Newbie Guide to Targeting: Who to Attack and Why
After grasping the core theory of Battlerite gameplay, the next big milestone is learning who to attack — and not just who to attack, but when you should switch targets and why. It may sound like a relatively simple topic, but it’s far more complex than most newbies realize.
First things first, let’s debunk one of the most common myths that keep going around: there’s no such thing as a tank in Battlerite.
Certain champions do start off with more health than others, and champions can be tanky under the right circumstances, but no champion is an outright tank — at least in the way that newbies tend to think. The term “tank” implies some mixture of “taunting” and “damage sponge” but nothing could be farther from the truth in this game. Nobody is built to soak up damage. So when someone tells you to “stop attacking the tank, you idiot”, feel free to ignore them.
Here’s a similar myth debunked: healers in Battlerite are not squishier than non-healers.
I’ve played a lot of matches alongside In Placement players and it’s funny how often they’ll say things like “focus the healer”. Not that there’s anything wrong with attacking the healer, but this particular phrase has a bad assumption at the root of it: that healers are squishier than other champions. That may be true in World of Warcraft, but not here.
Battlerite isn’t as simple as “whoever attacks the enemy healer hardest wins”. Every champion is both tanky and squishy — it depends on which abilities they have available at the time.
This is what target selection is all about. At any given moment, there is always a Most Vulnerable Target on the field, and it’s your job to identify who that is when you attack.
Watch for Enemies Who Use Outs
One could argue that the true essence of Battlerite boils down to one core concept: the smart usage of defensive cooldowns. If you don’t know what I mean, I highly recommend that you stop what you’re doing and go read that post before continuing with this post.
The most vulnerable players on the battlefield are those who don’t have any defensive cooldowns available. Sounds pretty obvious, doesn’t it? Yet so many players, both newbies and veterans and myself included, tend to forget that in the heat of gameplay.
Imagine you’re playing as Bakko and you’re up against an Ashka who “spaces in” at you and immediately knocks you away using E (Molten Fist). Here’s what the situation looks like as soon as he does this:
- Ashka only has M1, M2, and Q. (Assume no energy.)
- You have M1, M2, Space, Q, and E.
If you respond by jumping on Ashka using your Space, what can he do to you? Maybe he’ll blast you with a few M1s, or maybe he’ll start channeling his M2 (Firestorm), or maybe he’ll place a Q (Flamestrike) under his feet, or he’ll try to walk away from you. But that’s it. That’s all he can do and for the next ten seconds or so, he’s at your mercy. You can beat him with your M1 — and he has to take it. He can’t get away.
Or consider another scenario where you’re playing Shifu and you’re up against a Bakko. Both of you have all of your cooldowns ready, you trade a few M1s, and then Bakko uses his Space to get away from you. The situation looks like this:
- Bakko has M1, M2, Q, and E.
- You have M1, M2, Space, Q, and E.
So you immediately close the gap by using your E (Javelin). What can he do to you? Trade more M1s, throw an M2 (Blood Axe), activate Q (Barrier), tackle you or run away with E (Shield Dash), or try to walk away. Let’s say he uses E to run away. Now you can use another Javelin or use your Space to close the gap, and then he can’t do anything because all of his outs are gone. You’re free to beat on him until the cooldowns for his Space or E are available again.
You see the pattern? When an enemy uses all of their outs, they become a vulnerable sitting duck and won’t be able to do anything if you decide to jump on them.
This is the most important thing to look for in the heat of battle. Always keep track of enemy cooldowns — and when one of them uses their outs, punish them for it (but don’t put yourself in too much danger just to do it).
Not only that, but keep this corollary in mind: the first person to use an out is immediately at a disadvantage. In that sense, Battlerite is one huge game of Chicken. You’re basically trying to put out enough pressure to force the enemy into using their outs before they can force you to use yours. If you succeed, you get to punish them.
