Members of the Imperium gaming community rejoiced to learn that our Euro-based Atlas Reactor squad had landed in the money, with a second place finish in ESL’s “Go4AtlasReactor” tourney on February 9. While the purse was small when compared to other more established E-sports events, this finish establishes the Imperium in the ranks of those to be reckoned with in the Atlas Reactor rankings.
Which then begged the natural question to those of us who had been living under a rock…
What Is Atlas Reactor?
Atlas reactor was released in October, 2016 with a novel spin on the MOBA genre. Instead of making MOBA gaming more about twitch speed and latency, Atlas Reactor decided to take a page from some of the classic video games of my PC childhood and normalize “twitch” right out of the equation. Instead of a real time, mouse punishing clicker Atlas Reactor has all the players choose their moves ahead of time and then resolves them all together in a number of phases. For an added bonus, as of January, Atlas Reactor went completely free-to-play.
As an fan of the turn based tactical game genera, my interest was piqued. I set up a meeting with Gommel Nox, the head of the Imperium’s Atlas Reactor group to learn more.
Froggy Storm: I am a huge lifelong Fire Emblem, and Heroes of Might and Magic fan. So if a turn based tactics player, like me, fell into Atlas, how well might they do, as opposed to someone coming from a traditional MOBA, such as Dota or LoL?
Gommel Nox: I think people who are used to playing games requiring strategy over speed, as well as those with a good sense of strategic positioning, can do very well. And it is free to play, completely. There is absolutely no way to spend money and gain an advantage over another player.
Gommel then went on to explain how the turns and actions are conducted as well as the conditions for victory.
Gommel: Each turn starts with a 20 second decision phase, in which they select their actions and movement. After all players have locked in, the turn resolves in 3 parts. The PREP phase (shields. buffs/debuffs, traps) the DASH phase (movement and movement-based attacks), and then the BLAST phase (stab stab shoot shoot).
Froggy: So when you say strategy, forgive me for asking, but do you mean tactics (IE advancement, positioning, and timing) or strategy (ie resource gathering and choke point control)? For example, is it like the capture the base wow map or more like knowing when to advance you Teemo?
Gommel: You play on a team of 4 against another team of 4 using heroes that fall under 3 categories: firepower, frontline, and support. 1st team to 5 kills or most kills after 20 turns wins, with over time in the event of a tie. Positioning advancement and map control (are) important as well though, because it is in an arena.
Froggy: So next question, how critical is character selection? With the limited team size, is team make up ‘make or break’?
Gommel: There are definitely some synergies that can be more effective than others, but most league play, as well as ranked games, involve bans and picks. Also I would never say that teams with powerful synergies don’t necessarily mean an automatic win either. The developers have done a very good job balancing out characters, especially the more popular combinations. Rask/Helio used to be so ridiculous that they would always be banned outright until they both got balanced in a way that keeps them powerful but less powerful when used together, if that makes sense. Trion have really been kicking ass keeping their finger on the pulse of the player base.
Froggy: I have always been a fan of Trion for those reasons myself as an early invite beta Rift player.
Gommel: Dude, you would love this game.
And indeed I might. As an aging gamer, my time is a valuable commodity these days. The turn-based nature appeals to my lack of cutting-edge gear and connection latency, and the relatively short time frame for matches, at or around 15 min each.
How Did They Do?
Now that I have a grasp of the game itself, I went to the Team leader for the Imperium’s European team for some insight into the tournament matches themselves.
Froggy: Good morning sir, I was hoping I could ask you for a bit of comment on your strategy and preparations, as well as the future plans from here.
Asher of Creation: To be frank, we went in to get some tournament experience first, winning was secondary. We have been scrimming other teams for some time now and had a good grasp of the competitive meta, and that’s what we used to get in the finals. Once there, we all agreed that we needed to throw a curve ball at Vexed Gaming if we wanted to win, as they have much more experience than we do.
We tried and failed, although we now have fresh material to review.
Going forward, we’ll keep on scrimming other teams and trying out new setups and openers, as well as honing our team synergy and communication until the tournament scene begins anew in march.
To follow the Imperium Atlas Reactor team, follow Gommel’s twitch stream. You can also keep an eye on the Imperium’s main stream, or search out Imperium Atlas Reactor on Youtube to see some of their ESL matches.