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League 97 Talk #2: Shade

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Welcome back reader. Today I will finally continue my extended series on League 97 strategy. Today I will discuss the faerie ability Shade and its function in the L97 metagame. I had initially intended to write an article on Thyoras Tear next, but I fear that article will grow quite lengthy, so I decided to tackle this short but sweet article beforehand.

On occasion, I have noticed L97 battlers referring to a "lucky shade." Oftentimes when this phrase is used, it is directed at the opponent. I will admit that I have used the phrase as well from time to time. When a player refers to "lucky shade", they're typically using it to excuse a play on their part that did not go as well as planned. The player is attributing this mishap to the luck of the Shade ability rather than their own misstep. But is the faerie ability Shade really all about luck? The ability does have a randomness component, so a certain degree of luck is involved. However, if we stopped at that fact, we would fail to acknowledge the true situational usefulness of the ability. Let's first start by examining the basic components of this popular second tier ability.

The Basics of Shade

I want to start by noting that the ability Shade is presently glitched. It has been glitched ever since the new faerie abilities were unveiled over a year ago. As an article on a glitched ability, much of the following text may be inaccurate in the future. This article will not be updated in the event of a Betadome fix; please be wary of the date of publication.

Back to the topic at hand, Shade is a faerie ability that blocks three icons of three random icon types for a potential of up to nine icons of defense. Shade will always display the random icon types in the combat log regardless of whether there are opposing icons to defend or not. In the current state of the Betadome, Shade blocks using the defense boost of the user that clicks second. However, since all L97 pets have the 35 defense boost, this point is moot and Shade calculations can ignore this fact.

The ability has a four turn cool-down, meaning four moves must take place following the activation of Shade before it is available for use again. In terms of the average L97 battle, Shade will typically see two or three uses.

Shade will never select Physical icons to defend, but the other six icon types are all within the realm of possibility. The six icon types Shade is capable of blocking are all equally weighted, meaning simple math tells us that there are twenty unique combinations of icon types that could be blocked by the ability. ("6 choose 3") = 6! / (3!*3!)

Possible Shade Trios
Dark/Light/Earth Dark/Light/Air Dark/Light/Water Dark/Light/Fire
Dark/Earth/Air Dark/Earth/Water Dark/Earth/Fire Dark/Air/Water
Dark/Air/Fire Dark/Water/Fire Light/Earth/Air Light/Earth/Water
Light/Earth/Fire Light/Air/Water Light/Air/Fire Light/Water/Fire
Earth/Air/Water Earth/Air/Fire Earth/Water/Fire Air/Water/Fire

Furthermore, Shade has a 50% probability of blocking any given icon type. Shade also has a 20% probability of blocking two pre-specified icon types, and a 5% probability of blocking a pre-specified trio of icon types.

The most important glitch detail about Shade is that it will never block Dark icons, even when pictured in the combat log. With the probabilities listed above in mind, this fact means that half of all Shades only have the potential to block two icon types. Keep this fact in mind when thinking about using Shade, but also remember this fact slightly increases the value of Dark icons. Oddly enough, the Dark/Physical attacking Wraith Scroll and the unheralded Golden Butter Knife are the strongest Shade-proof offensive forces in the metagame. It is unclear whether the Shade Darkness glitch will ever be resolved.

The "Luck" of Shade

Now that we have established the basic probabilities associated with Shade, it is time we address how Shade protects against various attacks. Remember that there are twenty possible trios of defense, and that Shade is unable to protect against Dark or Physical icons. Here is a handy table of probabilities:

Shade Will Successfully Block...
The Incoming Attack No Types One Type Two Types Three Types
One NonDark, NonPhysical Icon Type 50% 50% 0% 0%
Two NonDark, NonPhysical Icon Types 20% 60% 20% 0%
Three NonDark, NonPhysical Icon Types 5% 45% 45% 5%
Four NonDark, NonPhysical Icon Types 0% 20% 60% 20%
Five NonDark, NonPhysical Icon Types 0% 0% 50% 50%

Based on the probabilities presented in the above chart, it is apparent that the skill of Shade comes from proper timing. The actual icon types selected by Shade are completely by chance, but timing Shade with a diverse opposing attack often requires skill.

