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Thread: Tempo in Atlas Reactor

  1. #1
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    Tempo in Atlas Reactor

    What is "tempo"?
    I mainly know the term "tempo" from card games like "Magic the Gathering" or "Hearthstone", where it is used most commonly.
    Nonetheless it can be used in almost any turn based game which is based on a ressource. Basically "tempo" is the efficient spending of that ressource during the game (e.g. mana in many card games). Most of the time this directly translates to pressure: The one with tempo advantage is pressuring the enemy instead of being under pressure because he spent his ressources more efficiently.

    What's the ressource in Atlas Reactor?
    In Atlas Reactor the limited ressource is the number of turns your team has, most of the time this is 20. Since there are no combat actions in turn 1 this translates to 19 potentially damaging actions per player and therefore 76 actions per team. This seems like a lot but trust me, it's not.

    How many damaging actions are there really?
    Almost every game you will use a number of non-damaging actions like a dash, second wind or shift. These further reduce the number of the teams potentially damaging actions. Let's break this down a little further.

    1. Shift
    In most cases all players use shift (or another teleport) once per game to evade enemy attacks. These are already 4 of the team's actions gone. But you always want to use your teleport to evade at least 1 enemy attack. So in most cases your team loses at least 4 other actions to the enemies 4 shifts. So most of the time there are at least 8 actions per team gone due to shift. Leaving 68 per team.

    2. Second Wind
    Same as shift. You use one action and the enemies need at least one additional action to kill you (and vice versa) --> At least another 8 actions are lost due to second wind --> ~60 actions remaining.
    Since you heal 45HP what's more than most attacks sometimes enemies need 2 additional attacks to finish you, making second wind a 1 for 2 action trade. Use it in a turn in which you can't shoot anyone and double move either way to preserve tempo.

    3. Turtle Tec
    Most people run turtle tec and only by looking at tempo you can understand its true power. You use a free action and therefore don't loose tempo, the enemy hits you for basically no damage while loosing an action and therefore tempo. That means that 4 turtle tecs per team are basically -4 actions for the enemy. 56 actions remaining.

    4. Dashes
    Most dashes are defensive and deal no or low amounts of damage. I'll mainly focus on those that don't deal damage. Basically a dash works the same way as shift: You loose a damage-dealing action and want the enemy to also loose at least 1 action because of your dash. Many supporters don't dash at all while most firepowers dash at least twice and frontliners 3 times or even more. So with 1 frontline and 2 firepower there are approximately 7 dashes per team per game. Assuming those dashes don't deal damage and every dash evades 1 attack that's another 14 actions gone due to dashes --> 42 remaining.

    5. Cover
    Half-cover halves the incoming damage and therefore reduces the damaging action to "half an action". Therfore efficient utilization of cover can reduce the enemies tempo even further. Full-cover can block enemy shots and therfore lead to "dead rounds" for your enemies, further reducing their tempo.

    6. Miscellaneous
    Wrong positioning can cost you additional actions, e.g. if you haven't got a shot on an enemy. Same goes for double-moving. Heal power ups restore 30 HP what means, that in most cases the enemy needs at least one additional action to kill you what reduces their tempo. Also dying not only increases the enemy score, it also costs your team 2 actions because you are out of the game for 2 turns. This means dying doesn't only lead to a score but also a tempo disadvantage.

    --> Oftentimes every player has only about 10 actions per game to secure these important kills. Most freelancers want 2 of those to be ultimates so it's important to utilize the remaining ~8 actions as efficient as possible. Keep in mind that most firepowers have 120HP and therefore most of the time at least 4 actions are necessary to secure a kill.

    How to utilize tempo?
    It's best to always keep tempo in mind while playing. You got full HP but you know that 3 players will shoot you so use that dash/shift to trade 1 action for 3! You are in cover and 2 people shoot at you so use turtle tec to trade no action for their 2. Collect those heal power ups and use second wind to increase your action lead. Or just take some cover shots while getting healed from your support. Also look at your teammates actions: Can 3 enemies shoot you while your teammates can't shoot at all? Attacking would be 1 damaging action for your team and 3 for the enemy (tempo -2); shifting would be no damage at all (tempo +0) what's great for a turn in which your team is out of position!

    In addition try to not loose tempo by not overkilling (but make sure the kill is secured) or by not shooting at people that are likely to dash/shift (especially with multiple people). Look for safe positions to shoot enemies without them being able to shoot you back (vision range: 4-4-5-5-6-5-5-4-4 in every direction) and try not to double move a lot. Don't waste damage, if you can hit a coverless target, most of the time the best idea is to hit it with all you got (e.g. do not split your celeste grapplers when you can hit someone without cover with both). Use your ultimates efficiently: Make sure you hit at least 1 target and don't delay it for to long. Great ultimates can deal the damage of multiple "standard" actions but in most cases you want at least two ults per game.

