To the Ends of the Earth

Today I’m talking about the Earthtalker, the third-to-last hero to be renovated in my Invade the Ruins update.  He’s generally underpicked as a hero but a favorite of those who do play him.  I’m hoping to add a little synergy as well as giving him something to help his party.  Here’s his current skill lineup:

  • Flarefist’s Inscription: Plants a magical tag on the ground which sizzles for 6 seconds, then explodes, dealing damage to enemies nearby.  One of his bread-and-butter 6 rank spells.
  • Soulhoof Stomp: Deals damage to nearby enemies which is multiplied based on how many enemies he hits.  Dares him to wade into melee, which is unusual for a caster.  His other 6 rank attack spell.
  • Scarfur’s Aegis: Reduces the damage taken by melee attacks by a large amount.  His final 6 rank ability which has great synergy with Soulhoof.
  • Ghosteye’s Salvo: Causes his ranged attack to occasionally deal massive bonus damage to buildings.  His 2 rank utility spell.
  • Deadhorn’s Firebrand: Surrounds him with a burning aura that does massive damage to enemies near him but also drains a lot of mana until cancelled.  His ultimate power and a fun one to use, especially in a combo with his other abilities.

His item ability is Boulderback’s Rage, which is a frenzy ability, increasing his attack speed temporarily.  I added Boulderback in the last update and it’s a lot of fun, but it also overlaps and stacks too well with Ghosteye’s Salvo.   Salvo is the type of passive ability I’m cutting in the new version, and removing it will make room for a new party-friendly power.

Every player wants more mana.  Mana-granting abilities unfortunately tend to be simultaneously balance-breaking yet dull to use.  Alternatively, attaching a mana bonus to an existing ability can be a great way to add a little mana here and there and encourage the use of those abilities.  I’ve wanted to add some sort of catch-up ability that helps players stay together.  Often one player will run back to a store or to the garden and players get bored during the return trip.  Here’s my idea:

  • Ghosteye’s Huntstone: Summons a stone which draws in all distant allies to it and then restores mana to all nearby allies.  180 second cooldown.

It costs no mana to activate.  Restores 50 mana at rank 1 and 100 mana at rank 2,  just enough to cast one more spell and get through one more battle.  It should also allow the Earthtalker player to smooth out his own mana usage.

The other ability I’ve wanted to improve upon is Deadhorn’s Firebrand.  Spells which give the player a chance to spend a lot of mana often means overdosing and causing frustration from no mana.  The mana-cost-over-time portion of Firebrand just doesn’t mesh well with the mana-hungry design of the map.

One of my “pivot points” for this ability is the startup cost versus the over-time cost.  Currently it costs 15 to start up and 15 per second after that.  A high startup price discourages  smart on-and-off control.  Pricing the over-time cost any lower feels like a lame, slow leech.  Unless I really change it up, budging on price is tough.  What if the over-time price could be zero and there was some way to keep the Earthtalker from using it forever?

Here’s my idea: big upfront cost, zero over-time cost, and the spell lasts until he casts another spell.  Doesn’t include items or Boulderback Rage.  The synergies and choices change depending on the spells the player invested in.  Throw down a flame tag and wade into melee for a while, perhaps risking some damage.  Stomping and burn aura can alternate, but not too many times, with the mana cost being clearer than the 15-mana-per-second drain “Where did my mana go?” problem.  Carry the aura into the next fight or drop the huntstone and get a chunk of mana back?  I hope these changes and more will make Update 1 the best version of the map yet!  See you soon with more articles.