to waste a jarate.

Tabby: TF took a pot shot with the sniper, just to spend the last AP. Usually, I think that's a good idea (it's basically a wash since the pally can just spend 1 AP to heal the gunner back up), but in this case, I think TF would have better benefited by moving the bottom sniper either up or forward, off the deploy tile, so that TF could have deployed the bottom scout and flipped more cards, or some other deployment action - remember that pretty much the entire TF deck is units, so if you have your deploy tiles blocked, you literally can't develop at all, unlike other teams where you can still develop by equipping swords, shields etc.

Move 4
Masterpiece2: I drew another engineer, beer and a pally - DFENCE. I can now threaten his medic with the scroll and gunner pretty much anywhere on the board. I will work to keep the medic in the gunner's sites. Mine is a hand that will take time to develop, and there is no advantage I can take yet, so ill stick with the strategy and dig in (a pretty standard Dwarven early-game strategy). I drop a gunner and move him up to guard the bottom assault tile, and deploy a pally and move him up to get the pally-crystal-sandwich ready for next turn.

Tabby: DW develops the bottom half of the board by deploying a gunner and a pally. The thing about gunners is that they are very very short range. This leaves the board open for TF to develop early and move units up (notice that the grenadier, for instance, is within 2 AP of the DW crystal), and doesn't threaten any units on about half of the board. Still, you have to play the hand that you get, and if you got 2 gunners, you have to make them work. =)

Move 5

Masterpiece2: He shoots both gunners, deploys a soldier and moves him forward.

ikarigendo: Yay, finally some offense! I deploy the soldier to the bottom row, to gain some board control there. I want to keep the pressure on both assault tiles, so that if he bunkers in, I can threaten a crystal kill. I move the bottom sniper to his attack tile row, to hopefully scare him off it. I take pot shots at the gunners, to try to keep the pressure on him and slow down the dwarf fortress. Again, he can easily undo these shots with a paladin heal, so it's really just a stalling tactic, and perhaps also I am doing it out of frustration at not being able to put any early pressure on.

Tabby: I have to say, I don't really like this move. DW leaves the board open for you to develop, you should develop the board! Taking sniper shots when the pallys are in range is basically AP neutral - you spend an AP to shoot, the pally spends an AP to heal. Instead of making AP neutral moves, TF should seize the initiative and create threats by turning cards, taking the centre, clearing the deploy tile, things like that. If you allow a DW to make a fortress unchecked, I dare say you are most likely to regret it.

Move 6
Masterpiece2: The clumping begins, I’ve got my gunners on the rails and am guarding the gem tiles. Im going to move to the pally-crystal sandwich thus increasing the crystals effective health while also being in range of each other and every unit on the field – this is a really nice Pally deployment. I still don't have a sword out there so I need to drop the annihilator to get some offense in the game. I'm going to remain defensive for the time being, although there is an opportunity to gunner kamikaze up top and force the Jarate to come out that I will keep a close eye on. It will require a bubble, so I've deployed the engineer to prep that scenario and shut down the pesky sniping.

Tabby: I feel that bubbling is really an AP transfer mechanism - you spend 1 AP now to make sure that the enemy needs to spend 1 extra AP later. Always good to do when you have spare AP, but if you can do something else that would get better return, unless you're setting up for a specific strategy involving that bubbled unit, you should do that instead. Pre-emptively bubbling everything can even be AP negative, if your opponent splashes you to take away the bubble while forcing you to deal with the splash damage!

Move 7
Masterpiece2: He Jarate/Snipe kills my Pally and stomps with the scout! I was not expecting an early Jarate/scout trade for a pally – but he probably recognized how devastating the Pally Crystal Sandwich can be for future game scenarios… This reinforces my thought to dig in as I can't afford to lose the second one. The trades might not be over since he has an advancing soldier on my now Pally-less side...

ikarigendo: He leave a pali in the sniper's gunsite, and I take the bait and jar->shoot->stomp it. It's questionable whether a naked pali is worth the jar or not. At this time, I was experimenting with pali hunting in league games, and found mixed success. In this case, my early game was so slow and unthreatening that I felt I had to do something to gain tempo and put the DW under pressure before the impenetrable fortress is constructed. The longer the game goes on without any action, the more the board will get clumped up, and eventually the dwarven grenadier will reign supreme and get a slow crystal victory. So, I used the jar on the bottom pali, and then hope my pyro can kill his top pali. (He may not have a third pali in hand, so I may not even need to stop the pali.) My top lane is getting really crowded. I want to deploy things and attack, but the medic is sitting on the deploy tile. If I move him forward, he'll get quickly sniped by the gunner. So, I move him down to relative safety behind the big crystal. I put my sniper on my attack tile to get a strong long range threat, which will also pressure his remaining paladin and force him to move him away and hopefully waste AP.

