Development Diary #11
I finished formatting the Astracites with the most recent changes to the game. The only thing left to do for them is to make the hero card for D'Dorian Star, the Astracite Hero. Formatting the other kingdoms outside of the Xizeks and the Ethereals was put on hold as I made dramatic changes to the mechanics and gameplay of Kingdoms of Immacus. The last big change to the game may come in the form of a building tech tree revamp, but that is for another post. Now that both the Xizeks and Ethereals play great with the changes to the game, I feel empowered to move on and start playtesting the other Kingdoms, starting with the Astracites.
I'm not going to give an in-depth overview of the kingdom's gameplay (that'll be saved for a post nearing the release of the game, but I will talk about the thought behind the gameplay mechanics for the kingdom.
Status Aliment Ability: Umbra
The Astracites get the status aliment ability Umbra(x), which blinds a unit for X Clashes, including the initial Clash; so, if an Astracite has Umbra(1), the unit they attack or get attacked by are blind for only that interaction. The idea for Umbra(X) comes from this. Since the Astracites are space parasites, it only made sense their kingdom status aliment has some linkage to space and darkness. This ability name went through numerous iterations, but I'm happy I settled on this one.
Unique card mechanic: Infect Cost
Like the Ethereals, the Astracites have a special cost icon on the bottom left portion of their art box. This cost can be paid through specialized Infect Cost Tokens, or prismatically. This mechanic allows the Astracite to infect a unit their owner controls and more or less use them as a living shield. The Astracite cannot be targeted by an attack or spell until the unit it infects is killed. The infecting Astracite can still use its abilities, but it cannot attack. The infected unit can attack however. Infection is mechanically heavy, and the Astracites will be considered the kingdom more suited for experienced players.
Unique Follower Ability: Parasitism
Parasitism is another mechanic-heavy ability the Astracites have. If a follower with Parasitism kills a unit in Clash, their owner gains control of that follower, and its attack and defense is reduced to 1. All abilities remain on the parasitized unit. Constructs cannot be parasitized. The idea for this came from the understanding that the Astracites are a parasite race and they should do something mechanistically that alludes to that in addition to the Infect Cost.
Unique Card Mechanic: Domain Loyalty
Astracite domains are more loyal than all the other kingdoms. Despair Crater for example would normally have 3 crowns of loyalty, but it has 4. This last unique mechanic comes from the lore of the Astracites crashing into Immacus, wiping out the Trilisian race, and initiating the Great Interloper War. The people of Immacus are deathly fearful of the Astracites; thus, all domains are more loyal to them out of fear. Thematically this made the most sense, and this final advantage makes them a powerful force.
The Astracites focus their efforts on controlling the battlefield through methods that usually require a cost from the Astracite player in some way. They often use their discard pile and hand to do dramatic effects, but because the hand and discard pile is finite, a player must decide on what strategy to take. Also, Infect, Parasitism, and their unit control spells allow for so much unit control that a player can easily dominate the battlefield. An Astracite player can ignore fomenters to some extent, enjoying the extra loyalty from their domains.
Now that formatting is done, it'll be interesting to see how the Astracites play with their unique mechanics. Originally, the Astracites had a more expensive power curve to deal with the deadly combination of abilities, but perhaps it's opponent beware when going up against the Astracites. As an opponent, the best way to deal with the Astracites is to keep the pressure on them with cheap units, a barracks, and spells that can take care of units with Parasitism.