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Thread: Know your units: Episode 7, SkyStriker

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    Senior Member Kletian999's Avatar
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    Know your units: Episode 7, SkyStriker

    Continuing the series and back in the Archer class, the next unit of discussion is the Traptastic Skystriker. The Skystriker power, Rain of Arrows, allows you to select any unoccupied square within 5 spaces of the archer, even adjacent, placing a purple arrow on it you can see but your opponent cannot. While your units can walk over the square, the moment an enemy touches it their move will be interrupted (even a forced move like a Strongarm push), they'll be damaged equivalent to the Archers making a STR attack at the moment the trap is triggered and 100% accuracy. This includes Puncture bonus damage if you didn't move before setting the trap. If the victim was moving on their turn (i.e. they weren't being pushed) their turn ends immediately- this turn ending is especially useful against Raidmasters who would have normally shielded. With additional levels the power gains additional arrows, doing both the STR damage plus and extra +1 damage to the second arrow and +2 of the third. This means even a full armor target will suffer 6 damage from a 1 Str Skystriker using Rank 3 RoA.

    Of course, this damage is entirely dependent on your enemy standing on the trapped square. Just firing randomly will get your nowhere (never fire into a square no one's move range can reach!). Logically you want to put it in a spot that prevents a very damaging attack to your own units; for example in a gap in your front line or just in front of them. Another tactic is to place it right next to a specific enemy in hopes of trapping him if he moves anywhere. Since you only have one square to trap, the "coverage" you are getting can be anywhere from certain to 33% or less, but it is probably not a good idea to use the power if the enemy has more than 3 good paths around the trap, unless they are very trap skittish.

    Ultimately the effectiveness of the power depends on your opponent. Generally you can divide the reactions into a few types:

    1. Enemy makes a guess where you put it, makes best move avoiding suspected square. The more valuable the spot you trapped, the less likely the trap will trigger, but at least you have prevented that spot from being used. With these players, where you set the trap can turn into "the battle of wits" from the Princess Bride movie, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U_eZmEiyTo0 . While you lack the movie solution, sometimes it's actually good to trap an out of the way square instead of the most obvious, but leaving the easy way open can easily fall on your face at times too if they are the next type.
    2. Enemy brutishly acts as if you did nothing, viewing the price of his inaction worse than the damage the trap does.
    3. Enemy avoids every square within 5 Squares of the Skystriker. You are never going to hit this opponent, but you don't have to (Just always use the rank 1 power). Their caution will allow you to make bold position plays and back them in a corner, provided you haven't overextended and given them "safe" targets to hit while they avoid you.
    4. Enemy abandons all logic, retreating or refusing to move even where the trap cannot possibly be. Take advantage of this as generally only the newest players follow it. They'll still make attacks on their already adjacent targets though.
    5. Enemy makes decision to deliberately trigger the trap with a low value unit, running around a wide sweep to find it and remove the protection of uncertainty. Versus this the best you can do is place the trap such that the unit itself will block paths giving you some protection afterward.

    As humans are not machines, any opponent can take any of these choices, be prepared when you chose this unit's power. Another thing to consider is that the positioning of units can change in a cycle; unless you commit your team to staying put a hole in the defenses may be left open (since good opponent knows you can't trap what an ally was standing in).

    Combo Potential: All of the above assumes you use the trap without team synergy. Her potential escalates when paired with forced movement.

    Provoker's Malice rank 2+, combined with knowledge of the pathing, allows you to ensure a unit will move into a specific trapped square, and even prevents your Provoker from being hit. Slimsy has some great videos of this tactic. https://youtu.be/rxcoewaDLAw. Take note the effort/willpower expended into this however, with a mimimum of 3 willpower and two unit's turns spent for 3 STR damage and a turn loss, it usually not worth it with low ranked Rain of arrows unless puncture is involved (in that case direct attacks may still be more efficient). So more likely you'd be spending 5 willpower for the abilities; if you aren't careful you might spend more moving into position.

