Annotated Prismata Openings by Will Ma

Hi all!

Sorry that the blog’s been a bit quiet lately; I’ve been out of town, spending most of my time locked in an underground bunker working exclusively on Prismata single-player content—both the campaign (a massive project that I’m hugely excited about) and an upcoming puzzle pack (that we’ll be announcing soon!)

In the mean time, Prismata creator and Lunarch Studios co-founder Will Ma has provided some really interesting opening analyses from some of his recent ladder games. The games are quite fascinating and focus on using an early Animus to pressure the opponent into committing to a specific line of play that can later be exploited through a tech transition.

Check out the full discussion on the Prismata subreddit. Summary below:


Game 1: early Red to force a Thunderhead, and transition out.




T3 Animus I think is best play, definitely not Blastforge, maybe DDEC is reasonable as well. But I like it because it puts the test to my opponent in how to respond.


P2 T3 2nd Conduit is his response. I think this is VERY committal to a rather fast all-in with Venge/Thunderhead. I felt good about my position here; all I had to do is transition out of Red with Ferritin and defend with Doomed Drones/Arka Sodara/my own later Thunderhead.


I lost this game but my execution was very poor on a lot of turns. I think my strategy was interesting and viable though, although if you disagree let me know. Maybe my strategy was bad because with the click ability it is possible to go Venge and NOT go all-in (just make 1 Venge and click it), which is what he did, and after this point in the game I committed too hard to playing against his “all-in”.



Game 2: early Red to force a Thunderhead, and transition out.




A very similar set with Thunderhead to counter Red Rush but Ferritin to re-counter Thunderhead. I spent a long time deliberating P2 CA vs P2 DA; CA is better if he responds with his own CA (because the game will end quickly and that extra G is one extra forcefield); DA is better if he responds with Thunderhead (because that extra G won’t be used for a long time). I liked my chances more vs. Thunderhead than in the mirror, so I played the move that’s better vs the mirror.


He decides to go Thunderhead (not sure if he would’ve done CA had I minimaxed against Thunderhead instead). On Turn 4 I go Electrovore + Feral even though they would do 0 damage if he goes straight for Thunderhead. I’m not sure this was correct; if he goes Thunderhead for sure it’s definitely not, but possibly he could have pressured me with Isos first if I didn’t get these 2 additional attackers before Droning, so forcing him to lead with Thunderhead is enough of a boon that I justified getting these 2 additional attackers.


He does opt for an early thunderhead, and I deal 0 damage despite devoting Turns 3 and 4 to making Tarsiers, Electrovores, and Ferals. Fortunately, the Electrovore and Ferals can switch to D, and I simply Drone up and defend to counter his Thunderhead. I win a close game where the economy he sacrificed for the early Thunderhead seemed to slightly exceed the economy I sacrificed for the early Red units.



Game 3: Tatsus in a non-Tatsu set to punish 3rd Engi greed (and then transition out of Red)




Under most lines, I don’t think Tatsu should be a viable strategy in this set, with Synthesizer-Apollo being good enough (and a sufficiently high economy enabled by Xaetron). However, my opponent goes for P2 3rd Engineer when I did NOT go P1 3rd Engineer. I pounce on the opportunity to Tatsu rush vs. this greed, even though I know the Tatsus won’t win me the game outright. I hope that the amount I can damage his economy with Tatsus exceeds the Drones I had to cut to rush Tatsus.


By Turn 10 the Apollo has finished off my initial wave of attackers (I gave up making more attackers the moment Apollo showed up), and I have a small Drone advantage (but a tech/Apollo disadvantage). Fortunately, Nitrocybe allowed me to make use of the Red and win the long game fairly easily (after maxing Drones and getting my own Apollo and Xaetron).


I wonder if I would have won this game without Nitrocybe being in the set. My guess is probably not. However, if he also didn’t have Synthesizer (so the set is just Tatsu + Apollo + Xaetron), I would guess 3rd Engineer still gets punished by Tatsu.

Thanks to Will for providing the insightful comments.


About Elyot Grant

A former gold medalist in national competitions in both mathematics and computer science, Elyot has long refused to enjoy anything except video games. Elyot took more pride in winning the Reddit Starcraft Tournament than he did in earning the Computing Research Association's most prestigious research award in North America. Decried for wasting his talents, Elyot founded Lunarch Studios to pursue his true passion.