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.

Siege of Alfort (Morgansfort): Tower Defense Style – Prep Work Part 4, Factions for Flavor

This is going to be a briefer post than the others, largely because it does not involve number crunching. In fact, the purpose of this portion of the prep work is to reduce the amount of number crunching.

The battle and conflict as it’s statted out and scripted in the previous posts does not reflect the battle as a whole. While the 200+ Hit Dice of evil elven undead represents a formidable force more than capable of overwhelming the PCs and the fortress’s defenses, it doesn’t connote that “army” feel. It’s not big enough. Now, admittedly, this is going to be window-dressing, but it will certainly help the battle feel bigger.

Other factions –
Imperial expeditionary force – I’m not sure what all will have happened between the time I am writing this and when the encounter will happen, but one possibility is that Portsdam is destroyed by an earthquake. Whether that happens or things have just been so bad in the colony that word has gotten back to the empire, let’s say that an expeditionary force has landed north of Alfort and is on its way. Maybe 2000 strong, this force, while small will certainly distract a chunk of the Elf King’s undead army, preventing it from bearing its full brunt against the fort. If the PCs haven’t cleared out the Zombraire’s estate module, this force will probably be ambushed from west and arrive significantly weakened and unprepared to stand against Caelden’s army.

Eastern Goblin Coalition – The Southeast and Northeast goblin tribes have formed a military alliance. They understand that a limited human presence in Alfheim is preferable to the land being awash with undead elves. Sometime between now and when the battle is run, the PCs will be presented with a chance to dislodge the Northwest goblin tribe from the Old Island Fortress (if the PCs don’t go along with it, the goblins will later take this on their own). The Old Island Fortress will be used as a staging ground for the eastern goblin tribes to lend their support against Caelden’s army.

Northwest Goblin tribe – I’ve retconned my setting a bit to eliminate Orcs as an indigenous people of Alfheim; while Orcs are there, they’re mostly imperial mercenaries (note to self, the imperial expeditionary force should be comprised largely of Orcs). That said, I’m rewriting Starisel’s dungeon to be inhabited by goblins (with Orc stats) instead of the orc tribe. These will be part of the same tribe who were trying to take over Malek (the Nameless Dungeon) until they were slaughtered by undead. If the PCs can reconcile with these goblins (successfully run Cave of the Unknown), there is a good chance that they might be willing to commit to fight against Caelden.

So we’ve got a Battle of Five Armies, here, a perfect climactic fight for the campaign.

To incentivise the players to gather these allies, I might even take away the last two waves via some sort of plot-flash.

Siege of Alfort (Morgansfort): Tower Defense Style – Prep Work Part 3, Enemy Combatants

So, this part is going to take some tweaking, and maybe even some test runs, so these numbers are far from final.

Let’s have a run-down of the various undead we have to work with:

Skeletons 1 HD 20′
Zombies 2HD 40′
Ghoul 2HD* 30′ (paralysis)
Wight 3HD* 30′ (Level Drain)
Wraith 4HD** 40’/ (Level Drain)
Mummy 5+1HD* 20′ (disease)
Spectre 6HD** 50’/100′ (Level Drain x 2)
Vampire 9HD** 40’/60′

The bulk of the monsters are going to be skeletons & zombies, low hit dice monsters who should probably be ignored, if possible, in favor of the bigger baddies coming through. So, let’s come up with some ground-rules for how each of these monsters operates:

Skeletons – move along the scripted path. Remove 1 HD of defense and ‘go away’.

Zombies – move along the scripted path. Remove 1 HD of defense and ‘go away’.

Ghouls – move along the scripted path. Remove 1 HD of defense and ‘go away’ so long as there are at least 3 HD of defense present; otherwise, remove 1 HD of defense per round until no defense is present and continue along path.

Wights – move along the scripted path. Remove 1 HD of defense per round until no defense is present. When no defenders are present, continues along path.

Wraiths – move by flight through walls & buildings towards currently targeted zone. Remove 1 HD of defense per round until no defense is present. When no defenders are present, continues along path. Once, Nuromen may use “Sleep” to allow the elimination of 2d4 HD of defenders.

Mummies – move along the scripted path. Remove 1 HD of defense per round until no defense is present. When no defenders are present, continues along path.

Spectres – Considering their special ability of creating new spectres, I’m highly considering omitting these guys. We’ll see. moves by flight to towers, eliminating tower & rampart defenders. Remove 1 HD of defense per round until no defense is present. After reaching zone 6, will enter the chapel.

