For the second pro-file, I had a nice long talk with another Vanguard member who had a lot of good strategy to share, Synx.
Real Name: Amund Pedersen
Location: Trondheim in the middle of Norway
Age: 28 years old.
How long have you been playing?
Since November 2014, about the same time as Kurasu.
You ever met up with Kurasu in person?
We talk quite a bit yeah, but I never met him in person. Klas is a cool dude.
Are you guys likely to face off against each other in the masters?
I expect we will meet in the finals yes. I have the upper hand on Klas in econ-sets I think, while he is better than me in crazy yolo sets.
So what do you think of the new breach party units?
That new dynamo is strong. It seems to be on the same power level as vivid, without being super vulnerable to breach. Probably a must-buy.
The ray seems strong, but not too strong I think. It’s a nice unit, but not a must-buy.
I think the borehole is really good in some situations, but slightly below average in most games. If you play vs Odin for example u probably want 2 of them to cover the threat from Odin.
What about in relation to Drakes?
Yeah if he has to blow blastforges to kill them then it’s worth having 1 patroller per enemy drake I think.
Now that Breach Party is over, are you going to play breach proof more now?
I play a bit of breachproof, mostly with wild drones, but maybe it’s the way 2 go with the new dynamo too. I think the dynamo functions whether you defend or go breachproof.
Have you had a chance to try any solid breachproof games with the dynamo?
Yes. We did some testing in our team and it works great.
Who all is on team Vanguard?
The founding members were me, bearsuit, allroc and kurasu then Celerity, Weiseguy and mquander has joined since also joined so we are 7. Weiseguy is young and on like a summer break or something atm so we haven’t heard much from him lately, but everyone else is fairly active.
Do you guys have a site or anything?
We do not have a site no, but would probably like one at some point.
Do you guys practice together a lot?
I would say we practice a bit, but not a lot. We don’t really have a schedule for practice or anything, we just play when we are online.
Is it weird to play so many of each other in masters, knowing each others play styles and whatnot?
Yeah but that’s fine imo. Since our team have the best players in the game in my opinion we should expect to face each other in tournaments.
Have you enjoyed mentoring a new member like mquander?
Yeah, it’s cool to see new people invest time into being good at this game and watching them grow. He is almost 1800 now. He was like tier 6 when he “won” the trainee-spot.
Does Vanguard plan on taking on some new trainees in the future then?
We have been joking about downgrading bearsuit to a trainee, but I dunno 😀
What other teams are out there you know of?
We formed first, then breach boys came along, then team devs (basically just the devs), then GoSu gamers, then granular gaming. We only had a team match against breach boys so far though, which we won. Granny gaming seems to be afraid of us. We have challenged them, but they keep dodging. Arka is probably the only guy who wants to accept ;D
Do you think vanguard is the best team currently?
It’s not even close.
Are you interested in any team vs team tournaments in the future?
Yeah that would be cool.
How many members per team do you think would make sense for that?
Probably around 5.
Prismata in general
If Prismata became a pretty big eSport would you guys want to be a “professional team” in that?
Well yeah for sure. I think we all hope for that to happen. I dunno how likely it is for Prismata to become a huge eSport though.
What do you think is holding it back from that?
The game is hard man. Like if people are used to casual hearthstone, relaxing with fancy graphics and cozy sound effects. then they won’t enjoy the much more competitive Prismata.
How do you think it compares in difficulty to something like high level League of Legends or StarCraft 2?
I think it compares with SC2. SC2 is also having problems appealing to casuals. I played a ton of SC2. LoL I don’t know. LoL always sort of seemed like a casual game to me.
Do you play anything else at the moment?
I play a minimal amount of DOTA 2 with IRL friends + Kurasu and bearsuit, and an even smaller amount of Hearthstone. Haven’t touched SC2 in ages.
Which do you enjoy more, SC2, Prismata, or Hearthstone?
Prismata for sure.
What do you think Prismata could do to better appeal to non-hardcore players?
It’s hard without ruining the competitive nature of the game, which is the reason I personally enjoy it so much. Things like adding random effects like Ragnaros (example from hearthstone) would probably appeal greatly to casuals, but it would work against skill being the deciding factor of the game. I think the best thing is just to add more sound effects and get a campaign up and running. The award system will probably help too.
What do you think of the current campaign content?
I played through it all and enjoyed it.
Were there a lot of players back when you started?
There didn’t even used to be auto-matching when I started. There was like “brawl periods” or something. A 4 hour window every day when you could search a match. It’s grown quite a bit.
