Choosing Weapons in the Battledome

Choosing Weapons in the Battledome

One of the more obvious trends, and a trend that is pretty much guaranteed to continue is that there are more items than ever, and therefore more weapons for a battler to choose from. While there is nothing profound about this, I for one certainly welcome this change. Many people who have known me for a long time used to remember I was something of a renegade, trashing the idea that there was only one appropriate weapon for each slot given a certain budget.

Neopets has, over the past year, done for the most part a relatively solid job of incorporating new weapons into the game. With the glaring exception of the war prizes, and the ever growing threat of “icon inflation” (meaning today’s current weapons become increasingly obsolete as new more powerful weapons continue to lessen the I’mortance of strategy), Neopets has made available to all but the top battlers a solid array of weapons to choose from. Most species now have at least ONE worthwhile weapon, even if it is a r99. With that though comes choice.

And given that there is a history of unscrupulous players who would love nothing more than to make a quick buck, people become very wary when purchasing or trading weapons, since it often represents a significant portion of their net worth, and thus a big portion of all the time they have invested. This, is, as far as I know the only reading out there that has ever made clear the consequences for purchasing a given weapon. How valuable that is yet to be determined. In fact, it’s so Important that I have split the article into two sections, one that is very technical in nature, and the other that is much less technical and more conceptual and probably a slightly easier read.

The first article deals primarily with thoughts on assessing how useful a weapon might be in one player, where the 2nd article is aimed at 2 player battles. Before I continue, a few warnings, as always: Again, as always, this isn’t designed for brand new battlers, even less so than my other articles. I apologize, and can only promise that there is stuff in the works. Never mind that this article was also a long time in the works before ever coming to fruition. Secondly, this article is blissfully ignorant of economic I’mlications. This may come as a surprise to my friends who know that I look at everything very closely with cost in mind. Its not that cost isn’t I’mortant when choosing a weapon, it’s just that looking at weapons as investments deserves its own topic, and I think that most people already have a basic grasp of figuring out how much they want to spend on a given weapon, so from a non-investment standpoint, its a moot-point. Lastly, this might have limited usefulness.

No doubt the sections dealing with specific battledome strategy are useful for all, because there are large chunks that will appeal to mathematically inclined people, and there are large chunks that will appeal to people who hate math. Furthermore, it is in my mind the most serious discussion about this topic without question, the reality is that most people aren’t going to want to think this way about choosing weapons. Heck, there are a lot of times that even I don’t think this way. A lot of times you look at a weapon, and you either like the weapon or dislike it based largely on emotional reasons. A lot of people still love their box of clockwork grundos (and now the Rainbow Clockwork Grundo) because it “looks cool”. Or I have one friend who doesn’t consider her self a serious battledomer in spite of I’mressive stats and has an I’mressive array of “cool” but probably not cost-effective weapons. You know what? More power to her! That’s what makes her happy, to some extent I think it makes all “outside-the-box” thinkers happy to own at least one avant-garde weapon. And of course not only will this seem unimportant to people who buy weapons on a purely emotional basis, but it will also have limited utility at the very high end of the game. As bad and often unethical as the weapon advice generally is in the neoboards, (and believe me, it’s at best generally populated by people who are well-meaning but not helpful, and at worst people trying to sell a useless weapon in a hurry), its hard to imagine a high level battledomer getting bad advice. I’m going to put up a mock sample post just to exaggerate this point for laughs.

Poster 1: “Ummm yeah, so I have about 10-15 million neopoints at hand, and I really need one more multi use, all offense weapon to fill out my set. Right now my best weapon is only a Bow of Destiny (good pick so far!) and I need something that will complement that nicely. Any suggestions guys?”

Probably every person reading this already knows where this is going. I’m going to play out the thread anyway.

Poster 2: “Great question, I recommend a meridell crossbow for only 9 million from the HT! It’s kinda rare so you might need to tower it, but two bows are better than one right? And, errrm, if that fails, you can always take the arrows and call them macaroni as they get shoved where the sun don’t shine.”

