Lord of Tides: A Hydros Odyssey
You see a tinge of blue in the horizon - are those rocks rolling toward you? Suddenly they unfurl into angry crabs, pinching away at you and your squad! It's not devastating, but annoying. You try to smack them away but it doesn't do much - eventually the pinches are managing to tear through armor and flesh! You try to retreat but you've been slowed - then suddenly a solar eclipse occurs? No, that's just...something blotting out the sun! "Is it...is it a curled up giant armadillo?" you think as it slams down in the middle of your army, whacking away. "WHAT IS EVEN HAPPENING!?"
Several folks in chat have asked for what a "meaty" squad is with "big dudes that take damage" - Hydros is one of such squads that fits the bill! He is chosen best when you're in the 2v2 side of the map. While you CAN make it work in the 1v1 part, it's much easier to get zoned out. Hydros' strength is being the meat shield for your high-DPS, low-health ally.
This guide will really only take you through the first 10-15 minutes of a game because choices tend to diverge more after that based on a variety of factors (what mercs your allies took, what the enemy squads are and which mercs they took, how aggressive you're being, what mercs/buildings you're replacing that you may have lost, what your scrap vs gem balance is, etc.). Even so, for the first 10-15 minutes this is just one of many, many ways to play.
We'll be choosing the Assault Corps for the purposes of this setup. The TL:DR portion of the build is here:
Gold Usage Priority:
* 3 scuttles right at the start
* 1 more Scuttle as you're clearing the first expansion
* 2 Scuttles while gemming
* Chilling Claw (upgrade)
* 1 Quadrapus
* 2 scuttles
Gem Usage Priority:
* Expansion right at the start (from here on in, always keep enough gems for an expansion if you're about to clear titans)
* 2-3 Motivators (depending on your resources)
Scrap Usage Priority:
* Rabbit's Foot
* Assault Corps Support Bay (A1) - your T2 upgrade from above should usually be done first!
* 2-3 Motivators (depending on your resources)
* Restoration Charm
Unit usage tips & explanations:
And the detailed nonsense is below!
Use Retracting Roll to engage around the enemy - save the Rabbit's Foot for retreating. As a relatively slow melee squad, your disadvantage is that you take pot shots getting into or out of range while doing no damage in return. The build I cited above helps increase your survivability, but you still want your engagement/disengagement window to be as short as possible.
The reason we get the Chilling Claw upgrade before any Quadrapii is because of Intervention. It's a great damage reduction ability but if the enemy sees it being cast, they'll just move to force you to engage suboptimally out of its range. Chilling Claw makes it much harder for them to do that. We get the upgrade after 6 scuttles because that's when you can usually make a comfortable concave on engagement when rolling in - more than that tends to leave stragglers in the back running back and forth. I feel the gold is better spent on utility that you'll absolutely use vs units that may not engage right away. We eventually go to 8 because the enemy armies eventually get large enough to justify that many.
In order to keep your mercs and Quads safe, I recommend going into Atlas settings and assigning a hotkey to your Tier 1 units (F1 is default for your hero, I use F2 for T1, F3 for T2, and F4 for T3). That way you can easily separate the Scuttlebros out to do their job (tank!) and not engage with vulnerable Quads/Healers/Motivators mixed in near the front.
Intervention is a fantastic damage reduction ability and a single cast will probably catch a majority of your Scuttlebros (just wait until you're actually engaged to cast it). The problem is, the ability is channeled, meaning that the opponent might focus down the Quad. This is why I recommend that the Quad put Plated Shell on itself - it's easily the squishiest unit you'll have on the field (barring some of the mercs, but they can't received Plated Shell, only squad members can).
Get used to the habit of tapping W (you'll get the casting range circle coming up, so it should be easy to find your Quad as it's right in the middle) to put Plated Shell on your Quad, then immediately following it up with E to protect your Scuttles (and later your Aquas too). I don't recommend using your hero's Healing Waters ability on Quads. Your Scuttles will get much better mileage out of that heal. Plate, on the other hand, doesn't factor in physical/magical resistance.
Healers & Motivators
The primary reason you get a Healer early on is because you don't yet have T2 - in general, I find Motivators to be more useful in combat and they have same cost/health as Healers. The Motivators' autocast makes Scuttleguard's physical damage reduction go from 20% to nearly 40% which is rather tasty. It's good from a numbers standpoint (effective health/healing is improved) as well as from a reactionary/micromanagement standpoint (you won't have to panic-heal as many times).
However, Motivators also do nothing for you between engagements. Having at least one Healer stick with you is nice because they'll continue to patch up your units as you gem or otherwise move around the map.
It's pretty self-explanatory how to use Healing Waters - help out any Scuttles that are getting focused, but don't forget to help out your ally's hero if need be! While the Rabbit's Foot is amazing for retreating from engagements that suddenly turn poor, none of the charms are as amazing for the 2nd slot. I choose the Restoration Charm for when the enemy isn't focus-firing your Scuttles and they're all at roughly half health - the AoE heal complements your strong single-target heal nicely. And as mentioned in the Quad section above, each point of restored health is that much more effective for your Scuttles (as compared with other squad units) due to their resistance.
But the real meat & potatoes of the Restoration Charm is that by the time you get it, you'll tend to be at level 6+. Use your Ultimate (Turn the Tide) midway through an engagement when you've seen that all your units have taken a smattering of damage - yes you can always be MLG pro by waiting to activate until you see something's about to die, but I don't have that kind of reaction time. Pop the Restoration charm about 4 seconds into your ultimate, anything that would've died will not just die immediately afterwards - it should survive, plus come out with some HP on top of that!
Late Game suggestions
* 1 Quadrapus
* 1 Aquadillo
* Armordillo (upgrade)
* 1 Aquadillo
Rather than get more than 8 Scuttles, I tend to get another Quad (a 2nd Intervention is particularly great when your front line isn't in a ball) then start saving up for the two Aquadillos. However, they're very costly and die right away after jumping (literally) into the fight, so it's actually worthwhile to get the Armordillo upgrade right after your first Aqua. Yes, it's very expensive to get a 200 gold upgrade to make getting 2 * 275 gold units useful, but they have huge impact once they actually hit the field. The Scuttlebros are on the perimeter of your enemy, your mercs & Quads are near your hero and the Aquas are in the middle of the action. At this point the Aquas are priority for Healing Waters, otherwise everything else is fairly similar to what you've been doing all game.
If you need a "safe" option for gem/scrap use, upgrade your Assault Corps Support Bay and get some Juggernauts - generally you can't go wrong with that.