Vampire – moves along the scripted path. Remove 1 HD of defense per round, though continues along path without stopping.

Here’s a sample elven army.

60 skeletons
30 zombies
15 ghouls (accursed elves)
5 wights (undead elf knights)
4 Wraiths + Nuromen (undead elf mages)
4 Mummies (undead elf clerics)
2 Spectres (undead elven princes)
1 Vampire (Caelden, lord of elves)

Wave 1
10 skeletons
10 zombies

This wave might even be completely turned.

Wave 2
10 skeletons
5 zombies
5 ghouls

Some of this wave might be turned; I expect this to be the first wave to do some damage in zone 1.

Wave 3
10 zombies
5 ghouls
1 wight

This is something of a wakeup call with the wight. If the heroes are fighting from the walls, it should be apparent that someone is going to have to go down and deal with it.

wave 4
5 zombies
5 ghouls
2 wights

Things being in earnest now. Clerics within the castle will likely have run out of turning, and the wight’s level drain could be a serious problem.

wave 5
10 skeletons
2 wights
Nuromen

Boss wave. While the skeletons just march onto reduce various zone HD, Nuromen will be casting spells and with the two wights who accompany him, he’ll be pretty tough, even with his limited HP.

Wave 6
10 skeletons
2 wraiths

Consider this a sequel to wave 5, but at least these wraiths aren’t casters.

Wave 6
5 skeletons
1 wraith
1 mummy

The mummy is going to slowly tank his way through the defenses.

Wave 7
1 wraith
2 mummies

Ditto.

Wave 8
10 skeletons
1 Mummy

Consider this wave a reprieve?

wave 9
5 skeletons
2 Spectres

If things aren’t already really bad, this may be the end of things. The heroes might seriously consider running at this point.

Wave 10
Vampire

The vampire more or less makes a Beeline to the bank, the apartments, the chapel, then the keep. He’s got important things he wants in those places.
Goals:
Ultimately, the castle is meant to fall. The main goal the heroes should have is staying alive or maybe stopping Nuromen (wave 5). Anything after that point ought to be gravy, though they should probably try to either escape through the Chapel Tunnels, the Keep Tunnels or any other possible means.

On the off chance that 8 waves are defeated before the chapel falls, I would consider this a decisive “win” for fort, if it weren’t for those pesky spectres. While Caelden might ‘retreat’, there would be a ton of dead that would need quick sanctification or things could easily be worse than before, in which case, the fort falls anyway. If the heroes manage to somehow defeat all 10 waves, Caelden likely retreats to lick his wounds. In this final case, he’ll probably be treated like any other vampire and sent to his lair (I might stick him in the Gibbering Tower) to be hunted down.
Up next, I’ll detail the tactical scenario leading up to the siege.

Siege of Alfort (Morgansfort): Tower Defense Style – Prep Work Part 2, Scripting the Scenario

To make this Tower Defense style scenario work, I need to come up with a basic script for the battle, including the strategies of the NPCs invovled, to faciliate the overall flow of the encounter.

For ease of play, all monsters share initiative and take their turn first, followed by defenders ranged attacks, then the PCs’ actions.

“Zones”
1 Main Gate
2 Behind Main Gate
3 Below Tower 2
4 In Front of the Stables
5 In Front of the Bank
6 In front of the Chapel
7 Beyond the Chapel
8 Between the walls
9 The Green
10 The Keep

I’m renaming the towers to make it easier to follow.
“Towers”
1 – Tower 18
2 – Wall between Tower 18 and Main Gate Main Gate Tower
3 – Main Gate Tower
4 – Wall behind Main Gate Tower
5 – Wall between Main Gate and Tower 2
6 – Tower 2
7 – Wall between Towers 16 and 2
8 – Tower 16
9 – Wall between Tower 22 and 19
10 – Tower 19

Important note: “Towers” may or may not hold their fire against skeletal or aetherial undead; regardless, their attacks have no effect. Special rules will be described later for ‘special’ undead (including leaders), who MUST be fought by the PCs.
Phase 0:
The enemy army approaches; this gives PCs and the south towers opportunities to fire on enemy mobs.
Phase 1:
Someone has answered the Call of Caelden, and, betraying the garrison, lowers the gate.

Ranged attacks from south wall concentrate on gate & road.

