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Monday, January 17, 2011

Swarm: Arena #3 - Circulate Strategy/Technique (1)

Having basics of the underused Stop command out of the way, we can now move into proper usage of the actual powerups.  Circulate is a powerful and versatile ability (the blue powerups).  I say that it's versatile because it can be used effectively for both attacking and defending.Let's start with the very basics.

The Physics

Circulate effectively takes the drones in your circle of influence (COI) and nudges them into a counter-clockwise orbit around your player.  The fact that the drones only go in one direction is actually quite important.  It means that your opponent knows which way the drones will be coming from, which means that moving in certain directions is safer than others.  This is a little advanced, so we'll get to that later.  Drones that leave your COI will become somewhat unstable and begin to fly around in a small area somewhat randomly before they become inactive.  You can use it to pull drones behind you in much the same way as you can with Shoot, or even without a powerup (see article #2).  Simple enough!  Let's get into some of the uses of this power.


Level 3 circulate in all its glory.  (Tap Enter)

The Bludgeon

The Bludgeon is one of the simplest tactics in Swarm: Arena.  The idea is that if you possess more active drones than your opponent, simply moving toward them with Circulate will start the process of trading drones.  This accentuates your drone advantage and allows you the chance for a hit.  But be careful!  A hole in your circle could mean that you're opening yourself up to attack.  This move works especially well with level 2 or 3 Circulate, which cause the drones to move fast enough that holes aren't nearly as much of an issue.  Players of all skill levels should be using this move, as it is *the* standard method of winning a game.

Red firing through the hole in Green's circle!

Behind Enemy Lines

This often refers to an early state in the game, but it can occur at any time.  If an opponent chooses to widely spread their drones (eg. with an early Shoot), it is often possible to simply wade through them.  This can lead to you have more active drones than your opponent, and with some pressure, this can quickly force them into a bad spot.  This generally requires quick and decisive action.  Don't be afraid to experiment with this, even if it seems suicidal!  On a strategic level, the major advantage of your opponent having drones all over the arena is that we should be scared to move around.  If we can turn that situation into a 2-1 active drone count in our favour, it becomes clear that this is an obvious counter to the move.

With a little pressure from Green, the red player is in a bad spot.  (Edit: Is that a heart???)

Maintaining an Active Lead

I keep mentioning advantages gained by having more active drones than your opponent, and it's no coincidence; this is arguably the main advantage to using Circulate.  Unless we're going for a kill, the best way to keep this lead is to take it easy on the Enter button.  This is because we lose control of drones when they leave our circle, and because the circle itself shrinks when a power is used.  Most players using Shoot end up with drones all over the arena throughout the course of the game.  Make sure to take advantage of this!  This is where patience comes in.  While Shoot might allow us to suddenly gain an unexpected advantage (to be discussed in a future article), Circulate is for pressuring an opponent until their knees collapse and they lose the game.

Green about to lay the smack down on the red player for being sloppy with Shoot!

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Those are all the techniques/strategies I'll discuss today.  For those observant enough to read the title of this article (clever you!), this is Part 1 of the article on Circulate.  Given that there are an infinite amount of positive integers, I can write as many of these as I like (without running into naming/numbering issues; see Y2K scare).  I plan on getting into much more difficult techniques soon.  If you have any techniques you'd like to see discussed in the future, or you disagree with me on any point, make it known in the comments below.

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