Drunk vs Tarrasque

Tarrasque

The tarrasque is a gigantic lizard-like creature which exists only to eat, kill, and destroy. In most campaign settings, only one tarrasque is said to exist on each world. The tarrasque has a low intelligence and cannot speak. It is neutrally aligned, for despite its violent and savage nature, it lacks the mental capacity to choose between good and evil.

1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nd2

Here we have the Tarrasque variation of the French Opening.

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The tarrasque knight – camped on d2 – gives White a lot of flexibility. He delays the advance of his e-pawn to e5, doesn’t block the option of c3, and waits for Black to make his move. The kind of opening that positional players enjoy; lots of movement, lots of manouvering, and patient, patient, play to get an advantage.

But White’s strategy does not consider that Black might be slightly drunk.

Nf6

Provoking the advance of White’s e-pawn. Black has something in mind.

4. e5 Nfd7

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Here Black has a “tarrasque” of his own – the knight on d7. The position looks positively advantageous for White, he has a big space advantage. But where one side sees an advantage the other side sees an opportunity. White’s ambitiously advanced pawn is within striking range of “our” tarrasque. Whereas our own timid e-pawn is safely tucked at the back.

5. Bd3

Now White is asking for it, because this bishop is too beautifully placed.

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c5

The classic counterattack.

6. c3

And White calmly defends.

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Nc6

“We need more teeth” – cheesily uttered in Jurrasic World.

Black is putting a lot of pressure on d4 and there might even be a queen on b6 soon.

7. Ne2

And White is, supremely determined to hold the line.

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second Tarrasque knight – unusually moved to e2, avoiding the routine trip to f3. Just like the first knight, White doesn’t block his f-pawn. He wants to start a very big pawn chain franchise.

f6

Black is now attacking a second target. This time, the head of the pawn chain.

8. f4

So White defends, and calmly asks, Where is your God now?

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Look at all the space he’s got. A fully defended pawn chain, a strongly placed light squared bishop. In fact, White is already anticipating future growth. He will accept trades on e5 and d5, then shuffle his tarrasques to strategic squares. And then squash Black with the monsters he created.

This is White’s dream position: cxd4 9. cxd4 Be7 10. 0-0 0-0 11. Nc3 fxe5 12. fxe5 b6 13. Nf3 Bb7

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In this position, which didn’t happen in the game, White has all the trump cards. His pieces are well placed, there is no attack on his pawns. Black’s kingside is under pressure, black’s pieces lack scope. All this is the result of White’s early space advantage. The tarrasque is ready to step out of his lair, and stomp on the world.

cxd4 9. cxd4

The first set of trades go strictly according to plan. White has broken the siege on d4.

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fxe5 10. fxe5

But the second set of trades is happening too soon. What is Black playing at?

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By failing to insert Be7 first, is Black forfeiting the right to castle? The open f-file means that White can 0-0 first, which will then prevent Black from doing the same.

Well there’s a good explanation for it. Black is drunk. And in a state of inebriation, the next move to play is…

Nxd4!

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Bring it on we’re not afraid of losing our knight for a measly pawn! Never mind that a pawn is worth one whereas a knight is worth three. Right now we can even count up to potato. This tarrasque is not going to develop.

11. Nxd4

White is forced to accept the gift. And the point is revealed – White’s knight has been distracted from the defence of g3.

Why the hell is g3 important? Black hasn’t even attacked it the whole game! Well because…

Qh4+

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Oh crud.

12. g3

White would have preferred his knight to go to g3. Pawn on g3 weakens the kingside, and oops. One tarrasque knight is loitering in a danger zone.

Qxd4

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Snapped up by the queen. And now, it is Black who has the advantage, simply being one pawn up and no pieces down and White’s king safety has been blown to bits.

13. Nf3 

White uses his second Tarrasque to evict the queen. Cute.

Bb4+

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I’m not going home! The party has just started…

Get me another.

14. Bd2

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White shields the check. But he missed something…

Qxd3

Splat.

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White’s well positioned light square bishop never realizes his dream of storming the Black castle. Because he got mugged by an angry drunk clutching a beer bottle and sent to the ER but died before the doctors got to him because Obamacare.

15. Bxb4

White retains piece balance by capturing the recklessly aggressive Black one. Now things don’t look so bad. Sure White’s a piece down. But surely Black will do a queen trade now. White has still got his space advantage, Black has some dark square weaknesses. Not too shabby for the loss of a pawn, if White can get back to his deeply positional game.

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Qe4+

Not so fast, Black replies.

I still have to send some drunk texts to an ex.

