Phantaskippy's guide to Phantasms, part 8: Ocean's Hungry Grasp.

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Phantaskippy's guide to Phantasms, part 8: Ocean's Hungry Grasp.

Ocean's Hungry Grasp.

Theme

Ocean's Hungry Grasp has some of the most thematic gameplay of any Spirit.  You roll in with the tide, destroy everything you can and roll back out.  Oean is incredibly destructive, but has a serious restriction of being tied to the coastline.  Ocean's Hunger is represented with the drown mechanic, giving you energy for drowning things that offsets your naturally terrible energy gain.  Because of this Ocean naturally steamrolls.  If you are drowning lots of invaders you will have lots of energy to get play cards and gain elements to drown more invaders.  However, running out of energy can seriously hurt Ocean's impact, which tends to mean you won't be getting more energy.  The Ocean Hungers, feed it.

Unique Mechanics.

Ocean's Hungry Grasp places presence in the ocean.  Ocean having presence on a board causes that board's ocean to be treated as a coastal land, allowing powers to be cast there, pieces to be pushed there, etc.  Ocean drowns invaders and Dahan, by either using its own powers that use the word drown, or by a piece entering the ocean (note Ocean must have presence on the board for a piece to be able to enter the ocean on that board).  Drowning destroys the piece, and if it is an invader, Ocean can keep the pieces and trade them in for energy, trading as much drowned invader health as there are players in the game for 1 energy.  Note that Ocean doesn't get to keep pieces that are destroyed by means other than drowning. 

Role.

Ocean is a powerhouse, it is very hard for other spirits to match Ocean's ability to destroy invaders.  But Ocean has limited reach.  This makes Ocean a sort of finisher.  The other players can push enemies to the coast or into the ocean, and Ocean's Hungry Grasp will take care of them.  Ocean doesn't need allies to set up drowns though, since invaders always land on shores, it is rare that Ocean won't have something to destroy.  Ocean has a very hard time dealing with inland threats, needing either long range powers or allies to handle that part of the map.

Pushing and Gathering.

Because Ocean's Hungry Grasp drowns any Invader that enters the Ocean, not only destorying them but gaining energy for it as well, Ocean likes push and gather abilities alot.  Pushing an invader that is on the coast into the ocean is better than destoying it, no matter which spirit is acting, because it is still destroyed, fear is still generated, but now Ocean is gaining power for it.  Because of this Ocean not only wants powers that push and gather invaders, but wants allies to have those powers as well.  An ally that is reliably feeding the Ocean invaders makes Ocean's Hungry Grasp much more powerful.

Overarching Strategy.

Ocean's Hungry Grasp can activate its innate Ocean Breaks the Shore tier 2 on its second turn.  This is big because turning coastal cities into Energy early on not only accelerates your growth, but makes the toughest Invader Unit in the game easy to get rid of if it is on the coast.  I play Ocean to try and get Ocean Breaks the Shore as often as I can, Pound Ships to Splinters is nice, but at tier 2 it generates 2 fear, while tier 2 Ocean Breaks the Shore gives you 2 fear, a City off the board and 3 invader health to turn into energy.  Don't worry about Pound Ships, it isn't worth building for when Your other innate is so much better.  Ocean has one big weakness, and you will need to keep it in mind at all times.  Because you have a lot of slow, range 0 powers, you are going to have to think ahead, because Ravages will destroy your presence before you can destroy invaders.  Don't let ravages ruin your day, go after nvaders when they explore to destroy what they will build, or when they aren't acting at all.  

Starting strategies.

