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Guide to 6 Battlecast - Breaking out of the Big 3

Hi all,
It's no secret that the meta is rather stale with most people going for Vayne, Jinx, and Riven comps. In almost every game I play, I don't have a lot of success playing meta and usually prefer to find weird anti-meta/off-meta picks. I got really tired of playing one of the big three so started playing Mech to limited success. Then I started 6 Battlecast and climbed from ~70 LP Masters to now 320 LP (though I played other comps too in this climb). Here are my Battlecast stats below from about 11 games played.
https://imgur.com/a/nMYgpBt
https://lolchess.gg/profile/na/sakuchan39
Match History
This is my first guide written so let me know if there is anything I can improve on.
Why play 6 Battlecast
I think its a decently strong comp for climbing purposes only. As you can see, I have a really high top rate but really low win rate with this comp. To be honest, it is a bit player diff since this set I have had a low win rate in general. I think the comp is rather fun to play to see all of the battlecast procs, and is also easy due to how straightforward 6 trait comps are in general.
Pros
Cons
Early Game
The general indicators to play 6 battlecast are early upgrades to Illaoi, Nocturne, and components for Kogmaw. Kogmaw absolute core item is Red Buff and needs one of Shiv or Runaan's Hurricane. I prio Bow on first carousel because it can be either RH or Shiv, but I've seen ideas of Vest prio for Red Buff. If you get good items, but no upgrades, it may be worth it to lose streak early for carousel priority, and to stay lower level to complete Illaoi and Nocturne upgrades. Here are some early game boards.
Early Kog
Infil Open
In Early Kog opener, Lucian is replaceable to hold Kog items, or if early Ezreal then Graves can hold Kog items. Blitz can replace Malphite. Play what makes sense in the context of your game.
Mid Game
The biggest spike is at level 6 and getting 4 battlecast, 2 chrono, 2 blaster with one core item on Kogmaw. Until you get there, just play whatever you have that is strongest. Again, the purpose of this comp is to win streak. As soon as I can put in 4 battlecast, I level to 6. I avoid aggressively leveling to 7 as I like to stay at 6 for increased chances of upgrading Kogmaw. Stage 4-1 is always a level 7 and then roll an appropriate amount of gold to maintain econ while upgrading your board. Since this board is pretty self-explanatory, look to snipe carries with Blitz/Noc to cheese out wins. If you can't hit these units, or have bad items at this stage, look to pivot out. I pivot to Bang Bros (shares Runaans as core item), Jinx (if high roll early Jinx), or even once Mech (had really bad items). In the mid-game, you should also look to start building Urgot items (GA and mana items) as well has hopefully completing an Ionic Spark for Illaoi. GA is really good on Urgot to trade 1 for 1 in the endgame (saving health) as well as stalling for tie breakers.
Mid-game Board
End-game
Ideally, by the time it is time to level to 8 (between stage 4-3 to 5-1), you'll have generated a 50 health lead over the 7th and 8th place people. Now, the goal is to complete the trait with Viktor and Urgot to try and survive to 9. Until you hit these units, splashing traits like Mystic (Karma/Soraka/Lulu) or Infil (Fizz/Ekko) or front line (Gnar) are great to help you survive and can hold Urgot items. Similar to mid-game, you are looking to cheese out wins with Blitz/Infil/Urgot. Urgot targets the furthest unit in his range which is 3 hexes. Once you have hit 6 Battlecast, look to go 9 to add in Mystic/Asol/Ekko/any other broken unit. Battlecast matches up really bad against Sorcs so Mystic is usually my go to since it helps against Mech and Jinx.
End-game Board
Other Notes
I haven't played that many games with Battlecast, but the results have been very positive so far. Hopefully, this will increase the flavor of your games in the last few days of this flavorless meta. Let me know if there's anything I can improve in my guide; I realize I don't go over general Econ strategies or flex options. I think there's lots of good information in high-elo streamers on economy vs aggressive leveling. I find my playstyle to try and balance both but leaning more towards econ is king. I'll answer as many questions as I can below.
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Step-by-Step Guide for Adding a Stack, Expanding Control Lines, and Building an Assembler

After the positive response to my first tutorial on expanding the RAM, I thought I'd continue the fun by expanding the capabilities of Ben's 8-bit CPU even further. That said, you'll need to have done the work in the previous post to be able to do this. You can get a sense for what we'll do in this Imgur gallery.
In this tutorial, we'll balance software and hardware improvements to make this a pretty capable machine:

