What’s up with deft?

Y: I love deft ‘s multitudinous turn-based strategy compatriots as much as the next guy, but there’re plenty of ’em! Why make this one?

G: deft‘s core conceit is the lack of an “attack button”: the only order players can give is movement. Instead, movement patterns create all attacks. This may seem like novelty for novelty’s sake, but it has proven not to be. Exploring that narrow space has led me to surprising places: chain reactions of units push one another around and interact further with the “support” archetype established for multi-range combat. But there is a more fundamental reason to value deft‘s essential design flag.

In deft, as in chess, all behaviors arise as a consequence of the player directing movement. This ties positioning and effectiveness very strictly, which creates beautiful board states and satisfying play. However! Unlike chess, where towers travel and the queen is the martial equal of 9 mortal women, deft has communicative flavor: it feels like a medieval skirmish. In executing their weapon patterns, the units slash, stab, and smash. Good players create fronts which grind against one another until one is penetrated. They set up flanks and experience routs. These flavorful mechanics are more than merely cool, they make the game easier and more satisfying to learn. The simultaneous presence of these features–strict movement based interaction and a compelling sense of simulating a fight–is unique.

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