Tabby: Hmmmm, I don't really like spending the jar on a vanilla pally... There already is another pally on the board, so TF isn't gaining much tempo for this - TF can't even gamble on DW not having another pally/beer in hand and abusing DW in the meantime. I could see this working if the plan was to kill all the pallys (only 2 range heal, and no ranged rez items for DW), but it seems rather early in the game for that, and there's no clear route to getting the other pally either.

I would have liked it better if TF went ahead and set up a few trades, rather than sitting back in fear of the gunners - TF has more than enough units to make those trades. DW in particular only has 6 damage dealers (3 gunners, 3 grenadiers, and 1 more if you count anni). TF on the other hand has 2 pyros, 2 soldiers, 2 heavies, 2 grenadiers, 2 spies... plenty of damage dealers to go around. So go ahead and trade! In this case, moving the grenadier on the sword tile and the soldier to say D4 (just above the shield tile, or even on the shield tile) and deploying the second soldier or pyro would give DW something to think about. Remember, DW has a hard time stomping, so rezzing and not healing up to full can be a good tactic against DW (sets up trades for the stomping unit).

I also don't like the medic at A3 - the medic is not a priestess, it has only a range 2 heal. From where the medic is now, he can't really reach anywhere important - out of range of the sword tile, a big fat crystal in front, why would he waste AP healing a sniper - things like that. I would much rather the medic be at B2 (the corner between the crystal and the sword tile) to cover the sword tile and B3, keeping in mind that DW was already allowed to cover the gem tiles.

Notice that the snipers are covering rows 2 and 4, leaving 1, 3 and 5 open. I don't really like this either. =p This forces DW to spread out, which is completely the opposite of what you want! I would have covered rows 1 and 5, encouraging DW to clump around the crystal, giving the demo a good target.

Healing, especially for TF, is more of an anti-harassment tool, to fix hit and run damage, rather than to make your units invincible (unless you are DW, or maybe CL with their 400HP rez). Remember that if you have to move before rezzing, you are down 2 AP - only 3AP left on that turn, and very few units can really make use of 3 AP. So unless you're saving an especially important unit (for example, a +3 ninja or +3 VM that your opponent can KO but not kill), moving to save a KOed unit is not especially useful. If you have a medic at B2, your unit at B4 becomes a lot more resilient (and also powerful, with the possibility of a medic link).

One thing in particular to note, however, is that the drill does 600 physical damage. With a drill, it is very very easy to snipe medics - you could literally have any DW unit up to 4 tiles away, and still snipe and stomp the medic with a drill. Given that TF only has 2 medics, this is a big deal. So I can understand trying to keep the medic safe, but keeping the medic safe need not mean making the medic useless...

ikarigendo: other than the drill (which you note), B2 is also vulnerable to scroll knockout from the gunner. Without a recall in hand, this would also mean death for the medic. The alternative would be to deploy the second medic and raise the first, but this wouldn't leave enough AP to kill the gunner, unless the jar is saved and used for that (which again isn't great -- jar for +1 gunner). Therefore, medic at B2 means either medic death (via any 1 of 4 consumables) or a jar for +1 gunner trade if you are lucky and DW has a scroll but not a drill. Furthermore, although A3 looks useless, it is only one move from later development to C3, where it can support soldier or demoman attacks from E3 on the opposing crystal. As funny as it may seem in hindsight, I was actually planning a crystal rush of my own, thinking that the DW player would be more defensive.

Move 8
Tabby: Ok, it's a bit confusing here, but I think what happened is that the bottom gunner shot the scout, knocking it back diagonally to the tile behind the crystal (200 damage), and then the annihilator took a shot, knocking it up (300 damage) and killing it (from the leftover damage on turn 2. The annihilator then moved up to behind the crystal, the pally moved up to between the gunner and the engineer, and a grenadier was deployed.

