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Testy Testerson
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Robert the Saint vs. Vanaah Kalmor the Desert Paladin

NOTES: I will be writing moves as NAME(RANGE, POWER, PRIORITY). If the move has a passive boost (e.g. Divine Rush) the adjusted values will be written in brackets after the base values. I will also be color coding attacks, and posting a damage and position grid at the heading of each turn.

I recently stated that I thought this match up was a bad one for Robert, based purely off my experience with how Vanaah fights. In the interest of actual experimental evidence (Gasp!) I played a match against a friend of mine. Let’s call him Fernando.

For background, I have played 4 or 5 games against Fernando. For most of them, I’ve been playing Regicide Heketch. Regicide is my current favorite character, but Vanaah is a very close second. Fernando has never played the same character twice, but he plays most of them in a similar manner. Aggressively. Fernando does not Dash anywhere near as often as most people, but since the rest of our group developed a fairly Dash-heavy metagame it works for him. Many times when you expect him to Dash he will instead jam a beast of an attack down your throat. Then when you figure he just HAS to Dash next turn, he does it again. He had played Robert once before this.

I tend to play a fairly reactive style with Vanaah. She has a great talent for mixing up how she wants to fight. Generally, I will alternate between slow, high damage, stun guard attacks; fast, divine rush boosted quickies; and Dashes or Judgment style attacks to mess with my opponents plans. I’ve played her about 15 times or so, but like I said I’ve been playing Regicide very heavily recently and was a tad rusty.

Pre-Game Decisions

Fernando picked Vox (+1 Priority) and Malleus (Stun Guard 2) as his starting blessings. I liked these choices. The +1 Priority really messes with a lot of Vanaah’s styles. She needs to be able to guess if the opponent is going high or low priority for 2/5 of her styles, and the +1 or possible +3 priority can really play havoc with the guesswork. Malleus is another good pick since Vanaah can reliably clear 5 damage and an additional Stun Guard 2 can make all the difference against that.

Opening Card Discards were Immortal Dash (Slot 1) and Divine Grasp (Slot 2) for Fernando. I laid Paladin Grasp (Slot 1) and Judgment Dash (Slot 2)

Opening Theory

I remember thinking at this point that Fernando may try to Rosary first turn. My game plan going into this match was to try and strip blessings off of him with Reaping, so it’s possible I may have focused too heavily on the blessing angle. Regardless, the end result was me playing Reaping Shot (1-5, 3, 3). In retrospect, this seems like a horrible decision. Rosary is only PRI 4 base, and he couldn’t really risk me dropping Divine Rush first turn and just slamming him with a Glorious Drive/Scythe.

Predictably (to everyone but me apparently), he rushed me. Fernando dropped Chosen Drive (1, 3, 4) and cracked my stun guard by 1. He ended in front of me and I was pushed to from there to the back wall. I had considered playing something like Vengeance Strike to stun guard like crazy and crack him one, which I think is a much better play here. Unfortunately, my brain was fixated that he was going to Rosary first turn. The first of many bad reads.

Turn 2 V(17) R(20) _ _ _ _ R _ V

The next turn seemed like a great time to drop Judgment. Robert only has two styles that increase his range, and one was in the discard (Immortal). I played Judgment Strike with Divine Rush(1-2, 5(7), 2(4)), thinking that even if I didn’t win priority I could hit him back for 7. Plus Judgment would lock him down if he tried to advance into melee range.

Unfortunately, this was obvious for Fernando as well. He read my play and dropped Saint’s Strike(1-2, 3, 3(4)). Clash! I changed my play to Judgment Scythe(1-3, 4(6), 2(4)) and he changed to Saint’s Grasp(1-2, 1, 5(6)). He hit me for 1, moved me forward and I returned the favor with 6 damage. Definitely not a bad exchange, and it made me feel a lot better about the opening boondoggle.

Turn 3 V(16) R(14) _ _ _ _R V _

This was another bad read on my part. I felt that Fernando’s aggressiveness would have him chomping at the bit to hit me again and even up the damage. I played Vengeance Strike (1, 6, 3) and figured I would just maintain my advantage and slug him back. Fernando instead dropped Divine Rosary (N/A, N/A, 3(4)) and pulled back a space, grabbing Vis (+1 Power) as his new blessing. So far, the plan of keeping him from accumulating blessings was not working out so well.

Turn 4 V(16) R(14) _ _ _ R _ V _

Contrary to my other turns, I made a great read here. Saint’s was already locked up so I knew I could dash, I was getting Divine Rush back next turn, so why not right? Fernando is really aggressive, and it’s unlikely that he will be able to resist anteing some tokens and trying to punch me flat in the face.

