Sarcorixis and The Awesomeness of the Battle Simulator
A day or two after the patch dropped, there was a single line of data that perplexed us in the battle simulator results. It showed Sarcorixis beating Thoralodosaur more than 75% of the time. It seemed incorrect.
The battle simulator is built in such a way that it analyzes "trees" of moves. Like a player, it takes in data (what the opponent used) and makes new decisions at each branch. And each time, it is trying to solve for a winning outcome. So if an unconventional moveset results in a higher win percentage, that's what it will use. And since it's analyzing about 10 moves out (essentially simulating what will happen with various combos of the next 10 moves and making up its mind for which results in the highest percentage chance of victory) -- it can find curious things that we didn't even think about.
Now, the processing power needed to run the sim is enormous. It takes hours to run a single matchup due to all these "trees" being created and tested. Really it's not just simulating a 1v1 matchup with a move order. It's simulating every possible 1v1 matchup and move structure as it goes and trying to solve an extremely hairy and complex situation to get a win out of every matchup. This being the case -- the "output" or final resulting move tree is actually buried in a few hundred thousand lines of code. So we're working to optimize this "right choice" so that we can bring more interesting data on what the "optimal move order" is for any given matchup.
Which brings us to Sarcorixis.
The Ferocious Impact Method
We thought the logic was broken. But when we dug deeper into the trees, we can clearly see why Sarcorixis wins that matchup and -- more importantly -- HOW it wins more often than it loses (by a long shot). So let's talk the matchup itself.
Not a lot of creatures have Ferocious Impact. It does a great deal of damage due to the 1.5x move multiplier PLUS the 1.5x damage multiplier. So in any given matchup, it may seem obvious to use such a massive hit immediately. And the sim tried that a bunch. Here's how that plays out versus the terrifying Thoralodosaur.
Turn 1: Sarcorixis uses Ferocious Impact
Thoralodosaur uses Defense Shattering Impact. (If this crits, Sarco is doomed)
Turn 2: Thoralodosaur uses Instant Charge.
Sarcorixis has a 75% chance to be stunned. If it doesn't get stunned, it'll win with any move but be quite damaged. If Thor crit turn 1 - Sarco is dead.
Turn 3: Sarcorixis uses Greater Stunning Strike or Armor Piercing Strike.
Thoralodosaur is dead due to the ferocious buff.
So using this method, Sarco always takes a massive defense shattering impact, and has a 40% chance to lose (if the first crit hits) -- so it'll win roughly 60% of the matches. Seems high enough, right? But the simulator found a better way.
The Lockdown Method
Try this scenario:
Turn 1: Sarcorixis uses Immobilize (priority 100% stun and lockdown).
Thoralodosaur is stunned.
Turn 2: Thoralodosaur uses Instant Charge.
75% chance of Sarcorixis being stunned. If not stunned, it uses Greater Stunning Strike + Ferocious Impact to win.
Turn 3: Sarcorixis uses Greater Stunning Strike.
75% chance of Thoralodosaur being stunned. If it isn't stunned, Thor wins on a rampage.
Turn 4: Sarcorixis uses Ferocious Impact for the win.
In most cases, this means Sarcorixis takes only ONE hit, a hit that doesn't actually break through armor, and Thor and Sarco trade stuns and Sarco wins -- while remaining ferocious boosted for more damage on the next opponent.
Now, the wild thing is -- who would have thought to use Immobilize on turn one? Delaying Thor seems like a bad idea because now Thor gets a rampage AND a stun up. But in this case, the delay is 100% affective and essentially if either the 75% to stun from Thor DOESN'T land, or the 75% chance to stun for Sarco DOES land, Sarco wins. Resulting in a GREATER than 75% win rate. Which is a lot better than that 60% win rate by opening with Ferocious Impact.
Using this logic, it makes sense why Sarcorixis is winning so many matchups in the Simulator. It's not just the improved and hard hitting Ferocious Impact, it's also the combination of using Immobilize AND greater stunning strike on ANYTHING that is slower than Sarcorixis to give it an even higher win rate while taking even less damage.
And we had the data for this and began investigating two days after the patch came out. Which is why the battle sim is awesome.
All of this to say, we're so thrilled to keep improving on the design, optimizing the performance, fixing any minor issues we find in the logic of the simulator, and looking for curious cases like this one where a strange move order can drastically improve the odds in your favor to help people find the best possible methods to using individual dinosaurs.
And that's why GamePress and the JWA Field Guide are so pumped to partner together to keep working on this excellent tool. We'll keep bringing you more on the battle simulator, the results we find, and the awesome and curious matchups as we continue to improve and solidify the simulator.