Parts List

To only update the hardware, you'll need:
If you want to update the toolchain, you'll need:
  1. Arduino Mega 2560 (Amazon) to create the programmer.
  2. Ribbon Jumper Cables (Amazon) to connect the Arduino to the breadboard.
  3. TL866 II Plus EEPROM Programmer (Amazon) to program the ROM.
Bonus Clock Improvement: One additional thing I did is replace the 74LS04 inverter in Ben's clock circuit with a 74LS14 inverting Schmitt trigger (datasheet, Jameco). The pinouts are identical! Just drop it in, wire the existing lines, and then run the clock output through it twice (since it's inverting) to get a squeaky clean clock signal. Useful if you want to go even faster with the CPU.

Step 1: Program with an Arduino and Assembler (Image 1, Image 2)

There's a certain delight in the physical programming of a computer with switches. This is how Bill Gates and Paul Allen famously programmed the Altair 8800 and started Microsoft. But at some point, the hardware becomes limited by how effectively you can input the software. After upgrading the RAM, I quickly felt constrained by how long it took to program everything.
You can continue to program the computer physically if you want and even after upgrading that option is still available, so this step is optional. There's probably many ways to approach the programming, but this way felt simple and in the spirit of the build. We'll use an Arduino Mega 2560, like the one in Ben's 6502 build, to program the RAM. We'll start with a homemade assembler then switch to something more robust.
Preparing the Physical Interface
The first thing to do is prepare the CPU to be programmed by the Arduino. We already did the hard work on this in the RAM upgrade tutorial by using the bus to write to the RAM and disconnecting the control ROM while in program mode. Now we just need to route the appropriate lines to a convenient spot on the board to plug the Arduino into.
  1. This is optional, but I rewired all the DIP switches to have ground on one side, rather than alternating sides like Ben's build. This just makes it easier to route wires.
  2. Wire the 8 address lines from the DIP switch, connecting the side opposite to ground (the one going to the chips) to a convenient point on the board. I put them on the far left, next to the address LEDs and above the write button circuit.
  3. Wire the 8 data lines from the DIP switch, connecting the side opposite to ground (the one going to the chips) directly below the address lines. Make sure they're separated by the gutter so they're not connected.
  4. Wire a line from the write button to your input area. You want to connect the side of the button that's not connected to ground (the one going to the chip).
So now you have one convenient spot with 8 address lines, 8 data lines, and a write line. If you want to get fancy, you can wire them into some kind of connector, but I found that ribbon jumper cables work nicely and keep things tidy.
The way we'll program the RAM is to enter program mode and set all the DIP switches to the high position (e.g., 11111111). Since the switches are upside-down, this means they'll all be disconnected and not driving to ground. The address and write lines will simply be floating and the data lines will be weakly pulled up by 1k resistors. Either way, the Arduino can now drive the signals going into the chips using its outputs.
Creating the Arduino Programmer
Now that we can interface with an Arduino, we need to write some software. If you follow Ben's 6502 video, you'll have all the knowledge you need to get this working. If you want some hints and code, see below (source code):
  1. Create arrays for your data and address lines. For example: const char ADDRESS_LINES[] = {39, 41, 43, 45, 47, 49, 51, 53};. Create your write line with #define RAM_WRITE 3.
  2. Create functions to enable and disable your address and data lines. You want to enable them before writing. Make sure to disable them afterward so that you can still manually program using DIP switches without disconnecting the Arduino. The code looks like this (just change INPUT to OUTPUT accordingly): for(int n = 0; n < 8; n += 1) { pinMode(ADDRESS_LINES[n], OUTPUT); }
  3. Create a function to write to an address. It'll look like void writeData(byte writeAddress, byte writeData) and basically use two loops, one for address and one for data, followed by toggling the write.
  4. Create a char array that contains your program and data. You can use #define to create opcodes like #define LDA 0x01.
  5. In your main function, loop through the program array and send it through writeData.
With this setup, you can now load multi-line programs in a fraction of a second! This can really come in handy with debugging by stress testing your CPU with software. Make sure to test your setup with existing programs you know run reliably. Now that you have your basic setup working, you can add 8 additional lines to read the bus and expand the program to let you read memory locations or even monitor the running of your CPU.
Making an Assembler
The above will serve us well but it's missing a key feature: labels. Labels are invaluable in assembly because they're so versatile. Jumps, subroutines, variables all use labels. The problem is that labels require parsing. Parsing is a fun project on the road to a compiler but not something I wanted to delve into right now--if you're interested, you can learn about Flex and Bison. Instead, I found a custom assembler that lets you define your CPU's instruction set and it'll do everything else for you. Let's get it setup:
  1. If you're on Windows, you can use the pre-built binaries. Otherwise, you'll need to install Rust and compile via cargo build.
  2. Create a file called 8bit.cpu and define your CPU instructions (source code). For example, LDA would be lda {address} -> 0x01 @ address[7:0]. What's cool is you can also now create the instruction's immediate variant instead of having to call it LDI: lda #{value} -> 0x05 @ value[7:0].
  3. You can now write assembly by adding #include "8bit.cpu" to the top of your code. There's a lot of neat features so make sure to read the documentation!
  4. Once you've written some assembly, you can generate the machine code using ./customasm yourprogram.s -f hexc -p. This prints out a char array just like our Arduino program used!
  5. Copy the char array into your Arduino program and send it to your CPU.
At this stage, you can start creating some pretty complex programs with ease. I would definitely play around with writing some larger programs. I actually found a bug in my hardware that was hidden for a while because my programs were never very complex!