Come on! It’s obvious that unless poster 1 found 10 million from hitting some kind of slots jackpot, he’s not going to be posting that, and it’s equally obvious that the sword of skardsen is overwhelmingly the clear cut choice. As unimpressed as I am with the quality of battledome chat advice, I don’t think anyone could realistically offer someone bad advice in that situation. Given that there are fewer weapons available past the 10 mil mark (which isn’t necessarily bad, as I think its good that Neopets caters to the mid-level fighters), the progression of all offensive weapons is easily clear… SoS first, then Cutlass is the next step up, then g-sword, then AP, SAP and SuAP, with the f-sling as a wildcard depending on the battlers temperament. There really is no other alternative.

So to this point I’ve been long winded, but I promise the fun is about to begin. Unluckily for you, I’ve devoted a great many more words to this subject, and you’re still reading.

When looking at how to really evaluate a weapon, there are some obvious considerations. How many icons does it do or block, what kinds of icons does it deal with, how random is the weapon, how well does it fit in with your set. To me though, there’s a very, very overlooked factor, and that is whether you fight primarily two player battles or one player battles. It makes a HUGE difference. I have personally developed a probably undeserved reputation as something of a master of two player fights (since I have no major tournament wins to my credit), while my reputation in one player battles is not impressive at all. At time of posting I think I am only on one high score list (the Snow Faerie), and I’m at the bottom of that list, and my war record is nothing to be enviable of. With that said, there are reasons for this. While I feel that in any one fight I am probably better in one player, the skill sets required to be a great one player fighter are more technically based.

Knowing exactly how much damage an opponent can possibly do is important to survive the long tedium of racking up win after win after win against the same opponent as that opponent gradually gets stronger and picks up more endurance. The ability to stay patient and be quick moving to get through a lot of the early wins is also important. Because, aside from wars there are only a few opponents who will provide an immediate challenge to high-level battlers from fight one. While I am certainly capable of the technical analysis, I often don’t do it, usually because it never comes to the point where it’s necessary. I get sick of fighting the opponent long before then, and do not rack up the score needed.

On that note, it must have been very demotivating for people to put up 45,000 points or more to receive a prize that they had no chance of using. Unlike the previous meridell war, where some (certainly not all) of the mid level and top prizes were quite usable, (the elemental rock and lishas wand to name two) there were absolutely no weapons outside of the top three prizes this time that would be worthy of the battlers lineup. Getting a weapon that averages about 11 icons and blocks 3 fire is unbecoming of the 5th place finisher. There were quite a few pets with the 700 strength boost who put in a massive effort only to receive a prize that did 3-4 icons and a pitiful amount of defense. So when the next war comes around, do you think they will be willing to slay mindless spyder after spyder (or whatever the equivalent is)? Of course, you can’t underestimate how masochistic some top battlers are, but it will be safe to bet that there will be a lot of bitter complaining about last war’s prizes next war, and threats against Doug, Adam and Donna from disgruntled people going for win #1100 that war. Meanwhile, the skill set required to be a top 2 player battle involve a lot more “feel” and “instinct”. While knowing the numbers is certainly a big help (and its critical to know exactly what you are capable of doing as a minimum, median and maximum on a frozen opponent), I’ve seen a lot of top battlers in two player who aren’t “math” people at all!

They have just practiced a lot, lost a lot, and have figured out how to play on instinct, and have a very good idea of when their opponents are going to make a certain move. Once they see an opponent use one weapon, I know it applies for myself and for a few of my friends as well, they can figure out, with very high reliability, what the rest of the set looks like, so when their opponent pulls out that “surprise weapon”, it often is no surprise at all. Meanwhile, at least one person who scored in the top 20 last war and is a trusted friend of mine confessed to using spreadsheets for each opponent once they hit the 700 boost. You certainly couldn’t use that kind of a spreadsheet in two player!

So what kind of battler are you? One player? Two player? A little of both? Currently one but aspiring to be another? Well, in any event, well start with how to evaluate weapons if you primarily fight one player battles, because it’s a little bit more simplistic. If you’re fighting one player, the big thing is you need to know how much damage is going to get through, and how much you’re going to block. While this article wont touch on the fine points of building an entire set, it will be assumed that you already know you should have at least one big offensive weapon, one healer, one freezer, one dual duty weapon (offense + defense) etc. I’m about to go through a very laborious approach. One you won’t need to go through most of the time, because it won’t always be so close. But going through it once will certainly be useful in both one player and two player, and perhaps augment, though not substitute some battling experience, giving you a better “feel” of what’s happening. One of the more impressive “discoveries” from last war was that 1 player opponents, in spite of having 8 weapons, will only really use a limited number of combinations. A fellow staff member idapranum, in spite of my considerable skepticism proved it to me and to all of the idb community. So, where in theory, they could choose from 8 weapons for their first item, and 7 weapons for their second item, and then multiply that by say 4 different stances and divide by 2 for a total of 112 possibilities, they really only use maybe 12 out of those 112.

