Not long after Voidspire Tactics’ release, I noticed an issue with one of the combat mechanics. This has gone unnoticed by most players, but I think it’s an interesting example of how straightforward mechanics can cause unintended results.
In Voidspire Tactics, each character has an Act Timer that starts at 0, then slowly increments and fills up. Once it’s full, you get a turn. Most characters have 30 Act Time, fast characters might have 28, slower ones 31, etc.
Big, damaging spells also have an Act Timer. The Sorcerer spell ‘Inferno’ has a timer of 9. This means you might not be able to hit your targets if they’re about to get their turn (they’ll just walk out of the way).
So, naturally, you want your Sorcerer to be fast, right? So she’ll get the first turn and get to lay down that Inferno right away?
Turns out: nope! Going first is the worst thing for a caster (excluding casters that specialize in fast spells or buffs). Let’s say your caster fills up her Act Timer of 30, ahead of all the enemies, who had a Timer of 33. That means your targets now have Act Timer 30/33 – they’ll get their turn in 3 tics! There’s no hope of hitting with the 9-tic Inferno.
On the flip side, if your caster goes last, suddenly she has a whole battlefield of targets to choose from. Everyone’s Act Time just filled and reset to 0 a moment ago, so you have plenty of time to land your spells.
So, much to my dismay, slower casters are better in Voidspire Tactics (in 90% of scenarios; there are always exceptions due to enemy layout, abilities, timers, etc).
This doesn’t break the game – it just makes it a little easier if you happened to build a slow caster. It’s too late to fix this problem in Voidspire, due to the extensive encounter rebalancing that would be necessary. However, I do have a change planned for More Tactics.
Rather than start all characters at 0 Act Time, I will offset the enemy team’s Act Timers by 15, plus or minus a few tics. Spells will be rebalanced to take ‘longer’ to fit this new time difference. This way, a fast caster is actually beneficial – you might get upward of 20 tics to land your spell! And slow casters will suffer from the inverse.
A side effect of this change is that the player’s team will almost always act first. While this means you lose the scrappy feeling of having a really mixed turn order, I find it lends more control to battles – which is something players will really appreciate when permadeath is on the line.