This is an idea I have for a series where I show a random set of units and then talk about how I’d approach the set, explaining my thought process as best I can. If people like it I can do one every Saturday. Since set reading involves drawing on many different strategic concepts, I won’t be able to go as in-depth as my other guides, and I may bring up ideas I haven’t written full posts for yet. Also, no guarantee that the way I would play the set is the absolute best way to play the set – I lose plenty of games after all.
With all that out of the way, let’s get into the set. Although knowing which player you are isn’t too important for set reading, we’ll be thinking about it from the perspective of player 2.
When you first look at a set, you want to scan it for high impact units. Specifically, I recommend looking for absorbers first – unless you are going breachproof, you’re always going to want an absorber, and it’s usually correct to go for the best absorber in the set. Not only that, but the strength of the absorber is the biggest factor in determining what economy you want.
In this set, there are two absorbers (Xeno Guardian and Energy Matrix). Energy Matrix is the better absorber, so at a glance I’m thinking this will be a high economy set where I’ll get two Blastforges for Energy Matrix.
Now that I’ve got a bare bones idea for a strategy – high economy with Energy Matrix – I’ll look to see if there’s anything that could invalidate that strategy. There’s Gauss Fabricator, which can be good for breachproof strategies, but it would need more support for breachproof to be viable. The only support for Gauss Fabricator is Cryo Ray (and, arguably, Iceblade Golem) but I don’t think that’s enough to beat a high econ Energy Matrix strategy. So, now that I’ve confirmed there aren’t any counter strategies to worry about, I’m confident that I’ll be going for the high econ Energy Matrix strategy.
Since I’ve decided on the high econ E-Matrix strategy, it’s time to flesh it out a bit. We know the economy size and part of our tech – we’ll want two Blastforges. A high economy can afford more tech than just two Blastforges, though. Since we already have defense sorted, the remainder of our tech can be for making attackers. Here, Gauss Fabricator jumps out. I said earlier that it can be good for breachproof, but it can also be good just as a way of making attack. It’s good to think of Gauss Fabricator as an economic unit – it’s like making 6 Drones and a Conduit that then make a Gauss Cannon every turn (and then disappears after 8 turns). Because it’s an economic unit that makes attackers, if you’re going to buy Gauss Fabricator, it’s best to buy it when you’re transitioning from making economy to making attack. There’s nothing else in the set that is particularly good for making up the bulk of your attack, so we can safely add Gauss Fabricator to our strategy.
So now we’re looking at a high economy build with two Blastforges and two to three Conduits to get the Gauss Fabricator. We’re thinking of going up to around 20 Drones, which means that we have room for more tech (For example, one Grenade Mech and three Cryo Rays costs 13 Gold to spend). An Animus seems like it would be an over-commitment to attack, since we’re already planning on getting Gauss Fabricator. So I would plan on getting a third Blastforge. Grenade Mech goes well with Cryo Ray, since you can often exploit your opponent’s defense, so my plan would be three Blastforges and three Conduits, getting Gauss Fabricator first and Grenade Mechs and Cryo Rays later.
It’s important to note that even though the Blastforges were the first tech buildings we included in our strategy, that doesn’t mean those should be the first tech buildings you make. You should put off making Blastforges until your opponent has attack coming in. Blastforges are primarily good for making defense, so if you make them before your opponent has attack, they often have nothing to do. So, assuming our opponent also goes for third Engineer, our plan will be something like the following: 1. DD 2. DDE 3. DDDC 4. DDCC 5. 2D.
After this, we can get our Blastforges up while adding on a few more Drones, and be in good shape for the midgame.
If our opponent stays on two Engineers, I would still go for Third Engineer, but I’d adjust my build to get a Blastforge out sooner (assuming they were going for faster attack).
This isn’t the only way to play the set – for example, I think there’s a chance that a build that included an Animus could be good – but it’s how I’d play it.