I’m pleased to announce that we’ll be deploying a pretty big content update this weekend. The update will include:
- New balance tweaks
- Three new Prismata units
- New skins
- A *ton* of new emotes
- Some new software features
We’re making only four changes, but they’ve each got quite a lot behind them! They’ll go live this weekend.
Odin – Cost decreased from 21BBB to 19BBB, HP decreased from 5 to 4.
For a long time, Odin has been on our list of “Prismata units that would still get bought a ton even if they were made more expensive”. This alone isn’t a problem; plenty of other units share this feature and still lead to interesting games with a lot of variety. However, we felt that Odin wasn’t doing a good job at balancing its attacking and defensive capabilities. The current Odin is almost always used as a defender, with its “sac a Steelsplitter for 4 damage” ability often acting as a never-executed threat. The culprit: Odin’s high HP, which adds an additional opportunity cost to clicking it (if you don’t have another 5HP defender, then clicking Odin reduces the amount of damage you can absorb on your next defense phase).
In the name of “finding the best version of every Prismata unit”, we’ve been experimenting with a 4HP Odin. After testing, we found that it led to interesting decisions far more often, so we’ve decided to push the change! Trust me, you’ll be debating whether you want to click it on many turns, and clicking it far more frequently overall.
As for its new cost, 19BBB was chosen to avoid some of the more degenerate openings (remember, Odin still threatens 7 damage as soon as it’s bought!) On the whole, it’s probably a slight bit weaker than before, but still an excellent buy in many situations.
Drake – Cost decreased from 17BBB to 12BB. Attack decreased from 3 to 2 (still sacrificing a Blastforge and doing 2 additional damage when clicked).
Drake is starting to remind me of Deadeye Operative—it’s been proving a tough one to get right. Originally priced at 14BBB many years ago, Drake has been gradually nerfed on 3 separate occasions to its current 17BBB cost after we slowly came to understand just how powerful the threat of its click ability truly is. The final 17BBB nerf was added after we observed a pretty strong player 1 bias (almost 3%, slightly higher in 1700+ games) in games involving the old 16BBB Drake (mostly due to p1 having very convenient builds available to get 2 or 3 Drakes). The 17BBB Drake is OK, but we want to see if we can do better.
Drake does a few things right. Like many units with a click-ability, Drake gives players a chance to express their skill through the choice of when to click it. In theory, Drake can also solve some of the tech problems of BBB units; by giving you a chance to do something useful with your Blastforges, you can switch away from BBB tech later in the game if you like. Unfortunately, that seldom works in practice, because Drake games often involve such huge amounts of damage that switching away from BBB doesn’t work, and players generally want to have enough Blastforges to threaten the use of all their Drakes anyway. In unit sets with no extra defenses available, this led to Drake games that were often just a matter of who ran out of Walls first.
We tried many things to fix this, including:
- A stronger click ability (e.g. 3 extra damage instead of 2). This certainly increased the rate that Drake was clicked, but the strength of the ability encouraged players to always replace the lost Blastforges.
- A weaker click ability (e.g. 1 extra damage instead of 2, or “pay B when clicking”). We thought that it might give defenders more interesting decisions (e.g. sometimes allowing the opponent to click a Drake in order to breach), but it didn’t work that well in practice; it’s hard for defenders to make the attacker’s decision difficult as it’s almost always correct to click the Drake if it kills an extra Wall. The “pay B when clicking” solution just felt awkward, as no other “sac-to-attack” unit has that feature.
- A legendary Drake. We tried a stronger Drake (3 extra damage when clicked), while giving the unit only a single supply to prevent crazy mirrors in which both players had multiple Drakes and threatened a ton of damage. It was OK, but we thought we could do better.
Eventually, we simply settled on a smaller Drake. By decreasing Drake’s base attack to 2 and reducing its tech cost to BB, players could still rush Drakes, but they would be faced with more options in acquiring additional techs. BBB tech remains an option, providing an extra threat if a third Drake is constructed. Meanwhile, the most aggressive rushes actually lose to base set counters (Rhinos are quite good against Drakes because of their promptness). The new 12BB 2-attack Drake is probably somewhere between the 16BBB and 17BBB Drakes in strength, and it proved to be excellent in test games. We hope you’ll enjoy it!
Trinity Drone – Cost decreased from 2EG to 2G.
Trinity Drone is a unit that, outside of breachproof strategies, mostly isn’t that good. It costs more than a regular Drone, can’t be converted to Forcefields late in the game, and can’t be used as fodder for Venge Cannons, Plasmafiers, or Tia Thurnax. Its main benefit was to provide some flexibility in the opening (sometimes you’d really love to spend G instead of a gold when buying a Drone, such as with p2 DD/DDC/DA+Trinity). Unfortunately, we found that these opening benefits mostly fell on player 2 (e.g. p1 DD/DC/DB+Trinity is mostly identical to DD/DD/DCB), so they weren’t really benefits at all, design-wise!
