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A Complete Introductory Guide to Map tactics & Agents in Valorant
submitted by Hi_Im_TwiX to VALORANT
A Complete Introductory Guide to Maps & Agents
IntroductionHey guys, I'm Twix, and I'm back with another informative post, this time concerning the aspect of Maps & Agents. If you haven't read through any of my posts before ( I wouldn't they're too long ) I am an FPS player which mainly played CS:GO competitively, with around 7k hours and multiple level 10 faceit accounts and LAN wins in the past 5 years, who transitioned towards the end of my CS:GO days into being an FPS coach, I mainly worked with people trying to gain a competitive edge in CS, but later moved to coaching Apex players, and following the closed beta release of Valorant, I have been coaching Valorant players for the past few months, with unanimously positive feedback. In relation to other qualifications / achievements, I have hit top 30 as hitscan DPS in Overwatch, maintained top 500 ranking in Apex ( PC ) for a couple of seasons, and hold numerous 1% rankings on various Kovaak's FPS Aim Trainer maps. My main goal in creating these posts is to contribute to the Valorant community by sharing my knowledge gained over 10k collective hours of FPS experience ( mainly Tactical fps ) and hopefully help the people reading my posts improve and gain that competitive edge they need to progress into their desired ranking. For those of you interested in learning more about my coaching service, or looking for a community of Valorant players looking to improve, I will link my Discord server at the end of this post.
If you want access to my complete "Intro to Aim training & Valorant" guide, it is now available on google docs, here : Intro to Aim Training & Valorant Mechanics
I am making a seperate post to address optimal map tactics and agent information, as my complete guide (which includes both + so much more) might be too lengthy / wordy for a lot of people, honestly, it ended up looking more like a book than a guide, which is why I included it in a seperate document.
What is included in this guide?This guide is meant to help you all comprehend the core mechanics in Valorant better. I will try my best to elaborate upon the game’s fundamentals and most important aspects. This section will go over: Agents & Abilities, Maps & Tactics, The importance of crosshair placement, Sensitivity, and finally the correct structure for aim training routines related to Valorant. Enjoy!
Agents & AbilitiesThere are currently 11 agents available to the player in Valorant, all with a different set of abilities and a different individual role within a team composition, this aspect of Valorant is what makes it stand out when compared to other tactical shooters such as counterstrike. In order for a team to be effective in their role as an attacker or defender, they must play off of each other's agent abilities in order to efficiently push into or defend a bomb site. In the pages below you will find a list of all the agents currently in the game.
Purchasable: Snake Bite and Poison Cloud – Snake Bite fires a projectile that creates a damaging pool of acid, while Poison Cloud fires a projectile that creates a toxic cloud of gas. You can pick up the projectile from Poison Cloud and use it again after a cooldown, as long as you have sufficient fuel.
Signature: Toxic Screen – Launches a line of gas emitters that you can trigger to create a wall of gas. You can reuse this ability as long as you have sufficient fuel.
Ultimate: Viper’s Pit – Use a chemical sprayer to fire a chemical cloud surrounding Viper. Players inside the cloud will take damage and suffer reduced vision.
In-game Role: Viper is a Controller, while playing her your focus should be based on setting up your defenses/traps in a way that makes it difficult for the opposing team to push into site, or defend a site. Your abilities don’t deal a lot of damage, so they’re best used as “space makers” allowing you to cut line of sight for crucial defender or attacker angles, or setting up your toxins to block a path. Unlike the other agents, Viper has a unique mechanic which you’ll have to keep an eye on, her fuel level. Toxic Screen and Poison Cloud require fuel, so if you use these abilities too early, you’ll quickly drain your supply. In most cases, Viper’s abilities are best used defensively, particularly when setting up for a post-plant defense.
Tips: Viper doesn’t take damage from her abilities other than snake bite e.g. You can play inside your “Poison Cloud” if you want to use it slightly more aggressively. Although most of Viper’s abilities are best in a defensive context, her ability to deny line of sight can be used aggressively as long as you take the time to learn a couple important line-ups for each map.
Purchasable: Updraft and Cloudburst – Updraft spawns a gust of air like Tailwind, though it propels you upward, allowing you to reach otherwise unreachable places. Cloudburst fires a projectile that expands into a cloud, blocking the vision of anyone caught on the wrong side. You can also curve Cloudburst by holding down the ability key.
Signature: Tailwind – Use a strong gust of air to dash in the direction you’re moving.
Ultimate: Blade Storm – Spawns a range of floating daggers that resupply when you kill an enemy. You can throw the daggers one at a time or unleash all of them in a burst, and they kill instantly on a headshot. (Pretty much only useful during eco rounds)
In-game Role: Jett is one of the most versatile agents in Valorant when it comes down to movement mechanics. In-game, she’s marked as a Duelist (like phoenix, reyna, raze), and while she certainly does do well in aggressive situations, she’s best played as a secondary fragger rather than an entry. Her abilities “Cloudburst” and “Updraft” are great repositioning tools that can be used either defensively or aggressively, and allow you to position yourself in an area that’s unexpected to the opponent. Your “Updraft” ability makes a pretty loud sound that the enemies can hear if they’re within footstep range, so make sure that you use it before the round begins if you want a positional advantage. The new and improved “Cloudburst” smokes allow you to cut off line of sight for 7 seconds and are great for aggressively denying the enemy team angles while attacking, paired with her “Tailwind” dash, you can deny trades quite easily with Jett.
Tips: If you’re an operator player, definitely pick up Jett. Her “Tailwind” dash ability allows you to rapidly reposition behind cover after an OP shot, eliminating the risk of you being killed while chambering another round into the operator.