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16. Kf2 

To White’s horror, his king has been forced to take a walk, naked.

Qxb4

While the well-laid plans of exploiting Black’s dark square weaknesses evaporate, because White’s dark square bishop is dead.

17. Ng5

White tries using a more reliable steed, the Tarrasque knight. It attacks Black’s e6 pawn.

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But this leaves open the king, who is still naked.

0-0+

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Black castles as part of a vicious attacking move. White has no time to do something like Nxe6, or Qh5.

18. Kg2 Rf5

Not bothering to defend the e6 pawn. Instead it is truth or dare and White is dared to take it.

19. Nxe6

The tarrasque takes the bait. A living engine of death and destruction, but severely lacking in intelligence.

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Qe4+

The tarrasque was holding e4 just a moment ago, but it is now distracted. This lets Black re-enter with the queen like a meteorite.

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20. Kg1

Unfortunately, White traded away the f-pawn long ago, in pursuit of some grand strategic plan. He could really use an f-pawn now. It would have given his King some cover.

But a storm is coming Master Wayne.

Qe3+ 21. Kg2 Rf2+ 22. Kh3 Qh6+ 

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Remarkably, Black has made eight queen moves in this game!

23. Kg4

This is the White King’s only square.

Nxe5#

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The final move of the game. Black eliminates the space advantage White has tried so hard to build throughout this game. As for the tarrasque – we’re leaving it alone.

In the 4th edition version of the game, the tarrasque cannot be killed; reducing it to 0 hit points causes it to burrow into the core of the earth to slumber for a time (instead of killing it). The only monsters that are more feared in combat are deities, the largest and oldest dragons, certain powerful outsiders (such as demon lords) and epic monsters.

The story of a wall

Tower rush is one of the fun ways of playing Age of Empires. The principles behind it can also be found in chess.

1. e4 c6

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It can often be hard to find active options against the Caro-Kahn. Black’s first move is the first in a series of ultra defensive moves. By the time Black is done, he often has a rock solid position. The Caro-Kahn is the turtle of the chess world – neither fast, nor deadly, but trying to live up to hundred years old.

Mainstream options do not give White the fun he deserves. The situation therefore calls for the long-term siege of the Stonewall Attack.

 2. Nf3 d5 3. exd5 cxd5 

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We are still in well trodden territory, but the exchange of pawns is theoretically better for Black. White exchanges a valuable center pawn for a flank pawn; it’s not an equal trade. But oh well we want our tower rush do we?

4. Ne5!

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The siege begins! The knight is leading the very early charge by moving a second time in the opening. Already it is eyeing Black’s sensitive f7 square. Moving so quickly also prevents Black from ruining the strategy via Bg4.

White will soon reinforce the front knight with Tower Defences.

Nc6 5. f4 Bf5 6. d4 Nf6 7. c3 e6

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There now exists – a Stone Wall – built of pawns, stretching across the length of the board. The Wall is shaped like an inverted-V, so that each pawn in front is supported by another pawn at the back. The base of the pawn chain is hidden at the back and thus difficult for Black to reach. The front-most knight is doubly supported by two pawns.

Black has played normal moves. Just developing pieces to their most natural squares.

8. Bd3 Bxd3 9. Qxd3

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The first casualty on the wall is Black’s light square bishop. It is well placed but there is simply no place to run. But doesn’t Black always trades this bishop in the Caro Kahn anyway? True. But he will eventually miss his Guardian of the Light Squares.

From safety behind the wall, White has placed a Trebutchet to attack Black’s castle in the future. This innocent looking queen has not-so-innocent thoughts on h7.

Be7 10. 0-0 0-0 

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The opening phase is over. White has everything necessary for a successful tower rush.

  1. Wall is solid – check.
  2. Artillery pointed at enemy gates – check.
  3. Room for expanding the wall – check.
  4. Weak squares secured – not finished

There exists a knight outpost for the enemy on e4. It is, in many ways, a mirror for our own outpost on e5…except that Black does not have a second supporting pawn like we do.

11. Nd2 Rc8 

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In view of this, we watch that square. Now Ne4 only loses a pawn.

Notice we don’t have a pawn on e3. A pawn on e3 is seen in the “authentic” Stonewall Attack, which begins with 1. d4 instead of our 1. e4. Having no pawn on e3 is a blessing. Such a pawn has been known to get in the way of White’s dark square bishop, slowing our attack down. In our improved variation it is All Systems Go.