We generally felt that Trinity could afford to be a bit stronger and offer more utility (both in breachproof situations and otherwise), but there weren’t too many options available. Giving Trinity more HP wouldn’t help in non-breachproof situations, and actually caused problems in breachproof games, because players would often attack Trinity Drones last. We also considered various click abilities for Trinity Drone, but they either proved too strong (pay 4HP for an extra gold) or clunky (sacrifice, gain three drones).
The 2G cost is actually something that we’ve tried in the past. For quite a long time (before we normalized all the costs and put energy in the cost of all economic units), Trinity actually used to cost only 2G. It was quite an exciting unit, because you could ramp up your economy quite quickly (without building extra engineers), and you could also suddenly convert all your Drones into Trinity Drones if your opponent threatened to destroy them in a breach. It’s certainly strong, and Will was particularly worried about its economic ramping potential, but after seeing the effects of Thorium Dynamo (a similar unit), we’re pretty comfortable with the change.
Tatsu Nullifier – Cost increased from 11RRRR to 12RRRR.
Tatsu Nullifier is one of the most dynamic, game-swinging units in Prismata. It can be completely unplayable in some sets, and completely dominating in others. It can lead to situations in which players build a Blastforge, witness their opponent’s reply, and then suddenly drop a double Animus in response, wasting the Blastforge for the rest of the game. It’s also a much-hated unit among beginners, who typically find it very difficult to play against.
Now, we like strong units, and we enjoy units whose mere existence forces players to think carefully about their opening tech choices. But Tatsu can be very punishing, often in ways that are quite one-sided. In particular, some combos involving units like Corpus or Nitrocybe can result in players being in unwinnable situations just a few turns into the game. So, in an effort to smooth out these openings, Tatsu Nullifier is finally getting nerfed.
New Prismata Units
We’ll be launching three new units at 12:01 am Eastern Time this Saturday, just after midnight! They’ll be revealed here, one a day! Here’s the first one, an extremely flexible economic attacker:
Fun fact: Blood Phage is one of the oldest Prismata unit designs, originating from a unit created in 2011 that combined attack and gold-production into a single unit. The red-to-gold conversion is a more recent innovation but we really love it!
The next spoiler will go live tomorrow, less than an hour from now!
Like last time, we’ll make these new units more common during the first 24 hours after their release.
New Skins and Emotes
Yes, we’re aware that emotes haven’t been getting much love lately, and that most of the rewards in the armory are skins. Not for much longer! We’ll be adding a ton of emotes this weekend. Plus, more skins:
New Prismata Features
A few small features that are coming soon:
- A new emote browser. We’re working on a new way to view and equip emotes. It will be much more convenient when you’re browsing through a collection of dozens (or hundreds?) of them.
- Gold and Platinum Arena. You’ll be able to use shards to enter Gold and Platinum tier arena runs, where the stakes are higher and the bonus stars are plentiful. There will also be occasional random ticket drops! Once we’re confident that everything is working, we’ll be handing out golden passes and weekly platinum tickets to our Kickstarter backers and supporters.
- Master Bot. Dave added a ton of new fixes and features. Master bot should be smarter about defending, purchasing blockers, and breaching.
- Quality-of-life Improvements. These are already deployed! You can now copy-paste text from the chat! You can also press ENTER while searching for units in the custom set creator to quickly add them. Many more small improvements and bugfixes are constantly being added.
Q: Will Accounts Ever Be Wiped?
With the arena rewards system in place, this is a question we’ve been getting asked more often, since player want to know whether the rewards they’re earning are permanent. The answer is complicated, but I want to clarify a few things:
We won’t be wiping or deleting any accounts. Your Prismata account is yours forever.
We may, at some point, choose to reset some aspects of collections/progress. For example, if we revamped the rating system or the skin-collection systems, we could choose to reset everyone’s rating or skin collection progress. This would be especially important if, for example, we changed prices in a way that would be unfair to future players.
We do not have any resets planned at this time. But this could change! We’ll be reevaluating arena rewards once all the features are deployed to see if changes are needed. If they are, it’s more likely that a reset could occur before the end of the alpha.
Players will be compensated for anything lost in a reset. For example, any in-game currency spent on something will be refunded if those transactions are reset. If we reset the progress of arena rewards, players will receive free shards and/or power cores in an amount commensurate with the amount of effort they put in to earn those rewards.
The patch will go live on Saturday!
We can’t wait!