Phase ends when 8 HP of monsters enter area 1.
Phase 2:
Undead focus efforts on entering area 1 and moving beyond to zone 2.

Towers:
1 – moves 4 to 2; after 3 rounds, targets road.
2 – moves 2 to 4; after 3 rounds, targets monsters entering zone 2.
3 – pours oil down murder holes 2 rounds, fires through on enemies below or on road.
4 – targets zone 2
5 – targets road

Phase ends when zone 2 is overrun.

Phase 3:
Undead move along course toward Zone 3 under Tower 6.

Towers:
2 – targets road
3 – Priorety: murder holes, zone 2, then road.
4 – targets zone 2
5 – targets zone 2
6 – moves all to 7, holds until phase 4

Phase ends when zone 3 is overrun.

Phase 4:
Undead move toward zone 4. Garrison has built blockades in front of where Taramedes house stood.

Towers:
2 – targets road
3 – Priorety: murder holes, zone 2, then road.
4 – targets zone 2
5 – targets zone 3
7 – targets monsters moving from zone 3 to zone 4

Phase ends when zone 4 is overrun.

Phase 5:
Undead have overrun zone 4.

1 out of every 2 HD of monsters will enter the stable (area 3). After 8 HD have entered the stable, from east door, they will emerge from west door. All animals & npcs in the stable will have been eliminated, and the stable will begin to burn.

Other monsters will continue moving toward Zone 5

Towers:
2 – Targets road
3 – Priorety: murder holes, zone 2, then road.
4 – targets zone 2
5 – targets zone 3
7 – targets zone 4

Phase ends when zone 5 is overrun.

Phase 6:
Monsters have access to the east plaza area. Garrison has attempted to blockade the chapel street, zone 6.

Monsters will move towards any accessible buildings. 4HD worth of monsters will destroy buildings they enter; unlike encountering “garrison”, this does not eliminate the monsters.

Destroying these buildings will be a priorety (except in my campaign, the building designated as the residence of the villain).

After these buildings are destroyed, monsters will focus on zone 6, the alley in front of the chapel.

Towers:
2 – Targets road
3 – Priorety: murder holes, zone 2, then road.
4 – targets zone 2
5 – targets zone 3
7 – targets zone 4
8 – targets zone 5

Phase ends when three buildings are destroyed.

Phase 7:
Monsters attack zone 6. Towers begin to route.

Towers:
2 – Targets road
3 – Begin moving toward Tower 9, arrives in 12 rounds.
4 – Are killed
5 – Are killed
7 – Begins moving towards Tower 9, arrives in 12 rounds.
8 – Begins moving towards Tower 9, arrives in 11 rounds.

Phase ends once Zone 7 is overrun.

Phase 8:
Once zone 6 is overrun, monsters with more than 2 HD will enter the chapel. Other monsters will attack Zone 7

Towers: tower units that are able will shoot at targets of opportunity while moving towards Tower 10.

Phase 8 ends when 10 HD of monsters enter chapel and Zone 7 is overrun.

Phase 9:
Monsters attack Zone 8.

Towers:
Towers 9 & 10 will attack monsters in zone 7.

Phase 9 ends when monsters overrun zone 8.

Phase 10:
Monsters attack zone 9.

Tower 10 attacks targets of opportunity.

Phase ends when monsters overrun zone 9.

Survivors may escape via tunnels to somewhere Northwest of the fort along the coast.

Next time:
Figuring the monster hordes and possible Win conditions for the heroes.  (Important to note, that if things get past phase 5, the battle should be, for most intents and purposes, lost, and hopefully the heroes will realize this.  Then again, heroes love fighting to the bitter end.)

Siege of Alfort (Morgansfort): Tower Defense Style – Prep Work Part 1, Statting Defenses

(Download Morgansfort to follow along.)

First of all, I need to figure out roughly what Alfort’s (Morgansfort’s) defenses are and translate that into numbers that can be used in a Tower Defense style scenario.

So, what I’ve done is figured out the total Hit Dice of the fort’s defenses. All told, there are 129 Hit Dice worth of garrison, 134 if we include the Baron/Castellan/Lord. This doesn’t mean there are 134 defenders (it’s actually closer to just over 100) who are in the garrison nor does it mean that there aren’t various level 1 and level 0 persons in the town who might be caught up in the fighting; this is just the number we’re going to use to determine the Keep’s “HP”, for lack of a better term.

