Church of Skill

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by [EmP] Celyth

   After the Mining Collective loss which was partially my fault for making poor initial plans and not taking responsibility for signalling where each player should be and not making mid game calls. Our primary caller stepped down from the duty and it was given to another player, which was then given to me after I said I could do it better (with input from others) after inhouses due to my sound timings on rotations, keeping a close eye on each player's tendencies, and my position on the map which was usually elevated so I had a lot of information to act on.
So I ended up becoming the Overmind and everything was consolidated into my command, which entailed planning decks, setting initial positions and opening plays, and calling important movements based on information gathered from everyone for each of those facets; from their input on dropdecks, to initial positioning, to information from scouts to make mid game calls.

   Tourmaline was a map that was...a bit troublesome for us, and we learned from playing Tourmaline against 228th prior. Pushing against a long range heavy deck was nearly impossible given the spread from us, concaves from us, bottleneck paths for them, and counter rotations onto their backs for us. So #1 was to build a deck that would fare at long range well, and have a couple mid-long range skirmishers that would DPS them down by flanking them should they get closer and push. You would then pick positions on the map that enable these layers of fire to overlap and crossfire easily. We picked Center, E4 Hill, and F5 Hill. Any of those positions could shoot into an enemy encroachment into Theta and clear Crystal Palace/Stage, while also able pull back and counter rotate bait and switch if they had to against an inevitable SJR push. Which I knew they 100% would push us, given the fact that the plan also entailed controlling 3 caps.

For example, areas like the E4 Hill were nearly impossible to cross and push given the concave from "Crystal Palace/Stage" and the receiving side of Crystal Palace where they smashed our two stranded TDR-5SSes. If you counter rotate into their backs from either side they went, they'd lose 100%, which is what I called on my stream at this timestamped link

Other examples of me calling counter rotations is a bit after

   Based on this call above, we would've had them shot at from the top by me and a raven, the guys on F5 Hill, and the guys who pushed their tails at F6.

   If we had the other side of the map, I had a plan that would knock off anything at F5 hill and push them into Stargate/Theta, where they would be crossfired by my team at palace and skirmishers at the sides. And if they stacked E4 Hill, there was a plan to concave E4 as well from 3 angles.
Much like the mining collective we lost, I recommended people take longer ranged mechs, at least LPLs (600m) as ERMEDs were too short to trade efficiently from the center areas into areas like Stage/Crystal Palace. So #2, tying into #1 is to make sure your players have weapons effective for the maps they're playing in.

   We achieved this mid-long range staggered layer deck for the Conquest Drops 1 and 3 by using RVN-4Xes and their 900+m range in the far back. The STK-3Hs, STK-4Ns, my specially built TDR-5SS for Imminent to use in the conquest drops and everyone else to use in the 720 drop 2, and my quad ERLL TBR to play the 800m ranges, and the SCRs to play the skirmish dps ranges of 600~ with their LPL/ERLL/ERMed hybrids. Of course I put Proton (PrtNspz) in whatever he felt comfortable in, because I trust him and expect him to do well in whatever he tells me to place him in.

   For the 720 ton Drop 2, I was going to use HBRs initially, but given the ranges of the map, and as I said above, ERMeds don't cut it. Someone on my team, a SJR defector recommended TDR-5SSes. I took that idea, and instead of making a push deck with a measly 350~m effective range for the given large map, I outfitted every TDR-5SS player with the 3ERLL 4Med TDR-5SS I used in comp back in MRBC against Seraphim in Canyon Network here

   This enabled them to "brawl" with 20 damage medium laser bursts with very low CDs and burn times due to quirks, and to whittle down the enemy SJRs during the trading phase with 27 damage 900m+ ERLL bursts.

As you can see, I look at the map, the important areas (2 of the matches being conquest meant Theta/Center was an important area). I check the ranges of the map at those important areas, the trading distances. I tell my team to outfit their mechs accordingly to be able to be effective at said ranges. Then, I pick spots where each "lance" or group of ranges will fight. This should ensure a win in the trading phase of the game. This however, would be a lot harder without... #3, SCOUTING, we decided to use ravens as the backline layer of the trading phase to take high points and scout enemy pushes

   When playing a ranged deck that tries to force the enemy to push, you need to know which angle they're pushing from as soon as possible, that is done by effective scouting. A ranged deck that stagnates and receives a nasty push without the proper scouting info and subsequent counter rotations or retreats will 100% get outgunned and outdpsed by better weapons at close range.

   So you built a Long Range Deck for a Long Sightline Map? Prepare to be able to call retreats, concave correctly, and rotate accordingly to make up for your lack of closer range DPS. (Of which they had FS9s and DWFs in comparison to our RVNs and STKs)
So to answer your list of questions... I build a deck with accompanying weapons for the map, and then I slot the players I think are worthy enough to take the mech. There are a couple variations tossed in, such as myself in a QKD-5K or prtNspz in a HBR, simply because we play very effectively "on our own," and I trust our capabilities to make a mech choice decision without screwing up and failing by "experimenting." Each of the mechs were strong independent of one another as they had long range, but if you combine lanes of fire the results become magnified. (A Brawl or Rush deck in comparison needs to be far more dependent on one another to be effective) You can see this in Homeless Bill's stream where one stray TBR from the pack (JagerXII) can get torn up in Drop 2, or Soul's TBR pushed too far ahead and got focus fired first (Drop 2 and Drop 3). It is better to combo peek if you can such as, but if you can find an angle to lone wolf, and trust the lone wolf's decision making, it can pay off. That was a pretty poor example too, as trading against DWFs is usually a no-no. In hindsight, if I sprinted far left to get a left side angle on the DWFs, they would have gotten pushed back from a 2 to 1 firing angle concave.

