Game Thoughts: Hero Academy

I’ve been enjoying Hero Academy for iPhone, and rather then do a traditional Game Thoughts, I was inspired to do some traditional game design instead.

First, my best units in the game:

  1. Necromancer
  2. Ninja
  3. Archer
  4. Wraith

Why the Necromancer?  Because he’s

  • Range 3 with 200 damage and
  • can fully kill units at range 3 (instead of the standard kill range of 1).

Hero Academy is a game about using fewer actions then your opponent.  The Necromancer can guaranteed kill any unit in 5 actions at range 3 with 800 hp or less, without risking himself or his position.  No other unit can do that.  And 800 hp is the standard amount.  If the Necromancer has a sword, you even get a bonus action afterwards.

But the Necromancer is even better then that.  Being range 3 means you can hit them when they have to spend a turn to hit you.  Range 3 is safe.  And the range 3 full kill is even more important, since that saves you 2 turns (all other full kills are range 1 – so one moving in and stomping, and one getting away so you don’t immediately die).  I haven’t done it, but there’s a game designer with a matrix somewhere that shows # of turns it takes each unit to kill each other unit from “safe range” (which is normally range 3), and the Necromancer just wrecks that chart.  And the Archer is second, and the Ninja and Wraith are third (because they have move 3, range 1).  So the Necromancer is the best assassin in the game, in a game where assassination is nearly always the best play.  Plus, you get more Necromancers then you do Ninjas and Wraiths.  So, Hero Academy players, protect those range 3 units!

But, that’s all system balance-y stuff.  More interesting is coming up with your own team for Robot Entertainment to ship next:

The Dwarves.  Deploying unit heals all allies 10% of their health.

  • Cleric – 800 HP. 2 Move, 2 Attack range.  Heals friendlies 200 or revives them.  On attack, if in straight line also pushes back target and leaves square consecrated (enemy can’t step on next turn).
  • Bombadier – 800 HP.  2 Move, 2 Attack range.  Throws bombs for 200 Magic damage, can reach over blockers.  Also leaves bombs behind when moving, which if next stomped by enemy explode for attack magic damage.
  • Rifleman – 800 HP.  2 Move, 4 Attack range.  Shoots cannon for 400 physical damage.  Can only shot in straight line, and only 1x a turn.
  • Miner – 900 HP.  2 Move, 1 Attack range.  Swings pickaxe for 200 physical damage, does 2x damage to crystals.
  • Goliath (Super) – 2000 HP.  1 Move, 1 Attack range, 200 damage.  Shakes the ground with each step.  Think mechanical golem.  Enemies around destination take attack physical damage, and can get stomped.
  • Potion – Heals or revives and grants extra movement square on next move.
  • AoE – 3×3 200 magic damage AoE, enemies gets debuff that reduces next movement 1 square.
  • Scroll – 3x damage
  • Sword – 50% bonus damage.
  • Helmet – 20% MR, 10% Health.
  • Grog – 20% bonus health, heals for an extra 300.

Fun stuff!  So yes, I had to push the range power some more.  The core idea behind the Dwarves is unit coordination and board control, which is an orthogonal axis from the Council and the Dark Elves that hopefully would excite players.

Of course, without testing, these are probably mostly wrong.  Playtest, playtest, playtest.  My first area of testing would be if the Cleric Barrier, Goliath Stomp, and Bombadier’s Movement are too complicated, not the balance.  Hero Academy started with an admirable 2-line character description, and I might be pushing it too far here.  The Cleric Barrier also doesn’t manage range 2 diagonal attacks cleanly, which might be its doom.  But playtesting will probably find superior powers anyways, so I normally wouldn’t sweat it too much at this stage.  Making these games, you tend to end of with pages of power ideas lying around you can use.

Edit:  Also, this is like the most important Hero Academy post ever, and should absolutely be built into the “player info” screen.  It doesn’t count as hidden information (because all players have equal access) and is critical.

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2 thoughts on “Game Thoughts: Hero Academy

  1. I like the miner! That’s a good one and super thematic.

    I also prefer your design on the Goliath to my Mountain Giant – I think the doing damage as you walk is unique and different and feels cool.

    I take issue with your statement that “the Dwarves focus on unit coordination and board control, which is orthogonal to the Council.” There are two issues I have. First, the Council already focuses on unit co-ordination heavily, and board control heavily, so I don’t think you can make a claim that this is something orthogonal. If you were mentally trying to be orthogonal as part of your design process, great, but I don’t think it’s a selling point. Secondly, I think unit co-ordination and board control is a rich design space and you don’t WANT to explicitly design something orthogonal; you could design multiple races with those as design goals and and you’d be just fine. Board control and unit co-ordination are such hallmarks of the game structure it’s not the kind of thing you want to give to one race and tell them “this is why you’re special”. It’d be the equivalent of giving “skill shots” to a single hero in LoL or “flying units” to a single race in Starcraft.

  2. Oh, of course you’re right.

    The design goal was more that they should feel like they play differently from the Council and the Elves, not orthogonality necessarily. There needs to be a reason to buy them, after all!

    I liked that these Dwarves focus on using a wide range of units in a single turn and controlling squares with mines and barriers. But I didn’t say that well.

    I like that yours are much simpler then mine. Also how you handled the Cleric. I think the healer is going to be a problem unit for them for a while. For those who haven’t seen, Wyatt’s list is here:
    http://wyattcheng.blogspot.com/2012/02/design-stab-at-hero-academy-dwarves.html

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