A walkthru of Beta 1Z

Published on Wednesday, April 7, 2010 By Brad Wardell In Elemental Dev Journals

To recap:

Elemental is an upcoming turn-based strategy game set in a magical world that is recovering from a great magical battle known as the cataclysm. The world has been devastated and most of the magic of the world is gone.

Fortunately, a handful of beings have risen from the ashes with the ability to channel magic. These great Sorcerers are the sovereigns who must build new kingdoms (or empires) from the ground up.

When you start the game, there is only 1 person.

This is one of their stories.

Note: BETA 1 of Elemental strips out the graphics engine to allow us to focus purely on the game mechanics. The 3D engine will be added back into beta 3. NOTE that all these screenshots are works in progress and not representative of the final graphics.


BETA 1 Game Play Example 


Chapter 1: Of the migration

Procipinee is the only daughter of Emperor Amarian III. Like her father, she is a channeler – a sorcerer capable of casting spells of great power.

Amarian is himself the son of the evil Morrigan who had wrought great sorrow for the men of the East. Amarian has done his best to undo the damage but he and his line will always be tainted by Morrigan’s dark deeds.

Procipinee is unique amongst the sovereigns of Elemental in that she was born to rule. In this new world, however, she is an outcast from the other kingdoms of men.


imageAs ruler of the Kingdom of Pariden, Procipinee does enjoy some advantages. Pariden, being a direct line from the old Empire of men in the east, maintains the largest archive of lore giving her access to far more spells of power than her rivals.

Unfortunately, Pariden is also distrusted making diplomatic relations more perilous.

The long migration from the east left Procipinee’s people scattered but not gone.

Chapter 2: New Pariden



Procipinee searched long and hard for a place to found her new kingdom. The world was desolate but channelers have a way of being able to see the potential of the land.

Seeing that the land in the area is potentially fertile, she casts the one spell that her father made her memorize: Restoration.

imageWith restoration, the land around her begins to bloom again. While it cost her a third of her life essence, it is her hope that her gift will encourage the dwindling populations of man to flock to her new city.

With the outpost of New Pariden founded, she begins to consier what to do next.

Nearby, the scattered remains of treasures, equipment and ancient lore from the cataclysm awaits. In addition, other beings of value explore the land as well…

image Old Myrimahus was a well known collector of magical artifacts. Unfortunately, Procipinee cannot recruit him as few men trust the line of Morrigan. She will endeavor to raise her persuasive abilities for the future.


 imageImmediately I am confronted with some decisions on how to build my city and where I should go. Procipinee’s royalty allows her to bring new people in faster but does she dare stay in town to do that?

While her royalty allows her to attract new citizens faster when she inhabits a town, her wandering spirit urges her to explore the area.

But first, New Pariden needs to get underway. 


The first thing we build is a workshop.  This lets us get into the concept of city building. In Elemental, a city goes through 5 stages: Outpost, Village, Town, City, Metropolis.  These 5 levels matter a lot because many types of city improvements require a certain city level. The level also determines the number of a given improvement in many cases. For instance, our new outpost of New Pariden can only support 1 Workshop (hence the 0/1 at the top right).

My worksh0p provides 1 piece of material per turn.  Takes 2 turns to build and 10 gold to build and uses up 1 city tile. I’m going to build it on the north side of my city because I’m looking to cut off access to the east (I’ll show you what I mean shortly).

Procipinee begins exploring and finds a ring of agility:


In the aftermath of the cataclysm, the world itself is filled with the trappings of the Titans of old who were vanquished in their final battle. Now it’s a bit of a race to find it all and claim it. Of course, there are many races taking place as we know that other Kingdoms of men are rising out there somewhere.

Chapter 3: Growing my Kingdom


Here we are on turn 3.

My workshop is completed. I’ve started on a Command Post and blocked entrance to the east. This way, my opponents (and NPCs) can’t easily get in and grab the loot and such on the east.

On turn 5, I get my first technology breakthru.


Researching in Elemental works a bit differently than we’ve seen in other games. The Kingdoms have 5 categories of research: Civilization, Magic, Adventuring, Diplomacy and Warfare. Each level in a given category costs more and more.  Technologies are labeled by green, yellow and red based on how likely they are to be available upon reaching the next level of technology. Green means it definitely will. Yellow means it might be available. Red means it probably won’t.