    The combo can also work with Strongarm's push by placing the trap behind the victim. This is especially effective by trapping on top of coals so the unit is stopped for double fire damage. While being cheaper and easier to set up in some respects. It can be blocked if your victim is a Varl and the spaces behind are packed so no back movement is possible- it also demands more aggressive positioning of your Skystriker. This pattern also removes the turn loss hitting the RoA trap normally does, since it was hit out of turn. Since a Strongarm with low strength is often ignored until late game, this allows you to eek out some extra damage potential from them.

    In terms of common team synergy, Warrior Varls love having the trap to protect their advances from counterattacks, while other archers enjoy being able to stand still semi safely. Warleaders using forge ahead are a bad match with Skystrikers because their traps end early, but forging ahead another team-member helps it last longer.

    One downside to the power I should explicitly state: while you can walk over and even stop on your own traps, when the Skystriker's turn occurs the trap will go of even on your own unit. If puncture was triggered this can be a large self inflicted wound.

    Stats and Roles:
    Minimum 3/4/7/1/0 Max 9/8/13/3/1. Skystrikers have a weakness in having a max break of 1 compared to the 2 available to any other archer. This makes them weaker units when left alive in the endgame as the open spaces make traps hard while their breaks will be near worthless. Ensure you are breaking targets for your skystriker to attack on turns where trapping isn't useful. If you don't see yourself using traps at least once a fight, this unit honestly might not be for you, because the other archers offer better break and same if not better direct damage.

    Armor for a Skystriker should be at least 7 since they lose a lot when maimed and can't stay way back like Bowmasters. Strength should always be 8 unless you are trying to play her always dropping traps. Their minimum will is huge and 3 exertion allows them to make a 4 point break if desperate, I don't see the value in sacrificing their potential 1 natural break for an extra willpower.

    Weaknesses:
    As stated before, one of the worst armor breakers in the game, making them even more vulnerable to a maiming hit unless you've got their traps into forced movement combos. Their trap's effectiveness is a function of you and your opponent's thought process and thus can vary widely. Setting the traps can take a lot of extra thought, and it's completely possible to miss your turn on 30sec timer spending too much thinking on it. If the Skystriker is killed, her trap is immediately set off. Enemy's can see traps when they expire, and thus can learn your trapping pattern if you are overly consistent. Traps laid carelessly are a waste of willpower and can hinder your own unit positions. Even well laid traps can leave a chance the opponent outguesses you. I would caution this class to be the last of the 3 archers a beginner first upgrades, but it's power in experienced hands is likely the largest- making this viable as the high risk, high reward class.

    If your enemy is using a Strongarm to push his own units he can force his unit into the trap offturn preventing them from losing their real turn. Higher rank traps make the damage too high for your enemy to try this though.

    Leveling:
    If you are good at placing traps, you can use their rank 1 power all battle. If you are setting up movement combos, rank 3 is devastatingly powerful. Rank 2 isn't bad per say, but there's few cases (armor broken target you are going to kill) you'd want to use the rank 2 shot that the rank 3 wouldn't be much more effective. The only thing they gain from extra stat points is extra Willpower.

    Team position:
    Near the strongarm/provoker in the combo if you use it, preceeding Strongarms and following Provokers. Behind a high Str Varl if you use traps to protect it's advance. Otherwise at end of party to capitalize on other's breaks. You may be tempted to "lead" with this unit, but that'll often tempt your opponent to stay out of range delaying engagement while you waste willpower.
    Last edited by Kletian999; 05-07-2013 at 09:14 PM. Reason: Clarified for Rodreve, and finished.

  2. #2
    Superbacker mindflare77's Avatar
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    Very nice write up! I like that you include that damage is calculated for when the trap hits rather than when it's fired; I found that out the hard way against stoicmom the other night. I do have a question though, and it'd likely require someone to test it. It's a rather rare example, as a caveat. But what if, at the start of your SS' turn, you launched an RoA. This would have Puncture damage. What if you (or your opponent,for some reason) punted the SS afterwards, to put the SS in a safer (or more dangerous) position? Would that take away Puncture (as the archer would have moved)? Again, I don't know that it's at all a common situation or even worth testing, just a curious thought I had.
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    Senior Member Kletian999's Avatar
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    I would presume the puncture would be retained, since the definition mentions move since the start of the turn.

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    Senior Member roder's Avatar
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    If the victim was moving on their turn (i.e. they weren't being pushed) they lose it
    Not sure if I read this correct, so puncture damage only occurs if forced move (PK or SRM), but not if the victim moves onto it on their turn?