Masterpiece2: I have 2 scrolls some grenadiers and his clumping around the crystal have me salivating, I could wipe out all the crystal buddies with the right setup, but that is a few moves away. I still can't send a gunner in on a suicide mission effectively and I need to protect my second pally so the top gunner will be playing bodyguard as the Pally moves up out of sniper sites. He's also sniping my attack tile so I have to leave it open for now. That means the bottom soldier might want that perch to 2 shot my Annihilator so I'll have to him up behind the crystal after nuking the scout. I like him in middle-back on this map, so this is a good move for him. I'll drop the Grenny on my deploy tile to make sure I get an OK (not great) trade if the soldier has eyes for the gunner.

Move 9
Masterpiece2: I feared a Pyro, here he comes for my Pally. He’s deployed, moved up only one because of the gunner threat and received some bullets from the engineer. I’ve decided he’s going for a TKO player since he jarred my Pally instead of saving it for a 3+ upgraded unit, and is not guarding the assault tiles with snipers or a 3 ranged unit on the attack tile. He’s not respecting the Dwarven KKK (Krystal Killing Kapacity). This is something I will contemplate taking advantage of. He's also taking a risk clumping around that crystal - lucky that I don't have 2 drills, which could kill 5 and do 2640 crystal damage with my two gunners on the assault tiles… 

ikarigendo: a pyro is a much bigger threat against a pali if he is upgraded by an engi. Also, medics are fantastic healers once upgraded. So, I deploy the engi, deploy the pyro, upgrade the pyro, and move him up so I can threaten to move twice and then attack three times for 390 against the paladin. I'm hoping he will retreat into a defensive position to protect the paladin, and then I can take the assault tiles and use my granadier for mass AOE and crystal damage.

Tabby: Everyone falls for the DW double drill crystal thing at least once in their HA career. =) With 2 gem tiles, each drill will do a whopping 440ish splash damage, and note that some of this damage (more accurately, the bonus gem tile damage) is untyped, meaning that that damage will bypass your resistances. Not many people know that. In particular for the squishy TF, this could spell trouble... Another reason why TF should have developed forward in the early game.  

I would have much preferred the engineer at A3, directly behind the crystal, so that the engineer can reach both deploy tiles. Also, if medic was at B2, pyro could have been moved up all the way to A3 - if gunner moves to A5 to kill, medic can rez, pyro attack x3 to kill, deploy scout, stomp, and heal pyro again. Then, the top would have no threat by DW, and TF would be in control of the top gem tile. 

Still, DW needs to respect the pyro and move the pally, or TF can make good on his threat to kill all the  pallys by jarring the remaining pally. Seperating pally and gunner is a must - either move gunner to shield tile and bubble, or helm, or snipe the pyro somehow, by spending a scroll or drill.. as it turns out, DW had a much better move. =)

Masterpiece2: A drill and 2 scrolls has my hand very offensive focused (except I still don’t have a sword or any buffed units) which is in direct conflict with my original dig-in strategy. Time to start thinking offense… I need to gain some AP otherwise I will quickly be at a deployment deficit, so I'm going to look to do some crystal damage and gain the SERIOUS AOE damage by placing both gunners on the assault tiles before I drill. This strategy only works if I threaten w the grenadier for next turn by moving him diagonal up 2, otherwise he will just heal up and I’ll only have crystal damage and 2 exposed gunners to show for my efforts. With the Grenny in position, he can have the 2nd pally, but he'll be getting 4000 more crystal damage and losing all his clumped units courtesy of the well-positioned Grenny. 
Move 10
Masterpiece2: A drill and 2 scrolls has my hand very offensive focused (except I still don’t have a sword or any buffed units) which is in direct conflict with my original dig-in strategy. Time to start thinking offense… I need to gain some AP otherwise I will quickly be at a deployment deficit, so I'm going to look to do some crystal damage and gain the SERIOUS AOE damage by placing both gunners on the assault tiles before I drill. This strategy only works if I threaten w the grenadier for next turn by moving him diagonal up 2, otherwise he will just heal up and I’ll only have crystal damage and 2 exposed gunners to show for my efforts. With the Grenny in position, he can have the 2nd pally, but he'll be getting 4000 more crystal damage and losing all his clumped units courtesy of the well-positioned Grenny.

