If there’s one feature that sets Prismata apart from other games, it’s the diversity of units available. Most games of Prismata use a “base set” of units, plus some advanced units that are randomly generated. But unlike in deckbuilding games where you might need to spend $3,000 or more to get all the good cards, players in Prismata are evenly matched because:
- All units are available to EVERYONE from the beginning
- Both players in a 1v1 match have the same units available in each game
When players begin the automatching process (or choose to fight against an AI), they choose a subset of the hundreds of unit combinations to play with. The current options are:
- Beginner Set: This set doesn’t use any of the green resource in its 10 units. Instead, it focuses on introducing the Prompt, Stamina and Lifespan unit abilities.
- Base + 5: A set that includes the base set and 5 additional, randomly generated, units.
- Base + 8: A set that includes the base set and 8 additional, randomly generated, units.
These options provide virtually endless unit and strategy combinations, as well as opportunities for new players to learn basic game mechanics. The only thing lacking is an opportunity to sink your teeth into a static and intricate set of units that can be played again and again as you refine a specific strategy. Until now.
But I thought randomly generated unit sets are more interesting!
Yes and no, depending on how you choose to play Prismata. Static sets are sophisticated for a number of reasons, one of which I’m going to illustrate using an example from Starcraft: Brood War. Brood War has not received a balance patch since 2001, meaning that its unit sets, game mechanics, and theorycrafting are as stable as it gets. From 2000 to 2005, Zerg players hated this because they were falling very behind, mostly because of perceived imbalances with Terran. Until 2005, Zerg players had won only 11% of professional titles, and most pros were begging Blizzard to rebalance the races.
This all changed in 2005, when a player named Savior invented a completely different Zerg playstyle that shifted the 11% win rate to 55%. Players until then had been focusing on economy or aggression (mutually exclusively), but Savior’s big innovation (a 3-hatchery Mutalisk build) combined both objectives using a series of goal-oriented timings. This was a complete paradigm change, and one that re-galvanized Zerg players that had previously been begging Blizzard for buffs.
I hope similar innovations will come about as this Grandmaster set ages. Maybe Doomed Mech will be marked unplayable at the start, only to be the backbone of many builds two weeks later? To what degree will opening books be written (and will you be the one to think of that next opening novelty)? This specific Grandmaster set is fairly simple tactically, but it will all come down to the timings with which players buy the legendary units: Centrifuge, Defense Grid, Tia Thurnax, and Gauss Fabricator.
Enter the Grandmaster Set
The Grandmaster Set will give players a static collection of advanced units. It will allow experts to develop deep strategies before jumping into a game (which is almost impossible using a set of randomly generated units), while newer players will find it easier to practise specific strategies when the set of units is guaranteed.
The Grandmaster Set will not replace any existing play options in the game. The Grandmaster Set will simply be another option for a different sort of play style that you can choose to experience (or not).
After reading Redditors’ suggestions for what units would be most interesting to include in this set, I’ve settled on the base set plus 8 fixed units that were selected for their popularity and combined emergent qualities. The set will rotate every couple of weeks or when people get bored with it, but the first iteration will include the following 8 additional units:
How can you not like this colorful contraption? It’s more efficient to just buy Animuses, Blastforges and Conduits if you want a consistent stream of every resource. But Centrifuge shines by giving you technological flexibility. This unit enables you to afford legendary units costing 4 Reds or 3 Blues a single time, and without committing to a second Animus.
Fabricator builds 40 health worth of units over 8 turns and almost guarantees a bright future for your game. Simple and brutally efficient, the only downside is your opponent will see it coming from miles away. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be able to react to it.
They come out cheaply once you commit to a second Blastforge, and give you good options for both attacking and defending. This versatility must be used in order for Doomed Mech to be worth the price. If you’re only going to be attacking with Doomed Mechs, they may all expire before your opponent crumbles. Like all units with Lifespan, you get maximum value out of them if you can use them as a meat shield on their last turn.
There is no better feeling in the world than sitting behind the safety of a Defense Grid while watching your economy grow. Be careful not to get Defense Grid too early though, as its Lifespan will expire when you need its defense the most. Also note that Defense Grid is not Prompt, so you will have to plan ahead to deploy it while keeping your Drones safe.
Once you no longer need your Animus, Perforators can still get value out of the Red produced by them. Or, you can get just one to extract that odd Red from the 2 produced by your Animus every turn. It’s even a cheap Red meat-shield for keeping more breach-vulnerable units, like Tarsiers, alive. You’ll learn to love the options these little guys provide you with. Just be careful if you’re going to allow your opponent to breach—they could snipe your Animus!
Once you’re ready to commit, pummel your opponent by flinging all your Drones at them! This all-in late-game unit can grow your attack quicker than any other. Just make sure you have enough ammo to finish your opponent off, or you may find yourself needing to rebuild in the late-late-game.
You severely dent your economy for the rest of the game for 3 big shots at your opponent. Can they defend? Being able to threaten to obtain this legendary dragon forces your opponent to play with extreme caution. Bonus points if you make use of its Promptness and defend with it on the first turn.
Scorchilla’s impact is felt most in openings where its wielder gets 2 at once (using a single Conduit and Animus), suddenly increasing their attack by 6. But it’s really the second and third waves that cause your opponent to collapse. Don’t underestimate its defensive capability either – it can soak up 2 damage while waiting to sync up with a fellow Scorchilla.
Stay tuned for a future article about strong openings in Grandmaster set games!