After 22 whole weeks and tons of votes cast, you the players have chosen your favourite Micro Dojo Building of all! With an overwhelming victory, the Stables has been chosen as the winner, with the Guard House and Theatre tied for second place.
Thanks to everyone who took part, and I hope you enjoyed reading the series with my thoughts on each of the Buildings and their uses.
The last round of the semi-finals is here, and almost the last week of the playoffs! As the Shinchoku buildings were all eliminated in earlier rounds we have 2 final Tsuyo buildings pitted against each other.
Both of these are pretty wild from a design point of view, as they disrupt two parts of the game that were previously untouched. Using points as a resource is a new feature introduced with the Brewery – previously you could exchange Gold and Food for points but not the other way around! The Theatre changes another feature of the design, which is that once objectives are scored they are effectively removed from the game. In the base game there is no difference between flipping an objective face down or removing it from the game, but this small distinction makes the Theatre possible in a way that also keeps the game one of ‘perfect information’.
Both of these buildings also mess with the design feature that every turn progresses the game towards a conclusion, but since only one player uses the Brewery and the Theatre can only be used one time, it doesn’t break that feature too drastically. And besides, they offer a lot of interesting decisions by doing so!
The last two of the base game buildings here in our almost last round of the playoffs.
For a final showdown, these two buildings are quite different. The base game has three categories of buildings – resource generation, movement, and scoring, with these two buildings in the last two categories. The similarity between them is that they both require resources to fuel. Whilst the Barracks provides a clear path to victory, the Stables is a little more situational by allowing you to control the board state and access spaces you need to. The only final observation I have is that the Barracks made it this far whilst it’s equivalent (the Shrine) did not. I wonder if people just like Gold more than Food!
Micro Bots is the first signing from Prometheus Game Labs – a game designed by Simon Beal and co-developed over the past year. Packed into a mint tin, Micro Bots delivers a tight two-player dueling experience in 15-30mins.
Micro Bots: Duel, along with the expansion Power Up, is launching on Kickstarter in February. Click below to be taken to the prelaunch page:
In Micro Bots you take on one of two bots maneuvering around an arena, shooting at each other, and aiming to be the first one to destroy the opponent. Each bot has a set of starting cards and a unique ability that changes the way they play.
Every round, you both play one card from your hand. Cards are played to either the Weapon or Support rows on either side of your bot card, which increase in power the more cards you have there.
When combat occurs (and there’s a lot of it), you will both play Power Tokens (from 0-5) to boost your attack or defense power. These tokens are exhausted until playing a Recharge card, so trying to predict which number your opponent is going to play (and how to counteract them) is key!
Recharging lets you refresh up your Power Tokens, gain energy, and replay some of your cards, but it leaves you vulnerable. Deciding whether to hang on for one more turn or Recharge early could be the difference between winning and losing.
Micro Bots delivers a tense, tactical experience as you each try to outwit and outplay each other, all in 15-30mins and a pocket sized box.
Micro Bots is inspired by retro video games, the very first of which is an unreleased game called Laser Droids that Simon developed more than 20 years ago. The game is intended to feel like two vehicle like robots battling out in an arena. More succinctly it is best described as Robot Wars (or Battle Bots in the US) with big lasers!
Simon and I have playtested each others designs in the past, and my first exposure to Micro Bots was when Simon was looking to brainstorm a concept for a new idea. Simon and I are both fans of Aeons End (a cooperative boss battler deckbuilding game) and Simon wanted to develop an arena type of boss battler from an old design of his – Laser Bots. I wasn’t considering taking on other designs at the time, but as he showed me the original mint tin game for context, I realised it would actually be a great fit for Prometheus Game Labs. It was a tight, two player game that fit into a tiny package and offered a lot of potential depth of play.
As we worked together on the game, we changed a few of the core mechanics. The single program row became two rows, giving players choice of focusing on their offensive or defensive capabilities. The dice rolling for combat became Power Tokens, allowing players more control over their outcomes and the opportunity to ‘outplay’ their opponent in a way that I love to bring to Prometheus Game Labs games. The final big change was to increase the maximum damage from 1 to 3, which balanced more exciting ‘big’ moments in the game without allowing a complete blowout.
