Warning: Long Post Ahead!
Hey guys, this is Worth here with my first ever strategy guide. I noticed that lots of people in this community are having trouble against bait and cycle decks, yes, they are hard to beat when you play on their cycle (playing reactively). As a payfecta player since August (currently considered a cycle deck with bait elements), today I will share a strategy that really pisses me off if well executed.
I found out about this concept (more like, found out about its importance) while playing with Sparky on my alt, and it has won me several games already. Then I decided to apply and expand on this concept on my main, and (not so) surprisingly, it worked really well against meta cycle decks such as log bait as well as other control decks.
Well then, here’s the guide!
Table of Contents
- Tier List - Pattern - Specific Controversial Cards
Mistakes & Solutions
- Timing - Investment Units - Spells
- Basic Application - Pushing Same Lanes - Pushing Opposite Lanes
What is lane sealing?
We all know that troops/buildings are harder to remove on the opponent’s side than yours, right? This is exactly the mechanic that lane sealing utilize. Lane sealing is a pretty simple concept, it is a defensive play to make your opponent less willing to push by applying proactive defensive pressure to one or both lanes. This is the opposite of normal lane pressure (sending constant proactive pushes to keep your opponent on defense vs. sending constant proactive defenses in to keep your opponent from pushing), as well as the counter to it. This move will sometimes provide negative trades/waste of elixir (if done improperly, of course), but can potentially win you the game since it discourages your opponent to attack.
How do you do it? Simple, actually. You drop a defensive unit proactively at the back of the lane, or a spawner/building placement that can attract all units while slightly closer to the lane that you do NOT want your opponent to push (the lane you want to seal). This way, your opponent has to get through your defense in order to reach your tower, therefore persuading them to either start a huge push (which leaves them vulnerable for a rush on the opposite lane), or send a push down the opposite lane that has a healthy tower (which requires less defense since you can afford some tower damage, especially during 2x elixir time). Of course, there are ways to counteract lane sealing, which I will explain later on in the Mistakes & Solutions section.
This strategy is best utilized in counter push decks, since these decks includes several investment units (potential lane seal units), and is the effective against cycle/bait decks due to the lack of investment units included in these decks.
What should you lane seal with?
Lane Seal Tier List
Let’s split every card into 5 categories based on their ability in effective lane seal. I will not be going over spells since they cannot be used for lane sealing.
Strong: These units can effectively lane seal, and is relatively hard to counter on your opponent’s side of the field for a positive elixir trade. No one wants to send in a push with these units on the lane. Most pushes can be countered easily with these units on field (if supported by another unit), while able to be turned into a strong counter push.
These units are: Bowler, Sparky, Executioner, 3M (split), Pekka, Barb hut, Giant skeleton, Mortar, X-bow, Bomb tower
Mediocre: These units can effectively lane seal, but can be easily countered on your opponent’s side using direct damage units/spells. If poorly answered on your opponent’s side, they can easily destroy an entire push with support, and potentially be turned into a strong counter push.
These units are: Wizard, Musket, Witch, Ice wiz, 3M (same lane), Barbs (both split and same lane), Furnace, Goblin hut, Tombstone, Knight, Valk, Mega minion, Electro wiz, Tesla
Decent: These units can lane seal, but their effect and viability really depends on the opponent’s deck/win condition. They can either be countered easily/does not provide a threat on the opponent’s side (but for a negative trade), or due to their speed, will spend less time on your side of the field (can be waited until they crossed the bridge to counter). Be careful, some of these units are hard counters to specific win conditions/threat cards, lane sealing with them means that these cards can roam free on the opposite lane. Nonetheless, they still provide decent lane sealing ability and can be turn into a good counter push. They are mostly reactive cards.
These units are: Dart goblin, Mini P, Elite barbs (both split and same lane), Lumberjack, Prince, Dark prince, Bandit, Battle ram, Inferno, Cannon, Skeletons (both split and same lane), Skarmy (split), Fire spirits, Princess, Bomber, Archers (both split and same lane), Minions (same lane), Guards (same lane), Minion horde (both split and same lane)
Weak: These cards simply cannot lane seal properly, due to their low HP and fast movement speed. Don’t get me wrong, these units are highly versatile, but they don’t offer too much value in terms of lane sealing, and does not discourage the opponent to push that lane. These are either full offensive cards, or reactive cards.
