From: Thomas John BressThe_Shadow speaks:
To: email@example.com Date: Monday, October 20, 1997 11:27 PM Subject: FFF/FoD Analysis by The_Shadow
Here is an updated reposting of a long note that I sent out in May. It was in response to the FFF/FoD debate. At the time it seemed like everyone that I played was opening with P F and trying to score a quick kill. Also, a variation of FFF/FoD was just starting to go around that opened with FFFF/SPFP. This took advantage of the "is it a bug or a feature" property of continuously paralyzing your opponent's hand to "-", letting you segue into FFF/FoD with your opponent at a great disadvantage. You can ALWAYS break FFF/FoD when it is used as an opening as long as you react quickly enough. Here are some ways to do it for any opening move.
The combination of FoD and FFF is tough to beat, but it CAN be beaten, particularly if your opponent uses it as an opening move. I admit that I have used this combination to win many games, but I must also say that many people have tried to use it against me as well. I have not yet lost a game to FoD/FFF (I have lost to just FoD, though. It teaches you to pay attention!). Why? Timing. FoD/FFF is best used in the midgame when your opponent is busy doing something else. If you can sneak in the first few moves unnoticed then the combination is difficult to beat. Most people that I have played against have used it in their opening, hoping for a quick kill. FoD/FFF can ALWAYS be stopped as an opening, you just have to react quickly.
Since I never open with FoD/FFF and am tired of playing people that do, here are some absolutely guaranteed ways of beating the FoD/FFF opening. Hopefully this will help stomp out the FoD/FFF opening. In all cases you make whatever opening you like and your opponent opens with P F. You immediately start a defense against the FoD/FFF combo:
OPPONENT: RH: PWPFSSSD LH: FFFFFFFF YOU (Question marks are wild cards and can be any gesture): IF YOUR OPENING INCLUDES A D: LH: DPPSPFP RH: ?FFFFFFCast amnesia on your opponent in turn 3. If it hits, you have broken the FoD. If your opponent paralyzes himself to cancel the amnesia then continuously paralyze yourself on turns 4-7 and land the anti spell on turn 7 to break the FoD.
IF YOUR OPENING INCLUDES AN S: RH: SWDSPFP LH: ?FFFFFFThis is similar to the "D" defense described above. Cast fear on your opponent on turn 3. If that doesn't work, paralyze yourself in turns 4-7 and hit with the anti spell.
IF YOUR OPENING INCLUDES AN F: RH: FFFFF LH: ?SPFPParalyze yourself on turns 3-5. Hit with the anti spell on turn 5 and the FoD is broken.
IF YOUR OPENING INCLUDES A W: RH: WWSPFP LH: ?FFFFFCast the counter spell on yourself in turn 3 and paralyze yourself continuously on turns 4-5, landing the anti spell on turn 6 and breaking the FoD.
IF YOUR OPENING INCLUDES A P:You didn't open P P so use your other gesture and one of the strategies listed above.
IF YOUR OPENING WAS P >, - -, OR C C: RH: CFFSPPC(W) LH: CFFFFFC(W)This one is pretty esoteric, I include it for completeness and because it shows a way to use time stop to defend against FoD. For these openings you basically forget your opening move so this defense will work with any opening. You will be paralyzed in turn 3. Submit your orders for turn 4 as RH S LH S. One hand will be paralyzed to F and the other will be an S. If you are not paralyzed for some reason in turn 3 just submit RH S, LH F. Paralyze yourself on turn 4. On turn 5 you can paralyze either yourself or your opponent since you will repeat your gestures anyway. On turn 6 paralyze your opponent. If it hits you have turned the FoD into a fireball. Unfortunately you will most likely be paralyzed by your opponent since he didn't paralyze himself and you won't be able to defend against the fireball, but it is better than instant death. More likely, your opponent will paralyze himself in turn 6 to protect his FoD. In that case you clap on turn 7, casting time stop on yourself in turn 7. You immediately get an extra turn that is UNAFFECTED by any spells cast by your opponent. So even if your opponent paralyzes you in turn 7 you are unaffected by it in your time stopped turn. Use your time stopped turn to gesture W W and you will have a magic mirror in place on turn 8. One of your hands will then be paralyzed into a P from the W's gestured in your time stopped turn. The magic mirror will reflect the FoD.
Another variation on the FoD/FFF opening is the anti spell/FFF/FoD attack:
OPPONENT: RH: SPFPWPFSSSD LH: FFFFFFFFFFFThis can be a nasty opening. If your opponent hits you with paralysis and anti spell at the same time, then the gesture that gets paralyzed is '-'. The key to defending against this opening is to counter spell the anti spell. Here is a defense that can be used with any set of opening gestures:
YOU: RH: ?WPPSPFP LH: ??FFFFFFCounter spell yourself in turn 4 and paralyze yourself turns 5-7. Then land the anti spell in turn 8, breaking the FoD that would have been completed in turn 11. The fun part about this defense is that if your opponent lets you land the anti spell you are in position to use the same anti spell/FFF/FoD attack on him.
I hope that I have made my point. FFF/FoD can easily be defended as an opening. It is still effective in the midgame, though. But now it becomes just another midgame strategy that you have to be on the look out against. It adds a bit of danger to the game and makes it more interesting in my opinion. The game does not degenerate into a contest of who can use it first, it requires a good sense of timing and misdirection to pull it off successfully. After all, a good fencer can score a lot of hits on you with his rapier and still get away while you are slowly swinging your broadsword.
A last comment. If it is decided that FoD/FFF is too powerful and that something must be changed I would recommend that the paralysis targeting rules be left alone. People complain that paralysis is too strong. I disagree. If you continually paralyze your opponent with one hand you are effectively losing the use of your paralyzing hand as well. It leaves both of you with only one hand actively casting useful spells. The main advantage to the paralyzer is that you can break it anytime you want to. But there are many ways to defend against this sort of attack so I would suggest leaving paralysis alone. The easiest change to make that would rid the game of the lovely FFF/FoD attack is to allow FoD to be counter spelled. Then all you need to do is make one of your gestures a W on turn 6. Even if it gets paralyzed it paralyzes to P so you can cast WPP and counter spell the FoD. This would make FoD less popular, but if you can't protect FoD with FFF then its popularity will suffer anyway.