Auto battlers are a hot new topic amidst the gaming community. Their history can be traced back to custom game modes created in Warcraft III and Dota 2 only two years ago. Since then, the genre of auto battlers has blown up in popularity, mostly thanks to mainstream game developers implementing these modes into their game. For example, Riot Games has created Teamfight Tactics which is a perfect example of an auto battler game.
With auto battlers consistently trending upwards over the past year or two, many smaller developers have begun to create new twists on the genre. However, we need to first define exactly what this genre is for the unaware. An auto battler varies from game to game in terms of aesthetics and characterization, but the core concepts can be seen across the genre. These include:
All of these aspects work together to create an auto battler. The main attraction players seem to love about these games, myself included, is creating powerful team compositions in the late game. It is exciting to see a team comp progress throughout the course of a game and hope that you roll lucky enough to come out on top. The newest auto battler, Super Auto Pets, came out just a month ago and was developed by Team Wood Games. This in-depth review will touch on the following aspects of Super Auto Pets:
Super Auto Pets’ gameplay consists of two main phases: preparation and combat. To win the game, players must win a total of ten rounds while only being able to lose a maximum of four before seeing the dreaded defeat screen. Instead of having typical live combat against another player, player teams are saved according to what round they are in and players will fight against others that were in that same round. This means that you never know who you are going to be up against or the power level of their team. You may have an unlucky preparation phase and feel that you will be super weak but get lucky in who you face if they also happen to be weak during that round. Other times, you could hit a massive power spike but still end up facing someone even stronger than you. This RNG element adds variability to the game and makes clicking ‘play again’ that much more tempting.
Units in this game range from typical farm animals all the way to a dragon or a T-Rex. Each animal has their own unique abilities that can either affect the team they are on or hurt the enemy team. There are no ‘trait’ synergies like most auto battlers, but many of the team compositions you will create will have logical synergies that make certain animals work together better than others. The animals are also based on a tier system that gets higher as you progress through the rounds. Typically, the higher the tier of an animal the more of an impact their ability will have on your chances of winning. Units can also be combined three times to upgrade their level. Upon leveling up, the animal's ability and stats will also be upgraded (except for the unique case of the tiger, parrot, and fly).
Food items also play a major role in your chances of winning. Each round, there are two food items that appear on the right side of the bench and cost three gold (the same cost as an animal). Food can either upgrade the stats of a certain animal or give them armor effects. The most powerful of these are the garlic and the melon armor. Garlic armor reduces the amount of damage an animal takes on every hit, while melon armor completely mitigates the first time it takes damage (up to a max of 20 damage). The most powerful food item is likely the chocolate bar. Chocolate allows you to give an animal experience points towards leveling up. Since level three units are so powerful, finding a chocolate bar allows you to gain these power spikes more easily as you do not have to find the exact same animal you are trying to upgrade.
One unique aspect to Super Auto Pets is the positioning system. Rather than a typical chess board style layout like most auto battlers, they opted for a straight line in which the animals at the front of each line attack each other. This means that many animals' abilities will affect the animals in front or behind them, making positioning within the line super important. Having your animals in the wrong order is a quick way to a brutal defeat.
More or less, those aspects are what defines Super Auto Pets as a game. It is super easy to pick up and you will understand the logic of the game within a couple of playthroughs. Now let's get into some of the best team comps to increase your chances of winning!
Within Super Auto Pets, team synergy is of utmost importance considering there are only five unit spots available. While there are a huge amount of potential combinations, there are two main synergies I find to be most viable that every new player should know about: dodo comps and spawning comps.
Dodo comps rely heavily on, you guessed it, the dodo. The dodo’s ability is to give its attack to the unit ahead of it (next two at level two, next three at level three). The main idea of this comp is to buff the dodo as much as possible so that way those buffs can be distributed to the rest of the team. This can be done through a multitude of ways. Most notably, fish level up buffs are an easy way to buff the dodo whilst upgrading the rest of the team to make sure you make it through the earlier rounds. Food is always an option that allows you to directly buff the dodo. The monkey and the giraffe also buff team members depending on the position, meaning that they are always useful in the composition. By late game, you should search for a tiger which allows the animal in front to cast its ability twice. That's right, twice the buffs! Throw in a rooster and a parrot at the front of the line for a massive amount of fifty attack animals that nearly guarantee victory!
The other major comp newer players love to go for revolves around spawning as many animals as possible and then using other animals that buff spawned animals. It sounds complicated at first, but it is actually super simple. The main players in this comp are the spider (spawns more spiders), sheep (spawns more sheep), turkey (buffs spawned animals), rooster (spawns a bunch of chicks), parrot (mimics ability of animal ahead of it), deer (spawns a literal truck that does splash damage), fly (causes double spawning), and the tiger (used to place behind turkey to double the buffs on the spawned animals). As you can see, there are a ton of spawning animals in the game, some more powerful than others. Due to this, spawning comps are super easy to go for and newer players will naturally find themselves falling into some mutation of this comp quite often. The biggest factors for late game are finding a turkey to buff the spawns, a fly to double the amount of spawns, and the tiger to double the buffs.
As you can see from both of these comps, the tiger is OP. Combined with its multi-functional ability, it also does not get any better whenever you upgrade it. This means that finding just one single tiger is enough to get the job done and you do not need to spend a ton of extra gold to make it any better.
While these are some of the more common powerful comps, there are so many more to discover. I’ve seen comps revolving around hurting your own animals to consequently hurt the other animals, or even ones that have such strong start of battle effects the opposing team does not even get the chance to attack.
A key factor to any great game is having a team that cares about balance and the state of the game. Just last week, Super Auto Pets released an update that fixed versus mode. Versus mode takes auto-battler fans back to what they are used to by allowing a set lobby of eight players to only face each other. This is much more typical of an auto battler game and makes sense for the devs to include, so I'm glad they did!
Also, remember the dodo comp I mentioned earlier and how strong it was? Welp, it got nerfed massively. Now it can only target a single minion but has a damage multiplier to compensate. This still results in a much weaker comp which is great news for the game. Before, you were almost forced to go dodo if you were offered it early because it was just so good. I will still keep the dodo explanation above simply because I predict the dodo is going to be rebuffed. The nerf was intended to make it weaker, not just kill it off. I think a better nerf would have been to reduce its direct buff transfer to something like “give half of its attack to those ahead of it.” The same concept for the team comp would apply but it would not be anywhere near as overpowered.
One final thing to note, there is a purchasable DLC with the game that adds a ton of new animals. I won’t go over all of the new ones added, but they really change up the pace of play. It is not pay to win, thankfully, as the new update allows players to only play against people with their own set of animals if they choose. This was a huge relief to see as I have seen countless games ruined by greedy developers. The DLC is only five dollars and I would say it is worth it if you enjoy the base game. It allows for a wider variety of team comps and a more dynamic overall experience.
So, should you play Super Auto Pets? Yes! It is free to play anyway so if you don’t like it you can simply delete it after. Worst case, you will get a couple of hours of fun out of the game or even only a couple of minutes. Best case (and my case), you’ll get sucked into the world of Super Auto Pets and start screaming out random animal names ensuring your roommates think you’re a lunatic. But hey, at least I finally found that tiger!
Heading image courtesy of teamwoodgames.com