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  Mechanic #017 - Composition Army

Category: Comp-grid
Posted: 05/25/07

A tactical game where each unit is an amy placed on a grid. How you attack or defend will affect the relative position of each unit.


The Composition Grid series is a group of gameplay mechanics that revolve around customization of one's game or abilities by placing objects at specific places on a grid. Where these objects are on the grid, as well as where they are in relation to each other, makes as much of a difference as what those objects are in the first place.



This idea is a strategy-tactics game in which each unit is a collection of troops, all arranged on a small 5x5 grid. This grid has a facing - in this example, the bottom row is considered the FRONT, while the row with the yellow king is the BACK. Each unit has a leader which dictates how many units (and perhaps which kinds) may be set up within a troop grid, but there can never be more than half the squares filled.


The units themselves may affect which units they are placed next to. For example, the blue haired guy in the middle will increase the ATTACK of all units on the red-colored areas, while increasing the DEFENSE on those units placed on the blue-colored squares.


Combat is simple. Depending on which direction one unit attacks another, the troop grid will be arranged accordingly. Here, the unit on the right has launched an attack from the left side of the unit on the left (remember, bottom row is front). This causes the effective defense on a unit to greatly change depending on which way the grid is rotated.

Each unit on the grid has a specific job during battle.

  • Knight - Knights and other melee troops, if they are first unit on the row, will race forward and engage the first unit they meet in melee. On defense, they will stay in their respective square and fight off any attacker that comes to them. Knights also come in different flavors, like a Flame Knight, Water Knight, Dark Knight, etc. There can be up to eight knights of any variety.

  • Archer - An archer will stay on their square and send a volley of arrows to any enemy unit in range. Their range is anything 3-4 columns away. Though they cannot attack any units, even enemies, on their own grid, their grid is still factored in when counting range. An archer on the fourth column will effectively be able to hit enemies only on the enemy's first column (the nearest one). The archer offers a weak defense to melee units. They can only be five archers. They also have elemental variations.

  • Page - A page is a support unit that will boost the stats of whatever knight is in front of him.


  • Wizard - Each wizard has a special AOE attack which affects a specific pattern on the enemy's grid (different wizards have different patterns). At the beginning of the attack, they will cast that spell. Once the damage has been calculated and effects tabulated, regular combat begins. You can only have one wizard in a single unit, and they have a cooldown period of X turns before they can cast a spell again.

  • Thief - A thief has very limited melee attacks, but cannot be hit by ranged attacks (because they hide). They go down like punks when hit by a knight, but having a thief in your party will give that unit an additional point of movement on the overhead world map (3 thieves max, 3 move ups max).

  • Guardians - A guardian is a brand of knight (and counts towards the knight quota) which doesn't engage in offensive melee attacks. Instead, a guardian has heavy armor which cannot be dented by arrows, and is incredibly resistant to regular melee attacks. Of course, he just sort of sits there and could throw off strategy if placed poorly.

  • Barbarians - A brand of knight which charges forward and attacks the front three squares in front of him (he uses an axe which has a lower chance of hitting).

  • Beasts and Beastmaster - A beastmaster is a melee unit which is a below average knight, but allows the player to hire up to two beasts per beastmaster (can't go over the team unit max though). Beasts offer a wide range of abilities and don't count towards any specific unit's quota other than how many beastmasters are available.

  • The Commander - The commander is a special unit which is simply an elite version of some other unit (like a stronger version of a knight or archer). However, commanders have additional stats which affect how large the unit can be, and what units can be in it. For instance, an Undead Commander might limit membership to undead units, while an Elven Commander may allow additional archers and one more wizard. A Barbarian Commander may only allow Knight-type units, but allows unique Barbarian units to be hired.
The order of combat is Spells, Ranged, Melee. Each phase is finished completely before the next phase begins. If a unit is attacked from the side, all units will turn to face the oncoming attacker. However, if attacked from the back, units have a 50% chance of not turning around until after the first damage is done to them. When the team leader is killed, the team suffers from a morale loss, affecting their attack, defense, and movement, but otherwise they can still keep fighting.



This is actually a bad idea, but I already had the picture from the portfolio. I thought it would be neat to have the terrain affect the placement of units. Each square on the map had it's own terrain features. Usually plain, but could have a bit of mountain sticking out or a tree in the way. These minor changes in the terrain would cause the unit to move troops around to fit and could otherwise affect strategy (it would suck to suddenly have a tree in front of your best knight). Here an army with a wide formation tries to fit into a canyon which is blocked on both sides, so they squish together:


Care must be taken to make sure that the terrain obstacles never take up more grid spaces than the largest possible party size will need. So, if the largest party size is 15 units, then this canyon is okay since there will be space for everybody.

Unfortunately, the only way to make this work would be to show the entire troop and the terrain on an equal footing on the overhead map:


That could work, I guess, but it would be very confusing. Perhaps if there was a mini-map or something which put things in more concise terms or something...




Copyright 2007-2014 Sean Howard. All rights reserved.