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Bal-Bas-Beta Strategy Guide

[B]I Character Summary[/B]

Bal-Bas-Beta is a sentient clockwork, who modifies himself for constant improvement. With the endurance of his Cog Engine and the reach of his Rocket Punch he can buy time to Upgrade himself to become unstoppable!

Triangle [I]midway between econ and defense and about 1/3 of the way off that edge towards rushdown.[/I]


  • Upgrade and Cog Engine give Bal-Bas-Beta very good early economy
  • Rocket Punch gives Bal-Bas-Beta good pile control
  • Rocket Punch and Upgrade make Bal-Bas-Beta very resistant against disruption


  • Orb buy restriction on Cog Engine means he has few purple orbs and has to work to acquire them via Upgrade.
  • $6+ cost restriction on Cog Engine and desire to Upgrade [1] gems means that he can’t transition his strong early economy into top-end chips smoothly.
  • Incredibly bank dependent. He needs chips of consecutive costs available to use Upgrade to full effectiveness, he needs arrows, he wants ways around his orb-buy restriction and he’s disadvantaged in banks with higher cost chips.

[B]Bal-Bas-Beta’s general game plan.[/B]
[I]BBB is usually looking for ways to get into and extend the midgame, but he can adopt rushdown or long-game strategies in games where the opponent is vulnerable to them.[/I]

[B]Chips Bal-Bas-Beta loves[/B]

  • Combos are Hard. Not only does this get around BBB’s orb-buy restriction, but at 6 cost, BBB can very frequently upgrade his starting Crash gem into a CaH in the first two turns and play it within the next two turns. Even if he doesn’t start out with both Crash and Upgrade in the starting hand, he can play Cog Engine to pig whichever one he does have and set up a 4/5 chance of doing this on turn two.
  • Master Puzzler. BBB has one of the best Master Puzzler rushes by upgrading his starting crash into a :ps3gem:, buying two more :ps3gem:s and using Cog Engine to stuff all the :ps3gem:s into the same hand.
  • Double Crash Gem. If BBB can, during the first two turns, upgrade his Crash into a :ps3gem:, buy another :ps3gem: and play Cog Engine, he can usually buy a Double Crash Gem by turn 4.
  • Any 2 Cost Chip. [I]Knockdown, Ebb or Flow, Money for Nothing, Now or Later, Repeated Jabs, [/I] Whether these are helpful to BBB to actually play in a given match is beside the point, it’s more important that he can upgrade his starting [1] gems into them and then later upgrade them into [2] gems for a more durable economy.
  • It’s a Trap. This forms the core of a self-contained strategy. BBB upgrades as many starting [1] gems as possible into them, spams traps onto the most important bank chips like Combine and uses Upgrade to grab those chips anyway.
  • Training Day. This is the best ender to mass Upgrade into several of. While most duplicate enders are wasted, one Training Day can upgrade a second into a precious Combine and even pig a third.
  • Bang Then Fizzle. This is a 2 cost chip that BBB can Upgrade a couple of starting [1] gems into. With his pig and Rocket Punch’s reaction he almost always has the pile control to get to use it a few times, after which he can Upgrade it.
  • Sale Prices: Allows BBB to buy chips which normally cost 6 without discarding Cog Engine, but is mediocre as an Upgrade target otherwise.
  • Any Fork. Especially cheaper ones. Of note, the drawback of Recklessness isn’t a big deal for BBB.
  • Ways around his Orb-buy restriction. Training Day, Stolen Purples, and Chips for Free can let BBB get purples without buying them, thereby leaving Cog Engine in play. Chips like Dashing Strike, One True Style, Mixmaster, Hundred Fist Frenzy and Gemonade can give BBB non-purple pile control options

[B]b. Chips Bal-Bas-Beta fears[/B]

  • Riskonade. This chip gives the opponent more ammo than BBB can handle, and BBB’s all ender, gem trashing setup doesn’t let him benefit from the added draws as much as other characters tend to.
  • Chip Damage. This forces BBB to discard, and with his Orb-buy restriction it usually forces him to discard two chips, which severely limits his ability to play the sort of Fork into Upgrade combos he loves. Likewise, the other discard attacks Color Panic, Knockdown and Pick Your Poison can give BBB problems.
  • Roundhouse. This forces BBB to either abandon Cog Engine early or surrender a major long-game advantage to an economic opponent.
  • It’s Combo Time. By the time BBB gets to $8 buy, and even if he’s willing to discard Cog Engine, he’s unlikely to have enough [1]s in his deck to use this well, so this is better for his opponent.

[B]Other Notable Chips [/B]

  • Stolen Purples. If this is in the pool, BBB has to be careful about DCG rushes, as he can’t easily replace the DCG when an opponent steals it. While BBB doesn’t have any innate arrows to play Stolen Purples off of, Rocket Punch’s reaction gives him an edge against most characters in a Stolen Purples war.
  • Ouch! BBB has no arrows to play it off of so he doesn’t play this well, however his anti-disruption makes him potentially the most resistant character against it. He can react to it with Rocket Punch to keep his pile stable and he can Upgrade the wound from it, and he’s often without Combines for it to trash.

