Its time for a special edition of GtD. The Grind: or, how I go through my Rift week. This is just a look at how I prepare for and work through a Rift battle from beginning to end. If I have time, I will give you a play-by-play review of the entire battle. I fought twice on Monday, and I present to you both battles in their entirety. Monday: Battle 1 D4 opponent, at 1956. A big boss node, and fourteen diamonds. Not new to Diamond, I expect: three natural diamonds with marquee are included (I have three as well - a balanced match!). Wow, there is one node with a catalyst attached. All the others have no modifier beyond the base. Let's hope that is reflected in our final score! Fight 1: Silent Kill in Chaotic Evil. No catalyst? OK, lets play this straight. I use Claw even though it feeds the modifier. Simple, effective fight won with Cat Scratch Fever to finish. 2178 points. I aim for 2000 + (250 x # of fighters) as the theoretical maximum for a given fight. This score looks pretty good! 20 min into the fight, and my opponenet has beaten one of my nodes, and is beating Concrete Resolve (once Immunity) as I type this. Fight 2: Furry Fury and Dreadlocks in Barbed Wire. Still no catalyst, but a massive 35k team promises a lot of trouble. I need to look at FF and her kit. The profile page lets me look at FFs moveset, and I do not see a stitch of bleed resist among the frankly average stats. Plenty of Atk and HP boost, so I still have to earn this win. Let's go with Assassin's Greed: she has ICU so bleed will not be an issue. She will also take a blockbuster to the face and remain cool. Opponent may not be as lucky. Backing her up will be Brain Freeze for a bit of beef at the end. BF not required. Assassin's Greed was everything I wanted. No blockbuster finish due to bad timing, but I ended with 100% health and a score of 2316 points. At the 30 minute mark, my opponent has swept through four nodes, running the tables on Inertia and the Boss node. No losses so far. Fight 3: PG and HQ in Transducer. Meter Gain! Polter is certainly lovely as a diamond, so lets be very certain to end this fight quickly. The node is only a 24k FS, so this is a bit of a light mood compared to what lies ahead. Private Dick should make a good start here, and we can add Dead of Winter to deal with that Harley. Still using only my lower-level diamonds (except for AG, but that was a tricky spot). The battle goes south as Private Dick fails to punish at the first opening. Three Infernos, two Operas and a Rage prove to be sufficient damage to take him out of the fight. All this is thrown at me in a window of roughly 15 seconds, it's an overwhelming barrage. Dead of Winter arrives and scrapes through another nasty barrage from the Green Monstrosity before she tags out and allows Harley a turn. What a relief, thank you AI. Harley is quickly dispatched with a single combo leading to Drag n Drop into Inferno. Toast. Now I have time to prepare. Two tail charges, one missed launcher by Poltergust and I drop her like a bad habit with a long Silver Chord combo that ends on top of an Opera ball. Good riddance. And good riddance to my "no death" bonus. Final score: 1875 points. Ugh. I am giving away points now. Armor and Halftime nodes have fallen on my map. There is no reason to believe that I will pick up an ugly win on the remaining nodes, but hope springs eternal. Fight 4: Grim Fan and Epic Sax in Biofeedback 20k FS, both simple gold fighters. Let's just avoid critical strikes, yes? Cold Stones and Dreadlocks should do nicely. Dreadlocks is a surprisingly useful attacker in Rifts. DL is especially funny. She gets kicked around the arena for a while, and sure enough the opposing fighters get Heavy Bleed for their troubles. All I need now is a mop. Ending on Fenrir Drive is worth the lost health. 2153 points. Fight 5: Parasite Weave and Untouchable in Taser 29.5k FS, and ugh! Avoid getting hit! Their Untouchable is still gold, so all I need to worry about is getting around that nasty Parasite. My own Untouchable is a hands-off build (much range, very boom), so she and Meow and Furrever will take it from here. Always nice to have a bit of Final Stand on your side. And things go roughly as planned. I did get stunned into a Drill Tempered kick but Untouchable gets to skip some of that damage. I rally with a tidy Doom to Argus combo, and another ground combo is enough to finish her. The defending UT goes quietly, without much of a fight. Goodfellows can be deliciously one-sided. Good score: 2371 points. Fight 6: Armed Forces in Concrete Resolve Still only gold. 10.7k. I'm bringing Red Velvet in to shut her down. Easy Peasy. Two ground combos taken to air, and she was done. I didn't even get a chance to Hex her before immunity kicked in. Sekhmet dealt the death blow so 2,224 points for me (yay!) Fight 7: Diva Intervention in Halftime A big girl, this 21.1k Diva. Still only the second-best Eliza. So, let's bring the Eliza vs. Eliza smackdown! I will choose Bloodbath. Bloodbath is really the best. The whole point of halftime is to get the Heal stacks to prolong the fighting, and Bloodbath can take it all away in an instant. Pro-tip: never put a bleed-vulnerable fighter in Halftime. Boodbath uses Beetle Buggy to finish the fight, and it was super-effective. 