Tempo refers to a temporary advantage gained at the expense of long-term development. Tempo strategies exist in various forms:
- Cutting Drones early to get tech or attackers.
- Investing in units with early benefits but presenting a weakness exploitable later.
- Planning your moves according to timed bursts of resources or damage.
Winning with tempo is about making the most out of these short term advantages before their drawbacks kick in.
Economic Tempo is gained through random set units providing resources at a lower cost than their base set equivalents. Those more efficient units all come with a downside that could be exploited by your opponent later in the game. The key is to recognize situations in which their benefits outweigh their drawbacks, or even better when their weaknesses can't be targeted at all. Going for economic tempo should let you access key units first.
Let's review some example units:
- Gives you a huge burst of gold and all colored resources
- Takes a long time to construct
- Costs a full turn's worth of gold production when bought early
- Building Centrifuge is best when the set contains legendary units with high tech requirements that are not shared by others in the set (for instance a lone Odin in a full-green set). Conversely if you would like to produce multiple units at the same cost Centrifuge will fall short.
- Wild Drone
- Costs 1gold less than 2 Drones for the same gold production
- Is tougher than 2 Drones (3 Health vs 2)
- Has Frontline
- Wild Drone significantly speeds up your early production, but are impossible to protect because of their Frontline property. While this may not be a problem in sharp low economy games where killing defense to achieve a breach is more important than taking them out, if the game turns out to involve high economy on the other hand your Wild Drones are likely to be picked off at the expense of your absorb in the mid game.
Attack tempo is gained through units providing damage faster than their base set equivalents. They can be further divided between rush units, which can be produced early to get the damage initiative, and pressure units which come into play later in the game and threaten huge amounts of attack.
Rush units are faster and slightly more cost-efficient than base set attackers but come with additional downsides, for instance sacrifices at construction or costs at each attack. To master them you have to know when they will be enough to overcome your opponent, depending on whether random set units countering them are present. Units such as Polywall will make short work of most rushing attempts. Be aware that building damage early will force you on a low economy, meaning an opponent going econ who survives your early assault unscathed will have better late game perspectives.
Here are some example rush units:
- Electrovore can rush down opponents very efficiently thanks to its low cost. The energy upkeep is not a problem for the first few turns, until your opponent counterattacks. You basically give your opponent two alternatives: going for damage in response (they then lack initiative), or defending and grow their economy (then you can ramp up your attack even more). Note that if they succeed in doing both you will lose constant damage, for you won't be able to power your Electrovores anymore.
- Cannot be defended because of its Frontline property
- Iceblade Golem allows strange rushes where your opponent is challenged to reach 6 damage to be able to kill them off. Accumulating enough Iceblades will eventually lead to a win as long as you can keep your opponent's attack down, even if your own economy dies off in the meantime. On the other hand if you don't manage to breach and your Iceblades start dying you'll probably lose on the spot.
Pressure units have huge damage potential and are best acquired in the mid game due to their cost. What makes them different from other attackers is their actual inefficiency in the long term; their strength lies either in the threat they provide, or in the raw amount of damage they offer in the short term. The trick is to find opportunities in which they don't strain you as much as they burn your opponent. Let's review some pressure units:
- Creates 4 worth of threat just by having a Steelsplitter.
- Can absorb 3 damage when it doesn't fire
- Odin's value comes mostly from the threat it provides, since firing it is most often bad (e.g. although trading a Steelsplitter for a Wall and an Engineer is generally good, you will need to buy 4 more defense in the short term to make up for Odin no longer defending, not to mention lose out on 1 absorb). When defending, however, they will have to account for its attack value. Thus they will constantly overdefend. The only real drawback of Odin is its high cost.
- Tesla Coil
- Requires having an Engineer alive to fire
- Becomes more expensive overall as the game progresses
- Tesla Coil is particularly good at countering opponents going for red rush strategies. Tesla's fast damage is hard to deal with without decent absorb, which will be the case if they only have access to red. You will at least force them to deviate their build from all-out to get some better defense. Once they have it however the trades offered by Tesla Coil alone will become less and less attractive; if the game goes on for long the cost of constantly sacrificing Engineers will add up.
Burst units briefly provide huge amounts of damage. Their purpose is either to create breaches or to force your opponent into an awkward defense. As such they usually need to be massed or backed up by other attackers. Timing is of the essence when considering burst units; they only strike once. If you miss it you'll find yourself at a resource deficit compared with your opponent, with little to show for it. Here are some example burst units:
- Tia Thurnax
- Provides one of the highest burst of attack in the game
- Has a ridiculously low gold price
- Tia is easily the most aggressive unit in Prismata. Timing it correctly, especially early in the game, can put your opponent under indefensible pressure; even if they survive it, they will usually take too much damage from it to recover. If you don't do enough damage with it though you will be the one left with little to no economy due to its 7-Drones sacrifice cost.
- Cluster Bolt is the quintessence of green burst, able to deal massive damage out of the blue even on its own. Though simply adding it on top of your constant damage is fine, it can also be used in combination with other burst units or Exhaust attackers for even greater breach pressure. Remember that casting it repeatedly will require a large green income. The additional burden on your own defense shouldn't be underestimated either.
- Antima Comet
- Antima Comet deals colossal damage, but is always telegraphed due to its long setup (both in build time and tech). Yet even if your opponent can assemble enough defense during that time you are still likely to retain a tempo advantage after the Comet as you won't need to buy defense for a while. Depending on the random set the second Antima Comet might be more powerful than the first however, so pay close attention to it.