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 :)