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    Superbacker mindflare77's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kletian999 View Post
    I would presume the puncture would be retained, since the definition mentions move since the start of the turn.
    Right. I would assume the same thing, but then I assumed that RoA strength was determined when fired, not when it hit. So I wasn't sure if it registered the SS' "turn" as being from when it's fired to when it hits.


    Rodereve, Puncture occurs so long as the SS didn't move before firing. The unit hit will lose his/her turn if they walk on to it, but if they are pushed on to it, they don't have the turn to lose. Does that make any more sense?
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    Senior Member roder's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mindflare77 View Post
    Right. I would assume the same thing, but then I assumed that RoA strength was determined when fired, not when it hit. So I wasn't sure if it registered the SS' "turn" as being from when it's fired to when it hits.


    Rodereve, Puncture occurs so long as the SS didn't move before firing. The unit hit will lose his/her turn if they walk on to it, but if they are pushed on to it, they don't have the turn to lose. Does that make any more sense?
    yeah thanks for explaining that to me

  7. #7
    Senior Member Kletian999's Avatar
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    Clarified the language in Rodereve's post and finished the initial writeup. Please contribute if you have further data to add!

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    Superbacker mindflare77's Avatar
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    I will add that, while the extra one willpower isn't worth much, I've been running a rank 1 SS (only at p6, so YMMV) at 8/8/7/3/0 with some success. I use my RM, BB, and (to a lesser extent) BM to break; if it's down to my SS breaking, I've probably misplayed somewhere else.
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    Skald Aleonymous's Avatar
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    Even though I am not really good with Skystrikers and RoA, I'd say that the "optimum" trap is the one that accomplishes the following two objectives:

    (1) Scares off high-threat units acting just after the Skystriker.
    (2) Is eventually meant to be sprung by the least probable unit, acting just before the RoA.

    In this sense, the trap pays off the most is the one that stalls five units after the SS and gets triggered by the sixth one, i.e. it effectively buggers all enemy units.

    The most subtle aspect of RoAing, is baiting. Not too obvious, not too far-fetched etc. This greatly depends on how well you know your opponent -- and on his skill, of course.

  10. #10
    Skald Aleonymous's Avatar
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    I've done some maths to calculate the Break (AB) required to kill a unit with a rank-3 RoA, assuming an 8 strength Skystriker and active Puncture. The target unit's starting Armor is ARM and his current/remaining Strength is STR. So, taking it step by step, we have:

    1. The strength damage from a regular puncture shot is DAM = (8+[AB/2])-(ARM-AB)
    2. The total rank-3 RoA damage is DAM3 = DAM + (DAM+1) + (DAM+2) = 3*DAM+3
    3. For the target to die, we require DAM3 > STR
    4. Replacing the expression, the break required is AB > 0.22*STR+0.66*ARM-6
    5. For completeness sake, if the Puncture is not active, then AB > 0.33*STR+ARM-9[/B] is required

    All that is complicated, right? I know, so here's some typical examples for you to memorize (the number in parentheses is AB required without Puncture):
    • The 10/10 RM ...typical victim of this combo... requires 3AB (5)
    • The 11/12 TH ...another annoying unit... requires 4AB (6)
    • The 10/17 WM ...looks scary, eh?... requires 5AB (7)
    • The 18/12 PK ...toughest of them all... requires 9AB (13)

    Now that you have those ballpark figures you don't have to spend your precious WP just to see that cinematic overkill!

    EDIT#1 -- Beware of Raiders' Shieldwall bonus, that can mess up your calculations! As a guideline, for each +3ARM shieldwall bonus (at trap's location) you'll need an extra 2AB...

    EDIT#2 -- If you care for some practice, check out this match by BoldBrendan/SlimsyPlatypus, the player who first popularized the Malice/RoA combo. He also had some even more really wonky stuff with 2SS laying double r3-RoA for a Varl to walk on for massive damage, but unfortunately that got deleted when Twitch changed its policy Same goes from some of Ojustme's more recent experiments, along the same track...
    Last edited by Aleonymous; 12-06-2014 at 05:50 AM.
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