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  • Writer's pictureGrumpysarn

Film Study: Dave's Nia Clinic

Updated: May 26


First of all, if you are not watching DicedHam's Youtube channel, what are you even doing? Godtear_ATX features games and strategy conversations with top players. It's excellent. This article is based on Ham's recording of a tournament game against Dave Martin. These are two of the best players around, make no mistake.

I was particularly intrigued when Ham recently announced that Dave had put on a clinic with Nia. Nia has always interested me, but I've never really gotten the most out of her. My curiosity was piqued, so I took advantage of Ham's awesome channel and did a bit of film study. I learned a lot, and I hope that reading this breakdown helps you learn something, too.

A game of Godtear comes down to lots of things, inevitably, but I was especially struck by how much this game turned on one particular plot phase. Specifically, Dave's plot phase going second in turn 2. let's dive in.

The Key Phase

It's Quest. Dave has Rangosh, Nia, and Blackjaw. Ham has Shayle, Skullbreaker, and Finvarr.

Here is the situation at the top of the turn 2 plot phase for Dave, who is going second in this turn:

Quest always poses the question of how to balance offense (planting banners on their side) with defense (crushing the banners they plant on your side). In this case, Ham has emphasized defense by keeping both Skullbreaker and Finvarr back. Surely Dave won't be able to get safe banners with those two speedy banner crushers parked on the objectives, right? Oh no. Not right.

First, Dave uses the speed boon on the already fast reavers as well as their Rush skill to come from all the way downtown and wrap up Finvarr:

Next, the Quartzlings slide over and Calcify:

Then, Blackjaw crushes Finvarr's (non-scoring) banner and plants his own in the newly created hex:

And Nia completes this offensive bonanza by popping her ultimate, Geode.

Both Blackjaw and Nia's banners are quite safe. Let's zoom in for a moment:

Even though Finvarr has given himself a speed boon using Poised to Strike, he just can't get very close because of the foresight Dave has had in placing the Reavers just so. If Ham were to try using the Toothbearers and Finvarr to take out the two reavers in Finvarr's way, Dave would just recruit one back in between the orcs' and the elf's activations. No, Finvarr's only hope of getting to these banners is to take out Blackjaw with one attack. It's... unlikely. This bit of plot phase maneuvering allowed Dave to win the turn on the strength of banners placed in a position which seemed well-defended. Wow.

This defensive setup for Dave essentially holds throughout turn 3 as well, sealing a 6-0 win for Dave. Have a look at the final board state:

Poor Finvarr never made it out of there. Instead, he just got wailed on by yellows and greens.


So why is this so good? What strikes me right off the top is that this is a bit of cross-champion teamwork. I've previously written about Nia tactics, but in the context of a 1 on 1 lane situation. Here on Quest, there will be fewer one on one matchups because the board is organized into two lanes. This matters because it's not just Nia who punishes poor Finvarr here, it's the combination of Nia and the speedand board presence which Blackjaw's crew brings. In the past, I have felt somewhat underwhelmed by Nia, but that might because I was not using her in combination with other pieces as effectively as Dave does here.

What Nia seems to be doing here, really, is punishing an opponent extra for not being able to access an area. Ham is a great player, and I wouldn't say that he made a mistake here, exactly, but he did leave an area of the board open for the Reavers to clog and for Nia to calcify. That was all it took. Nia's Calcify/Geode combo makes this the key area of the board:

Countering Nia, then, has to mean thinking like your about to win a turn on Life all the time. That is, you have to think about where new hexes might be. Conversely, playing Nia means thinking this way opportunistically. Nia is less concerned about where the hexes are than about where they might be. That seems obvious as I type it, but this game shows just how profound that really is in the hands of a player who can work out the sequence of moves needed to make the new hexes inaccessible.

This is a nice example of good plot phase play in general: see the thing that will win and work backwards to create it. If you watch the video, there's a key moment in which Dave puts the Reavers in the wrong spot before any calcification has taken place. It's the first move of the plot phase and Dave jokes "I feel like I've already made a mistake." Indeed. As a good opponent, Ham lets Daveredo the plot phase move, and the second time you can see the careful intention in how the Reavers are placed. This is A+ Godtear.

I hope you learned something! I did.

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