By Zach Bunn– June 20, 2011
Just a few weeks ago I was able to play against Steven using his new love, Mega Legionnaire. I decided I wanted to try Sky Sentinel to see if my G1′s really would have a field day against his Morpher.
He won map choice so I was going first. On my first unit turn I sent a Grunt and Elite G1 across the board to score an early point of damage. I knew he could spawn a Repair Vehicle and Repair the damage away, but he would have to spend two a-die to do it.
And he did.
He spent 2 a-die to get a unit out and remove over half of my first turn’s investment. Of course this didn’t include getting rid of my units, but the power to heal for two or three a-die becomes apparent when you realize how many dice it takes to actually do a point of damage.
Which has the greater effect on the damage curve: a two damage monster turn, a monster turn where you do one damage and heal one, a unit turn where you deal one damage and heal one?
Truth be told, they have the same effect on the curve. That doesn’t mean that any one of them is better than the other, but the idea is that they all change the damage curve to an equal degree. Although we discussed the damage curve in a decent amount of detail in day 14, today we are going to look at the damage curve in relation to healing.
The ability to understand and manipulate the damage curve is something that separates good players from great players. Healing is just one part of altering the curve, but fully understanding it should give us the context we need to begin to successfully employ healing in a way that has an impact on the curve.
I would like to note before we get too far into this discussion that this works both ways. For some, you might have a monster who actively heals. For others, you don’t even have the choice. Regardless, knowing the true costs and benefits of healing along with what it can do to the damage curve affects all monsters.
There are actually quite a few ways to heal in Monsterpocalypse. Some monsters brawl, some units repair, some monsters leach, some units bleed, some monsters sacrifice, etc. Although you may think that healing is healing, the nuances and subtleties of each form of healing are important.
As I mentioned above in my game against Steven, when you heal you do something more than just remove a point of damage. Generally, it costs several dice for the damage to be dealt. If you can spend 2-3 a-die to completely wipe that damage away, the cost benefit ratio can actually be pretty significant.
Of course, not all damage is created equal. If I use two G1′s to shoot your monster, it is likely I spent 7 a-die to do so. At the same time, I could swat a unit of yours rolling 1*4 + 4 with Mega Tectomoc and then hit your monster for two, the entire attack only costing me 1 a-die and 1 p-die. In that instance, you healing for 3 a-die is actually in my favor.
Now, this might make sense to you (and I hope that it does). Yet I have reason to believe that this isn’t quite the right way of looking at the costs and benefits of healing.
Let’s assume on my unit turn you have 2 health on your Alpha and I have Mega Tectomoc on the board. I decide to spend all 10 a-die of my unit turn ensuring that I do 1 damage to your monster, getting him to 1 remaining health. It is now your turn. If you choose to heal (whether it be your monster or unit turn), what is the true benefit of healing?
I did just spend 10 a-die to deal that point of damage. However, even if you do spend 3 a-die to heal, it doesn’t cost me 10 a-die. Regardless of whether you heal or not, I can likely roll the previously mentioned attack with Tectomoc. Except this time it really only costs 1 a-die because I will get one power die back from killing your form. I’ll also be removing one of your units, making the cost of the attack practically zero.
It becomes clear what matters is only what it is going to cost me to do that damage again, not what I previously spent to deal a point of damage.
The Cost of Healing
Now that we are looking at healing in a more appropriate way, I want to get into the nuances and subtleties I mentioned earlier. It is easy to think of the cost of healing only being the dice involved, but I don’t think it ends there.
Let’s take for example, the most generic form of healing there is… repair. Assuming your monster isn’t next to a spawn zone it costs 1 to spawn, 1 to move, and 1 to heal. The cost of healing that point of damage is 3 a-die… right?
Well, it is true. That is the cost of healing, but these costs are the hard costs. The quantifiable kind. The ones that our analytical selves tend to focus on, because these are the costs we can truly wrap our minds around.
For this most basic of healing, there are two other primary costs associated. The first of these is that you just used one of the most limited resources in the game. You only get one action per turn and you just used it to heal.
What exactly is an action worth? I suppose it depends on the action, but there are some great actions available that you could be using instead.