Tabby: Nice move! Never be afraid to spend stuff if you can gain tempo or unit advantage against TF - remember that they're all squishy except for the heavy, so you don't need to save scrolls or drills or whatnot to snipe valuable units. This move means that if the top pyro wants the gunner, he'll have to leave most of the units unhealed, and the grenadier will finish everything off and gain a bunch of crystal damage to boot. However, TF doesn't have enough AP to heal all the damaged units and move out of the way of the grenadier either! If I had to play this turn.. I dunno, I might have tried to save my crystal by knocking the bottom gunner off with the soldier, and KOing the top gunner with the pyro. That way, at least if the grenadier decides to finish off the rest of my weakened units, at least I don't take excessive crystal damage, with the option to kill bottom gunner next turn, and/or top gunner if pally rezzes just for crystal damage.

Move 11

Masterpiece2: My top Gunner dies a fiery death at the hands of the Pyro and the medic eats a sandwich and deploys another free scout – he will probably be on that bottom assault tile soon.

ikarigendo: Ugh! I just broke one of my general HA guidelines: if you can control both assault tiles (on one of these two tile maps), you will probably win. I was thinking that with my soldier on bottom, and pyro on top, I would have enough damage threat to scare him away from the assault tiles, but obviously I was wrong. My unites around the crystal took a lot of damage, but snipers aren't very useful so I don't care about them. I sandvich the medic to keep him from being killed and stomped by the granadier next turn. I also considered shooting the bottom gunner with my soldier, to get him off the assault tile.  

Tabby: Tough spot here. =p Note that pyro now threatens to 3 shot pally and engineer, if grenadier decides to just take out all the units around the crystal. DW has to protect that pally!

Move 12
Masterpiece2: I drew a shield, great.  Ok, time to think about what the strengths of the last 13 buried cards of mine will be in comparison to what he has left:  I'm going to have 2-3 3+ units against only 1 Jarate.  That mental inventory allows me to send the Grenny on a kamikaze-crystal killing mission that I prepped for last turn that also kills 3 other units without using a scroll.  That is the penalty for clumping against the Dwarves.  With all those TF2 corpses laying on the board, I should be able to use the few turns to dig in before the final big crystal rush.

Move 13
Masterpiece2: He kills the Grenny with the Pyro and stomps before retreating to the top assault tile. This was a forced move for Ikarigendo really. The threat of the continued shelling was enough to save the pally and engineer from the fire of the forward Pyro. He used the last AP to blow the gunner off the assault tile. This is pretty close to a game reset. The significant crystal damage should be enough to influence his strategy in my favor and keep him from over extending. Also, without those pesky snipers, it will be a lot easier to establish a strong Dwarven Fortress. The second half of this match will be filled with spies and Heavys, which are hard to deal with. I need to end this game via CK before they get too well set up. Knowing that this is a CK game, I can be more liberal with my scrolls since I’m not playing for the end game and don’t need to worry as much about equitable trades. 

ikarigendo: he killed a ton of units, but I don't care about most of them. The demoman was the biggest loss. More importantly, he did a bunch of crystal damage at the same time. That's one of the great strengths of AOE -- you can go for crystal kill and TKO at the same time. Now I have a choice of whether to kill the granadier or the gunner on the assault tile. I choose the granedier, because of his great AOE and ability to lob attack for unavoidable crystal damage. I'm not sure if this was the right choice or not. When you are facing crystal pressure, I think it's generally better to go for the assault tile rather than the unit attacking the crystal. In this case, that would mean losing my medic (if he was inclined to stomp, but maybe that's worth it.
Tabby: Was the grenadier a forced move? I kind of want to take out the pally and engineer - this is consistent with the earlier move to jar the first pally. After all, TF is down on materiel at this point, maybe going for the healerkill might be a better long term decision. So my move would have been pyro to A7, 3x attack, stomp pally, stomp engineer, soldier knocks gunner off the assault tile. DW's answer might be to move gunner back on assault tile, attack crystal x4 at 560 damage a pop, for 2000 ish total damage, leaving maybe 3400HP left? (The big crystal has 9000 initial HP, and looks to be at 60% at this point). Not a lot of HP to work with, but now it's a straight crystal race v TKO race, as DW doesn't have any remote rez options - if there's no pally around, down means down, no popping up to finish off the last 10% or anything like that. Heavies and spies also deny crystal tiles very well.