The problem was I played Paladin’s, thinking I would be sneaky and pop back into close range once he had used his blessings. I forgot that Paladin’s also drops my priority by 2, putting me at a measly PRI7. Paladin’s Dash(N/A, N/A, 7) ran smack into Ascendant Strike with a Vis and Vox Ante (1, 7, 8). I ate 7, and then popped onto the middle of the map.

Always, ALWAYS check your math.

Turn 5 V(9) R(14) _ _ _ V R _ _

I decided I was sick of blessings on Robert. He only had the one left so I played a Reaping Grasp with Divine Rush (1-2, 2(4), 6(8)). Fernando anted Malleus in response and played Chosen Grasp(1, 2, 5). I hit for 4, grabbed my Divine Rush back, and moved him away from me. He advanced back, hit me for 2, then shoved me to the far wall.

Turn 6 V(7) R(10) V _ _ _ R_ _

I wasn’t thrilled to be at 7 life, but Robert was now out of Blessings. Judgment Shot(1-5, 4, 1) is a GREAT lock down effect against Robert, and unless he sees it coming and counter-shots he is in for a good chunk of hurt without a really good way to get free. Fernando made a decent play with Saint’s Rosary (N/A, N/A, 4), but he still had to eat four damage and couldn’t move out of the way.

Turn 7
V(7) R(6) V _ _ _ R _ _

At this point, I smelled a dash. I didn’t feel like chancing it and wasting Divine Rush however, so I went with a Glorious Dash (N/A, N/A, 9) to at least keep up with him. Glorious Dash is actually a favorite opener of mine if the opponent plays someone that likes to bomb early, but it’s also great for these sorts of situations. If you need to Dash but are just out of reach to hop around them, Glorious has the Advance 1 that lets you make the leap. I felt a little bad when Fernando revealed Divine Drive (1, 4, 3). I could have –easily- beat that priority and gone for the kill, but I was a little too tentative. I advanced and then hopped over Robert. His drive kind of screwed him here, since it ended up locking him into the corner with the one space advance.

I feel like this was a REALLY bad play on my part. I had Divine Rush, I had Drive and Scythe, and I had Glorious. There was no way I shouldn’t have just run straight at him with PRI 6 or better and gone for the kill. I think a big issue was that I was far too focused on not letting my Divine Rush get wasted. This probably led me to over-estimate the chances he would dash. I mean, he NEVER dashes. This should have been an easy read into a game winning kill. Instead...

Turn 8 V(7) R(6) _ _ _ _ _ V R

...I took 6 damage and looked like an idiot.

I was WAY too nervous about wasting my Divine Rush. I decided that I was just going to drop Paladin Strike (1-2, 5, 1). This made me look like a real moron when he revealed Immortal Strike with Malleus Ante(1-2, 3(6), 2). I really thought he was going to Dash (I know I know, it takes me a while to learn things okay?), so I decided I would Paladin Strike in order to soak a possible ping if he wanted to get one in, or teleport next to him if he Dashed. Why on earth I thought this was a good idea when he was holding Immortal in his available cards was beyond me. He slammed me for six, but luckily I still had one life left.

I am going to chalk this up to 25% inexperience against Robert, 25% not reading Fernando’s play well, and 50% being a moron. If I had thought about this for two more seconds I would have been able to read the Immortal play, and at least have gotten a hit in early instead of being stunned. Alas.

Turn 9 V(1) R(6) _ _ _ _ _ V R

Not much to see here. I made a real obvious attempt at my finisher without ante, he dashed (finally!), and we played our next turn.

Turn 10 V(1) R(6) _ _ _ _ R V _

This was where Fernando made his fatal mistake. Instead of Pulsing, he decided to try and go a level up and ping me for my last health.

Now, in his defense this wasn’t THAT farfetched. I had been making bad plays by assuming he would Dash all game. He also knew that I was nursing my Divine Rush token, and I was more than capable of just trying to stay next to him. If he dashed this turn he was in a crap spot for the next turn since I could probably hug up against him. In addition to that, I can probably beat him on priority even without Divine Rush. Knowing this, he tried to sneak in a Ascendant Grasp (1, 2, 6) to chip me down.

Unfortunately for Fernando, I had learned my lesson. I anted Divine Rush and dropped Glorious Grasp (1, 4(6), 5(7)). The damage hit him dead on and was enough to kill him.

Vanaah wins with 1 health remaining.

Post-Match Analysis

I still think this is a bad match up for Robert. He has a couple chances early on to rack up some counters, but if he whiffs a Rosary attempt into a big hit or ends up losing a counter to Reaping he is in a bad place. Vanaah plays a great counter hitting game and will generally come out ahead of him in damage races. Add that to the fact that he gets NERFED by Judgment and Robert definitely has his work cut out for him.

