'Into the Breach' Didn't Click Until I Played it Like an EMT

Mech strategy is hard for me to parse, but patient care in a cascading emergency? That makes sense.

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Mar 8 2018, 4:58pm

All images courtesy Subset Games

Steam tells me I’ve spent 20 hours in Into The Breach. I don’t think it’s entirely accurate, as I keep it on while I work sometimes, snatching a few rounds in between other tasks. But I have been playing a lot of it lately, and boy howdy, do I suck at this game.

In… let’s call it twelve hours, I’ve never beaten the first island. I’ve only gotten to the last scenario there twice. Twice! Several times, I’ve had appreciably leveled-up and mech-core toting pilots just absolutely eat shit, leaving me with nothing as I restarted the timeline and flung my controller across my desk in fury.

But last night, I had a real breakthrough.

See, instead of attempting to think three moves ahead, a skill I’ve never actually acquired, I started treating scenarios like triage. Instead of thinking like a master tactician, a thing I most definitely am not, I started thinking like an EMT, a thing that I am.

In doing triage—at, say, the site of a car accident, the idea is to rapidly assess the biggest problems and get moving with treatment. We look for life threats, things that will kill you, and treat those before we move on.

There’s a whole order to how we do physical assessments, and once you have that order down, there’s a calm that comes with it. We use an acronym—RPM—for respiration, pulse, mentation—and that allows us to get a sense of how a person is doing very, very quickly. And with every patient—critical or no, we use ABC, for airway, breathing, circulation. No matter how gnarly or complicated or upsetting the situation, you are working your way down the list, and you can take some comfort in the knowledge that you’re doing things right to get your patient the help they need.

I haven’t been on the scene of a mass casualty incident yet,but that’s where we use the tags. Red for people who will die imminently if they don’t get help, yellow for folks who need help quick (but aren’t about to die), and green for walking wounded (people who are basically ok). Applying this thinking to various problems in Into The Breach has allowed me to actually prioritize what I need to do, and make a bit of headway.

Before I started thinking of situations like triage, everything was a mess. I would see an opening to punch something with my mech, then go punch it. “Oh, here’s a place I can use artillery!” I would shout at no one in particular, and then hit the bug that probably wasn’t threatening anything. I was keeping secondary objectives at the front of my mind and eating shit constantly.

Now, though, everything is triage. I check the ABCs first. Life threats. RPM the situation. Who is being threatened, what can I do about it? How do I apply treatment to this problem? Does this need a bandage or a tourniquet? Maybe a splint?

Ok, but, obviously, replace “bandage,” “tourniquet,” and “splint” with “artillery bouncing that bug’s ass into the water,” “mech punch to the face,” and “long shot that splatter’s this fool into the next timeline” and that’s getting at the idea.

Red tags are the buildings that house precious civilians and grid power. That’s what we need to take care of first. Yellow tags are my units, they can take a hit, but need to be a priority. Green tags—the lowest priority at the moment, but they’re nice to get to—are those secondary objectives. Life threats first, then treat the superficial stuff.

I’m still not exactly great at Into the Breach, but at least now I have a framework for success. I’ll destroy those Vek, one red tag at a time.

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