WFTO Wednesday #85: Patch 0.5 Preview 2: Units & Combat

WFTOWednesdayCroppedLightPatch 0.5 Preview 2: Units & Combat

Hey folks,

Today, as part of our ongoing series detailing the upcoming mega-patch, we’re going to take a look at the major changes that we’ve made to combat, experience, and unit abilities, as well as showcasing a few units that will soon walk, float, or skulk down the corridors of your dungeons.


Unit Levels

First up, we’re raising the level cap for units from 5 to 10 for several important reasons. Primarily it allows us to put a milestone at level 5 (where units now gain their special ability) whilst still having meaningful progression afterwards.

This leads into our second reason, which is giving the player much more choice in how they go about taking advantage of the various methods of training their units:

  • The Barracks is only available to Intelligent units (no Beasts). It is the slowest form of training, however it is free to use once the room has been built. The Barracks becomes a more potent source of experience once its upgrade has been unlocked in the Veins of Evil, which will allow your Gnarlings to increase the speed at which other units train.
  • The Arena attracts the Beastmaster to your dungeon, whose main job is gather Beasts from your dungeon to battle each other in the Arena. This process the same experience as normal combat but removes the risk of death from Beasts and is also free to use once it has been built. The ability for Beasts to train without risk of death in the Arena is paramount as Beasts now die when they are knocked out in normal combat. In addition to this the Arena can also be used manually by the player to train Intelligent minions and perform executions upon imprisoned units for a morale and experience boost for any onlookers.
  • Combat grants exactly as much experience as you might expect, and it’s free, but your minions are prone to getting chopped up into little bits or blown apart…
  • The Spirit Chamber grants experience at a rapid pace, however it is incredibly expensive to build and requires a constant stream of gold whilst active to imbue units with experience. The Spirit Chamber is the fastest way to level a unit outside of using…
  • Wisdom Juice is a potion that grants a moderate amount of experience to any units within its cast radius. While it is very expensive multiple potions can be bottled and used rapidly, allowing you quickly train up a new army if yours is lost in battle.


Unit Stats

The next change to highlight is that we’ve added three new stats to the game:

  • Power: Controls the effectiveness of a units attacks and abilities, including how much damage they deal, the duration of their buffs/debuffs, and the effectiveness of their heals.
  • Attack Speed: Controls how quickly a unit uses its attacks and abilities in addition to controlling the speed at which they are able to be used again.
  • Morale: Controls how likely a unit is to flee from combat.

Power and Attack speed will increase as a unit levels, whilst Morale will be based on a units happiness. Along with movement speed, these are the three main stats that buffs and debuffs will impact. The reasoning behind these new stats will become clearer as you read ahead.


Unit Abilities

The most significant part of this combat rework is our changes to unit abilities. We’ve gone through every single unit and tweaked, changed, and redesigned their abilities according to three core principles:

  • Unit Focus: We wanted to give each unit a very specific focus, and all of their abilities needed to help them stay true to that focus and not deviate from it.
  • Visual Clarity: We wanted to ensure that everything a unit does in combat is as clear to the player as possible, as such we’ve removed many ‘invisible’ passive abilities and secondary effects from active abilities and replaced them with more obvious and exciting effects. This has also resulted in many damage over time abilities being changed unless they have very good visual feedback (such as lighting the target on fire).
  • No Bad Decisions: We wanted to removed as many scenarios where units could make a decision which would go against what the player is trying to achieve. This includes things like taunt abilities, stance changes, etc, that can easily have a negative impact on your chances to win a fight if used incorrectly. Essentially, we want the players decisions to be as untactful as possible.

Let’s take a few examples to see these changes in effect.

The Gnarling

We removed the ‘pack mentality’ and damage over time passives due to their rather vague, hard to understand, and invisible nature. Instead, we increased the strength of the slow on the Shiv ability and gave him an extra melee cone attack to further enhance his melee brawler focus.

Something else to note is that the Gnarling is now attracted by building a Barracks, instead of simply having a Lair and Slaughterpen and, as we mentioned above, Gnarlings will now work in the Upgraded Barracks to help train your minions more efficiently.

New Gnarling Abilities:

  • Basic Attack: Average speed, slightly above average strength melee attack.
  • Shiv (Active): The Gnarling throws a small blade at a target, dealing a small amount of damage and slowing it for several seconds.
  • Cleave (Active): The Gnarling deals damage in a cone.
  • Blade Spin (Active, Special): The Gnarling spins in a circle with his blades, dealing damage to all nearby enemy units.

The Augre

The Augre previously had a minor debuff that applied to enemies hit by any of their abilities. This was, again, quite difficult to notice in the fray of combat. We’ve also removed their taunt ability, as it was easy for these to be used on the wrong targets, which was often frustrating and could easily change the outcome of a fight.

Instead, we’ve given Augres the ‘Aftershock’ passive, which slightly knocks back and stuns any target they hit. This allows them to still have a good deal of crowd control and damage mitigation without the possibility of it being chained together for an extended period of time. This ability is also very visible to (both) players, and really goes a long way to enhancing the huge, brutish feel of their combat presence.

New Augre Abilities:

  • Basic Attack: Slow, heavy damage melee attack.
  • Aftershock (Passive): The Augre’s basic attacks and abilities knock back and briefly stun the target.
  • Ground Slam (Active): The Augre slams the ground with his hammer fist, lightly damaging nearby enemy units.
  • Quake (Active, Special): The Augre swings both of his arms at the ground with extreme force, creating a conical shock-wave that damages enemy units. Applies a second stack of Aftershock.