Upon achieving level 1 in civilization, I am presented with 4 technologies to choose from. 1 of them is solid green (farming). 2 of them are nearly green (civics and engineering) and one of them is yellowish (Mining). Right now though, I really want farming so that I can start to increase my population.

Ironically, I can’t yet build a farm because I need more materials. It takes 10 materials to build a farm and I only have 5 right now.


I’m going to build a watch tower so that I can increase my vision of the area instead.

Chapter 4: The world beyond


My Watchtower has vastly increased my line of sight (a bit too much, nerfing..).

But now I an see both the possibilities and the dangers of my world.

News of my new Kingdom has started to attract various notables including Eldmyre the Trader. Unfortunately, Procipinee will need to go up a level because she is distrusted thus making it harder to recruit.


To go up levels, Procipinee will need some battle experience. First, she’s going to start a second city. This will use up another third of her life essence.  Essence is ones mana cap. She started with 15, now she has 5 left.  Essence can be transferred to Champions as well so that they can cast spells (and once they have essence, they too will be able to increase it as they go up levels).

Speaking of experience…

Those crates you see above provided me with a dexterity potion!


Combat speed matters a lot. Each turn of combat is made up of 10 phases. Your combat speed determines how many attacks you get per turn. This matters a lot since Procipinee is pretty awful at combat.

I also lucked out because wheat farms are much cheaper than the general farm to build in terms of materials (i.e. the wheat is already there). So I quickly get Amarian (named after her father) up and going.

Chapter 5: Building a Kingdom

Thus far, Procipinee has founded two cities from the forsaken wastes of the post cataclysm world. By turn 11, there are a total of 32 people living in her two cities.

In Elemental, people matter. When you send people off to war, those people came from somewhere – your cities.


I can train two different types of people from my 32 citizen kingdom. I have a Peasant who is just a random citizen who has been handed a club and a Pioneer. Pioneers are interesting because they can go out and (as their name suggests) settle on special tiles. They don’t bring in quite as much in terms of resources as if they were in a city proper, but they are absolutely crucial to building up an early economy.


Chapter 6: Rats in the Ruins

Procipinee has traveled to an Inn on the western edge of her kingdom.


What would Mincs do? Kind of a lowly thing for the Queen of Pariden right? Of course, Pariden has 36 people in it so she’ll need to keep some perspective.


Upon choosing yes, a new tile appears displaying the object of my quest. Luckily, this simple adventure doesn’t involve me going very far.

Lucky me, I got the rats.


Now to return it and get my reward (which better be good).

On the way back to the Inn that the distressed family was staying at, Procipinee has been studying the old manuscripts that were passed down to her from her father. She’s been focusing on rebuilding a civilization and finally made a breakthrough.


I’m going to choose to have her breakthrough be engineering because we need to build a lumber yard so that we can get materials faster.

Now it’s time to decide what Procipinee and her small (but growing) team of loremasters are going to try to recover next.


To get to level 3 of civilization, it will take 19 turns because Pariden is only producing 4 research per turn (3 by Procipinee herself and 1 by a study that has since been build in New Pariden). By contrast, going to level 1 in the other categories will only take 5 turns and let’s face it, some of those other techs matter.

With warfare, I could start to get some equipment for soldiers. With magic, I could start learning spells. With adventure, I could start recognizing better loot, encounter more powerful NPCs and access more interesting quests (not that rats are terrible but…well…yea, they’re terrible) and with Diplomacy I could start trading and negotiating.  Of course, so far, I haven’t encountered anyone so no point with diplomacy. I think I’ll go with magic.

The lady from the Inn gave Procipinee 250 gold for helper her with the rats. This is enough to start being able to train a small defense force and begin expanding into the west.

Chapter 7: Decisions


On turn 20, I have two cities. My first city has been grown to cut off entry into that eastern valley. My second city (Amarian) is producing a great deal of food that is allowing expansion.

Now I need to make some tough choices.

First, while my kingdom has access to 13 food to feed its growing (now 41) population, I will soon need to start investing in roads (unfortunately, in beta 1, our road system is about to be tossed out in favor of a more fun way to implement roads that won’t show up until beta 3).

