Over the last couple of weeks we’ve introduced a variety of new units, from the utterly game-changing Apollo to the more subtle Auride Core. We’re aiming to release new units on a consistent basis, as it keeps the game fresh and players adapting, but there are a lot of considerations that go into creating units that are radical and seamlessly integrative.
I’ve already explained the significance of sniping, but what other game-changing mechanics are on Prismata’s horizon?
The core concept behind much of the unit design in Prismata is that each of the three branches of the Prismata tech tree (Animus, Blastforge and Conduit) has its own unique set of ideal conditions that must be achieved in order for the units on that branch to perform optimally. Ossified drone is explicitly designed to help players who have invested heavily in red, but are in need of defense.
Red units—like Shadowfang and Tarsier—are cost-efficient attackers, but often suffer from low health, making them extremely vulnerable in the event of an enemy breach. The standard red defender (Rhino) can be inefficient in situations where you are not able to use its attack ability, so players adopting red-only strategies frequently need to hold back Drones in order to prevent a breach.
Ossified drone was made for this situation. Ossified drones have two major advantages over standard Drones: they have higher health than normal Drones, and they can produce gold while defending on the same turn. Once the initial Ossified drone is built, the cost of upgrading other Drones to Ossified drones is only a single red, which is often “free” if unspent leftover reds would otherwise expire at the end of your turn. And Ossified drones are a perfect way to provide defense in the ideal late game situation for players who invest heavily in Animus technology, because players don’t have to undergo inefficient technology switches in order to defend more efficiently.
Zemora also draws on this concept of ideal game states. Just like the red endgame is characterized by a lack of strong defenders, green’s endgame often involves lots of high-health units, excess Conduits, and stored green.
Our initial idea for Zemora Voidbringer, which was originally named the Crazy Contraption, was even more dramatic than the current iteration. It did 2 things:
- At the start of your turn, sacrifice all your Drones for 1 attack per Drone
- At the end of your turn, convert all of your stored green to Drones (1 Drone per green)
The Crazy Contraption was extremely fun because it allowed players to convert their economy to attack, and then green into economy, at a 1:1 ratio. It made Conduits essential, and created dramatic all-or-nothing plays. But there were a few problems: the Contraption led to some extremely degenerate strategies in which players would save up ridiculous amounts of green, and these games would take a long time to end because Conduits have so much health. Eventually, we settled on the current version because it makes effective use of stored green, but in a balanced way. Players have to plan effectively to save up 8 green without getting too many Conduits, but the reward is great.
One of the things that makes Zemora Voidbringer so interesting is the “sacredness” of stored resources. Unlike just about everything else in Prismata, your stored resources are one thing that your opponent cannot attack (well, at least not yet!) Storing resources in Prismata feels a bit similar to accumulating a high-damage combo in your hand in other card games—there is no way for your opponent to disrupt it. Zemora allows you to slowly build up an 8 damage attack that can’t be stopped unless your opponent eliminates you.
Chrono Filter is too efficient at producing a blue and a red, even considering the fact that it only does so every second turn. What’s the catch? You see, the fact that it produces both non-storable resources (blue and red) every other turn places huge constraints on a player’s economy. How are you going to have enough Drones to spend the blue and red on the turns when Chrono Filter is “on”, and not have too much leftover gold on the “off” turns?
Of course, you might be thinking, “Why can’t I just build two off-sync Chrono Filters, so that I have the same tech every turn?” The problem is: you can’t. Chrono Filter has only one supply, which was intentionally done to force players to deal with its inconsistent production. But the best players will use this to their advantage, instead of letting it restrict their economic options.
Another niche use of Chrono Filter is allowing you to get that 3rd blue or 3rd red one time, for cheap. For example, did you know that it’s possible to construct a Centurion using only a single Conduit, and single Blastforge, and a Chrono Filter?
Designing Chrono Filter felt very satisfying. We started with the basic idea of a “cyclic” tech building, analogous to the attacking unit Iso Kronus. It immediately dawned on us that there was little sense in making the building produce green, since green can be stored anyway. And clearly it would be even more challenging to use if it produced a combination of blue and red, instead of just one and not the other. Following this, the cost of 4 gold was perfect to make Chrono Filter efficient enough to be worth the annoyance to your economy. Given our original idea, every aspect of this unit was decided by a logical deduction, and the end product will hopefully be a subtle gem that Prismata players study for a long time.
A few years ago in internal testing, the precursor to Savior was named “the eagles are coming.” and it would produce 8 tiny attacking “eagles”. We liked the idea, but chose to redesign the unit after deciding that one big attacker was more epic than 8 little attackers.
Savior can create very interesting game situations because it induced a massive asymmetry in cases where only one players choose to get it. That player would typically fall behind in the early game, only to be saved by a huge spaceship in the late game.
A final crucial aspect of Savior is that it doesn’t have any technological requirements—in fact, it’s the only attacking unit currently in Prismata that doesn’t require any red, green, or blue. This means that it’s available to all players, regardless of which branches of Prismata’s technology tree that they opt to invest in.