Even more Impressive is that they use they have a specific chance of using that given allocation. So, for hypothetical purposes lets say you have a wand of the moon and ramtors spellbook and dark battle duck with a leaf shield as backup. One does 7 icons + 3 dark defense, one does 10 icons and no defense, and one does 8 icons and no defense. For right now we won’t discuss the leaf shield. If your opponent never did dark attacks, and never bothered to block your attacks, only doing attacks of its own, your wand of the moon would obviously be not worth using against that opponent… ever. Of course, things are seldom so simple. And this is where some basic math comes in. While I already have shown how many icons are done, we could take another example of how that’s misleading. This time let’s say your fictitious one player opponent does quite a bit of dark attacks. You however, have never really bothered to train defense a whole heck of a lot. You don’t seem too happy to get it from the flotsam, you don’t mind when the lab takes it away, and if you’re in a bad mood you might even turn down a water faerie quest. Your stats are as follows: Hp: 400 Str: 360 Def: 50(!) You have a strength boost of 350, or at the 7.5x level. Your defense is frankly terrible compared to your other stats, and only at the 1.5x level. Now regardless of the fact that you are probably too poor to upgrade weapons at the moment, you have another issue altogether. Your wand of the moon aint worth jack squat to you, even though that 1 player opponent you’re fighting is using a sword of skardsen, a wclaw necklace and all sorts of other dark attacks. You see, to break it down more… here’s a table explaining why that wand is useless.

Dmg Done in HP Dmg Blocked in HP Net Result
Wand of the moon 53 4 57
DBD 60 0 60
Ramtors Spellbook 75 0 75

Now, this is what happens when you use a variable defense weapon with a pet that is really imbalanced. Of course, getting your defense to even the modest level of 85 would make the wand of the moon superior to the dbd in this case. Let’s for now balance out the stats though, and make str, def and hp all at 150. (in honor of my friend sailorpsychic who is currently very close to these numbers)

Dmg Done in HP Dmg Blocked in HP Net Result
Wand of the moon 21 9 30
DBD 24 0 24
Ramtors Spellbook 30 0 30

Now you say, why would you ever use the DBD, the wand is much better now! But not so fast my friend, for there are many variables lurking. The first of which, is your opponent might not always use dark. In this case, keeping everything else the same, he needs to be using those dark icons 1 out of 3 times to make the wand profitable for you to use. Not bad. Of course, he needs to be doing 9 dark damage, but past a certain point it almost becomes I’mossible to do under 10 damage of a given icon type, so that is only a consideration at a low level. The second factor is trickier. While if you were to say, berserk that round, those numbers wouldn’t be affected so much. You’d multiply everything by 1.5, and your opponent still needs to do 9 dark damage pre berserk to slip any extra dark by you (since his 9 turns into 13.5 after you berserk) But if your OPPONENT berserks, it doesn’t matter what you do so much. You’re still only blocking 9 dark (again back to assuming a neutral stance such as species ability or fiery gaze). Of course the damage that you’re doing has inadvertently gone up. The chart now looks like this:

Dmg Done in HP Dmg Blocked in HP Net Result
Wand of the moon 32 9 41
DBD 36 0 36
Ramtors Spellbook 45 0 45

As you can see, the wand of the moon is no longer option 1a/1b, but instead a clear-cut option 2. This makes a difference. If you were looking to set up your freeze, and had the hitpoints to spare, where as before it was a coin flip if you used your wand or spellbook, now it’s obvious your spellbook is a better play. But again, circumstances are most important. What that means is if you’re low on hitpoints and your opponent is doing a lot of dark and say air, then you should ignore the numbers presented here. You will be burrowing regardless, and using the wand to provide that coverage along with your freezer to make sure you don’t lose that round. Or you may even have to wait with a healer first. On the other hand, if you’ve already burrowed, you then need to sink pronto and that dark defense doesn’t count for a wooden nickel to you.