12. g4

It is time to add new bricks to our wall. The g-pawn gains space on the kingside and also prepares to drive away a Black Knight.

a6 13. g5 Nd7

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The Black Knight retreats – the space he used to operate in has been taken over by an Enemy Turret.

14. Rf3 b5 15. Rh3

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There is nothing going on in Black’s side of the board. He is finding our Wall too solid to breach. In fact he isn’t even attacking it. It just seems like a waste of time.

On our side, White has a rook in position for a Light Square checkmate within one move. Black must defend.

g6

Black stops the attack by blunting White’s long range cannons at the cost of creating new square weaknesses.

16. Rh6

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Now White’s rook becomes the newest brick in the wall – right in front of Black’s castle gate. Black’s door cannot even open anymore. There is a tower / battering ram outside.

Re8 17. Qh3

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Now the pressure on h7 is immense.

Black chooses a fighting defence but perhaps he should have tried reinforcing his door with Nf8.

Bf8 

This lets the invaders through.

18. Rxh7 Bg7

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Black has lost his door but created a new defensive line on the dark squares.

19. Ng4

Our front knight is no match for Black’s new Dragon that has taken residence on g7. We must retreat to the safety of our own lines.

Na5

Fortunately, Black is doing nothing but shuffling his pieces around, because he can’t find anything worth attacking. Our walls are too strong.

20. Nf3 Nc6 21. Be3 

Since Black is giving us the time, we shall bring additional pieces into the game.

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f5?

Black panics because he is seeing our huge army gather up behind the Wall. He launches the first attempt to break the wall, but it lacks support.

22. gxf6 Nxf6 23. Ne5?? 

I missed the fact that my rook on h7 was hanging. Fortunately my opponent missed it too.

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Instead of Ne5, I should have gone for Black’s king by Rxg7 – an exchange sacrifice to slay Black’s Dragon. Play would continue, 23. Rxg7+ Kxg7 24. Qh6+ Kf7 25. Nfe5+ Nxe5 26. Nxe5+ Ke7 27. Qg7+ Kd6 28. Nf7+, and we would take the opponent’s queen.

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Nh5 

Letting me off the hook.

24. Nxg6

The last of Black’s castle-pawns have fallen…at the cost of a rook exchange sacrifice. Black has a material advantage now but this won’t save his life.

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Kxh7 25. Qxh5+ Kg8

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It looks as if Black can die in so many ways. But the lone dragon on g7, which is now a hero, is holding black’s entire defence single-handedly.

26. f5

A pawn is sacrificed to open up additional lines to the Black King, more accurately, to the Black dragon bishop on g7. There is no thought about defence anymore. It is entirely attack.

Qd7

Black defends his dragon on g7. He does not dare touch the sacrificed f-pawn, because White’s attack develops too fast after that.

27. f6 Qf7

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Black is even willing to give up his dragon bishop now. The situation is truly dire for the Black King.

28. Rf1!?

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White refuses to so cheaply slay the heroic defender of the Black King. The dragon deserves a more noble death.

Rf8

I don’t even know what to say about this move. Black is willing to try anything, even offering his material back to gain extra life.

Note that fxg7 would be a major blunder now because Black has Qxf1#, his first (and sole) actual threat in the game.

29. Rf2!

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Don’t kill the dragon! Don’t kill the rook! Instead White plays a defensive move, sliding a cannon into a better protected square.

The attack can worry about itself later.

Qd7

Black’s queen flees her king, because gxf6 is too brutal to even think about. Black can’t even.

30. Nh6+!?

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And White still refuses to slay the Dragon on g7. It would open up the wall, giving Black some relief by exchanging a pair of rooks off. White will keep the attack going and continue hiding his attackers behind the wall.

Black’s dragon is instead given a more honorable exit. It can trade with White’s knight exacting value for value and White will pay the full price.

Bxh6

Black’s dragon takes the generous pension plan. There was nothing better, because after Kh7 31. Nf7+ Kg8 32. fxg7 White will finally kill the Dragon, but with a pawn instead.

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In this variation, White’s new knight on f7 is taking the role of “wall” to prevent the exchange of rooks. Checkmate on h8 will follow shortly.

31. Bxh6

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The dragon is dead. Silence fills the chessboard.

Rf7

No longer safe on the dark squares, Black switches to a light square defence. His hope is to place a rook on h7 but that never happens.

32. Bg7!

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It is now White who owns a bishop on g7!  It is supported by the pawn, which has still not moved away from f6. White’s wall has, at last, expanded to the very edge of the board. The Black King is completely trapped by towers now and there is no way to wriggle out.