Step 2: Expand the Control Lines (Image)

Before we can expand the CPU any further, we have to address the fact we're running out of control lines. An easy way to do this is to add a 3rd 28C16 ROM and be on your way. If you want something a little more involved but satisfying, read on.
Right now the control lines are one hot encoded. This means that if you have 4 lines, you can encode 4 states. But we know that a 4-bit binary number can encode 16 states. We'll use this principle via 74LS138 decoders, just like Ben used for the step counter.
Choosing the Control Line Combinations
Everything comes with trade-offs. In the case of combining control lines, it means the two control lines we choose to combine can never be activated at the same time. We can ensure this by encoding all the inputs together in the first 74LS138 and all the outputs together in a second 74LS138. We'll keep the remaining control lines directly connected.
Rewiring the Control Lines
If your build is anything like mine, the control lines are a bit of a mess. You'll need to be careful when rewiring to ensure it all comes back together correctly. Let's get to it:
  1. Place the two 74LS138 decoders on the far right side of the breadboard with the ROMs. Connect them to power and ground.
  2. You'll likely run out of inverters, so place a 74LS04 on the breadboard above your decoders. Connect it to power and ground.
  3. Carefully take your inputs (MI, RI, II, AI, BI, J) and wire them to the outputs of the left 74LS138. Do not wire anything to O0 because that's activated by 000 which won't work for us!
  4. Carefully take your outputs (RO, CO, AO, EO) and wire them to the outputs of the right 74LS138. Remember, do not wire anything to O0!
  5. Now, the 74LS138 outputs are active low, but the ROM outputs were active high. This means you need to swap the wiring on all your existing 74LS04 inverters for the LEDs and control lines to work. Make sure you track which control lines are supposed to be active high vs. active low!
  6. Wire E3 to power and E2 to ground. Connect the E1 on both 138s together, then connect it to the same line as OE on your ROMs. This will ensure that the outputs are disabled when you're in program mode. You can actually take off the 1k pull-up resistors from the previous tutorial at this stage, because the 138s actively drive the lines going to the 74LS04 inverters rather than floating like the ROMs.
At this point, you really need to ensure that the massive rewiring job was successful. Connect 3 jumper wires to A0-A2 and test all the combinations manually. Make sure the correct LED lights up and check with a multimeteoscilloscope that you're getting the right signal at each chip. Catching mistakes at this point will save you a lot of headaches! Now that everything is working, let's finish up:
  1. Connect A0-A2 of the left 74LS138 to the left ROM's A0-A2.
  2. Connect A0-A2 of the right 74LS138 to the right ROM's A0-A2.
  3. Distribute the rest of the control signals across the two ROMs.
Changing the ROM Code
This part is easy. We just need to update all of our #define with the new addresses and program the ROMs again. For clarity that we're not using one-hot encoding anymore, I recommend using hex instead of binary. So instead of #define MI 0b0000000100000000, we can use #define MI 0x0100, #define RI 0x0200, and so on.
Testing
Expanding the control lines required physically rewiring a lot of critical stuff, so small mistakes can creep up and make mysterious errors down the road. Write a program that activates each control line at least once and make sure it works properly! With your assembler and Arduino programmer, this should be trivial.
Bonus: Adding B Register Output
With the additional control lines, don't forget you can