Alternately, if you’re right on the borderline of being able to kill your opponent if he’s frozen or not, and you are afraid of him freezing you or something else generally nasty such as healing, then you need to be using your best offensive weapon to make sure that if you do manage to miss his freeze/heal, that once that mean monster is frozen, you can make sure its going straight to its grave without any doubt. There is very, very little more frustrating then to knock an opponent down to 2 hp with a freeze/bomb and then watch your opponent fully heal. Now you’re out a bomb, out a freezer, and up a very dung-smelling creek with your arm looking like the best available paddle.

Going back to the original discussion, I think it’s important, as a first step, to calculate all potential icons on cautious stances and go from there, then factor in your str and defense boost. So let’s take someone with a strength boost of 125 and a defense boost of 55 (a very reasonable scenario). Thus your defense is only 2/3rds as effective as your strength. That wand of the moon then is, at best about a 9 icon weapon. Something like a leaf shield is in theory a 13 icon weapon (5 water 5 earth 3 phys). Once you have that figured out, you need to look at things that we have already touched on earlier in detail, so ill touch on the remaining things in much less detail, because I am assuming you are smart enough to figure out the implications for yourself.

Species Resistance: Obviously, if you have say, 40% resistance to air, getting an air defense weapon ISN’T terribly important, and should be appropriately discounted. Alternately, if you’re a korbat, and have that 30% fire weakness, then finding something to handle fire attacks is very critical, where most species would not really worry about incoming fire damage.

On an off topic note, it is here that you can start to tell who is really a classy fighter and who is relying on only their budgets in 2 player. A lot of top pets are painted and not labbed and have a species weakness that can be exploited. I’ll often go after that weakness hard. If I see a shield to stop it within a round or two, I’m going to know I’m up against a top fighter and need to start thinking on a very high level to outwit them. Conversely if I don’t see that defense, I know my opponent’s strategy is that their set is more expensive than mine, and won’t try any sophisticated moves on me. I then tone down my strategy and act accordingly. The formula is simple in this case, if you have 20% dark resistance, a dark blocker is worth 20% less than it might otherwise be for that category. It is my prediction that the NP Staff will up species resistances over time to combat icon inflation.

What your 1 player opponent might have: And by this I mean shield/reflector wise. If your opponent is packing a ghostkershield, and uses it 25% of the time, the value of an all dark weapon is reduced by 25%, Reflectors count double against you. (so a 50% reflector is equal to a 100% blocker). At the same time, you need to know what kind of icons your opponent is likely to bring at you. If your opponent is heavily earth based, and considerably stronger than you, packing a 50% shovel might make sense. lets say you are at the 350 str boost, but your opponent is at the 700 boost already, and using a SAP 1 round out of 4 with no other earth (keeping the math sI’mle). That’s an average of 5 icons of earth per round. But that’s 75 damage coming into you, and by blocking 37 and doing 38, you’re effectively doing 75 hp worth of value every time you use that shovel plus, whether or not your opponent sends his pea at you. Now since you have the 350 boost, you need 2 weapons that will on average push through at least 10 unblocked icons. Otherwise, you need to be using that reflector.

What kind of opponents you’re typically facing: If you just casually battle 1 player, offense is usually preferred to defense. If you’re gunning for the high scores list, your opponents will often be at the 700 str boost with at least one or two nasty weapons that are heavily based around one icon type. You better be prepared. The value of reflectors goes up against strong opponents, as do things such as glowing cauldrons, and winged scarabs. An I’mortant thing here to note is that in calculating the usefulness of full blockers, you need to be reasonable. For example, lets say you have a downsize! And you run into kass’s Narulus. 70 icons * 700 str boost = 1050 damage. Your downsize could be worth 525 right? Wrong! Since you have no chance of realistically beating kass (at least none when he had > 10k hp), that downsize wont make a dimes worth of difference, because odds are you’ll be dead anyway. Similarly, don’t count the full value of a shovel plus against an opponent that is using a suap + sos while you’re stuck with 10 icon weapons. A rough but solid guide is to figure out the point right where winning becomes very difficult but still possible against a given opponent. That’s when you can begin to calculate the maximum usefulness of a downsize, or a tear or shadow shield or what have you.