Rxg7

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Black gives up a rook by his own accord (which White refused to take). There is no other move; everything else leads to Qh8# instant loss.

33. Qh8+

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A useful check to interrupt Black’s coordination of pieces. If fxg7 then Black can recapture with his queen.

Once again it pays to remain in formation and avoid major alterations to the shape of the wall.

Kf7

The Black King’s only square. Now the fleeing king blocks his line of sight over g7.

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34. Qxg7+

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The unmoving Tower Pawn on f6 has nonetheless influenced much in the game. It first compelled Black’s queen to flee her Master’s defence; then it compelled Black’s Dragon to accept early retirement. Now its last act is to aid in the capture of the g7 rook with check.

Ke8

Black’s King has only one square to go to. In poetic justice, this is also the King’s start square in the game.

35. Qf8#

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And here’s the mate. This is the story of a wall.

Top 10 Land Predators

Top 10 Animals

The polar bear represents raw size and brute force. The tiger is a master of speed, evasion, and agility. Both are extremely deadly predators. The bear’s thick hide gives it a species bonus against cats, which depend on critical neck blows and slash damage. It’s main problem is landing the killing blow. Cats, all of them, are fast – so the polar bear needs to grind them to exhaustion, by which time it will have suffered tons of scratches and bites. Meaning the victorious bear will also be a badly injured and haggard looking one.

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Measured 350 to 700 kg

Tigers love to play, and being the biggest cat, it roughs up its closer competitor, the lion. Evolutionary adaptations give tiger the ability to temporarily stand on both hind legs, freeing both front paws for a double-wielding combo assault. It has the critical damage throat kill attack issued to all cats, and also mad dodging skills. This lets the tiger evade deadly blows from fellow predators, and come on top in the exchange.

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Male Siberian tigers weigh between 180 to 306 kg. females 100 to 167 kg.

Coming in a close third, the crocodile brings a merkava tank loaded with only a single, overpowered, attack. It’s jaws are the strongest in the animal kingdom, snapping shut on poor old bears and then drowning them in the cold water. It is the heaviest of the predators, believe it or not. It is even heavier than the polar bear. The croc’s armored shell design is good for fights. But low stamina is a terrible weakness. If a croc is unable to score the killing attack in the first few minutes, it will tire out. But even a tired croc is extremely difficult to kill. So this explains the huge number of draws (5-5 scores).

Crocodiles are also immune to venom, making the formidable King Cobra nothing a useless long string. It wins 100% of fights against a king cobra.

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The croc is the heaviest combatant, reaching up to one tonne. (400kg – 1000kg)

The brown (grizzly) bear is superficially similar to the polar bear, except that it’s smaller. Only the Kodiak subspecies is comparable to polar weights. The American grizzly, which is more iconic, ranges from 180 – 360 kg. The Russian coastal variety has an average of 450 kg. Despite its impressive size, up to 8% of a tiger’s diet is bear meat. So a Siberian Tiger isn’t deeply disadvantaged but it’s a close fight versus the grizzly. The tiger brings speed and power to the table. The bear brings a stronger punch and attrition.

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The lion is like a smaller tiger, except with no stripes and a nice haircut. Superficially, the mane should afford it protection versus enemy cats like tigers. Well thats just theorycraft – in practice the mane gives the tiger something to pull around to jerk the lion’s head thus controlling the fight. Lions did not adapt the ability to stand on its hind legs – it needs to stand on three legs, using only one paw for attacking. So these things combine to take away the lion’s title of the King of the Beasts. It comes in a distant fifth place.

The jaguar is smaller than both lion and tiger, but it possesses an armor-piercing bite through the skull to kill an opponent’s brain. Thus its ideal for killing crocodiles. The jaguar can actually finish off a crocodile in water – although it shouldn’t try that too often, because a croc’s jaws are no joke.

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Left to right: Lion (181 kg), Jaguar (95kg), Tiger (230 kg)

The King cobra is one of those “cheaters” who poison their enemy instead of fighting fairly. Well of course they don’t fight fair. They are snakes. A cobra’s venom can kill an elephant, so by extension, I take that to mean polar and grizzly bears as well. But the bear would then short work of the snake with a good whack to the head, so the fight ends with everyone dead.

Just like the croc, the cobra has little to no stamina. So an adept cat should be capable of dodging the stings (cats are freaking fast) while raining constant swipes.

Only up to 9kg, but the cobra cheats.
Only reaches 9kg, but the cobra cheats with venom that can kill an elephant.

Leopards are the smallest of all the cats on the list. So its no surprise they don’t do so well. Well they can climb trees. And that’s all.