Real Health > Recovery Health > Shields
The second most important factor in target selection is recovery health. If you don’t know what that is, I recommend reading this overview of the recovery health mechanic. The concept is crucial to understanding how people die in Battlerite and from this point forward I’m going to assume that you know how it works.
To start, let’s say you have a burst damage ability like Jade’s Snipe, Ashka’s Flamestrike, or Bakko’s Blood Axe with full charges. You also have two possible targets before you: a Lucie with 190/190 HP and a Pearl with 170/210 HP. Who are you going to attack? Instinct probably tells you to attack Pearl, and if that was your answer, congrats! You were right. But do you know why?
Well, consider what would happen if you hit Lucie with a Snipe. She’d take 38 damage, bringing her down to 152/190 HP — and then she’d run away and heal up, bringing her back to 190/190 HP. Even though you nailed her with a big bursty hit, at the end of the day nothing actually changed. You could hit her with another Snipe, of course, but then she could heal up again. Snipe, heal, Snipe, heal… rinse and repeat.
That’s obviously a simplification, but it helps to illustrate the point that I’m trying to make so humor me for a moment.
Now consider what would happen if you hit Pearl with that Snipe. She’d also take 38 damage, bringing her down to 132/172 HP — and that right there is how you exploit the recovery health mechanic. Remember, if the difference between your current health and max health is too great, your max health shrinks down. So in this case, Pearl could run away and heal up just like Lucie did, but Pearl would only be able to heal up to 172/172 HP instead of her original 210/210 HP.
That’s the key to killing enemies in Battlerite: you have to damage their Real HP, not just their Recovery HP. “Recovery damage” can be healed, but “real damage” is permanent — and if you can inflict permanent damage to your enemies faster than they can do the same to you, they’ll die and you’ll win.
Or in other words, if you have a choice between attacking someone who is healed up and someone who is greatly injured, go for the one who’s injured. Note that I’m not talking about absolute HP numbers! All else being equal, it’s generally “better” to burst someone who is at 170/210 HP than someone who is at 140/140 HP because that burst will be permanent.
What about when everyone is healed up? Well, that’s when M1 spam comes into play. M1 attacks are “free” (i.e. negligible cooldown cost) so they are the perfect tool for chipping away at recovery HP. Instead of bursting someone at 210/210 HP, hit them with a few M1s and burst them when they’re at 190/210 HP. That’s 20 extra permanent damage that you wouldn’t have dealt otherwise.
Lastly, we need to talk about shields.
Imagine you’re M1 spamming Lucie and she throws up a Barrier. What do you do? Do you keep attacking her even though the barrier is soaking up all of your damage, allowing her to heal herself back up to full? I’ll be the first to admit that I do this (a lot…) and it’s not good at all.
You can think of shields as temporary recovery health, which means the same rules apply here: any attacks that you land have no long-term impact. But in fact, attacking a shield is actually worse than attacking someone’s recovery health — because that shield is going to disappear whether you attack it or not, and any offensive abilities you commit to that attack won’t be available when the shield fades.
That’s what this whole section ultimately boils down to. If you’re going to expend an offensive cooldown, you want it to impact real HP. Sometimes you have to use them to chip away at recovery HP, and that’s fine, but try not to waste your burst output on a shield (unless you can coordinate with your teammates). If someone gets shielded, don’t be afraid to switch targets.
Attack Your Teammate’s Target
One thing that tends to happen in lower and middle grade matches, particularly in solo queue matches, is that everyone fights their own 1v1s throughout the map. Perhaps this is more true for 2v2 than 3v3, but it’s not like this is rare in 3v3 either.
The thing is, two attackers always deal more damage than one attacker — and one support champion usually can’t out-heal two attackers, especially if those attackers can deliver combined burst damage.
Let’s say you’re Sirius, your partner is Bakko, and he’s trading M1 hits with an enemy Freya who’s supported by Pearl. A newbie Sirius might take this opportunity to jump on the Pearl to “distract” her from healing Freya while Bakko takes him on 1v1. When this happens, the stronger players will win their 1v1s 90% of the time.