2,216 points! Another solid score! As expected, my opponent has not stumbled once on their journey through my Rift map. Let's hope I can hold up for three more battles. Fight 8: Summer Salt, Primed, Rainbow Blight on Inertia I...am not afraid of this node. Parasoul can be tricky, but SS does not have her marquee yet. I simply need to keep my defenses up and ready, and I should be OK. I will see your Rainbow and raise you mine, with Harley and Graveyard as backup. GS is there to get some healing in as I grind down the opposition, and Harley, a great fighter on her own, will giva a boost to Cilia Slide and Bogus Buzzard. Rainbow is my favorite murder jello. Lets get to snacking. There is always room for Rainbow! SS lost 80% of her HP before bowing out. I took one hit on the chin from Primed's entrance, but her attack petered out there. Primed is a lacklustre defender, so it was never really a question. The opposing Rainbow also proved to be a poor defender, and by the time I ate her I was only looking to charge up a final blockbuster for SS. Sadly the blockbuster finish was too late, a missed opportunity. 2,527 points. Fight 9: Boss Node. Bio-Exorcist, Surgeon General, and Buzzkill 85k FS. HUGE. Not gonna lie, this one is a coin-flip. Bio (ha!) Jawbreaker and SG (ha ha!) will press for the win. If I lose this fight, just forget it. Bio starts, and her job is to Basso Buffo the rubes until I get a straight shot as Surgeon. Aside: Surgeon is *not* in the army, don't let the uniform fool you. Ok, not a master class, but no deaths. Bio did the right thing: bouncing the opposing Bio and getting to SG. Surgeon tried to tag out, but Basso Buffo brought her right back in. Once Surgeon fell, I brought in Jaw to kill the Buzz. No debuffs and no boost to her Crit Rate. She usually grabs Painwheels and then works combo death magic from there. Slipped a bit at the end, and had to tag out for Bio. Still good, and when Buzzkill started a charge attack, I dropped an Opera ball in her path. Game over. 2,277 Fight 10: Brain Freeze, Heavy Metal, Last Hope on Armor So, this is nasty. My opponent found a High Waters catalyst, so that will definitely affect the outcome. HM is also loaded with bleed resist, so we can't just BHD our way through. Last Hope...she probably has Trauma Center, right? She is still only Gold, so I am betting TC. Primal Rage (additional Enrage) is a strange afterthought. Likely wont change the outcome, but I better watch the blockbusters. I have gone mad: Fly Trap, Ultraviolent, and SKETCHY to round out the team. Oh dear, no healing beyond FT. I hope I don't need it... So, why do people hate DaF so much? It's because it signals the end of your chances. Fly Trap had a great start, but as I tagged UV in, the AI brought BF back in and she then trashed UV with a short combo. FT came back in, and broke a single grab attempt before Excelebella kicked her upside-down. Then came the DaF. I have lost, and my opponent has not. Time to punch this node in the face for the coin, but the Battle is over. Fight 11: Consolation Prizes Rainbow, Assassin, and another Sketchy. (I have several). Lost on time. HM had 3% life remaining. This fight was an improvement, but not a success. Final Score: 32,346 to 24,137. Underneath those numbers: My opponent Battle Score was 22,346 to my 20,137. I was on pace to beat that before the two losses on Armor. At Diamond, you simply cannot give points away like that. In Retrospect: I need better bleed options. Bloodbath is almost to the size I want for the trio nodes, but beyond her there is very little on my roster that can help me here. I have an untrained Xenomorph, and I think that is the obvious solution to my current Armor node troubles. Now, where can I find 2.5 million canopy coin? Monday: Battle 2 Gold 1 opponent, and the entire map is diamond. No huge boss node, but thickness everywhere. How is this guy in Gold 1? Fight 1: Meow and Furever in Chaotic Evil Catalyst: Regeneration X (Add time to Regen) 17.4k Meow. Jeez. Better call Red V. Red means business. Chaos Banish + Hex = easy fight. No blockbuster bonus, but that's a tricky one to land with Meow. I'll take 2009 points for that. Fight 2: Diva Intervention and Dreadlocks in Barbed Wire Catalyst: Last Words (Final Stand) Diva is big, but Bloodbath owns this node. Dreadlocks damage will get covered over in all the regen. Better bring a beefy backup dancer: Bloody Valentine. Bloodbath just owns this node. No fear of bleed, and plenty of room to operate. Diva tagged out and Dread lasted for one combo and a Sekhmet trigger. Diva came back and got knocked around for a little bit longer. Last Words kicked in exactly once. Chaos Banish? Sure. No blockbuster, 2335 points. Checking in on my opponent: He has taken the right two nodes, but stumbled on my Armor node. Yes! Seeing an opponent slip and lose a node takes a lot of pressure off. I can reuse a fighter or win sloppy and still stay ahead. Lets see where we go from here. Fight 3: Freeze Frame and Untouchable on Transducer Catalyst: Angry