   As for your second set of questions. In a 3/3/3/3 scenario, we use players that are very good first. So Celyth(Heavy/Assault), PrtNspz(Heavy/Assault), heimdelight(Heavy/Assault), Writhen(Heavy/Assault), Twinky(Assault), Araara (Light), and Adiuvo(Light) have been pretty standard dropped 100% of the time if allowed. They usually get the "good toys" too, so Assaults and Heavies. The other light is 80%% Coburn (He did very well in the RVN-4X that day), and if he can't make it, we'll likely toss ExMaChIIInA in a light. The other mediums and single slot left in the heavy/assault slot is left up to my ranking of the players in the unit with input from the other top players.

   The team members have very little say in which mech they're taking, unless they show me prior to the match that they are amazing at the mech they want to use, or I know beforehand that they are amazing in anything I would put them in. I do however give them flexibility in weapon choices. I give them a general range to follow (600m for tourmaline), and then I give them a recommended weapon (which is usually ERLLs for the IS mechs, as they don't have good 600m range weapons), and I let them decide if they want ERLLs, LPLs, or Gauss on their SCRs, etc, etc.

   I address egos fairly bluntly, I know I've shot down a member quite a few times when they've overestimated their abilities. I show them recent screenshots of their "rival" picks and take input from the other top players on the team. I'm sure one time I flat out said a player sucks compared to the likes of, and he accepted it and took the challenge to get better. He definitely got better, but wasn't better to the point that I would pick him over others still, especially in a series that we were determined to win. I am fairly condescending in my tone when addressing egos. But I do make sure I keep screenshots of inhouses and scrims to make sure I minmax the decks and players to their class roles. If they disagree, I bring on other's input and they tend to bend to their new role pretty well. (Ironically, I don't bend to well under input as well, but I have a huge ego and superiority complex that I emanate onto my team...think of it nationalism or something.)

   We all have pretty big egos here, but I think there is a certain bit of respect amongst each other, and while sad they don't play as much matches as they prefer, heel to the authority that the team needs to come first and victorious over personal play time.

   The Alphas were actually fairly similar in the Conquest Drops, except in comparing a firestarter's 30~ alphas at 250~m and a raven's 18 at 900+m. Their Dire Wolves' double gauss LPL builds hit for maybe 56 at range, and a total of 80+ close up, but the terrain is hill-y and hard to manage in a "map-wide" sense. Whereas stalkers could be versatile on any part of the hill-y map, the dire wolves were stuck either pushing and taking tons of damage on their tall hoods, or sitting on flanks (which they did in the beginning). Our SCRs carried 45+ alphas in flank/skirmish/center control roles. My TBR does 45~ an ERLL alpha with ghost heat, but heat matters if there is cover to pull back into and they do not push. The Stalkers probably had the lowest alphas other than Ravens at 36 for 4ERLL STK-3H builds and 45 for 5ERLL STK-4Ns. The Alphas were certainly lower, but not too low, and the trading phase was a lot easier on us with 2 assault DWF slots, a STK, and a HBR being taken to babysit a STK, TBR (Me), and a TDR on the hill. If we were to lose trades against said Dire Wolves, we'd just look to the right and fire into the center crystal palace.

Gauss is usually accompanied by ERMeds or LPLs. ERMeds did not fit mining collective or tourmaline's ranges, and I preferred the syncing of Quad ER Large Lasers over the stagger fire of hitscan LPLs/ERLL and projectile Gauss. ERLLs/LPLs had to be emphasized just based on the 600m+ ranges of expected trading engagement, because ERMeds dropoff at 450~m.

   In comparing our TDR heavy deck to their HBR heavy deck. Our TDRs have a 47 alpha (which is plenty vs heavy mechs) once they close in between 3ERLLs and 4 Mediums. An average 4ERMed Gauss HBR has a lower alpha at 43 and will have trouble hitting hill peeking TDRs while on the move. ON TOP OF THAT, the TDRs are quirked out the ass for bonus armor in the side torsos. (If you saw in drop 2 in homeless bill's VoD, it took them a really long time to destroy the two receiving TDRs on the push)

   In a way, Siriothrax was right, we straight hard countered their deck, especially given the fact that they chose one of the worst paths to take vs an 800+ range concave deck.

   The Quickdraws were chosen simply because of 800+m range, high mounts, a great weight to power ratio if played correctly, and the ability to jump high into spires to get different angles...because we didn't want to all be congested up in crystal palace with 10+ ground based heavy mechs. A "heat clip" of a QKD will deal 100~ damage at 800+ before it overheats (without cool shot), easily enough to open torsos (and hopefully pop gauss) before they can push close enough. If they stagnated somewhere, it would've been an extremely easy and brutal farm for the high spire quickdraws.

  AND IRONICALLY, this is all for naught, with the next rebalance patch in a couple days, if it is anything like the PTS, I doubt I will take any IS mechs into the comp field.

   My only regret is that I should've taken a Hellbringer for Drops 1 and 3. Left side, high mounted ERLLs would have destroyed their Dire Wolves with little return probability for effective return fire if I was careful.