After what probably felt like a lifetime of drawing, animating, and otherwise supporting little circular blobs for Tilt to Live and its billions of updates, One Man Left decided it was time to move on. Its next project, which just hit the App Store, is an artistically and mechanically brilliant strategy game called Outwitters [Free]. These two games couldn't be more functionally different, and that was the point. Outwitters is the end result of the team's desire to express itself in a title that didn't have anything to do with dots.

In a weird way I kinda hope that these guys get bored more often. Outwitters feels like what it was for the team on a practical level: a breath of fresh air. It's also scary good.

On this week's episode of The TouchArcade Show bonus edition, we talk about Outwitters with One Man Left's Alex and Adam. As we were talking, I started thinking about how we were going to angle the podcast. I didn't have to think long. By the end of the show, I realized we had inadvertently created something of an oral primer for the game.

 

iTunes Link: The TouchArcade Show
Zune Marketplace: TouchArcade.com Podcasts
RSS Feed: The TouchArcade Show
Direct Link: TouchArcadeShow-Bonus-040.mp3, 12.5MB

Describing how this game plays is a lot like describing why Laocoön And His Sons is so radical. Yeah, the snakes are neat and Laocoön is ripped out of his mind, but all the good reasons are buried in the details. Outwitter's touches are what makes it pop, the raw mechanics just serve the greater strategy in the game.

At its core, Outwitters is a traditional turn-based strategy game. The goal is to defend your base, while bashing your opponent's to oblivion. You do this with troops, which you can build at the beginning of every turn. Each of the three factions in the game have a same assortment of five soldier classes. There's a sniper, which moves slowly but can do tons of damage at range. There's a soldier, which has a middle-of-the-line attributes. There's also a damage-dealing heavy character. And there's a medic and a scout.

Factions all have a sixth class, but these are unique soldiers. The Scallywags have a super sniper, basically, while the robot faction has a troop that can use mind control.

At the beginning of each turn, you are given several Wit points. These are the game's currency. When you move a character, whatever the range, that absorbs a specific amount of points from that pool. When you spawn a new creature, that also eats at that total. You can bank these points or use them all, but you can only spawn, move, and attack a couple of times per round.

This is one of those details, and navigating this Wits structure is one of the game's purest joys. It keeps the action focused, but the strategy complex. Each turn begs several questions. What's my opponent doing and how will I react? Should I bank these points and build up for a major defensive move? Should I spill all of them into a few spawns? Wits also check your ambitions. If you move a heavy, then you might not be able to move that medic by your circle of soldiers.

Of course, there's also scenarios where you can overcommit. If you move to engage or even defend in a flanking maneuver, there's nothing stopping your opponent if he wants to rush a now much less defended base. On the other hand, if you move your troops just enough, you can squash a player's offensive moves because you kept back. I lose in Outwitters a lot, and it's usually because I'm not thinking of stuff like this.

On the podcast, we lightly discuss a few things that I've tried. In my first few games I tried to pull something similar to a Zerg rush. In later games, I built tons of heavies in an attempt to do the same, but with stronger dudes. After playing for a while, I kind of realized that these strategies are too simple. Small mixes are best, but you've got to build in a way that is tuned to what your opponent is doing. Again, small details.

Outside of the soldier, each class has stunning abilities and striking weaknesses. One Man Left will always we be watching the game via metrics, ensuring that no class or even faction is unbalanced.

Another detail: this is asynchronous, much like Hero Academy. You'll have time to think and evaluate your moves, in other words, which you'll want to do if you want to win. Oh, and another detail: maps have designated spawn points, as well as spots that, once occupied, give you extra Wit points. Figuring out how to rob these spaces from players while also attending to your base is a beautiful point of push-and-pull design.

Hopefully, winning will always be a challenge. There's a pass-and-play mode included in the game, but there's also an online component. Like Blizzard's StarCraft 2, the online functionality has tiers and ladders, ensuring that you'll rarely get matched up with a person totally outside your skill level. I've been getting absolutely destroyed by the game's small assortment of beta testers, so I'm doubly stoked to give it a spin when more players join.

Players will be key, and that's the reason why Outwitters is launching a zero dollars as a Universal app on the App Store. You get one team for $0 download, but at launch, you can buy The Adorables and The Feedback for $2.99. Not bad at all.

We'll have more on Outwitters in the future, but hopefully you're good to go if you were even a little interested in the game. Our conversation has a lot more to share, so make sure to give that a listen and to give the game a download.

  • spockgold007

    Downloading now, I Can't wait to play, if anyone wants to start a game with me my gc tag is:
    spockgold007

    • Nickofullysicko

      Will give you a game mate waiting for this to download now as well. My username will be Nickofullysicko :)

      • https://me.yahoo.com/rekzkarz#a0df5 REkzkaRZ

        You've been challenged by rekzkarz.

        Uh, is there REALLY more than one spockgold?!?!?!  Hard to believe.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/ORXAG6CIS3T5DKBSTGU5PQRE54 Seth Kiehl

    I just started playing, it's a lot of fun.

    What stops you from sending grunts over everyone's heads and attacking the base non stop, though? The bases only seem to have a couple of hit points.
    Those grunts can move a looong way.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Dimitris-Katsafouros/666754640 Dimitris Katsafouros

    This is a wonderful game. One man left didn't dissapoint. Hope they have a hit on their hands. Bought all of the teams to support them even though you can play the game without them.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=664531244 Daniel Skatter

    Its not a bad little game. Hero Academy has spoiled me for being able to try a move, undo, try another...this game doesn't let you do that, and it makes you think about things a lot more before taking action. Just might have to buy the other teams...

  • AbsolutePhenom

    Anyone want to play that won't take 3 days to take their turn? I haven't even had a chance to play yet because all the random opponents I've started games with haven't taken their turn. user name ArienMC

    • http://profiles.google.com/fleshman1992 Laszlo Tuss

      Start at least 5 games, then you will met active players

  • iHateU

    This game makes me so mad! People will be actively playing with you, but as soon as you are about to win, they decide to never take their turn. Don't waste your time until they implement some sort of reasonable time limit!

    • Patrick Brewer

      Yes it is annoying if that is what they are doing (and they are probably a real jerk) but you don't actually know what could have happened on their end and it is unfair to blame the developer for a user's bad game manners.   

      If the game had a time limit of say an hour or two to move otherwise you forfeit, many people would have their games lost because things come up in life.  By doing a harsh time limit penaltyt, more people would stop playing the game since it punishes them for having things to do outside of the game.  

      • CharlynC

        Maybe a 12 or 24 hour time limit then? I've got several players sitting on games for 16+ hours, and it limits how many new games I can start. The first game I started is sitting on 19 hours after two moves.

  • PausAkid

    really enjoying this game, wish there was a redo-turn button like hero academy, sounds like there needs to be a time limit on turns as well. but this game is so polished, cute, fun! hex > square ^^

    • starpause

      Realized no undo cause of fog of war, worthwhile trade off but I still curse myself when I move accidentally.

  • http://profiles.google.com/fleshman1992 Laszlo Tuss

    Am i the only one who miss the achievements?
    Any way, its an awesome game.

  • daniel so

    yo, developer....

    i literally have 9 games in queue where i'm one move away from winning.
    But i can't get my points cuz the other guy just afks.. some of them have been dodging for over 3 days now.

    Gotta institute a rule where if a player doesn't play his/her move within three days it's an auto forfeit.

    this is nuts! 

    but great game!!