Purchasable: Trapwire and Cyber Cage – Trapwire, as the name implies, allows you to shoot a tripwire that will reveal and daze any enemies who walk through it. You can pick up the tripwire if it hasn’t been destroyed and redeploy it, too. Cyber Cage deploys a cage in front of Cypher that blocks vision. The cage will also make a noise when enemies pass through.
Signature: Spycam – Spycam allows you to fire a camera in the direction that you’re aiming. If you reuse the ability, you can take control of the camera and fire marking darts at your enemies to reveal their location until they manually remove the dart.
Ultimate: Neural Theft – Use intel from a dead enemy to reveal the locations of all living enemies.
In-game Role: Cypher is an agent that shines in his ability to gather information on the enemy team’s positions above all else. Cypher’s strength is undoubtedly his role in defensive situations. When playing Cypher defensively, you should always make sure you have your tripwires and camera set up in a way that makes it as difficult as possible for the enemy to push into the position you’re holding without being revealed. While playing on the attacker’s side, Cypher is best played as a lurker, setting up traps to deny enemy flanks, and trying to figure out optimal paths for his own flank.
Tips: As cypher always make sure you cover as many LOS (line of sight) as you possibly can simultaneously. Set up his tripwires in near proximity to his smokes, this allows you to activate a smoke whenever an enemy walks into your tripwire, giving you the ability to shoot at a slowed target while simultaneously cutting off their LOS on your position.
Purchasable: Stim Beacon and Incendiary – Stim Beacon spawns a field in front of Brimstone that grants RapidFire (increased fire rate) to anyone inside. Incendiary allows you to use a grenade launcher that fires incendiary grenades. These grenades don’t explode on impact. Rather, they burst shortly after coming to a stop, creating a damaging fire zone.
Signature: Sky Smoke – Using a tactical map, Sky Smoke allows you to deploy smoke clouds from the sky. These clouds last for a while, and in the process, obscure enemy lines of fire.
Ultimate: Orbital Strike – Orbital Strike allows you to fire a laser from the sky using a selected location on the map. The laser deals damage over time to anyone caught inside.
In-game Role: Brimstone (like viper) is a controller, yet the role he fills in-game is quite different. As Brimstone, your role is to support your teammates by cutting off enemy LOS either to deny enemy vision while defending, or to cut off threatening positions to make it easier for your team to push into a bombsite. Stim Beacon (post-update) is highly situational but allows you to “buff” your team’s fire-rate which makes it easier to spray through walls or shoot down sage walls faster. Your “Incendiary” or, molly, is great as a long lasting area denial tool. As Brimstone, your goal is to deny the enemy team’s ability to hold threatening angles, allowing your teammates to easily push into a bombsite, or defend one.
Tips: If you want to main brimstone, or at least play him at a high level, take the time to watch a couple of YouTube videos on optimal smoke placements and post-plant molly line-ups, it’s 100% worth it. Your molly lasts approximately 7 seconds, and being able to delay a defuse by 7 seconds from a location where the enemy can’t kill you is huge, paired with your ultimate this allows you to deny a defuse extremely effectively at any rank.
Purchasable: Barrier Orb and Slow Orb – Barrier Orb spawns a solid wall wherever you fire it, while Slow Orb creates a field that slows players and prevents jumping. Note that Slow Orb applies to all players, not just your enemies.
Signature: Healing Orb – Incredibly versatile, Healing Orb allows you to heal yourself or your teammates. A standard shot will administer healing over time to a teammate in your crosshairs, while alternative fire will heal Sage.
Ultimate: Resurrection – Resurrection allows you to revive a dead teammate. The process takes time, however, so make sure to put up a wall or hold your angles when using this ability.
In-game Role: Sage is Valorant’s medic agent, which you can tell in an instant when reading her abilities. She’s an excellent agent to start as if you’re new to Valorant. While playing Sage, your role in-game is to stay alive as long as possible, playing in the back line, as the utility which you provide for your team is extremely impactful to the course of the round. Your slow orb and barrier orb should be used carefully and tactically in order to delay enemy pushes for as long as possible, with your slow orb lasting 7 seconds, and your barrier orb lasting a maximum of 30 seconds (600hp per wall segment), your ability to stall enemies pushing from a certain area while defending a bombsite or post-plant is extremely useful
Tips: As sage make sure to use your heal as often as possible but also not on players with <25 HP missing as the ability has a 45 second cooldown and is extremely useful in topping up the HP of your teammates (doesn’t regen shields). As a defender, make sure to play in positions where you can use your barrier orb to effectively delay an attacker push, e.g. B entrance on Haven.
Purchasable: Aftershock and Flashpoint – Aftershock allows you to shoot a charge through a wall, dealing damage to anyone on the other side of it. Flashpoint is a projectile flash ability that works similarly to Aftershock, blinding any players in it’s line of sight on the other side of the wall.
Signature: Fault Line – Spawns a seismic blast, which causes an earthquake in a straight line that stuns enemies standing in it’s AOE (area of effect) after a short delay. Can be used through walls.
Ultimate: Rolling Thunder – Unleashes a seismic charge in a forward cone in the direction you are facing that stuns opponents hit by it for approximately 7 seconds and launches them into the air. Can also be used through walls.
In-game Role: Breach is an Initiator, he is NOT an entry-fragger. I see a lot of lower rank people play Breach as an entry, popping his flash and pushing with it, but if you think about the range of his flash, and the delays that come with his “Fault Line” and “Aftershock” abilities, it becomes pretty clear that breach is meant to be an initiator. Your role as breach is to set up flashes, stuns, and area denial (using “Aftershock”) to make it easier for the duelists to push into a position. Breach’s ultimate “Rolling Thunder” is a great offensive tool for stunning everyone on bomb-site, resulting in a very easy push. Breach’s ultimate can also be used defensively as area denial while defending a bombsite post-plant, although this usage of his ult is not nearly as effective as it’s offensive counterpart.
