So, let’s say our opponent has a soon-to-be-finished Endotherm Kit pointing at us.
We’re going to have a hard time defending this. Either we don’t defend against it, and they use it to breach us, or we do defend it, which is super expensive.
First, let’s clarify the problem a bit. Our opponent has two options: they can use their Chill to try to breach us, or they can hold it and keep it around for pressure. We can’t fake them out here – we have to set up a defense, and then they get to pick whichever option’s best. It’s like the old divide and choose dilemma – if you’re the one cutting the cake, then you’re always going to get the smaller slice. If we’ve defended by enough that they can’t possibly breach us, then they’re obviously not going to use up all their Chill – they’ll just keep it around for pressure. If we don’t defend against their Chill at all, they’ll use their Chill and breach us.
There’s some good news, though. Getting breached isn’t as bad as you think. Exactly how bad it is will depend on how big your absorber is and how breach-vulnerable your backline units are, but usually, allowing a breach isn’t the end of the world. And with an Endotherm Kit, if they want to breach you, they have to sacrifice Frostbites which could otherwise be kept around for pressure. This means that even if our opponent can breach you, they might not want to. Take this example:
Here, they would have to give up 4 Frostbites and use up a charge on all of their Cryo Rays just in order to do three damage by breaching for exact (one of the Frostbites will have to go on a Forcefield, so one threat is fake). Right now those four Frostbites are currently forcing out much more than three defense (ten, to be specific), so it’s better to hold your Chill back than it is to use it.
Now that we know that, let’s look into our own defensive options. We don’t have to choose between fully defending or not defending at all. Those are only two extremes on a spectrum. You can defend for a little bit, defend for most of their Chill, or go about halfway.
The more defense you make, the worse their “use chill” option gets. If you go all the way, then they can’t breach you even by using all of their Chill – at this point, the “use chill” option does nothing besides throwing away perfectly good Frostbites, and your opponent will never use it. On the other hand, the less defense you make, the worse their “hold chill” option gets, since it’s forcing out less defense.
So, if you think they’re going to use their chill and breach you, you can protect against that by making defense. On the other hand, if you think they’re going to hold their chill, then you can deal with that by making less defense. The only problem is, we don’t know which one they’ll use!
Let’s go back to our “divide and choose” analogy. Say there’s some cake that has to be divided between two people. One person gets to slice the cake and determine how big each slice is, and the other person gets to choose which slice they want. When you’re the one slicing the cake, you want to make the two slices as close in size as you can get them. In this analogy, the defending player is the one who divides the cake. They choose how good using the chill is vs. holding it, and the attacking player is the one who chooses which option to take. So, when you’re the defender, you want to make using and holding chill to be as close together as possible. We know that they’re going to pick their best option, so we want to make sure that their best option is as bad as possible. We do that by cutting down the strength of the best option as much as we can without making the second best option too good.
How does this look in-game? In the example we’ve been looking at here, I would say that this is the best defense:
Taking the gambit means using two Frostbites and four Cryo charges in order to breach for 1, meaning that they would do three extra damage and kill a Drone. This is a very close call. They’re about indifferent between using their chill and holding it.
Exceptions and Details
Since Prismata uses whole numbers, you won’t always be able to finely tune your defense so that your opponent is indifferent. Sometimes, your best defense leaves them with one option being clearly better than the other. For example, sometimes, the cost of getting breached is so high that you always want to defend fully. This is most common with Centurion or Defense Grid – these units are very high value, and you can only make one of them. So if you lose them, that’s really bad, and your opponent would be happy to use up all their Frostbites to do this. So if you have one of these units, you often want to avoid even allowing a breach for exact. In this case, you’re leaving your opponent with an easy decision, but you’re defending correctly.
Also, I don’t want to give the impression that the right amount of defense is always somewhere in the middle between not defending any of the Chill, and defending all of it. The right amount of defense depends on how bad getting breached is, and how big the cost of using their Chill is. A high cost of getting breached – for example, having a big absorber like Energy Matrix, or having 1-health attackers like Tarsiers – means you should defend for more. A low cost of getting breached – low absorbers, no 1-health attackers – means you should defend for less, as in the example we looked at.
The type of the opponent’s Chill is also important – Frostbites are good to gambit against, but 3-charge Cryo Rays are not.
Gambits are hard, but they can make a huge difference versus Chill. In the example we used for our pictures, the defending player was saving 8 defense by gambiting. If you lack confidence, start out with small gambits until you’re more comfortable with them.