One of main reason I am truly intrigued by this game is all the built in game mechanics. As a gamer, it really comes down to how game plays. This game deserves/allows me to dig into individual pieces of the game mechanics separately as every bit of pieces seem to have certain depth. First in the series, let’s start with the main emphasis in the game, “Battlefield.” If there is still a follower of my blog since the era of Eye of Judgment, this is one article I want you to read. Our time may be back!
What’s battlefield mechanics?
The game will have 5 x 5 tiles/squares. Individual troops will occupy each of those spaces, and you can move around the spaces.
Having a slot where you can cast troop is not an uncommon feature in dTCG/dCCG with best example perhaps is Solforge, but many others. I personally call these as slot based battlefield system (SBS) in contrast to free battlefield system (FBS). In general, SBS is utilized in attempt to simplify game mechanics. Since you can generally have one troop per slot, player and game designer knows maximum number of troop that can be on board.
Solforge picture from gamecrate.com
Although it simplifies the game, there is some unique element of SBS compared FBS, which is positional element/component. Since card takes up a specific slot one can easily create a mechanics based on the position of card e.g. card right of this gets +2 attack or card facing against gets -1 attack. Somewhat unique element that FBS cannot really utilize, but general use of this positional element is limited compared to the restriction SBS provides due to maximum number of troops can be placed on the board. So again, I personally consider SBS is general method of simplifying game play rather than adding newer element to the game.
This is; however, not the case with WoT. By expanding slots to 2 dimensional rather than 1 dimensional, it really opens up true potential of positional element in SBS. *Remember Solforge is one lane is yours but other is opponent’s so essentially one dimensional slots.
Eye of Judgment Picture with 3 x 3 battlefield (mlpforum.com)
How does the game work?
We will take a close look at power of battlefield further down below but first, let’s understand how the game works.
The lane closest to a player is called invocation line where we can summon our troops.
Aside from standard attack and life, troops have third parameter called speed, which defines how many slots the troop can move during one’s turn. So above card can move 2 slots.
Summoning sickness in this game reduces speed by 1 when a troop is casted so Hill Giant can only move one slot the turn he is casted.
Goal of the game is to defeat i.e. take opponent’s players health from 20 to 0. In order to do so, these troop must reach to opponent’s invocation line at which point these troops can attack opponent’s player.
But obviously, there is defending side of it. In order to understand this, we need to understand how battling troops in this game works.
Threat area is where a troop can attack i.e. basically immediately next square either vertical or horizontal to the target troop is considered to be within the area. So a troop comes to the area will result in battling between troops. For example, if you move your troop and crosses threat area of two enemies, both will attack you but you decide which one you attack back.
So even if you reach to opponent’s invocation line if there is a opponent troop in the invocation line next to your troop, you can still not attack opponent player until you clear the troop.
Power of Battlefield Mechanic
So now we have basic understanding of how battlefield works in this game, we can start looking how this system really adds unique element to dTCG that conventional SBS nor FBS could have done.
Placing/Moving is Tactics
Main element of its own. Where you put troops how you move plays a critical role of game play. Since I have never played this type of card game personally, I quickly associated this part with Chess or Shogi. Basically, I can easily see one summoning troops in certain positions to create a defense line and use other couple lines as attacking line.
One can do concentrated attacking from a side line. Others may perhaps elect to build strong defense line first and once that’s solidified, then finally start attack process.
Omnipresence (This troop can be invoked in any zone of the battlefield).
Not surprisingly, ability/keyword like omnipresence can suddenly break the pattern/plan or just like Shogi, which is Japanese Chess, you can put acquired piece anywhere on the board to create unexpected type of play.
2 Dimensional Battle
Easiest one to understand is simply 2D attack or effect concept. Since position matters in this game, you can use that to add new types of effect. Let’s take a look at specific examples.
Distance (This troop can attack non-adjacent troops, but only in straight line and without any troop in the middle of the trajectory. Any troop without Distance won’t be able to counterattack).
Area Strike: (This troop hits every enemy troop within its threat area).
Raze (This troop hits both the troop it fights and the troop behind it).
The battle is no longer what’s in front of view. Range attack really kicks in here.
Eye of Judgment Set.2 emphasized this as one of new component in the set though actual effect seemed a bit diluted for potential of what it could have done. This is basically combination of positions among troops provide a new effect.
