It’s a Tower Defense Tuesday: Incursion 1 & 2

Since Clicker Heroes isn’t exactly a game that you actively play (at least not for more than a few minutes at a time), I’ve run through both of the Incursion Tower Defense games.

I’m not sure how I feel about them. I mean, I enjoy them, but they don’t bring anything new to the table. Yet despite not bringing anything new to the table, for the most part they are able to synthesize the pieces they borrow from into something that’s colorful and entertaining.

I’ll go right out and say “they’re no Kingdom Rush”, but the elements that are borrowed from Kingdom Rush are a big part of what makes them enjoyable.

It uses the common rock-paper-scissors mechanic that is similar to Cursed Treasure, with archers (light), soldiers (heavy), and mages (magic, duh), with light attacks being strong against magic armor, heavy attacks strong against light armor, and magic attacks strong against heavy armor. The most striking difference between Incursion and Cursed Treasure (towers only, no ‘units’) or Kingdom Frontier (towers and ‘units’) is that, like Demon Rift, towers ONLY create units. Unlike Demon Rift, however, towers can create mixed units (one tower can have an archer, a mage and a soldier, though there are disadvantages to that approach; archers & mages are terrible¬†in melee until they reach high levels, so you want to keep them off the roads, usually too far away for any soldier grouped with them to auto-engage).

The difficulty of having your mages and archers being physical units rather than a tower is, like your soldiers, they can be killed. This is a particularly bad problem with the first game; since you couldn’t set target priorities, all units would attack the enemy farthers along the route, regardless of what was happening around or to the unit. Therefore, the most frustrating enemies were the archers, who would pick off your guys who were fighting against baddies further along the path, and Necromancers, who would continuously raise skeletons who gave you no money and would prevent you from ever getting to the Necromancer unless you mucked around with your deployment flags. Fortunately, this was fixed in the second game, which makes it a much easier and less frustrating experience.

The second game gives you a couple unique characters to play with, which also really helps in dealing with those obnoxious enemy archers and spellcasters. So much so that the fact that you can specifically target enemies with any of your troops doesn’t come into play nearly as much. The heroes (particularly when you’re given two) make things pretty dynamic.

The cool thing about the Incursion games is that each level has a unique thing going on, whether it’s an ally with a strange or difficult method of activation or an element of chaos, some monster who will kill everyone around it willy-nilly regardless of whether it’s your guy or a bad guy.

The look is similar to Kingdom Rush (one might go so far as to say a “borrowed aesthetic), which isn’t a bad thing. It plays similarly, though perhaps less frenetic. There’s kind of a strange difficulty curve in second game, where the middle few levels are extremely difficult, while the last few levels are fairly easy (last two levels I got perfects on the first try). The goblin chaingun IS gamebreaking and you WILL get a perfect against the final level if you stock up a couple of them. You might find yourself frustrated by how much slower you’re upgrading things (you are essentially having to upgrade 3 different towers per location), but it’s an understandable game balance issue. You’ll eventually figure out that a bare minimum of soldiers in the right places combined with as many ranged units as possible tends to work out best. At least in the second one. I might need to give the first one another go and test things. I feel like the first game had more waves of quick moving medium health regenerating monsters that had to be stopped, while the second one focused more on slow high HP high damage giants with a range of abilities. You needed lots of troops to slow down the former, while it was best to stay out of the latter’s way and just wizard zap and arrow them.

I won’t say that the Incursion games are my favorite TDs, but if you enjoyed either Kingdom Rush or Cursed Treasure, they’re worth checking out. ¬†You can play both for free on Kongregate.

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Yet More Tower Defense: Cursed Treasure 2 (starting to bring it all together)

Moved on to Cursed Treasure 2 over the weekend. Until I played Kingdom Rush, the original Cursed Treasure was one of my favorite Tower Defense games.

The premise of Cursed Treasure is that you’re an evil overlord who is trying to protect his/her treasure hoard of lovely gems from various heroes of the realm. As such, it is slightly different from the majority of TD game, in that mobs need not only get from point a to point b but back to point a again with their spoils.

You have three different environments to accommodate three different tower types. Grasslands for orcs (fast damage, but eventually splitting off into fast damage and medium splash damage), snowfields for undead (slow recharging homing shots, eventually branching into counter effects), and wastelands for temples (continuous damage with a branch to area damage).

The types of towers haven’t changed, but one of the main differences from the first Cursed Treasure is landmarks (or something; i forget what they’re actually called). One of the abilities you have from the first game is to chop down trees (at a mana cost); this returns in 2 to conquer landmarks as well as cut down trees. There are probably a lot more showing up later in game, but so far, I’ve encountered mines (conquer for gold income), mana wells (conquer for mana income), towns (add light troops to hero rush, conquer for gold), taverns (restores hero health, conquer to slow heroes), and castles (add heavy troops to hero rush, conquer for gold). One of the most important strategies I’ve found is how to handle multiple landmarks. Since you can only break down landmarks as you accumulate mana to use the logging/sapping ability, you need to pick and choose what you want to use it for. I’ve got enough upgrades that I can take out up to 5 endurance points of various landmarks before the first wave, meaning that at most I can take down one big structure or one little structure and most of another. Still, by focusing on buildings, I’m sacrificing my ability to clear forests and put towers in more useful strategic points.

So far, I’m apt to try to take down castles first, since the heroes towns spawn are often pretty weak and easy to handle. After that, I like to try to open up a mana well since it lets you log quicker. Though they’re really good to have early on (as in before landmarks that generate mobs show up), gold mines tend to be a waste until everything else has been opened up, especially if you’ve maxed out your lumber-for-gold orc upgrade. I’ve really enjoyed the simple economy aspect of CT2, as that’s where most of the real decision-making lies. On the other hand, what towers you build tend to be pretty consistent, given the landscape restrictions (though you can build anything on a “high ground” tile, if one is present). Ultimately it comes down to which locations you build on first. Since upgrades are XP related, this means that oftentimes your towers up front will level up quickly at the expense of the towers further back, so I’ve found that building outward from your treasure hoard works best, or selectively upgrading only certain towers to make sure they get the most punch in and best XP.

Of all the parts of Cursed Treasure that could best be adapted for a tabletop game, the retrieval element, to me, works the best. It’s easy to conceive a scenario in which heroes along with a contingent of NPCs are trying to protect something from an on-rushing horde of foes. It’s something that could even work at lower levels. Raiders are trying to steal from a flock of sheep; stop them from getting as many sheep as you can. It’s one of those scenarios where a partial failure is not a full fail state and where the foes have a specific goal and target and getting away with that target is more important than standing and fighting. Doesn’t mean you can’t have standing and fighting, but the standing and fighting’s purpose is ultimately to allow those with the loot to get away.