Advanced strategy guide : Granularity and abuse

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Advanced strategy guide : Granularity and abuse[edit | edit source]

This is the beginning of the advanced part of my strategy guide. Up to now we have covered the basics that many master players are familiar with. To make the difference from now on, you will need to gain little advantages here and there during the game. Each one might not be much, but all of them can be decisive over the course of a game. This article is about the importance of granularity and abusing your opponent's defenses.

What is granularity ?[edit | edit source]

Granularity is a hard concept to explain, but easy to grasp. Basically, it is the ability to defend efficiently (that is to say, with maximum absorb on your absorber) no matter what amount of damage your opponent decices to cause on his attack. For example, if you have only two Walls as defense against an attack of 3, then you will have to take 3 damage on a Wall and no absorption on the other. If you have an Engineer on top of it, then you can take one damage on the Engineer, and absorb the 2 remaining on the Wall. Your granularity is better in the second scenario than in the first. It is not perfect, however, as if you opponent is attacking for 4 damage, your only option is to take 3 on one Wall and absorb only 1 with the other. It is better than no absorb at all, but it is still lacking.

How to increase granularity ?[edit | edit source]

A simple answer to this is : buy Engineers ! Engineers are the most granular units, and having 2 along with Walls will keep making you granular. Usually, you should try to have 1 or 2 every time (if you can afford it, of course). However, as a defensive unit, Engineer isn't a good one (not the worst, though). Not only does it costs more than the average defender, it is not Prompt, so you need to set up your granularity one turn in advance, which, once again, is not ideal. So what other solution do you have ? Having a 2 health defender on top of an Engineer is quite granular as well : if you need to soak 1 damage, you do it on the Engineer, if you need to soak 2 damage, you do it on the 2 health defender instead.

Conveniently, there are 2 defender units with 2 health and Prompt : Forcefield and Rhino. Neither are options you actually want to use because Rhino is bad value soak, and Forcefield is better used as a last resource defense as it consumes your economy. So, what are you left with ? Mostly using advanced set options like Husk or Corpus if there is some available, or holding back a Drone. Or simply bite the bullet, and try to get a better granularity afterwards.

On the note of holding a Drone versus buying Forcefield, provided you have an Engineer and the Drone is enough defense already, the choice can be tough. Usually, if the green doesn't matter, you're better off doing the Forcefield as it provides 1 more defense for the same cost. If you plan to use the green next turn, then you should hold the Drone instead.

Abusing defenses[edit | edit source]

There are many ways to abuse your opponent's defenses. Some will require advanced set units, some will not.

Attack for 0[edit | edit source]

The easiest way to abuse defenses is to not attack at all, therefore, no damage can be absorbed ! But if you never attack, you never win either. However, that one can be done efficiently with advanced units that let you spend attack : Bloodrager, Thermite Core, Lancetooth and Arka Sodara or units that spend their own attack : Mitia and Manticore. These work better the stronger your opponent's absorber is by denying it its absorb value. Of course, you should only do that while building your strength, and stop once you're well above the absorb barrier, because you still need to damage your opponent. That kind of strategy works exceptionally well against 1 lifespan defenders like Plexo Cell : if you attack for 0 on that turn, not only do your opponent loses absorb, but also the defensive value of Plexo Cell.

A similar approach is to build your attack around units that attack every few turns, like Scorchilla and Iso Kronus. By attacking with 0 on a turn, and a lot on the other turns, not only does it stops your opponent from absorbing on the off turns, but he will often have to build some defense in advance to prepare for the big turns. So he will overdefend consequently against 0 damage. Once again, that is more effective against big absorbers. You can also couple that with units that get value when not attacking, like defending on Valkyrion on the off turns, or Milita and Manticore as previously mentioned. It also works great with freezing threat, like Cryo Ray and Frostbyte. However, as soon as you build permanent attack like Tarsiers and begin to attack on off turns (which you might have to do if the set does not have enough supporting this strategy), you will lose most of the advantage of this strategy.

Granular attack[edit | edit source]

In a similar way of granular defense, you can have a granular attack, by holding some attackers on defense, like Steelsplitter and spending some points of attack with units like Militia (in the same way as mentioned earlier, except that instead of aiming for a 0 attack, you can aim for specific numbers). The idea is to either take advantage of your opponent's lack of granularity by attacking for numbers that will not let them get full absorb value, or to create an opportunity of abuse on later turns by reducing their granularity. This is usually done by forcing them to defend on their Engineers if they want full absorb value this turn, then end up with no Engineer on the following turn, which will enable an easy abuse.