One interesting difference between Morgansfort and the Keep on the Borderlands is that most of the guard are not specified to be carrying ranged weapons, though the notes indicate the presence of such weapons in 1, 2, 16, 17, and 22 (all various towers). Though there are none mentioned present in 19, the central tower, one should assume that anyone heading there will have passed someplace that they can grab a bow or something.

Rather than have a fixed HP for the Alfort/Morgansfort, various key points in the fort will have strength represented by the number of HD of garrison present; the fort will fall to the attacker in successive waves as the defenders lose ground. Each HD of monster (regardless of the damage they will have taken) will remove 1 point from a location’s defense.

Now, how to figure out where the defenders are? Well, the notes for Morgansfort explain that the main garrison force is comprised of 8 squads of 11 of the 88 footmen (these do not include the “Knights”, and all told account for 93 of the defense’s 134 hit dice). Now, the Knights will be around doing their own thing with other defenders OR it will be assumed that they’re among the defenders adding to the numbers of whatever location they are represented by; since none of these individuals have been characters in my campaign, it will be unnecessary to adjudicate their deaths, but if you’ve been running Morgansfort by the book, you might consider being more particular about who is where.

Since Morgansfort can really only be attacked from the south and the west, We can assume that 22 (North central tower), 17 (Northeast tower) and 16 (East central tower) will be relatively undefended unless the situation changes. Men in towers will get ranged attacks at attackers but not count towards the “HP” of a zone unless they get down.

So, let’s talk defense zones:

1-main gate
1a- behind main gate
2a- below tower 2
3a- in front of the stables
6-the Square is big enough I think it worth breaking down
6a- in front of the bank
6b- in front of the chapel
6c- in front of the inns
6d- in front of the warehouse
15a- the plaza south of the chapel
19a- the avenue between the central wall and south wall
20- the Green
25- the keep

That’s a lot of areas, but there are a lot of HD to be spread across it. Truth be told about 6, however, the spot in front of the bank, trader and herbalist’s is pretty do or die, so anyone defending the square would make this spot a priority; I’ll assume that if this area falls, there’s nothing but archers in the 16(East Tower) to keep baddies out of those buildings. 6 can be condensed, therefore, to some key strongpoints set up by the bank and in front of the street the Chapel is on.

So that leaves us with (no longer using the module key)
1 Main Gate
2 Behind the main Gate
3 Below tower 2
4 In front of the stables
5 In Front of the bank
6 In front of the Chapel
7 Beyond the Chapel
8 Between the Walls
9 The Green
10 The Keep

That’s still going to be a lot to defend. Let’s see if we can plug some numbers in.

“Zones”
1 Main Gate – 8
2 Behind Main Gate – 10
3 Below Tower 2 – 8
4 In Front of the Stables – 15
5 In Front of the Bank – 20
6 In front of the Chapel – 8
7 Beyond the Chapel – 10
8 Between the walls – 8
9 The Green – 10
10 The Keep – * We’ll come back to this.

That’s 97 HD worth of defenders. Part of this number assumes that defenders from the northern towers have descended the walls to join the fighting.

“Towers” (These WILL use the module key)
1 Main Gate – 4
Between 18 and 1 – 2
Between 1 and 2 – 2
2 – 4
16 – 4
18 – 4
Wall between 22 & 19 – 4
19 – 4

So, there’s 28 HD worth of firepower coming from the various towers. We’ll say that the remaining 9 HD consists of the Castellan and 4 personal guards remaining with everyone in the Keep, perhaps ushering them out of tunnels somewhere to safety.

Up next, I’ll write up a short script of how the scenario will play out, after which point I’ll try to figure out how many undead and in how many waves should they come.

Dropped some coin on the full Defender’s Quest

I can’t think of any better way for a game to say “Welcome to Paid Content” than having a Red Dragon join your party. Ironically, the Red Dragon may be the weakest member of my party, given how hard I was grinding to get 3 stars on all of the Demo missions. One of the things I worried about was the subsequent missions might be too easy because I’d gotten my party up to around level 16 or so; fortunately those fears seem to be unfounded. Yeah, the 1 star missions will probably stay a cake-walk for a bit, but 2 star missions are challenging and 3 star missions are, at the moment, impossible. I can’t imagine how high level I’ll need to be to kill that stupid golden sheep.

