I was thinking it might be fun to have traits that don’t trigger on 4- or 5-matches, but on a certain number of cascades instead. The sweet spot might be 3 here (maybe 4, but that might make it too hard to accomplish on purpose). I believe these should be a fair bit rarer than 4- or 5-matches, so they could probably have some more substantial effects.
The main benefit I’m seeing is that this would emphasise the puzzle-aspect of GoW more. You’d have to plan more carefully, and observe the board to kick of cascades deliberately. While mana generators could still trigger them occasionally, doing so would be much less reliable than triggering 4- or 5-matches with them (e.g. a troll might result in 40 gems of one colour on the board which is guaranteed to give you a ton of Kraken triggers, but there’s no guarantee that the board will end up cascading at all, let alone multiple times).
You’d want to put the threshold for triggering the trait so that it’s not super likely that random mana generation will trigger them, but so that it’s still possible to plan for the required cascade with a deliberate match. For example, I think that 5-cascades almost always depend on what drops from above the board so that would be unsuitable, and the same is probably true for most 4-cascades. But it happens somewhat regularly that there’s a 3-cascade on the board where you don’t have to depend on the luck of what drops from above. Of course, finding the actual threshold should only be done through proper playtesting, but it would be nice if the threshold was chosen first (so that the cascades are plannable but not super likely from random matches), and then the trait’s power chosen according to how frequent these cascades are.
I don’t really care about what exactly these traits might do, whether they’re just beefed up versions of the 4- or 5-match traits we already have, or whether they have some novel effects, I would mostly enjoy being rewarded for playing the game a bit more thoughtfully.
I’m going to say that I think this is a very interesting idea, but I fear that the intent to have this reward skill would be undermined by the number of times that the AI will stumble into a lengthy cascade through blind luck. Let me be clear: I believe that the player and AI have, at worst, equal luck in this game. In reality, your proposal would overwhelmingly favor the player, since only the player would be able to intentionally create a long cascade and both player and AI would have an equal chance of creating one accidentally, but there would still be too many complaints about AI luck. Given that the payoff for triggering a trait in this way would have to be significant, the negative reaction when the AI triggers it accidentally would be strong.
Currently, you get a map when you trigger a 6x cascade, and that is just fine. It isn’t something that you can ever do intentionally, but doesn’t trigger rage when it happens for the AI (unless the cascade happened to include some lethal skull matches or filled Famine out of nowhere or something).
I’m just thinking in comparison to 4- or 5-match triggers it can only be an improvement. The AI can take those deliberately from the board and create them easily via spells. Whereas it will never plan for the cascades from the board and it will need more luck than now to create generate these from a spell, the player has the same luck for spells but they clearly have the edge when it comes to creating them deliberately on the board.
Complainers gonna complain, I agree, but I would hope that this will lead to fewer complaints than 4- and 5-matches triggering traits. And it would certainly give the game more strategic depth for the player.
I do think it would be hard to balance the power of the trait with the difficulty of triggering it. It would need to be a game-changer if it is going to force you to stop and analyze the board in detail every time you make a move in the hopes of triggering it, but that same power would induce rage when lucky drops trigger it for the AI. It’s bad enough with some of the low probability traits like Assassinate when they trigger twice in a row off a cascade.
One idea to reduce AI-induced rage would be to only let cascades from swipes trigger it (as opposed to cascades from spells as well). But that would also remove some of the strategic depth from it, because deliberately triggering a cascade with one of the mana converters or a well-placed Rocket explosion sounds like an interesting application for the trait.
Interesting idea, yes… but… there are far too many long cascades from sheer RNG in the game now… I wouldn’t want to see yet more game-swinging traits or spells randomly screwing me (or others) - more losses, more rage, less strategy and less engagement…