Tips: When using your “Fault Line” stun or flashes, make sure to communicate with your teammates to let them know when they should push, also make sure to line your stun ability up in a way where it covers the largest area possible in the direction you’re aiming it at.
Purchasable: Boom Bot and Blast Pack – Boom Bot spawns a robot that explodes when it reaches an enemy. Blast Pack allows you to toss a satchel that sticks to any surface and explodes upon reactivation or after a set amount of time. The satchel deals no damage to you and can be used to propel you in your direction of choice.
Signature: Paint Shells – Toss a cluster grenade that deals damage to anyone nearby. Upon exploding, the grenade creates smaller projectiles, which damage enemies within the AOE.
Ultimate: Showstopper – Grants you a rocket launcher with a single insta-kill AOE projectile for a set amount of time. Shooting the rocket also propels you vertically for a short distance.
In-game Role: One of the current go-to duelists for competitive play, due to her ability to displace and damage enemies with her abilities. Raze is the only agent with 4 damage based abilities. Your role as Raze is to clear angles using your explosives and scout areas with your boombot to get information on the enemies’ whereabouts. Your boombot is very easy to shoot down and makes a loud distinct sound when it locks on to an enemy so it’s better used as a tool to gather info or clear a path you want to push. Your satchels can damage enemies in a small AOE so they can be used to clear corners, but are best used as a powerful repositioning / movement ability. Be careful not to deal damage to your teammates when using your satchels to reposition yourself.
Tips: Try to throw your nades in angles where the enemy isn’t given a lot of time to react to the incoming projectile, throw your nades further forward rather than in a large vertical arc. When using your ult, pair it with your satchels to propel yourself into the LOS you want to peek, don’t simply activate your ult and walk around with your rocket launcher as you can be killed before your rocket has time to reach the enemy you shot it at. Learn satchel hops.
Purchasable: Shrouded Step and Paranoia – Shrouded Step allows you to quickly teleport to a selected location within line of sight (short range), while Paranoia fires a blinding orb that obscures vision and deafens all players in it’s AOE. Paranoia can be used through walls.
Signature: Dark Cover – Select an area of the map to send out a (almost) global range “shadow orb” smoke.
Ultimate: From the Shadows – Teleport to a selected location on the map. During the teleport, Omen will appear as a Shade, which can be destroyed to cancel the teleport.
In-game Role: In game omen is best played as a lurker, but his kit allows him to be very versatile as he has 2 regenerating smokes per round that can be used globally to block LOS similar to how brimstone’s smokes would. Omen’s abilities allow him to reposition freely while lurking into an enemy flank or defending a bombsite. Make sure to use your “shrouded step” ability to teleport away from the location your enemies have last seen you at in order to set up in angles they least expect. Your blind ability applies a “nearsighted” debuff identical to that of Reyna’s “Leer” ability, it can go through walls and has quite wide large AOE. Your TP allows you to flank the enemy or rotate in an instant, something no other agent in the game has access to.
Tips: When playing omen, try to use your abilities in ways that confuse your enemies as much as possible. Think outside of the box, you can use your “Shrouded Step” to pull off tricks such as faking going into the teleporter in bind, or even fake TP so that the enemies hear the sound and assume you repositioned, but stay put in the same location to confuse them. As omen your smokes are hollow, meaning you can play inside them with full vision of anything within the smoke. You don’t need to use your ult to TP, it can be used for info.
Purchasable: Owl Drone and Shock Bolt – Owl Drone allows you to use an aerial drone to scout an area with the ability to tag them with a dart that tracks them and reveals their location for a short duration. Shock Bolt equips your bow with an electrically charged round that detonates upon collision and can be set to bounce up to two times.
Signature: Recon Bolt – Fire a recon bolt that shoots out three pulses that reveal enemy locations within a set range.
Ultimate: Hunter’s Fury – Fire three energy bolts in a straight line leading away from Sova. These blasts travel for a set (almost global) distance, ignoring walls, damaging enemies, and revealing the locations of anyone hit. Sova’s sensitivity is reduced while using the ult, and the location Sova is aiming toward is telegraphed.
In-game Role: Sova is described as an initiator, such as Breach, however the two agents’ roles are vastly different. As Sova your in-game role is similar to Cypher’s, but allows for a more aggressive playstyle. As Sova you want to prioritize gaining information on the enemy players’ positions throughout the round. Your recon bolt can be lined up to land into a bomb-site or other areas from a great distance, allowing you to scout an area without ever needing to expose yourself to the enemies defending it. Your owl drone also allows you to scout areas without exposing your player model, however, the drone makes a very loud sound when deployed, revealing sova’s location, and can only travel a set distance before running out of fuel / battery. Make sure that you’re behind cover or protected by your teammates when you’re in your owl drone.
Tips: There are many creative line-ups for Sova arrows, just like with Brimstone, you’ll benefit from watching a few YouTube videos on the matter.
Purchasable: Blaze and Curveball – Blaze shoots out a flame wall that moves in the direction which it’s fired in (you can curve the wall by holding the activation key while it shoots out and moving your mouse in the direction you want it to curve in), damaging any enemies that pass through it. Curveball tosses an orb of fire that curves around the object you’re standing behind / against and flashes enemies. Holding LMB will curve it to the left, while RMB will curve it to the right.
Signature: Hot Hands – This is basically the Phoenix equivalent of Brimstone’s molly, it can be thrown at less of a max distance however, but it also heals Phoenix if he stands in it. In my experience, you’ll be using this ability to heal more often than you’ll be using it aggressively.