Flinch 37.7k FS - That's a lot of damage! Peacock can wreck you if you trip up, so I must play smooth as silk. Also, I need to be aggressive to avoid charging their blockbusters. Fly Trap? Fly Trap. Let's bring Ivy along for the ride, for meter control in relief. Close call! Fly took FF to the mat, and stubbed out UT upon tag-in. Then the wheels almost fell off. FF came back and released a hellish chain of BBs that took me to single digits in health. Tag out to Ivy, and all was restored. Ground five to Canopy Bounce was almost enough, but I had to dash into a final hit to win. 2123 points and thankful I got to keep my "no death" bonus. Fight 4: Harlequin and Primed in Taser Catalyst: Special Exception HQ and Special Exception is clever! Taser node makes...less sense, but maybe they know something I do not. Harley is a dangerous fight, but her AI does not surprise me often. Watch for the DaF. So? Untouchable and Meow. Lets go. Meow not required. UT knocks Harley into a ditch with a pair of combos. Primed takes the same pair on the chin, and responds with her BB3. Ow! Oh, my Goodfellows is charged now. 2374 points. Checking in: My opponent has dropped two fights on my Armor node! They have cleared my solo nodes, Inertia node, and have tripped up again on Boss node. Three wins is excellent. I can definitely reuse my fighters for the tough nodes. Fight 5: Armed Forces on Halftime Catalyst: Regeneration X Big Chungus with armor and unflinching. Better call Ultraviolent. A sharp affair. The fight went quickly. AF pressed hard, but UV got her launched before she got unflinching. On the second charge, I got Impending Doom and Argus to trigger before her punch landed. 2202 points. Fight 6: Dragon Brawler on Concrete Resolve Catalyst: No High Heals I do not love Beo, so I sometimes underestimate him in battles. This fellow is a 19k chunk of Crit rate. Let's see what we can do with a simple approach: Epic Sax. Wow. Ok, that was silly. Ground 5 to Brass Knuckles gets him to the immunity trigger. Ground 5 to Beat Extend finishes the fight. 2246 points, and I dare say close to perfect. Checking in: opponent drops a second fight on Boss, but does take the Armor node on try #3. My map is clear save the Boss node, and I have 2000 points of comfort room. Let's take these last nodes carefully. Fight 7: Bloodbath and Stand Out in Biofeedback Catalyst: Armor Rating Ugh - I usually draw Jawbreaker to do Biofeedback duties. She measures up to Bloodbath well but the bleed could get out of hand. Last Hope for backup? Its a tall order, but I have a plan. That was way too easy. An 18k Bloodbath should not melt under a single ground 5 plus a Cilia Slide. She never had a chance. Stand Out lasted only slightly longer, but Bandwagon crushed her. 2408 points. Fight 8: Xeno, Rainbow, Wulfsbane on Inertia Catalysts: Final Fight and Autoimmune Fight jello with jello. Rainbow, Harley, Graveyard. Xeno bleed could get messy - better take care. It...was messy, but not for me. Hex on Xeno kept me in pristine condition. Rainbow lasted for exactly one Bandwagon. Wulfsbane got more time on screen, but only so I could get my Megalith ready. 2678 points. Checking in: All nodes cleared, with five losses. No need to scrimp and save with only two fights remaining. Surgeon? It's your turn. Fight 9: Heavy Metal, Private Dick, Surgeon General on Armor Node Catalysts: Cripple Decker and Futile Resistance Weird. Surgeon is always a pain on Armor, as she shields her buddies from Armor Break and Curse. Let's go with Bio for the bleed effect. Surgeon General for my own protection, and...Sketchy. That should make em work. And it worked. Bio drain is still good. Basso Buffo allowed me to get to SG, but I still have trouble punishing her with a Squig. The hurtbox just slips away from my attack. She got me a couple of times before I could correct things, and then she was gone. The beefy Big Band duo took a whiile to chop through, but it was never in doubt with SG gone. Missed the blockbuster finish, but 2407 points is fine by me. Fight 10: Boss Node. Buzzkill, Epic Sax and Silent Kill. Catalysts: Angry Flinch, Invincible Armada, and Doomsday Device Here, in a nutshell, is the one that matters. Their best fighters will be found here, I'll wager. Let's just bring a few big bodies and see what comes. Bio, SG, and...Fly Trap? Fly Trap. Painwheels! It is what I have been missing all this time! Fly *wrecked* this node. Buzzkill did not survive the Buer Thresher. Epic fell to an Overdrive. What chance did SK have, anyway? None. Thresher got her too. 1914 points, which isnt bad as I reused every fighter. I love it when my opponent gives me choices like that. Final Score: 34,196 to 29,012. Five losses account for 2,500 of that difference. THe other 2.5k is in the Battle Scores: 22,696 to 20,012. I have found that players who lose on a node are usually losing Battle Points elsewhere as well. In Retrospect: Well, of course I should be able to beat a Gold 1, but never underestimate your opponent. Still, a look at their profile told me what I needed to know: few moves were levelled above 3, and many were left at 1. I think we need a post about movesets.