Return and Removals - An In-Depth Guide

Strategies and Card File Construction

Return and Removals - An In-Depth Guide

Postby Jazzock » Sat Nov 10, 2012 3:22 am

Introduction

The return mechanic is used by most, if not all Falkow files. It has been under much criticism and is frequently called 'OP'. This post will basically be an in-depth view of return grimoires, comparing some with other sphere's grimoires. It will also have outlines of general sphere information. There will be some possible counters given at the end. This thread will currently only obtain information on the return grimoires, the units that can return other units and how to beat Falkow files using return grimoires (and maybe faytis). It may be updated in the future.

Everything in this thread is based on my personal opinions and thought processes. This was made in good faith of the community and hopefully will act as some sort of guide to what you can do to play against returns. Writing articles/essays etc. is not my strong point. Return/removal soul skills may be done at a later date. I hopefully made this sound somewhat neutral. Special Thanks to ChiYoung who allowed me to continue doing this even though he has already started a guide on counters. Please keep comments constructive and not abusive. Thanks.


Contents:

Some Terms
Resources in Each Game
Section 1 - Returns
- Part 1: Sphere strengths and weaknesses
- Part 2: The aims of a typical Falkow rush
- Part 3: What is Return?
- Part 4: The Return Grimoires
- Part 5: The Return Units and Chars Outline
- Part 6: When to Use Returns
- Part 7: Counters to Returns (Includes Replays)

Section 2 - Removals
- Introduction to Removals
- Part 8: Removal and Return Soul Skills (Includes Counters)
a) Removal Souls
b) Return Souls
- Part 9: Units and Grimoires with Removal abilities.

Other helpful links


Some Terms

- SP environment - The amount of SP in the game for both players. This includes both the SP you are able to spend, sphere level, and units summoned. Not to be confused with SP control.
- SP control - Controlling when, how and the amount of SP an opponent gets.
- SP efficiency - how well SP is used.

Resources in Each Game

- SP - One of the most important resources, used to summon units, use grimoires and unit abilities. You gain two each turn.
- Turns - Limited to a maximum of 30 in each game.
- LP - Life points
- Cards - Limited to 25 playable cards
- Sphere level - gained by spending SP.
- Grimoires Used - only really important in grimcount files.


Section 1 - Returns


Part 1 - Sphere Strengths and Weaknesses

a) This section will be purely about units 1v1 without any interference from any other card.
Assumptions:
The unit is the only unit on their respective side field.
The units are generic.
The units are of equal level.
No other units/grimoires/soul skills are activated or set
SP = infinity

Refess - Generally able to take out lawtia and falkow units without too much trouble. Moderately SP efficient due to often needing support through skills to deal sufficient damage. Gowen is fairly evenly matched with Refess.
Lawtia - Generally able to deal good damage to both refess and gowen units due to high attack and speed, however unable to kill them. Able to take out falkow units without too much trouble. Moderately SP efficient alone due being unable to survive being hit.
Gowen - Generally able to survive hits from lawtia and then kill them. Also able to destroy falkow units fairly easily. Evenly matched with Refess. Highly SP efficient due to ability to take out other units easily without use of action skills.
Falkow - Generally unable to kill gowen or refess units due to low attack power. Against lawtia, the units fast enough to hit lawtia units generally aren't strong enough to kill them, other units are too slow to kill them before getting killed. SP inefficient alone due to not being able to deal much damage and being closed quickly.

Result for 1v1 Refess = Gowen > Lawtia >= Falkow

b) A set up (working) field.
Assumptions:
No other units/grimoires/soul skills are set
SP = Infinity
units are approximately of equal level.

Refess - The King of large fields and even numbered battles due to most units buffing each other. Refess generally beats the othere spheres in environments like this. Takes the most turns and SP to set up.
Lawtia - Generally able to slaughter falkow due to being a lot more powerful, despite being similar speeds. Also able to do decently against Gowen. generally gets beaten by a well set up refess field.
Gowen - Arguably able to match refess due to having high attack and fairly decent HP. Destroys falkow as falkow is unable to kill them all. Fairly evenly matched with Lawtia. Gowen can get a working field by essentially playing one unit.
Falkow - Again, the worst sphere in terms of average evenly matched (number wise) unit battles, doesn't have much offensive capabilities and can rarely kill an opponent even if they do attack first.

Overall, even numbers Refess > Gowen = Lawtia > Falkow

c) Grimoires, open skills and unit skills.
Refess - Many grimoires are 1 turn buffs, revivals and/or healing, some grimoires are permanent buffs. Many Open skills are either SP generating, some sort of heal/revive or a buff. Many refess units have Buffing start skills, and many auto skills are also buffing skills or sp generation. Refess action skill are mainly skills which negate DEF, or another buff.
Lawtia - Many Grimoires involve in SP denial or removal. Lawtia Open skills are generally SP drain. Many lawtia units have close skills which involve dealing damage of some sort. Also many lawtia units have aggressive action skills.
Gowen - Most grimoires and open skills are very aggressive, ie. they deal a lot of damage. Most unit skills are also fairly aggressive dealing damage or buffing others to deal damage. Gowen also has some equaliser grimoires.
Falkow - Grimoires are returns essentially, with some field manipulation. Open skills are generally returns or agi manipulation. Action skills are generally either grimbane or returns. Start skills are usually agi/RNG manipulation abilities. Falkow auto skills are usually 1 turn buffs for self that give stats based on falkow level/grimcount, also some are returns.

