Remember how we talked about the fundamental concept of cooldowns? Well, that post was severely oversimplified just to get a point across (the point being that cooldowns are the heart of Battlerite). It didn’t cover the whole picture.
Now we’re going to refine that idea into something practical. This is the first real step that you need to take to understand how Battlerite is played.
Generally speaking, abilities in Battlerite belong to one of two categories: offensive (to hurt or impede enemies) and defensive (to aid yourself and your teammates). Some abilities can be both offensive and defensive, of course, in which case the defensive aspect tends to take priority.
Cooldown theory states that the only cost of casting an ability is that you can’t cast it again until its cooldown resets. This means that if you have an offensive ability that you never cast, then it’s as if that ability doesn’t exist in your kit — and that’s why I encourage newbies to “spam” their abilities when they first play: to get a feel for what those abilities can do and to get used to juggling cooldowns.
But for defensive abilities, cooldown theory applies in a completely different way. Spamming is actually the worst thing you can do with a defensive ability.
Before explaining why that is, let’s take a moment to explore the various kinds of abilities that can count as “defensive”. It’s actually not as black-and-white as you might expect:
- Shields, such as Bakko’s Bulwark, are obviously defensive because they reduce or prevent incoming damage.
- Teleports, such as Sirius’s Celestial Split, are defensive because they let you reliably dodge and escape incoming damage.
- Knockbacks, such as Ashka’s Molten Fist, are both offensive and defensive because they put distance between you and the enemy.
- Trances, such as Freya’s Electric Shield, are defensive because they negate attacks (and sometimes provide other effects when triggered).
- Incapacitates, such as Lucie’s Panic Bolt, are both offensive and defensive because they interrupt the enemy and give you a bit of breathing room.
- Invisibilities, such as Jade’s Stealth, are defensive because they let you reposition yourself.
That’s not an exhaustive list, but hopefully it gives you a sense of what I mean and how an offensive ability can sometimes double as a defensive ability. That’s why these abilities are called “outs” — when you’re stuck or trapped, they provide you “a way out” of your predicament.
Why does this matter? Because the value of a defensive ability is derived from its availability.
Let’s say you’re playing Bakko vs. Jade and you use Bulwark while she’s busy attacking your partner. What have you accomplished? Nothing at all. You weren’t being attacked, so your Bulwark didn’t block anything — and now it’s on cooldown.
This presents Jade with an opportunity: she can now switch to you and shoot you up without having to worry about you using Bulwark, so she unleashes her ultimate and blasts you to pieces. Wouldn’t it be nice if you had Bulwark now? But it was on cooldown.
Contrast that with a purely offensive ability like Croak’s Toxic Spit, which doesn’t really have a “save me from trouble” aspect to it. Its main job is dealing damage, so it makes sense to use it as often as you can.
Again, cooldown theory states that the only cost of casting an ability is that you can’t cast it again until its cooldown resets. This is BAD NEWS for defensive abilities! Not being able to cast a shield, teleport, or trance when you need it is a HUGE cost to eat.
Fortunately, most champions actually have more than one out in their ability kits. For example, Ashka has Searing Flight (true out), Molten Fist (semi-out), and Infernal Scorch (ultimate). Lucie has Barrier (semi-out), Clarity Potion (semi-out), and Panic Bolt (true out).
You might notice that some of these outs are actually offensive, such as Molten Fist and Panic Bolt. Obviously it doesn’t make sense if you ALWAYS save these abilities because you’ll miss out on their offensive potential. So what should you do?
The key is to always have at least ONE out available at any given moment. You can use your offensive outs for non-defensive purposes as long as you have an actual defensive out available as a backup. Or in other words, don’t blow them all at once.
You might be tempted to use Searing Flight into Molten Fist into Infernal Scorch to dish out a big burst of damage, but that’ll leave you with no outs. If the enemies jump on you, you’re dead unless your teammate can save you. Instead, use Molten Fist and Infernal Scorch as you need but save Searing Flight for emergencies.
Here’s another way to think about it: the more outs you have available, the more aggressive you can play, but as soon as you use your outs, you should fall back and play more defensively until their cooldowns reset.
Two outs are better than one. One out is better than none. This is the fundamental secret to survival in Battlerite.