Simplest form is imaging you have two of your own troops with a slot in between (horizontally). Enemy going through the slot have to really make a decision as going into the slot will result in damages from both of those two troops but you can only attack back one.
At a glance that formation or setup of troops look nice to protect the particular square, but going back to above section, if opponents put area strike troop, that formation can take a bit extra damage there.
Another example is may be you though you’d protect a line vertically and have troops back to back so if one gets destroyed, you can bring the other guy immediately and keep proceeding. Well, how about a troop with Raze that takes both of those troops?
So relationship of how you putting your troops matters and that can be appropriately countered by opponent.
Radiate (Whenever this troop becomes target of a spell or ability which only targets it, copy that spell or ability and apply its effect to every zone adjacent to this troop).
This keyword introduces a good concept of setting up specific formation among your troops can potentially benefit. So have a troop with radiate ability be at center and fill all four slots with your ally troops i.e. Cross formation, and use some boost spell to it now all 5 guys get the boost.
Here I’m not sure if Radiate applies to enemy effect as well i.e. double edge sword if opponent’s decides to use a spell to attack center guy and all other 4 takes same damage.
I can easily imagine some potential cards that gives boost based on the formation e.g. if there is ally troop adjacent to this, you gain +X attack. If you put couple of those together both get good boosts, and enemy’s job is to break the alignment so may be instead of damage and getting counterattacked, just have some ability to push one card back a square, and now all those boosts are broken.
What if there are cards that allows you to build a base camp? This means on a field you create a tower where you can heal your guy when he is back on it, or you are bit more protected while in the tower like defense tower. I initially thought was going to put as potential future idea, but it was unnecessary (this is one of reason why I see this game as such a great potential as developers are already covering pretty much all the ground I can think of which never happened in other games).
N O N -Attached Objects: These objects are put on the battlefield like they were another troop. However, they don’t use effectively a zone, so that any troop could move into the same zone an object is placed.
These objects usually have Durability. It’s consumed by hitting them like in a normal combat. The only difference is that durability isn’t consumed as life is. When an object is hit (from an adjacent zone, like in combat, and by an enemy troop), it loses 1 durability point. It doesn’t matter the ATK value of the troop that hits, the object will always lose 1 durability point (unless any card effect says a different thing).
So yes this design covers it. In fact, there is nothing specifically say these objects cannot be moved so one can imagine essentially something like battle tank and your troop can ride along.
Obviously, most of cards hasn’t been revealed but many keywords are already viewable via official guidebook. So here are things that I didn’t see on rulebook but potentially battlefield system in the WoT can do if M2R decides to do so.
What other game really can utilize trap than this type of game? In Yu Gi Oh and Shadow Era uses trap card to provide a feeling of dynamic interaction play i.e. player can play during opponent’s turn without truly giving the whole flexibility, but is it really a trap when you can see its there? HEX took it to another dimension with putting your card/trap card into opponent deck. I consider this as a real trap but really in uncontrolled way.
So what’s real trap? To me, real trap card is different from placeholder for instant/quick action type card. It’s something you set it but opponent does not even know you actually set it. Unlike instant type card, you won’t have luxury of deciding when to use but rather you plan based on anticipation.
Having battlefield with cumulative resource system in WoT allows a real trap card implementation. Imagine you set a card somewhere on the battlefield and when enemy goes to the slot/zone that’s exactly when trap executes. Yes. they may see you spend a card and therefore sees trap has been set but don’t know which one of 25 zones. Sometime as in Shadow Era, amount of resource spent allows you predict what type of trap has been used, but given cumulative nature of resource system, this may even be saved until the time of execution i.e. if a player who sets trap does not have enough gold/mana it won’t trigger. So only information provided here to opponent is fact you set trap and that may potentially even be concealed. But you can see this type of trap card is not same as instant nor other conventional trap card other games use.
So what does developer think about this idea? Below is his response.
Q. I can already see multiple field based mechanics from distantia, area strike to radiate and omnipresence. Is there any trap type card? I.e. Put a card faced down or set to a battle field square and if enemy walks by or on it, the trap triggers.
