Breachproof is a unique strategy that plays completely differently from how I advocated playing in The Standard Style. When playing breachproof, you make your entire side of the playing field as resilient as possible, so that you can safely allow a breach -= hence the term “breachproof”. This contrasts with the standard style of play, where you focus on defending each turn in order to prevent a breach and get absorb.
When you’re playing in the standard style, since you’re not planning on allowing a breach anyway, you often make extremely vulnerable non-blocking units like Tarsiers – you’re playing with the mindset that if you allow a breach, you’ll lose. Because of this, breachproof and standard strategies look very different, with breachproof strategies having bulky units, while standard strategies will have lots of vulnerable units that are safely behind a row of blockers.
Although the contrasting unit compositions are the most visible difference between breachproof and standard strategies, that isn’t that important from a strategy perspective. Strategically, the key difference between breachproof strategies and standard strategies is how they handle defense. Standard strategies build enough defense to avoid a breach every turn, while breachproof strategies ignore the incoming damage and add on high health attackers instead. Since attack ramps up throughout the game, this difference becomes more pronounced as the game goes on.
Early on, although both sides may look different – since one is aiming for a breachproof setup while the other is not – they will both be doing the same thing, building up their economy and adding on tech buildings.
And, even once a small amount of damage is being dealt, both sides will still be doing pretty similar things. Defending is easy at this point, so not much of the standard player’s resources will be spent on defense. In fact, often defense is so easy at this point that even the breachproof player will defend for a short while, in order to get some absorb while it’s still possible at a low price.
It’s once the damage ramps up that you’ll see the big difference emerge – the standard player has to commit most or all of their resources to defense, while the breachproof player can still put all of their resources into making attack. The tradeoff from this is that the standard player can use their attack to destroy the breachproof player’s economy.
When all of the breachproof player’s economy is destroyed, the breachproof player will be at their peak attack. At this point, if the standard player can hold on and avoid a breach for a few more turns, they will be able to destroy the attackers and win; otherwise, they’ll lose.
Pros and Cons
So, the important difference between breachproof and standard strategies is how they handle defense. Which approach to defense is better?
The advantage for the standard player is that they get to absorb damage every turn, while the breachproof player doesn’t. This is a big point in favour of the standard play, and means that the standard strategy will be able to outvalue the breachproof strategy early on.
The advantage for the breachproof player is that, instead of having to make defense each turn to soak up incoming damage, the breachproof player allows incoming damage to go after their economy and attackers, relying on their units’ sturdiness. Just how much of an advantage this is depends on just how sturdy your breachproof units are, and how cost efficient the soak that the standard player uses is. Of these two factors, it’s the efficiency of the soak that matters more.
To give an extreme example of how soak changes things: if Wall only cost 1B, you would never want to go breachproof, because defense would be so cheap that you’d much rather just spend a small amount of resources to defend your Trinity Drones rather than let your opponent kill them. On the other hand, if Wall was way more expensive, and cost 7BB, you’d love going breachproof – while your opponent is busy spending 7BB every time they want to defend three damage, you get to make attackers with those resources instead.
The efficiency of soak changes a lot more than the efficiency of breachproof units. For example, in my game against Arkanishu, for most of the game I was killing Trinity Drones with my damage. But, his damage went from killing Walls, to Forcefields, to Rhinos and Drones! If the standard player is using Wall as soak, they’re outvaluing the breachproof player, but once they’re down to making Rhinos and holding Drones, it’s the breachproof player who is getting the better of the exchange.
So, in order for breachproof to make the most of their advantage, they need to be forcing out inefficient defense like Forcefields, Rhinos, or Drones. Because of this, breachproof works best when the opponent is going to have a difficult time defending – maybe there aren’t many defensive supplies in the set, or the opponent has committed to a strategy that is weak on defense (like double Animus). Alternatively, in the game against Arkanishu, there was a breachproof attacker – Iceblade Golem – that is extremely good at putting on pressure, and he wagered that that combined with Cryo Ray would be enough to force out inefficient soak and eventually break me.
Since breachproof does usually get out-valued and lose against an opponent who’s prepared against it properly, it is pretty rare for pure breachproof to be the correct strategy in a set. It’s much more common that breachproof is used later in the game – either as a reaction to the opponent committing to a strategy that breachproof can beat (like Chill), or as a transition later in the game when damage numbers have risen and defending has gotten harder.