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Gloria 201: Variations and Practices
The most in-depth intermediate guide to playing as Gloria, the Hopeful Healer!
The first Gloria guide I ever read was written by Redless (Redless' guide here[www.fantasystrike.com]). Last week, I defeated[www.fantasystrike.com] Redless in the Yomi League using Gloria as my only character, so in honor of my victory, I've decided that it's time to continue the tradition. It's time for me to write a Gloria guide of my own.
Instead of duplicating the work of others by doing a high-level strategy overview and individual card breakdown (Aphotix's beginner guide here[www.fantasystrike.com]), this guide is written in a bit of a different style. Instead, I'm going to introduce some concepts, and then leave you with some homework assignments for each one so that you can learn on your own. This isn't quite an "advanced" guide, but it's a good next step.
Please note that the homework assignments are NOT recommendations for good play. They will be exercises to get you accustomed to things that you will need to do occasionally or they will be demonstrative examples of why a particular style of play is poor. You should be able to tell the difference on your own.
Let's get started with some fundamentals.
This guide assumes that you're already aware of how Gloria's Healing Touch and Overdose work, but you may have never specifically quantified the two abilities or how they interact.
A typical sequence at the end of combat for Gloria is to play her Ace of Hearts for its Overdose ability, then discard two non-Hearts cards to return that same Ace to her hand. Let's look at exactly what this does:
Gloria's opponent takes 10 damage.
Gloria takes 10 damage, then heals 4 damage, taking a total of 6 damage.
Gloria discards an Ace, then discard 2 cards to return the Ace, for a total of -2 cards.
If Gloria won combat, she also draws 2 cards.
If Gloria only plays this sequence when she wins combat, then it is, in theory, card neutral. However, assuming a 25% chance of drawing a Hearts card from the deck, two of these "Overdose sequences" will give you one more Heart in your hand than you started with. You'll understand why it's important to distinguish between Hearts and non-Hearts cards when calculating card gain/loss in the next section.
Healing Sphere Fundamentals
If the above Overdose sequence is card neutral when Gloria wins combat, then it follows that if Gloria also has one Healing Sphere (10 ability) attached, the Overdose sequence becomes +1 card. So at first, attaching a Healing Sphere sounds like a pretty amazing deal.
In practice, it's a little more complicated than that.
Healing Sphere comes with the drawback that you're required to heal every turn to keep your Healing Sphere going. So let's run some very simplified numbers again, this time assuming that Gloria has a 50% chance of winning combat, a 25% chance of drawing a Hearts card from the deck, and that she doesn't lose her Healing Sphere along the way. Over the course of 4 turns:
Gloria plays the Overdose sequence twice, both of which are card neutral (-1 non-Hearts card, +1 Hearts card)
Gloria must heal without winning combat twice, which puts her at -2 cards (-4 non-Hearts cards, +2 Hearts cards)
Gloria draws +4 cards from Healing Sphere (+3 non-Hearts cards, +1 Hearts card)
Gloria deals 20 damage to the opponent, while dealing 4 damage to herself (20 damage from Overdose, 16 life gain from 4 activations of Healing Touch innate)
For those keeping track, that brings Gloria to a grand total of +2 cards. Unfortunately, those cards come in the form of -2 non-Hearts cards and +4 Hearts cards. That's a lot of Hearts.
This simplified sequence shows us an unsustainable pattern. Even with a Healing Sphere attached, Gloria will eventually run out of non-Hearts cards if she keeps healing.
Prefer Blocks to Dodges
Even with a boost in card draw, Gloria will still eventually run out of non-Hearts cards if she heals without playing Overdose. So what can she do about it?
The most straightforward fix is to draw even more cards. If Gloria's two combat wins in the above Healing Sphere sequence are block wins, then Gloria will be at +4 additional cards, which is enough to offset the amount of non-Hearts cards lost.
On the flip side, a successful dodge puts you at -1 card (unless you dodge into a Jack and return it to your hand).
Homework: Don't dodge with Gloria at all, unless a successful dodge would be lethal.
Homework: Don't dodge unless the opponent is at 36 life or less.
Homework: Don't dodge unless you have a Jack in hand. If you successfully dodge, always dodge into Ray of Moonlight (slow Jack), then use Bathed in Moonlight (Jack ability) to return it to your hand.
Prefer Hearts Cards as Combat Cards
If Gloria plays a Hearts card as her combat card every turn in the above Healing Sphere sequence, that puts her at +3 non-Hearts cards and -3 Hearts cards over four turns, which is also enough to offset the number of non-Hearts cards lost. (Again, we are assuming that 25% of Gloria's card draw will be Hearts.)
