There are a lot of different types of breachproof strategies. In part 1, I talked about some general principles that breachproof strategies have in common: that they don’t defend, that they’re usually used reactively rather than as a plan from the get-go, and that in order to beat a standard style of play they need to put enough pressure on the standard player to force out inefficient defense. But, there’s a lot of differences between breachproof strategies too. In this post I’ll divide breachproof strategies into four categories: pure breachproof, semi breachproof, venge all-ins, and breachproof transitions – and talk about the differences between these strategies. Which of these strategies are available to you will depend on what units are in the random set.
Pure breachproof is the classic form of breachproof, and is the type I used as an example in part 1. The defining feature of a pure breachproof strategy is converting your Drones into breachproof economy. Currently there are two units in the game that let you do this: Trinity Drone and Thorium Dynamo.
Pure breachproof is only possible when one of these two units are in the set. You also want at least one breachproof attacker in the random set – Gauss Cannon is a fine breachproof attacker, but there’s only 10 supply of it, which usually isn’t enough damage to win, so having another breachproof attacker like Iso Kronus or Tantalum Ray can help a lot. Green units that help pressure your opponent, like Cryo Ray and Nivo Charge, are also good to have, since they can help you put pressure on your opponent.
When deciding whether to go for pure breachproof, you also need to take into account how powerful the standard strategies in the set are. Most important is how good the absorber is, and how good the soak is. The stronger those are, the less likely it is for breachproof to be good. If there’s a good absorber in the set, breachproof typically won’t work unless you have a good way to deny absorb, like Iceblade Golem.
And, like all breachproof strategies, pure breachproof usually won’t work against an opponent who knows you’re going for it and prepares for it accordingly. It’s more common for pure breachproof to be used as a reaction to your opponent committing to a strategy that is weak to breachproof – e.g. making Chill.
Semi breachproof is a poor man’s breachproof. It’s what you go for when you really want to go breachproof, but Trinity Drone and Thorium Dynamo aren’t in the set. Since you don’t convert your Drones into breachproof units, this leaves you partially breach-vulnerable. These strategies typically aren’t as strong as pure breachproof strategies, but they’re much easier to pull off, meaning they still pop up from time to time, usually as a counter to an opponent’s strategy.
The biggest support unit for semi breachproof is Wild Drone.
5EE for 2 gold income is insanely efficient, and because of that, players will almost always buy at least one or two Wild Drones when it’s in the set no matter what their strategy is. And its efficiency combined with its somewhat-high health makes it a reasonable choice as breachproof economy.
Also, because it’s a frontline unit, and since players will often buy Wild Drones for their efficiency even when they’re going for a standard strategy, Wild Drone makes it harder to get absorb with a standard strategy. That is, if Wild Drone is in the set, you often won’t be getting much absorb early on anyway, even if you go for a standard style, and this shores up one of breachproof’s weaknesses. Another way of phrasing it is that when Wild Drone is in the set, and you go for semi breachproof while your opponent goes for a standard strategy, if they don’t buy Wild Drone you have the advantage of more efficient economy; if they do buy Wild Drone you have the advantage of denying some of their early absorb.
Another benefit is that since you can use Wild Drones for your economy, you don’t need to make regular Drones, so you can keep your breach vulnerability low.
Like Thorium Dynamo and Trinity Drone, Wild Drone by itself isn’t enough to make a game breachproof, but usually when Wild Drone is in the set you want to at least consider the semi breachproof strategy to see what it would look like. Look for support units similar to what I listed in the pure breachproof section – breachproof attackers and Green pressure units.
Another semi breachproof enabler is Gauss Fabricator, because although it doesn’t convert your Drones, it is still breachproof economy – it’s got high health and it makes a breachproof attacker every turn.
It’s not as good an enabler as Wild Drone, so more often it takes the role of support – supporting a breachproof strategy that uses something else (Wild Drone, Trinity Drone, Dynamo, or Venge Cannon) as the base.