These units are: Spear gobs, Goblins, Goblin gang (both split and same lane), Ice spirit, Ice golem, Miner, Hog, Guards (split), Minions (split), Balloon
And another category that does not fit into the power list: Counter: These units cannot effectively lane seal by dealing damage, but due to their slow speed and high HP pool, they still discourages your opponent from pushing the lane. They have the potential to be turned into an insane counter push if your opponent decides to push the same lane, as well as having ability to distract/stall incoming troop-targeters. Every units in this category are building targeting win conditions.
These units are: Golem, Hound, Giant, RG
See a pattern?
High HP, high DPS, and slow movement speed cards usually belong to the Strong category, since nearly no one would want to push a lane with these cards in fear of a huge counter push. They are also the cards that are the most vulnerable to a push on the opposite lane since they are a large investments (except 3M, of course). Most of them cannot be ignored when building a push/making a rush, which can also be seen as offensive pressure (weakened push due to elixir reservation in order to counter the lane seal card/potential combo, mind games).
Medium HP, medium movement speed units high DPS are mostly located in the Mediocre category. They are the most efficient at lane sealing without leaving the opposite lane too vulnerable for an immediate rush, but they are also the most vulnerable to mid/high cost/damage spells (except mini tanks).
Medium to low HP, medium to very fast movement speed, but high DPS units are usually located in the Decent category. These cards are equally, if not more vulnerable to medium damage spells, but they will provide a negative elixir trade on the opponent’s side. Some cards in this category are deck-specific counters, which means that the effectiveness of lane sealing depends on the opponent’s deck (examples include battle ram: lane seal against troop targeting glass cannon win condition, inferno: lane seal against deck consisting of mostly medium HP troops).
Fast, offense oriented troops are located in the Weak category. They do not provide great lane seal ability due to their fast speed and vulnerability to counters on your side of the field, or simply should not be placed at the back at all (hog and miner).
Now let’s go over some controversial cards (imo) in each category
Sparky: Oh the infamous “Trash Can on Wheels”. Even though we all know Sparky is easy to counter, but no one wants to rush a lane with Mr. Trash Can on Wheels (don’t say lavaloon). Why? If you’re stupid enough to push a lane with Mr. Trash Can on Wheels, your push can be easily shut down for a positive elixir trade without the use of reset materials and removal spells that can reach their side of the field (zap, lightning, rocket, etc.). If a reset material was used, after 5 seconds the threat will be back, destroying the push and forming a great counter push (for the cost of tower damage). No matter what, the opponent will be committing much more than they usually should in order to attack this lane, it would be a lot easier to attack the opposite lane or drop a investment unit at the back (holding off on their push). This makes sparky a great unit for lane sealing. This strategy is originally intended to be used for Sparky decks when against cycle decks anyways.
Mortar and X-bow: Have you ever used, or played against a X-bow or Mortar on defense? They are really annoying to deal with on the opponent's side due to their long range and high HP pool per elixir, while slowly chipping down your push. Therefore, the only way your opponent can push past them is to use a build-up push, direct win condition (miner and graveyard), and high direct damage spells since these are the only can push past them. Cycle deck users will tend to send in their win condition in order to take them out, then cycle back to their win condition for another push. This way, even though your opponent might successfully take down your X-bow or Mortar (providing if you do not try and defend it), they will be down quite some elixir (X-bow and Mortar are way harder to take down when placed defensively than offensively).
Skeletons: You might say that skeletons are too fragile and too easy to take down when used for lane sealing, true that, but look at its elixir count vs. DPS. Quoting OJ and Wings on OJ’s Retro Royale video:
Wings: No one is gonna push into it, you’re not gonna push hog into 2 skeletons then having to log it. You have to waste elixir to get rid of the skeletons, so it denies them from putting troops at the bridge.
OJ: My hog is gonna get a couple of hits, but then I’m gonna have to use zap or log for 0.5 elixir.
Basic concept of lane sealing right there!
Reactive buildings: most of them are put into the decent category due to their depleting lifetime and their vulnerability to spells (when pre-placed). If you rid that out of the equation, you will have an OP lane sealing unit that is nearly impossible to get rid of on offense (except pre-distraction and heavy spells), like how it is in back in last year January. It is their vulnerability to spells and lifetime that brings them down to the Decent section, these two aspects punishes those who proactively place buildings. Tesla and Bomb tower are exceptions, Tesla being placed in the Mediocre section, while bomb tower being placed in the Strong section.
Tesla: Even though it does not distract units as well as other buildings, and its HP is not as great as other reactive buildings, it has an advantage: it can be pre-placed without having to worry about spells. This makes Tesla a great lane seal building that does not have to worry about proactively placing, while the only part keeping it in the Mediocre section is its HP and small body size.
