Hi everyone. I wanted to give people a general update on Gem Wizards Tactics: precisely what it is, in some detail, because two months from today it will become available on Steam (wishlist it now!). I’ve written about it before – use the Gem Wizards Tactics tag to find everything I’ve written on it – but the game has come a long way in the last few months. I wrote something like this article a long while back but it’s been long enough that I think I need to write it again.
What is this game?
Gem Wizards Tactics is a turn-based tactical strategy game for one player. On its face, it looks a bit like Advance Wars of Fire Emblem, and on a basic level, there’s a lot of similarities. Games like those are a good place to start for understanding what this game is. But here are some really significant differences:
- Match-based structure. Every time you play GWT, you’ll either win, or lose, and it is (or, well, will be) tuned such that you win and lose roughly 50% of the time (due to a single-player Elo system). So unlike AW or FE where you basically either win, or re-load the game, in this, you will lose some missions, and keep going (there’s no way to “reload”, really, other than perhaps cheating in some way).
- Deep focus on highly asymmetrical forces. The units and wizards of each faction in GWT have not just wildly different stats, but also totally different kinds of abilities. The Business Demons create roads, spread fire everywhere, and Bill Milton’s stock ticker upgrades his entire army’s attack damage. The Potatoes grow strong vine defenses, control weather, and can create rivers, as just a couple of examples.
- Simplified story content. There’s very little story in GWT. The over-arching story is “SOMEONE took the Omni Gem and has taken over YOUR lands in order to summon its full power”. The SOMEONE and YOUR are left vague, because it could be that you’re playing as the Azure Order against the Business Demons, or the Business Demons against the Potatoes, and so on.
- Special tournament-like metagame. The ranked (normal) mode of GWT involves you going over an overmap and choosing different missions to fight, rescuing units and losing units and so on. When you win missions, you gain “liberation”, listed as a percentage. But also the Enemy Power is also going up, and it goes up more so when you lose missions. So it’s kind of a race to get to 100% Liberation before the enemy can reach full power and summon that damned evil Omni Gem.
- Random map generation (and other kinds of input randomness). The maps are all randomly generated, and you’ll get different “rescuable” units and enemies you face off against, so there’s a lot of distinct kinds of challenges that you face each time you play.
- A focus on emergent complexity. Lots of abilities leave things on tiles, move units around and so on. I’m trying to make as much of the stuff that goes on be “on the grid” as possible, so that you can do cool combinations. Even your basic attack sort of “bumps” in that if you do enough damage the enemy will retreat back a tile.
- Controlled output randomness. There is output randomness in this game (I talk a bit more about that here), but it’s very constrained. There’s no “missing” and no “critting” – the damage formula is very simple and then there’s an equal distribution of a range around that number.
In addition to this, it’s a digital introduction into the Gem Wizards Universe, the same universe that my successfully Kickstarted card game Dragon Bridge takes place in. I have a lot to say about that universe, and I’m slowly chipping away at a wiki that contains a lot of lore. I also have comics which you should check out!
Finally, I of course want GWT to be a “game you can live in”. I want it to be a game I can constantly add to. On launch, we’ll have 3 factions and a few other units available, but ultimately I want to have way more. More game modes, more ways to play. Possibly, at some point, multiplayer (not a priority right now).
You can also sign up for my mailing list, here!
If you enjoy this and want to support my work, consider becoming a Patron – you can get access to GWT right now at the Silver tier! Thanks for reading!