Surgical Strikes: Part Two

Part One of this post dealt with how you decide whether to try and kill a given enemy unit, this part deals with how you go about doing it.

In Relic Knights, there are two ways you can deliver damage to an enemy unit, and two ways they can go about stopping you. The first way you can deliver damage is by a Melee, Ranged, or Psychic attack. Most of these, though by no means all, have a Damage value attached to them, and if the target can’t prevent the attack then the damage gets applied. The other is basically any damage which is not from a Damage value on an attack. It can include damage from AoEs, from forced movement off or into an object, from being caught in a Minefield boost, Belligerent, Line attacks, and so on. These are collectively known as Passive Damage.

The two ways a unit can defend attempts to damage it are attack prevention and damage prevention. Each of these breaks down into two different types. For attack prevention there are Guards, which cancel the attack outright, and Redirects, which transfer the attack to a new target (which cannot then use an attack prevention itself). For damage prevention there is Armor, which reduces the damage before it is applied, and Recover, which heals the target after damage is applied. Attack prevention abilities can only be applied to attacks, whilst damage prevention can be applied whenever a unit takes damage from any source.

In addition to these is the Overcharge mechanic. Some attacks have Overcharge, and some attack prevention abilities have it too. If an attack has Overcharge, then it automatically bypasses any attack prevention that lacks it. So an Overcharge Psychic attack cannot be cancelled by a Guard without Overcharge, even if the Guard could ordinarily cancel psychic attacks.

Understanding these mechanics is key to understanding whether you can reasonably kill a given enemy unit. You need to match up the ways you can deliver damage to the ways each unit can prevent damage.

For example, Moffet has a Guard with a press to give it Overcharge. She has 10 Health, no inherent Armor or Recover, but can pay for 2 or 4 Armor via Essence Master. If you attack her then she can defend it and cancel the attack, even if the attack has Overcharge. If you can cause her to take Passive Damage, however, then she can’t use the Guard to cancel it and will take all the damage unless she can pay for Armor, and even then she can still take some damage. It will likely take several instances of Passive Damage to kill her as they don’t tend to do much damage, but as each bypasses her Guard than you can kill her if you need to. Two or three Esper Storms can do the trick on their own. If you have an attack that bypasses Guards, such as the M8-Blitz Auto-Tank’s SIK3 Rail Cannon, then those attacks pose a serious threat to her.

The Dahon is a unit that has no attack prevention. It cannot prevent any attack from succeeding against it. It does, however, have 14 Health, 2 Armor, 2 Recover, and access to 2 or 4 additional Recover (with Backlash to boot). As Passive Damage effects tend not to do much damage then you’re unlikely to have any luck killing a Dahon with them. In this case, an Esper Storm is at best going to do 1 damage to it, and, collisions won’t do anything. On the other hand, as it can’t defend attacks, then high damage attacks will pose a threat to it. CSM Alex-117 backed up by a squad or two of Diamond Corps could take a Dahon out pretty quickly. If you can bypass Recover, as Sophia Drake can, then the Dahon is just left with its 2 Armor to defend itself with.

Two different units, each with different strategies for how you would go about killing them, and there many other examples. The Black Dragons have a Guard but it doesn’t work against Melee attacks. Likewise the Hell’s Belles but against Psychic Attacks. Suspect 7 have a Guard against everything and Stealth, but their only damage prevention is a point of Armor. Squads take 3 collision damage per model, so any attack with a forced movement effect can be a big threat. There are some highly effective ways of delivering Passive Damage. Line attacks can be targeted at an enemy marker and cause damage to every other unit along the Line. Wildspace Gabe’s Deep Crow’s Nest does 5 Damage and has a Compel which can result in another 3. These bypass any attack prevention and on units which rely on them, such as Moffet, it is highly effective. Likewise for Overcharge. Delphyne has a Guard and a Redirect, but as neither have Overcharge she is extremely vulnerable to high damage attacks that do have it.

A couple of other points to make note of. Guards and Redirects are often quite expensive, and units that lack ways of generating Held Esper can’t always afford to pay for them. This means it can be worth attempting the attack on a unit that has no Held Esper, especially if the attack has a low esper cost. Squads are particularly good at this as with Co-ordinated Attack their cheap attacks can put out a lot of damage. Even if they do defend it, then the trade-off in spent esper can be worth it.

Redirects often send the attack to a friendly unit, so even if it is paid for, the attack is still successful. You can force your opponent into a difficult choice of taking the attack on the target or sacrificing another unit if they Redirect. Be careful with this, though, especially if you need to interact with enemy objectives to complete your victory conditions. Markers are viable targets for a Redirect so you could wind up inadvertently destroying them. Equally, the opposing cadre could have taken a durable unit whose sole function is to be a punching bag for a Redirect, meaning you could wind up spending several activations killing a unit which doesn’t meet any of the criteria mentioned in part one of this post.

The key to killing enemy units is understanding the ways your cadre can effectively deliver damage to them. It is always worthwhile having attacks which can bypass Guards and Redirects, whether it be through Overcharge, Line, or AoEs that cause damage, as this will give you a versatile force which can be a threat to many units. Not all of them, though, some are just too tough to ever waste time trying to kill.

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One thought on “Surgical Strikes: Part Two

  1. Pingback: A Strategy Primer for New and New-ish Players | Darkspace Calamity

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