New Units

This patch is also introducing three brand new units.

The Shadow

The Shadow is a fearsome hunter who exists between this world and the next, bending light around itself as it skulks through the shadows in search of prey. Originally revealed in WFTO Wednesday #49, the design has evolved following the principles we detailed above. You can attract the Shadow to your dungeon by upgrading your Beast Den in the Veins of Evil.


Known to those who have survived it as a phantom pain.

Shadow Abilities:

  • Basic Attack: Very strong, very fast melee attack.
  • The Shadows (Passive): The Shadow is invisible until it attacks, and will return to being invisible if it kills a unit or has been out of combat for a short period of time. The first attack that the Shadow makes after leaving The Shadows will deal bonus damage.
  • Blink (Active): The Shadow teleports a short distance. Short cooldown.
  • Nightmare (Active): Stuns target enemy for a short period of time.

The Oculus

This Beast was revealed in the early days of our Kickstarter and was eventually reworked due to fan feedback. While it is a meagre fighter, its ability to scout the surrounding area and give you advance warning of attacks or points of weakness is what makes this Beast a true wonder. One change from the original design you may notice is that it now has a basic attack; we’ve done this so he isn’t entirely defenceless whilst scouting and is still able to take part in Arena combat.


This eldritch horror is the not-so-hidden spycam of the Underworld. It delights in peeping where eyes should not ever peep; the sights it sees are seldom disbelieved.

Oculus Abilities:

  • Basic Attack: Weak, ranged energy bolt.
  • Flight (Passive): The Oculus is immune to movement impairing effects and can fly over any obstacle.
  • Beholder (Passive): The Oculus has a longer vision radius than every other unit.
  • Petrify (Active) Special: The Oculus stuns a target unit for several seconds.

The Frost Weaver

A frozen being that simmers with power, the Frost Weaver can be summoned by brewing its potion within your Alchemy Lab. Upon breaking the bottle this ice-bound being will materialize within your dungeon and prowl your halls in search of enemies to shatter.


Winter is coming.

Frost Weaver Abilities:

  • Basic Attack: Strong, slow frosty punch.
  • Tempus Frigid (Passive): The Frost Weaver is only a temporary construct, and will slowly lose health over time and receive no benefit from healing effects.
  • Deep Freeze (Passive): When the Frost Weaver is killed, it freezes all nearby units (friend & foe) solid, causing them to be unable to take action for a short period of time. Frozen units take dramatically reduced damage for the duration of this effect.
  • Chilling Embrace (Passive): The Frost Weaver cools the air around him, reducing the movement and attack speeds of all nearby enemy units.
  • Frost Nova (Active): The Frost Weaver releases a nova of ice, immobilizing all nearby enemy units for a short period of time.


Whew! We’ll be back next week with another lengthy post that describes the new Defences and Rituals that will be available to you soon!

And as a quick reminder: If you want to help us test this upcoming content, check out the patch testing thread on our forums.


Until next time Underlord,

– WFTO Team


Click here to discuss this update on our forums!

  1. The shadow is some Silent Hill like shit right there

    • I was thinking more on the lines of the shadows of Doctor who, but yeah silent hill works too

  2. Honnestly while those principle look like good sense from a game design sene I wonder if you aren’t pushing it a little far maybe ?
    While I understand the necessecity of making things clear to the player, people can still read and ook things by themselves. The gnarl pack mentality sounded frankly more interesting than the shiv.

    Not a big fan of the shadow compared to it’s original concept but I suppose some concepts are harder to put in model than others. Otherwise it’s looking pretty damn good.

    • The Gnarling actually always had the Shiv ability. All we did was remove the damage over time (very hard to communicate that) and buff the slow (which is a far more visible effect). His new ability is Cleave (the cone attack).

      The Shadow looks a lot cooler in-game. He just moves and blinks around a lot, so capturing an image of him is quite hard :)

  3. loveeeeeeeeeeeeee dungeon keeper is on of my fav games!!! i know this comment maybe not in the right time or place but i wanted to comment on something so import which is the clean surface of each block in dungeon keeper 2 the top of each block is not that smooth should be more crumbly and uneven i feel this clean look of each blocks a bit weird i wish they have a little noise to the top surface also while imps are demolishing the blocks this should be more slower and also they claim the block in longer time same as in keeper 2 this is the 2 comments i really though of and i think being able to enjoy imps cracking this blocks in a decent time is much more fun from doing it soooo fast and claiming it makes the game less enjoyable cause its all bout atmospher and the feelings u get from the game

    • We have plans to add some noise to dirt blocks.

  4. I was kind of hoping The Occulus would be quite powerful, like a Beholder, with eye rays, while being squishy. I figured the Occulus could be the ranged “Glass Cannon” of the beast.

  5. I’m pretty sure that that would have been problematic because the beast line up already has lots of glass cannons. The skarg is a melee glass cannon, the shadow is assassin type, and the bafu sure isn’t tanky. Making the occulus a scout made him stand out among beasts and the whole unit line up in general while still sharing the beast line ups fragility. :)

  6. Remember the boxes from DK2 that gave bonuses like increase level or make creatures happy? I thought that you could theme these boxes like: gold boost will look like a treasure chest or reinforce walls will be a pile of stone bricks ect. :)
    btw. great job so far

  7. Is the game still planned to be launched in 2014? or will it be delayed for 2015? :(

    • Current estimate is first quarter of 2015 :)

  8. I love how the game is getting a kind of Starcraft meta-game to it. I can’t play RTS’s worth a damn, but I love watching other people play them. I’m hoping for tournaments featuring people with beast/shadow builds etc etc.

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