So after DW answer, soldier can KO gunner with 2 shots, soldier to D4 1 shot on grenadier to knock him out of range (making sure that he can only do 800 damage max next turn), and 1 turn to spare - maybe deploy heavy at top to hold the gem tile. The pyro is also a problem - when upgraded, he can 2 shot the annihilator, which is a good deal if you can get it - that's something that DW will have to respond to, which will give TF some time to develop his units. The crystal will hover around 2000HP when all is said and done. I don't know if that's the best option, but it seems that TF is in a dire position at this point!

Move 14
Masterpiece2: Taking out his ammoed pyro is a must since he threatens to take out my pally and engineer next turn if I don't. Also, that well fed (sandwiched) medic can spring to the middle of the board and revive the pyro and he will slaughter anything around him. Because of that rezzing scenario, I don't want to make the kill with the annihilator. The exposed gunner, however, is as good as dead if I leave him down by the soldier, so I'm going to take him up top to kill the pyro in 3 and save my scrolls, though I'll probably need to use one next turn to turn some cards for the second push. He may decide on the rez scenario, but it uses up the sandwich, and leaves his medic vulnerable, so I'm going to take the chance and risk the gunner’s death (which would leave me w only 4 offensive units, one being a future Jarate candidate, that will be my weakness now.)

Move 15
Masterpiece2: He goes for the rez scenario and killstomps the gunner w the pyro and retreats as far as he can.

ikarigendo: I take the opportunity to kill the gunner. His only remaining offensive units now are the annihilator, one gunner, and two granediers. Meanwhile I still have a ton of offensive units left. However, he still has a drill and two scrolls left. I'm worried he will drill my medic, run up and stomp it with his engie, and then knock out my pyro. If he does this, not only would I lose the medic, but I would also have no way to save the pyro. (Turns out, he didn't have a drill in hand, but I had no way to know that.)

Move 16
Masterpiece2: I’m going to killstomp his whipped Pyro with the Engineer since its my low value unit right now and its clogging up a deploy tile. I gain some AP by getting him off the deploy tile, and some position by getting him close to the assault tile for a possible future drill attack.

Tabby: Her. Girl with a wrench, yo. ;) It's?!

Move 17
Masterpiece2: He puts the medic on the attack tile and deploys a second and heals up to full. The medics are clumped (opportunity) and only range 2, so the assault tile is still free from a 3 ranged unit. He deploys a Pyro to threaten it instead

ikarigendo: I deploy my second medic and heal the first one once so that he's out of 1AP instant drill death range. Having medics standing right next to an attack tile makes me nervous, because the engie could walk up, scroll, kill, and stomp my medic. So, I step on the attack tile myself to prevent that. It also allows for super healing from the medic, should the need arise. Also, this gets my top medic out of the way from my deploying and advancing units. I deploy a pyro top, hoping to threaten his paladin and generally scare him away from the assault tile.

Move 18
Masterpiece2: [working backwards with arithmetic to see if the final crystal push is now] Moving up the engineer and advancing with the Annihilator to attack the crystal could take another 1440 off the crystal leaving it at 4000 with a physical de-buff. Then, in the future, with 1 Dwarf on the an assault tile, the last drill in my deck would take off 1300ish, that still leaves 2700 and a serious deployment deficit when my Annihilator gets taken out. That’s too much crystal HP to eliminate with not enough units on the board. Verdict: Not yet. Instead, let’s get some more meat out there and threaten those clumpy medics. Out comes Grenny, shielded, and since my engineer is pretty valuable as a shield and a is 1 step away from the assault tile, I will bubble him with a newly deployed enginerd

Tabby: No love for the girl engineer. =(

Move 19
Masterpiece2: He moves the pyro up three, flamepops the bubble, scorches him for 300, and moves his pesky scout to my bottom deploy tile
ikarigendo: I can't kill the engie, so I move up and pressure it. Hopefully I can either kill it next turn, or drive him into a defensive posture. I put my scout on the bottom assault tile because I want to my bottom deploy tile (this whole game I felt like my deploy tiles and the space around them were always very crowded and constricted. I think that when the deploys are in the top middle and top bottom rows, things aren't quite as bad, because there are more places to put medics, engies and other units). Also, it should slow down his crystal rush and let me threaten crystal damage of my own.

