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Fixing Petrifying Prison...

edited January 2018 in Spells
Petrifying Prison should be an important spell in Wands (given how easy it is for players to teleport out of the way of projectiles), however, It has a few issues which make it difficult to balance:

1) If your opponent has Leap then Petrifying Prison is almost useless and wasting a spell slot.
2) If your opponent doesn't have Leap then Prison becomes very powerful, which is what led to its recent cost increase. Now it is barely used or mentioned.

The fundamental problem is that its utility is binary. It either turns Teleporting ON or OFF. It is pure rock paper scissors, with little room for skill to compensate.

How can we fix this?

I propose a slight modification to how Prison works...
...namely, anyone can Teleport away from inside Prison at any time, but doing so does damage (and destroys the Prison). NOTE: this damage must be less mana efficient than other spells whose primary purpose is to do damage. Also, Leaping would no longer be a hard counter to Prison and should incur the same damage penalty when used. To feed back this concept visually, I suggest adding inward pointing spikes to the existing Prison mesh.

How would this change how players use Prison?

Instead of being prevented from teleporting, trapped players would have an interesting cost/benefit analysis to it better to stay put, gain a mana advantage and try to deal with incoming attacks, or take the damage and escape, thereby granting the Prison caster a minor victory? This decision making process remains active for the duration of the any point the imprisoned wielder may decide to cut their losses and teleport away if the situation becomes too hairy.

If the trapped player has no defensive spells or skills to deal with staying put, they can still strategically take the damage which they can then try to mitigate in other ways. The caster can't force them to stay put, but they DO deal a small amount of easy damage (without being able to destroy their helpless opponent as is currently the case--paper cuts instead of napalm).

Players that are prepared to stay inside Prison and defend can grow their mana advantage every time Prison is cast on them if they are successful...but are giving their opponent an opportunity to exploit their hesitation to move.

Practically speaking, the primary strategy for Prison would change and become more about the caster trying to force a Teleport to do damage by threatening with other spells (not typically actually doing damage with those spells). The castee, of course, is trying to NOT teleport so as to waste their opponent's mana.

Being able to tune the damage (in addition to the cost and duration) would make it a lot easier to fine tune the balance of this spell.


  • Instant guaranteed damage is kind of broken. Runners can deal a little damage and then avoid you the rest of the game. That's why they added a delay to gas. Making Prison deal damage might have the same issue.

    Currently, Leap, Shield, and Dome are the primary defenses. It's very difficult to be competitive without at least one of these in every loadout. Making Prison deal damage to those using only Leap as a defense means that Leap is no longer viable as the primary defense. It would basically force everyone to use Shield or Dome, which reduces the variety of loadouts. That's not "balance".

    Prison is not necessarily useless even when the opponent has Leap. It's a good counter for curse, gas, spikes, demon, and oxymora. Reducing prison to just another damage spell dumbs down the game too much.
  • Thanks for your analysis! I have a few responses to you feedback...

    It's not guaranteed damage, you could just wait it out if your opponent ran. To that point, it would probably be important to make sure there is a small delay before Prison can be recast on the same spot again (so the imprisoned player has an opportunity to move between castings if they want).

    Skipping to your third paragraph for a second...I wouldn't say this would make Prison "just another damage dealing spell". It is a trap with a new twist. Unlike Spikes or Gas, you can avoid taking damage if you DON'T move. I think that's really interesting. Plus, it would not lose any of the utility you describe regarding curse, gas, spikes, demon and oxymora.

    Regarding Leap not being viable as a primary defense... With Prison no longer a hard counter to Teleport, it is no longer necessary for Leap to be a hard counter to Prison. In fact, given how powerful Leap is right now, the game may benefit from a new (soft) counter to Leap (which Prison would become). If Leap was your only defense, you would be slightly disadvantaged towards a player who had Prison, but not unable to be competitive.

    The problem I do see is in the last minute against a runner who Prisons, fires a projectile and evades. An equally skilled player with only Leap may have a hard time beating that..

    Maybe Leap should counter Prison damage (this would be intuitive, after all...since you aren't "flying" in a direction with an implied collision as with regular Teleport)....but it would incur a mana penalty instead (say it costs 25-30 to Leap out of Prison instead of 20). If Prison was tuned back to a cost of 20, then you'd still be able to use it against a Leaper to gain a mana advantage, but you wouldn't be able to force damage. I dunno, food for thought.
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