What does the rest of your set look like: Crudely, you need at least one dominant multi-use weapon that is pure offense, one freezer, one healer, one dual duty weapon, and at least one shield. Id recommend either a 2nd dual duty weapon, or if your “shield” is a downsize, get a second shield. You want to be able to mix it up with what icon types you can do, and be able to react to circumstances. A lot of battles are drawn that should have been won, because an opponent is down to his last few hit points, but the person that has worked so hard to get to that point, has no way to survive the final all out-attack. They have already taken their shot with burrow, sink and downsize, and are stuck absorbing any incoming blow. This is not a good way to go out. At the same time, you want to make sure, that if you’re in an advantageous situation, but say have already used your grenade (which becomes less I’mortant to have the higher up you go), that you have two good weapons that pack a punch to ensure you wont be blowing it. If you already have a SoS & G-Sword, a Pirates Captain’s Cutlass won’t be too useful. However something like a g-staff might in that situation be very useful to that battler. You also probably want your top offensive weapon to have a minimum better than the average of your next best weapon when possible. Make it a clear choice “A” It all depends on how the rest of your set looks. You need to cover both your offensive and defensive basis, and let your mentality determine the rest. There is one rather shocking conclusion that ill leave for the end of this, but may I’mact how all people fight one player wars in the future.

Before I conclude this article with one lengthy example, I’m going to post two formulas that you should at least understand. I suspect my brilliant friend with the spreadsheets had incorporated more or less one of these formulas into a spreadsheet.

Analysis of How Good a Weapon is: Ax + Dy

A = Attack power in HP. If your weapon goes through unblocked, how much damage will it do.
x = The chance the icon goes through. This number varies tremendously by opponent, and obviously icon type… something that can be calculated though in one player, and at the very least thought about
D = The maximum reasonable protection the icon can provide in HP. With variable defense it’s pretty easy to calculate. With full blockers and percentage reflectors, it gets trickier
y = The chance that the defense will be required. No use having a ghostkershield against the chia clown after all…

Reflected icons of course both count in the attack and defense column, with the added bonus that reflected damage is often unblockable. A life drain weapon (like a cursed elixir) should be counted appropriately as such, and healers should be counted for their potential and so on. This is a sI’mlistic version of the more complex formula. A lot of the top battlers knew exactly what was the most damage a given opponent could do, and exactly what the average break down was in terms of air, light, and so on, and went on developing their plan from there. I will try to demonstrate this conception more simple terms. But overall, you can calculate, down to a number exactly how good a given weapon is likely to be against a wartime opponent. In a matter of time, we should have some very good information about the standard one player opponents as well, so you can know exactly how useful a given weapon might be against a given opponent.

You can also, with easier calculations, guesstimate how good a weapon is going to be overall, assuming a world where no one plays defense, and your shields will always be fully utilized, and people will always be in cautious attack mode. Both numbers are I’mortant, but the first one can be especially so. I’m going to pull up my war record. Why mine? Because I am more familiar with how I did than anyone else, and mine is great for proving a point.

My record overall was ordinary. Spyder squashing got old rapidly for me, and was more tedious than it was for people comparable to me, because I was relatively undertrained in strength and offensive firepower. I wasn’t online much during the skeiths or peasants. But it’s the three opponents in the middle, specifically the eyrie guards, the zombies and war machines which are most interesting. Two of these 3 opponents I did relatively poorly against. One I scored excellently.

I had about 300-350 hp through the war, and was firmly at the 300 str and defense boost (6.5x multiplier) My weapon set was as follows:

Dark Faerie Collar- Did 65 dark damage, blocked 32 light damage and reflected 25% of incoming dark
Asparachucks- Did 65 physical damage and 26 earth.
Winged Scarab, Did 20 air, blocked 19 air, and all but 13 physical
Fruit Bomb- Almost strictly for freeze bombing or for 1 round KO’s
Freezing Potion- 13 Water
Rotating item…

If you look at that list, you’d easily think the collar and the chucks were my best two multi-use weapons. Yet this wasn’t the case.. If you look at my war scores, you clearly see that I put up a relatively outstanding record against the guards, 200 wins out of 213 battles for 1000 points (no other opponent I was able to score 1000 war points off of), while the zombie petpets were only 70 wins out of 120 battles for 700 points and the war machines were only 35 wins out of 65 battles for 875 points. Now naturally your win percentage will take a plummet against tougher opposition, but ideally, you’re expected score against each opponent should be about the same if you maxed everyone out. I was at the point where I was only winning 1 out of 5 or even 10 battles against the latter two opponents, while still winning well over half the time against the eyrie guards, meaning that if i dedicated more time to the war (fortunately I didn’t as it had no effect on my prize), I coulda scored even higher against the guards.