I don’t know how much more I’ll be blogging about Defender’s Quest; most of the blowing away has already happened, and I’ve said what I think is worth saying about the system. Still, thought I’d give it one last plug this year. Depending on how my TD style D&D encounter goes, I’ll maybe add some additional remarks.

In the meantime, check this livestream going on now about Tabletop games.

Defender’s Quest: A Review and Conclusions on Integrating Tower Defense into Tabletop RPGs

As I mentioned the other day, I may have finally found a game on which I could model a Tower Defense-style D&D encounter. The game is Defender’s Quest and the first half of it is available to play for free on Kongregate.

Like your typical Tower Defense game, the main objective is to stop the mobs from getting from point A to point B. In Defender’s Quest, however, point B is the main character, who is some combination of mage and psionicist and is the party leader.  Instead of Towers, you strategically place party members along the path to prevent the mob from killing the mage.

One of the things that is interesting about the use of ‘party members’ is how they are identical mechanically and functionally to towers in terms of gameplay, but the feel is very different. Because each tower is a named, customized and equipped individual, you have more attachment to them (especially the first characters from any given class you gain access to, as they are featured heavily in the cutscenes) than your typical arrow firing tower.

A significant difference between this game and other Tower Defense games is that in any given mission, you are restricted to your current party members; you can’t just buy more towers in the middle of a mission to pad out your defenses. You CAN, however, generally place all of your towers (party members) at the beginning of a mission, though it is not necessarily beneficial to do so.

Rather than gold to buy and upgrade towers, the party leader (here’s where the psionicist part comes into play) uses psi points to deploy party members on the map and upgrade them, which both increases base stats and unlocks the use of any additional abilities that party member has access to. This psionic upgrade is a temporary upgrade, lasting the mission’s duration only. The true upgrading/scaling comes between missions when party members gain levels, gain access to new abilities through a development tree, and are equipped. Additionally, you have the opportunity to recruit new party members in towns to help deepen your ranks, though these green recruits will be of limited usefulness until they get some kills under their belts.

Because Defender’s Quest attempts to combine tactical RPG with Tower Defense, the way that combat is handled is slightly different from most Tower Defense games. In a game like Kingdom Rush or Demonrift, melee exists primarily to block paths, either slowing mobs down while towers get kills or doing the killing themselves. In Defender’s Quest, there are two distinguishable mob types (not unit types, there are many different units): monsters who are determined to make a bee-line for your mage and monsters who will pause for a moment to take a swing or shot at whomever is near by while making a bee-line for your mage. Unless they are heavily armored and have massive damage resistance, like some of the Revenant Knights, the former are more of an annoyance than anything. The difficulty arises from the mobs who stop to take an 8-10 HP swipe at your swordsmen or spit gobs of acid at your ranged fighters. You have some magic to patch your companions up with, but that damage can add up quick. So unlike most tower defense games, your towers can “die”. You can redeploy them with the psionic points you earn for killing enemies, but they are placed back on the map at minimal strength without any previous psionic boosts you may have given them.

Like other Tower Defense games, you can “sell” towers, regaining some of the psionic energy invested in them, and be able to put them elsewhere on the map. Again, though, the difference is in how it feels despite mechanical similarity; your party is sacrificing certain tactical advantages to try to gain others. There is a boss fight against a powerful undead where your strategy is to deploy and redeploy your melee fighters further and further up the path until you can fully wear him down.

Rather than the abstract leveling of the player in terms of overall points to spend on your meteor attack or general tower bonuses or whatever you typically find in fantasy Tower Defense games, you level in a concrete manner alongside your party members, because you are represented on the map by the main character mage complete with spells and HP just like your companions. It’s this mage character who is giving boosts to party members, casting spells to aid them, and zapping the monsters who get past them with lightning bolts rather than a disembodied player power. The in-game justification for the character’s use of psionics to deploy and boost the party’s strength is a bit silly; I think that the maps and all of the battles may actually be some sort of abstraction or they’re in the shadow realm where they can hurt revenants or something ridiculous to try to explain a mechanic that works amazingly well without requiring an explanation. Whatever, it’s great.

Given enough time, this is probably close to what I would’ve come up for making a D&D Tower Defense scenario, but since it’s right here in front of me, there’s no reason not to just steal what is so close to perfection.

