Welcome back to the lair. As Sirrian said in the Weekly Event blog post, this week’s blog is going to be discussing the Troll troops and our thought process when we decided to buff them (the buff is not active yet by the way, but it’s coming shortly after 3.0.5).
When we originally designed the trolls, we wanted their spell to be all about risk/reward. Doubling 12 Blue gems on a board would give 12 more Blue Gems. If there were MORE than 12 to start with, even better! Players that waited until the right time would be rewarded for good gameplay, rather than just using the spell whenever it was available. And Trolls could potentially be one of the most prolific gem creators.
However, these fun gem creation moments were not as common as we had hoped, and doubling 7 Blue gems into 14 didn’t feel as worthwhile. This meant that when players did cast a troll’s spell, it felt more risk and not so much reward. It seemed that unless the board had large number of the color a troll created, it was hard to get a 4 of a kind, and more than likely it would set the opponent up for a good next turn. To make matters worse, the more you NEEDED the Troll to give you Gems, the more likely it was that there weren’t many of that color on the board.
We went back and re-evaluated the trolls’ spells. How could we increase the usefulness of a troll spell so that they kept their identity as a gem creator, using existing colors on the board, but also didn’t feel worthless to cast them?
We also had to consider a secondary problem, the Rock Troll who created Brown used Purple mana, while the Dark Troll who created Purple used Brown mana. This meant that our solution would need to be keep the trolls useful but didn’t cause these 2 trolls (and any future overlapping trolls) to be able to constantly loop and fill each other.
Increasing the Gem Creation Multiplier
The first solution we investigated was the most obvious one, increasing the multiplier. We started by increasing the multiplier to x3 so they tripled the number of gems on the board instead of doubled. Tripling 7 Blue gems into 21 Blue gems felt good and would most likely cause a 4 of a kind. However, tripling the amount would cause too many gems to be created, such as turning 12 blue gems into 36 gems (more than half the board). This would quickly spiral out of control, and with the Dark + Rock Trolls easily cause them to loop. Throw in a Color Storm, and got a little too crazy too quickly.
We also experimented with x2.5 multiplier, however while not as bad as triple it still caused too many gems to be created and the possibility to cause gem spam looping. It turns out the closest multiplier number that felt good was x2.25, however this didn’t read well in the spell and we believed it would be difficult for some players to visualize.
Secondary Spell Effect
We also discussed the idea that trolls would have a second effect to their spell beyond gem creation (like Dark Troll’s soul generation). We decided not to go with this as it felt too similar to several other gem creators already in the game.
What about if Trolls created Storms?
While the idea of storms may seem like a good idea, it doesn’t the solve the trolls’ original problem with setting up the enemy with gem matches. Also, many of the other storm creators have better primary effects to their spells and would be out the trolls for storm generators. Furthermore, the Storm didn’t really feel good until the Troll’s second cast, and we were looking for something with a more immediate effect.
What if Trolls got an extra turn?
While trolls getting an extra turn may avoid the problem of setting up for the enemy, it would remove that risk/reward feel we wanted trolls to have. Also, we feel that an extra turn is thematically more appropriate for small and quick enemies (such as goblins); or clever troops that would use tactical advantages (such as Desdaemona), and didn’t suit the image of big lumbering trollish brute.
The Final Solution
In the end, we kept the troll spell doubling the colour on the board, and added that trolls will create an additional 4 gems. Now this might not sound like much but take the 7 gems into 14, then the troll will create another 4 gems on top of that. That’s means instead of just create 7 gems, it would now be creating 11.
To keep the trolls from potentially looping we’re also going to increase all troll’s mana to 11. So, while one troll can fill another, they are a little less likely to loop. We feel it’s a small price to pay for 4 extra gems though.
We still wanted to give them just one final little positive touch, and we also love the classic fantasy trolls which are hard to kill and regenerate damage if left alone for too long. We’re created a new version of regeneration exclusively for trolls, which will recover 3 Life at the start of each turn. Trolls already with regeneration will get upgrade to Troll regeneration, and Dark Troll will be switching Elemental Bond for it.
(Don’t worry Rock troll lovers, he isn’t going to lose any traits for this Troll Regeneration. We were happy with his current traits. Besides… Rocks don’t regenerate!)
What about Skeleros?
Skeleros is the unofficial troll as his spell works similar to theirs. At this stage, we aren’t going to be passing along the Troll buffs to Skeleros, due to the fact he is a skull creator and we want to make sure we don’t accidentally end up with another Bone Dragon skull spam issue. We may revisit him later but at this stage we’re going to leave him as is.
Extra Note: Barrier vs. Devour in 3.0.5
Just wanted to throw this in here as I know there have been discussions regarding whether the upcoming changes with Barrier blocking devour will affect Kerberos and other devour troops that also deal damage.
Now, normally a spell resolves its effects in the order that it is written (or at least it SHOULD). For example, Khorvash will apply his damage first, then he would mana drain and stun them.
However, percentage-chance-devours like Kerberos actually resolve the devour chance first, then apply the damage. The spells were created this way so the troop had a chance to trigger the devour before dealing the damage, thereby gaining more life from the devour (it also meant that a troop would miss out on a chance to devour because their damage killed the troop).
In Kerberos’ case with the change to barrier, IF HIS DEVOUR TRIGGERS it will break the barrier but will not actually devour anything. It will then apply his damage, since the barrier is now gone. Of course if the barrier does not trigger, then the damage will be blocked instead.
The only exception to this behavior is the Kraken, as his devour does trigger after the damage (which is why his spell says, “Then there is a 40% chance to Devour”).