Bomb tower: Yes, it does not have an ability that makes it invulnerable to spells when proactively placed like Tesla, then what’s keeping it in the Strong section? The answer is simple, Bomb tower’s high HP and inability to be easily distracted (unlike inferno, bomb tower has AOE damage) lets it survive and keep dishing out damage even after being hit by spells. We all know how annoying and frustrating it is to play against bomb tower, you simply cannot push properly with it on field. Its only weakness would be the inability to target air (lavaloon, although it serves as a great distraction since it can tank 2 shots from a balloon), but that doesn’t really matter because you still have the rest of your deck to counter air.
Fire spirits: Are you really going to push into 3 little fireballs that can easily shut down your rush (especially to hog and miner users)? Oh yes, zap and log exists, and it provides equal elixir trade but allows your win condition to deal heavy damage to the tower. Good trade right? SIKE! It works if your opponent decides to ignore that hog, but they most definitely won’t. When you decides to zap/log it he fire spirits, you will only find opponent placing down another unit vulnerable to zap, shutting down the push for a positive elixir trade while forming a nice threat/counter push. The only reason that it was placed into the decent category is because: it’s deck specific (good lane seal vs. hog and miner, but bad vs. others such as giant graveyard).
Common Mistakes & Precautions:
Be careful, lane sealing is a waste of elixir if mistimed, this can potentially cost you the game. Since you put down a card on one side, you now have less elixir to defend the incoming push (especially if it requires a specific combo to answer). That card you placed down might be your main counter to your opponent’s win condition (bowler vs. EBs, executioner vs. graveyard, etc.), and by wasting that card, your opponent’s win condition/threat card can roam free, potentially costing you the game. Therefore, you have to know that you have answers to any push they make (depending on their deck) on your hand before lane sealing. This thought process is similar to when you place a pump.
Know that lane sealing is not as easy as simply placing a troop, it comes with careful observations and counting of both the opponent’s elixir and card rotation. If you messed up, say if you lane sealed with a bowler and your opponent is down 2-3 elixir but has several investment units on their hand, your opponent can simply hold back (invest with a ranged troop first) and then reactively counter the entire push, leaving your lane seal irrelevant while coming up with a great counter push.
Now imagine the same situation, but your opponent does not have proper investment units in hand, or your opponent's win condition on their hand (only works when your opponent runs a cheap cycle deck). This way, your opponent would most likely consider to “punish” you on the opposite lane (especially when you used an expensive lane seal unit), leading to a poorly supported/improperly executed rush that can easily be countered for a positive elixir trade. Of course, you also need to have a separate counter to their win condition on your hand when you use your lane sealing card, for your opponent to not deal too much damage.
Reactive Investment Unit
What’s the best counter to lane sealing? Place your own investment unit after your opponent placed theirs in order to stall them out. It is recommended to use a slow speed/Medium effectiveness ranged or melee lane seal unit (depending on elixir differences and the types of lane seal unit your opponent uses) to counteract your opponent’s, since the slow speed lets the lane seal troop meet on your side for a easier defense/positive elixir trade. If neither are willing to go on offense (especially the case with 2 counter push deck matchups), it will create a deadlock that will be advantageous to you (since you placed the lane seal unit later, therefore the lane sealing units will meet on your side).
You can effectively lane seal by reading your opponent’s deck/cycle/playstyle, predict when and where they might start a rush, and put a lane sealing unit behind the king tower on that lane right before the rush. Your opponent will take one of these three moves (solutions included):
Continue pushing this lane: they have confidence in taking out your lane sealing unit during the push, while damaging the tower (such as miner poison vs. a mediocre lane seal ). They might also think that with your current elixir count/card rotation, you cannot properly defend the push (opponent might have examined your deck and found a weak point in your cycle), which might result in high damage to the tower. Either way, the opponent will be spending much more elixir on offense than they should have. If they did not properly remove your lane seal units during the push, it can result in a strong and deadly counter push. Be careful though, those chip damages can cost you the match.
Delay their push: you successfully held off their offensive pressure, and now it’s your turn for your push (either on the same or opposite lane). You can also support your lane seal card and prepare for a bridge battle. This is also a good move if: Your opponent responds to your lane seal by playing an investment card, but you have confidence pushing through it while keeping some of your troops alive. If your deck does not have many ways to initiate an attack
Rush the opposite lane: they do not have confidence taking down your lane seal card on your side, instead, tries to make your lane seal unit go to waste. You can fully utilize the lane seal troop by using a tornado (if you have it in the deck), or simply spend less elixir to defend (it's on your healthier tower, therefore you can sacrifice tower damage for elixir advantage) while continue utilizing the lane seal troop on offense.
