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"Mind Shield Looping" - A New Way To Force

Joined: February 11th, 2017, 7:21 pm

April 18th, 2017, 3:09 am #1

TL;DR Video:

Recommended Prior Reading: Henke's Force Mechanics Explanation
Example Footage: 11:24 Main Attack Round


This guide will be lengthy, but informative. My goal is to share everything I've learned in the last month of learning, testing, and practicing forcing. The main sections of this guide will be to teach you how to force, when to attempt forcing, and why I believe MSL (Mind Shield Looping) is one of the best forcing techniques.

Henke's post does a good job of explaining basic force mechanics. I will attempt to summarize these mechanics to try to ensure readers are on the same page. Fundamentally, forcing works by "holding" a wave end until all monsters have died. Normally wave ends occur every 6s, but if your character is stalled, the wave end check is held off until the stall is broken. EXAMPLE: The wave would end at 42s, but the final penance would die at 45s. By stalling your character at least by 42s, you can hold the wave end until 45s to get a quicker wave end than 48s.


To force a wave end, your character needs to be stalled. This can be accomplished by being in an animation or interface stall. Animation stalls have often have a fixed duration and can't be interrupted. Interface stalls simply stall your character until interrupted. Interrupts include shooting or loading the cannon, penance dying, and being healed.

In my current method, I am using three distinct stalls. I am using the cannon (which stalls until your egg is about to land), the prayer interface, and the Mind Shield animation. The prayer interface stall is unique, because it can be "stacked" during animation stalls. For instance, if you click 3 prayers during shooting the cannon, you will have 3 "stacked" interfaces. These interfaces can only close at a maximum of 1 interface / tick. By using 3 prayers, you extend your stall by 3 ticks, or 1.8s.

To achieve an instant end, I start by using the cannon. I use the cannon as long as I can to try to maximize my egg damage. To force a wave end, I might have to be stalled for up to 6s. Therefore, if I think the wave end is close / the last healer I'm shooting would die before I shoot an egg, I "chain" my cannon stall into a series of mind shield stalls.

By chaining, I mean I preserve the wave end I am holding by queuing one prayer during my shooting animation. Then, I spam click the mind shield. There is a tick of down time between when my character stops shooting and when I can use the mind shield, but the prayer interface keeps my character stalled during this tick. As long as you use the prayer during the shooting animation and spam click mind shield, you will never lose "hold" of the wave end check.

Be careful of queuing multiple prayers between mind shield equips, as these can only be consumed when your character is not in the ms animation stall. This means that if you're using too many prayers, some of them will have to close after you finish "looping" mind shields, adding unecessary ticks to the wave end.

I use the sound effect of the Mind Shield to let me know when the Mind Shield animation has commenced. After it has started, I quickly use F keys to queue one prayer and return to spamming the mind shield. Using the same principle, the prayer holds the tick of "downtime" between mind shield uses. By looping between two mind shields in my inventory and activating a prayer between equips, I can indefinitely hold a previous wave end check. Wave end checks are even held through call changes. Once all penance monsters have died, I simply cease looping between mind shields. If I think all monsters will die by the end of my mind shield animation, I just don't click a prayer. If I'm less confident on the timing, I queue a prayer. Even if my timing is a little early, if my prayer is not interrupted by shooting I give myself more room for error.

When mind shield looping, you have to be very careful not to end your looping early. If your stall ends right before the last penance monster dies, you risk anti-forcing the wave. An anti-force happens when you force a wave end check to occur right before the last monster dies. Suppose the last monster would die at 90s. If you are holding the 84s wave end, but your stall ends at 89.4, the next wave end check actually occurs at 95.4, not 90. If you had not forced at all, the wave end would have been 90s. This is why force timing is extremely delicate. Stall for too long, and you lose unnecessary ticks. End the stall too early, and you can anti-force.


Forcing should be attempted whenever you feel it is likely for the wave to not end on a 6s timing. Common applications include forcing for the last runner with a b/g call on waves 2/3, when the healer will die to a non-6s poison tick, or when eggs/manual food usage will be the last source of damage.

That being said, MSL (Mind Shield Looping) is not always needed. For instance, if a b/g call happens on wave 2, and all other penance are dead by 36s (the wave end you have to hold) there really is no reason to MSL. Knowing when to end the MSL would be difficult and could add unnecessary ticks. A simple interface stall should be used instead. An exception to this would be if the last runner is an east multi. Because the 2nd to last runner would eat earlier, your interface would be popped early and cause an anti-force. However, if your team communicates when the 2nd to the last runner dies, you can keep looping until only the last runner remains and sit on the last prayer, causing an instant end.

