Critical Range and the Basics of Positioning

When it comes to learning a game like Battlerite, some concepts are easier to grasp than others. The mechanics of orbs and runes, for example, are straightforward because they involve concrete values and strict systems. You either get it or you don’t.

But what about something more abstract, like where to position yourself on the battlefield?

Take a moment and look at the following three screenshots. I pulled them from random games so there’s nothing special about any of them. I just want you to think about one thing as you look: in each screenshot, would you say my positioning is “good” or “bad”?

positioning-taya-with-teammate

positioning-lucie-with-corner

positioning-oldur-with-combo

Even if you’ve never thought about “positioning” before, you can probably still answer with a gut feeling. Maybe the first shot looks like “good” positioning while the second one looks like “bad” positioning (and if that’s what you think, I’d agree with you). But can you explain why it looks that way?

What makes a certain position good or bad? And that leads to a second question: how should you move around on the battlefield to best position yourself against your enemies?

Bad positioning is when you’re vulnerable. Vulnerability is bad because it means you’re disadvantaged and at the mercy of your enemies. The flip side is also true: if you can learn to spot when enemies are in a bad position, you can punish them for it.

Influence Range

To start things off, I want to cover a topic that’s somewhat abstract. Most of us probably understand this topic on an instinctual level, but I don’t think people really talk about it overtly, and I don’t know if it has a commonly-used term… so I’ll just make one up.

Influence range is the farthest distance at which you can harm your opponent. At any given time, you can look down at your ability bar and see all of the offensive abilities that aren’t on cooldown — and if you look at the range of the farthest-reaching ability, that’s your current influence range.

In other words, you have “influence” over areas of the map that fall within your reach. On the other hand, you have no influence over areas of the map that are beyond that range.

influence-range-taya-with-bomb

Here’s a practical example to show what I mean. As of right now, Battlerite doesn’t show exact range numbers in tooltips so I’m going to use estimate words — but the concept should still make sense! Taya has five core abilities:

  • Razor Boomerang: Mid Range
  • X-Strike: Mid Range
  • Haste: N/A
  • Wind Strike: Close Range
  • Wind Bomb: Long Range

In the screenshot above, you can see two circles: the RED circle shows her influence range before using Wind Bomb and the YELLOW circle shows her influence range after using Wind Bomb — when Wind Bomb is on cooldown, her influence only goes as far as her Razor Boomerangs, but as soon as Wind Bomb is ready again, her influence returns to the red range.

influence-range-rook-with-boulder

Here’s another example using a melee champion. Rook’s ability kit consists of the following:

  • Pummel: Close Range
  • Crushing Blow: Close Range
  • Rush: Long Range
  • Berserk: N/A
  • Boulder Toss: Long Range

The RED circle shows his influence while Boulder Toss is ready and off cooldown. The YELLOW circle shows his influence when that ability is used and unavailable, when all he can do is Pummel and Crushing Blow. And because he has such slow movement speed, Rook basically has no influence over the map except in his immediate area. If he wants to exert influence beyond melee range, all he can do is spam Boulder Toss.

The key to understanding influence is to think about which offensive abilities can reliably pressure targets.

For example, Ashka’s Firestorm has long range but it isn’t a reliable ability because it has a long cast time, it’s hard to hit, and it has a cooldown of 7s — it gives him some influence because it does have a lot of range, but it doesn’t factor much into his overall influence. On the other hand, his M1 is very reliable because you can spam it endlessly over a relatively long range, so it plays a huge role in how much influence he has.

Iva is another good example. Even though Taser is a relatively long-range projectile, it doesn’t deal any damage and is mainly used as an interrupt rather than a source of pressure. Rocket X-67 can poke from a distance, but its 4s cooldown is too long to be overly threatening. It’s more of a nuisance. It turns out that most of her damage comes from Boomstick and Flame Thrower, both of which are mid-range attacks, so that’s pretty much her influence range.

Influence Shape

Influence range isn’t the whole story. In fact, as your abilities go on and off cooldown, your influence range fluctuates over time. At one moment, your range can be far and you can have a lot of influence at that range, the next moment you can only attack in melee range, then your influence grows again when cooldowns reset, and so it goes.

The term I’d use to describe the way a champion’s influence fluctuates over time is influence shape.

If you’re confused about this, that’s okay. Let’s unpack the concept by exploring and comparing the influence shapes of Rook, Varesh, and Ashka.

Rook: He has one long-range ability (Boulder Toss) and two close-range abilities (Pummel and Crushing Blow). The long-range ability has a long-ish cooldown (6s) while the close-range abilities have almost none at all (0s and 2.5s). So Rook has long periods of “close influence” and only momentary bursts of “long influence”. We can describe his influence shape as “tight”.

influence-range-varesh-with-attacks

Varesh: Every ability of his is ranged in some way. Both M1 and M2 have no cooldowns, and Shatter recycles pretty fast. (Plus he can increase Shatter charges with a battlerite.) He can reach very far at all times, and his burst potential is okay with Shatter consumptions, so he has a lot of “long influence” that never really shrinks. We can describe his influence shape as “wide”.

