By Zach Bunn– August 1, 2011
Let’s face the facts. There are 56 monsters and 18 maps (excluding Covenant Maps and the Voltron Map). Even if these were the only two variables and you used the same monster every time you ever played, it would take 56 games before you had played once against each monster with your monster of choice. For any given game, your opponent could bring one of 1,008 options to the table.
Even at just 1,008, I doubt there is anybody alive who has played against every monster on every map with one monster. In fact, I bet that there are no players (even the vets) who have played against all 56 monsters with any one monster.
In basketball, you can shoot a hundred free throws a day. After a few years, the odds are that your free throw percentage gets pretty high. I’m talking upper 80%’s or low 90%’s. If you are really good, it might be upper 90%’s. Monsterpocalypse isn’t like that at all. Even with the lull in new models coming out, there are currently enough variables involved to make it infeasible to prepare for every situation.
The idea of playing each potential monster just once with a single monster is burdensome. As a sidetone, also consider what happens if you play the same match-up more than once. How often does the game look the same? Rarely.
Now, consider also that each player brings 12 buildings, 15 units, and could use any number of varying hyper forms. Also, we can’t make the assumption that all players will play one monster the same. Playing my Kondo is different than playing Spazz’s or Clay’s. At this point you hopefully realize the futility of preparing for specific situations. I don’t write this as a discouragement, but rather to make it clear than an exhaustive approach is a silly one.
What we have effectively done with Mastering MonPoc is:
- Familiarized ourselves with our own force
- Learned the primary strategies and tactics of the game
- Looked at some of the primary threats you are likely to run into
Again, I stress the idea that being prepared for exact situations is superfluous. I have recently discovered a pretty simple idea that has enhanced my gameplay dramatically. The idea is this, take 60 to 90 seconds before a game starts (before building placement) and just look over your opponent’s monster. By this, I mean go stat line by stat line, ability by ability, and put yourself into the shoes of your opponent. If you have any questions or don’t know what an ability does, ask your opponent.
Now, just looking at a monster is nice. Knowing they have three boost on their brawl attack in alpha is certainly good, but the key here is to look for the right information. To really understand the strengths, weaknesses, and strategy behind your enemy.
I begin to ask questions like, are they high speed and highly mobile? Are they slow and ground bound? How does this compare to my mobility? Who has the advantage when it comes to movement?
This should affect your building and monster placement. For example, if you are going second, are mobile, and your opponent is not, do you want to place your monster on the same side as they place or not? That probably depends on how aggressive your monster is.
If they are ground bound, what buildings are you going to place near their monster start zones? Odds are they are looking for something to brawl for some p-die. You can intentionally plant bad buildings near them so they have to go mid-board and spend additional a-die to get power dice.
Hopefully you can see just by this first step what this could do for your overall thought process for the game. If you are playing against Sky Sentinel it’s a much different strategy than if you are playing against Aquosia.
The next big question for me is their damage curve. This breaks down into health, access to healing, and the ability to do multiple damage in one turn.
How does your opponent do damage?
Suppose you are playing against Zor-Voltis. He will inevitably be hypering up for access to two damage across all attacks in Ultra. If this is the case, you can slow his curve down by denying him power dice. Looking deeper, you begin to realize that his Alpha has 6 health. If you don’t get two or three damage on his Alpha before he hypers up, he will generally have the choice of making a high damage move that is a bit riskier with the option of hypering down for the retaliation. You also note his lack of access to healing.
Other monsters, like Mucustos, feature two damage on both forms. In this case, they have no need to hyper up, so the worth of p-die denial is reasonably less. Mucustos doesn’t have access to unit healing, but can heal by brawling a Nuclear Power Plant. He has a ton of health and summon, which means doing big damage power attacks is nearly impossible.
So how exactly is your monster going to get the job done? What does your damage curve look like with respect to your enemy’s?
After checking mobility and their damage curve, I look at their ability to gain superior turn positioning. This includes abilities that net them power dice as a result of an attack as well as a solid stat line.
