Thursday, July 26, 2012

Kid Icarus Uprising power idea: Knight Charge

Recently, I decided to make a new club power set, one that would be for dealing with kite pests, but still having Counter to keep claw users from turning me into an easy target. I inevitably dumped Super Armor because it provided no mobility boosts on its own, didn't protect me from range abuse as well as it should, and ended up being too expensive. Seriously, Counter 2 costs only 5 spaces for THREE charges, as opposed to Super Armor 1's 6 spaces for only 1 charge, when Super Armor does nothing efficiently enough to make up for it. Counter can be punished by range abuse, but SA+Lightweight is laughable at punishing THAT.

I searched through the power list for ways to counter range combat, and could find only Mega Laser, Black Hole, Reflect Barrier, and Lightweight, the latter two of which I already had on my original power set. It's insulting that I could fit ALL FOUR POWERS, along with Counter and Effect Recovery, into the grid. Seriously, it's that easy to hit the anti-range potential of clubs.

But I do like the dynamic of Mega Laser, Black Hole, and Reflect Barrier:
*Mega Laser - expand (hit a guy with Energy Charge, chip damage KO, hit somebody behind a Reflect Barrier, force opponents' behavior)
*Black Hole - attack (catch anybody within 30 meters, punish clumping)
*Reflect Barrier - defend (throw off projectiles, mess up people's momentum)

And that's where it hits me: how about a third power that provides knockback immunity, one that would be designed for long range.

This is where Knight Charge comes in.

Knight Charge's stats

Before I can talk about what Knight Charge does, I'll have to provide the basic stats:

*Name: Knight Charge
*Icon: knight piece from Chess
*Spaces: 3+2L
*Charges: 1L
*Category: Buff
-KB immunity
-DEF and mobility increased
-ATK reduced by percentage
-Can't use projectiles by standard method

I am thinking the following exact stats:
-DEF boost: Overall DEF +4 (stacks with weapon's stats)
-Mobility boost: speed multiplied by 2.5x
-ATK loss: deal 1/2 damage
-Projectile restriction: can't use projectiles outside of something like Counter's free projectile

Why the attack neutering?

This power is designed with clubs in mind. Clubs are supposed to try to close the distance on foes under a hefty speed restriction. This power would make it easy to do that. Left unchecked, it will make the Ogre Club, the strongest weapon in the game, more or less dominant. Since the power is designed to be for simply providing an option to combat kiting, that is not desirable. Something would have to be done.

Attack power reduction is to make sure that clubs can't benefit as much from suddenly being able to get near the opponent easily. Halved attack is surprisingly powerful, as it results in dealing only equivalent damage to Orbitars' melee in general with the added problem of throwing only 2 hits in the combo, but it's still better than nothing, which is exactly what Super Armor + Lightweight still provides against strong kiting.

However, this isn't the only problem. Just having projectiles with all the defensive boosting is a blatant advantage. Trap clubs would be able to make sure that you can't hope to escape, and the Skyscraper Club in particular has its forward and side shots actually outpace the Ogre Club's melee combo in dealing damage, with the added bonus that the considerably reduced attack power AND the considerably increased defense power makes Reflect Barrier countering sting much less. Kiting weapons could also escape easily to inflict even more abuse. In order to stop these issues, projectiles would have to be restricted. Preventing normal usage should suffice. This especially helps prevents snipers from just going between sniper positions and suddenly abuse them without using 3 other buffs to milk the 3 buff rule.

Addendum (7/29): Now one might ask why I don't find simply reducing the charge rate of the charge shots by a considerable amount. After all, there should be valid reason for non-club guys to use the higher levels of KC, aside from the 3-4 charges. But the 3-4 charges, in and of themselves, means that rapid fire at least is going to need to STAY banned. I did the math: assuming 15 seconds per charge, that's 45-60 seconds of strong safety, which the rapid fire would easily abuse without question, because they suffer less from percentage reductions. (The charge shot restriction MIGHT be buffed. Depends.)

What's the deal with the recommended space and charges?

For all that defensive power, you'd think I'd recommend a minimum of maybe 14 spaces, since it'd be as strong as Aries Armor while providing a mobility advantage. Why only 5 spaces for level 1? Here's the short answer: because it has potentially crippling weaknesses. It's similar to why Counter is only 4 spaces despite being incredibly efficient when used right. Counter, in fact, simply rewards good tactics, as it lets you turn extra durability into a weapon, as long as you don't get caught in a bad position to use it. Knight Charge would be doing something similar: you get what amounts to bolstered defense and mobility, but while your net power would be better, your simple offense power will suffer, leaving you unable to KO even lower defense foes in any short timeframe and allowing Glass Cannon weapon users to harass you safely. What you want to try doing instead is use it to bolster particular tactics or get out of bad situations.

