One thing I really love about board games is how different the same game feels when played with other people. Everyone has their play style, everyone thinks and acts in a different way and this affects not only the outcome of the battle, but also the way it unfolds. Playing against an AI opponent most of the time leads to a somewhat similar early game in most TBS games and this is something I'm trying to avoid or, at least, make it less visible in Mutant Gangland. And I think I'm heading in the right direction with the latest additions from this week: Commanders.
Each unit in MGL has it's own stats, like Damage, Mobility, Attack Range, Health and Type. Type determines if that unit can or cannot conquer buildings but the other stats affect the outcome of a battle between units. With the addition of commanders I, hopefully, added another layer of tactical decisions when it comes to selecting a certain play style as well as diversifying encounters and battles. From my point of view, commanders are a mix between Advance War's Generals and Vantage Master's summoners. In a battle, both armies can be controlled by the commander. A commander has his own stats and abilities that affects how units perform. Let's take for example one of the default commanders that are available from the start (note, I have not named them as of this point nor are their abilities set in stone. Things might change before release):
Dorian: He's a commander with leveled stats across the board. He has 100 points in Attack, 100 in Defense, 0 mobility bonus, 5% crit chance and 100% monetary gain each round. He's basically the jack of all trades and allows for a pretty much balanced approach when it comes to tackling a battle. On the other hand, Karl's is more focused on dealing damage with his units. He has 140 attack points, a +1 added to the mobility of his units and the Berserk ability. On the other hand, his monetary gain is at 60% and his defense skill is set to 65. In order to show what would happen in such a battle, I pitted both commanders against each other. Let's check out the outcome bellow and then discuss it:
In Mutant Gangland units may respond to an attack and deal damage back to the attacker, if the opponent is in range. The amount of damage inflicted is directly related to how much attack, defense and health a unit has. Both commanders are using units with the same stats and health points. Dorian is the first one to go. After the battle between the two rifle units, Dorian's unit has 56 HP remaining and has inflicted 56 points of damage to the enemy. The same battle occurs with Karl in command. Same units as above with Karl being the one to attack. He ended up inflicting 66 points of damage to the enemy and only received 4 damage in return. If Karl's defense would be set to 80 instead of 60, in the first round Dorian would only inflict 48 points and receive, in return 20 damage, leaving him with 50 HP.
Commanders might also have increased monetary gain and/or affect the mobility of his units. Add this to attacking and defensive bonuses and special abilities (restore the HP of all of his units for one turn, increased DMG and Defense to all of his units, etc) and you get a pretty divers set of tactics to use. Besides selecting the player's play style, selecting an enemy commander also affects how the AI will perform during a battle. Instead of having one AI that plays the same game, each commander now uses his own AI script (derived from the base AI). What this means is that "Karl" will try to position his units just outside the player's range, but in reach of his, so that he might be the one to attack first. Another commander AI would use his increased monetary gain to overwhelm the player early on in the battle with lots of units. There are currently 3 AI's derived from Irene (current AI iteration) that cater to their respective commanders (more on the AI part in the upcoming days).
Another itch I plan on scratching with MGL is the ability to design custom battles and add units. Mutant Gangland is, basically, my tactical sandbox that I can build upon. As a game it will offer two modes of play:
- Challenges (previously referred to as campaign) which includes 11 missions with certain objectives (capture X amount of buildings before the opponent, defeat the enemy in X amount of turns, etc)
- Free Battle (select a map, the commanders and fight it out).
Besides the two modes, the game also has a built-in Level Editor. In order to take it another step further, players will be able to access the ai, commanders, unit lists and add, change or remove them as they see fit. What this means is that besides just changing the standard unit graphics or map tiles, they can also change how units perform by tuning their stats or by adding new ones all together. The AI scripts are basically lua files which can be edited and/or re-written. Hopefully this is a welcomed addition by those looking to create their own scenarios. I'm also planing o releasing a quick modding guide that should be bundled with the game. As a reference, here's how the units are defined in unit_types.lua.
Thomas is re-making most of the graphical assets for the game. I should have a new batch from him by Friday ( 1 Nov ), so I cannot wait to see how they will look like. Got a few peeks on some units sketches from his twitter feed. Also note that in the header image at the start of the post there's a current snippet of the Free Battle menu. It's still a WIP and the commander images there are not part of the game, but placeholders from OpenGameArt.