Ashka: Like Varesh, all of his abilities are ranged. M1 and Flamestrike can reach pretty far, but Flamestrike has a much longer cooldown than Varesh’s Shatter. When Flamestrike is down Ashka still has the same range of influence, but the potency of his influence is reduced until Flamestrike is available again. But Ashka has something Varesh doesn’t: mobility. Searing Flight extends his reach, so you can’t just think about his M1 range — you have to consider the M1 range plus Searing Flight range. He can cover a LOT of ground very quickly, so we can describe his influence shape as “massive”. But his influence also fluctuates a lot more than other champions. When Searing Flight and Flamestrike are down, his influence is much lower.

Critical Range

Now that we’ve beaten the idea of influence into the ground, let’s shift gears a bit and talk about something called critical range. Bear with me — I promise that everything up until now will not have been a waste of time!

Critical range is the distance at which you can inflict the most amount of damage while subjecting yourself to the least amount of risk. At this distance, you can dish out a lot of damage on the enemy but the enemy can’t return fire (or can’t return as much damage as you can).

Or to put it in terms of influence: critical range is when the enemy is inside your influence range but you are outside their influence range.

critical-range-iva-rook

Based on what we discussed, we can say that Iva has a medium range but a massive shape. Most of her damage comes from Boomstick (or Flame Thrower) and it does more damage the closer she is to her target, but she has a lot of map coverage with Jet Pack and Zap. In other words, she has a mid-ranged non-fluctuating influence that she can take with her all over the place. See the RED circle above.

And then there’s Rook. We already discussed him above, so it should be clear why his shape is so tight. See the YELLOW circle above.

As you can see, Iva can put out a lot of pressure on Rook but Rook can’t retaliate in any meaningful way. This is critical range. Any closer and Iva would be in danger, but any farther and Iva’s DPS would drop. At this perfect distance, she can inflict maximum damage and take no damage herself — and if Rook Rushes away, she can follow with Jet Pack.

But what about for melee champions?

critical-range-shifu-jade

For someone like Shifu or Freya, the principle is the same but the execution is slightly different. Remember, we’re talking about influence ranges and the ability to deal more damage than you receive.

Shifu deals most of his damage in close-to-mid range using Spear Slash and Impale, but his influence extends farther than that with gap-closers like Javelin and Kunju. In this case, you want to stay at maximum gap-closer range and wait for a good opening to attack. This might mean dancing at the edge and waiting for Oldur to miss Quicksand or waste Time Bender before diving in.

Same goes for Freya. Most of her damage comes from Bash, but she has more reach than that thanks to Spring and Electric Shield. In her case, she can stay back and poke with Storm Mace until she sees an opening, then use her gap-closers to initiate. If she grabs the Twin Hammers battlerite, she can boost the potency of her influence even more.

In other words, critical range for a melee champion is the farthest distance that you can be while still being within range to initiate when you see an opening.

I hope that makes sense. Most players have an intuitive understanding of critical range, but you can greatly improve your skills by deliberately thinking about this during gameplay.

What It All Means for Basic Positioning

In Battlerite, the basics of positioning involve a delicate dance between influence shapes and critical ranges.

Here’s how all of this comes together.

At the start of a match, you should immediately assess your enemy team’s champions for their influence shapes. If you see someone like Ashka or Taya, you need to realize that their map coverage will be massive. Meanwhile, a Varesh will have constant influence over a smaller range while a Shifu or Croak will have heavy close-range influence that can be transported here and there by their high mobility. Knowing an enemy’s shape can help you adjust your playstyle accordingly.

You also need to be watching and tracking enemy cooldowns. Not just their defensive cooldowns, but their offensive ones too. When their offensive abilities are on cooldown, it means they have reduced influence and there’s less risk in you approaching and attacking them.

If you can maintain critical range, do it. Don’t run into melee range as Taya — keep your distance and throw boomerangs from afar. Try to stay as close to maximum range as you can, and if a Freya closes the gap and starts beating on your, try to keep attacking while putting distance between you and her. Don’t just sit there and take it.

If you’re someone like Shifu or Bakko, stay at the maximum range of your gap-closer abilities. In this case, you can sit back at the end range of your Javelin or Valiant Leap and wait for an opportunity to open before using them. For example, when the enemy Sirius whiffs his charged M1, you can dive on him and win M1 trades until his charge returns.

I hope that helps. These concepts are a bit abstract, I know, but if you can actively think about them while playing the game, your timing and positioning will improve — and as you keep practicing, it will all eventually become second nature.

Of course there are plenty of OTHER factors that play a part in good positioning, but this post is already long enough as it is, so we’ll save those for another day. These are just the very basics.

Did you find this helpful? Was it too abstract? Are you still confused about anything that was covered? Let me know below and I’ll try to clarify as best as I can.

Tags

Zanetski

He is the lead writer at Battlecrank. You can find him on the Battlecrank Discord.

Discuss This Article

6 Comments on "Critical Range and the Basics of Positioning"

avatar
Sort by:   newest | oldest
wpDiscuz
Close