Tabby: Maybe soldier to D3, scout to D4, looking for a spy at the bottom gem tile? Spies are generally great at taking gem tiles against DW, the only thing to really look out for are gunners.

Move 20
Masterpiece2: That Pyro is such a threat to my 2nd Pally (still 1000hp, this game started before the patch) that I need to take him out and clear up that assault tile. The other main reason I’m going to blow a scroll on a single guy because, without any pyro’s left, and only 1 jarate, the end game is going to be hell for him – I have the capability to create 3 monster units still left my the deck, and only a Jarate-Pyro or an easily avoidable spy is a concern for those beasts. I move the Grenny up diagonally, sword and scroll him (BY THE POWER OF GREYSKULL – I end up saying that in my head any time I sword and scroll someone on the same turn…), bomb his pyro (damaging his medic) and stomp with the engineer (sacrifice). 

Tabby: I would have chosen grenadier to B6 instead, simply due to the further threat to the sword tile next turn. But swording the grenadier is a key move that keeps initiative and allows DW to develop without worrying about TF trying anything.

Move 21

Masterpiece2: Out comes a spy to stab my engineer and make any retaliation with a Grenny very difficult – Spies are the arch nemoc of Grennies. Where are the gunners when you need them. He realizes the mistake of clumping his medics and moves one down to balance the board. Interestingly they are now out of reach of eachother yet linked to splash damage by the crystal.

ikarigendo: Ugh. With that sworded granadier, I need to unclump those medics ASAP. However, they still need to be close enough to heal each other. With that giant crystal in the middle, they are constantly vulnerable to AOE from the granadier, being pushed around by the annihilator, or another drill attack. Again, I feel like my units are all tripping over each other -- I seem to have trouble deploying and organizing my units on this map. Anyway, I move the medic. I also put the spy out to control the assault tile. He is difficult for the granadier to kill.   

Tabby: There's just no avoiding splash from the crystal on this map. If you block out the 3x3 square around the crystal, there's just a thin border of space on which to stand! I would again focus more on control of the midfield - there's a lot more space there, around the gem tiles, if only you can control it.

Move 22
Masterpiece2: That spy needs to go, he is currently pinning every unit I have to the top right of the board. If I let this stand, he will flood the board with units and the original strategy of working hard for board position will be lost. I will stick with the position-focused strategy and scroll kill the Spy with the Pally, and stomp him with the Grenny. At this point a shielded Grenny backed by a pally is going to be very difficult for him to deal with equitably – This is compounded by the fact that he now has no Pyros left. This is how board position wins games.

Tabby: That's what scrolls are for in the TF match - don't be shy about using them, especially to gain board advantage - TF doesn't have any super units that you need to save up for, so just use stuff if it'll force TF to either give up a bunch of units or give up a good position on the board.

Move 23
Masterpiece2: He drops a heavy and puts him right in front of the Grenny, shoots him once and drops a Spy. He’s taking advantage of the range disparity of between the Grenny and Heavy and is set up to kill stomp ole’boy next turn.

ikarigendo: I can't killstomp the grenedier, but I need to put pressure on. I debated between using the soldier or the heavy. I'm hoping to capture and hold the assault tile, to slow down the crystal rush, and the heavy is better for holding a tile (he can take a lot more damage), so I went with him.

Tabby: Hmm. I would have gone with soldier, for the 3 hit KO, since the best DW could do after is to rez, move back, attack attack attack for the kill (but no stomp, so medic can rez and trade after), or rez, heal heal move (to save sworded grenadier, but lose pally next turn to soldier attack x4). That would be consistent with the early pally snipe. This move leaves both pally and grenadier alive, and so DW can choose his response, either to move grenadier back and attack X4 to kill the heavy with no clear trade after, or to just go straight for the crystal and medics. It's not clear that either choice is bad for DW either - TF is giving away the initiative.

ikarigendo: That's not possible because of the Pali aura. Soldier would do 855 damage, leaving grenadier with 25 hp.