NOT YET. TAKE SERIOUS NOTE OF “YET”. AS WOT IDEA WAS BORN AS A REAL BOARD-CARD GAME, THAT WASN’T POSSIBLE (AS OPPONENT COULD SEE THE LOCATION OF TRAPS, LOSING MOST OF ITS EFFECTIVENESS), SO WE DISCARDED IT FOR THE BASIC GAME. BUT, WITH A CONSOLIDATED ONLINE GAME, BE SURE TRAPS WILL EXIST, AND MAKE IMPOSSIBLE LIFE OF MANY PLAYERS! (HEHE) IN FACT, SHAMAN GRUUJ BHARAK (A HERO) PUTS EXPLOSIVE TOTEMS ON THE FIELD WE COULD SAY ARE THE FIRST KIND OF TRAP ON THIS GAME.
Yup! They are going to be present.
Usually, I have a lot to say in this section, but not for here as fundamental design in this game already covers them.
Couple additional questions I asked to developer.
Q. Can you move a troop twice in a turn? Let’s say a troop has speed 3. First move two. Put adjacent to ally troop with radiate. Give some boost. Move remaining one and attack opponent after gaining the boost.
GOOD QUESTION, AS IT HASN’T BEEN CONCRETED IN THE RULEBOOK AND THIS ALLOWS US TO EXPLAIN BETTER OUR SYSTEM. DEFINETELY NOT. TROOPS ARE ACTIVATED IN ORDER YOU WANT, AND WHEN A TROOP IS ACTIVATED, YOU MAY MOVE/FIGHT/USE SKILL AS YOU WISH, BUT YOU ONLY HAVE ONE MOVEMENT/COMBAT ACTION (UNLESS A CARD SAYS OPPOSITE THING). WHEN YOU FINISHED YOUR ACTIONS, TROOPS BECOME GENERALLY DEACTIVATED, WHICH IS REPRESENTED WITH TURNING THE CARD (“TAP” ON MTG).
YOU CAN FIND CARDS WITH EFFORT SKILL, WHICH WILL ALLOWS THE TROOP TO ATTACK AND, IF SURVIVES, BE ABLE TO KEEP ITS THREAT AREA ACTIVATED (AND THEN DEFEND EVEN IF THE OPPONENT DOESN’T WANT TO FIGHT), BUT WILL NEVER ALLOW THE TROOP TO MOVE MORE. NOT EVEN IF STILL HAS MOVEMENT POINTS.
Q. Why did you decide to implement battlefield mechanics into the game?
I’LL BE COMPLETELY HONEST. I WAS PLAYING A LAN-GAME TO HEROES OF MIGHT AND MAGIC III (A TRUE JEWEL OF TURN-BASED STRATEGY GAMES) AND JUST THOUGHT “DAMMIT, WHY NOBODY INVENTED THIS BUT IN A TCG?”. WELL, THAT WAS THE BEGINNING…AFTER THAT “I’M UNEMPLOYED (I WAS AT THAT TIME), THE IDEA IS SIMPLY GREAT, I LOVE INVENTING GAMES AND DID IT SEVERAL TIMES BEFORE…WHY NOT TRYING?” THAT WAS IN 2013, MY GREAT FRIEND RAFA SUPPORTED THE IDEA AND WE STARTED WORKING TOGETHER LIKE BROTHERS IN ARMS… NICE MEMORIES, BETTER FRIENDS.
Q. Any additional future idea using the mechanics that you can potentially say?
OF COURSE! IN FUTURE SETS, PLACES WILL HAVE EFFECTS APPLIED ONLY IN THEIR COLUMNS (LIKE DEFENDING EFFECTS, OR THE POSSIBILITY OF DISTANCE ATTACKS WITH LOW DMG FROM THEM).
THERE ARE OTHER POSSIBILITIES LIKE AURA FIELDS TO BOOST ADJACENT TROOPS, TELEPORT SKILL, WHICH WOULD BE THE ABILITY OF MOVING WITHOUT PASSING BY OTHER ZONES, AVOIDING ALL THREAT AREAS WE WANT TO AVOID (OMNIPRESENCE IS ONLY TO INVOKE THE CARD, NOT TO MOVE IT)…
You basically just had some exclusive spoilers here.
Place with column specific ability and Aura fields sound like formation concept put into true tactical element.
Before writing this article, I was not convinced that battlefield element be that much of excitement at least for me as I see other pieces of this game much more attracting, but as I write I realized how big deal this part of system can be. It really sets this game to different type of game. Classic analogy is Chess. Since TCG having luck element so not quite same as Chess, but some would say I play TCG because it feels like chess with more variation. Now with battlefield system and lack of resource screw (see future article), this game really provides skill based trading card game into life, and may perhaps be first of kind if the game balance is executed correctly.