d) Overall File strengths
Refess - Refess is best in High SP environments where they can get lots of their units out. If this happens, Refess is nearly self sustainable through the amount of buffs, however they do use grimoires to keep them alive/heal and give slight attack boosts. Refess requires the most turns and SP to set up and are the most powerful when set up. Grimoires concentrate on supporting the set up field or getting them to set up.
Lawtia - Essentially denies and drains SP to allow them to set up before the opponent. This allows them to swiftly take out opponent cards with by hitting them hard and fast stopping the opponent from actually playing more units.
Gowen - Plays units who are fairly good 1v1 and can hold their own in battle, supports these units by taking out problem units and weakening opponent's field using damage open skills. Gowen fields are generally the easiest to set up and are supported by damage grimoires to take out key units allowing their own units to deal with what is left.
Falkow - See part 2:


Part 2 - The Aims of a Typical Falkow Rush

Most falkow rush files aim to cause a Low SP environment and slowing down the opponent's order of play. Falkow files also generally like to deal with targeted or semi-target kills on key units without the need to try and close every individual unit. Falkow aims to manipulate the game into a state where their units can handle the on-field fighting. This is mainly done through return grimoires (which will be explained in detail later), and Soul Skills. This type of environment prevents the opponent from having too many cards on the field, allowing the faster falkow cards to swiftly take out the opponent's units one, or two at a time before they get a chance to act. The reason falkow needs to do this is because they have so low HP that they cannot afford to take a hit by the opponent (generally). This type of play cannot be played against the same way you play against a gowen file for example. Falkow also uses agi manipulation to allow their units to go first before the opponent. These effects turn falkow units from being SP inefficient to being SP efficient and enable them to lower the SP efficiency of the opponent's file. Falkow can be seen as a sphere where the main fight takes place off the field with effects, rather then with units on the field. In contrast, Refess and gowen want the fight on the field where their units are much stronger. Lawtia can play both ways and tend to do it fairly well.


tl;dr:
- Cause Low SP environment
- Slow down and interrupt opponent's play style.
- Targeted blows on key units without need of closing every unit.


For more information on the SP curve, visit Sunbunman's Wizard Kingdom Guide which explains the underlying idea behind many falkow rush files


Part 3 - What is Return?

Return is a mechanic that allows the user to gain several immediate effects:
1. Both iczers lose SP equal to the Lv of the return card (usually)
2. The user gains field dominance
3. Opponent loses field stability
4. The opponent unit returned loses the buffs it has obtained (if any)
5. You have 1 more set phase worth of units.

Indirect effects caused are:
1. User can field wipe the opponent
2. Opponent Revives and loses SP OR
3. Opponent doesn't revive and loses LP

How does it do this?
- removes a card from the field
- removed card may have been essential for field advantage


Part 4 - The Return Grimoires

The list:

Disjunction ***
Wrath of the Sea Lord ***
Waterspout *
Cyclone **
Return *
Wizard's Gale *
Withdrawal Strategy *
Sweeping Tidalwave **

Returns SP lost and other Table
Image

The Standard SP curve without any influences.
Image

Returns aim to lower the total SP in a game as shown below
T3 Tidal, T6 Return, T9 Return
Image

Compare with Lawtia Rush
T2 Shade hit, T6 Death's Embrace
Image

Or even Lawt Rush (ideal situation)
T1 Shade hit, T3 shade hit, t4 Shade hit, T6 Death's Embrace
Image

As you can see, both returns and lawtia rush do similar things with the SP curve (however lawtia tends to be able to gain massive SP advantage with shades), showing that returns do not make too much of a difference on the game other then the TOTAL SP, by lowering it this causes a low sp environment which doesn't favour gowen and refess files (generally).

Most falkow files do not generate much 'SP advantage' directly through the use of returns. This SP advantage generally comes from one (or or both) of these 2 things.
1. Owl sage SP generation.
2. Killing units that require SP to revive, which is helped by returning units with free revive. In turn this can force opponents to not revive a unit to keep up with sp.

Comparison
Sweeping Tidalwave is similar to Kaldrao in the sense that it makes the player 1sp ahead in the sp curve, however the way they obtain this is fundamentally different. Kaldoreo does this through player SP GAIN at the cost of a grimoire, whereas sweeping tidalwave does this through Total SP DRAIN, at the cost of a Grimoire. By total sp drain I mean, in the case of tidalwave, it costs the user 1SP (-1SP in total as you don't get SP from grimoires back usually) and then returns an opposing lvl 2 (or 1) unit, which means the opponent lost 2SP to play it (never to get it back again). This causes a drop in the total SP available in the game.

Return can only be compared to grimoires like Pure Terror and Fire arrow. All 3 of these grimoires are able to deal with threats, Pure terror is a guaranteed kill on a target Lv3 or lower unit, whereas Return returns a target lv3 or lower unit to the card file. Fire arrow on the other hand usually gets a kill. In terms of SP, pure terror is a guaranteed -1 sp for the opponent, -3 sp for the grimoire, Fire arrow is -3 SP for the grimoire and a likely -1 SP for the opponent, return is a guaranteed -3 SP for the grimoire and -3SP for the opponent. However, when compared to fire arrow, return can only be used on a level 3 and lower unit, fire arrow pays an extra 2SP/use, to be able to deal damage to ANY unit of any level. Fire arrow also makes the opponent lose a copy of a card, whereas return returns a copy. These major differences are arguably comparable.

Wrath of the Sea Lord similar in a sense to grimoires such as Like the Hand of God (HoG) and Sacrifice. All 3 Grimoires cost slightly more then the Lv of the grimoire (-1 Sphere for HoG and Wrath, -1Sp/loss of unit for Sacrifice) to use their effects. Sacrifice Will insta-kill most units and ANY unit of choice, regardless of level, whereas HoG will kill nearly any units (including undeads) regardless of Level. Wrath on the other hand is limited to Lv4 and lower units, and returns them to the card file instead of killing them. This once again lowers the Total SP in a game for both players keeping things evenly matched in the SP department (more or less).