Avoiding/Punishing the use of Spells
A lethal mistake is to put a mid or low HP lane sealing unit near a severely damaged tower when they have a damage spell that counters your lane seal unit. Spells can be used to remove/severely damage the lane sealing troop that is vulnerable to that spell (such as rocket vs. sparky) on the opponent’s side of the field, while chipping the tower for a nice trade. This can easily lead to your tower’s destruction. How to counter the counter then, when spells have no counter? It’s relatively simple, one of these 5 methods will work as a solution:
Bait: If you have some bait elements in your deck (not necessary zap/log bait), then immediately punish your opponent for using that spell, especially if you know your opponent does not have other proper counters in cycle. Even better if your opponent’s spell does not kill your lane seal unit (even if your lane seal troop at critical HP, still great), because now your opponent has to spend extra to defend a troop at critical HP supporting an incoming push. You must have seen a critical HP musket making positive elixir trades, haven’t you? The next time around, your opponent will be less willing to use up their spell, making the lane seal much more viable. Spell bait in a nutshell, but tower damage still hurts.
Count: Count your opponent’s card rotation in order to see if they have the counter to your lane seal troop in hand. I know it’s hard to remember all those rotations, I can’t do it either, but it’ll be much easier if you only counted 1-2 of them (for lane seal to work, it’s best to remember their win condition, damaging spell, and their investment troop: pick two of the three to count). When you’re at equal elixir/slight elixir disadvantage and your opponent does not have their spell ready, lane sealing would work quite well.
Use something else: Why go through all those troubles of counting when you can use something else that is spell proof to lane seal (troops in the strong category would be best)? You don’t want to fireball a bowler on their side of the field, since it provides a negative elixir trade (3/4 HP bowler + tower damage, you just wasted 4 elixir for nearly nothing. Apple Juice is calling on you!), right?
Anti-spell placement: This is a placement that can prevent medium damage AOE spells (fireball and rocket) from chipping both the tower and crippling the troop: 6 OR 7 tiles from the bridge and directly in between the crown towers, slightly towards the lane you want to push. 6 tiles leaves no window for hitting both the crown tower and the troop, while 7 tiles leaves a slight window (but hardly noticeable/catchable) for being fireballed; it really depends on how long you want the troop to stay on your side of the field. Melee troops should be placed 2 tiles in front of the crown tower your opponent is attacking as a prediction counter/lane seal against most ground win conditions. This is best performed during double elixir time where you already have an elixir advantage, and you need to lane seal for defense but/because your tower is at low HP.
Heal: If your opponent’s spell does not kill your lane seal unit, heal them back up for a positive(?) elixir trade, while forming a nice push with it. Now that your opponent’s damage spell is out of rotation, you can put several troops that are vulnerable to that specific spell without worrying about it being easily shut down by that specific spell (such as hog + barrel + goblin gang when log is out of rotation). Think of it as another element of bait, but less punishing since you protected that troop for a push. The tower damage still hurts though, which is why it is generally a bad idea to place a lane seal troop beside a damaged tower, unless you know your opponent’s spell is not in cycle.
Creative ways to utilize the strategy
Lane sealing can potentially win you the game, like I mentioned above. This move is best performed during double elixir time when your own tower is severely damaged, when you want to force a lane change, or when you're under constant pressure. In double elixir time, spending elixir isn’t as punishing as during normal time, therefore the tech will provide value (doesn’t mean positive elixir trade, but defensive value and positive elixir trade potential).
The very core concept of this strategy is based on proxy defense elixir “wasting”, where you pile up your defensive line on your low tower HP lane in order to prevent your opponent from taking it out. This is best used in order to stall out your opponent when you already taken a tower/cycling spells to finish the tower in double elixir time, in order to let the timer run out for you to win. This strategy is weak to large beatdown pushes, but this is no worry; your opponent would not try to start a large scale beatdown push when there is 20 seconds left in the game (the timer will run out). Even when the concept strategy is to send a constant stream of defenses, you still should not make bad plays/placements (in this case, clumping troops together for value spells); the elixir disadvantage can and will cost you the game if your opponent is clever enough to chip out your tower.
Pushing Opposite Lanes:
Lane sealing is great move when you and your opponent are pushing the opposite lane, and you know that your opponent uses a non-beatdown (1-0) deck. By lane sealing with a cheap lane sealing unit (preferably a mid HP ranged unit/mini tank, or any unit that survives fireball or log), you can potentially bait your opponent to attack the opposite lane (especially effective against cheap cycle/bait spam decks), therefore reducing the pressure on your damaged side.