If an opposing attack consisted of nothing more than a Rancid Battle Dung and Shade blocked only one of the icon types, then Shade was not unlucky. This result was to be expected more times than not. On the other hand, if an opposing attack consisted of Hobans Hat, Portable Kiln, and Icicle and Shade blocked three of the icon types, the Shade was not lucky. Shade was bound to fend off a great deal of damage against such a diverse attack.

Undesirable and unlikely outcomes involving Shade can certainly occur. For example, it is possible that Shade could block Dark, Water, and Earth icons in the presence of a Solar Burrito. In the Rancid Battle Dung example, Shade did have a one-in-five chance of stopping both Earth and Air icons. However, more times than not Shade's ability to perform is based on the variety of the incoming attack, as is evident in the chart above.

Using Shade

At this point, it should be obvious that Shade is best selected when there is a belief that the opponent will use a diverse attack, such as a Hobans Hat and Icicle or a Spyder Stone Necklace and Static Cling. Although this belief alone is strong, it does not completely describe the effective usage of Shade.

The first-turn Shade is a popular opener for many battlers. This idea does hold merit, particularly when facing a new opponent. Using Shade on the first turn is often a conservative option, or a "safe bet." The user is unsure of what the opponent has brought into battle and believes that Shade will help fend off a few icons. The first-turn Shade is unlikely to be a game changer; the move is so common that knowledgeable L97 battlers will typically avoid selecting a diverse attack on the first turn. Still, the first-turn Shade does often ensure the first-turn score will be close. This maneuver is performed as a safe bet with the intention of discovering some of the opponent's set. A L97 battle is a marathon, not a sprint. It is not a flashy move, but the first-turn Shade is an appropriately conservative start to a marathon. Better yet, the first-turn Shade will be available off cool-down faster than a delayed Shade, increasing the chances of three-plus uses over the duration of the battle.

In addition, Shade can be deployed in absence of other options. If an opponent is suspected of selecting a Light-blocking Dual Duty and a Faerie Tabard, Shade may be a desirable option based solely on the fact that Icicle and Static Cling will be ineffective in this scenario. The offensive ability selections in the Betadome are very bland, and times will often arise when all offensive abilities will be shut down on a particular move. Same-tier member Meditate is also particularly useful for these situations.

Like a Thyoras Tear, Shade is often more effective as a looming threat than as an actual performer. Wise opponents will track the use of Shade. These opponents will know when Shade is available or not. Falling into a regular pattern of using Shade every time it becomes available will allow the opposition to prepare for such turns. Experienced participants will work to avoid the two-three type Shade, but they only must prepare in this way while Shade is off cool-down. Using Shade routinely maximizes the number of uses per battle, but leaving Shade as an available option forces the opposition to respect its potential. An unpatterned approach to the use of Shade will ultimately prove most successful.

Countering Shade

When the likelihood of an opposing Shade is high, it is always a good idea to have options. Reducing icon diversity is the key to winning the turn. For the conventional set, Portable Kiln will typically be the most Shade-proof weapon. Considering that Dark icons are currently unblockable by the ability, Starry Battle Dung is equally useful. Barbat Throwing Star slightly edges out Rancid Battle Dung in this regard. If using an offensive ability, pairing same-type icons with the ability will yield the best results, such as Portable Kiln and Sear or Meukas Snot Trail and Icicle.

In the event the opponent does not use Shade to open the battle it is very likely he or she will use it the following turn. If the opponent opens with Positive Thinking, he or she will often use Shade next in order to prolong the revealing of their 25-tier ability (Sear or Icicle). Also, the use of Shade on the heal turn is a rather uncommon sight.

Closing Thoughts

Shade is one of the few areas of randomness in the L97 metagame, but this randomness should not detract from the skill of a well-timed Shade. Some results will be out of the ordinary, but knowledgeable use of the ability will yield fairly consistent results. Shade will at times be extremely lucky or unlucky; just be aware of the situation and probability at hand before you start ranting about its performance.

This article was written by: Penguinqwert