Alright. Who forgot the Armor?
It's time for a Ruleset that always makes you cringe just a little bit. You know it's going to be a quick battle and a fist-clenching, lip-biting thrill ride. Every shot counts, and a single miss can make the difference between victory and bitter loss...
I'll start with the most important thing to remember in the Unprotected Ruleset (which is also the most obvious because it's in the name): There is no Armor. That means a few important things by extension, and I'll go into them each in greater detail below.
When a card is heavily armored, the Armor itself is usually that monster's strongest trait, so if you try to use those monsters in an Unprotected battle you can forget about winning. I'm talking about the Elven Defender, Frozen Soldier, Shieldbearer... You know, monsters who make their shield their entire identity. They're utterly useless in the Unprotected Ruleset.
No Armor = No Protect, No Repair
You can forget about the Defender of Truth; the Protect ability is eliminated in the Unprotected Ruleset. The same is true with any ability or buff that involves Armor. Tyrus Paladium's valuable Armor buff doesn't play, nor does the Armorsmith's Repair ability. In Unprotected, the Armorsmith is simply a halfway decent low Mana Melee attacker with a really big hammer.
Since you can't count on Protect and Repair, focus on Health buffs and Healing as much as possible. If your initial tank can heal itself, all the better, but you should also include a monster with Tank Heal or a monster with Triage Heal (or both). This is the best way to make sure in an Unprotected battle that your tank stays alive past the first round onslaught.
Every Attack is a Magic Attack
...And Magic attacks are overrated. Basically, the thing that makes Magic attacks special is the fact that they bypass Armor. When there is no Armor to bypass, all attacks are created equal. Speaking generally, Melee attackers hit with more power than Magic attackers, so in the Unprotected Ruleset, you'll always be better off with Melee attackers that cause more damage with each hit. Plus, Melee attacks are much easier to buff through the Inspire ability (which is fairly common) or the Summoner's native ability.
I would recommend using only a single Magic attacker in the Unprotected Ruleset. It should be placed in either the second or third position and serve the purpose of not allowing your back Range attackers to ever be exposed and powerless in the front. Pack your team full of Health, Melee, Sneak and Opportunity and you can't go wrong.
Debuffs Will Buy You time
In this Ruleset more than many others, using Silence (Magic debuff) and Demoralize (Melee debuff) offer you a chance to get another critical attack in for each of your warriors before they fall. If these debuffs are used wisely and plentifully, you will almost certainly outlast your opponent. My favorite (especially since Unprotected battles are heavy on Melee attackers) is double Demoralize, a difficult one to pull off. I also like to use 1 instance of Silence, 1 of Demoralize, and the Halfling Alchemist, who will further tear down the attack power of my opponents.
Other Useful Abilities
With the Blind ability, you can drastically reduce the hit percentage for the enemy team's Melee and Range attackers. Since they will be focusing on Melee and Range, the Blind ability is double effective in this Ruleset. Another that comes to mind is Divine Shield, which basically gives a single monster a free hit. If you can make sure that the negated hit would have been a strong one, the Divine Shield will prove highly advantageous. The third I'd like to mention that you may not have considered is Trample. If you are able to kill 2 enemy monsters with one powerful attack from a trampler, there is little chance that they will recover.
Some Cards I Like
These are some cards that I usually reach for first in the Unprotected Ruleset. It doesn't mean that they're the greatest or the best. In fact, there is such extraordinary balance in Splinterlands that there are a multitude of correct answers for any problem. Plus I'm not going to go on forever revealing all of my secrets. If you have cards you like to play Unprotected that I didn't mention, let me know in the comments. Everyone would appreciate your input!
As the very first card that I thought of, Sea Monster stands out to me as the perfect shining example of an Unprotected tank. Huge Health, self Healing and Thorns (if you get to level 6, which I recommend). When you have your Sea Monster leveled, they have to do a great deal of damage in the first few rounds to keep up with all the Thorns and Healing. Meanwhile, the rest of your team has done all the dirty work.
With 2 of my most highly recommended abilities for Unprotected, this greasy-haired Ogre fits the bill. Here's the thing: To get the most of both his abilities, you'll want to use him in the second position. For some reason on which I've never been able to put my finger, Trample is more successful when the trampler starts in second. Plus, you'll have longer for the Demoralize ability to take effect, reducing the enemy's attack power.
I only recently discovered the Nectar Queen, and Earth is my collection's weakest Splinter. The Queen's abilities, while helpful, are not ideal like Demoralize. The Retaliate ability is great, but can sometimes backfire, either by another Retaliate or some shielded Thorns for example. The Poison ability is fantastic, but is no more effective than usual, since it always bypasses Armor. The real reason that the Nectar Queen is so helpful in an Unprotected battle is her Health.
Warrior of Peace
I know that it's hard to fork over 7 Mana for a Monster that doesn't attack, but in the Unprotected Ruleset it's foolish not to. The Warrior has 3 excellent debuff abilities, each of which cripple your enemy's attack power. At max level, it reduces not only the Melee attack through Demoralize, but Magic attack through Silence and Range attacks through Headwinds. This card is a brutal powerhouse... of peace.
Yet again, Octopider finds its way into the short list for one of my strategy guides. This card is amazing. Both its abilities are unstoppable in the Unprotected Ruleset. Even if you can't get it to Blind at level 7, the Octopider is always a strong Range attack with good Health.
For the Dragon Splinter, I enjoy the Fire Spitter in the very back of the team. There he behaves much like a Cocatrice (being missed all the time), but a Cocatrice with a destructive Range attack. Throw in a speed buff and the Fire Spitter will almost never get hit by a sneaker or sniper.
A smile crosses my face whenever I'm able to recommend the Cube. The Unprotected Ruleset is one of the occasions in which the Cube will win the battle for you for a few reasons. First, monsters will be dying more quickly, so the Scavenger ability will reward the Cube with more Health even more quickly. The Cube also starts with high Health and heals itself. If paired with even a single Tank Healer, I'd give a mere 10% chance that your Cube can even be killed.
I hope this strategy guide has been helpful to you in figuring out how to deal with the Unprotected Ruleset. Have a great idea that I didn't mention? Share it in the comments!
Previous Editions of the RuleSet Strategy Series
- Back to Basics
- Healed Out
- Heavy Hitters
- Silenced Summoners
- Aim True
- Super Sneak
- Melee Mayhem
- Keep Your Distance
- Weak Magic
- Up Close and Personal
- Lost magic