Hey, look who's back!? That's right. Why was I gone? Well, I fell out of Diamond. Matchup mechanics changed, and much of my velocity was based on my team strength. I could not stay aloft, and so I fell to Gold 2. Can't really write a column about getting to Diamond if I can't get there myself, now can I? This week is different. I am back in D4, and feeling sanguine about my prospects. The hiatus has given me a chance to consider *why* my velocity was so poor, and this column is one of the fruits of that labor. So, without further ado.... READY: Well, first and foremost, your matchmaking is largely dependent on your team strength. Team strength, in this case, is the sum of the top 20 fighter scores in your collection. If your team has twenty diamonds of level 40 and above, then your team strength is among the highest in the game and your matchmaking will reflect that. If you have three diamonds and seven "decent" gold fighters, your team strength will be much lower and your matchmaking will give you similarly sized opponents. Team strength is no longer an advantage that can be exploited, but team strength is not an accurate measure of your velocity. In truth, there are many ways to elevate your velocity without changing your team strength. It's time we talked about moves. FIGHT: These pictures are worth a thousand words, so let's cut to the chase. In a fair fight between these two big fellas, who would win? First, take a look at Fighter #1: Now, look at Fighter #2: Pretty evenly matched, right? Wrong. Fighter #2 will mop the floor with Fighter #1, even though these two Epics are literally the same fighter. Let's take a look at their stats to compare. Again, Fighter #1: ...and Fighter #2: So, there it is. If we give both fighters an opportunity for free hits on the other, here's what would happen: Sax #1 has an attack of 9200. His bicycle horn attack hits at 15% attack strength, or roughly 1380 damage. When he beep-beeps Sax #2, we have to reduce the damage taken by 50% (for his defense rating) for a total damage of 690 per strike. If he beeps ten times, he will do 6900 points of damage, which is roughly 8% of Sax #2's total health. Sax #2 isn't going to take this lightly. He has an attack of 15000 and change. His bicycle horn attack will do 2250 damage, which is reduced by 21% for a total damage of 1777. If Sax #2 beeps ten times, he will do 17770 damage, or roughly 24% of Sax #1's total health. Each stat looks ordinary on its own, but their power rests in their synergy. Boosted moves, for stat value alone, will more than triple your team effectiveness with no change to your team strength. Let that sink in. JUDGE: If you want Diamond, you need good moves with great stats, and you will need to elevate them to 9s and 12s. Here is my strategy. First, count up your move quality, using this overly simplistic rubric: Full point: Atk % Meter Gain % Defense % HP % Half Point: Crit Rate Crit Damage Block Proficiency Defensive Quarter Point: Bleed Resist Stun Resist Armor Break Resist Start with your top fighters. Look for moves that score a full three points (rare, occurring at 0.5% of all gold moves). Take these moves to 12. Next look for good and appropriate moves at 2.25-2.5 points. Take these to 9. Moves at 2 points or lower should go no higher than 6. Remember that some half-point stats are absolutely required for some fighters (CnO, for example, loves Crit Rate. Xeno really likes Block Proficiency.) Favorite your best moves, and work the dailies to get moves to replace the non-favorites. Every week, go through the moves you found, and comb through your equipped moves. Replace the garbage, and boost the good moves to their appropriate level. This article might be the single most important bit of advice I can give you: if you upgrade your moves, you triple your strength. Like if you want more, comment if you have questions.