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I wanted to make Grid Reading into its own page. But I do not know this Wikia's policy on such things, so don't be surprised if that red link stays as such, or it becomes unlinked in a future post. But whatever the case, I can at least make a blog post about this. Heck, it certainly does let me make less objective comment without worry about breaking any rules.

Regardless of what's going on with policy, this post is supposed to be about Grid Reading, and I can say with a straight face that it brings depth to the metagame. I will, by the way, assume the recommended banlist in my last post.

Basic concept of Grid Reading

We have to define what Grid Reading even is before we can get started. What it is is deducing what the opponent has on their power grid by checking out what they have used. This is helped by the fact that what the power grid involves is shapes that can get in the way of other shapes, rather than simply the number of used spaces on the grid.

What brings the concept of light is how it helps something like the Tankscraper using Black Hole. Skyscraper's base damage values are high enough that the defensive power mods are useful conversion of it that keeps the opponent from benefitting too much from abusing its lackluster mobility and effective range. Those problems were still irksome enough that when I tried using BH again, even though I became okay with needing to watch for armor power users, I didn't expect BH to fix any problems worth caring about. But it didn't take me long to meet up with Energy Charge users and Aries Armor melee sets. BH proved useful against both: EC sets typically have no KB immunity powers or it would defeat the point of EC; and Aries Armor sets are equally unlikely to have to have further KB immunity to shut out Black Hole thanks to that effective 5x5 grid problem. I looked for potential counters to Black Hole and there was a common pattern: stopping Black Hole usage generally means one less power with which to kite efficiently. Add to it that powers can't last forever, and the opponent has to manage their anti-armor to make sure they can kill the Tankscraper with workable speed, consequently neutering their kiting even further. This causes a myriad of useful things to happen: armor becomes useful, anti-armor becomes useful, kiting can be IDed to effectiveness which instantly kills its brokenness, the variety of balanced things is improved, and tactics like the CAR come into existence.

Of course, in order to even determine if a Black Hole usage is safe, it has to be known that the opponent can't have further protection from it. If Black Hole fails to keep the opponent unable to avoid taking immense damage, then it fails in its intended purpose, namely to stump the opponent out of being able to escape a high damage attack. I still see people on randoms use Black Hole on me without thinking I'd have 4 armor power charges and 3 Super Speed charges, the former to stop melee rushes from doing frightening damage without blood price and the latter to pressure kiters. I can see why they'd have BH, but I use a melee weapon to begin with, I'd want to get close to them on offense anyway. Not that they're wasting that likely 6 spaces, just that they're wasting it by generally using it on me.

And by the way, you can't tell me that BH wasn't intended to be used for trapping an opponent for maximum damage. Play Chapter 21, and if you avoid killing Chaos Kin long enough, Viridi will set a 3rd Electro Trap and there's actual dialogue about it. I saw this trying to get the accomplishment of trapping Chaos Kin in the Electro Traps enough times.

Anyway, point is, in order to keep the BH-supported attack from being wasted, you have to figure out what the opponent has so that their protection can't catch you off guard. Grid reading lets you determine how the opponent's set works, and ultimately what they are doing to do things like guarding against BH attacks.

Basic effects on the metagame

Grid reading is considered to be a pseudoscience because apparently, making it useful results in it creating overthinking. This has some basis because the game has a high amount of content as it is, and memorizing space counts wouldn't be nice to deal with, but in practice, it has yet to prove universally useful, and I expect anything that's not a basic level of such to still have limited usefulness.

Luckily, grid reading has a way to contest it that has much less risk of being overcomplicated: psychological warfare. As, again, a blatant example, Health Recovery is capable of giving grid reading problems. First, it has a minimum space cost of 4, square shaped. This means that Health Recovery makes it harder to determine whatever is left. The next problem is that Health Recovery does not have its charges count change between levels, as it is always 3, so you can't tell if it's level 4 that way, which would be very helpful because it's a 6 space difference that could easily be Reflect Barrier. Now the benefit of leveling up Health Recovery is increased duration which means more potential health recovered, but that brings up another way of managing psychological warfare: the Health Recovery gets cancelled prematurely if the user gets hit. This can disrupt attempts to read the duration to determine the Health Recovery level, which means that the grid reader could just as easily stop attacking to actively avoid hitting them, and while that's happening, the Health Recovery user gets in free attacks. Yow. I take it the development team wanted to have players who are honorable get useful intel? Wouldn't surprise me.