The Strength of return grimoires is NOT directly in the SP department, but in the fact it essentially lowers the 'number of turns' in total. By this I mean that it takes 2 set phases to get a unit onto the field (if it is returned) and one normally. This lowers the total number of turns for the player that got returned by 1 which may be game changing.


Part 5 - The Return Units and Chars Outline

In general the units and characters with return abilities require.
1. A set up field as they do not do much other then return. (Can't really take a hit, can't really attack either)
2. May require Set-up conditions for the return skill.
3. May require opponent's to be within range.

These generally mean that the opponent can avoid being returned by these units (such as directing damage at the unit, being out of range, avoiding conditions).

The units:
Sky Staff Sorceress *
Adv:
-Returns unit for 1 sp,
-ignores it's own range.
-Good in multisphere files where falkow level drain isn't really a handicap
disadv:
-can only return units with 1RNG,
-easily killed,
-Lowers falkow lvl by 1 every turn,
-requires 2 falkow to use return skill.

Witch *
Adv:
-Can return target unit for 1SP,
-ignores own range.
Disadv:
-Can only return level 1 and 2 units,
-easily killed.

Mermaid Aquamancer **
Adv:
-Can return Lv4+ units for 3 SP,
-ignores own range
Disadv:
-Return is entirely random,
-may return friendly.

Expert Sorcerer **
Adv:
-Return Target unit for 3SP
Disadv:
-Return only works on Lv4 and lower units,
-opponent must be within range.

Leviathan **
Adv:
-Able to return nearly anything for free.
-One of the only return units that can tank
Disadv:
-May require Undine to lower agi of unit you want to return,
-Requires unit to have agi 2 or less,
-Can return itself and other friendly units,
-Random return.

The Kraken **
Adv:
-Returns lvl 4+ units for free,
-High HP
disadv:
- Can, and WILL return itself if opponent has no Lv4+ units,
-takes 2 turns to do the first return,
-can return friendly units.
-entirely random return.
Note: Possibly one of the worst units in the game... (imho)

Water Dragon **
Adv:
-Can take a hit,
-Returns ALL lv1 and lower units for free.
Disadv:
-Legrye is better than this in nearly all areas.

The Characters:
Water Emperor / Legrye *****
Adv:
-Returning Open skill without level limits,
-cyclone auto skill
disadv:
-Easily killed,
-slow,
-open skill is random
-nearly no field presence
-can hit friendly units.

Sea Lord / Vonderam ****
Adv:
-2SP target Return with high dmg,
-Harder to kill
Disadv:
-Slow,
-Return limited to Lvl 3 and lower units.

Mermaid Wizardess / Faytis ***
Adv:
-Returning open skill,
-gains field position,
disadv:
-Open skill is random
-can hit friendly units.

White Tiger - West / Rozari ***
Adv:
-2SP rangeless return,
-can lower opponent's levels
disadv:
-Return requires killing opponent with skill,
-skill hits random targets,
-limited to lv3 and lower units,
-requires a field to do lots of damage with skill.

Orphan of the Archive / Nereis *****
Adv:
-target return units for 1SP
Disadv:
-required returned unit to be engaged,
-easily killed,
-requires being outnumbered,
-requires high grimcount.
-Auto Skill used as long as RNG condition met, regardless of being able to return a unit anyway essentially wasting 1SP

Chase Wing / Volfied *****
Adv:
-2SP return enemy character of any level.
-banes characters
-Nearly no set-up conditions
disadv:
-Also returns a friendly character (excluding itself),
-also banes friendly character,
-easily killed.

Dead Wing / Volfied EX
Adv:
-4sp (incl. send to cem) to return 2 target Lv 2 or lower units,
-4SP (incl. send to cem) to return target enemy unit.
-set up conditions easily obtained due to low AGI
Disadv:
-required opponent unit(s) to be engaged,
-can only use one skill,
-sends itself to cemetery after using skill.

Aqua Sorcerer / Mystere ***
Adv:
-Target return for 2SP
Disadv:
-Requires opponent to be agi 6+, or 0-,
-Easily killed,
-opponent must be within range.

Spell Analyst / Diondora ****
Adv:
-2SP return with nearly no limitations,
-can engage opponent units until end of next turn
-Set-up conditions easily obtained due to low AGI
Disadv:
-Requires opponent to be engaged
-opponent has to be within range to return,
-easily killed.

Demon Path Princess / Hirume EX
adv:
-Free return
-Prevents grimbane
Disadv:
-Locks units for a turn
-Only able to return Lv1 units
-Random return

Blue Dragon Mage / Mildoreo EX
Adv:
-Great vs Rushes
-has decent field presence.
Disadv:
-Can return friendly units
-Cost 3SP for close skill
-hits friendly units with start AND close skill
-Random return
-only Lv3 and under units can be returned
-Requires unit to have 0 or less hp to be returned.

EX: Aqua Sorcerer / Mystere EX
Adv:
- Returns for free
- Can Return closed units preventing soul skill activation
- Target Return
- Can return friendly units.
Disadv:
- Limited to [Subtype: Great Spirit] only.

Part 6 - When to Use Returns

Returns are one of those grimoires that many people think can be played at any time you want, while this is true there are many times where you shouldn't play them. This part shall give an outline on when to, and when not to play returns. Obviously each game will likely play out slightly differently so there will be other times to return.

Basic Rules When Returning:
1. Target as high a unit as you possibly can with the respective grimoire to gain maximum disruption and cause the lowest SP environment for the opponent you can.

2. Do NOT return cards like the great spirits (especially Shade, or units with good open skills such as Judie, Sonic Seraphim and Night Wing Wyvern.

