While attending the Media Indie Exchange, I had the opportunity to talk to the developers of Monaco, Pocketwatch Games, about their new game, Tooth and Tail, as well as give it a try. Tooth and Tail was pitched to me, as I waited for a turn to try out the game, as a much more accessible RTS, with matches that wouldn’t last nearly as long either. From what I played, that was an apt description, and all I know is that I want more.
RTS elements are simplified in that base-building is pretty minimal. You have one resource, food, that supplies your army and you only build up food at one type of building, of which you can capture more as you expand outward. You build warrens that will produce units for you. That’s about it for base-building.
Before each match you choose six unit types you want to bring into battle with you, and seeing as you do not know what your opponent will have, a more balanced team is obviously encouraged. The developers said that they don’t have a lot of hard counters in there purposefully to help mitigate the chance that one player has too big of an advantage based on their unit choice.
You take control of your commander, which is the only unit you directly control in the game. The commander is where your units will rally when you tell them to, and the commander is used for scouting. So this one unit is what will expand to allow you to build more farms to get more resource production, where you choose to place warrens to build units, etc.
This creates a very frenetic feeling to the game in that you always have to have your commander in the battle, at least for a short while. You have to run in with your units, tell them to attack, and only then you can you yourself back off to safety. So no matter what, you’ll have to get into the thick of it at some point.
If you take a look at the above video, that is likely the best way to understand just exactly how Tooth and Tail will play. Strategy comes in knowing where to attack from, making sure everything is scouted, and trying to counter your opponents units as best you can with what you have. You can control individual unit groups as well, so they are not always in one big group.
All the RTS elements are there but definitely simplified. There’s no real micromanagement, as there’s no real time for it really, and you only have to concern yourself with the production of one kind of resource. The procedurally generated maps will become a huge part in your strategy as you realize what is more defensible and what is more open to attack.
The art style is what ties it all together for me. The developers told me that it was inspired greatly from Redwall, and that they deliberately chose animals to make it quicker to pick up and understand. For example, they all said we can sorta guess what sort of abilities a skunk unit will have. What will excite many, I imagine, is that the game’s music is being composed by Austin Wintory, the composer behind Journey, Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, The Banner Saga, and a whole bunch more games.
So, that’s about it for Tooth and Tail. It’s still in alpha, so there’s still a ways to go in its development, but I had a ton of fun in the short time I spent with it and can’t wait for more in the future. It’s one of those games that scratches the RTS itch, but you don’t have to commit a good half hour to play a match.
What do you think of Tooth and Tail?