Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Story Post: Tournament Bout 6: CarolAIna Reaper vs Hard Hat [Habanero vs SingularByte]

As is traditional, the semi-final Bout is a little unusual as it is not held in the Arena Halls. Instead, it is held in a bamboo clearing in the mountains above the city; there is no audience, and the Operators wear only the simple teal robes of penitent monks. In some ways, this Bout is the real point of the whole exercise, as the loser is taken away to be offered up in a vicious blood sacrifice to our demented God, who demands our obedience. In olden times it was the winner who was sacrificed, but that became too much of a bummer, and it can’t be the second-place finisher because then you can’t have a final; so now it’s the third-place finisher. The stakes for these operators could literally not be higher.

But what a Bout we have today. Habanero burst onto the scene late but has stolen headlines, hearts and Bouts from much more experienced operators through his shrewd and ingenious understanding of the mechanics of the sport. The rotating vortex of spikes that the Reaper employed in its early bouts changed the game, and left several Bots - and not a few Operators - so damaged that they had to quit the sport altogether. In this Bout they seem to have gone back to basics - an axe and a flipper. Something very poetic about that but if Habanero’s form is anything to go by then we can expect that there’ll be some kind of wrinkle.

Between Habanero and a date with Brendan is, of course, inevitably, SingularByte and Hard Hard. Some call SingularByte the GOAT; others say that’s premature in a field of some of the best Operators the history of the sport has ever seen. What is for sure is that Hard Hat dominated the midgame, pushing the shove-bot archetype to the furthest extent. For a stretch he looked unbeatable, until Dark Lord put an end to his reign of terror with back-to-back victories in Bouts 20 and 28. But pay no mind to the naysayers: no-one understands the game like SingularByte, and if the bookie’s odds have slightly favoured the number 2 seed then that is simply a reflection of the fact that SingularByte was changing the game before Habanero even picked up a socket wrench. Gone is the shove-bot, though; this Hard Hat is heavy, laden down with toys like thick ablative plating, a giant mitt, spring-loaded treads and the blunt muzzle of a howitzer.

The two Operators bow deeply to each other, and then a gong sounds; this Bout has commenced.

The Reaper pulls immediately back to position 1, while Hard Hat similarly retreats to position 17. A defensive start from both players, reflecting the presence of Cool Hand Luke in the middle of the Arena - right now the cow-bolt is looking around, picking a target to fix on, but both operators know that Luke has a movement range restricted to positions 7 to 13, and thus a weapons range of 4 to 16, so what we’re seeing here is the two just pulling out of range and committing to a ranged battle -  good on paper for SingularByte, with that Howitzer, but seemingly very bad for Habanero, with two melee systems.

The Reaper seems content to hold position, though, while Luke meanders around on its patrol route - looking for stray heifers or errant Bots, finding neither - but Hard Hat has wound up pressure in its treads - is Hard Hat preparing to leap into melee range? No, it’s just preparatory - while the Reaper holds and Luke moseys, Hard Hat pokes that muzzle out from its carapace and lets rip! Thunder as the shells crash across the length of the Arena, knocking a huge chunk out of Luke and rattling the Reaper - the ablative plating absorbed most of the damage but I think I see a few connections might have worked Loose - and the Reaper now urgently needs a response!

And it’s - what?

Sorry, play that tape back slowly, please.. I just… What?

Ladies and Gentlemen, Reaper seems to have… used a rift in space-time? Exploited an ambiguity in the rules of the universe? Somehow, Habanero has manufactured a way of making his melee weapons strike from any distance, and has snuck his flipper - from position 1 to position 17 - under Hard Hat and flipped it on its back!

This is incredible! What an incredible play! The ref if flipping through the rulesbook but there’s nothing, SingularByte is appealing, but it’s airtight - the rules say nothing about manufacturing a space-time rift to attack with melee from long range!

Hard Hat is on its back, and now the Reaper is chopping that axe through the portal! Hard Hat’s ablative plating is holding up and it flips itself back upright - but now it’s adjusting for range on that Howitzer but Luke is at position 10, meaning that Hard Hat doesn’t have the uninterrupted range! And there’s the flip again, Hard Hat is back on its back, and that’s another chop from the axe!

This Bout could go literally either way - it’s a race to rack up enough damage - Hard Hat is back on its feet and Luke is away from the centre of the board so it lets rip, and that’s another huge, thunderous smash - and Luke is down! Luke is a pile of rubble in the middle of the arena but the Reaper’s plating still holds!

Hard to say what this development does to the game. On the one hand, Hard Hat will now spend more time on its back; on the other, it doesn’t have to worry about Luke messing with its range. Let’s see how this plays out.

The Reaper immediately flips Hard Hat and now gets two whacks of the axe in while its Opponent recovers. Hard Hat’s plating looks very dented but it’s holding on, arguably at this stage though Reaper’s armour looks sturdier; Hard Hat is back upright and lets rip, and OH! That’s it! The extra damage from the loose connectors is now more than Reaper’s plate can handle and now the Reaper is exposed! But Hard Hat is back on its back and with two more chops of that axe - so’s Hard Hat! Both Bots have lost their ablative plating and now it’s just a race to the finish!

This is gripping stuff!

Hard Hat is back on it’s feet - is this the decisive blow - IT IS! That Howitzer rips across the stage again, and the chassis damage is bad but the knock-on damage to the engine drops its output below where it needs to be! The space-time rift collapses in on itself, the axe falls to the floor, the Reaper powers down for the last time - and the judge calls it - Hard Hat wins by TKO!!

Oh, what a Bout that was. Habanero looks peaceful as he is lead away to be offered up in ritual human sacrifice, and why wouldn’t he - what a competition he’s had, what an incredible bout. Habanero has made this contest electric, and what a pity that he won’t be back to contest for the title in future years, but such is the savage mercy of Tarquin Oseele, encrazed God of violence and murder. Habanero, the third-place finisher and bronze medalist. But congratulations to SingularByte - tune in for the final tomorrow, it’s going to be incredible.

That scam:

The range restrictions on melee weapons are *only* defined in the reaction:

“...use the following System [on the [first / second / third / [...]] closest Opponent]:” followed by the name of a System that the Actor has. If it’s a Melee System and the Opponent’s Bot is not in any of the three spaces immediately in front of the reacting Bot, then the System’s Effect is instead not used.

That means that the melee restriction does not apply to the reaction

“...then [Use system Y / Move X spaces [toward / away from]] the bot that inflicted Z status.” Where Y is a valid system on the bot, X is a positive integer, and Z is a status

Once SB had used his Howitzer, Hab was therefore free to use his melee systems from any range.


Snisbo: she/they

30-08-2022 15:02:53 UTC

Very good scam, habenero, sorry it didn’t work out for ya

Maldor: he/him

30-08-2022 17:58:08 UTC

Wow… I didn’t see that one coming when I made that second reaction…