• Reading the Rainbow Broad Strokes Episode 2 Exposure

    Welcome back folks! Last time we talked about win conditions in the AoU draft format. Today, I want to take a brief pause from AoU to talk about something I've noticed in some of my drafts. I'm going to talk about a metric I like to call exposure. Exposure is a measurement used to help you determine what to attack with on your turn, and how to gauge the consequences of making said attack. I see too many people in drafts building these giant walls of defenders, then without much more of a plan than "once I buy all my dice I attack and see what my opponent does", push their dice forward and go "all in". I figure, talking about this topic today, might give all of you a better idea of how to make good tactical decisions after you have drafted all of those sweet cards I keep telling you are good.

    First, let's talk about a simple example of exposure, so you can see my definition a bit more easily. I have 2 sidekicks fielded, and my opponent has a Goblin Attack Force die, on level 2. Let us just, for example's sake, say that we don't have any fists to force the attack force to block. Looking at this situation, we have a few options.
    1) Attack with a sidekick, and hope our opponent blocks, however, even if they don't, the attack force is still done for because when our opponent takes damage they will still die.
    2) Attack with both sidekicks, hat way situation 1 happens, AND we get in 1 damage.
    3) Attack with neither sidekick and just block the Attack Force on our turn, as they have to attack (we are assuming they attacked on the turn they were fielded, but were returned to the field somehow)

    Let's look at the exposure each of these moves gives us.

    1) We lose a blocker, but we also remove an attacker. However, if our opponent lets the sidekick through, we get 1 damage in, and the opponent preps a die. Is trading one blocker and 1 damage worth the 25% chance the Attack Force Doesn't reroll?
    2) We lose both blockers, and we know our opponent will have a 75% chance to reroll and attack with the goblins on his turn.
    3) We don't lose any blockers, and we know that our opponent will have to attack with the goblins on his turn. we will then get a KO on our opponent's turn, get a sidekick prepped to ramp a die for our turn, and still have a blocker in case our opponent actually rolls another character and fields that on his turn.

    As we can see from this fairly simplistic example, many times, waiting for your opponent to make the move is generally the right call. However, since this is the right call for you, it is usually the right call for him as well. This is what leads games to a state of "don't swing till you have lethal". Instead, what I hope to show is that with a good gauge of the exposure created by attacking with any single element of your field, you can create openings that pressure your opponent into taking fewer risks with their turn, leaving their moves predictable and eventually corralling them into only losing moves.

    Our next example is one that we might all be familiar with from our DC drafts. Let us say I have a Cheetah and a Firestorm, both level 3 commons and my opponent has Superman, Martian Manhunter and uncommon Green Lantern, all level 1. Our health is 20 still, and our opponent is struggling with 10 health thanks to the Fire"storm" of bolts, and some early Cheetah Aggression. Lastly, we have one mask in our reserve pool, our opponent has no energy, and the only mask global on the board is Distraction. On top of all of this we are counting our opponent's dice and know that he is drawing 4 sidekicks next turn. We have a few options.

    1) Attack with Cheetah only (do one damage), and hope our opponent blocks with Manhunter or Lantern so that Cheetah KOs.
    2) Same as 1, but use Distraction to save Cheetah from the used pile or Superman.
    3) Attack with both characters, and hope for favorable blocks, or good rerolls next turn.
    4) Don't attack, and see what our opponent does, possibly save Distraction for Manhunter or Lantern.

    There are possible other choices too, but my article can only go on for so long. let's take a look at how exposed we leave ourselves if we make these choices.

    1) By attacking with JUST cheetah we are actually getting damage in and forcing our opponent into a corner. Eventually he will HAVE to block Cheetah and KO her, or lose from her 3 attack. In the meantime, if our opponent DOES attack with all 3 of his guys on his turn, we can block Green Lantern with Firestorm, and let Superman and Manhunter hit us for 14 (plus or minus a sidekick, hopefully not 2 because that would be lethal.). If he does this, we can then attack with Firestorm for 5, plus hopefully a rerolled cheetah who gives us a minimum of 5 damage between fielding, attacking and combat damage.
    2) If we Distract our own Cheetah, we risk missing out on having her KOed and doing the 2 damage from fielding her. The only reason we would want to distract her is if our opponent was going to let her go through unblocked, or block with Superman. Sure we could get 3 of their HP, but we would miss the body for our next turn, and have a hard time threatening our opponent.
    3) This is by far the worst option. Even with the 8 damage Firestorm and Cheetah represent, and the 1 damage Cheetah does on her own, we can't kill our opponent this turn. We need to be trying to set up for the turn where we can kill them, and also pressure our opponent into a situation where their extremely threatening force must stay on the defensive and can't attack you.
    4) This is the option I see people take most often. In this situation though I think option one or two are better calls. Sure you could save the mask in hopes of your opponent attacking. But what do you really get out of saving it? You get the mask, and Cheetah, both are basically blockers. The Mask can't work on Superman, and unless your opponent rolls two sidekicks, his attack can't actually kill you. You'd be much better off taking 14 damage, and having your opponent's board clear. In the end, not attacking with Cheetah reduces your exposure from lethal at 3 sidekicks to lethal at 4. The question becomes, how much of a chance is there that your opponent is going to roll 3 sidekicks? Is the advantage gained by pushing with Cheetah worth the risk you take exposing yourself this way?

    Now I said Exposure was a metric, and it is, but it's metric is one measured in probability. If math isn't your thing, you could probably skip this paragraph, but honestly, if you play Dice Masters, you should take a look at how probability works, especially on a six sided cube. Exposure is a measurement of the chance your opponent can kill you, versus the benefit gained by performing an action. For example, in our last example, option 3 is about 80%(1/6 8 times) lethal... to us. If our opponent rolls or rerolls even 1 sidekick, we're done. Sure we could save our mask to stop Martian Manhunter, which will cover our bases, and our opponent is still at 9, but he will still have Manhunter on the board, and we will have 6 health left, against a guy that does 5 overcrush, and nothing left in our field. Exposure is calculated by taking the chance our opponent will roll something to kill us(80%), and subtracting that from the probability that the action we are taking will kill or damage him (in the case of Firestorm and Cheetah attacking, 0%, because Superman can just block Firestorm and our opponent can just let Cheetah through). It's not an exact science(at least not one you can do in your head), but it is a way to try and think about each move you could make. It also can help clear up analysis paralysis though.

    Exposure, once you learn to read the field and the probabilities, gives you a way to play the odds, and eke small advantages against your opponent. This can help you know when to just swing away with a few sidekicks and either prep them, or chip away at your opponent's health. Do it often enough, and your opponent will eventually have to prep those sidekicks for you, and his health will start to get pretty low. Knowing what your opponent will threaten you with next turn is the first step to accurately calculating the exposure of your moves. Always think about what your opponent is going to be doing on his turn. Don't watch your side of the board, always watch his. Your side will do what you tell it to do, his side, will try and do all the things you don't want it to do. Watch it and learn to gauge when and how it is threatening, then you will know when you can be threatening back.

    That's all for today folks, join us next time when we open the packs for Player 1 in our Age of Ultron draft.
    Comments 1 Comment
    1. DigitalFirefly's Avatar
      DigitalFirefly -
      Great article.