Semi breachproof is best used as a counter to a heavy commitment to Chill – besides Wild Drone sets, it’s almost never correct to go directly for semi breachproof, but instead should be done in response to your opponent committing to a strategy that semi breachproof can counter. This is true for all breachproof strategies, but it’s especially true for semi breachproof. Also, there is overlap between semi breachproof and breachproof transitions (which we’ll discuss later) – that is, it can make sense to transition from playing in a standard style early-game, into semi breachproof late-game as defense gets harder.
Besides Thorium Dynamo and Trinity Drone, Venge Cannon is the only unit in the game that lets you efficiently convert your Drones into breachproof units. However, there’s a key difference between Venge Cannon and the breachproof Drones: Venge Cannon is an attacker. Because of this, Venge breachproof strategies play out very differently from breachproof strategies built around Dynamo or Trinity Drone.
With venge all-ins, you want to keep in mind the principle mentioned in the introduction to breachproof, which is that breachproof attackers – like Venge Cannons – are extremely good purchases. You take on the disadvantage of not getting absorb, in order to get the advantage of being able to spend all your resources on these high value breachproof attackers. Because of this, you want to save up a lot of Green and Drones and turn all of your Drones into Venge Cannons at once. Because you have to float a lot of Green in order to do this, it can be tempting to turn some of your Drones into Venge Cannons part-way.
I’d recommend against this, most of the time. There’s a few reasons for this. One is that, by holding off, you deny your opponent the opportunity to get absorb early on. Making a few early Venges that just get absorbed is a disaster, since you’ve handicapped your own economy, while letting your opponent get their main advantage – absorb – rolling early. The other reason is that when going for a Venge all-in, you want to go as big as possible. The whole advantage of breachproof – especially Venge breachproof – is that every breachproof unit you make is high value. In order to make the most of this advantage, and make the flat advantage of absorb as small a factor as possible – you want to go as big as you can. The best way to do this is to keep your Drones as Drones for as long as possible, so that you can use the Gold those Drones make on more Drones and Conduits, and eventually, Gauss Cannons or other breachproof attackers.
The only time I’d recommend going for premature Venges is if your opponent is getting greedy and isn’t set up to defend your initial Venges properly. If this is the case it can be correct to put them on the back foot by partially converting your Drones to Venges.
Now that we’ve talked about how a Venge all-in is played, we should talk about whether you want to go for a venge all-in at all. There’s a lot fewer units that support a Venge all-in strategy. With the breachproof Drones, any good breachproof attacker will help make your strategy stronger, as will pressure units like Nivo Charge or Cryo Ray. With Venge Cannon, trying to use these units in conjunction with your Venge all-in is difficult. Breachproof attacker supplies aren’t a problem since you’re using your Venge Cannons as your main attackers, and you usually only have the spare Gold to purchase a handful of Gauss Cannons along with your all-in. Cryo Ray or Nivo Charge can be useful, but they’re not amazing, since again, you don’t have a lot of Gold to spare on them.
On the other hand, Synthesizer is good support for Venge strategies, since it lets you efficiently get Green, and enables you to buy one Blastforge to defend for a while, while still being able to spend your Blue on turns where you don’t need defense. This lets you get a bigger Venge all-in, which is good. Normally when going for a Venge all-in you want to avoid making Blastforges if at all possible, because the Blastforges are dead weight after your Venge all-in.
Speaking of dead weight, one of the weaknesses of a Venge Cannon all-in is that you need to store up a lot of Green to convert all of your Drones into Venge Cannons, and this requires making a lot of Conduits. The Conduits don’t do much after your all-in. Venge Cannon does have a click ability to let you spend your Green, but it’s extremely inefficient – you’re trading four Green for a net gain of plus one health (doing 3 damage, but losing 2 health). Luckily, there is one unit that lets you repurpose your Conduits as powerful attackers after your Venge All-in – Cluster Bolt!