That being said, this game showed me that there is still room for a game here. Robert can play mind games fairly well, and if he comes out ahead on a few of them it puts Vanaah in a really awkward place. He also has some ridiculous Stun Guard, and that helps him cheat her out of the occasional quick stunning hit she is used to getting against other characters.

In closing, I still do not think this is a good match up for Robert, but it is –definitely- not as bad as I thought. I would like to get a few more games in when I am playing at least decently before I make a final verdict, but I think there is room for both players to make some good reads and really serve up a beatdown to the other.
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Marco Santos
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Wow! Such a close match!

To add onto this:

I played a Vanaah today as well and I admit that she's one tough cookie to break. Her play-style is ALMOST brain dead easy that it's annoying. She just bum rushes you with superior stats.

I encountered many of the same problems as Fernando against Vanaah. However, he plays quite differently from the way I do. (he didn't whittle then finish)

Now consider this:

The guy I played against only used Vanaah around twice.

I MAIN Robert.

The match ended 11 - 0. A loss for me.

Now, it MIGHT sound bad but it's not like that. My loss was attributed to my OVERCONFIDENCE.

I had him like this:

R_V|

His divine rush AND his Dash were in discard. I had all 4 tokens.

There was NO WAY that he would have dodged My Hail Mary. Except for a pulse of course.

Now, in my pure stupidity, I revealed my plan, forgetting about his Pulse, that I would knock him out this turn.

Well, he pulsed. Needless to say, I still won the fight. After the match, I asked him if he would have pulsed if he didn't know that I was going to Overdrive. He replied with a large "NO."

I agree that it's not the best match. Vanaah basically sits there and hits you like a freaking truck.

He got me down to 1 HP at around the 5th beat. (He was 11 already at this time as well)

I only had 2 tokens at that time though. I had to cycle Rosary TWICE at 1 HP.

It was: Immortal Rosary > Saint's Dash > Ascendant Drive (out prioritized) > Immortal Rosary.

I basically survived at 1 HP for 4 whole beats. Then the entire overconfidence thing happened.

In conclusion, I thank you for your input! This will help all Robert players immensely.

Finally, what did you think while fighting Robert? Were you able to observe some of the strategies/strengths I enumerated in the guide?

Again, thank you for your contribution!
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Testy Testerson
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Vanaah is definitely one of the characters who is easy to pick up and do alright with. I will admit that there are matchups where she can just beat down against someone who is not really good with their character.

That being said, I feel like Vanaah is hard to play really well. Taking her up that extra level can be quite difficult since she is so good at just doing alright regardless of your mistakes. When your mistakes are getting covered up by how solid your character is, it's hard to get that improvement you need to be truly great.

As for Robert matching up with your previous analysis, I will say that I do like your whittle then finish approach. Fernando plays a lot differently than almost everyone I know, so I didn't get to see that exact style of Robert play. Remember too that this was only his second Robert game. As for myself, I get a little nervous playing those sort of end-game heavy strategies. If you whiff your big hit, you end up in a -really- bad place. I may try picking Robert up to experiment a little more with the finish then whittle style. Of course, I saw a little bit of the weaknesses in that when Fernando had run all his tokens down. Robert really doesn't have that great of stats without his Blessings. You would probably have to play a very stun guard heavy end game if you didn't want to play for a big finisher.

Did you like Fernando's opening Blessing picks? They made sense to me, but I was curious what a Robert player would think.
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Marco Santos
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Actually, I was very surprised. His blessing picks were EXACTLY mine.

The analysis was correct:

Priority +1 makes it hard for Vanaah to out-prio you outside of Divine Rush. On the other hand, the Stun Guard 2 proves to be Invaluable as Vanaah can only hit you for at most 5~6 without using her Divine Rush. As Stated in my guide, Robert has a full rotation of stun Guard 6+ with the token.

So I actually commended his opening choice.

My only real qualm was when he anted his tokens for that large hit which didn't finish you off.

He could have done a set-up during that turn. Then either Immortal-ed or Dashed the next turn, hopefully whiffing out any counter attacks you may have and THEN finish.

Also, whiffing your "big hit" is pretty odd to deal with. It's true that if you do, Robert is left powerless. However, as I displayed in my own Vanaah match, you can bait and set it up so that he can not dodge your finisher. (Again, outside of a pulse)

In my opinion, Robert should NEVER ante tokens outside of finishing the opponent. Keeping them in your pool gives you the MOST out of your tokens. Just imagine: Within 3 beats, the Power+ Token would give you +3 damage if you hit every beat. That's the same as anteing the token. On the fourth beat, hoarding the tokens now has given you more stats than the ante.

As for being "very good" at Vanaah. I wouldn't know. None of us find her "fun" enough to invest the time in her.

Also, would you mind posting that Robert game wherein you play him? I want to know if my guide is effective at introducing people to the character.

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THE FEEDBACK. ^_^
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