As a concrete example, let's say your opponent has only 2 Engineers and 2 Walls, and you can attack for 5. If you do so, then the opponent will block 3 damage on a Wall, and absorb 2 on the other. If you have an opportunity to do only 4 by holding a Rhino, or not clicking a Pixie, then you should do so. Either your opponent will take 3 on a wall, leaving only 1 absorb on the other Wall, or he will lose his 2 Engineers and absorb for 2 on a Wall, leaving him open for an even bigger abuse on next turn with no Engineers for his granularity.

Freeze granularity[edit | edit source]

Another way to create an abuse is with freeze units. You will not want to spend precious Frostbytes for this job, but units like Cryo Rays and Iceblade Golem are good at doing that, on top of the threat they provide. In this case, you will want to freeze some Engineers to reduce your opponent's granularity and adjust your attack number to create the abuse. You can even use a Nivo Charge for that if you have nothing better to do with it !

It is usually OK to spend multiple Cryo Ray charges to make even a 1 point abuse, except if they're on 1 charge remaining, as you would lose the threat they provide.

Frontline weakness[edit | edit source]

Frontline units, like Shredder or Iceblade Golem are always efficient units. The tradeoff is that they open the defense for abuse. you should always click a frontline unit on defense, but you can also click on which is not on defense. The idea is to attack for exactly the amount needed to kill the unit, leaving the defending player with no absorb. You can do this with the usual ways : holding attacker, spending your attack points ... The more frontline units on the defensive side, the easier it will be to abuse the defense. For this reason, you will avoid having 2 Hannibulls at same time if your opponent has around 14 attack damage and you will avoid defending with a Polywall if your opponent can easily attack for 6 damage.

The anti abuse units[edit | edit source]

Some units are very exposed to abuse : frontline, Plexo Cell ... On the other hand, there are a few units that deal well with abuse.

  • Engineer : obviously, it is at the core of the concept of granularity, and it is good to have at least one sitting around, two being the optimal if you have a Wall.
  • Innervi Field : if your opponent is attacking for 0, then your Innervi Field will grow. That doesn't make for the loss of absorbing, but that lessens the pain. On the other hand, this unit becomes very vulnerable to abuse on its third turn. Make sure not to build it if your opponent can attack for 0 easily 3 turns in a row (like with Thermite Core).
  • Rhino : Rhino is a pretty good unit both against abuse and to set up abuse : if you opponent doesn't attack, the Rhino will get threat and offensive value. That also works with other Prompt defensive attackers, like Shiver Yeti. On the other hand, holding a Rhino to cause an abuse will save a charge on it, which can convert later into a damage. Plus, the Rhino is participating on defense and can increase granularity and protect against threat.
  • Cauterizer : and any other unit that builds Engineers (Sentinel, Hellhound...). Engineers being at the core of granularity, obviously units that bild a bunch of them are good as well! they do nothing against 0 attack strategies, but help against the other forms of abuse.
  • Xaetron : the star against any kind of abuse : against granularity abuses, any abused damage on Xaetron will serve on following turn's defense, and against 0 attack strategies, Xaetron will still gain health back. If he reaches max health, you can click it (you usually want to avoid doing that as it is better to keep it on defense, but if you opponent is attacking for 0, it is still better value to click). Against timer attacking strategies, like Iso Kronus, it can completely nullify their advantage by healing on the off turns while providing full defense on the big turns. Granularity will become a problem with Xaetron only if you try to setup absorbing on something else every few turns. This unit will be covered in its own section in a later article.

Beware of the fake abuse[edit | edit source]

What I call fake abuse is abuse you get by holding back attackers that do nothing on defense. Having a granular attack is only worth if you get an advantage for not attacking for full value : gold by clicking a Militia, keeping a threat by not clicking Pixie, saving a Rhino charge by holding it, absorbing on a Steelsplitter to avoid having to buy another wall... If holding an attacker provides you with nothing, then you might as well attack with it. In the example I gave earlier with the one defending 5 damage with 2 Engineers and 1 Wall. It can be tempting to hold a Steelsplitter to attack for 4 and thus to create abuse opportunities later, and it might be correct if you actually defend on the held Steelsplitter. But, by doing so, you lose 1 damage : if holding the Splitter has no defensive value at all, then it is incorrect to do so and you should attack for 5.

1-lifespan is not granularity[edit | edit source]

1-lifespan units likes a held Doomed Drone or a Barrier is not granularity : all it basically does is reduce your opponent's attack by the health on the doomed unit. It can protect your Engineers which are granularity, and it can lower you opponent's attack to a level where he won't be able to abuse. But if he can abuse nonetheless, then it is a bad idea to use them. As an example, if you have only 2 Walls and your opponent can attack for 3 or 4, you might want to buy a Barrier to increase your granularity against 3 damage, but if your opponent attacks for 4, not only do you lose a Wall, but you also lose the health of the Barrier. In this example, you could instead buy 2 Barriers to negate your opponent's attack completely.

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