Anacondas are impressively strong constrictors, they kill by strangulation. They sometimes eat crocodiles, although crocodiles also eat them. But an anaconda isn’t that hot against a bear, who will probably regard it as a necklace.

Last and least is the gray wolf, who is mainly a pack hunter. It is pathetically small compared to all the other beasts, but it has the best stamina. Well stamina won’t help much with a low bite force and lack of retractable claws. Without a pack, wolves are nothing but a bad dog.

Grizzly Bear vs Saltwater Crocodile

Although formidable, a grizzly lacks the dodge of a tiger. Thus the croc’s famous jaws come into play. The crocodile has the strongest jaws in the animal kingdom – 5000 Lbs biteforce, able to crush through both flesh and bone.

So the question becomes, can a bear’s thick hide and “layer of fat” defence save it? Answer is no. Hide armor is a strong defence versus cats’ slash damage. Against a croc, clamp forces will inflict tremendous internal damage and possibly break bones.

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Lets consider a bear’s standard line of attack. It will try to swat the croc with a paw, who will instinctively retreat into water as crocs are ambush hunters not fighters. Even if it lands, a bear swipe is pretty worthless against the thick armored skins of a crocodile.

After several swipes, the croc lunges forward and clamps at the bear’s outstretched paw. Then it tries to drag the bear into the water, but the bear is too heavy. The bear is unable to shake off the croc and has a chance of getting its arm torn off. (If it does, it loses straightaway.)

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But now the bear is counter pulling the croc out into land, and the croc doesnt like it, so it lets go. The bear’s arm is now worthless for offence as it is bleeding internally and the bones are cracked in several places. In nature the bear will just run off. But thats against the rules of our fight so it remains there.

The bear’s options are 1) Charge forward into the water, which is suicide, or 2) Wait for croc to attack. If it charges forward, then the croc’s full agility swimming skills come into play. Croc will instinctively grab hold of any of the bear’s limbs then twist it 360 degrees using the famous ‘Death Roll’ special move. This time it will definitely result in a torn arm or leg.

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Death Roll. Crocodiles study physics, so they understand how turning torque can tear off limbs from larger animals.

So lets say the bear wants to avoid reenacting a Monty Python script. (“YOUR ARM IS CUT OFF.” “Just a flesh wound sire.) What can it do? Paw swipes are even less effective in the water. Or let’s say the bear tries to bite the crocodile. Um, yeah, that will work spectacularly.

A bear cant take on a full grown croc underwater. It has to wait for the croc to attack.

The croc lunges forward, and the bear dodges. But lacking the speed to get away (this is a bear not a cat), the croc grabs hold of the bear’s 1) Belly 2) Leg.

A cat can dodge crocodiles like lightning
A cat can dodge crocodiles like lightning. A bear is a different story.

If its the belly then a croc’s massive jaws will simply rip it open and internal organs will fall out. Bear meat is on the menu for dinner.

If its the leg then once again, horrific internal injuries. The bear can try counterattacking but croc heads can take tons of damage. At this point the croc can try another special move known as the ‘tail whip’. It comes with enough force to break even the bear’s backbone.

Analyzing this, the outcome of the fight is near certain. Croc should win 80% of the time. The bear’s slightly bigger size (900 lb vs 700lb) is not relevant since it’s trying to duel a giant walking scissor. Sumo wrestler versus scissor? Scissor will win.

Max Sizes

While this is not relevant, a grizzly’s maximum weight is 1500 lb, while a saltwater croc’s maximum weight is 2200 lb (Both occurences are rare). In a fight between supercroc and supergrizzly, the croc will pull the bear into the water then finish it off. It will be even more one sided than my described story.

Bears can get pretty big
Bears can get pretty big
But crocodiles can get even bigger
But crocodiles can get even bigger

Bear on the back

If the bear can somehow sit on top of the crocodile, this advantageous position will flip the result. From the top, the bear will avoid the crocodiles dangerous jaw, while simultaneously applying its considerable weight on the reptile. The croc’s low stamina will allow the bear to outlast it – although it still won’t die.

Animal Face-Off theorized that the bear will flip over the croc and smash it on its soft underbelly, but this is attributing too much human intelligence onto what is basically a big dumb brute. A big cat knows to do this from thousands of years of fighting versus crocs. A grizzle never encounters crocs in nature, so it will lack the instinct to do this.

It is highly unlikely that a croc would let a bear mount it – bears lack the speed to climb on, while crocs have the agility in this encounter. Also, a tail whack to the bear’s face would leave the bear too confused to continue, and wondering how it got suckered into this fight in the first place.