[B]IV. General Tips[/B]

A. What to do with BBB:

  • Keep Cog Engine in play in the early game. That +$1 each turn is huge and the Pig every turn lets you space enders out.
  • Use Upgrade to improve [1] gems.
  • Use Upgrade to render the opponent’s buys less useful. For example: if they go heavy into blue shields, Upgrade any red fists you got earlier into other chips.
  • Use Upgrade to get chips that would make you discard Cog Engine.
  • Remember that Rocket Punch resolves before the incoming crash. Occasionally you can win a game against an incoming crash because the opponent doesn’t have a followup countercrash.

What not to do with BBB:

  • Don’t Upgrade all your [1]s away without having acquired at least a couple bigger gems.
  • Don’t count on Rocket Punch to be your only pile control past the early game. Unlike counter-crashing, Rocket Punch does not actually reduce the total number or gems in piles, so it doesn’t lengthen the game.
  • Don’t be so afraid of losing Cog Engine that you fail to have adequate pile control or key endgame chips. If the opponent is X-Copying Double Crash Gems, you probably need to be doing the same more than you need +$1 +Pig.

[B]Matchups BBB Loves[/B]

[B]Arg, Perse[/B] Rocket Punch can be used in response to Hex, or Pleasure and Pain and Upgrade can trash multiple wounds per cycle.

[B]Matchups Bal-Bas-Beta Fears[/B]

[B]vs. Jaina[/B] This match is tricky for BBB since he has to survive the Jaina rushdown. His Combos are Hard opening means going without a crash for a turn or three, which can be too big a risk to take against Jaina and his Bang then Fizzle opening requires keeping his pile height low. BBB really needs a combine early here. However in BBB’s favor, he can Rocket Punch as a response to either Unstable Power or Burning Vigor.

[B]vs Midori[/B] Rocket Punch is nearly useless against Dragon Form rushdown, so BBB needs to prioritize pile control. Even worse, the forks that BBB loves tend to be even better for Midori. However Upgrade does give BBB a useful way to dodge Rigorous Training and force Midori to buy his orbs honestly.

[B]vs Grave[/B] While BBB can often beat Grave to a mess of $4 and $5 cost chips, or spike a single early large buy, Grave pulls ahead in the long game from Martial Mastery while BBB needs to chose between expensive chips and Cog Engine. Reversal is also an answer to Rocket Punch based rushdown.

[B]Other Notable Matchups[/B]

[B]vs Zane[/B] Zane can pose a surprising rushdown threat and Crash Potato can be problematic with BBB’s orb-buy restriction, and Maximum Anarchy messes with Cog Engine’s pig. However, BBB can take advantage of Anarchy by Upgrading to cheap off-color chips, and often Upgrades away his starting Crash to dodge the Potato.

[I]This guide was written by rabid_schnauzer in 2012. It has been reproduced here by permission. I have revised it to take into account more recent strategy developments.[/I]


Proposed revisions:

  • BBB doesn’t fear Master Puzzler anymore (done)
  • BBB doesn’t particularly like Blues are Good (done)
  • Integrate my 2-cost chip mini guide (mostly done; missing Thinking Ahead, Knockdown and Money for Nothing)
  • Mention the modern line of upgrading the starting crash to a :ps3gem: for a DCG rush (done)
  • BBB fears Grave but no longer fears Zane. (done)

There are two openings for winning in bad banks that a BBB player should know: the DCG rush and the 2-combine rush. This post will focus on the combine rush.

The goal of the 2-combine rush is to launch a fatal 4-crash on turn 6 with high probability. The 2-combine rush is a benchmark strategy that any character can try, but BBB has the tools to make it exceptionally effective.

The required actions for a 2-combine rush are:

  • Buy a combine on turn 1 or 2
  • Play that combine on turn 3 or 4, while buying or upgrading into a second combine
  • On turns 5 and 6, play both combines to make a :ps4gem:. Pig the crash if it’s drawn on turn 5.
  • Crash the :ps4gem: on turn 6.

This combine rush only takes about half your resources, so you can use the other half on a plan for a longer game.

BBB’s version of the rush is particularly potent because of Rocket Punch. One of the common responses to a 2-combine rush is to minicrash ahead of time so as to have a lower pile height when the 4-crash comes. A Rocket Punch in response turns the minicrash around; they waste their action but don’t lose any pile height. And if BBB draws Rocket Punch in his seventh hand, or pigs it on turn six, it turns narrow survival into instant defeat.

The general counter to this rush is to buy a second crash gem to react to Rocket Punch and a combine to relieve pressure. But this is an even larger investment in :pscrash:s than the 2-combine rush and doesn’t necessarily leave them at an advantage; BBB can use the purple parity and combining head start to stick Cog Engine for a while.