The first (and main) way I play Ocean is more self-reliant and focused on making it easy to drown cities.  I don't really care where you place your starting Coastal presence, you'll see it doesn't matter that much.  Start by taking your 2nd growth option, taking presence from your energy track and spreading your inluence to as many boards as you can.  This gives you 1 energy, which you will need later.  Now play Call of the Deeps, I let other players know that if they can push an explorer to the coast I will take out 2 explorers on that coast.  Getting two is huge, since that is 2 builds that won't occur, and an extra health for you to turn into energy.  I try to use it on another spirit's board, since Ocean is pretty good about clearing its own coast, and you are going to need someone to move onto your board as fast as possible to get the inland invaders.  Lastly that bonus water element gives you Pound Ships tier 1, which doesn't hurt.
Second turn you want to play Tidal Boon and Swallow the Land Dwellers, which will give you 2 Earth and 3 Water, letting you drown a city.  Now you have an energy left over from your first turn, so you don't need any energy from drowning or growth this turn, so use your third growth option, get your second card play and try to get a presence into a land that was just explored and will build a town this turn, as well as one with a city that won't be ravaging this turn (remember you are slow).  Swallow and Break the Shore will combine to give you 6 drowned invader HP, regardless of what others are doing, and that will help pay for Boon And whatever Minor Power you picked up.
The second way I start is  to take your first 2 presence off your card play track, this way is much riskier and reliant on card luck.  I'll go this route if I have an ally that wants to give me energy early, extra power cards also help, or if the invaders explore into my starting coastal presence land and that annoys me.  If I don't mind losing that presence I'll just ignore it and play normally, but if I feel like fighting for it, I'll go 2 card pay and start with Call of the Deeps and Swallow the Land Dwellers.  Sadly you will waste Breaking the Shore's destruction (you only have 1 coastal presence, and can't easily get 2 towns to destroy in one land first turn) but you'll get tier 2 pound ships and hopefully 2 explorers from another Spirit's coast for 5 drowned invader health.  Then second turn If the drowned HP gives you 2 energy go ahead and use growth 3 and get your third card play.
Starting 2 card play relies on getting lucky when you gain powers, but when you do, and you are getting energy from drowns to fuel your play Ocean steamrolls quickly.  More often I find my card luck stinks and I end up starting slow.

Riding the Tide.

Your first growth option is actually really strong, 2 energy, a new power and reclaim all.  The only problem is you have to return one presence to each ocean, so you don't want to reclaim unless you have multiple presence out of the ocean on the coasts you want to act that turn.  This makes an early card play blitz strategy pretty hard to pull off, because reclaiming before you get 2 expansions inland can really set you back with what lands you can affect.  This is one of the main reasons I like a slightly slower carp play start that focuses on getting the bonus elements to fuel Ocean Breaks the Shore.  Also reclaiming and thus needing to spread inland on other growth phases makes your presence tracks move really slow.

Gaining Powers.

Here's my priority list for selecting a new minor power:

1.  Water + Earth.  Anything Water + Earth is a big deal.
2.  Push/Gather invaders.  More Drowning is all you really want from the world.
3.  Long range powers.
4.  Earth with a useful effect.
That's it really.  I want to get Tier 3 Ocean Breaks the Shore, and I want to try to affect things inland. 
If I have a lot of energy (usually do) I'll grab some major powers, but major powers don't tend to feed you invader health, so you need powers that give you energy to pay for them.  A lot of the best majors just destroy stuff or deal damage, and Ocean would rather push things and drown them, so I tend to get support and reach powers for my majors.  I really like drowning things.  I find that when I get big major powers, I tend to not have good targets for them, and I find my innate does enough to clear my shores of major threats.  Powerful short range innates just aren't a good fit for Ocean.  Powerful Majors that deal massive damage inland where your minors and innate don't reach are a different story.  My favorite major power to get is Terrifying Nightmares, easy to get the bonus fear and the push is fantastic.

On Teamwork and patience:

Don't shut down your coast, shut down other board's coasts.  You will sometimes see an Ocean player focus on their own board and not help others much.  They will generally end up with a coast that is cleared each turn, and be bored while other players are slow to come help clear their inland territory.  Ocean relies on others, and is great at helping others early.  Set up an ally early so they can spread out, and you will do well.  As long as you aren't getting blighted badly on your coast (coastal cascade chains are nasty to Ocean) don't fret a town sitting there.  When they explore there again and you throw down Boon + Swallow you get 6 invader health to trade anyway. 
I leave lone towns sit, and I try to keep explorers from building up.

Miscellaneous tips:

Tidal Boon is awesome.  It is one of your major ways to affect inland trouble spots.  It is also a great way to pay back an ally that helps you with energy.

Four spaces in on your Energy presence track is the bonus Earth element.  If you get there you need 2 water and 1 Earth to destroy a City with your innate.  Getting the water after it lets you drown 2 towns/cities in the same coastal land for 2 water/2 earth from powers.  Not hard to clear those thresholds.

Entwined Power is amazing for Ocean.  Your innates and starting cards don't really work with it, but your other powers do.  If you or someone else gets this card be happy, and go get those big Major Powers.