Ultimate: Run It Back – Phoenix turns into a fire engulfed version of himself for a set amount of time, while your ultimate remains active, dying will respawn you back in the location you cast your ultimate in rather than fully killing you. This is basically a second life for Phoenix, your gun will have reloaded when you respawn, however if you got killed during your ult’s duration your armor will be gone.
In-game Role: Phoenix is Valorant’s bread and butter entry fragger, easy to pick up, but hard to master. Phoenix has a very simple well-rounded kit, an ability that blocks line of sight, and ability that can be used either as a heal or as an AOE molly, and a very straightforward flashbang. As phoenix your role in a team comp is to be the entry fragger, you want to be the one initiating pushes, you always want to be the first into a bombsite. If you don’t want to entry frag, don’t play Phoenix.
Tips: Be careful where you initiate your ult, there’s a short animation during your respawn which you can’t move during and makes it very easy for enemies to tap your head.
Passive: Soul Harvest – Enemies drop Soul Orbs when killed, these orbs last three seconds.
Purchasable: Leer and Devour – Leer shoots a destructible eye in the direction Reyna is aiming, applying the nearsightedness debuff (same as Omen’s blind) to anyone who’s looking at the orb’s direction . Devour allows you to consume a Soul Orb to rapidly heal over a set duration. You can heal past 100 with Devour, though any extra health will degrade over time.
Signature: Dismiss – Consume a Soul Orb to become intangible, and if Empress is active, invisible.
Ultimate: Empress – Drastically improve your fire rate, weapon swap speed, and reload speed for a set period of time. Killing an enemy while Empress is active renews the duration. Empress will also automatically cast Devour. Soul orbs won’t be consumed while the “Empress” buff is active.
In-game Role: Reyna is, as described, a feast or famine type agent, what this means is that depending on the player using her, she can either be extremely powerful, or extremely useless in a team comp. Reyna’s role in game is to be a fragger, her abilities allow her to both entry and lurk effectively, how you play her is up to you. Reyna is pretty straightforward in the sense that she has 0 team utility and her kit only benefits you greatly if you can chain kills consistently. Reyna is definitely not recommended to novice players, or players that aren’t confident in their mechanical skill or an aggressive playstyle.
Tips: Use her “Dismiss” ability instantly after getting a kill to deny the enemy team’s ability to trade off of their teammate’s death. Your “Devour” ability gives away your location, so always try to use it behind cover. You can also use “Devour” to bait enemies into peeking.
Agent recommendations for beginners
Best Agent Picks for Beginners
When you first download Valorant, you’ll have access to five agents: Brimstone, Jett, Phoenix, Sage, and Sova. You can unlock all of the remaining six agents either by completing their individual “agent contract” or buying them with in-game currency. By simply playing the game, you gain access to two free agent unlocks of your choice. Although all five of the starting agents are pretty accessible for novice players, there are three agents in specific which are easier to use.
Sova is the perfect starting agent for players coming from CS. With the amount of info to be gained from using his abilities, and the low skill-cap that they require, you don’t need to know too much about map design, e.g. you can get your recon bolt to land in any bomb-site with ease as long as you get used to the charge + arc. Playing as Sova allows you to experiment with different abilities without having to play too aggressively or expose yourself to enemy fire.
Sage is the only agent in Valorant entirely focused on healing and being a “support” character as defined in other games, every team comp needs a sage, and her support abilities aren’t difficult to use. If you have played Overwatch, you understand how crucial healers are to a team’s composition. Playing Sage will allow novice players to help the team through her extremely valuable abilities, without having to play aggressively or perform incredibly in terms of mechanics.
As mentioned earlier in his Agent description, Phoenix is your basic bread and butter entry fragger. Phoenix will appeal greatly to players who want to fill an aggressive role, but also don’t know too much about the maps or tactics. Phoenix allows you to rely on your mechanics and entry frag comfortably without having to rely too much on your team, his flash along with his self-heal and second life ultimate ability make Phoenix a great starting agent for anyone looking to learn how to play duelists.
Maps & TacticsThere are currently 4 maps in Valorant. Each map plays a little bit different in relation to the default defender setups, common attacker tactics, and optimal agent setup. In this section I will attempt to cover these three aspects as thoroughly as I can, without making the structure of information too dense to read with ease. Learning the maps and getting comfortable with the tactics that work best for each is a crucial aspect of getting good at Valorant, even things such as movement & crosshair placement are heavily influenced by the map you’re playing on. Enjoy!
Note: Sage won’t be included in the “crucial agent picks” section for each map, as she is a default pick regardless of the map, and yes, I know, “But TSM played without a Sage in their comp!”. You’re not TSM.
Default defender setup: Bind only has two bombsites, meaning that one of the sites will have an uneven amount of players defending it. In my opinion, it’s optimal to have three players defending A, with the defender holding “A short” able to take the “Teleporter” for a quick rotation into “hookah / b window” if the attackers are spotted pushing into B site. In conclusion, the “Default” setup for this map is 2-3, with 2 players holding bombsite B, and 3 players holding bombsite A, the positioning of these players depends on their agent picks.
Crucial Agent picks
Cypher - Due to the map structure forcing two people to play on B site, putting the defenders at a number disadvantage, Cypher is a great pick which compensates for the lack of a third player on B site with the utility and push delay that his abilities bring to the table. With his abilities fully bought, Cypher can easily control a push from hookah / B window, while his teammate watches B long. Cypher can either position his cam to give his teammate playing B long free info into the LOS, or he can place it high up back-site in order to watch for the hookah / window push.