Summary

A bear’s natural weapons are mostly nullified by the tank-like nature of the crocodile. The crocodile’s aquatic mastery, as well as overpowered bite, should give it the upper lip advantage.

Wurms: 3rd place!

These finalists are a cut and a class above the competition. They have overcome a deep pool of opponents, faced a wide array of strategies, knocked out the competition, taken the game to its core.

In third place, Wurms.

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Mighty and destructive, wurms dominate with their control spells. Wurms can smash anything, even the most aggressive aggro tribe (knights). Damnation blows up all creatures, Mind Shatter takes out all the reserves, Maelstrom Pulse eliminates vital combo pieces or single threats.

It’s a formidable play, especially when this wurm shows up.

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The “curb stomper”, Massacre Wurm will single-handedly munch an army while setting up the counterattack. Chump blocking it will not do much good. It can also bite a hugeeee chunk of an opponent’s life before starting to move. Deadly. Deadly. Deadly.

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Panglacial Wurm is the ultimate trump card when holding a hand full of nothing. Because it can jump from the library, the only creature in the game that can do so. Fetchlands, land search, all trigger it. Once on the battlefield, that 9 power will break jaw.

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Life can get low playing control, so, its nice to get out of burn range. Wurmcoil Engine does that, and it’s also a tough, deathtouching SOB. Things are seldom bigger than a wurm, but they do exist, in which case, it dies anyway. Killing the wurmcoil engine will only make them….TWO wurms. Double trouble.

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And wurms will literally never die, as long as Elderscale is on the table. It bumps the player’s life to seven, and then keeps it at seven forever. Entire armies, even Gods, cannot penetrate this defence. The only way is to kill the Elderscale Wurm.

Wurms are the definitively the best defensive player on the block. Very little slips past them.  If the opponent tries to bum rush with a big army he is destroyed with a big advantage. If the opponent sandbags his threats and cautiously summons them one by one, then Wurms will eat everything from his hand.

Zero correct choices to be made.

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One additional benefit of Mind Shatter is, it destroys the opponent‘s defensive removal saved up for the Wurms. Big plus in the control vs control matchup.

Redundant defences give additional security. Maelstrom Pulse cleans up pesky non-creature permanents (such as Equipment, Planeswalkers or Combo pieces) that need taking care of.

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Crime//Punishment is more expensive, but can sometimes hit multiple. It also bypasses Protection or Hexproof because it doesn’t target. Which is ironic, because Knights had this Mirran Crusader which was Protected from both Black n Green.

Wurms are Black n Green, and yet gobbled up the knight with no difficulty whatsoever.

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It’s not all kill spells and massive wurms. The engine needs fuel. Mana is produced by the Kamigawa-era sorcery and snakes. The land-thinning effect sets up higher card quality in the lategame.

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Garruk, Primal Hunter has proven to be a worthy pew Commander of Wurms. He can repeatedly summon minor beasts, or draw a lot of cards. Opponents who ignore (or are unable to deal with) him will someday find themselves staring at ten or more giant Wurms. Wurms managed to pull this off once under tournament conditions.

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Lastly, a double-edged gamble which steadily improves your position at the cost of slowly murdering you. Usually not casted versus aggressive burn or aggro decks. But Wurms have several ways to gain life. Phyrexian Arena has a place in this type of strategy.

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The full decklist: Nom Nom Wurms

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  • Colors: Golgari (Black Green)
  • Nature: Ramp Control
  • Offensive Feats: Trample, Life Loss
  • Defensive Feats: Mass destruction, mass discard, nonland permanent removal, deathtouch, lifelink, life locked at 7
  • Speed: Slow

The Top Ten Creature Types in Magic (Part 2)

Number 6: Knight

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This is the only pure attack deck that managed to enter the top ten. (55 other pure attack decks failed.) Aggro, as this strategy implies, is to quickly overload the opponent with too many threats. But with the dawn of high class defensive systems, and the slower but bigger counterattacks of other decks, aggro has invariably failed to deliver its potential. Knights succeed where the others failed due to its insane concentration of quality.

Let’s start with the weakest knight.

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Student of Warfare starts the game as a lowly 1/1, but levels up cheaply to a dangerous 3/3 first striker. Later in the game, it can hit for 8 damage with double strike. The opponent is forced to spend at least one card to rid the Student of Warfare. You don’t have to over-extend by committing more creatures to the board.

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The ranks of the knights are superior to most other creatures at their cost. First strike is a significant advantage in combat. Auto-regeneration and indestructible make it hard to kill. Also, there’s power and land boosting effects. This lets knights keep up with midrange enemies.