How’d you find out about Prismata originally?
Prismata sponsored some Hearthstone tournament, and called it the “Prismata Cup”. It was casted by Reynad and some other well known guy. After the broadcast it showed Elyot playing vs Timex in Prismata, and he explained about the no randomness in the game factor etc. So I applied for a key instantly, as I found hearthstone way too little focused on skill. It took like 2 weeks for me to get a key, so I had time to learn the game a bit from videos.
Any particularly helpful videos or players?
Bearsuit, argeiphontes and Kurasu. Kurasu started streaming really early, and that’s how I came to know him. We played a bunch against each other, as we were 2 of the most active players at the time. I definitely learned from playing against him, bearsuit and argeiphontes were better players than both of us back then. And I learned from watching their streams as well.
Do you do any streaming or analysis videos?
I have been streaming a bit, trying to explain my thought process during games.
Do you record or just do it live? I know I’d appreciate it and watch recordings.
I don’t record. I’ll make sure to get it recorded from now on.
Where do you see the future of Prismata going in general?
Hopefully sponsors will get involved as the scene grows. There will be more eyeballs on the top games and hopefully more people playing the game as well.
What kinds of things would help get the word out to the kinds of players that would most enjoy the game?
They got me with the hearthstone tournament sponsorship. Maybe they can get some more that way. Other than that they could try chess and go players, even SC2 players. SC2 players are usually stubborn though.
I gave keys to a bunch of my friends. None of them stuck with it though. They watch my masterleague games occasionally.
Have you done masters commentary yet?
Sure, twice I think. I like commentating games and the response has been good too for the most part. Bearsuit & celerity are great to cast with.
What else helped when you were first learning?
Just playing the game mostly, watching streams, and talking to other players. I did actually play the bot quite a bit when I started.
When you’re trying out new ideas and strategies do you use the bot, smurf, play with your team or just go ladder anyways?
I do try some different stuff on my smurf I guess. If it’s like a specific set we play it in our team. Mostly in Prismata there is sort of one correct way of playing for every set though, at least in my opinion. So it’s important to be able to spot the best strategy for a set.
Do you think that can make Prismata eventually stale without new units?
I don’t think so since there are so many different possibilities for sets. It’s never exactly the same strategy. Just by changing one unit in a set it can play out very differently. Big things to watch for when determining your strategy for a set is what the biggest absorber in the set is. The bigger it is the more econ you want. Also if there are any crazy burst or snowball units you need to watch out for. Examples of those would be redeemer, wincer+freeze or amporilla.
How do you usually determine your openings?
I try to stick to what is the most efficient. Unlike Kurasu I rarely cut econ to get short term advantages. So I try to make as many drones as I feel I can comfortably defend with, and head for the most convenient tech. As P2 that is often the conduit, as P1 it is always blastforge if you open triple engineer. Can be animus if you can’t afford to open triple engineer. Very rarely do I think it’s correct to go conduit first as P1, or to cut drones to get an early conduit after investing in a blastforge/animus.
Do you have some particular favorite strategies?
I enjoy high econ sets with tons of blue stuffs as P1, and green/red stuff as P2. I do think I might be the best high econ player. I am very comfortable if I am 3-4 drones ahead, but trailing 1-2 damage behind.
So kind of the opposite of what Kurasu said in his advice to new players?
Who would you say is the second best high econ player?
For high econ the top 5 might be kurasu, arkanishu, silverspawn and aetherllama. For low econ I think dbelange is probably the best player in the world, together with kurasu. Crash is also pretty good in low econ games.
What’s your favorite drone then?
I like the vivid, the greediest drone. I have had a tendency sometimes to get too greedy, when the defense in the set don’t warrant it.
Do you take advantage of prompt and forcefields a lot then?
I try to plan many turns ahead so I always get the biggest absorber on the right turn to absorb the most damage the whole way, and get the most efficient damage soakers afterwards. Often that is perforators / chieftains/ shredders. While using the superior econ to pump out more attack. When you are 5+ drones ahead you should probably never make another drone. Since you win if you can just hang on at that point.
On reddit you said “when I started I perfected tarsier wall. I pretty much did better with tarsier wall than with the special units until I had over 100 games. I suggest a similar approach for newer players”. Can you explain “tarsier wall” for those newer players?
So when I started playing there were far less units, and I also played base+5 at that point. Often tarsiers were simply the best attackers in the set and every set had tarsiers. So I just perfected the way to pump out the most tarsiers while defending with walls and that won me a ton of games. If you do the math, tarsier+tarsier+wall is 13 gold + 2 red + 1 blue every turn. So you stop at 13 drones, and just make that.