Tabby: Darn paladins and their auras! >:( Still, that means DW has to spend AP healing , and has to choose between KOing the soldier, or if he follows his plan and attacks the crystal, soldier can 1 shot the grenadier, stomp, KB the pally twice and take the gem tile. That's not a clearly a more advantageous move than the heavy, either, so I dunno.Maybe deploy the soldier instead of the spy to try to knock the pally off the gem tile after?
Move 24
Masterpiece2: He forced me to move the Grenny. I almost never retreat. I like to send guys forward knowing they are going to perish honorably for the cause. Retreating is seldom effective in my opinion. Grenny will be soon gone but not forgotten. He’s going into a situation where he will do more damage than he’s worth. I drop the Grenny to the middle, move up the pally and bomb away at the crystal for around 1800 assault-tile bonus, simultaneously killing the bottom medic, hurting the other badly, and maintaining the Assault tile. In this situation he pretty much has to kill that Grenny and leave the Pally alone, otherwise he will lose the 2nd medic and take 1500 more crystal damage next turn.
Tabby: Interesting view for a dwarf. =p The way I see it, DW has a good materiel lead at this point, and there's no need to overcommit. I'm thinking soldier to C3, medic link to soldier, attack attack, stomp with scout, minigun to the face. With few resources on the board, DW would need to save pally and start deploying again, allowing TF to bring out the rest of his units. No more grenadier to lob over line of sight, either.

Move 25
Masterpiece2: He’s lucky to have his 2nd Jarate to killstomp that Grenny (Jarate, missile, Heavy-ranged-shot and stomp with the Scout). He uses the free-AP recycle on the medic and retreats with the still-live one. [note: the newest patch dropped during this turn in the game. It reduced the health of my Pally from 1000 to 900, and dissed his Heavy’s HP from 1200 to 1100 – I don’t think that will effect the game at this point.

ikarigendo: Sophie's choice: i have to kill either the granadier or the pali, to relieve some of the crystal attack pressure. In general, I think it's better to go for the assault tile. In this case, I went for the granadier, being scared of his AOE and his continuing spash damage on my medics. At this point, I feel like I'm going to lose the game (crystal rush), and my play is sloppy as a result: rather than knocking the granadier diagonally, i should have knocked him straight back, which would have left both the scout in the soldier in the path of the annihilator, requiring him to spend an extra AP making his way to the crystal.  

Move 26
Masterpiece2: Charge! This is why I love the Annihilator middle back on this map. He’s 1 AP away from the action, and pretty well protected. I’m going to start the beginning of the final make-or-break crystal rush since my Pally is on the assault tile. 3 Crystal hits does 2000+ damage and hurts the medic more. I’ve moved him ahead 2 and sent 3 rocket love notes to Crystal.

Move 27

ikarigendo: At this point, the game is basically over, and I said as much in our game chat. He still has a drill, and the crystal is debuffed, which means the drill does 900 damage minimum, even with no assault tile. Plus he still has a granadier, which is more unblockable crystal damage.  

Masterpiece2: He takes out the Annihilator with 3 return-missiles, deploys another soldier and moves him forward – but that Pally STILL remains, despite being right in front of the Heavy for multiple turns – the best defense in Hero Academy is a good offense – you can rarely kill 2 Dwarven units in 1 turn. With good position, your opponent will be forced to take out the threatening units and overlook the unit on the tile.   

Look at the deployment deficit now. If I cant take out that last bit of crystal health in the next few turns, its over. Since I still have that Pally on the tile, lets send a Grenny out there and bomb the crystal once for 500ish damage. This way, I save the physical de-buff for whenever I get my last drill.

Tabby: I might have tried moving heavy to the sword tile, 3 shots to take out the annihilator, and one last spare shot for the pally. But it's too late, I think...

Move 28

Masterpiece2: Again he’s forced to deal with the Grenny w 3 Soldier shots and leave the Assault tile manned.  

Move 29 - Crystal gets drilled, win by  CK.

Masterpiece2: the Hero Academy gods decided enough was enough and tossed me the game-ending drill after the Grenny deployed. Good game Ikarigendo, let’s go again sometime!

ikarigendo: Likewise, good game, and well played! And thanks to tabby_nat for hosting the blog and taking the time to post this. One thing I learned is that capturing all these screenshots, collecting them, and commenting them takes a ton of time, so I really appreciate the community contributions that so many people have made. Maybe some day there will be a replay function! Maybe a steam mod to capture all the turns?    

Tabby: Good game both, interesting decisions by both sides. And yes, I wish I had a replay viewer and saver too. =)

Hope all of you enjoyed this replay, and see you guys next time!


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