This can potentially lead to your opponent to switch to the lane that you’re attacking, if they dealt more damage on that lane. This can be an insane advantage to you if your deck is counter push based and your opponent’s is not, since it will be much easier for you to set up a counter push later on. This tactic is especially useful in this bait meta. When you lane seal, due to the fact that bait decks does not include too much investment cards, your opponent will either leak elixir in order to counter the push on your side (bad move), cycle to their investment troop (this is usually the play if they have a cycle deck, but they’re technically wasting more elixir to counter your “push”), or send in a push on the opposite side of your lane seal unit. See the Mistakes & Solutions section on how to deal with a rush on the opposite lane when you lane seal.
Pushing same lane:
Lane sealing is a great way to reduce the offensive pressure your opponent puts on you. By lane sealing, your opponent is now neglectant to push the same lane, and will probably try to “punish” you on the opposite. A punish push is usually moderately cheap (~4-8 elixir), but either requires a specific unit/building, or a card combo in order to stop. This is exactly why I mentioned before that you should always have your counters ready when you lane seal, in order to counter these expected rushes for a positive elixir trade. It's fine to take some light damage on that tower since your opponent probably won't push that lane anyways. Know this, no matter how you win, either with both of your tower at max HP or at 1 HP, you still win, and that is everything that matters (except crowns for crown/clan chest). Now that you traded tower damage for elixir advantage, you will have more elixir to support than what they have to defend your push, leading to a much more successful push for your opponent.
Let's imagine this situation: In a challenge, you are running a bowleryard control deck against a RG deck, and you decides to lane seal your 1600 HP tower with an Bowler while having a +2 elixir advantage at double elixir time. Your opponent also has a furnace heading on the opposite lane, chipping your tower down to ~2200 HP. Your opponent does not have any other investment card in hand besides RG, and decides to put his RG on the opposite lane along with a wave of fire spirits in order to break your potential push. Do you have to counter your opponent's push without taking any tower damage? Absolutely NO! If you decides to properly counter the push, your lane seal card would go to waste, while wasting a potential offense; something that your opponent wants (overcommitting on defense). Just counter the push with your knight (add another cheap DPS unit such as skeletons if necessary) and let the RG do damage, while setting up for a large push based on your lane seal card (bowler + graveyard + poison). Yes, your tower will be taken down to about 1500 HP, but in the meantime, what will their tower become? Due to now you have a +5 advantage (meaning that you bowler is basically free), it’s hard to overcome because your push requires several cards in order to stop (your push will consist of about 14-16 elixir, while they would only have about 7-8 elixir to defend). This would either result in a severely damaged tower (your opponent’s, of course) while giving up/lessening your elixir advantage, or a destroyed tower/game winning push. It’s a similar concept as beatdown, but not as extreme since you can’t really sacrifice as much damage in single elixir time for elixir advantages (control decks are usually built for 1-0 wins). It’s best to only sacrifice damage on the opposite lane (or the lane with healthy tower), a lane in which both of you are not pushing. Be careful of pocket spells (rage, heal, clone, freeze) though, those might cost you the game.
This can be used to lessen the pressure on the same lane. If you are constantly under pressure and does not have a chance to attack, this is the play to use: they will either leak elixir (BAD move, but probable if your opponent has a significant elixir disadvantage) or push the opposite lane. If your opponent decides to push the opposite lane, great! You forced your opponent to spend elixir on the opposite lane because there is nearly nothing they could do against your lane seal unit on your side of the field (for more details, see Mistakes & Precautions section). This will probably be your opponent's play if they have a cheap, offense focused deck.
TL:DR: Lane sealing (Proactive Defensive Lane Pressure) is a defensive tech that make your opponent less willing to push by applying defensive pressure to one or both lanes. The strategy’s effectiveness depends on how many investment units both you and your opponent has. This strategy is best used in decks that revolves around counter pushing, and is best used against cycle/bait decks (decks with less investment units in general). Pick the correct time and card rotation in order to avoid/punish the use of spells and defensive investment units for your lane seal to do its intended purpose, or else it will potentially backfire, costing you the game. Several strategies can be applied using this concept, from the basic application of keeping your opponent from attacking a low HP tower to the more advanced application of baiting a lane change and lessening pressure.
If you have any questions, or if you want me to go over a specific card in lane sealing, please let me know!