However, playing all Hearts cards in combat won't be enough for Gloria to offset the number of non-Hearts lost if any of the combat wins in the sequence instead becomes a combat loss. This points out something that should be fairly obvious, but it still needs to be said:
Playing a Hearts card over a non-Hearts card is not worth losing combat, especially if Gloria can play Overdose afterwards. Don't play poorly just to use a Hearts card in combat.
Homework: Each turn, if you have any non-10 non-Ace Hearts cards, play one of them as your combat card.
Homework: Only dodge with Hearts cards. Always block with Hearts cards before blocking with other cards.
Pump and Bluff with Hearts Cards
So what does Gloria do with the Hearts cards that she would rather not use as combat cards?
Ideally, she could use them to pump for damage. However, the only card that Gloria can pump is her Queen, and only the throw side of her Queen allows her to pump with any card. As such, her opportunities to pump with Hearts cards are fairly infrequent.
The more common use for Gloria's extra Hearts cards is to use them for bluffing Jokers, which is great, because bluffing is very strong for Gloria.
With most other characters, it doesn't matter too much whether they get hit with a super this turn or they get hit with it three turns from now. But for Gloria, if an opponent doesn't play into your bluff, then you've bought more time to gain life. If Gloria's opponent plays their super four turns later than they otherwise would have, then she might have 16 or more life than when she started.
Gloria also has a better chance of drawing into a Joker than most other characters when she stalls the game because both her Overdose and Healing Sphere abilities let her draw extra cards.
Homework: If your hand contains four or more Hearts cards, prefer Gloria's Queen throw over her 8, 9, or 10 throws.
Homework: Whenever you lose combat to a starter or linker attack, either play a Joker or bluff with a Hearts card if possible.
Activating Healing Sphere
Learning when to activate Healing Sphere is simply a skill that you'll learn with practice. Sometimes it's better to wait until you have a certain number of non-Hearts cards. Sometimes you need to play your Healing Sphere sooner and hedge your bets.
However, there are some important things you should keep in mind.
First, no cards are guaranteed from Healing Sphere. If you activate a Healing Sphere, then get knocked down on that same turn, you'll get nothing from the ability. For this reason, some Gloria players prefer to play Healing Spheres when the opponent is knocked down to increase their odds of getting at least a +1 card return.
Also, much of the advice in this guide so far has been concerned with playing in such a way as to offset the number of non-Hearts cards that Gloria loses. But if Gloria attaches two Healing Spheres at once, that alone is enough to offset the number of non-Hearts cards lost during the above Healing Sphere sequence. Unfortunately, this kind of play comes with more risk, since the opponent can remove multiple Healing Spheres with only one good combat.
Lastly, I strongly believe that having an attached Healing Sphere should serve to improve your hand, and that if it starts to degrade your hand, then you should drop your Healing Sphere. If healing would ruin your hand, then you shouldn't heal.
Homework: Only play a Healing Sphere if your hand contains the Ace of Hearts and at least four non-Hearts cards.
Homework: Always play all Healing Spheres as soon as possible, but only play Healing Spheres on turns where you aren't knocked down or otherwise disadvantaged in combat (e.g. Long Range, Patriot Mirror).
Homework: Only play a Healing Sphere when your opponent is knocked down or otherwise disadvantaged in combat.
Homework: Only play a Healing Sphere if you can play two Healing Spheres at once.
Bonus: Learn which three edge-cases allow Gloria to heal even when she's knocked down.
Healing for the Sake of Healing
Gloria's starting life is 70, which is tied for the lowest of all Yomi characters. And while she'll often heal enough throughout a given game to have an effective life total of higher than 90, she can die fairly quickly if the early game doesn't go her way.
In the instances where Gloria needs to heal a lot of life quickly to get back into the game, her Jack is an all-star card.
If Gloria leads with a Jack, combos into 3 more Jacks, uses them all to heal, then heals with her innate afterward, she can gain 20 life in a single turn. (This kind of play is not as uncommon as it sounds.) She can also combo from throw into 2 Jacks to gain 12 life in a single turn. Best of all, the Jacks return to her hand, so Gloria can do the exact same thing again on a later turn.
Homework: Combo into as many Jacks as you can whenever possible. Follow up all dodges with Ray of Moonlight (slow Jack) whenever possible. Always use Bathed in Moonlight (Jack ability) whenever possible, even if you're at max life.
Knowing Your Speeds
Gloria's Jack and King are speed 2.2 and the attack side of her Queen is even faster at speed 1.0. In addition, Gloria's Jack has the ability to recur itself and Gloria's innate allows her to recur any card if she's lucky enough to draw the Hearts version of it.