Would you still recommend learning to do that for newer players in the current environment?
It worked for me at least. If u play base+8 then there will probably be better strategies available though, but if you’re not comfortable with them you can end up building it too inefficiently and it would be better to just go tarsier + wall.
I suppose for newer players learning how to get the best mileage out of base might be good until there’s a more restricted newbie format though?
I think so.
Do you have some recommendations for learning how to use other key base units like Rhinos?
Yes. Rhinos are important to use correctly. The most common mistake is to waste rhino charges. So if the opponent has a wall, and you have 3 rhinos as your only attack, you can deal 1 damage (killing an engineer while the wall absorbs 2) if you attack with all 3 rhinos. It is way better to save your rhino charges in that case than to trade 3 for 1 damage.
Often leaving rhinos with 1 stamina is good vs threatened damage as well, like freeze or odin/drakes or a doomed mech timing out or a big absorber your opponent most likely want to hold back. This way u can spend more gold on attack instead of defense, and the rhino which would have been empty if you attacked with it will still threaten that 1 point of damage for next turn, so your opponent will still have to account for it when defending. That is sort of advanced though. Definitely making sure your rhino charges don’t deal 0 damage is important.
How do you deal with a lot of the “mathier” aspects of the game?
I do the math in my head. I am pretty quick with that. Kurasu is usually just a second quicker though, when we play together over Skype.
When I talked to him he had a pretty simple trick for newer players in terms of counting granularity with the 1-2-3-4 weakness thing. Do you have some tricks like that?
Yeah I basically do the same thing.
Any other math shortcuts or ways to chunk comparisons?
I know the granular gaming guys open analysis mode while playing, to see how it plays out in advance. I dunno, you just need experience. Know what stuff is worth.
When they make balance changes does that mess you up for a while because of that?
Sometimes. With the Cynestra change…and the asteri change…and the drake change. So yes, with a lot of changes.
Do you ever replay your games?
Not often. I usually know when I make a mistake. Sometimes I check to see if another option would have worked.
Do you ever study other players replays?
Allroc often pastes replay codes with whine about auto-losses, but I don’t usually wanna watch them 😀
We have a trainee (mquander) in vanguard who we all try to help as well, so we watch his games a bit. I think he benefits from having someone to ask and to point out his mistakes, but so do we all really.
Do you watch live games and try and catch mistakes?
Of each other yes. Sometimes me & kurasu laughs at Crash’s stupid mistakes when he streams 😀
How do you feel about the overall chill nerf in this latest patch?
Awesome. Chill was the “mathiest”of all the aspects of the game cuz u had to subtract for overchill. Then you had to count how big of a breach u could allow for how many frostbites. Usually you never wanted to allow them to kill more than 1 tarsier per 2 frostbites, preferably even less. It would also deny your absorb when they did. So the math with chill is just really complicated. Since chill was so strong and efficient for its cost + there were so many ways to get chill, you would have tons of chill in tons of games. Now it will be less of that.
Will that affect a lot of your builds?
Yes, for sure.
Less frostbite buys?
I actually think there will be the same number of frostbite buys, at least from my part. Just at a later timing since it’s easier to respond now.
Do you think the endotherm cost change will affect much?
It delays the endokit by a turn, unless you add another conduit. It’s still auto-win in many sets imo.
Do you think frost brooder should come back if better designed?
There is no need for a unit like that in my opinion.
Chill seems to be one of the things that when not overpowered, at least makes games feel a little less deterministic. Do you think there should be some more chill related units that are well designed (not auto-buys) ?
I think there are enough freeze options. I like some of the freeze units, like cryoray where u can exploit stuff, not just mass it up braindeadly like frostbites.
Do you think the game would benefit from some anti-chill stuff? like a unit that’s chill-proof for example?
I suggested something like an upgrade in the base set making your stuff immune to freeze, but something like that would probably just be too strong.
Thaw Machine sounds awesome.
Any final thoughts?
Shoutouts to Crash, Celerity, arkanishu, bearsuit, dirtymagic, silverspawn, apooche, allroc, mquander, weiseguy, temron, kurasu, aetherllama, dbelange & timex.
A callout to granny gaming as a team. Step up and face us as men you pussies.
I want to thank Kurasu and Synx for being so generous with their time and thoughts. Hopefully these pro-files are entertaining and semi-educational for you guys. Looking forward to any feedback on the subreddit!
As a bonus, here’s a recent review of all the games units (pre-patch) Synx recently posted.