The Shield Generator can’t attack enemy units or capture buildings, but it can heavily bolster the defenses of any unit standing next to it.
Note: this article contains gameplay with development art ‐ art that we whipped up quickly for the purposes of development and testing. It's not at all representative of the final product, and it will change completely before we make any serious releases.
The Shield Generator is a special type of unit because normally all it can do is move around the map, until you get it in position and choose to deploy it. Once deployed it can no longer move, but it produces a shield that covers any unit standing next to it. If you decide that you want to move it again, you have to use a turn to mobilize, which removes the shield and allows you to move it again on your next turn.
Here you can see that Player 2 deploys a Shield Generator close to an enemy just before attacking it. The result is that Player 2’s Hover-Tank deals the usual 40 damage to the enemy, but it only takes 22 damage.
However, the catch with deploying the Shield Generator is that it will take 2 turns to move it again – it will have to mobilize next turn and then move on the turn after that. This means that Player 2 can use their Hover-Tank to get 2 attacks off on the Shield Generator.
This vulnerability is why the Shield Generator is most useful when the unit it’s providing shields for is also blocking the enemy from moving through a choke point. That way, on the next turn, the enemy can’t attack it without first destroying the shielded unit that’s blocking the way.
Another interesting thing to note is how exactly the shields work. We toyed with the idea of having the shields prevent damage until they’re destroyed, but we ended up deciding that was too strong. We settled on having shields simply reduce the amount of damage units take when attacked.
Making the shields prevent damage until destroyed was far too strong for 2 reasons. The first problem is that a shield with 1 health left would absorb more than 1 damage, because the shield has to be destroyed before the unit takes damage. The other problem is that each unit has base damage amounts that it deals for each type of unit it can attack, but shields don’t take that into account. The result is that shields are more or less useful depending on which type of unit is being shielded.
Straight damage reduction is less complex for players to incorporate into their strategies, and it’s not over-powered (at least we hope it isn’t).
So, that’s the Shield Generator. The first unit to incorporate deployment mechanics. We’ve got other unit concepts in the works, and we’re looking forward to detailing them in future blog posts.