The result is that Gloria usually has access to a speed 2.2 or faster attack, making her feel surprisingly fast for a x.8 attack/throw character, since speed 2.2 attacks will outspeed many characters important cards, such as Zane's standing normals and Geiger's Time Spirals.
However, this advantage is very matchup-specific. Speed 2.2 attacks might be very useful against Quince or Rook, but they might be less so against Setsuki or Gwen. It's important to learn the speeds in each matchup to know when to play your Jacks and Kings, when to play your faster Queen attack, and when to block or dodge a sub-1.0 speed attack.
Homework: Study each character and learn which of their attacks are faster or slower than speed 2.2. Then learn which of their attacks beat speed 2.2 attacks, but lose to speed 1.0 attacks.
So far, we've talked about how to maintain Gloria's hand and how to keep her out of dangerous life totals. Now let's talk about the fun part. Let's talk about damage.
Which really means that we'll be talking about Overdose.
We'll start with the following example: Gloria wins combat by attacking with the fast side of her Jack, and then she returns it to her hand using Bathed in Moonlight. On the surface, this combat results in only 1 damage to the opponent, which feels unimpressive.
But let me show you this in a larger context. If Gloria wins combat, she can likely Overdose. If she Overdoses on a combat win, she likely has the cards to be able to heal with her innate.
Gloria attacks with Jack, then returns it (+4 life Gloria, -1 life opponent, +1 card)
Gloria plays Overdose (-10 life Gloria, -10 life opponent)
Gloria heals with Healing Touch innate (+4 life Gloria)
The net result is that Gloria deals 2 damage to herself, but she deals 11 damage to the opponent and goes +1 card! That's like having an 11 damage normal attack! And if that wasn't already good enough, her Jack is a linker. Gloria can actually convert that Jack hit into a combo like J56 and deal 22 damage to her opponent for the low cost of -2 life and only going -1 card for the turn (while still keeping any attached Healing Spheres going).
For an even larger perspective, here's another example:
Gloria is at 17 life and her opponent is at 40 life. That means Gloria is more than 20 life behind and she's likely within lethal range.
If Gloria wins combat with a King, then follows up with Overdose/Healing Touch innate, she'll deal 19 damage to the opponent and 6 damage to herself. That leaves Gloria with 11 life and her opponent at 21 life, which means that both players are now in lethal range.
In this way, Gloria can make very strong comebacks with surprisingly few combat wins.
However, Gloria only has these benefits if she has an Ace in hand, if she has enough life to safely Overdose, and if she has enough non-Hearts cards in hand to heal with, which is pretty much everything this guide has talked about up to this point.
Homework: Play Overdose after every combat win unless you have 16 life or less.
Bonus: Win a game as Gloria without playing her Overdose ability. You may do this in Solo Mode (physical) or by playing against Monkeybot/Yomibot (online).
Powering Up Early
Since Overdose has such a strong impact on Gloria's game, she needs to get an Ace into her hand quickly. It's great if Gloria starts the game with the Ace of Hearts in her hand, but if her opening hand doesn't contain any Aces, she'll often have to power up a pair very early in the game.
Because this first power up is often a poor trade of two non-Hearts cards for a single Hearts card, it's usually best for Gloria to delay powering up for the Ace of Hearts if she can. More specifically, if her early hand contains any non-Hearts Aces, she can use those in-hand Aces to play Overdose in the early-game and she can hold off on powering up until she has no Aces left in her hand.
(Note: You usually won't need to "View Deck" to find the specific Ace that you want. It searches for the Ace of Hearts by default when you click the "Deck" button. Shouts to Thelo, the programmer!)
Homework: If your hand does not contain any Aces and if the Ace of Hearts is not in your discard pile, always power up any non-Jack pair for the Ace of Hearts.
Powering Up Late
Powering up for Aces can also be useful even when Gloria already has her Ace of Hearts. Later in the game when Gloria's hand tends to accumulate Hearts cards, it's very likely that her pairs include at least one Hearts card, in which case, she's often not losing much by powering up. For instance, if her hand contains 4H - 4C - 4S, she can power up for AC - AS and still have the same number of non-Hearts cards in her hand. If she needs to heal with those cards, she still can.
In addition, each of those extra Aces acts as a kind of surrogate for any Hearts card in Gloria's discard. For example, if Gloria wins combat with the Queen of Hearts, she can play the Ace of Hearts for it's Overdose ability, but instead of immediately Healing to get her Ace of Hearts back, she can heal to take back the Queen instead (because if she wins combat again next turn, she can still Overdose with one of the other Aces in her hand).