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There’s even an absolutely crushing one-two sequence. Mirran Crusader is a ridiculously powerful attack unit, protected from 2 out of 5 colors. It has double strike. With Elspeth, who can grant temporary flying, it will win in two moves. Without Elspeth, its a five turn clock. It is common practice to force the opponent into wasting their removal on the lesser knights (shown before), so Knights can play the Crusader unopposed.

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For breaking stalemates, knights can even the one-man army: Hero of Bladehold. This bad boy (I mean, good boy!) hits for 7 damage on the first attack, from 3 different vectors. And the calvary grows by 2 every turn. Riders of Gavony makes the entire horde unblockable (this is tribal wars, yeah). And also totally immune to their damage.

With this level of power, it is a well deserved sixth place. And an ominous hint of what lies ahead. Five tribes managed to defeat the knights. They must be absolutely terrifying.

  • Colors: White
  • Nature: Pure Aggro
  • Offensive Feats: First strike, double strike, battle cry, combat pumps, flying (temporary), protection
  • Defensive Feats: First strike, double strike, protection, automatic regeneration, indestructible
  • Speed: Fast

Number 5: Rhino

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Rhinos have been covered before – they are siege warfare specialists, able to form a defensive perimeter and slowly chip away at the opponent. The life gain, life drain, and big rhinos are incredible both defence and offence. Rhinos have both card advantage and card quality advantage.

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It is quite common for a control deck to have the ‘wrong answer’ in hand. Multi-option spells avoid this. Rhino charms not only dispatch enemy creatures, but have other applications. Duneblast is a knightmare (literally yes) finishing off every opponent on the battlefield, but leaving behind a Rhino to win with.

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Breaking the symmetry, Rhinos are not shy to use dark magic for an advantage. Mind Shatter is horrifying versus enemy control or combo. It strips them of their vital cards. Profane Command is yet another multi-option genius, doing 2/4 things at the same time:

  1. Resurrecting dead rhinos
  2. Killing a creature
  3. Making rhinos unblockable
  4. Killing the opponent

Green Sun’s Zenith is also multi option. Either it brings Dryad Arbor or Birds of Paradise (making mana), or it summons a Rhino.

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The rhinos themselves are medium power threats, not as big as the Eldrazi or Wurms but definitely bigger than aggro tribes such as Knights. They gain life which neutralizes “first strike” strategies. Rhinos believe in the “second strike” – survive the initial onslaught, counterattack with stronger forces. They can clearly outclass the knights in battle, except for Mirran Crusader who has protection (which Rhinos will just finish off using Duneblast).

So the match between Rhinos and Knights were quite a sight to behold. Twenty turns later, there were scores of dead knights. The rhinos somehow managed to cling on at 1 to 3 life. But with lifegain, this went back to fifteen soon, and rhinos had the advantage in both size and numbers winning the endgame.

  • Colors: Every Color Except Red
  • Nature: Midrange Control
  • Offensive Feats: Trample, Life loss (repeatable), Fear (temporary)
  • Defensive Feats: Exile, Mass Destruction, Reanimate Dead, life gain, destroy Artifact, counter Instant
  • Speed: Medium

Number 4: Eldrazi

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Marketed as a planet-destroying, world-eating alien race, Eldrazi present a difficulty level from “out of this world”. Any physical contest between Eldrazi and other creatures is only going to end one way. The Eldrazi will annihilate its opponent, the ground it is standing on, several neighboring countries, and also the entire plane.

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If it wasn’t for their gargantuan real estate costs, no other opponent could win. But Eldrazi, even with a price tag of 15 mana, can still hit the battlefield as early as Turn 3 (thanks to super ramp spells). So they’re quite fast for their size. A dragon looks like a kitten standing next to Emrakul. An army of anything else is barely visible.

All Eldrazi can win the game AND take out an army if they just hit twice – so what will we do when there’s infinite numbers of them?

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Or when the Eldrazi destroy everything before they annihilate everything else?

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This is truly one of the most powerful decks, as long as it doesn’t get disrupted. The only way anyone will have a chance to defeat Eldrazi is to stop the spells from being cast. (Trying to aggro the Eldrazi will not work, because lifegain and walls.) Land destruction or hand removal would give rivals a fighting chance. Cos once the aliens reach the battlefield, it’s over.

Even superman can’t save the world now.