Cluster Bolt is extremely powerful support for Venge Cannon. A useful rule-of-thumb when considering a Venge all-ins is: if Cluster Bolt isn’t in the set, don’t bother. Of course, this rule isn’t perfect – under the right circumstances, Venge all-ins can work even without Cluster Bolt in the set – but it’s a good starting point. Even when Cluster Bolt is in the set, you still want to consider the rest of the set – the presence of a good absorber and good soak is enough to beat a Cluster Venge all-in. However, you want both good absorb and good soak to beat a cluster+venge all-in with standard play – just one or the other usually won’t cut it.
Now let’s talk a bit more about execution. Where we left it, I mentioned that you want to go as big as possible. One problem with this: What if your opponent starts making attack? Well, you can either defend in order to get a bigger all-in – this usually means having to make a Blastforge, although not always – or you can just go for a smaller, faster all-in to avoid getting breached for Drones. It’s a tough judgement call, but usually you don’t want to go too far out of your way to defend. If you can defend for a while without too much effort, and get a much bigger all-in by doing so, then go for it. On the other hand, if you feel like defense is going to be difficult and costly and won’t let you go that much bigger, then speed up your all-in.
On the other hand, this indicates that a good strategy when playing against a Venge all-in is to put pressure on them while they’re building up, to force them to commit to a faster, smaller all-in. This is especially true when they aren’t set up to absorb your initial damage. When playing against someone going for a Venge all-in, there are two very distinct phases: pre-all-in, where any attack you make is high value, and post-all-in, when any attack you make is low-value. You want to pressure them while they’re building up, while still being ready to pivot into defense once they show signs of executing their all-in soon (once their Green count is catching up to their Drone count).
If you’re playing in the standard style, defending gets harder over time, and eventually defending becomes impossible (or too costly to be worth it) for one side. If the game is close, then both players will reach this point around the same time. It’s in these situations that a breachproof transition is on the cards, and the player who is better set up to transition into breachproof – by virtue of having less breach-vulnerable units – will usually come out on top.
In high pressure situations like the ones that lead to breachproof transitions, getting breached for your Drones is actually not that bad. So, a breachproof transition into semi breachproof is possible when your most breach vulnerable unit is a Drone. On the other hand, if you have 1-health attackers like Tarsiers, then effective breachproof transitions are a bad idea – one (completed) Tarsier is worth about two and a half times as much as a Drone, meaning that if you have 1-health attackers, you’re over twice as breach-vulnerable as if you’re on Drones. If you have a lot of 1-health attackers, you’d prefer to hold all of your Drones on defense to keep those attackers alive rather than allow a breach.
As long as you don’t have 1-health attackers, you can usually manage a breachproof transition. Whether you actually want to do it is another question – it will depend on how much absorb you’re losing by allowing the breach, compared to how much resources you save and other benefits you get by neglecting defense. I look into that question a bit more here.
If both sides remained about even during the standard phase of the game, then the player with the better breachproof transition will come out on top once supplies run out or pressure ramps up too high for players to continue defending. However, if one player gets ahead during the standard phase – say, by making high-value 1-health attackers like Hellhounds – then the player who got ahead in the standard phase will almost always be able to snowball their advantage into a win, without having to allow a breach. Because of this, breachproof transitions work as a tiebreaker – if you’re considering two strategies, and they seem about even (say, an Iso Kronus strategy versus a Tarsier strategy), then you should go for the one with the better breachproof transition. But if the breach-vulnerable strategy seems to be the higher value one, then go for that, because breachproof transitions only matter in tiebreaks.
The image caption for the post-allin game against Arkanishu says “Notice that I’m floating 13 Gold in order to buy two more Venge Cannons next turn.”. I think it’s supposed to say Gauss Cannons.
“Green units that help pressure your opponent, like Cryo Ray and Nivo Charge, are also good to have, since they can help you put pressure on your opponent.” is a weird sentence.
Man those articles are pure gold !