The question is, why? Looking on idb, you can look up the 1 player profiles. Something to watch for is “what’s the worst thing that can hit you.” For a lot of people with the eyrie guards, it was a rather nasty radio active muffin/eyrie guard shield combo. The radioactive muffin did 68 damage of light, dark and physical for over 200 damage when the eyrie guards were maxed out on strength. The shield, normally modest, caused a lot of battler’s major problems at the 700 boost, blocking 30 dark, earth, air, and 45 physical.

The only other weapon to be afraid of was the fiery spine of death, which did predominantly air/physical. But take a look back at that radioactive muffin. Normally, it would do 203-204 damage. My dark faerie collar alone, however, absolutely ate it up. Even if he was using his shield, I still got through 35 out of 65 dark damage… but that’s only the small part of the story. I was able to knock of 33 more damage in light defense, and reflect back an additional 17 dark… Meaning I was doing 52 hp of damage, and blocking 50, reducing the load I was taking from 202 to 152, giving my collar a minimum rating of 102 (which in my case would be about equal to a 16 icon weapon going through unblocked… proof that at 10 mil this is still a fairly priced weapon in the right situation)

Then throw in my winged scarab. Yes, that was my 2nd best weapon through most of the war. I was able to deal an additional 9 damage (the reason that I count it as 20, was because I was nimmochanting 4 turns out of 5, regardless of weapons, so I was doing 20 air damage there, only leaving 10 in the eyrie shield). Again though, the offense wasn’t key. With now doing 61 damage, I was able to block ALL but 13 physical damage. That meant I was now doing 61 damage and only taking 98 or so. Then throw in nimmo chant. The air all got blocked, but the light got through. One of the nice things about defensive weapons is that species abilities suddenly become more meaningful. I went from 61 damage to 81. I was still getting the worst of it, because doing 81 damage while taking 98 isn’t great, but if that was my opponents best shot, I would be pretty much ok.

A lot of times I instead only had to deal with the supersize ultimate or some other weak weapon where I was clearly getting the better of it. In addition, I would have other turns where I’d get in my healer or freeze-bomb and gain a huge edge.

Meanwhile, if you calculate the use of my winged scarab, even though it was only worth 9 offensive hp, it was worth 54 hp defensively every time that muffin came into play. Anytime the fiery spine of death came out or those crappy weapons that did small amounts of physical, it was also pulling its weight. Overall it was worth about 60-70 hp to me, which is the equivalent of being able to slip 10 icons through unblocked in my situation. And bonus points for being a defensive weapon.

The asparachucks, sadly, were rendered nearly worthless in the face of that shield. 45 of the 65 physical and ALL of the earth was knocked out. Even when that shield wasn’t used, Since I really had no earth dominant weapons, there was no way I was going to be able to effectively “run-over” the earth defense. And even if that shield wasn’t used, there was still the supersize ultimate which knocked a distressingly large piece off of my chucks. The average rating for this was only in the 50’s. To make matters worse, anytime i dipped below about 150 hp, i had to be very careful of a few combos that might knock me out if I wasn’t playing defensively, so the chucks were almost never the right weapon to use once these guards became powerful.

Meanwhile I couldn’t dare risk bombing and berserking on an unfrozen round, because of the myriad of bad possibilities. And Thus, I had to put my ego aside, and admit that my asparachucks, which seemed like a brilliant buy at the time, was in fact an awful buy at the moment of truth. Because against that given opponent, I wasn’t able to pull them out when needed. To make things worse, the asparachucks weren’t that good higher up, because at the 700 boost a lot of the opponents not only had multiple use healers, but weapons that were at least as strong as the radioactive muffin if not stronger, so getting into a slugfest wasn’t a great proposition, and once I was out of burrow/sink/downsize/heal, I was in trouble. What makes things really shocking on offense, and this is something that will go against all known battledome theory.