As for why there aren't more charges per level, it's because it's intended to be included in a KB immunity basic set. Counter has 2 charges base, and Super Armor has 1, both being at level 1. The three powers together would have FOUR charges, resulting in 60-80 seconds of KB immunity, split into four timeframes with controllable starting points, and that's without recharges. As the standard match is only about 90 seconds, it actually becomes quite possible to spend an entire match never getting knocked back at all. As a result, multiple charges for L1 is rather unnecessary. This also has some welcome side effects: 1L charges also prevents KC from being abusive on people who don't use armor powers, because KC already lets you just hit them for easy momentum, and nothing hurts the game balance worse than an equalizer gone wrong. It also keeps KC from being usable for just power countering, see below.

Why is this necessary?

So here's the big stumper: what purpose does this serve? I already came up with a power set for my Tankscraper to combat range abuse, and it's not too bad all things considered. But here's the problem: there are no alternatives to the set that can hope to work because, oh right, there are no other powers that can combat kiting, so shallowness is sure to follow. And I had even dumped Super Armor because it fails at being better than Counter at anything useful. Surviving 1-2 extra hits when you still can't close the distance even with Lightweight is worthless.

Knight Charge would fix this. By providing strong defense and mobility to have an easy way to get near opponents, it is no longer necessary to hold attack powers, and the attack penalties mean that Super Armor is not rendered obsolete. In fact, here's the dynamic that develops with the three powers:
*Knight Charge - use against long range
*Super Armor - use against mid range*Counter - use against close range

Knight Charge would actually be awful for dueling claws and arms with because you will lose attack power needed for silencing them if they come near. While the claws and arms will be easier to catch, you won't be able to hurt them efficiently when you can already combat them well due to how they need to get close to you in general. It's not useless against them, but KC for dueling them wouldn't be a good idea.

Let's get to the potential uses for Knight Charge.

Knight Charge uses

Distance control

This is the big one. With all the defense and speed, the Knight Charge user can get as close to or as far from the opponent as they want. Heavy weapons can use this to their advantage. The loss of projectiles and attack power, though, may pose some problems. But it's likely you'll survive until the buff is gone and you regain your attack options.

In addition, you can place yourself in terrain cover more easily, and even if they have Slip Shot, you still won't get hurt efficiently, while the opponent will have exposed themselves as a range threat.

Defensive position destruction

Range abuse teams like to stay in one area and smash you if you ever get close, all the while probably making sure that one of them gets a Daybreak part to prevent you from making a comeback that way. If you try to approach, you're guaranteed to have your team dismantled by being attacked one member at a time. Whoever gets targeted WILL die in a matter of seconds, and the process repeats until all 3 team members are dead. Your entire team must get close before the first person dies or they will have NO way to overwhelm the range team's anti-melee powers, but the range team can just mass-target whoever is easiest to hit and end that problem.

High defensive power is actually a working tool for combating such a nasty position. If you are anywhere near it, the opponents have to take care of you or deal with easy melee harassment. But when they can't kill you or even stun you easily, it's a matter of time before their position falls apart because you are able to keep attacking them safely. If they try to silence you, you can easily get away or plain force them to waste resources.

The net result? Range attack people will be forced to try to contest the center. If they don't, they become easier to attack. It's like in a strategy game: if you play defense, the opponent can expand and abuse that extra space.

Teammate support

I get aggravated when my teammates prove absolutely useless, either because they're bad, they're being harassed by somebody they just can't deal with, or because they're up against some stupid defensive position. Naturally, when I try to help, I just make myself a target providing the opposition with free damage to the Team Life Gauge, or I am simply gimped by my weapon making me too slow to try to help.

Knight Charge answers all these problems. Teammates very far away? The mobility boost gets me there in a flash. Dumb defensive position being abused to death? The defensive boost makes me basically invincible. My death affecting the TLG? Hah, I'm not dying any time soon to begin with.

And it can be argued that the offense loss does hurt, but at that point, KC is akin to the Battalion Wars tactic of taking just the manual unit to frontline: you can easily fight off the enemy forces' attacks, you effectively lose only some space if they punches through, and they still take free damage, the drawback being that the free damage is badly hampered, which doesn't stop the tactic's validity. Now crowding the battlefield does make Knight Charge useless, but that's because the opponent's are easy to hit at that point, so it ends up making KC flatly unnecessary in general too, except as a defensive power.

Naturally, these are reasons to justify its usage against a team of triple claws/arms.

Surviving in open maps

Oh God, open maps. These are the bane of club users' existence. There is simply no defense against long range harassment. That is, until Knight Charge comes into play.

With a well timed Knight Charge use, the long range headache can be hit and their momentum ruined. This allows the KC user to actually be okay staying in unpreferred range, as they can go for setting up a timing attack knowing the opponent can be hit whenever they want.