There are other examples of powers being usable to deter grid reading. Even something as situational as Effect Recovery has something going for it: it is virtually unseen in a matchup where the opponent doesn't benefit from statuses, while simultaneously having the same shapes as Interference. It gives certain powers that are harder to use purpose, while at the same time nerfing powers like Energy Charge.

Slip Shot's suffering

Hey, alliteration.

Slip Shot is brought into question because it theoretically unintroduces terrain. In practice, it has some blatant problems.

The first combination that brings up problems is Slip Shot + Energy Charge + Bumblebee. It seems that Energy Charge can get away with being at level 1, but the fact is that Bumblebee's level can't exceed 2, and Bumblebee, period, keeps Slip Shot from being leveled. If Slip Shot and Bumblebee are seen on the same set, it fails to unintroduce terrain cover because Slip Shot is stuck with that one charge lasting 16 seconds. Once that charge is gone, the Slip Shot user is stuck having to put up with terrain cover.

As a result, Slip Shot being able to unintroduce terrain cover via multiple charges can't work with Bumblebee, because a Slip Shot + Bumblebee set is vulnerable to being walled. At that point, Energy Charge can by at any level and it wouldn't matter: it's useless if it can't be used to hit for decent damage. Add to it that Bumblebee itself is a potential deathtrap and there's a recipe for disaster.

Now, it's theorized that Slip Shot doesn't care if it has grid problems. But if Bumblebee is absent, then Energy Charge has to be leveled in order to outpace Mega Laser usage. Mega Laser is likely to be at L2 if it's even needed, forcing EC to be at L3 or L4 to avoid castrated offense. And as Slip Shot doesn't keep the user from exposing their location in general or the opponent from camping in an open area further making it harder to pull a Slip Shot ambush, there's a very good chance that ML will manage to hit reliably.

Energy Charge/Quick Charge/Slip Shot

So since Quick Charge costs less than Homing Boost, and Warp of course needs to be banned for general abuse, let's take a look at a setup involving Quick Charge, Slip Shot, and L3 Energy Charge:

  • If EC3's corner is near the end of Slip Shot's affected end, Quick Charge 1 can be fit in for 9 spaces in a backwards L shape.
  • If EC3's corner is where Slip Shot's corner is, QC1 can be fit in for 8 spaces in an overly awkward shape, no chance for a full line, and no thick space.
  • If EC3's corner is where Slip Shot's corner is, QC1 can be fit WITH Slip Shot 1 for 10 spaces with somewhat less awkward space, but you can fit Counter 1 and Brief Invincibility 1. The space is still thin and there's no way to handle line powers as well. With leveled Slip Shot, QC1 has to be fit in elsewhere and it's a choice between Counter and Brief Invincibility.

Let's take a look at some of the Black Hole protection:

  • None of the BH protection with 9 or more minimum spaces is capable of fitting.
  • Virus can't fit, even on the first setup. The little edge keeps that from happening.
  • Angelic Missile is too thick. (So is Lightweight, though that is abusive on sets without Slip Shot.)
  • Reflect Barrier and Super Armor are both too thick to fit. Super Armor 2 isn't thick but it's shaped in a way that can't fit or else Jump Glide 3 would.
  • Super Speed requires a full line and so does Bumblebee. Quick Charge 2 forces EC to be at L4 AND Slip Shot to be at L1 for Super Speed to be available, and QC2 keeps Bumblebee unavailable regardless. QC3 or SS2 keeps either power from fitting.
  • Leveled Warp is too thick to fit. Not that I'd be for Warp ever being legal.
  • Celestial Fireworks has a shape incapable of fitting with EC3/QCx/SSx. Interference 2 has the same shape, but Interference 3 uses a different enough shape.