Whilst we settled on the design for Duel fairly early on in the process, there was so much extra design space that just wouldn’t fit in a single tin, that we opted to launch Power Up alongside it. Alongside two new bots, Brains and Flash, this expansion lets you collect cubes from the range track (reflecting your bot zooming around the arena and picking up these special power ups) that improves your power tokens, increases your bots unique powers, and unlocks special Wildfire cards. As well as a chance to include some of the more complex Upgrade cards, Power Up has been a lot of fun to develop in a way that extends the base game further and offers even more interesting decisions.
You can read more about the development from original game to the Laser Bots mint tin game in an original post from Simon here.
Wow we’re into the final stretch! Just 4 weeks to go to settle the most popular Micro Dojo building. It seems already that the Tsuyo were the most popular clan (as none of the Shinchoku clan buildings made it to the semi-finals), and here we have the first base game vs expansion playoff.
By coincidence, these buildings cost (almost) the same to acquire, with the Toll Gate using the expected Favour rather than Food. The Guard House and the Toll Gate were both buildings that were designed at the very start of the process for each game. Though they went through a few tweaks to their costs and rulebook definitions, the core ability stayed the same. They are both some of the more interactive buildings in the game, allowing you to manipulate your opponents options game state, and both can be used quite tactically to your advantage.
But there can be only one, so which is your favourite?
The final round of the quarter finals is here, with the last of the Loyalty & Deceit buildings and the last Shinchoku clan building still in the running!
The Tea House is super efficient, not only granting 2 resources per turn (in addition to any other effects like Action or Build that the Loyalty space might share) but 2 resources that are highly flexible. It’s a good early pickup where you can make use it of it several times over the game. The Theatre on the other hand is a late game pickup, both due to its cost and the time it is most useful. Flipping a single point objective might buy you some time to lock up a later one, but taking a 2 point objective that you can easily win (maybe a Loyalty track, or building cost objective) is 2 points for just 5 resources. It’s harder to use, and your opponent might take it just to prevent you from having it, but if you can time it right it can be very powerful.
Which of these two you vote for will depend on your preference for powers either consistently decent or rarely super-powerful.
Just like last week, we have two very different buildings to compare.
The Shrine is a simple points scoring building, that ideally you would want to use 2 or 3 times over the course of the game (to make it more efficient than just using the Donate action). The Stables with its single Food activation cost might only get used rarely to reach an otherwise unreachable Action space to score a late objective, but it can also be used aggressively to block spaces and manipulate the opponents choices.
Valuing the Shrine will depend on your view of the current game length (and objectives), but is typically clear from the start of the game. Whereas, the value of Stables might not be apparent until the exact moments that arise when it becomes very beneficial.
More Tsuyo buildings! The Brewery will give you a ton of resources, far above a standard turn, whilst the Jail asks for more resources than a standard turn will provide.
The Brewery is useful once you’ve scored at least 1 point (and ideally this would be from an objective rather than the Donate action) but used early on it can snag objectives or accelerate your game plan. The Jail by contrast is more useful later in the game, when the resource cost can be used to gain advantage for a 2 or 3 point objective. It has two purposes – to free up a blocked space, or to place a meeple in a position that blocks your opponent, and the ideal situation for spending 3 Gold is when you can take advantage of both.
The ideal situation for either building will depend on the point in the game at which you acquire it, but if either of these ends up as the reward for the 5th spot of the Tsuyo track it could change how much you value that whole track.
Two very popular buildings from the original game here, both useful in scoring points.
The appeal of getting 2 points straight away from the Castle is clear, and I often see players in their first game dedicating several turns to gathering resources with the sole intention of taking the Castle. When a late objective depends on building costs, it can take the winning player by surprise as suddenly the owner of the Castle goes from 1 point to 5 or 6 points in just a couple of turns. The Barracks is far more predictable, but used several times over the game represents a much better investment of resources. Particularly combined with the Broker or a Gold Mine it can be consistently used to win the game without fighting over objectives. The Barracks therefore requires a bit more nuance to use most effectively, but doesn’t require the same level of commitment as the Castle.