I almost always MSL on b/g calls on wave 3. This is because the last healer can sometimes die after the 42s mark, which is the wave end I need to hold. If you just used an interface stall, it would get cancelled by the last healer. Even if you put it back on, the 42s wave end check would not be held. Therefore, I usually MSL until I see the healer's death message, then simply sit on a prayer. This allows me to keep the 42s wave end check held until exactly when the last runner has died. Be careful though, because you can only see the chat with this method 2 ticks of every 3, so if the last healer dies extremely late, you may miss that all runners have actually died and hold a wave end for nothing. A very spicy sabo indeed.

For later waves, I believe forcing should always be attempted unless W5 is an obvious 54 (btw, a 51s W5 is possible with forcing). You don't necessarily have to use MSL, but you absolutely should try to force. Honestly, getting the force timing can be difficult. As long as your teammates are okay with it, I recommend practicing on as many waves as possible, even if not absolutely necessary. Yes you'll add unnecessary ticks, yes you'll mess up the chain, yes you'll anti. However, if you can't force as main attack, you won't even measure to someone who can. Practice makes perfect.


One of the primary responsibilities of the scroller has always been to start waves as fast as possible. Now they have the tools to end waves as fast as possible as well. Traditionally, teams have played around targeting a 6s ending. With forcing, waves can now end on any game tick. By being able to force on any game tick, you save a ton of time. Instead of going for a 66s W6, your healer can now aim for a 63, or even some odd time like 61.2!

I like MSL because it is relatively easy to chain and the mind shield animation and only lasts 1.2s, allowing you to stop looping at a precise timing. Chaining a prayer between your last two cannon uses can also work for forcing, but I'm not a huge fan of this method. It is technically the more optimal method in some scenarios (due to additional egg damage), but with others shooting and the healer spamming, it can be hard to time exactly. That being said, it still can be a viable method if the cannon is targeting the last healer. Instead of MSL, you can add 1 prayer per tick you think will occur after your shooting animation ends.

In my discussions with Henke, I distinctly remember him saying something like "forcing wave ends is not about always instantly ending the wave, but rather eliminating the worst case scenarios". My natural response to this was "Why?". With his discovery that prayers can be used to chain animations, we can absolutely do better than this. By using MSL for precise timings, I'm confident that seeking to always instantly end waves is the right mindset.

AFTERWORDS - Why Forcing is a Healthy Discovery for the Competitive Scene:

In the past, waves could only end every 6s. This meant that strategies were developed to achieve specific 6s timings. There was no difference between a healer (or more accurately, a team) getting a 84s ending and a 79.8s ending. The 6s timings were essentially an arbitrary skillcap for the game.

My argument is that forcing expands not only the depth and skillcap for Main Attack, but also for the entire team. Previously, if the 2nd attacker shot an extra egg it might make a difference, but often it would not change the 6s ending. With forcing, it almost always makes the difference. Because waves can end on any game tick, every single tick becomes crucial. Every single additional egg provided by the collector and shot earlier by teammates can now be rewarded.

Some have even said that forcing wave ends makes healing "easier". Complete whurse shit. A good main attack can make a mediocre healer look better than they are, but the same could always have been said about an amazing healer making his teammates look good. Because wave ends can end on any tick, every single tick lost by the healer is now punished. If the healer spams the penance just a tick or two slower, paths just a tick or two less efficiently, he's losing time. Forcing wave ends allows the truly skilled healers to shine.

Luck will always be massive factor in speeds. It's inevitable; the game has too much RNG intertwined. That being said, forcing wave ends brings consistency. It allows to separate the good healers from the best of all time. The notion that speeds are "99% luck and X percent this role" is a toxic mindset. Forcing has created a competitive landscape where every game tick counts. It's not just the healer. It's not just the healer and the main attack. With forcing, even the ticks the 2nd attack loses are punished. We now have a competitive scene where every tick from every role can count. Some people may not welcome the change. They may not like having to learn new methods; they may find forcing cheesy. But one thing is indisputable - the skillcap for barbarian assault has grown. And as a competitive player, that makes me happy.

Thx U

Joined: April 20th, 2017, 8:17 am

April 20th, 2017, 9:52 am #2

never done this but worth testing/learning sometime when i can bother