Cluster Bolt is a powerful source of burst damage that can devastate an unprepared opponent, but increases the pressure on oneself as well. It is best used against an opponent without access to efficient defenders, for example an opponent playing a Tatsu Nullifier rush. If the four damage forces them to buy two Rhinos, then Cluster Bolt is great. It can also be used to deny important purchases - for example, if the opponent has set up to buy a Defense Grid next turn, but buying a Cluster Bolt places them under so much pressure that they can't do so without getting breached.
Notable is that, since Cluster Bolt has no Gold cost, it can be bought even after a player has lost all their Drones and other Gold-producing units. If bought at times like this, it can potentially turn close games from losses to draws or even victories, although such situations are rare. As such, in games where Cluster Bolt can be bought it can be very important to destroy enemy Conduits in the lategame.
The Player 1 Cluster Bolt rush tends to go:
- C Bolt
- CC Bolt
With some variation on when the bolts are fired off. You probably want to pile up some green to launch multiple Cluster Bolt on the same turn.
The best Player 2 counter for this is to grab a single conduit and stock up on Gauss Cannons:
The Player 2 Cluster Bolt rush is:
- Bolt ...
The Cluster Bolts are coming out a bit faster because Player 2 can pick up the Conduits much faster, the Gauss Cannon all-in counter isn't as effective: go Blastforge on turn 2 instead, and run out your opponent's supply of Bolts. You can / should pick up a Conduit before you run out of drones so you can stock up on Green and counter-bolt to take out their Conduits and win (See the linked video below for a more detailed explanation on how to play this matchup).
Surviving the Cluster Bolt All-In
A Cluster Bolt All-In has a very high attack potential and can often catch you unaware. If your opponent buy multiple Conduits, read the set carefully and if there is no others units consuming lots of green like Asteri Cannon you know they are going for Cluster Bolt. You then have to buy breach resistant units (with high-Health) like Gauss Cannon. As a matter of fact on the turn your opponent decides to use Cluster Bolts you will be breached, so in order to minimize the damage DO NOT build low-health units like most of the red units.
- April 25th, 2015
- Prismata Game Analysis #10: The Cluster Bolt Rush, a video by Argeiphontes. (January 20th, 2015)