3. Return units that are not worth killing, ie. Free revive (such as Magic Doll -Augmented-), too difficult to kill (Such as OP dilate) or buff units which you could kill otherwise (such as Holy Knight / Lapierre)

4. Return tanks to kill key ranged units.

5. Don't Spam returns unless you are sure you can kill the opponent units that turn.

6. These rules are made to occasionally be broken.

A general example of when to return is when the opponent has a field of 2 Lv3 unit and LV2 buffing unit. If returning a Lv3 unit still allows the Lv2 unit to buff the other Lv3 unit enough so that you're field cannot kill the Lv3 unit. It may be better to use Sweeping Tidalwave or Faytis on the Lv2 unit to return that instead. Doing this may allow your field to deal with 2 Lv3 unbuffed units and kill them, encouraging the opponent to use SP to revive them. Of course, in situations where returning a Lv3 would be more advantages, you should use a Return grimoire on that.

Another thing to remember when using return is, each time you use the grimoire, is one less time you can use it later. For example in a game against a HKL file, if they drop HKL fairly early without many units to defend her, it may be better to just beat through the units to kill her, rather then wasting a return on her. Doing this will allow you to later return her if the opponent plays more units to defend her, or allows you to later return a unit such as Etoile. Another time where it is good to return is to Return a unit AFTER you kill it. Doing this has it's risks (such as the opponent may choose to not revive this unit) however if you manage it off you will gain a 1SP advantage. When attempting this make sure the opponent has another unit on the field should they decide to not revive the unit you would like to return, still allowing you to return the other.Choosing the right time to return is vital in many falkow strategies as Returning at the wrong time can be the difference between a win and a loss.

Returns can also be used defensively. For example, you have 1 copy of Sorcerer Monk of Regus left and only 1LP, you however have 2 copies of Sea Hunter left. The opponent only has 1 gowen unit left on the field, and you know you can kill that unit with your sea hunter. You expect the opponent to use Ball of flame -> so you can return your own Sorcerer Monk -> possibly saving it from a death. This will force the opponent to waste it on your Sea hunter, who then takes the hit and dies. This type of situation is extremely rare (but has happened to me personally) and returning your own unit can potentially win you a game. So do not think you ALWAYS and ONLY have to return the opponent's cards, it is sometimes advantages to return your own cards (but is advised against 99% of the time)


Part 7 - Counters to Return

This is the part I'm sure many people want. The problem with playing against return (and falkow in general) is that most people try to play against them the same way they play against Refess and Gowen, it's like trying to set wet wood on fire, its very difficult. You need to play against the sphere using different things in mind and this section will provide some outlines into what to do.

General Guides
1. Use units that cannot be returned - This is the most obvious way to counter return. Not all files can use these units (such as Lv2 rush files don't use Lv4. units) so this is just a general point out. However cards such as Miracle Fruit and Knight of the 5th Shrine can help raise these lower Lv cards above the return threshold. Units that are immune to grimoires are also difficult to be returned.

2. a) Use at least 3 Lv1 sacrifical units - Lv1 units are annoying to return because they don't really provide any advantage so usually falkow players kill them. This allows you to get you're Soul Skills to activate. Activating soul skills produces various effects which may force the falkow player to change their strategy and play out of their comfort zone (against a normal SP/high SP environment). They also allow for Lv1 -> 3 -> 1 -> 3 ->1 -> 3 which'll prevent you from being open to early tidal.

2. b) Use SP generation Soul Skills - Simply put, these soul skills raise your own SP environment, while returns lower it. These soul skills are an effective counter to returns if you can force them to go off relatively early.

2. c) Mass (AoE) damage Soul Skills - These can force the falkow player to use SP to revive, lowering the sp advantage they may have obtained and preventing the use of returns. (see replays below)

3. Learn when to Sacrifice units - This is difficult to actually explain as it is pretty advanced. Essentially you do exactly what it says, sacrifice units. Generally a falkow player will return a unit and then proceed to kill the rest of your field. 9 times out of 10 people will revive the units that the falkow file has killed thus causing you to LOSE MORE SP. Against falkow this is most definitely not wanted. You can sacrifice a unit to activate a soul skill and replay that unit. Doing this firstly allows the soul Skill to go off which gives some sort of advantage. Sacrificing a unit also allows you to 'bank' some SP which you can use to revive and play other units more quickly. Managing to play many units quickly can allow you to even up the numbers against a Falkow file in which case you will over run them.

4. Baiting - You can use units to bait early returns, or bait the opponent to return the wrong unit. Units such as Dear Cattleya, Aria, Etoile and Felice can make good bait units. Obviously however playing a unit like Dear Cattleya in a file that doesn't use magic dolls will not be a good idea and the opponent will not fall for the bait. Baiting units can disrupt the Falkow player's flow as well and get them to use returns on less important units.

5. Grimbaning - This is another obvious strategy to deal with returns, bane them so that the opponent can't use them.

6. Keep Playing Units - Exactly as it says on the tin. Each time a falkow player uses a return, they are NOT playing another card unit, hence if you keep pumping out units/double playing units you will eventually outnumber a falkow player's field or force them to a keep playing returns until they run out. This is easier said then done.


Some ideas for Each sphere

Refess - Refess has the most problems with returns, being a sphere that thrives in high SP environments and a fairly combo-centric sphere. - - grimbane
- baiting
- SP generation to try to keep the SP environment for them as close to the standard SP curve, if not higher. They need to
- force their SP generation soul skills early
- playing Lv1 sacrificial units and/or Sacrificing a level 3+ unit to bank SP
- Getting key units out later in the game.
- The New Miffyre also locks out owl sage and generates SP which provides a good advantage against falkow files in general.
Replays:
Refess starter (me) vs Falkow starter (Anima)
Refess Starter (me) vs Falkow Starter (Kouseo)


Lawtia
-Same as Refess
- Shade and similar cards.