The second are the additional opportunity costs. You could have spawned a grunt and an elite for the exact same cost. You could have gained board control. You could have disrupted. You maybe even could have done a point of monster damage. The point being whatever it is you didn’t do, you gave up for the ability to heal.
Now, one of the nicest things about actions like repair, sacrifice, and bleed is that they are guaranteed forms of healing. There is absolutely no way that you are going to spend those dice and not get to heal. This is not true of other forms of healing.
I know there have been a handful of times where I will attempt to brawl an Apartment building or Posh Apartments with King Kondo and come up short. Rolling 97%+, I ‘should’ hit and get to trigger Riot. I will likely stomp or rampage, getting me most of my p-die and allowing me to heal. However, on occasion I do miss. Sometimes this can be a catastrophe. It leaves me without many dice, in a bad position, and I don’t even get to heal. It also cost me a monster turn. Which is yet another one of those hidden costs in healing.
And finally we have Leach. This brand of healing comes when your units are able to score a point of monster damage. This, in my opinion, is the most lethal form of healing. The ability to go after the enemy monster AND heal a point of damage is just silly. While not the most consistent form of healing, it can very well be the most effective.
Dealing with Healing
When there are discussions about ways to deal with particular aspects of a game, players tend to lean towards things you can bring to the table to deal with it. I prefer the answers that can come in how you are playing as opposed to being forced to bring particular items, but both can be useful.
I think the best option for dealing with healing is finding a way to manipulate the game in such a way that the cost of healing for your opponent becomes equal to if not greater than the benefit. To really force this issue, we had to first discuss the full costs of healing. Without that understanding you won’t really be able to do what I’m talking about here.
The idea is that you know Sky Sentinel is going to heal. It’s a fact of life. However, what exactly is he willing to do to heal? Without getting into a specific scenario, would he still heal if he had to bump a unit off of a spawn zone to get the Repair Vehicle to Sky Sentinel? Will he still heal if you disrupt in a way that he has to also deal with removing units? Or, will he still heal if you present a very juicy explosion or fling attack?
The beauty of this is that you can win either way. If he is still going to heal, what is it that he won’t be able to do? And we are only talking about repair. We could continue on for each form of healing, but I think you only need to get the idea.
The other piece of this part of the puzzle comes at the macro level. If your opponent has access to healing, fighting it out on their side of the board is probably something you don’t necessarily want. Now the question becomes how to you trick your opponent into coming to your side of the board.
The other option, of course, is to bring specific figures to the table. In this case, I’m talking about the Cathedral. Nothing within 2 spaces can heal. If your monster doesn’t have access to healing whatsoever, this can actually be a very good option. I know with Tectomoc I generally run 4-5 Cathedrals.
Again though, just using these buildings doesn’t prevent healing. You have to play in such a way that makes them useful. This starts with placement. You will obviously want these placed within reach of where a healing unit could get. But consider places where your opponents monster might want to end up or where you would like the fight to happen.
However it comes back to cost v. benefit. If you give your opponent a power attack that leaves his monster within 2 of a Cathedral, the power attack just became a little more costly. Even if he destroys the buildings with units, he is spending more dice and taking some risk at the shot of healing.
At the end of the day, the best tool against healing is knowledge. It’s not impossible to overcome, but it is something you need to be keenly aware of. Healing is extremely powerful. For today’s challenge, post a blog discussing the following:
- How do you deal with healing?
- How can your force in particular make the cost of healing increase?
- Knowing your macro level strategy and your damage curve, how does it stack up against a monster who has healing and 5 health on both forms?
- What are you going to have to do to get ahead on the damage curve against the monster described in the previous question?
- What type of healing are you best and worst prepared to respond to?
It may seem odd to dedicate an entire day to healing, but it is a topic nearly as important as the discussion on Morphers. We take for granted the immense power in shifting the curve for a few a-die and often times overlook some pretty easy alterations in our gameplay that would significantly increase our chances against a healer. Knowing how you could potentially respond to a healer can make all the difference when you are facing one down in a timed environment.
I’m really excited to see where you guys take this. There are quite a variety of monsters in use and I’m interested to see how you think those monsters can deal with healing. I want to point again to this page where you can browse challenge blogs by day. If you haven’t started down the path to Mastering Monsterpocalypse, I highly recommend heading over to the Mastering Monsterpocalypse page and getting started.
Best of luck to all of you,