In one player battles, it’s USUALLY good to overload on one icon type.

Heresy you say! I say welcome to the new wave of thinking. Especially last war, where we didn’t see many reflectors at all, but did see a lot of variable defense shields (which can become very nasty to deal with when your opponent’s defense boost becomes greater than YOUR strength boost); you need to overrun those shields. Weapons such as the wclaw necklace could have taken home a prize for “most disappointing weapon” for the war. I have a dear friend and protégé who had the 200 sb and the wclaw necklace, and was soon getting nearly blanked by all kinds of crappy shields after a few wins. Very frustrated, she “only” finished with 2500 points (still a solid performance in my eyes). Other weapons that were routinely trashed include the aforementioned chucks, (even though it was mono icon), florbix blaster, and any thing like a ldd as well. Dual SoS, which would be suicide in 2 player, woulda been, in almost all cases, a BETTER combo than sos-gsword throughout the war.

Why? Well here’s why… even if your opponent just happens to have that UDR/gshield, and is using it a bit, in a war situation, you simply don’t score highly on that opponent. You can switch your set up to dual SoaS (close to SoS in initials anyway), and plow through, or some other combo. But for the many opponents that don’t have full blockers and only variable blockers, there’s nothing sweeter than seeing 24-25 out of 30 dark icons get through, as opposed to 9 out of 15. It’s easy math really, the higher the percentage of icons going through, the better. Since nearly every war opponent had high variable defense of at least one icon type if not several types, it was best to pick one type of icon and run with it, rather than try to spread it out, and sit there disgusted with your 200 boost as a lousy skeith soldier with a Grand Lightning Beam and Soldier shield knocks out almost all of your W-Claw or melting mirror. This concept is still difficult for my peers to grasp, and it was even difficult for me to accept, but after too much evidence in my face, I have to accept the facts for what they are.

On the defensive end, you should know what you can and cannot block well. Your species resistance, your best dual-duty weapon, and a 75% reflector/full blocker probably are areas in which you’re strong against a given attack. You want to be strong, in 1 player, in at least 4 of the 7 areas, and the 3 that you aren’t strong in, are just areas you won’t score as highly. If absolutely necessary you can patch up with a 50% reflector if you’re truly afraid of getting hammered by that icon. Thus some people with strong earth defense did well against the zombie petpets. I had to resort to a shovel plus, which was a losing proposition in many circumstances because of the many other types of damage the zombie petpets did. Still, as mentioned, sometimes situations dictate that this is your best play. In one dramatic example, I was in a big hole against the petpets, down to I think 20% power and about my last 30 hp. The majority of available combinations that the petpets could make would ensure a loss or draw for me, including the dreaded thought of a heal. With only 3 combinations that I could think of where id win, 2 of them required me to pull out my shovel plus, even though the majority of combinations it would be disastrous. The lesson, in 1 player, is there is no difference between a draw and a loss, and it doesn’t matter how bad you lose should you lose. But a 1 hp win is infinitely better than a draw where you were knocked to -1 hp while your opponent was at -200. Thus what seemed to be a folly of a play on surface, by dropping my power to 0 (I had used my sink, burrow, downsize AND jade), turned out to appear “brilliant” when I posted it shortly thereafter. It wasn’t brilliant, but the only available move to me!

So, with all of this to think about, its very easy to get overwhelmed, and just buy a weapon because it looks cool or seems good for the price. But at least understanding how your set fits together, figuring out, if you are a 1 player battler where your strong, and who youre going to go after, and where youre weak, and not going to battle as hard in pursuit of a top score.

That said, I hope to this point this article has been beneficial, and not too confusing. As always, I love feedback, good bad or otherwise. Part two I swear will be less difficult to understand, as two player battling is more instinctive in nature.

So, with all of this to think about, its very easy to get overwhelmed, and just buy a weapon because it looks cool or seems good for the price. But at least understanding how your set fits together, figuring out, if you are a 1 player battler where your strong, and who youre going to go after, and where youre weak, and not going to battle as hard in pursuit of a top score.

That said, I hope to this point this article has been beneficial, and not too confusing. As always, I love feedback, good bad or otherwise. Part two I swear will be less difficult to understand, as two player battling is more instinctive in nature.

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