Note: A successful Shade can delay return by at least one turn, more if you manage to kill off a few units and force them to revive.
Replays:



Gowen
- Mass damage grimoires such as Ball of Flame and Burning Air. These grimoires will force the falkow player to either revive and lose SP advantage OR let die and lose field advantage, in which case will likely lead to a field wipe the next turn by gowen units.
- Sacrificing a level 3+ unit to bank SP
Replays:
Gowen pewpew > Return spam


Falkow
- gaining and maintaining SP advantage.
- set up owl sage first
- Baiting Style of Play
- Backlashing
- spam low level units such as EX Wizzy Soldier.
Replays:
Set 10 Pirates vs DioEmana Control
Return Spam vs lv3 grimcount


Section 2 - Removals


Introduction

Removals are in a separate section because they work slightly differently to returns and have different counters to them. Removal effects differ from returning effects in that the player who gets removed actually loses not only the SP, and field position they used to play the card but they also lose a copy of the card itself. This effect has essentially all the advantages of a return but without worrying about that exact card to come back to be used against you. This section will provide most, if not all of the possible cards with removal effects. This section will NOT include file destruction (unless popular demand asks for it then it may be included in the thread at a later date). This section however WILL include return soul skills as they are essentially a removal soul skill without the loss of a card for the opponent.


Part 8 - Removal and Return Soul Skills

a) Removal Soul Skills (soul skills which specifically remove from the game)
This part will be split into two subsections:
1. Removals that Remove Open Units
2. Removals that Remove Closed Units (or both)

1. Soul Skills Which Remove Open Units

Removal of Enemy units

Assassin **
- One of the most (if not the most) common removal soul skill in the game.
- Usually found in Lv3 and lower rush files.
- Generally used by sacrificing a Lv1 unit to remove a higher level unit.
- Usually Found in Soul skill slots 2, 3, and/or 4 depending on the file, Lv2 Rushes tend to use multiple.
- Sometimes found in Slot 1 followed by a Fierte Soul Skill.
- Easily guessed when it is coming due to how common it is and revival or often low level unit plays.

This type of soul skill doesn't provide any advantage when it comes to purely the number of units on the field as it is essentially a 1 for 1 trade. However the advantage in this is that it can remove a friendly weak unit that is going to die anyway to remove a stronger enemy unit allowing the rest of your field to take care of the rest of the opponent's field. This however can backfire as sometimes you may activate this soul skill when you do not want it to and be forced to either remove one of your stronger units or remove one of the opponent's weaker units. This can potentially cause you to be at a major disadvantage. Another disadvantage when using this soul skill is when the opponent plays one of the counter cards. The counter cards will cause you to still remove one of your units but possibly without removing any opponent units.

Counters:
Refess - Play Unwanted Charity ** which will engage your units and avoid the Assassin SS, or play The General's Order *** which will make your units unable to be sent to the cemetery. Playing King of Mankind / Verlaat ***** will also engage your field allowing the soul skill to be avoided
Lawtia - Play Order to Sortie ** For Lv3 or lower files, Split Second Decision ** or Curse Spell * for the other files as they all allow you to be engaged and avoid the assassin soul skill.
Gowen - Play Petrification * To engage and make your unit more tanky or Song for a Hero on Lv5+ units to avoid the assassin soul skill.
Falkow - Play Deep Sleep *, Shear Winds *** or Timestop ** to engage your units to avoid the soul skill.

Similar Soul Skills:
Heierrat Assassin
Salamander Soldier **
Magic Doll -Covert- **


3rd Emperor / Joachim EX
- 2LP removal soul skill
- Random target
- Not that common, easily confused with Shelby (see return souls)
- Harder to avoid due to being harder to guess what it is.
- When used, commonly found in soul skill slots 2 or 3.

Counters rely on being able to guess correctly and are the same as with Assassin-Type Soul Skills.


Proxy of Light / Limier *****
- Target removal
- Fairly unexpected due to being rarely used
- Requires and costs 6 sphere levels to use (refess in this case)

Counters are same as Assassin type soul skills, however Sphere Drain cards such as Dire Straits *** could be used to render this soul skill totally useless when activated.

Similar Soul Skills:
Proxy of Soul / Animus ***** - Requires 6 Lawtia for soul skill.
Proxy of Flame / Pullermia ***** - Requires 6 Gowen for Soul Skill.
Proxy of Sea / Oseon ***** - Requires 6 Falkow for Soul Skill.


Chaos Form / Zalzagul *****
- Random removal
- Requires 4 lawtia
- Costs 3 SP
- Rarely used so difficult to see coming

Can only be countered by using The General's Order *** or Song for a Hero. Sphere drain may also prove useful.


Guard Captain / Afeemina ****
- Sends target Lv3 unit to cemetery
- User gets 1 less sp next turn if skill succeeds
- Countered easily by not having any Lv3 units on the field.
- Sometimes used in slot 2 or 3.


Fire Pixy / Erica EX
- Can send up to 3 units to the cemetery
- Requires units to be exactly 0 HP to be sent to cemetery
- Extremely random.

Counters include having high DEF or purely just luck.


Removal of Friendly Units

Wounding Sword *
- 3LP and removes a friendly unit
- Deals 30dmg to whole enemy field
- Usually seen in Soul Skill slot 5

Can only be stopped by killing all units on the side about to use it before it activates (ie. during open phase). Otherwise damage can be countered by using DEF boosting grimoires (or naturally high def).


Black Assassin / Mulna EX
- Can deal lots of damage
- Requires sacrificing a friendly unit with high MAX HP
- Nearly never used.

Counters can only be as above.

Beast Soldier / Orthos ****
- Cems friendly unit and gives 4sp
- Can only be countered by killing unit during open phase.


