Balancing Prismata Openings Through Unit Design – part 3: Variable Rush Timings

Hi everyone!

Continuing from where we left off last time, we’re going to talk about one of my favourite Prismata topics—rush timings. Every Prismata player has been in a situation where they’ve been caught off guard and lost to their opponent’s early Redeemer, Shadowfangs, or Tia Thurnax. But when do these rushes work, when do they fail, and how do we modify our unit designs to ensure that that they don’t lead to autowins?

Redeemer's new look.

Sick of fighting, this Redeemer took up a new career.

The answer is a bit complex, and requires a deep understanding of when rushes themselves are strongest. Get ready for a somewhat theoretical (but fun) discussion!



Prismata’s performance rating formula 1

Hi guys,

Just a quick update regarding another change that will be going in soon.

Since deploying the first version of Arena mode, the “temporary arena results screen” has had a line in it called “Performance” that’s supposed to provide an indication of how well you played during your arena run (a “performance rating”.) It currently looks like this:

The temporary arena results screen. Performance rating has been highlighted.

The temporary arena results screen. Performance rating has been highlighted.


Balancing Prismata Openings Through Unit Design – part 1 1

Hello everyone!

In today’s article, I’m going to reveal a few Prismata secrets that we’ve never shared with the public: we’ll be showing off some pages from our secret opening book (yes, we have one!)

Before I do that, I have two announcements to make:

(1) A huge balance patch is happening this weekend, and it will go live at noon EST on Saturday, May 23rd. We’ll be tweaking a total of 13 different Prismata units. Just for fun, the tweaks are being revealed one at a time on our Twitter page. Be sure to follow us to receive every update as it arrives.

(2) Our AI Mastermind Dave is conducting a Prismata AI survey. We’re really interested in how people think we’re doing with respect to the Prismata bots, so if you haven’t filled out the survey yet, we’d really appreciate it!

Prismata’s robot overlords will be taking over soon.

Now, let’s get to the meat of the article. I apologize in advance for the fact that this is a bit rambly, geeky, and somewhat technical. But revealing secret openings is serious business!


Being Excellent to One Another 1

Hey everyone! Happy Tuesday!

Before we get to today’s article, I want to introduce our latest new summer intern, Jordan Verasamy!


As you can see in the background, Jordan uses a mechanical keyboard with no letters printed on it. And yes, he looks this smug in real life. Like our other co-ops, Jordan was temporarily granted access to sunlight for this photograph.

Jordan will be working on various roles in support, QA, and automation. He’ll be catching bugs, making our server more secure, and simulating thousands of users on our system to help pinpoint scalability bottlenecks. He’s also a Tier 8 Prismata player.


Prismata’s History in Videos (and how *YOU* can be in the next one!)

Hey, guys!

First up, a quick announcement: our Impending Doom contest ended Saturday, and we received the first answer just over four hours after the contest went live. Congratulations to MasN, who completed the challenge first. All of our top 10 finishers, alongside their finishing times, are listed here.

With one contest out of the way, we’ve decided to announce another. We’re calling it Prismata in 60 Seconds, and the goal is simple: make the best 1-minute Prismata video you can. Details are given near the bottom of the article, but the prizes include an ambassador badge, the chance to design your own emote, the much-coveted first edition Prismata t-shirt, and over $100 in Prismata rewards.

Before we get to the rules and prizes, let’s take a look at Prismata’s history, according to the various videos and trailers released on our youtube channel over the past year. Whether you haven’t watched any of them, or you’re a dedicated subscriber who literally watches every single video the hour it’s posted, there might be a few little things you never knew about these videos!


The Future of Prismata’s Art 1



Hey, guys!

I’m going to jump straight into this post. It’s going to be about Prismata’s overall graphical look, and how we’ll be upgrading it as time goes on. We get a lot of questions along the lines of “Why don’t you have good art like Game X?”, where Game X is typically a work by a AAA developer with a budget in the millions. Even though these types of questions may be a bit tongue-in-cheek, we do intend to improve our graphics to the point where we are competing with the best-looking strategy games and card games out there. In the next year, you’ll be seeing big updates to our user interface, look and feel, animations, unit art, and tons of other aspects of Prismata’s appearance. Today, I’m going to explain our plans.

Before I get to that, let’s first take a look at the competition.


Prismata pretty much owes its entire existence to reddit. And here are the numbers to prove it…

I’ve mentioned before that Prismata would be completely dead in the water without reddit. And it’s 100% true. But until now, I’ve never divulged any actual statistics on just how much of an effect reddit truly had.

To be honest, it’s because I’m pretty embarrassed about it.

For one thing, the Prismata Kickstarter just hit 100% funding with about 35 hours to go. We *barely* made it. And as it turns out, every single splke in our Kickstarter pledge activity actually coincides with a day we did well on reddit, meaning that we literally wouldn’t even have come close to our goal without the support of redditors. I feel bad admitting it, but reddit pretty much saved my career as a game developer. I truly have no words to express how grateful I am.

Let’s start with the worst… this graphic really puts a knot in my throat:

Screenshot from Prismata's page on

Prismata’s Kickstarter pledges over time. Like most Kickstarters, we got an initial bump of funding when our campaign first went live. But every single subsequent bump has coincided with a reddit-related event.

Outside of the initial spike when we first went live, the day-to-day interest in our Kickstarter was actually pretty terrible (more on that later). This graph highlights the fact that we were way too ambitious in setting a goal of $140,000; take away those big green reddit spkies, and we’d be tens of thousands of dollars short. The fact that we hit $140k feels miraculous.

But actually, this wasn’t the first time reddit came to our aid.



The Prismata AI: How I learned to stop worrying and love the bots 1

Hey Everyone! I’m Dave Churchill, lead AI programmer on Prismata. While working for Lunarch I’m also finishing up my PhD in video game AI at the University of Alberta. In 2013 my StarCraft AI bot UAlbertaBot won the AIIDE StarCraft AI Competition, which we have been hosting at UofA since 2010. There are a lot of similarities between the AI for StarCraft and for Prismata, and we’ve been able to use some state-of-the-art RTS AI research techniques with new twists. For those not familiar with it, Prismata is a hybrid strategy game that combines ideas from RTS games, card games, and tabletop strategy games. A “how to play” video is available here. Some people describe Prismata as a “real-time strategy game without the real-time”. However, Prismata presents many new and unique challenges that make it different from a traditional RTS in terms of AI design. Let’s dive into an overview of the AI in Prismata: from initial motivations all the way to implementation details. (more…)

Removing RNG: how eliminating luck can benefit strategy card games 1

This article originally appeared as a guest feature on


What if a card game like Magic: The Gathering or Hearthstone had no luck? Would it be playable? Exciting? Balanced? Skill-testing? When I ask people this question, most of them seem to think that it would introduce a huge number of problems, crippling the experience for players. But I’m here to make a bold counter-claim: If done right, removing randomness can actually make a card game better.


My justification for this statement is effectively a case in point. For many years, I’ve been working on a game called Prismata with a group of friends from MIT. Prismata is, effectively, an online competitive card game without randomness—a seemingly impossible game that shouldn’t exist. In reality, Prismata borrows a lot of ideas from real-time strategy games and tabletop board games to make the concept work. However, blending these ideas in a usable way was no simple task; Prismata required years of testing and iteration, and the entire project was scrapped and restarted from scratch over a dozen times.


Kickstarter Update: Why doesn’t Prismata have decks?

See the full update here.



This video marks the first in a series where we’ll profile the features that make Prismata so unique. In this episode, Elyot and I talk about why Prismata matches use randomized unit sets, and what impact that has on game mechanics and addictiveness.