So let's see what among the BH protection can fit with EC3+/QC1+/SS1+:

  • Interference 1/3
  • Jump Glide 1/2
  • Counter 1/2/3
  • Warp 1
  • Brief Invincibility 1
  • Super Speed 1/2
  • Bumblebee 1

And now let's make notes about further leveling on those 3 powers in the combination:

  • QC4 can't fit in the combination regardless of whether EC's level is 3 or 4. EC4 prevents QC3 from fitting as well.
  • QC3 prevents any BH protection except Interference 1 from fitting, and even then Slip Shot can't be leveled.
  • QC2 prevents Super Speed 2, Bumblebee, Warp, Counter 3, Interference 3, and Jump Glide 2.
  • EC4 prevents Super Speed 2 and Bumblebee.
  • SS2+ prevents Super Speed and Bumblebee altogether.
  • EC4/QC2 prevents any BH protection except Interference 1 or Super Speed 1, and once again, Slip Shot can't be leveled.
  • EC4/SS2+ prevents Counter 1, Warp, Interference 3, and Jump Glide 1/2, though not Counter 2/3. (This means only Interference, Counter, or Brief Invincibility will be available. Only Interference is even intuitive as well.)
  • EC4/QC2/SS2+ can't be used with any protection power.

As we see, if any of the 3 powers are leveled more than EC3/QC1/SS1, Bumblebee becomes unavailable, and Super Speed is restricted to 2 charges if it's lucky. Slip Shot is likely leveled, which will prevent Super Speed anyway. Only Interference will allow a second protection power to be around, and even then it could be only Counter or Brief Invincibility. If Quick Charge is leveled to make the Slip Shot abuse riddle the whole stage with power, it's only one protection power, and it's likely to be Jump Glide or Interference. In this case, Super Speed can mop up or even just snipe the EC3. BH usage if it causes the EC to get killed at the very least too.

It's reported, though, that EC2 is more frequent with the popularity of Overall DEF -4. That does add more possibilities, but it's not as many as you may think because EC2 has a more thick, restricting shape, one that prevents QC3/4 from fitting in. So let's see what Black Hole protection can fit with EC2/QCx/SSx:

  • Interference 1/2/3
  • Jump Glide 1/2/3/4
  • Counter 1/2/3/4
  • Celestial Fireworks 1
  • Warp 1
  • Brief Invincibility 1/2
  • Super Armor 1
  • Reflect Barrier 1
  • Super Speed 1/2/3/4
  • Angelic Missile 1
  • Lightweight 1
  • Bumblebee 1/2
  • Virus 1

But let's see what happens with any leveling of QC or SS:

  • Virus will be instantly unavailable with either power leveled. Leveling QC restricts Super Speed to L2 or Bumblebee to L1, leveling Slip Shot prevents both outright.
  • Angelic Missile and Lightweight become unavailable if QC2 is used.
  • Counter 3 can't fit with QC2. Counter 2 or Brief Invincibility 1 can only fit with QC2 if Slip Shot is not leveled. Note that Brief Invincibility 2 can still fit with EC2/QC2/SS2+, but it will be too cramped for anything else.

Not a lot, because anything that isn't a line power is capable of fitting independent of whether Slip Shot is leveled in general. So let's create a simpler cheatsheet with this info:

With EC2:

Protection Power QC1/SS1 QC2/SS1 QC1/SS2 QC2/SS2
Lightweight 1
Angelic Missile 1
N/A Invalid N/A Invalid
Super Speed 3/4
Bumblebee 2
Virus 1
N/A Invalid Invalid Invalid
Counter 3 N/A Invalid N/A Invalid
Super Speed 2
Bumblebee 1
Interference 1 N/A Invalid Invalid
Super Speed 1 Interference 1
Jump Glide 1
Counter 1
N/A Invalid Invalid
Reflect Barrier 1 Interference 1
Jump Glide 1
Counter 1
N/A Interference 1 N/A
Super Armor 1
Brief Invincibility 2
Interference 1 N/A Interference 1 N/A
Counter 2
Brief Invincibility 1
Interference 1
Jump Glide 1
Counter 1*
N/A Interference 1 Invalid
Jump Glide 2
Warp 1
Interference 3
Interference 1/2*
Jump Glide 1*
Counter 1
Celestial Fireworks 1
N/A Interference 1 N/A
Jump Glide 3 Interference 1
Counter 1
N/A Interference 1 N/A (Invalid with Slip Shot 3)
Jump Glide 4 Interference 1/2
Counter 1
Celestial Fireworks 1
N/A Interference 1/2
Counter 1 (SS2 only)
Celestial Fireworks 1 (SS2 only)
N/A
Counter 1
Jump Glide 1
Other + Interference 1
Various
Interference 1/2
Celestial Fireworks 1
Interference 1/2
Counter 1*
Jump Glide 1*
Jump Glide 4 (SS2 only)
Celestial Fireworks 1
Interference 1
Interference 2
Celestial Fireworks 1
Interference 1/3*
Counter 1
Jump Glide 1/2/4
Warp 1
Interference 1*
Counter 1
Jump Glide 1
Interference 1*
Counter 1
Jump Glide 1
Interference 1*
Interference 1 Various
Counter 1 + Jump Glide 1
Counter 1
Jump Glide 1
Celestial Fireworks 1
Various Counter 1
Jump Glide 1
Celestial Fireworks 1