Gun Princess' Sword / Mizalio ****
- Does 1LP damage to the opponent
- Works without any units on the field
- Cems up to 4 friendly units.
- Nearly impossible to counter.
- Extremely rare to see used in files


EX: Lightning Girl / Rubia EX
- 1LP
- Can semi-target removal
- Lose 2SP next turn regardless of success or failure
- Fairly high chance of failure
-


Summoned Hound **
- Cems friendly unit for 80 dmg
- Target damage

Countered by having high DEF or killing unit during Open phase.


2. Soul Skills Which Remove Closed Units

Flame Emperor / Allind *****
- 3LP
- Removes all friendly closed units from the game
- Possibly game saving
- Can backfire if iczered into.


Curse on the World
- 3LP
- Removes one random closed unit from the game (friendly OR enemy)
- Possibly game saving
- Can backfire if iczered into
- Single unit removal version of Allind


Command Unit / Scarlet Rose ***
- 2LP
- Can remove enemy closed unit
- Target
- Can backfire


Command Unit / Scarlet Lily ****
- 1LP
- Removes ALL closed Lv3 or lower units on both sides of the field
- Can backfire


b) Return Soul Skills (also called removals)
The main difference between these Soul Skills and the above soul skills are that these return an opponent to the card file rather then send to the cemetery or remove from the game. Another difference is that Return Soul Skills also generally allow for your field to outnumber the opponent's field as there is no unit trade (in most cases). This is extremely powerful in the sense that you gain several turns of field advantage which, when timed well, can win you the game due to killing off the opponent units swiftly before they can set up again.

Revolver King / Shelby **** -> Song Sorceress *
This combo is also known as Shelby Song
- Extremely powerful AGI based removal combo
- Target Removal
- Very common in Falkow Files
- Easy to use
- Removes any unit of any level
- Conditions for removal are easy to obtain, especially in a falkow file
- Not many counters
- Nearly no drawbacks
- Another unit will be engaged
- Can backfire
- Usually found in slots 2-3 or 3-4

This, along with assassin are probably the two most common removal Soul Skills.

Counters to Shelby Song
Refess - Probably the most effective counter to the Shelby Combo is Faerie Blessing due to it making sure the field cannot be engaged at all, forcing the opponent to engage their own field (and maybe return their own unit). This can also be used to avoid other engaging Soul Skills.
Lawtia - Hope for the best.
Gowen - Hope for the best and/or use Gravitational Sphere * and hope the opponent is using the aquamancer variation
Falkow - Falkow can attempt to counter the AGI manipulation by using their own AGI manipulation to either backlash or avoid with Sylph * or Undine *

Variations to the Shelby Combo:
Mermaid Harpist Same as Song Sorceress
Pixy Aquamancer ** Returns AGI 3+ instead of AGI 3-, can provide a change to avoid a counter with some files.


Dragonrider / Wasseir ****
- 1LP
- Returns a target Lv2 or lower unit
- No drawbacks
- Can backfire
- Usually used in Soul Skill 1 when used.

Counters are nearly the same as assassin, anything which engages you units will counter it. Any unit above Lv2 will also not get returned.


Blue Dragon Mage / Mildoreo EX
- 1LP
- Return Condition difficult to meet

Counters include not using RNG 3+ units, and engaging your units.


EX: Aqua Sorcerer / Mystere EX
- Return target open or closed unit Lv1 or 2
- Returns enemy Lv3 unit

Countered by engaging units or not having any Lv3 units on the field.


Orphan of the Archive / Nereis *****
- 2LP
- Powerful AGI based return
- Requires Sylph to use
- Cannot return Base AGI 1 units
- You gain 1SP less next turn regardless of success of return or not
- Usually found in slots 3 or 4

Counters include Lowering AGI to under 7, backlashing sylph or engaging your own units.


Pirate Princess / Purple Reia ***
- Powerful AGI based return
- May require a sylph to use
- You gain 2 less SP next turn regardless of skill success
- Can return regardless of Level
- Requires AGI 4+ to return
- Usually Found in slots 2, 3 or 4

Counters include agi manipulation or Engaging your own units.

Similar Cards (AGI 4+ Variant):
Cursed Siren / Metia ***
Black Tortoise North / Ladol ***

Similar Cards (AGI 2- Variant, may require Undine instead of sylph):
Star Lord / Bastandora ***
Wandering Priest / Raste ***


New Magic Doll / Astaforse ***
- No SP loss next turn for user
- Can return units of any level
- Return condition difficult to meet
- Sometimes used in soul skill slots 1, 2 or 3

Counters: Don't use AGI 3 Units, use agi manipulation or engage field.

Similar Cards:
Night Singer / Miandela ***


Invisible Druid * + Petrification * Combo
- Powerful combo able to return any unit of any level
- Difficult to spot as it is nearly never used

The only counter for this is Faerie Blessing or mass engage to lower the chance of you being returned


Mermaid Princess / Emana ****
- 4SP return
- Returns target unit
- Returns any unit
- Requires opponent to be disengaged
- Extremely hard to spot as it is very rarely used.

Counters include engaging your own units or SP drain.


Living Armour * -> Child of Chaos / Annarose EX combo
- You lose 2 SP next turn regardless of success or failer
- Requires unit to be killed to return
- Takes 2 Soul Skill Slots
- Possible to kill 1 unit and return another
- Nearly never used due to failure rate
- Can deal decent damage to a single unit
- When used, sometimes seen in Slot 2-3 or 3-4

Counters -> High HP and/or High DEF and/or engage friendly units.


Regus Engineer * -> Rapidly Flying Apprentice * Combo
- Sometimes used in Slots 3-4
- Can return Most units
- Shares similar counters with Shelby Song
- 1 SP less next turn when successful

Counters similar as shelby song.