An extra Ace also means that Gloria can hit with a Jack, return the Jack to heal, play Overdose, and then not use her innate to great effect. Her Healing Spheres stay up because she healed with the Jack, she goes +3 cards for the turn (even before Healing Sphere), and with an extra Ace in hand, she can still Overdose again next turn. This kind of a play gives Gloria a huge burst of cards without sacrificing her momentum.
Having extra Aces in hand also gives Gloria the option to play her AA and AAA super attacks.
Playing With Two Aces and Twilight Key
When Gloria has two Aces in hand, she has the option to forego playing Overdose to combo into AA from any Jack or throw combat win. Though unfortunately, I've found that it usually isn't worth it if you can combo into something else instead.
Let's say that Gloria successfully throws and her opponent doesn't play a face-down Joker/bluff card. If Gloria combos into AA, she deals 24 damage, takes no damage herself, and she doesn't draw any cards. If she combos into 6J, returns the J, and plays Overdose, she deals 23 damage, takes 2/6 damage, draws two cards, and has the option to not heal the Ace back from her discard (since she has another Ace in hand, she can heal for a non-Ace Hearts card or she can decide not to heal with her innate at all).
These two different options actually do very similar damage, with the 6J combo being slightly worse for Gloria's own life total and the AA combo being worse for Gloria's hand. It depends on the situation, but I find the 6J combo to be the superior one most of the time.
Homework: Compare Gloria's damage and card advantage between comboing from her J into AA and comboing from her J into 56 when she only has two Aces in hand. Which is better?
Homework: Compare Gloria's damage and card advantage between dodging into AA, dodging into slow J and returning it, dodging into K, and dodging into Q++ when she only has two Aces in hand. Which is better?
Playing With Three Aces and Deathstrike Gloria
Gloria's AAA deals 29 damage and is only 1 combo point. That means if Gloria leads with AAA, she can combo into something like AAA56J for 45 damage. If she has all four Aces in hand, she can play Overdose after her 45 damage AAA combo, dealing 10 damage to herself and a total of 55 damage to the opponent. This is why you may occasionally hear the joke of "Deathstrike Gloria" or "Deathstrike Drugs" around the community.
In addition to the high damage that can result from Gloria's AAA, it's also her fastest attack at speed 0.6. This makes playing AAA with only three Aces less straightforward to analyze. Speed 0.6 doesn't sound that much faster than speed 1.0 (Queen), but it undercuts many important attacks, such as Zane's Meaty Attacks and Valerie's Burst of Speed normals.
However, playing AAA also comes at a cost of -2 non-Hearts cards, and Gloria will often have to forego Overdosing to play an AAA attack, so I tend to have a hard time playing it unless it's going to win the game, unless it's going to save me from losing the game, or unless I have all four Aces in hand.
If playing AAA is too risky, having three Aces in hand also has the added benefit of making all of Gloria's AA plays suddenly look fantastic. For example, she can combo into AA after hitting with her Jack for 29 damage to the opponent (after Overdosing) without having to potentially wreck her hand and for a much lower initial commitment.
Homework: Hit an opponent with an AAA combo as Gloria.
Homework: Hit an opponent with an AAA combo as Gloria, then play Overdose with a fourth Ace.
Homework: Only combo into AA if you have three Aces in hand.
If Gloria is at 32 life against Grave at 10 life, Gloria has a 100% chance to win the game, even if she only has two cards in her hand. I'll explain why.
First, the obvious: an Overdose will kill Grave by dealing 10 damage (un-Jokerable) at the end of the turn. So one of Gloria's two cards needs to be an Ace. However, Overdose will deal 10 damage to Gloria as well, bringing her down to 22 life. So if Grave can deal more than 22 damage, he can stop Gloria from being able to Overdose without killing herself.
If Gloria attacks or throws, Grave can play True Power of Storms, beating all throws and outspeeding all of her attacks to win the game. But if Gloria plays a block or dodge, Grave's best play is to throw into 6J or K+ for 21 damage.
Even if Gloria's hand is nothing but an Ace and a Dodge, Gloria is guaranteed to win the game. This is checkmate.
Homework: Calculate what life total Gloria needs to be at to checkmate each character when that character is at 10 life. Against some characters, her life total may need to be as high as 66, but that's okay. You still need to know what these life totals are.
Homework: Calculate these life totals for when the opponent also has two Aces in the discard.
