Let's continue with our focus on Defense. We have two main defensive strategies to delve into, and before we break them down there is one important caveat that must be made clear: Health or Time. Pick *one* per node. Let me illustrate this point with my own Rift map. The first duo node to the right of start is the Bleed node, and the very common strategy for defeating that node is Bloodbath. With this in mind, I attempted to build an anti-Bloodbath team to foil this plan. I placed Last Hope with ICU on the back end, and I placed Fly Trap in front. Fly Trap was more of a "what do I have left" move than a serious decision, and it showed. I mean, FT has a significant amount of Bleed built into her moveset. Worse than that was her synergy with Last Hope: Last Hope is focused on survival and delay. Fly Trap either crushes or is crushed. They are two fighters pointing to opposite strategies, and neither one was being served well. I replaced FT with Private Dick, and now this node looks like more of a headache. The Bleed node is normally a Health node, but I have instead accentuated the Time cost. Do not try to serve two masters, as you will do a poor job of both. Instead, focus on one strategy, and shape your defense to one of these two ends. Your chances of success will rise significantly. Now, we are all aware that a fighter is both an attacker and a defender; that the pure attacker or defender does not technically exist. No. Instead, what I am stressing is that we should accentuate either attack or defense to further our goal of getting the most value out of a particular node. So, let us focus on Time, and leave Health for another post. Time is a scarce commodity in Rifts: we are all given our allotment of three minutes, and there is no game mechanic that allows us any flexibility on this point. In Rift Battles, this point is made especially clear: we lose two points for each second that elapses during our fight. Anything that prolongs the fight will force our opponent to pay more. This is obvious. In this mindset, we must aim to elongate our defensive stance and wear down our opponent through strategic positioning, delaying tactics, and a fortified healthy body. So, lets take these in turn. Position: You know the nodes you hate the most. Inertia. Immunity. We fret over these fights because the right opponent can ruin our ability to progress in the battle, but these two nodes could not be more different. Inertia is an often lethal encounter, with quick (and unblockable) tag-ins forcing a player to change their fighting style on the fly. Inertia is an attacker's paradise. Immunity, on the other hand, is a slow and tactical affair. The node invalidates all manner of debuff strategies, so the attacker must rely on precise attacking sequences and patient defense to await their next opportunity. Immunity is a defensive node. Recognize the field upon which you fight. The modifier will define the style and tempo of the fight. In the very near future, we will even be given the chance to further accentuate the field modifier. All the more reason to define your offensive and defensive nodes in your own mind so that you choose a catalyst that further emphasizes your defensive strategy. Now there are modifiers that do not lend themselves to an obvious time vs health strategy. Chaotic Evil is one, and the situation is further clouded with the addition of Claw and Order to that node. Claw, as you will recall, will reset the duration of any debuff on a critical hit, and Chaotic Evil will apply a random debuff on the attacker when a debuff is applied to the defender. The synergy is obvious, but not the strategy: is this a node that is focused on health, or on time? The answer is: it depends. It depends on the debuffs that appear. It also depends on the build of your Claw, but that is beside the point. By choosing a random strategy, we are not able to accentuate either one, and possibly to our detriment. It is not that Claw and Order is not *good* on this node; rather, it is that Claw and Order is not maximally cost-effective on this node. So, compare and contrast: Last Hope Valentine with ICU, versus Scarlet Viper Eliza with a taunt equipped. Both fighters will make good use of the Chaotic Evil modifier, but Last Hope will stretch the fight to an absurd length if debuffs are used. Scarlet Viper, on the other hand, will turn the node into a sharp and painful affair. Each bleed will double up with a random debuff, and SV can strip the bleed with a single taunt. In both cases, the modifier is accentuating the strategy. The addition of catalysts will complicate matters still further, but with a defined strategy your choices are made more clear. Tactics: Your moveset has a tremendous impact on the fight to come. Picking the right moveset for a defender is fundamentally different from that of an attacker, and you must look past your own preferences to see the defender's ideal kit. It is best to start with the moments in Rifts that have frustrated you the most. The moments that stick out the most for me are the fights where I run out of time, knowing that I could have won if not for X. And X usually turns out to be an especially long-running blockbuster. Nightmare Legion, Daisy Pusher, Ultimate Showstopper: they knock your fighter around the arena and you are surviving but that doesn't matter as seconds tick away to a guaranteed loss for a fight you should have won. SO let's start there. Your blockbusters can and should aim for delay as their primary function. Sure, a kill would be nice and even valuable, but that is not their primary role. They should slow down the fight, and force the player into uncomfortable positions. Moves that stun are excellent. Moves that inflict cripple are similarly good. Wither and meter drain are excellent. Slow. It. Down. Another excellent time-wasting strategy is Burst. Yes, the AI is all too happy to burst out of a combo, so we know it will get used. It will inflict a debuff on the attacking fighter, and it also breaks their combo. This is important because they must reset and regroup, and this has a distinct and significant time cost. Defenders love burst, and so should you. One can, however, go too far. I have fought an entire team of three fighters, each equipped with four bursts and a BB3. This is silly, and I found the fight to be quite easy. No more than two burst moves should ever be considered. Body: Hit Points. Defense. Meter Gain. These are the three pillars of a good defender. Meter Gain? Yes, because blockbusters can completely reverse the course of a fight. Any time you can push the opponent into defending is time off the clock, and a quick blockbuster does an admirable job of this. Underneath these three pillars is an opportunity for added trickery. Why not give Scarlet Viper some additional Bleed resist? Or Armor Break resist to Resonant Evil? We *know* that these tactics will be used, so a modest effort in stopping them can lead to modest gains in score. If your defender has a Crit trigger then invest in Crit Rate, otherwise leave it alone. Crit Damage and Block Proficiency are not worth the investment. (Block Proficiency is only useful against chip damage, and the player is usually better than this) I am assuming you have your defenders boosted to an appropriate marquee. I shall not go into this here, as there are many resources that cover this in detail. In conclusion, we build our defense to maximally focus on health or on time. It is my fondest hope that, when you consider your map from this point of view, you can see the path to building a better defense. If you have any questions, I am always happy to answer them below in the comments. Like this post if you would like to see more.