The primary example of this is Tectomoc. In Mega, he has a *4 power attack. He also has rage. So if he swats a unit into your monster, he gains 3 p-die back. Supposing he used 1 a-die and 4 p-die in the attack, he effectively spent 1 a-die and 1 p-die to remove one of your units and deal two damage to your monster. His ability to go back to back is absurd. Because of this, he is really good when it comes to winning turn position.
Of course, the weakness of anyone who is really good at taking back to back monster turns is that once they have turn position, a back to back will cost them turn position. If you take a constant monster -> unit turn structure and they keep going back to back, half of the time you will have superior turn position and you will have several more units turns during the game. The key here is to consider how both you and your opponent’s monsters look at turn position and finding a way to play it to your advantage.
Now that I have considered mobility, the damage curve, and turn positioning, I look at their hyper cost. This affects the previous three topics.
Again with Tectomoc, it is his Mega that is good at turn positioning. If he is using his Mega, he either paid 4 p-die to get there or his Alpha is dead. If he paid the p-die and you denied him decently, he won’t be as prepared to really take advantage of his mega.
Another note on Tectomoc is how his hyper cost affects mobility. His Alpha is ground bound, so if he wants to get around early he is going to be paying 4 for it. This makes p-die denial even more important. If you give him access to p-die, he suddenly becomes a much bigger threat.
In relation to the Voltis discussion on the damage curve, his hyper cost is only 3. The Shadow Sun are inherently good at getting power dice, so by the second monster turn for Voltis the odds are he will be sitting on at least 6 or 7 p-die. It is very difficult to deny a monster with such a low hyper cost.
And the final aspect I look at is board control. This involves triggers that remove units on a monster turn as well as actions that either bring units onto the board or move them on a monster turn.
Two primary examples for this are Nova ESR and Aquosia. Nova ESR has Multi-Shot on her Ultra form. Not only is this great for turn positioning, but it also advances the board control element of her game. She gains p-die while removing units, making a back to back easy and effective. Inversely, Aquosia has transport. Dropping units off is great for screening, disrupting, and securing. Added to the fact that she can put 2 cost units into play for 1 a-die on her monster turn is the fact that she has red quick.
There are also some subtle versions of board control on a monster. Do they have an ability like Super Stomp? Do they have the Riot trigger that can lead to a stomp or a rampage? Even Mega Tectomoc who loves to swat is removing units each monster turn. So while you are looking at a monsters base consider how their abilities could be used to gain board control and keep that in your mind as the game progresses.
The challenge today is again a blog. Write a blog that contains the following:
- An overview of Mobility, the Damage Curve, Turn Positioning, and Board Control with regards to your monster
- Take one or two monsters that you feel you have the edge on and write what comes to your mind when
considering Mobility, the Damage Curve, Turn Positioning, and Board Control
- Take one or two monsters that you feel have the edge on you and write what comes to your mind when considering Mobility, the Damage Curve, Turn Positioning, and Board Control
- Now that you’ve looked at your monster against a few other monsters, are there is there anything that is an advantage or disadvantage that you were previously unaware of? Discuss these hidden strengths and weaknesses, if they exist
Again, this challenge is going to be as deep and as useful as you make it. I have a feeling that for those who really dig into this they will discover things that they previously were unaware of about their monster (at least not consciously aware of).
Once you’ve practiced this a few times, I recommend using it in actual games. Before a game starts, take 60-90 seconds to really look at your opponent’s monster and consider:
- Their Damage Curve
- Turn Positioning
- Their Hyper Cost
- Board Control
Remember, don’t be afraid to ask questions. While you might feel dumb asking what an ability is or how it works, it is much better than losing a game because you didn’t understand what it was. Since I have started doing this, I find myself getting caught up less in the tactical aspects of the game and more focused on the strategical, macro level elements of the game. The idea is to take a step back, from the very moment you sit down at the table, and just consider things from a higher level… from on high if you will.