The main thing I can think of to change would be using basic movements rather than re-deploy and not using psionic points for everything; basically use D&D for that (duh). In Defender’s Quest, monsters that attack the party members aren’t stopped, rather they stop, attack and keep going. In D&D terms, this would be move into melee, take a round of attack, make an attack, receive a round of counter-attack, move on. It doesn’t have to be that rote, though; borrowing from Kingdom Rush, while one or two monsters stay engaged with melee characters, other monsters break through.

Ultimately, I think the main thing needed to make such a scenario work is a combination of a plausible goal for both sides and workable map.

The goal part is difficult but flexible. If defending a town, you can base outcome based on something like how many hit-dice worth of monsters getting past is beyond what the townsfolk and constabulary can handle on their won. Or how many of certain goods can be stolen without it being disastrous. Goals can be keep the town guard from being overrun, keep x trade goods from being stolen, keep monsters from preventing wizard from casting a spell, keep monsters from carrying off an important person/thing, so on and so forth. The really hard part will be making a map. You’re going to want a big map and probably lots of counters. You can’t do this without lots of counters.

If I can find some butcher paper, I just might see if I can make a big climactic tower defense style battle for the end of Shadow Over Alfheim.

Oh, yeah, and when I finish the demo, I’m probably going to go ahead and buy the full game of Defender’s Quest.

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.

More Tower Defense Games

During my convalescence yesterday, I had the chance to rock out on a few more Tower Defense type games over on Kongregate.

I continued my forray with Bloons5. I’ve played some earlier version of Bloons years and years ago, and I must say, a lot of the improvements are rather impressive.

The number, combinations, and available upgrades of the various towers is mindblowing. But in one way, this is one of its downfalls. The tracks are so long, any real failure means starting from scratch, I found that I just could not bring myself to finish the first track on hard. I made it super far, wave 70-somethingish, but with dozens of zeppelins, I just could not stop them. Previously, i’d been saving only after particularly difficult waves; this had the advantage of giving me a few easier waves to adjust my strategy and build up in varying ways to overcome whichever my next big stumper was. Unfortunately, the wave of infinite zeppelins followed immediately after the last crazy hard wave I’d saved after, so I didn’t have enough lee-way to make serious adjustments in my strategy.

After having 3 super monkeys, over half a dozen catapults, half a dozen missile launchers, several ninjas and boomerang monkeys, 4 or 5 nail launchers, 4 snipers, 5 chain-guns, a wizard or two and god knows what else, I’d be damned if I was going to start over with one dart throwing monkey just to have a shot at mixing things up enough to even get back to where I was, much less finish it.

I ended up playing a different track on medium and beat it without any trouble at all, but it just didn’t feel rewarding.

Something I guess I’d like to see is more staggerred saving, so you can roll back to previous waves and try new things rather than either get saved into a corner or have to start from the very beginning.

I also played another game called Demonrift, which was another Tower Defense style game. King is dead, Demons have conquored the kingdom, yada yada yada. I have mixed feelings about this one. There were some things that I really liked, but a lot of things I felt could’ve been done better.

The good:
-I liked the turn-based overworld economy system. You would get resources for winning battles as well as recurring resources from the towns you had liberated. These resources could be used for purchasing various upgrades to units or to build improvements on towns that would give you benefits in combat. I’d like to see more stuff like this implemented in TD games.
-The mobs were widely varied with decently detailed sprites.
-LOTS of strategic points along the paths give you a lot of flexibility in your setup.
-Even though they’re kind of a game-breaker, especially when you get them down to where they only cost 19 more than archers, i really liked the golems.
-The main character whose role the player assumes is a pretty badass lady, Baroness Milena, which is cool, despite her poorly designed armor. The Warden lady’s armor makes a bit more sense. For the most part, Milena is a pretty good example of how to have a female vidya game protagonist.
-Did I mention the golems?

The bad (or more like what I’d like to see):
-Even though I liked the economy, I feel like it would’ve been nice to more directly integrate it with the battle systems.
-Your own units are incredibly bland. For a long stretch, the only towers you get are archers and soldiers. Upgrading the towers only increase the number of mans appearing at those towers. Even if you get various upgrades from the overworld, there’s no visual change to your little guys.
-Spawning is super slow. It feels like it takes forever for a guy to come out of a newly built tower, and if you’re not careful the mobs will just walk on by leaving the soldier twiddling his thumbs.
-Despite having the flexibility to do a lot with your setup, there’s not really much TO do. You create a few choke-points with blockers and just slowly fill the rest of the map with archers.
-One of the things I thought was really cool about Kingdom Rush was the hero units. I’d really have liked to have Warden playable, if not Milena.
-There is a princess who is rescued. We never see her. She’s the heir to the kingdom who the Baroness rescues, but she’s not actually a character. At all. No art, no dialogue, just ‘well, we have the princess now, so if we win the war, the royal line will not have been broken’. I feel like more could’ve been done with her.