Omen - Omen’s kit feels like it was made for this map, with the narrow pathways he can completely smoke off, his ability to trick enemies into thinking he entered the teleporter using his “shrouded step” ability, and his ability to reach vertically inaccessible positions with ease to catch his enemies off guard makes him an extremely solid pick for this map. Omen’s ult is also very strong on this map.
Map tips: Make sure you don’t over-rotate on this map, as it is very easy for attackers to abuse the teleporters and very quickly change their route even if they were initially pushing the opposite bombsite, unless you are certain that the enemy team has committed to pushing the site which you aren’t defending, hold your position.
Default defender setup: For “Split” the default defender setup in the current meta is a 2-2-1 format, 2 players playing on A, 2 players defending mid, and 1 player holding B. In the past, prior to the post-launch update to the map’s middle lane, It was viable for a setup where one person played “Vent” which allowed them to cover mid while also easily rotating to A quickly if need be. Currently, since it’s too easy to ability spam “Vent” and the position doesn’t allow for a lot of freedom of movement, It’s better to have 2 people play A ( perhaps 1 site, 1 rafters ) 2 people playing mail, and 1 person holding B from back site. If the B player spots enemies in main, the mail player(s) can easily rotate into B rafters / heaven to defend.
Crucial Agent picks
Cypher - Cypher is a perfect pick for this map, as he can fill the “solo B” defender spot extremely well, using his camera to watch “B main” for info, and setting up his trap wires to stall a potential push even further. Cypher’s camera also makes it easier to clear mid while attacking.
Sova - Split has tons of narrow pathways that lead to more open areas, It’s a very difficult map to push in without info, and due to the map’s design there is a lot of freedom for bouncing Sova arrows into important positions. His ult is also much easier to land on this map.
Map tips: Mid control is everything on Split, always have your sage player playing mid, along with another player. Sage should wall off mid every round to deny attacker pushes. If you lose mid on this map, the attackers will gain easy access to both sites. Usually if the attackers gain access to mid, they’ll push B through Rafters / heaven, as it is easier to do so than to push into A from Ropes.
Default defender setup: For this map, the default strat for defenders is a standard 2-1-2 setup, however, you can mix it up and have cypher solo hold A site if that’s what you feel like doing. Ideally on this map, you’ll have 2 players playing A, 1 player holding B (This should always be your sage as she can wall off the entrance to cut off enemy LOS + Delay a push for a maximum of 30 seconds) 1 player holding “C window / Garage window” and 1 player holding C site.
Crucial Agent picks
Breach - Due to the long LOS that you’re forced to push in order to take engagements on this map, Breach definitely comes in handy quite often as an attacker. Breach can very easily use his flash to set up for a push into “Garage” (marked as C short on the map above) and other such positions like “C cubby”. Breach’s ultimate also comes in handy on this map, mainly on attacker side, but it also works surprisingly well on defender side, if you’re playing “Garage” for example, you can ult towards attacker spawn for an easy ace if you are given info that they’re pushing toward you.
Brimstone - Due to the long LOS on this map, it’s very difficult to push into a site without the utility that Brimstone’s smokes bring to the table, pushing C long is very difficult if an OP player is holding from platform, same is an issue when pushing into A site and a defender is holding angles from “A tower / Window”. There are also tons of easy to learn post-plant molly line-ups for Brimstone on this map, which makes defending from retakes easier.
Map tips: Nothing too in depth here, Haven is the simplest map when it comes to rotations and strats. Make sure you hold positions without peeking too much, enemies can’t rotate from site to site as easily on this map, so they usually won’t split as much as in maps like bind or ironically enough “split”.
Default defender setup: This is Valoran’t newest map, and depending on the elo you’re playing in the setup you’re defending in may vary slightly, but In my opinion and experience, the setup which works best for me is a 2-2-1, with 2 players holding A site, 2 players playing mid, and 1 player playing B site ( this will either be your sage or your cypher ). The map is currently very OP dominated, as it has the largest open area (mid) out of all the maps currently in the game, which is why having 2 people hold mid works very well, besides, if your Sage / Cypher gives you info that enemies are pushing into B, the rotation from bottom mid into market is very quick.
Crucial Agent picks
Jett - Jett is a very clear cut winner as the most powerful duelist pick for this map. Due to her kit, Jett is the best agent to OP with as she can can easily reposition after she hits or even misses an OP shot. Jett’s updraft also allows her to gain advantageous positions while OP’ing (such as the boost from B lobby into A short), and her smokes simultaneously allow her to cut off enemy OP’er lines of sight. Jett thrives on Ascent.
Brimstone - Brimstone is a must have on Ascent, the reason Jett thrives on this open map, is also the reason why it’s almost impossible to hold / push through mid without having the utility which his smokes provide. Allowing the enemy operator players to abuse your team through maintaining mid control is a very easy way to lose a game on Ascent.
Map tips: Similar to Haven, rotating on this map from one site to another takes quite a while, therefore you shouldn’t be worried so much about players splitting between sites or rotating too often, but rather focus on mid control, as you would on Split. Losing mid control on this map almost always results in a lost round, keep in mind that if enemies decide to push through mid they’ll usually attack B site through Market. Always have your Brimstone smoke Top mid and B link at the start of the round to deny premature first bloods.
I hope you enjoyed my guide on Map & Agent tactics! If you want to join my discord server to be in contact with a community that focuses on training and getting better at the game you're more than welcome to join!
Discord server link : https://discord.gg/6ZYVZ6xNew twitter : https://mobile.twitter.com/Twix_v2
[Tournament Report] Devoted Druid Wins Local 1k in a Nogaak World
With full confidence I might get smashed at the event, I sleeved up this list with marginal changes to the maindeck, but a rather drastic, mostly untested, change to the sideboard.