  • Colors: Green
  • Nature: Ramp Control
  • Offensive Feats: Annihilator, Flying, Cannot be Countered, Extra turns, Infinite Eldrazi
  • Defensive Feats: Walls, Annihilator, All is Dust, Life Gain
  • Speed: Fast, unless disrupted

The top ten creature types in Magic

Number 10: Worm

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Worms have a slick three part combo which many opponents have trouble handling. it’s because the first two parts use enchantments / artifact. Few decks are equipped to directly deal with those. There are backup combo pieces to deal with stuff getting destroyed. By the time the worm comes out, its too late.

The combo is to sacrifice Reef Worm five times in the same turn for 21 damage.

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Cryptic Annelid is used to draw into combo pieces. It’s too slow to serve as much of a defensive blocker. But it’ll have to do.

  • Colors: Izzet (Blue Red)
  • Nature: Pure Combo
  • Top speed: win in 4 turns, Normal speed: win in 5 to 7 turns
  • Offensive feats: none (zero attack strategy)
  • Defensive feats: Remand and Gigadrowse

Number 9: Treefolk

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Trees are green and they love the forest. They also like to blow lands up (wait, what?)

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I once tried regular beat-them-smash-them Treefolk. It didn’t work so well, because other decks would just murder all the trees. So I went for a cold, cynical reboot. The new Trees are terrorists. They hate lands and will destroy them without mercy.

This realignment turned trees into one of the strongest tribes ever. Everyone needs land, it pays for the spells. Without land, enemy control is unable to power their defence grid. Enemy combo gets slowed down. Enemy ramp never even gets to play.

Every turn you play another forest, growing your trees ever so larger. The attack on the enemy manabase means they cannot quite summon their biggest creature, or even the destruction spell to nuke the trees, so the battlefield will be stacked in your favor.

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  • Colors: Green
  • Nature: Pure Tempo
  • Offensive Feats: +1/+1 growth per Forest, trample
  • Defensive Feats: Land destruction, Durable creatures (hexproof, indestructible), destruction of non creatures.
  • Speed: Reasonable

Number 8: Snake

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Snakes are not even supposed to be on this list. They are not very good…I guess they sneaked in.

With tiny 1/1 bodies, snakes don’t strike fear. But most of them have abilities related to creating mana, which powers tiny but steady methods of creating an advantage.

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The cards in the first row enable the cards in the second row. The idea is to slowly build a tiny swarm with the Sosuke’s Summon engine, which keeps running even if an opponent kills all snakes. Snakes are persistent, and are able to directly counter an opponent’s spells. If an opponent plays in a linear fashion (playing 1 creature at a time, or destroying 1 creature at a time), then snakes play in a non-linear fashion. They are well suited for battles of attrition.

It turns out Snakes are strong against control, but weak to aggro. Any aggro deck can block the 1/1 snakes, but the near-creatureless control decks must eat the damage. But aggro decks in general had a very poor showing in this tournament. Powerful control tribes killed all the aggro tribes in the early rounds. This left the field wide open to something like the Snakes, who feasted on control for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

  • Colors: Simic (Green Blue)
  • Nature: Midrange Tempo
  • Offensive feats: Snake Lords, Flying (occasional)
  • Defensive feats: Deathtouch (rare), Repeatable summoning, Counterspells
  • Speed: Slow

Number 7: Angel

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The expensive angels tend to have powerful bodies to win entire battles by themselves. In the case of Iona, head angel, she can just stop the opponent from playing spells (which conviniently makes herself unkillable as well). Baneslayer Angel can gain so much life that attacking becomes pointless, while Admonition Angel and Angel of Serenity can exile enemy armies to prevent them from attacking you.

These abilities are primarily defensive, but Angels all fly, making blocking tough, and they hit hard.

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Heavy duty ramp spells are used to pay the exorbitant costs of Angels. The Locii formation is used to generate tons of mana, but because Angels also require heavy White commitment, this is combined with the Selesnya base.

This land base has the unique property of being able to gain life with Glimmerpost, then gain life again by having Selenya Sanctuary bounce the Glimmerpost. Lifegain helps a lot since Angels aren’t doing much until the late game. It buys a turn or two.

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  • Colors: Selesnya (White Green)
  • Nature: Ramp Control
  • Offensive Feats: Flying, dragon-sized
  • Defensive Feats: Total lock (Iona), Exile Non-Land, Lifegain (Glimmerpost / Baneslayer Angel), Battlefield Wipe (Wrath of God), Hexproof (Sigarda)
  • Speed: Very slow

The starting pool was 140 tribes, so Number 10 is a pretty significant accomplishment. Next post, I’ll do numbers 6 5 4.

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