You are playing as Gloria at 31 life against Quince at 20 life. Your hand is the following:
4D - 7D - 8S - QH - AH - AC - Joker
You play your 7-throw hoping to catch one of Quince's many dodges, but he instead plays a Patriot Mirror.
So the downside is that you've just taken 10 damage bringing you down to 21 life, you're knocked down (you can't heal this turn), and Quince gets to play two combat cards next turn. That's a bummer.
But the upside is that you've just won the game.
Question #1: Why is this a checkmate?
Question #2: Why wouldn't this be a checkmate against another character?
Question #3: What card could be added to Gloria's hand to make this a checkmate against nearly all other characters?
Question #4: What could Quince have played instead of Patriot Mirror to avoid being checkmated?
Jokers and Checkmates
Gloria usually needs to use her Jokers as "Rewind Time" because she starts with such low health and she often needs more cards. But if Gloria can make it to the endgame with a Joker in hand, it allows her to checkmate from much lower life totals than she could otherwise.
Coming back to our previous example against Grave, if Gloria has a block/dodge, an Ace, and a Joker in hand, when her block/dodge gets thrown, she can play the Joker face-down and take 7 damage at the most. (If she doesn't get thrown, she either takes block damage or no damage.) The result is that a Joker allows her to checkmate Grave from only 18 life instead of the previous example's 32-life checkmate.
With that in mind, let's talk about the "Pop Quiz" against Quince. Quince is a special case, in that his fastest attack is speed 1.2, so Gloria's speed 1.0 Queen attack beats all of Quince's attacks and throws. That means that if Gloria plays her Queen attack backed up by a face-down Joker against Quince, she's guaranteed to take no damage for the turn.
That's why Gloria can checkmate Quince at 20 life, even on a combat loss.
Answer #1: After Gloria gets hit with Patriot Mirror, she can checkmate by playing Overdose (even though it's a combat loss), which brings her to 11 life and Quince to 10 life. The next turn, she can play her Queen attack in combat (playing the face-down Joker if it's dodged), taking no damage, and then she can Overdose again to win the game.
Answer #2: Every other character has at least one attack that is speed 1.0 or faster, including many character's high-damage supers.
Answer #3: A second Joker. It's quite a feat to make it to the endgame as Gloria with both Jokers still in your hand, but if you do, Gold Burst beats all attacks and throws, making double-Joker a guaranteed no-damage turn against almost all characters. (Note: Lum, Gloria, and Argagarg can deal damage outside of combat, making extended checkmates less reliable against those characters.)
Bonus: Knocked down opponents have no way to deal combat damage against a Gold Burst!
Bonus: Rook has no way to deal damage against a Gold Burst whether he's knocked down or not, so two Jokers guarantees two no-damage turns against Rook! Try checkmating Rook from 30 life!
Answer #4: Quince would have had to deal more than 10 damage. (There are many ways to do this.)
Endgame Overdose and the 36-Life Threshold
Gloria's Overdose damage is unavoidable, and the only thing stopping Gloria from Overdosing every turn is having an Ace in hand and having more than 10 life; cards and combat wins be damned. So when Gloria's opponent is on low life, they need to make sure Gloria doesn't have the life lead or they risk losing the game. This forces Gloria's opponent to prioritize dealing damage, so use this endgame pressure to your advantage.
But just for fun, let's look at what happens if Gloria gets overconfident and takes her endgame shenanigans too far.
Gloria can realistically deal 16 damage off of any combat option. J56 is 16 damage with a speed 2.2 attack, throw into 6J is 17 damage with a throw, and dodge into Q++ is 16 damage off of a dodge. This means that if you have a strong read, you'll want to Overdose to knock an opponent with 36 life down to 26 life to put them within striking distance of a 16 damage combat win + Overdose turn.
Overdose + Combat Win + Overdose = 36 damage
Gloria gets one opportunity to heal during this sequence, so she'll lose 16 life in the process (-20 life from Overdose, +4 life from Healing Touch innate). That means she needs to have at least 17 life or more to attempt this kind of a play. Obviously, playing Overdose when you're at 17 life is quite risky, even if you will immediately heal to 11 life, but it can "force the issue" if you're in a losing position.
Homework: If the opponent has 36 life or less and you have 17 life or more, play Overdose every turn if possible (even without winning combat).
Homework: If the opponent has 36 life or less and you have at least 11 more life than the opponent does, play Overdose every turn if possible (even without winning combat).
I hope this gives you some more insight into Gloria and I hope it encourages you to pick her up and understand the character more in-depth. Try some of the homework assignments. Gloria is a fun, fascinating character to play, and experience will teach you more than any forum post.