- 4 Windswept Heath
- 2 Misty Rainforest
- 4 Razorverge Thicket
- 3 Horizon Canopy
- 2 Temple Garden
- 1 Overgrown Tomb
- 2 Forest
- 1 Plains
- 1 Dryad Arbor
- 4 Noble Hierarch
- 3 Birds of Paradise
- 4 Giver of Runes
- 4 Devoted Druid
- 4 Vizier of Remedies
- 1 Walking Ballista
- 1 Ranger-Captain of Eos
- 1 Eternal Witness
- 2 Shalai, Voice of Plenty
- 4 Postmortem Lunge
- 4 Finale of Devastation
- 4 Eladamri's Call
- 4 Eldritch Evolution
- 2 Burrenton Forge-Tender
- 2 Path to Exile
- 4 Veil of Summer
- 1 Scavenging Ooze
- 1 Tireless Tracker
- 1 Collector Ouphe
- 1 Knight of Autumn
- 1 Plague Engineer
- 1 Plaguecrafter
- 1 Kambal, Consul of Allocations
With Hogaak out of the format I decided that cutting surgical extraction was reasonable. Dredge and Phoenix are the only graveyards decks I pay respect to currently, and both of those matchups are about different aspects of gameplay. Attacking their graveyard doesn't produce a winning gameplan with Devoted Druid, so I tend to choose other tools and means to combat them. In addition, I expected UWX and BGX to be at the tournament so I went on a whim and submitted all 4 Veil of Summer in hopes that it would save my matchup vs them. I'll also mention I'm playing a 2nd Shalai, and I've switched to using Ranger-Captain over Duskwatch as my Ballista fetch. This is due to the cards flexibility in this list, and the synergy it has with Postmortem Lunge when setting up lethal turns. With all of this outlined, I'd like to highlight how I board, show my theory to each matchup, and discuss some notable decision points throughout the day.
RD 1 Jeskai Control 2-1 W (1-0)
Sideboard - Out: 4 Evolution, 3 Birds, 2 Lunge // In: 4 Veil, 1 Burrenton, 1 Kambal, 1 Ooze, 1 Tracker, 1 Crafter
Theory - Keep atleast 1 creature with power on the board at all times. Decide based on your hand and play patterns if you're sandbagging Druids/Viziers or using them as bait. Shalai is extremely effective here, leverage her.
During game 2 my opponent was at a healthy life total of 2, and I was at 10. With 2 cards in hand, no mana currently available, he has a Colonnade and has just finished resolving a Clique that tucked away a Walking Ballista he knew I'd just reclaimed with my Witness. My board was cleared after a Electrolyze put my Noble Hierarch and Eternal Witness in the bin. I'm left with Druid, Vizier and Finale in hand with 5 lands available. (one uncracked fetch and one canopy) In this scenario I decided to go for the damage win by fetching up a basic, and casting Finale for 3 and grabbing Ranger-Captain to fetch my Walking Ballista. This plays around counterspells and possibly Path the best, but leaves me dead to a Bolt/Helix in hand. IIRC he had a bolt and helix in the bin already, and I deduced that he was not likely to draw one, and if he had a Snap he would've used it already. I passed at 8 after tapping canopy and cracking that fetch, my opponent drew stared at the board and passed without attacking. I went to my turn and cracked my Ranger-Captain, and ended the game with Walking Ballista.
RD 2 Tron 2-0 W (2-0)
Sideboard - Out: 1 Shalai, 1 Giver // In: 1 Autumn, 1 Collector
Theory - Keep hands that can produce a druid on 2. Even with 1-2-7 mana you can still win games through interaction, play it out.
Unfortunately nothing notable here, as I recall he mulled to 5 game 1, and mulled to 6 game 2, where as I kept strong hands both games.
RD 3 Dredge 2-1 W (3-0)
Sideboard - Out: 1 Shalai, 2 Giver // In: 2 Burrenton, 1 Ooze
Theory - We're racing in this matchup, game 1 you're keeping any hand that produces a druid on 2 with atleast 1 additional piece. In boarded games we're keeping similar hands but hoping for Lunge/Burrenton. Race fast, keep your lifetotal as high as possible by fetching basics when possible.
My opening hand in game 3 is Noble Hierarch, Lunge, Walking Ballista, Eladamri's Call and 3 lands including a canopy. I keep despite it being a turn 3 druid hand considering I'll have an effective redraw down the line. My opponent has an extremely slow start, passing on turn 1 and TS'ing me on Turn 2. the Thoughtseize however was very effective as I'm now drawing for 2 pieces, and am left with Lunge, Ballista, Bird and lands. We're both drawing air and I stopped casting the manadorks I was drawing as I knew my opp had a Conflagrate and a Darkblast available. I eventually play out a druid as a sacrifice, as my opponent not only kills it but finds a few Ghasts and Amalgams to finally threaten me. I've known since I got TS'd several turns ago that my line is to draw the third piece and begin the combo but at this point the board state is 8 Power worth of attackers, a Conflag in yard with 3 cards in hand, and a Blast Zone on 1 with 2 mana open to feed into it. I'm at 11 and have just drawn another druid making my hand 2 Lunge, Druid, Bird, and Finale. I decide to play my Druid and Bird and block the amalgams with my Bird and/or Dryad. On my opponents upkeep my Druid gets Darkblasted which gets Dredge'd and Darkblasted again. I block 1 Amalgam with Dryad and take 5 going to 6 which not only keeps me out of Conflag range but means I can definitely still use the Lunges in hand if I manage to draw another piece this turn. I also wanted to keep Dryad or Bird alive to enable Eldritch Evolution as a Payoff if needed. I draw a Vizier and reassess the board state making sure my opponent doesn't have enough mana for both Blast Zone + Lightning Axe. After confirming the board state I make my move with the 1st lunge + vizier which gets the Blast Zone activated. I then relunge the Druid into play and win off my Finale.