Countering certain powers

There are, of course, certain obnoxious powers that Knight Charge will give some definite trouble. It's not quite recommended to use Knight Charge exclusively to counter them unless necessary, but here's some:
*Energy Charge - easily hit the opponent, their offense goes bye-bye.
*Bumblebee - hit the opponent to waste their dodge charges, offense loss only comes into play when Bumblebee is already used up
*Slip Shot - KC is designed to close the distance when you want, and the reduced damage makes Slip Shot unable to do anything useful in its duration.
*Trade-Off - this annoying power suffers A LOT against KC. The defense boosts keep the KC user alive, the far superior mobility boost lets them get away, the offense penalties are rendered POINTLESS by the invincibility, and if Trade-Off wears off first, the KC user can easily get their needed attack in to kill them. Face karma, Trade-Off.
*Brief Invincibility - KC user won't even die at all if BI was even paired with a Glass Cannon weapon, when they just focus on defensive behavior.
*Play Dead - hooray for an easier time pulling the counter tactic to this
*Reflect Barrier - nulled KB, no risk of throwing a projectile (except when Counter is active, your choice), no damage it deals that's worth speaking of, though the attack power loss may actually be a problem

There are in fact FEW powers that can counter Knight Charge, for how it counters plenty, especially the more obnoxious ones. But Knight Charge, used poorly, can end up being punished on its own anyway. The attack loss means the opponent can still fight back trying to survive keeping their focus on not losing momentum, and as soon as it's gone, the can start a focus on getting away if need be.

Still, KC IS designed to reward good play just like with Counter.

Supporting certain powers

KC also helps particular powers be useful.

*Super Armor is no longer rendered useless because it provides defensive power without sacrificing offense. Mid range weapons would be more useful because they could manage enough power to combat Knight Charge, but SA allows for punching through the lower range without issue.
*Reflect Barrier, when not getting munched by KC itself, can be set up by the KC user to provide support cover. It doesn't help the user directly because the point of KC is to attack safely

What about other weapon types?

While clubs are the obvious candidate for Knight Charge, there are other weapon types to consider.

Pure long range weapons

The power being designed to combat THEM, bows, orbitars, and staves are going to have trouble, because not only can they have problems hitting for good enough damage, but they will simply have the distance closed on them whenever the opponent wants. They must use melee skills to survive the power. It's only fair when I'm expected to dodge with weapons designed to take advantage of being hit.

The LR weapons can't use KC offensively either, because they need their projectiles to manage any form of working offense. It can be used to get out of a bad situation easily though, but you can expect the first sniper position you think of to be harassed, as you won't be able to projectile until KC wears off.

Free tip: the game allows only 3 buffs at a time, with a 4th buff overriding the oldest one. Of course, that's expecting that you have 3 other buff powers simply to remove KC.


Here's where Knight Charge gets interesting. On both sides, it gets really strategic.

For using KC, cannons want to be careful. If they aren't, they lose their projectile edge, but Cannons can still be range-kited anyway, so they may want to get up close to the opponent to begin with. There are also some weapons that easily close the distance on them in unwanted scenarios, and having that massive mobility boost to get away would be a boon for that. Overall, KC helps Cannons in any worthwhile matchup, which is to say any where they can't easily dictate the terms of a skirmish as best they can to minimize the damage they take, ironically enough, but generally it shouldn't be used poorly at all.

Against cannons, losing attack options can really hurt. Having no projectiles means the cannons can still wear you down with rapid fire, and losing attack power means you can't hurt them very well either. But it's still useful on clubs because they can actually get close. Still, used poorly, it will be scoffed off by the cannons' still good power.


Being the middle of the road weapons, Blades can easily go either way with the power. But they can use it in a variety of already listed ways. Even clubs may have some trouble, although they would still benefit from not being range abused for the time being.

Clubs, of course, want to be careful using Knight Charge against blades. Blades retain enough attack power to pose a threat while simultaneously having range advantage, so they can actually counter Knight Charge. If clubbies want to close the distance, Super Armor is guaranteed to prove to be the better option, by retaining offensive power and options while still having improved defenses. Knight Charge can still be used as an emergency power. Just don't expect results.

Speed weapons

Neither side will really care about offense Knight Charge usage, because it boils down to misplaying.

The basic point of Knight Charge is to be able to close the distance on foes without so much trouble. Arms, claws, and palms can already do so at will, and if they can't, they're screwing up. The only worthwhile thing about KC is the defensive boosts, but that's only useful if they get hit, which requires blundering on their part or simply being outgunned. And meanwhile, they lose their projectiles and their attack power. To say the least, this only gives club guys an even bigger advantage, while range guys have more time to use anti-melee measures.

The speedsters are safe from careless Knight Charge attacks though. The attack power loss makes them much harder to get rid of, so they'll be able to harass effectively, and they already want to attack from nearby to do any useful damage. Of course, Knight Charge can still be used to get away if need be and provide protection from hyper accuracy.


All in all, I'm proud of how Knight Charge would turn out. What was intended to give clubs a much needed oomph in their sense of strategizing turns out to have plenty of uses, including countering some of the more obnoxious powers. And yet it gets balanced by having weaknesses that punish misuse. That only adds to the interest, and the offense issues are ones that go along with the power's theme.

Now if only developers would catch this. (And while they're at it, nerf claws' attack power, because their mobility should suffice for killing range people.)