If someone is really good at pushing invaders (River) just drop a presence in their ocean and leave that coast alone.  Often they won't need help beyond you letting them destroy pushed towns and explorers in the Ocean, and you get lots of yummy invaders for no effort.

 

Thank you for reading, and as always this is just a guide to help you get on the right track with Ocean, and isn't intended to be comprehensive or tell you how to play.  Have fun and happy eating!

Edited by: phantaskippy on Oct 2 2017 - 7:03pm
rdm18
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Enjoying these guides -- thank you.  yes

Arcanist Lupus
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Quote:
Events that increase invader health can be amazing, just cash in all your drowned invaders while they are worth more. Because of this I only cash in invaders right before I have to pay for things. I only use what I have to, so I can trade the rest of them in when they are worth more.

This is sadly not correct. The drowning rules specifically ignore health modifiers.


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TakeWalker
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Ocean makes me so happy. :D HE IS A HUNGRY BOY, FEED HIM

phantaskippy
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Arcanist Lupus wrote:

 

Quote:
Events that increase invader health can be amazing, just cash in all your drowned invaders while they are worth more. Because of this I only cash in invaders right before I have to pay for things. I only use what I have to, so I can trade the rest of them in when they are worth more.

 

 

This is sadly not correct. The drowning rules specifically ignore health modifiers.

Argh, I know that, why can't I remember it!

Removed the offending text.

Arcanist Lupus
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Also, if we're listing Major Powers which are amazing for Ocean, then besides the obvious (Sweep into the Sea, Tsunami, and Cast Down Into the Briny Deep), then Flow Like Water, Reach Like Air also deserves a mention.  It is the only power in the game that can move Cities around - you can drown as much as 12 hp of invaders with one action!  Or simply have another Spirit pull them to the coast where you can get them with Ocean Breaks the Shore.  The ocean also makes an excellent place for holding blight since there's no danger of any new blight being added there, and finally Ocean loves getting +2 range for reaching those pesky inland problems.


"Do you not know that a man is not dead while his name is still spoken?"

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Trajector
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I'd add a minor and a major comment:

- First, the minor: Tidal Boon pairs really nicely with Thunderspeaker. You can port Dahan from one coast to another, which is a way to get Thunderspeaker's presence spread across the island early in the game.

- Then, the major: There's another general strategy for Ocean that I don't think you fully fleshed out. Instead of trying to control your starting board, and going for longer-range powers to get inland influence, completely ignore inland lands. Leave them to the other spirits that are better equipped to move around the island interior. Have Ocean pick up damaging/pushing powers with a range of 0-1, and concentrate on the coasts. Not just the coasts on your starting board, but ALL of them. Especially in low player count games, Ocean's Hungry Grasp can completely lock down the coastal lands, let any other player with a "push" power use that as a "destroy," and seriously slow the Invaders' progress. We've won several games this way!

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Arcanist Lupus wrote:

Also, if we're listing Major Powers which are amazing for Ocean, then besides the obvious (Sweep into the Sea, Tsunami, and Cast Down Into the Briny Deep), then Flow Like Water, Reach Like Air also deserves a mention.  It is the only power in the game that can move Cities around - you can drown as much as 12 hp of invaders with one action!

Confounding Mists can also push cities. We're still not sure if letting a minor power push cities was a design mistake, but it comes up really rarely anyway, so I try not to lose sleep over it.

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I bloody love Ocean. Om nom nom! Feed me Invaders plz, nom nom nom! >:D

The inability to reach inland easily can be a bit of a pain (especially if you've run out of "food" on the Coastal lands), but the Minor Power called, erm, Reaching Grasp, is really amazingly useful there. I think it's called that, anyway...the one that gives +2 range to all your powers. Doesn't help with the powers that can still only be used in Coastal lands, but it's good for everything else ;). Had a solo game in which I paired that card with Sea Monsters to completely obliterate everything (I think it was two Towns and an Explorer or something) in the Wetlands at the far end of the map :D.

I really like the fact that Ocean's mere presence on a board can automatically turn Pushes and Gathers into insta-kills. This and the ability to get presence on every board in the first turn (outside of a four-player game) is just super-cool. It's balanced out by the lack of reach (via zero-range powers and inability to get any Presence inland), but there's something really satisfying about looking at my spirit board and seeing loads of Invaders all sat there waiting to be "cashed in" to pay for some really crazy Major Power that's going to feed me a bunch more stuff at some point >:).


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