RD 4 Infect 1-2 L (3-1)
Sideboard - Out: 2 Giver of Runes, 1 Shalai, 1 Lunge // In: 2 Path, 1 Crafter, 1 Engineer
Theory - It's a really fast race both games. They don't have too much interaction and often it's Spell Pierces and Dispels if anything. Block more then you want to, including with Druid if you have a Lunge in hand. It's your best way to win the race on the draw.
Game 3 I kept a hand that could block for days, Giver, Druid, Eladamri's Call, Finale, 3 Lands. This is by my standards a perfect hand, 3 pieces, natural druid, protection piece and the lands to cast them. However this is Infect and I possibly should've prioritized a more interactive hand over this as I was on the draw in Game 3. My opponent understands the matchup well and leads on Glistener Elf. I follow up with my Giver of Runes and pass back the turn. He leads on Pendelhaven activation into Distortion Strike and attacks for 3. This is bad news for me as my hand was intending to play a 2 drop and block the attacker for every turn until I combo'd off, but now my window of opportunity to win has effectively gone to 0 if my opponent can produce any 4 point spell. I play my Druid and pray without a hope, as my opponent Pendelhavens the Glistener, allows Distortion to rebound, then Might of old Krosa's me into the dumpster, I recall he also cast Blossoming to rub salt in the wound. He's a friend of mine, and he said he wanted revenge on me, so he definitely got it.
RD 5 Izzet Phoenix 1-1-1 Intentional Draw (3-1-1)
Sideboard - Out: 1 Bird, 2 Lunge, 1 Finale, 4 Evolution // In: 2 Path, 2 Burrenton, 1 Crafter, 1 Ooze, 1 Tracker, 1 Kambal
Theory - We never played these games but as this is one of our hardest if not THE hardest matchup I'll discuss it a bit. Typically our worst matchups involve either creatures that clock/interact, cheap removal, cheap countermagic, and lastly lobotomy effects. This deck plays all of the above, including Thing in the Ice, Lightning Bolt, Spell Pierce, and Surgical Extraction. Did I also mention their deck plays roughly 20 cantrips to sculpt their draws and create winning lines? I believe the best way to play is to bring in the appropriate cards, and do your very best to setup an active Giver + Shalai. At that point your only concern becomes Thing in the Ice of which you can threaten with Paths and Kambal and Crafter. Otherwise you hope you manage a fast win with Lunge or Giver through a removal spell. You typically have the best window of opportunity when your opponent attempts to bring back Phoenixes. As long as none of the spells they cast is Surgical Extraction you're golden.
PS: if you see they keep in their enchantment threats game 2 and 3, bring in Knight of Autumn.
Quarterfinals Dredge (Same Opponent) 2-0 (4-1-1) 4th vs 5th
Sideboard and Theory same as above
These games were wild.
Game 1 I'm on the play and decide to play the hand slow as I can access a Druid on 3 and instead put a Giver into play off my curve of Noble into Finale on turn 2. This ultimately is the correct line when on the play but nearly cost me the game all the same. My opponent Looted then Dredge'd into 2x Creeping, 2x Bloodghast 1x Amalgam. My Lifetotal at this point is 10 due to a fetch shock + canopy hand. I'm at 6 going onto my 3rd turn, and cast Finale putting a Druid into play going down to 5 off of Canopy. I ultimately decide I can't beat the 3rd Creeping, the 1st Lightning Axe or a Conflag and expect to block amalgam with Druid and Protect it. My opponent as I recall was left with no Dredgers and ultimately had to cycle a Forgotten Cave. He then loots away nonsense cards and casts Shriekhorn. I go to my turn and attempt to combo off, he then activates the Shriekhorn and doesn't hit the 3rd Creeping so I squeak out a win at 1. I'd decided that 3 and 1 were the same life total but in hindsight I should've blocked with my Giver of Runes, then gave my Devoted Druid pro red.
Game 2 I'm on 1 land hand with a Burrenton, Noble, Druid, Vizier, Ballista, and Lunge and as I recall he mulled to 6. I decide to get my mana going in case I don't draw a land and am met with a Darkblast on my endstep. My opponent misses their land drop after drawing and passes the turn. I miss my land but draw a bird and decide my best win condition is if we both do nothing the rest of the game so I cast my Burrenton. He obliges me and dredges the darkblast, casting it and passing back. I draw another 1 toughness creature and now I'm in the tank as my opponent will eventually hit a manaless threat and I'll be in actual trouble. I decide to game him and not play a creature for this turn. He draws and passes the turn. I find another combo piece and ultimately decide to cast the Birds. To my surprise my opponent I believe makes a mistake and draws for the turn, plays a Forgotten Cave and Passes. I draw the 2nd land anyways but I fully believe he should've kept darkblasting my one drops. Eventually the game ends in a win for us, but I still think the decision point wasn't ours that got us the win. This is a local tournament and I was very chatty all game considering the circumstances we were both in, but I tried to use the turn that I passed on to not only gauge my opponent but to game him into thinking it was in his best interests to take natural draws and not continue killing my birds.
Semifinals Infect (Same Opponent) 2-0 (5-1-1) 4th vs 1st
Sideboard and Theory same as above
Revenge is definitely sweet.
Game 1 I have a near perfect curve with Noble on 1, Druid on 2, with 3rd land + Finale on 3. The 3rd land is important here as the more common piece of interaction game 1 is Spell Pierce. My opponent curves Glistener into attack for 1 and play Inkmoth, holding up a UG land. Turn 3 he plays a Noble and attacks for 2, I accept the attack and notice that he still has the UG land available. I have access to 6 mana and play finale for x = 2. I believe it was incorrect for my opponent to not Spell Pierce if he had it as 6 of my wincons in my deck have W in their cost, and paying 2 could've cost me the game. Regardless my wincon was Evolution and I win out game 1.
