In Eggs vs Humans, both factions will have access to 16 unique units. It’s cool to think of all the possibilities…OMG 16 units per side, all doing different things, that’s crazy!
No, really, it’s crazy and possibly not tenable!
Thinking back to RTS’s like Starcraft and Age of Empires, they have approximately that many units per side. Those two games could actually find that many roles for their units. But those games have a greater “game space” (things that can be done). Even simply the fact they have a 2D map and individual unit control means there are more potential ways for a unit to have a unique role. (EvH is 1D, without the ability to control individual units.) And even with the greater possibilities, some units in those games end up being niche.
Is 16 per side is simply too many for Eggs vs Humans’ game space? How do I make sure there’s not too much overlap of roles considering how few actions are available to armies? As an added bonus problem, I want to avoid “bad” rock-paper-scissors interactions. By that, I mean that a unit, or the fear of a unit, should not be able to shut down an entire line of play.
The Yoga Freak does a good job of having both problems, role overlap AND causing bad RPS relationships.
1. The Couch Potato and Yoga Freak behave almost the same in practice
1. Their damage is low, they can take a lot of hits, and they sit on the front line without an expectation of movement. Certainly an upgraded Yoga Freak is much better against Egg Cartons. But except for that, she feels more like an improved Couch Potato than a unit with her own identity.
In Age of Empires 2, the Spearman can be upgraded to a Pikeman. The Pikeman serves the same exact function as its inferior, just with better stats. It doesn’t sound especially interesting, but in AoE 2, that’s OK! Both visually in-game and in real life, the Spearman and Pikeman carry around a long stick. A Pikeman being “the same, but better” makes sense. However, for two visually contrasting units like the Couch Potato and Yoga Freak, the player will expect a difference in function and feel.
2. The Yoga Freak is a “hard counter” and “hard counterable” unit.
She 100% shuts down Egg Cartons, while being vulnerable to the cooking/poison attack of Eggs Benedict. So for an Eggish player fighting a Human, they have little reason to entertain Egg Cartons and extra incentive to train Eggs Benedict. And the Eggs Benedict already have significant roles for the Eggs…the only tier 2 ranged unit, good against Cheese Graters, and improved anti-air. They don’t need to be the best choice against Yoga Freaks as well! Neither faction should feel that they “must have” a certain unit, or that training unit X is too risky because it could end up being 100% useless.
So, how can we solve these problems?
My first idea is to switch the Yoga Freak’s offensive/defensive characteristics. Right now, the Yoga Freak’s defensive nature is core while the area-of-effect attack needs to be researched. By making her offensive ability innate instead, it signals to the player “oh, she would be good for damaging enemy swarms”.
Secondly, her defensive bonus needs to be changed. As alluded to before, she has a similar vulnerability to Cooking damage that the Cheese Grater has. Plus, it would be nice if her toughness felt different than the bullet-soaking of the Couch Potato.
The idea is an upgrade, let’s call it a “Chi Shield” for now. Periodically, the Yoga Freak will generate a shield, which absorbs the damage she’d normally take. It lasts a limited time, so she can’t be protected permanently. The shield can absorb a only finite amount of damage, so trying to create a front line with only one Yoga Freak won’t be so successful.
Let’s see how this distinguishes her from the Couch Potato:
- The invincibility to any damage is different.
- The alternating periods of immunity and fragility encourages different behavior. It will teach a player about reacting to the state of the battlefield (if they haven’t figured it out already).
- The units will appeal to different types of players. The Yoga Freak will fit a style where the player enjoys having to pay attention to the army more (“micro”). The Couch Potato will favor players who would rather have a slow but steady front line, and doesn’t take as much time away from macro.
- The shield mechanic more directly encourages a player to take advantage of offensive uptimes.
In addition, it has the advantage of easing the two bad RPS relationships. The Egg Carton is not quite as hard-countered, and the Eggs Benedict isn’t clearly the best counter against her.
The Chi Shield won’t go in right away, but within the next 2 or 3 builds should be active if it feels any good in testing.
Interestingly, this change makes the Yoga Freak a Human version of the Egg Carton rather than the counter to it! Both units make an army “temporarily stronger”, although they go about it different ways.