On the other hand, let’s say your Bakko partner triggers the Freya’s counter and the Freya gets overly aggressive, using her jump and her stomp to dish out burst damage on Bakko. Remember the first point earlier in this article? Freya is now defenseless, so it may make sense for you (as Sirius) to stone the Pearl then burst Freya using your space, M1, and R abilities. Even if Freya is “better” than your Bakko, this basic level of teamwork can overcome that disadvantage.
Here’s another scenario: you’re Lucie and you’re standing back, healing from afar, while your Croak partner is fighting two melee enemies. In between heals and barriers, you should be throwing out some DPS when you can, but smart target selection is crucial here.
How many times have you lost a round only to see that all of the enemies are at 10% HP or less? It’s frustrating when that happens, and it happens for a simple reason: you ended up spreading your damage too much. If your team’s DPS had been focused on a singular target instead, it’s likely that one of them would have died instead, turning the round into a 2v1 in your favor. So as Lucie, this means attacking the same enemy that Croak is attacking (and fearing the other guy with Panic Bolt).
This isn’t always the case, mind you. Sometimes 1v1ing is good if you can handle yourself and you can trust your teammate to carry his weight and you don’t have to support him. But the key takeaway here is to focus fire a single target whenever possible — especially when that target has no recovery HP. That’s how rounds are won.
When in Doubt, Attack the Closest
Let’s recap what we’ve covered so far. When deciding who to attack, the most vulnerable target is the one who has no outs. The second most important factor is determining which enemy would take the most Real HP damage if you bursted them down. And whenever possible, coordinate on the same target as your ally.
That being said, there are times when none of these things apply. Maybe the enemy Oldur used his space to duck behind a wall but you don’t have a jump or teleport so you can’t follow after him. Or maybe the enemy Ashka has no recovery HP but is standing so far away that you can’t get to him unless you waste an out.
Even though the above guidelines seem pretty straightforward, situations in the heat of battle are rarely so black-and-white — it’s often difficult to know which enemy is the best target, and you need to weigh the risks vs. rewards and make a snap decision.
If you can’t make a decision, or if you feel like you need to play on the safer side, then the default is to attack whoever is closest to you.
This does come with a vital caveat: you should only rely on this as a last resort. If you’re constantly defaulting your attacks to the closest enemy, then it’s going to hinder you big time. It’s very easy to go into “auto-pilot mode” while playing Battlerite, but you really have to fight that tendency. How is that any different from what newbies do? Auto-pilot is the exact opposite of smart target selection.
But as a last resort, this is a fine guideline. After all, it’s much better to be attacking somebody than to be attacking nobody (except in the case of shields, counters, etc) because at least you’ll be putting out some pressure on the enemy team.
For example, let’s say you’re playing as Ashka and the enemy Rook is very vulnerable but he’s on the other side of the arena and the enemy Oldur is between you. Your Space and E abilities are on cooldown, so you can’t just space over and start blasting the Rook — you have to walk over there. But instead of just walking over, you should be throwing M1s at the Oldur as you go. Maybe even place a Flamestrike under him. Rook is the enemy you should be attacking, but Oldur is the only enemy you can reach, so you might as well attack him.
And I think that’s the best way to think about this: “attack the closest enemy” is a filler move. You do it when you have no other options, and as you’re doing it, you should be maneuvering yourself into a better position to attack better targets.
There’s so much more to say but this is a good place to stop for now. Think of these as the fundamentals of target selection. You can probably spot areas where there are unspoken exceptions, and you can probably think of situations where these guidelines might seem wrong, but this post is the foundation on which future posts will be built so treat it as such.
Have any questions or concerns? Leave a comment below and I’ll try my best to help. And if there are any points that I missed, feel free to chime in with your own advice.