Exiled Military Aide
- Can return any unit as long as RNG condition met
- RNG condition difficult/ expensive to obtain
- 1 Less SP next turn when successful

Counters include engaging own units however most units in the game naturally counter this as they have more then 0 RNG.


Black Dragonrider / Millia ****
- Target Return
- Requires Engaged
- No SP loss next turn
- Max Lv3 Return

Counters include units above Lv3 and faerie blessing


Beast Hunter / Rivera *****
- 3LP
- Returns friendly closed unit to card file
- Possibly game saving

Counters include iczering into to possibly force a return of a closed unit they do not want to return.


Chase Wing / Volfied *****
- Returns target unit
- Can be forced to return friendly unit
- Rival Iczer gains SP equal to level of returned unit regardless of whether it was their unit returned or not
- Rarely used

The only real counter is engaging your field which actually allows you to gain sp from this soul skill.


Deep Squid **
- Returns Target unit
- Easily obtained as it is in falkow starter
- Conditions not too difficult, may require great spirit, eagle soldier SS or Serpent SS
- Only makes you lose SP IF it works

Only real counter is to backlash the great spirit or engage your field.


One True God / Unknown *****
- Returns up to 2 units. Target and regardless of level
- Requires to kill (or overkill) two units by dealing 20 damage to them when activated.
- Can only target units that are disengaged and of 1 or more hp.
- Does not penetrate Defense.
- You lose 2SP regardless of success or failure

Can be countered by engaging your own units, using healing open skills, and/or countering with defense.


Folrart Psycho Soldier **
- Returns random unit regardless of level
- Requires 3 or higher Refess Sphere level
- Can return a friendly unit
- Requires unit to be AGI 3 or higher and if it is disengaged
- User gets 1 less SP next turn only IF the return is successful.

This can be countered by slowing down your units to agi 2 or lower. Can also be countered by engaging your own units.


Grand Duke's Shock Trooper **
- Returns Target unit
- You get 2 SP less next turn if it returns.
- If it does not return, the enemy unit has 20 less attack (permanent)
- Requires enemy unit to be disengaged to select.
- To return, requires enemy unit to have 0 attack

Can be countered by using attack buffs or engaging your own units.


Moonlight Princess / Eskatia *****
- Returns target closed unit
- You get +2SP when return is successful regardless on if you return a friendly or enemy unit.
- Combos well with open damage.



Part 9 - Units and Grimoires with Removal Abilities

Grimoires:
Deathmaker *****
- Expensive Grimoire that also costs 1 lawtia level to use
- Cems a unit and kills another
- VERY powerful grimoire.

Merciless Death ***
- Powerful Grimoire
- Cems a unit
- Expensive Grimorie
- essentially a 2SP cheaper (including sphere level) Deathmaker that doesn't ALSO kill a unit.

Counters: Both these grims can essentially only be countered by Grimbane or The General's Order ***.


Bitter Destiny ***
- Cems all closed units on both sides of the field
- Stops soul skill activation due to the above effect
- Locks grimoires for 3 Turns

Heartbreak ***
- Cems target Lv5 or lower closed unit
- Stops soul skill activation

Bother the above grimoires can put the opponent into a large SP sink.


Counterattack **
- Cems friendly unit
- Can deal A LOT of damage
- VERY expensive grimoire

Counters include having high defense and HP.


The Units/Characters:

As usual, with the units, the biggest counter is killing them before they can use their skill.

War Incarnate / Inside ****
- 2SP cems a unit with 20hp or less
- Slow enough to be able to make use of skill
- Requires opponent to be in range
- Has 3 RNG

Black Assassin / Mulna EX
- 2SP skill cems an already closed unit
- Requires killing a unit to cem another unit
- Random closed unit cem'ed
- Random enemy unit hit with skill

Dark Princess / Gaiessoul ****
- Can only Cem a Lv4 or lower unit
- Costs 1SP and 4 sphere levels to use
- Can be countered by The General's Order

Soul Eater *
- 3SP removal
- Skill only does 30DMG
- Skill has to kill to remove
- very slow

Death Incarnate / Proposition *****
- 3SP random removal of Lv5 or lower
- Can remove friendly units.

Haste Assassin *
- 2Sp action skill to remove Target Lv4 or lower unit in range
- Sends self to cemetery too
- Fast enough to make use of skill
- Very Easily killed by open skills

6th Heaven Devil / Shvara EX
- 1SP close skill can cem units
- Requires close skill to kill unit to cem
- Close skill hits random enemy units
- Randomly removes unit when close skill kills 2 units.
- Can remove units without any other conditions

Observer / Lria EX
- Removes unit lv3 or lower on auto skill
- Start skill can allow it to remove Lv4 units
- Auto skill uses 1SP even when it doesn't do anything
- Can cem friendly units
- Can combo with Dire Straits *** to remove a Lv5 card.
- Very easy to kill before she acts

Lycanthrope [Seraph] **
- 4SP target remove Lv5 or lower unit
- Has to be within range
- Conditional Morning

Unknown Knight / Aano ****
- 2SP action skill target remove from the game
- Limited to 4 or higher agi units
- very easy to kill due to low HP, however is also very fast.
- Returns self to card file after using action skill.

Pretender to the Sun / Alphonce *****
- Cems random closed unit instead of Iczer Attacking

Legendary Heroine / Catira EX
- removal unit for 2 SP
- Target removal within range
- Requires herself to have 100 AT or more
- can be very difficult to kill
- Gets AT+ HP of target enemy unit for the turn
- skill avoids grimoires like The General's Order (needs confirmation)

Chaos Form / Galdirea *****
- Open skill essentially an equaliser and allows for action skill
- Action skill cems 2 units of 30hp exactly
- action skill refunds SP used to play units back to the rival iczer.