Game 2 my opponent unfortunately mulls into oblivion and keeps a 5 leaning on the power of Grafdiggers in the matchup. I've meanwhile kept, Devoted Druid, Bird, 2 Lands, Witness and Engineer and Eladamri's Call. I can play around the Grafdiggers with the Call and can take the game slow with interaction in Engineer. I eventually draw the 3rd piece and win out the game. He's an excellent player, with an incredible attitude, the revenge talk is completely in jest, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't happy to win out this match.
Finals UW Control 2-0 (6-1-1) 4th vs 2nd
Sideboard - Out: 4 Evolution, 2 Birds, 2 Lunge // In: 4 Veil, 1 Tracker, 1 Ooze, 1 Kambal, 1 Crafter
Theory - Keep atleast 1 creature with power on the board at all times. Decide based on your hand and play patterns if you're sandbagging Druids/Viziers or using them as bait. Hold Fetches after 4th land for Tracker if you can access her. Spell Pierce and Force of Negation make this matchup difficult, but ultimately our board was tuned for this type of interaction.
Game 1 I keep an odd hand, but considering what my opponent might expect of me, I believe it was correct. I keep 2 lands, Bird, 2 Druid, 2 Lunge. I don't recall the play by play but the important decision here was that I knew with this hand I could throw my Druids into the fire and eventually the 2nd lunge would cost my opponent the game. I managed to find and resolve a Ranger-Captain and drew my Vizier down the line. I found a turn where he had to trade resources with me on my Ranger-Captain turn. This left me with Vizier and Noble in play, with Finale, 2 Lunge and Ballista in hand. He Verdict'd the board and couldn't beat the 2nd Lunge I had available.
Game 2 My opponent and I both keep 6 card hands. I kept Veil, Call, Noble, 3 Lands. My immediate plan is to access Tracker and resolve it with a fetchland. I used the first threat I found as bait, and eventually get my opponent to cantrip on his turn, expecting to catch my spells with Leak. I use Eladamri's as bait on his endstep and he doesn't bite, so I go to my turn cast Tracker which is met with a Leak, I answer with a Veil. I'll jump forward in the game as the critical decision point came when my opponent is low on cards, only 2 in hand with 5 lands and at a whopping 2 life. My Ballista has been Surgical'd, my Ranger-captain is in Detention as I mistakenly assumed I boarded in my Autumn, and my Dryad Arbor already went to an early grave. He's tapped out after having swept my board and I'm left with the hand of Devoted Druid, Vizier of Remedies, Finale of Devastation, Veil of Summer and I have access to 7 lands. I have a few decisions to make, do I threaten the combo, or shoot for the damage win? Do I play around another Sweeper or a Blocker? I decide since he's tapped out that it's best for me to use my mana this turn. I cast Finale returning Eternal Witness and decide to grab back Giver of Runes and proceed to cast it. I not only can hold up Veil of Summer but also beat a 6th land for colonnade and/or flash blocker. The only card that beats this line is Path or Snap to cast Path, or the 3rd? Sweeper. My opponent untaps and plays their 6th land reassesses the board and casts Teferi, Time Raveler. I make my decision and cash in my Veil, drawing me the card but also protecting my Eternal Witness from the bounce. He draws a card off the ability and concedes.
This whole tournament from my perspective was insane. I was on very little sleep due to a very warm and humid basement suite. I was feeling unprepared and dreading the eventual hammer my opponents would bring. I'd decided going into the weekend to just play the deck I know and the 75 my gut suggested was right and it paid off in the end. This was also a huge win for my confidence as a player, I've been a second place bridesmaid for a long time with my spike career. This win was the culmination of a full 6 month grind, attending the qualifying events, and GP Seattle. With the win we did actually split the prizing so 2nd got the credit and 1st obtained a Flight to any GP in NA so I've earned myself a weekend of magic in a destination city.
This tournament was a grounds to test both Plaguecrafter and Veil of Summer. The former I never actually used but just knowing it was in my 60 in the postboard games was really comforting as there are several boardstates across many matchups that effect is wholly powerful. The card also is really excellent with Postmortem Lunge and Finale of Devastation and can give us a way to kill planeswalkers with high loyalty. Veil of Summer as far as I'm concerned is basically the perfect card for many green based combo decks, across many formats. I imagine it plays even better alongside Neobrand cards, but it served a really effective role here, allowing me to resolve my key cards vs UX, and in theory should be my key to leveraging Shalai vs BX Control/Midrange decks. To note in the future I think I should pay more respect to Plague Engineer. That card is lights out at times, and I may need to play additional removal spells to ultimately beat it.
To conclude this whole thing I want to shoutout the LGS, Staff, and Judge who have been running this whole thing for the past 6 months. House of Cards is basically the best LGS you could ask for, everyone from the owner, to the staff are all incredible, and our local judge Aaron deserves every bit of good that comes his way. I'd also like to shoutout my teammate James; I wouldn't be improving, let alone playing modern, without his ability to give insight to a lowly Temple Garden Cabal player. I'd also like to formally shoutout the Modern Creature Toolbox Discord (Link lasts 1 day!). It should be your first stop if you're ever interested in any creature combo deck, but it's definitely the hivemind for the Druid decks at this point. For those that made it this far, thanks for reading and good luck out there!
PS: I personally dislike Tournament Reports as they aren't often objectively spike in nature but this was an effective update to my previous post, hope you enjoy!