    Mindgames
    Mindgames play an important role for getting an tempo advantage but you only truly understand them if you keep tempo in mind. 3 people will shoot at me so do I port to evade their attacks and let them waste their 3 actions? Will really all of them shoot at me or will some try to predict me (to not waste tempo in case I shift)? Is it maybe better to keep standing and just shoot because they will predict me and miss because of that (=loose their action)? Do I survive if I just use second wind because not all of them will shoot at me (overkill) or will I just die anyway and waste this action and its potential tempo advantage while not dealing any damage?

    Supports and tempo
    Let's look at the Aurora heal which is considered to be pretty good. If someone gets hit without cover, healing that person would basically be a 1 for 1 action trade (heal 30 take 34 damage). If instead you only take cover damage the heal equals 2 additional enemy attacks making Auroras heal a 1 for 2 action trade. Looking at her Ion Cloud, over 2 turns this ability has not only the potential to deal 40 damage what is an above average damaging action but (with heal mod) also heals for 16HP what's approx. a cover shot. When cover is utilized supports often have the ability to trade 2 actions for 1 of theirs, so don't make them sad: Use cover!

    TLDR
    The number of damage dealing turns are a ressource that has to be managed efficiently accross the team to get an advantage against the enemy. With effective usage of catalysts, dashes, power ups and cover massive tempo swings are possible what leads to higher pressure on the enemy team. This forces them to play more defensively and therefore gives your team the potential to increase your tempo lead even further. Looking at the turn number and keeping in mind that every action is a ressource and that the total amount of enemy actions is limited can greatly improve your performance in Atlas Reactor!

  2. #2
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    Good thread, that's a useful way to break down the game and an important perspective.

  3. #3
    as a Magic veteran I can really appreciate this kind of approach to AR. very thought out and relevant. good job.
    The one thing that could cause cowboys and Indians to join forces is their mutual enemy: dinosaurs.

  4. #4
    Thanks for this article, I've learned a new concept. As an old Magic player, it allowed me to understand why some cards were really appreciated by champions without me to understand why.

    I think tempo is also applicable to energy building for the first ultimate. When the game is balanced between the 2 teams, you have this kind of pattern:
    - Beginning of the game, teams are scraching each other, no death.
    - First ultimates ready, people start to die.
    - The team who got their ultimate before the other tend to gain a number advantage that they can push during a few turns (especially on small maps) to win before turn 15.
    So, building your ultimate tend to follow this tempo logic, where the team who's late tend to play more defensively to gain more time to build their own ultimates.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by SuperBidi View Post
    I think tempo is also applicable to energy building for the first ultimate. When the game is balanced between the 2 teams, you have this kind of pattern:
    - Beginning of the game, teams are scraching each other, no death.
    - First ultimates ready, people start to die.
    - The team who got their ultimate before the other tend to gain a number advantage that they can push during a few turns (especially on small maps) to win before turn 15.
    So, building your ultimate tend to follow this tempo logic, where the team who's late tend to play more defensively to gain more time to build their own ultimates.
    I thought about mentioning energy because in a lot of cases getting more/earlier ultimates is somewhat tempo dependant (and good ultimates can be massive tempo swings). E.g. you shift and get no energy but because of that 2 enemies miss and get no energy --> You are influencing tempo as well as energy

    Getting an ultimate advantage depends on many factors that also influence tempo like double moving, good shifting/dashing and positioning. Other factors like half-cover and turtle tec have influence on tempo but not on energy gains. Second Wind on the other hand can lead to a tempo advantage because enemies might need 2 additional hits to kill you but using it won't generate energy, so the enemy team can potentially generate more energy that turn. Thinking about tempo might improve your teams energy management but not in all cases.


    On another note thinking about tempo can not only help you to optimize your ability usage/positioning but also gives another point of view on the abilities themselves. Let's take Lockwoods primary attack, unmodded this deals standard range firepower damage but has two inherit ways to influence tempo which most other primaries don't have. This is the main reason why Lockwoods primary is that amazing.
    1.: If an enemy utilizes cover most auto attack damage is halved but Lockwood can often ignore cover by bouncing his shots. This often reduces the enemies tempo gain through cover because they take normal damage anyway.
    2.: By bouncing his shots Lockwood can shoot at people that are not in line of sight and therefore can't shoot back at him. With the right positioning this allows him to have damage dealing turns against freelancers that don't have this possibility.

    --> Lockwoods auto attack has not only the potential to negate enemy tempo gains through cover but also to gain tempo by shooting at enemies that don't have a target themselves.

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