Nine Ball Assassin / Jerry ***
- Can Cem a unit for 2SP
- Cem is very random

One True God / Unknown *****
- Target remove from the game.
- Requires 5SP to use action skill.
- Reasonably tank and 2 range so likelihood of surviving to get a turn is fairly high.

Crest Adjutant / Famille ***
- Start Skill allows the action skill to be easier to use due to increased speed of high-powered Crest units
- 3SP action skill which has a Bitter Destiny Effect without the grimoire lock.
- Higher chance to send your own units to the cemetery due to this effect being an action skill rather then an open skill
- Easily killed.

New God of Evil / Elgandi *****
- Trait allows him to remove from the game units he kills
- Action skill allows him to possible remove 2 units
- Close skill makes him more difficult to kill
- SP intensive to make successful.

Barbara EX
- Essentially she is a fielded merciless death.
- In total costs 6SP to send an enemy unit to the cemetery.
- Totally unexpected because of her super rarity.
- Note that she can only Remove closed unit when it is battletime: Night
The ways to counter her are kill her or the other units on the field during the open phase. Sphere drain also works. Grimoires such as The General's Order will also prevent your unit from being sent to the cemetery but will not prevent them from being killed during start phase. Luckily nearly no one has her so chances of running into her are low.


Other Helpful Links
ChiYoung's Return Counter Guide
Guides Index Thread

Thanks for reading and hope it has helped.
Last edited by Jazzock on Sat Jun 15, 2013 10:51 am, edited 19 times in total.
Self proclaimed user of weirdness, one of the few crazy people to actually use a pure sorceress file...


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Re: Return - An In-Depth Guide

Postby GOSCAR » Sat Nov 10, 2012 3:35 am

HAHAHAHAHHA! :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:
One does not play alteil the way they want. -Gon

False Slash- Rom
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Re: Return - An In-Depth Guide

Postby Callonia » Sat Nov 10, 2012 4:42 am

I like the op's post.

Although It didn't tell me anything new on how to deal with returns. Back to throwing my head on the wall. However, Its nice to see all that data. I did have fun reading it. Maybe someday i'll understand it enough.


Only time I ever came so close to beating up a silver star return file is that I played my refess units like they were lawtia or gowen. kill me? Fine i go to cem because blah you and activate the SS in attempt to field wipe the opponent and hope my remaining units can kill somehow. The more 40 field damage ss you can field the better it is.. I guess Fire Dragon ss would be better for doing 50 damage to every falkow unit.. Just make sure to kill the sorceror monk of regus because she will be coming to fix that field wipe from ss by killing 2 units a turn instead of 1. Lost to her.

Miracle Fruit however is definitely recommended if you have charmed hands on the dice.
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Re: Return - An In-Depth Guide

Postby methebest » Sat Nov 10, 2012 5:50 am

my guide on returns is better.



don't use return its overpowered and is no fun to fight or fight against

unless its vonderspam as hes cool.
i apologise for any incomprehensible posts as i tend to make them
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Re: Return - An In-Depth Guide

Postby Romdeau » Sat Nov 10, 2012 6:07 am

Great guide, very well written. I hope everyone gives it a chance and takes it seriously because it looks like Jazz has invested quite a bit of time into writing it. Great analysis of the spheres and their respective strengths and weaknesses. This isn't just a return guide, it gives a good perspective on how someone should think about this game in a broad sense. This is the kind of thinking used by designers and what I (and hopefully other testers) aspire to use when we work on this game.
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Re: Return - An In-Depth Guide

Postby Jazzock » Sat Nov 10, 2012 6:24 am

Romdeau wrote:I hope everyone gives it a chance and takes it seriously because it looks like Jazz has invested quite a bit of time into writing it.

Thanks Rom, It took around 5 hours lol

Callonia wrote:Although It didn't tell me anything new on how to deal with returns.

Sorry about that Callonia, that's all I could think of at the time, if I think of anything else (or see or someone tells me) I'll post add it in.

Callonia wrote:The more 40 field damage ss you can field the better it is

It's funny how effective that is against falkow, Honestly it basically destroy WK.


Also, if anyone has and replays of them beating a good return-based file with Refess, Lawtia or Gowen, would you guys be kind enough to share them?
Thanks.
Self proclaimed user of weirdness, one of the few crazy people to actually use a pure sorceress file...


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Re: Return - An In-Depth Guide

Postby alvisto » Sat Nov 10, 2012 10:26 am

Good guide Jazz, but bad for me because I am a return player for nearly 3-4 years already xD
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Re: Return - An In-Depth Guide

Postby yamyam » Sat Nov 10, 2012 1:19 pm

Good guide Jazz! really, i dont know what to add, you've covered it all.
but maybe you can add some units that can raise lv, so you need to return them right away, or they'd cost you more, like rivarre, mercenary, etc.

Jazzock wrote:
Callonia wrote:The more 40 field damage ss you can field the better it is

It's funny how effective that is against falkow, Honestly it basically destroy WK.


i won a lot of match just by using death embrace-broadsword soldier ss in my mid lawt file.
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Re: Return - An In-Depth Guide

Postby fargone » Sun Nov 11, 2012 7:24 pm

A good quality guide Jazz - very thorough.
GonFreeces31 wrote:
fargone wrote:I realise this is completely off topic, but Icy deserves the limelight more than others. Some of whom dominate the forums with their endless posts.


What, I make legit points too...
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Re: Return - An In-Depth Guide

Postby Khiruki » Sun Nov 11, 2012 8:31 pm

Finally got around to reading it. Nice guide. Minor nitpick- Kaldoreo. Is he Kaldrao and Mildoreo's secret-biologically impossible love child? Do you mean Kaldrao? :)
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