Beginner's strategy guide : Set reading basics
Beginner's strategy guide : Set reading basics[edit | edit source]
Advanced set reading is probably the hardest skill to master in Prismata. The advanced set changes at each game you play, so each game you need to study it carefully in order to decide what you will do. Do not hesitate to spend some time of your timebank at the beginning of the game, as it will be the best time to spend it (often, at least one of top players will end up with barely any time bank at turn 2). What makes this even harder to pick is that a single unit added or removed can completely change the orientation of a set. So, don't expect me to tell you what to buy or not in your games, however here I am going to give general pointers to reading an advanced set.
Again, absorber is the star player[edit | edit source]
Ok, you're faced with at least 5 random units, 8 if you're cheeky, more if you're unlucky with the draw (or lucky, depends if you like it complex or not). Now what ? First, look for the best absorber. Some people out there have graded them all in other guides, but it's mostly easy : usually the one with most health is the best absorber in the set (well, Centurion is arguably the best of all, and has less health than a Defense Grid but every rule has its exception).
Can I afford this absorber ?[edit | edit source]
Now you've pinpointed the best absorber, check its tech requirements. If it's an Infusion Grid, requiring only B, you're cool and you can go to next paragraph. But Defense Grid or Omega Splitter will be BBB , requiring 3 Blastforges to get out (if the set does not contain any advanced tech building like Synthetiser). That's a lot of commitment to the blue family, and remember you really want to spend all your resources on most turns. You could do Walls and Steelsplitters for a while, but the bigger the absorber, the longer the game will draw on and you will end out of supplies pretty quickly if you do that.
So, now you'll be looking at other units that share these requirements. In the Defense Grid example, that could be Drake or Doomed Mech. We call these units supports because they help you getting your absorber out, or spending your tech once it's done. If there is not enough support for an absorber, then you should not consider getting it and look for the next best absorber.
The sad rush of BBB[edit | edit source]
There's something more to check in the specific case of going for BBB asorbers (namely the previously mentioned Defense Grid and Omega Splitter). They both are costly and aren't Prompt, so you will never be able to get them under pressure. Before considering them, get a feeling of how aggressive the set can be : the presence of green or red quick attackers like Grimbotch and Fission Turrets can easily make it hard for you and you should once again consider the next absorber. However, the presence of good soak, like Plexo cell can make the aggressive options bad, and thus letting you go for your absorber of choice. Evaluating the aggressive potential of a set is not easy, but you'll get a better feeling of it by trial and error.
How big to aim for ?[edit | edit source]
Once you have settled on your absorber (the best playable one), it's time to decide how big you're going for, that is to say, answering those two questions : "How many drones should I buy (roughly) ?" and "Should I go for a third engineer on turn 2 ?". Both answers can already be derived from what you have analysed previously : the bigger the absorber, the more drones you will want, and the more aggressive the set, the less you will want that third engineer.
If your absorber is a simple Wall, then you should limit your economy to roughly between 12 and 15 drones.
If the absorber is a bit bigger, like Infusion Grid, you will want a few more, let's say between 16 and 19 drones.
If that is Energy Matrix, then you can go higher up to almost all of your drones.
If that are top tier absorbers like Defense Grid and Centurion, then you can even consider buying out all your drones.
Don't think these numbers are set in stone. Not only the exact amount doesn't matter much, but there are many factors that may tip the balance one way or the other, like very efficient attackers such as Lucina Spinos or Cynestra will make it go down, whereas efficient soak like Polywall and Chieftain will make it go up. Not to mention units that completely turn the tables. Still, it's good to have a rough idea of different economy sizes.
What's your tech ?[edit | edit source]
Absorb has been taken care of, you have a bunch of drones, and a whole lot gold to spare. Now, it's time to decide what tech you need. Obviously, the one required to buy the absorber. And as obviously, the higher your economy, the more you can afford with it. Apart from tech buildings, there are two main things you can buy with your economy : attackers, and soak.
Attack forces[edit | edit source]
The best attacker in the base set is the Tarsier. In many cases where R is an option for attack, you will throw in a few Tarsiers in the mix, but keep in mind that advanced set units are more efficient than base set ones, so you will actually want to base your attack on something else (except if the advanced set is all defensive units). Here, there is little advice I can give as it heavily depends on the set : if you economy will let you get the most efficient attacker, then go for it. As rough numbers go, you will need around 5 gold to spend on a Blastforge (Wall) and 8 gold to spend on an Animus (2 Tarsiers) if there is no advanced units to spend it more efficiently. Green is hard to quantify, but it matters less if you don't spend it all, you always have the option to bank it and use it on Forcefields later on.
Soak options[edit | edit source]
Absorbing and attacking will not be enough. You need to make sure you also have the option to soak your opponent's damage. Most absorbers are blue, so it means you have access to Wall which is a decent soak but Walls are limited on supply, so you may need to rely on something else. Make sure that your tech choices include the possibility to buy soak as well. Best soak options will lie in the Blue and Green colors (Polywall, Aegis ...), but Red also has decent options, like Blood Pact or Corpus.
And that's it for the basics of set reading. Like I said, it's tough, but you get better by practicing and reviewing your games. And it's the most useful skill in the book, so it's important to read sets well, as it can easly determine the outcome of the game.