Aggro strategies are as old as the concept of gaming. Also known as “blitz” strategies, you can find evidence of aggro in nearly every category of game, where the philosophy is that a good offense is a good defense. Sometimes, it’s just so tempting to go all out, and focus all efforts on scoring points or dealing damage as quickly as possible. Gem Blenders is no exception. However, there are a few key ways that Gem Blenders aggro strategies behave atypically, and ultimately, are perhaps more difficult to pull off than one might believe.
The Round System
First and foremost, Gem Blenders uses a round system. When you reduce your opponent’s life to 0, instead of ending the game, both players reset their life total and resume playing, with the round winner gaining one point. The first player to win two rounds wins the game.
At first glance, it may seem like each player’s life points are basically doubled — in order to win, you must deal twice the amount of life. However, this isn’t correct for two reasons: one, both players reset their life, and two, there is the potential for a third round.
Therefore, a more accurate description of the qualifications for winning is: a player must outpace their opponent’s damage output for two rounds, and not necessarily consecutively. This is where aggro runs into its first hurdle.
For example, a typical aggro deck might get 5 damage on turn 1. With 20 life, this means it can take a round in 4 turns, assuming there is no defense. However, so long as the opponent can reach an output of 5 damage by turn 5, which is fairly easy to do, they will match the pace of the aggro player for the second round. Now that they have the same pace, they are equally capable of winning rounds 2 and 3, assuming nothing changes.
|Damage Output||Round 1||Round 2||Round 3|
Does this mean winning round 1 is pointless? Of course not! In fact, it gives you a huge advantage in the long term — but only if you can use it. Ultimately, it comes down to who has the best damage pace, and unfortunately, winning round 1 does not necessarily help with that.
The way traditional aggro strategies work is that they try to catch their opponent unprepared, before they are able to set up their defenses. The round system mitigates this advantage by giving the defending player the ability to claw back in round 2, which prolongs the game into a third round where anything can happen. That being said, there are still aggro strategies that have worked in Gem Blenders, but they have had to find creative ways to overcome this obstacle.
As mentioned, the winner of a game of Gem Blenders is generally the player who outpaces their opponent overall. This is different from dealing the most damage each turn — let me explain.
|Net Damage||Turns to Win|
Since damage doesn’t carry over into the next round, this means a pace of 7 net damage per turn is essentially the same as 9 net damage per turn — both will take you 3 turns to deal 20 damage, all else being equal. Because of this, going first is the tiebreaker — whoever deals the first blow will be on track to win the round. This is especially highlighted at the 10-19 damage range, where dealing 10 net damage per turn is actually an equal pace with 19 damage, given that both will take 2 turns to defeat an opponent.
Does this mean there is no point in dealing more than 10 damage? Not exactly. This brings us to another interesting and unique thing about Gem Blenders: although resources/heroes aren’t destroyed, they are interacted with through defense. Getting even 1 defense in front of an attack of 5, 7, or 10 will slow the attacker’s pace by a whole turn. This is why position and defense can be so important, and is another hurdle that an aggro player will have to take into account.
How to Win With Aggro
Winning a game of Gem Blenders with aggro is more difficult than you might think. It’s hard to gain and press the advantage that comes with winning the first round quickly, especially if your opponent is able to set up for the second round, when they get another chance at evening the playing field. In the end, it all depends on the relative damage pacing. Here are a few tactics that can help:
1. Increasing damage — If you can continuously increase your damage output, it can help you win the second round. Taking the first round with 5 damage is fairly doable for an aggro deck against an unprepared opponent, but taking round 2 can be more difficult. Have a plan to increase your damage to at least net 7 by round 2.
2. Getting past defense — The alternative way to increase your pacing besides adding attack is by reducing your opponent’s defense. You can do this effectively by utilizing movement, non-attack damage, and actions such as Breach or Consolidate. But be careful! This only helps if you are on track to outpace them. If they have equal or superior damage output, this will not necessarily help.
3. Blocking attacks — Believe it or not, a defensive action such as Block Attack or Invert might be able to eke out a win in the race for round 2. If you and your opponent have a similar pace, stalling them for a turn or two will essentially increase your relative pace.
Unlike other games, Gem Blenders does not give an aggro player the victory just for speed. Unless your opponent has a particularly slow setup, it will be easy for them to match your damage pace by round 2. To overcome this, the aggro player must come up with creative ways to capitalize on their early victory, either through increasing damage, reducing defense, or finding other ways to sneak past an unprepared opponent.
I hope this essay was able to shed some light on the problems facing aggro today, and best of luck to all you speed demons out there!