With EC3:

Protection Power QC1/SS1 QC2/SS1 QC1/SS2 QC2/SS2
Super Speed 1/2
Bumblebee 1
N/A Invalid Invalid Invalid
Counter 3 N/A Invalid N/A Invalid
Counter 2
Brief Invincibility 1
Interference 1
Jump Glide 1
Counter 1
N/A Interference 1 N/A
Warp 1
Jump Glide 2
Interference 3
Interference 1* Invalid N/A Invalid
Counter 1
Jump Glide 1
Interference 1
Counter 2*
Brief Invincibility 1
N/A N/A N/A
Interference 1 Various N/A Counter 2
Brief Invincibility 1
N/A

With EC4:

Protection Power QC1/SS1 QC2/SS1 QC1/SS2 QC2/SS2
Super Speed 1 N/A N/A Invalid Invalid
Counter 3 N/A Invalid N/A Invalid
Counter 2
Brief Invincibility 1
Interference 1 Invalid N/A Invalid
Counter 1
Jump Glide 1
N/A Invalid Invalid Invalid
Interference 1 Counter 2
Brief Invincibility 1
N/A N/A Invalid

So here's some things to note pattern:

  • QC2 is a complete inconvenience to BH protection due to the 2 additional spaces per level.
    • EC2/QC2/SSx can't have both a 5+ space cost protection power AND a second protection power.
    • EC3+/QC2/SSx can't have multiple protection powers.
  • Outside the ever-banworthy Jump Glide, the most anti-tag charges that could be managed with EC2+/QCx/SS2+ would be 7, from Celestial Fireworks 1 + Interference 1 or Counter 1. That's 7-8 spaces and none of those powers protects against Super Speed. CF1 and Interference 1 are both stuck as soft-counters against BH too.

As seen, the space problems become a nightmarish problem for this setup against Black Hole.

Energy Charge/Homing Boost/Slip Shot

Yeah, this combination, which I will nickname the Nijuugo Combo, is even worse off. Here are all of the problems with it:

  • Homing Boost 3 can't even fit AT ALL with leveled EC.
  • Homing Boost 2 has the same shape as Quick Charge 3, which means that if it's with leveled EC, EC is at L3, and either Interference is available and then Slip Shot is not leveled; or Slip Shot IS leveled and the set simply has no BH protection.
  • EC can't be at L4, because HB1 is still too thick.
  • With EC2/HB1/SSx, the only BH protection powers able to fit are Interference 1/2, Counter 1, Jump Glide 1, or Celestial Fireworks.
  • EC3/HB1/SSx is *STILL* stuck with only Interference 1 for protection, and that can't even fit if Slip Shot is leveled.

So yeah, aside from Jump Glide, the Nijuugo Combo has *TERRIBLE* BH protection. Jump Glide being able to provide 5 anti-tag charges on the combo is enough of a reason to ban it outright. Without Jump Glide, the Nijuugo Combo is being to be rushed. It can't protect EC1 either, and once that is gone, its attack potential is suffocated easily.

