Micro Bots was designed to fit as much game as possible into a tiny mint tin, but during the design process we just had too much good stuff to fit into a single tin. The Power Up expansion adds two new bots and 14 new upgrade cards. It also includes a new Power Up mechanic, upgraded power tokens, and flexible wildfire cards. Phew.
In a future update we’ll take a look at the new bots, Brains and Flash, but for now let’s look at everything else the Power Up expansion offers.
How to Power Up your bot
Whilst Power Up has a ton of new features, these all revolve around collecting power cubes from the range track. It’s designed to represent your bot zooming around the arena and collecting floating power ups (just like in classic video games).
These little cubes are pretty important, as they lead to all of the other Power Up effects when your bot ends their movement on one. Firstly you swap out a power token for one of the same value in the market (all of which give you a one-time benefit). Then you move your power cube one level up (increasing your bots power).
After you pick up a power cube, your opponent replaces it in any empty space on the range track. This introduces another layer of the mental puzzle, where players are trying to put power cubes in places either they aim to collect next turn, or in a place that is inconvenient for their opponent, forcing them into a position they don’t want to be in. Of course, placing this power cube might give clues as to their intention, betraying their next choice of action card, and so this simple feature adds a lot of extra depth to the experience.
Power Up Cards
Each bot has its own unique power up card. Although all of these cards have identical levels 0, 1, and 3. There is a minor one-time ability at level 2 which aligns with the bots theme or sub-theme, and the level 4 power improves the bots unique ability even further.
The level 4 abilities are really powerful, taking each bots power to the next level. We wanted to have the feel of an ‘ultimate’ ability at full power, mirroring video games where you can pull off a special move when fully charged.
Originally this was a one-time use ability that reset your power level (since the intermediate levels offered passive improvements), however losing your power wasn’t a whole lot of fun. We eventually moved those one-time abilities to the new wildfire cards as held actions (which are unlocked at level 3).
Whilst the level 4 abilities are very powerful, we find that by the time a bot (or both bots) reach it, the game will usually be fairly close to its conclusion. Having both bots at maximum power really dials things up to 11, whilst still keeping the game in balance.
Upgraded Power Tokens
The upgraded power tokens directly replace your existing ones, giving you a one time benefit when you play them (if you choose to).
Just like with the power 1 token making your bot Boosted, we balanced the power that the token gives you so the weaker the number the more powerful the effect. Choosing which token you want at the time you power up, and then which token you want to play (and whether you risk playing a weaker token to gain the more powerful effect) adds another element of choice and tactics.
The wildfire cards are unique to each bot, and are unlocked at power level 3. Each one can be played to either row, and immediately lets you perform an attack with either your weapon or support power (which doesn’t have to be the same as the row you played it into). The unique part for each bot is in the held action that leans into the bots theme even more.
Wildfire cards started life as a separate kind of upgrade that offered a lot of flexibility through an attack combined with some kind of simple ability. At first we designed these to be specific to each bot, then they became more general upgrades that any bot could choose from, and then we went back to giving each bot its own specific card.
Finally, we had to decide how to have a flexible initiative value on the cards, to tie in with the flexible nature of the card. In the end we settled on a modifier of the current health value, getting faster as your bot gets weaker. In effect, this is one of the only ‘catch up’ mechanics in the game (though quite minor).
Any variable initiative value we put on the card would need a tiebreak, and in line with giving players choice (rather than randomly deciding) we opted to have players reveal a card with the lowest initiative going first. The tiebreak mechanism still favours bots with faster cards (such as Turbo or Flash), whilst allowing for a variable initiative value.
So that’s a look at what the Power Up expansion adds. Just like the power up cards take the bots abilities up to 11, we also think that this expansion dials up the gameplay depth as well. It seems like you do too, and around 95% of you have backed the campaign for both Duel and Power Up!
Check out the next update when we look at the two new bots with the expansion – Brains and Flash.