Over the years, autobattlers have carved out their own foothold in the gaming space, alluring people with their ease of play, but beneath house a much deeper strategy. One of the first, if not the first, was Dota Autochess, which was later adapted into Dota Underlords. Later, possibly due to their longtime MOBA rivalry, Riot Games developed Team Fight Tactics, which enjoyed a decent amount of success.
After that, the genre barely innovated and became a stagnant niche. That is until one of the most recent additions to the genre hit the stage: Mechabellum.
Mechabellum is, by nature, an autobattler but diverges greatly from the established mechanics of the genre. There are still spaces to place units, but it’s on a massive grid board. There are still team compositions, but they rely on the placement of the units rather than stacking buffs. There are buffs, but they don’t affect any units except themselves and copies of that unit.
For instance, there is a tank unit called Sledgehammers. Upgrades to Sledgehammers will affect other units of Sledgehammers but will not affect units with different names, such as Wasps.
The main strategy boiled down is to use these different units to make up for weaknesses in your starting lineup, as well as countering your opponent’s units.
Another example: Sledgehammers cannot attack flying units, so buying a group of Wasps would be a useful counter.
The game is broken up into rounds, and at the beginning of each round, you get the chance to purchase a support card, which is a permanent buff that helps your army. Your units gain experience by destroying other units and the all-important towers. You can level up the units with this experience once they have acquired enough.
All of this is bought with credits that you earn each round.
There are many nuances that escape the surface level. So, to attempt to explain the game in more detail, I will go over each of the units.
- Crawlers: A cheap, fast unit that can clog up single-target attackers.
- Fangs: Standard infantry that are deadly in large numbers. Make sure to upgrade them.
- Arclight: A slightly larger unit that shreds through swarms. Good against crawlers, fangs, and wasps if you upgrade them so they can attack flying units.
- Marksman: Fires single-target, high-damage shots that can destroy most medium-sized units in one or two hits. Weak against crawlers.
- Mustangs: Very strong against flying units, weak against units that attack large areas.
- Wasps: Swarm of flying units. Weak against arclights with the anti-air upgrade and mustangs.
- Phoenix: Strong, flying, single-target attackers. Weak against mustangs.
- Sledgehammers: Heavily armored tanks with decent firepower. Beware, they attack slowly and can’t attack air units.
- Stormcallers: Long-range missile launchers. Strong against most ground units, but can’t attack air units and gets overwhelmed by swarms.
- Hacker: A special unit that can mind control other units. Very powerful if used in the right situation.
- Rhino: A large, fast unit. Deals devastating damage in close combat. Countered by large bursts of firepower.
- Steel Balls: Another fast unit that melts medium to large units with a concentrated laser.
- Vulcan: Has two giant flamethrowers that make quick work of swarms. Struggles against armored units. They can’t attack air units.
- Fortress: A guardian unit that can block incoming attacks with shields and also deals decent damage. They can only attack air units with an upgrade.
- Melting Point: A massive quadrupedal version of steel balls that deals immense damage to all units. Gets overwhelmed by swarms.
- Overlord: A giant flying unit. It deals very high damage, has a long range, and is decently fast. Attacks slowly. Countered by melting points.
- War Factory: A massive unit that sports an array of upgrades to turn it into a moving fortress. Expensive. Hard to protect due to its size.
Now, as you can probably imagine, that’s a lot of moving parts. The thing is is that there is hardly ever a time when you are using all of these pieces at once. So, resist that urge to get overwhelmed. The more important thing to remember is when and which counter is necessary.
Another thing is that a big part of the time spent playing the game will simply be watching the battles. This makes the game easier to learn in a way because you get feedback almost immediately after you make a decision. If something isn’t working, you’ll know fast. It’s also just plain fun to watch it unfold!
Give it a shot yourself if you have the inclination. It’s rewarding to learn and fairly easy to pick up and put down at your leisure.
Onwards! Into the fray!