Energy Charge/Bumblebee/Slip Shot

Already, before we can even determine protection power limits, this combination already has its problems:

  • Slip Shot can NOT be leveled, which means it can be walled.
  • Bumblebee can't be L3.
  • Energy Charge 4 and Bumblebee 2 can't be used together.
  • Energy Charge 3 and Bumblebee 2 has room for only Interference 1, Counter 2, or Brief Invincibility 1.
  • Energy Charge 3 and Bumblebee 1 has room for Interference 1 + (Counter 1 or Jump Glide 1), Interference 2/3, Counter 2, Brief Invincibility 1, Jump Glide 2, Celestial Fireworks 1, Reflect Barrier 1, or Warp 1.
  • Energy Charge 2 and Bumblebee 2 has room for only Interference 1/2/3, Counter 1, Jump Glide 1/2, Celestial Fireworks 1, Reflect Barrier 1, or Warp 1.

The good news is that Slip Shot can be walled, and thus terrain is not entirely unintroduced. The bad news? Killing the Energy Charge and Bumblebee, since EC no longer has to be leveled thanks to BB. Let's take a look at the available protection:

Protection Power EC1/BB1 EC2/BB1 EC1/BB2 EC2/BB2
Angelic Missile 2 N/A Invalid Invalid Invalid
Lightweight 2
Reflect Barrier 2
N/A N/A N/A Invalid
Lightweight 1
Angelic Missile 1
N/A Invalid N/A Invalid
Super Armor 1
Brief Invincibility 2
Interference 1
Counter 1
Jump Glide 1
N/A N/A Invalid
Reflect Barrier 1 Interference 1
Counter 1
Jump Glide 1
N/A Interference 1 N/A
Jump Glide 2
Warp 1
Interference 3
Interference 1/2*
Counter 1/2/3
Jump Glide 1*
Celestial Fireworks 1
N/A Interference 1 N/A
Jump Glide 3 Interference 1/2
Counter 1
Celestial Fireworks 1
N/A Interference 1 Invalid
Jump Glide 4 Interference 1 Invalid Invalid Invalid
Counter 3 Interference 1/3
Jump Glide 1/2
Warp 1
N/A Invalid Invalid
Counter 2
Brief Invincibility 1
Interference 1/3
Jump Glide 1/2
Warp 1
Interference 1 N/A Invalid
Counter 1
Jump Glide 1
Other + Interference 1
Various
Interference 1/2
Celestial Fireworks 1
Other
Interference 1 N/A
Interference 2
Celestial Fireworks 1
Interference 1/2/3*
Counter 1
Jump Glide 1/2/3
Warp 1
Celestial Fireworks 1
Interference 1*
Counter 1
Jump Glide 1
Interference 1* N/A
Interference 1 Various
Counter 1 + Jump Glide 1
Counter 1/2
Jump Glide 1
Brief Invincibility 1
Celestial Fireworks 1
Counter 1
Jump Glide 1/3
Celestial Fireworks 1
Reflect Barrier 1
N/A

Ultimately, on this setup, leveled EC suffocates higher space powers, while leveled Bumblebee pressures lower space powers. Since a GRing set likely has armor going on, Mega Laser usage should never be a waste, though it's still recommended to use Mega Laser as a trap since Bumblebee still has that forced clockwise movement. Just know when to get ambitious and when to be conservative.

Slip Shot's fatal weaknesses

Now I talked primarily about Energy Charge setups, but those are the biggest worry about Slip Shot abuse. Without EC, the Slip Shot abuser has to worry about less deterred seeking, allowing the GRer to find their location and wreck them. With EC, they spend enough space that their ability to protect themselves when they are found--and it WILL be when--will get suffocated. The effective 5x5 grid makes leveled EC an aggravation to fit with actual tag protection. Bumblebee/EC is surprisingly vulnerable to IDing too. Needless to say, that 10 space cost HURTS.

So ultimately, Slip Shot is vulnerable to GRing and general ability to get close. I can be sure it's not banworthy.

In closing

Okay, so this post was quick, but I think the gist is delivered: Grid Reading would ultimately revolutionize the metagame for the better. It keeps armor from being able to work mindlessly, but simultaneously keeps kiting under control, rebalances powers for the better, and promotes psychological warfare. There is no real deterrent to making GRing useful beyond maybe some overthinking standard for a few players, but at worst the benefits are worth dealing with that problem.

Honestly, I'd be up for setting up a Grid Reading guide just to cover that particular base.

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