Second, my outposts are still small enough that they haven’t really attracted the attention of the various bandits or notable outlaws. Two cities averaging 20 people each is just not worth the effort. Especially since neither one is producing any money (Procipinee is the one generating the money through quests and abstracted trade of heirlooms and other deals).  I will soon be attracting unwanted attention and that means spending money on a defense force.

Third, I still haven’t found out where my opponents are.  For all I know, they’re coming in with an army (it would almost be certainly an army of peasants but still).

For now, Procipinee will put her focus on getting some magic going. She is a channeler and sorcery is her birthright.

Chapter 8: Arcania


What use is being a Sorcerer if you have no spells? With Arcane Research, I can now get loremasters to start studying the ancient spell books. With any luck, soon Procipinee will be able to be taught some of the spells in there.

In the meantime, I will put some effort into warfare tech. If I’m going to clean out the west, Procipinee will need soldiers to help her and peasants won’t cut it.


I have also put a little time into warfare research and gotten better armor and weaponry.


Since I am currently not mining any metla, I will stick with clubs for now even if it does wimp out my unit a bit.


Now it is time to expand.

Chapter 9: We are not alone


Lord Capitar’s emissary has made it to us. Capitar, unlike Procipinee, is a native of the west. Procipinee, with her father, had traveled the dangerous paths of the east to flee the rising hordes of the Fallen. Capitar, like the other western nobles, are suspicious of Procipinee because of her grandfather (Morrigan) who was the enforcer for the Titans during his time.


Chapter 10: Wealth & Poverty

Capitar is going to be a major threat. Fighting wars means paying soldiers and that means having money.

The first step to do that is to build a palace so that I can declare a capital for my fledgling kingdom. I also need to start cleaning the west so that I can safely send out pioneers.



After the battle, Procipinee has leveled up.


I ultimately decide to put the points into essence so that she can build cities and has more mana available.


Chapter 11: Moving out


With two arcane labs, Procipinee learns Teleport. This is a very useful spell because with it, she and her army can zip around anywhere in friendly territory.


The Kingdom of Altar has finally arrived to try to wipe out my capital city of Amarian. Luckily, they fail thanks to my soldier being far better equipped than their peasant duo.

But I definitely need to get better stuff and I need to start connecting my cities with roads to increase my resources. With that in mind, I found a new city in the north, Royeker next to a metal deposit. The time to get new technologies is starting to become fairly painful since I’m still only producing 5 research per turn in my kingdom. But at least now we can get some metal and have some superior soldiers.

The problem with roads (in beta 1 anyway) is they cost a lot to build but that’s another story.

At turn 100, here is how things look.


The nice thing is, with teleport, Procipinee can teleport anywhere within friendly territory.

With metal, now I can build better units.


However, I may have waited too long.


Lord Relias along with a party of soldiers is coming.

Yea, that’s going to be the end of me I’m afraid.  I dithered too much.


So what game improvements we learned here?


First off, soldiers cost too much. Right now, they’re 1 gold per turn per unit. 

Let’s look at my civilization just as Lord Relias and his 3 goons took me out.

  • Population: 305 citizens
  • Income: 8.0g per turn
  • Expenses: 3.0g per turn (3 soldiers)

Lord Relias and Altar’s situation was basically the same except he had more soldiers.

With a population of 305 people, I should be able to support easily 30 soldiers.  So we need to do some balancing there.

Moreover, I’m spending too much time building housing still which also eats up valuable tiles. In my build an outpost gets 16 tiles, a village 24.


But I’m using 8 – a third of my tiles – on huts and that’s not enough to get my city to level 3 unless I upgrade them to houses which would require 27 more turns which is an eternity.  If I wasn’t using so many tiles on huts I’d be building more research buildings which would help that.  So huts need to house more people so that fewer need to be built.

There’s plenty of other stuff but to put things in perspective, Beta 1Z is the first beta of Elemental that can actually be played as a game. There’s still a lot more to go.  Pacing matters.

BTW, in the comments section someone noted how closely I had built my cities together. You can’t connect cities into one big city (there’s always a full 4x4 tile between them but they were right.


This is what the above screenshot looks like with the graphics engine on. It really highlights what too many huts looks like (cities look like a bunch of straw from all the huts).