Demonrift is an older game (2011), but if they ever make a sequel there’s a lot of places to make improvements worth checking out and, if you’re thinking of making your own game, a lot of ideas to borrow and steal.

At some point all of this might culminate in how to run a tower defense style encounter in your game, but first I want to play more video games.

 

Milena's actually a better character than her stupid boob-armor implies.

Milena’s actually a better character than her stupid boob-armor implies.

Doxxing, Dwarf Fortress, and Defense via Towers

What broke this little girl so badly that she felt that the best thing she could do to help feminism was to send highly specific and threatening messages to some man on the internet she’d never met?

At least this story has a happy ending and maybe she learned something.

Also, Joss Whedon thinks you’re a Klansman.

Joss whedon

In  non GG news, I reinstalled Dwarf Fortress to mess around with for the first time in three or four years. The main thing I noticed was that it felt even more unplayable than before. Now, when I used to play it with a bit more regularity, while I was never able to do the weird crazy stuff I’ve seen where people make awesome traps and dwarf-robotics to protect the fort, I was always at least able to make a functional fortress where dwarves went about their lives and works for a few years until finally more goblins showed up than I could handle.

The Mirror of Keys, however, did not fare near as well as any of my older forts. For whatever reason, i could not grow enough food (apparently wild vegetables and fruit aren’t food, either?), and no matter what I toggled, my dwarves would just let things lay where they died on the floor of the fort. Animals from cats to large hoofstock would meander aimlessly and hungry until they died from starvation. No dwarf would touch a carcass to butcher it. Even animals flagged for slaughter merely wandered until they died, lost in the mines, because none of my dwarves felt like occupying the butcher shop for half a minute to actually chop anything up.

Starving animals turned to rotting carcasses turned to piles of bone, all going unmoved, untouched.

Most Dwarf Fortresses only get to experience one death. Because the game crashed, Mirror of Keys got to experience two.

First off, I got a warning message telling me to hide because the dead walked. Only two years into my fort’s history, a giant horde of undead (upwards of 50!) came flooding across the land lead by a dwarven necromancer. It did not take long for them to stream down my entry-hall, overrun the garrison squad, and slaughter my dwarves to a man. I was down to one last dwarf-child hiding in the crypts when the game froze up and crashed, taking me back to my previous save state.

The second death of Mirror of Keys was far more ignominious. The fort had tremendous wealth of gold and could theoretically buy its way to food security. When elves showed up, I brought up a bunch of gold and bought ever unit of foodstuff that the elves had with them. Somehow it was no use. Though they had the crops, they would not plant them. Though they had the food, they would not cook it. The fortress sunk, a mere 2 months after buying TONS of foodstuff from the elves, the Dwarves took to eating vermin and each other. Those who tried cannibalism were killed. Those who did not starved in short order.

I just don’t understand how, despite my previous semi-successes, I just could NOT keep my fortress fed nor could I get the dwarves to clean up after themselves.

Even though i love dwarf fortress in concept, it’s not something I can just keep coming back to.

Meantime, I’ve been playing Kingdom Rush, which has been feeding my occassional deep-seated need to play some medieval-themed Tower Defense.

I love the infantry concept, something that you don’t really see in a lot of tower defense games, which adds a bit of RTS strategy to it. Infantry do damage to the enemies they engage with, but, more importantly, they also slow them down to give the shooting towers more time to shoot at them. This makes the reinforcements tactic a very interesting part of the game. Once every 10 seconds, you can drop a pair of conscripts anywhere along the path. Usually (unless you’ve taken a lot of upgrades), they get taken out pretty fast, but they can make all the difference against a particuarly fast-moving mob, buying just enough time for a tower to take them out. Additionally, I like how you can change the deployment location of your troops within a certain radius of your baracks. Things not going well on one end of the road? Move your rally point to the other end of the path. The mob has to move past more of your shooting towers only to be met again by a squadron of your troops.

Anyway, I’m about half-way through and been digging the hell out of it.