Let me start by saying that I don’t intend for this post to be another “JWA Aquatic Update” thread, with suggestions for builds for certain aquatic creatures and how to implement them. I have nothing against those posts (I’ve even made some myself), but that just isn’t what this thread is about, and I don’t want to get derailed. This thread is more of a reaction to those kinds of posts, discussing one particular strategy for implementing aquatics, thinking “outside the box” (hence the title). I’ll be the first to say that my suggestion is flawed, but that’s why I’m here. I do think it has potential, and we might be able to work it into something usable.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let me start by saying that after a lot of thought, I don’t think most suggestions for implementing aquatics would work, and I’ll explain why so we can identify the specific issues with these strategies. Aquatic update suggestions can be quite diverse, but most of the ones I’ve seen tend to fall into one of two categories. The first category of suggestions treat aquatics entirely separate from the current terrestrial dinos, getting their own battle arena and sometimes their own map to spawn on. The other category of suggestions is to simply combine aquatics with the current dinos, spawning on the same map (preferably everywhere, since only spawning in real world water isn’t really fair) and sharing the same arena (going the pokemon route if levitating creatures or spawning in a puddle on the battlefield). The thing is, both of these approaches have problems.
With the first category of suggestions, you end up bloating the game. An aquatic-only map would be cool, but it would also nearly double the size of the game. Many players’ phones could not handle a file this large. They might as well just create a whole spinoff game. Creating an aquatic-only set of arenas would only fragment the playerbase. Plus, what’s the point of simply cloning the arena? I love my mosasaurus as much as the next guy, but why create an aquatic arena if you’re just getting the same old experience?
With the second category of suggestions, you run into the problem of breaking immersion. Many players would be able to look past this, but others could not. Besides that, having aquatics spawn normally on the map would flood the already crowded spawn pools with dozens of new aquatic spawns. It just doesn’t seem feasible. This solution is a bit less flawed than the first, but it also seems a bit boring, and the immersion-breaking in the area would be a deal breaker for many.
So looking at these two solutions and their problems, we can identify a few features that a “good” aquatic system should have. These would include:
A. Aquatics should spawn on the normal map…
B. …but not in a way that affects the existing spawns
C. Aquatics should be integrated into the current arenas…
D. …but not in a way that breaks immersion…
E. …and they should shake up the meta in a meaningful way.
With these points in mind, I tried brainstorming a solution that met all these criteria. For aquatic spawning, I’ll leave that to you guys. Maybe you can obtain them in a fishing or ROV mini game separate from the normal spawns? As for battles, I found myself inspired by the final battle in Jurassic World where the Mosasaurus shows up at the last second to assist in the fight. This eventually led to the idea of “aquatic assists”.
Aquatic assists would work like this. Each player would gain 2-4 additional team slots specifically for aquatics, of which you draw 1 per battle. However, you can’t field aquatics like normal dinos. You can only summon them on your turn (maybe on a cooldown) to use an ability before and in addition to your normal dino using an ability (essentially, your aquatic assisting your normal dino in the fight). Comparing JWA to some trading card games, Aquatics would function more like spells than creatures. When summoned, your aquatic bursts onto the battlefield in a torrent of water (like the Mosasaur jumping out of the water in Jurassic World), uses it’s ability, and then disappears. This means that aquatics (currently) don’t have any stats like most dinos do, but they do have a certain number of abities depending on their rarity (1 for commons, 2 for rares, 3 for epics, and 4 for legendaries/uniques). When you summon the aquatic, you also choose an ability for your aquatic to use that turn (so it isn’t limited to one ability like swap-in dinos). The cooldowns of each ability (which will be substantial) determine when you can summon the aquatic again. Weaker abilities allow them to be summoned again sooner, while using a stronger ability may put your aquatic out of commission for the rest of the match (this discourages simply using an aquatics best ability every time). Since aquatics have no attack stat, abilities would be almost entirely non-damaging, with the semi-exceptions of rend, Damage Over Time, and % based healing (note that self-targeting abilities affect your main dino, not the aquatic themselves). These abilities would include (but are not limited to):
Reduce opponents damage X% for X turns
Reduce opponents critical hit chance by X% for X turns
Apply X% chance to dodge X% of damage for X turns
Increase speed X% for X turns
Remove opponent’s damage and crit buffs
Destroy opponents shield
Rend X% of opponents health
Inflict X% damage over time for X turns
Increase Damage X% for X turns
Increase critical hit chance by X% for X turns
Prevent the opponent from swapping for X turns
Decrease opponents speed X% for X turns
Apply X% shield for X turns
Inflict X% vulnerability on opponent for X turns
Heal X% of your total hp
Remove opponent’s dodge/cloak
Cleanse all negative effects
Nullify all positive effects
X% chance to stun the opponent
These abilities fall within the class system, but also allow your dinos to break it to some extent. Maybe you can break a resilient’s shield so your cunning’s attack hits directly, give your fierce a speed boost to outspeed it’s resilient opponent, or give your dino’s next attack a 100% crit chance in a pinch. I strongly believe that combining abilities like this can create interesting depth in the game. So an aquatic may look something like this:
Now, I’ve still identified a few key problems with my suggestion, and I hope you’ll help me work through then.
I’m acutely aware of how strong swap-in attacks are right now, and I don’t want to add fuel to that fire. As such, I focused mostly on non-damaging abilities, gave them significant cooldowns and even delays, and greatly limited the few abilities that can inflict damage (rend and dot). But I’m worried that this isn’t enough to balance them. There may have to be something else added to give opponents a way to counter aquatics.
Without attacking moves, is there enough variety in the abilities? I personally think there is, especially when you combine abilities. But there’s always the possibility of them becoming stale when abilities are the same no matter what aquatic uses them.
This is probably the biggest issue, from which several problems stem: aquatics don’t have stats. The reason why is that I couldn’t think of a way to include health or speed with the summoning system, and I purposefully avoided abilities that would rely on an attack stat. Like I said, this creates a few problems. Why would you use a common, when you can use an epic that uses it’s exact ability in the exact same way AND has access to other abilities? This also contributes to abilities feeling stale: if abilities are the exact same no matter what aquatic uses them, what’s the point of different dinos sharing abilities? Plus, what’s the point of collecting more DNA to level up your aquatics if a level 1 functions exactly the same as a level 30? They would have hybrids, but still. I think the clear solution here would be to implement stats for aquatics in some way, but I’m not exactly sure how. Speed could be added to determine when in the turn order an aquatics ability is used. This may mess with some interactions (like a speedy cunning attacking before their fierce aquatic assist has the chance to break the opponents shield), but this could be fixed fairly easily by giving some aquatic abilities priority. Health could also be added, with aquatics taking damage when you summon them to limit their usage - but what determines how much damage they take? Is it the same as the damage dealt by the opponent on that turn? Attack would probably be the easiest stat to add on paper (simply have aquatic assists do direct damage), but that also goes against all my concerns about not wanting to be as OP as swap in attacks can be.
You all are a thoughtful and critical bunch, so I’m sure you can think of more concerns too, and I’m eager to discuss them.
Anyway, that wraps up my suggestion. As much as I believe in the core of it, the main point is not that I think this is the one solution that will also make aquatics work, but that if we DO want to make aquatics work, we’ll have to get creative and come up with ways to add them that go beyond the traditional spawning and battle roles. Thank you for your time reading this post.
Do you think “aquatic assists” would be a good way to implement aquatics?
- Yes, it’s a great idea
- Maybe, but it needs some tweaks to work
- It’s not bad, but I would prefer something else
- No, it’s fundamentally flawed
- No, I just don’t want aquatics in the game