Relic Knights Intel: Doctrine Overview
“Our salvation will come from curiosity and daring, from great energy and sacrifice, from action.”
- Codifier Togan, Doctrine Headmaster
Knowledge is power, and the Doctrine is first and foremost a scholarly endeavor. Seeking to understand the workings of esper, the faction is comprised of scholars, students, and explorers. Constructs powered by esper provide security, both at the Doctrine’s institutes and on research expeditions. Often called mages, witches, or wizards, members of the Doctrine are among the most skilled manipulators of Esper in the galaxy. With an affinity for the yellow esper expression of Essence, members of The Doctrine command strong psychic abilities: summoning bolts of energy to attack enemies near and far, conjuring barriers for protection, and manipulating pockets of space to help allies or hinder foes.
AT A GLANCE
A bit of a glass cannon faction, Doctrine units rely on psychic actions, which allow them to attack at a distance or while in melee engagement. Their high combo potential can allow for explosive turns. They require good planning to bring out their full potential, and good positioning to survive against the more militant powers of the Last Galaxy. Power token generation helps Doctrine players keep their hands full, while Essence Drain hinders their opponent’s ability to do the same. Burning adds an additional threat to their attacks. Doctrine also has access to a number of units with healing abilities, which can help offset the faction’s below-average defensive capability.
A good Doctrine player needs to anticipate their opponent’s strategy in order to maximize their ability to deal damage. They will need to control their enemy’s options with careful positioning and ability use. A smart Doctrine player should understand that they need to make their own luck by utilizing the faction’s great resource management.
The Doctrine is a vast organization, thousands of cycles old. As more and more individuals who were sensitive to and able to control the flow of esper recorded their experiences, a book was eventually compiled that codified the bending of esper to a practitioner's will, detailing repeatable processes that created predictable results. This tome was the First Doctrine, and it eventually led to the formation of schools dedicated to training individuals from across the galaxy sensitive to esper to control their abilities. Codifiers train novitiates and conduct research, finding new expressions of esper in order to expand their understanding of it.
The Doctrine will allow novitiates from any background - sensitivity to esper is the only real requirement. Though their main goal is the collection of knowledge, they often help to maintain the peace of the galaxy and always try to act in good faith. As the Darkspace Calamity advances on the Last Galaxy, the Doctrine’s mission becomes ever more important, and hope remains that the Doctrine can use their knowledge of esper to push back against the encroaching dark.
Doctrine has the highest concentration of psychic actions compared to the other factions. This gives them a high amount of versatility in combat, as psychic actions are usable both at range and while engaged in melee, unlike ranged actions. Because of this, Doctrine units with psychic attacks usually only have one attack option - which means the versatility of psychic attacks is tempered by many units having no melee actions. Though this doesn’t seem like a drawback at first glance, it means that enemy units can disengage for free from a significant number of Doctrine units. (Which is problematic if you need to keep a unit in place.)
In addition to the flexibility that psychic actions bring, most Doctrine units include at least one strong support action. Doctrine has few units that have clearly-defined roles; each unit has the potential to fight on the front lines or support the rest of the cadre, sometimes switching roles as the battle evolves. This gives Doctrine units a large amount of interconnectivity, creating many interesting combos. Some combos will work well to be triggered in one turn, activating the first unit to set up the second; while others may take multiple turns to pay off, such as charging a unit with power tokens. While these combos can swing the fight in Doctrine’s favor, they require careful planning to pull off - positioning, activation order, and resources need to be managed to draw out the full power that Doctrine has to offer.
Regardless of the distance that Doctrine forces enter the fray, they must always be mindful of their physical frailty. They are combatants by necessity, not profession. As such, Doctrine units tend toward the lower end of both health and armor. Doctrine active defenses are almost always shielding abilities, giving them some measure of guaranteed protection that is independent of any armor they may have. Because of this, positioning to ensure cover can be applied will help increase survivability.
Doctrine boasts the most units that can generate power tokens as part of an action. This not only helps keep a player’s hand full of resources, but some Doctrine units can use the presence of power tokens to trigger other effects, such as additional damage or granting multiple actions. Other common abilities among Doctrine units are Burning, Essence Drain, and Healing. Essence Drain works nicely in conjunction with power tokens, sapping an opponent’s ability to reliably generate resources while supercharging your own. Almost all of the upgrade options available to Doctrine units are options that will be beneficial regardless of the opposition - which means you should rarely feel like you wasted the points to purchase the upgrade.
When the above strengths and weaknesses are added up, the picture that emerges is of a faction that gives great results when played with careful planning at all stages of the game.
Though it is possible to create a melee-only cadre within the faction, the Doctrine’s fragility and thoroughly average mobility make attacking from a distance their recommended playstyle. Doctrine cadres do benefit from including a unit with a melee attack action - this unit can be used to shut down enemy ranged attackers, or otherwise tie up enemy units that would threaten their frailer allies. Doctrine players will want to deploy their objectives in easily defensible locations. Where some faction might want to place their objectives aggressively to tempt out opponents, Doctrine cadres generally don’t want to risk a drawn-out fight to defend an objective in the open. Units should be deployed with an eye for cover, and in positions that allow their high combo potential to be utilized. During the battle, Doctrine players do best to act deliberately and methodically; removing threats before attempting to score enemy objectives. Enemy players who do not acknowledge the explosive potential of Doctrine combos can easily overextend, mistaking Doctrine fragility for weakness. A word of warning: If you like units that can gamble against their survivability in order to take down an enemy, or prefer an impulsive or reactionary playstyle, you’ll find quick frustration with the Doctrine’s more calculated style.
Players will want to prioritize holding yellow (essence), green (creation), and orange (chaos) esper - the colors needed for psychic attacks, melee and support actions, and defenses, respectively. The remaining colors (purple, red, and blue) are used to pay for presses. The support colors should be considered less valuable when a discard is required, though prioritize saving blue esper if possible, as it is used to augment defense actions.
New players would be wise to consider Anthony as their first Questing Knight: he brings a straight-forward skill set to a Doctrine cadre, including a high-value heal and an amazingly strong defensive area of effect. He is also unique in that he comes with two cyphers, which offers more board presence. The Librarian makes a good protector, locking down enemy units in melee engagements and clearing troublesome status effect tokens from its allies. The Librarian’s upgrade gives it a large and powerful aura effect, granting additional damage and Essence Drain to allied psychic attacks. And while it’s speed seems low, the Librarian has a passive ability that grants extra movement as allies deal damage with psychic attacks.
Doctrine cadres may also recruit Radiant units. This gives the faction access to a number of nice options that can fill a more dedicated combat role. Though even with the Doctrine’s excellent resource management, players will need to be mindful of the different action cost requirements of any Radiant unit(s) recruited.
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