This is something I’ve actually been wanting to talk about for a while, mostly because of how insane its extremes can be. Resources can be literally anything, the most basic definition is “something you need that the game provides, in limited quantities.” This is anything between what a mana and health-point bar are to minerals, vespene gas, and unit cap can be, across any genre and skill-level of game. Labyrinth of Touhou, a personal favorite dungeon crawler that actually has an insane number of combat-based resources, is the game with the most amount of resources that doesn’t break combat down into a cluttered bombshell during ordinary game-play .

The systems at work in Labyrinth are actually massive and way beyond the scope of what I’d be able to squeeze into one-thousand words or so, so we’ll just be focusing on resources to juggle around once combat actually starts. The mind-boggling stats and item system will have to come at a later day, sadly. Even removing all of that, the list is still large. In total, there are six things to keep in mind; Health, Mana, TP, the ATP bar (also called the Active Gauge), position, and mana regen. That looks a little excessive, but the game helpfully breaks everything down. All of them are interconnected, but separate enough that not having an intimate understanding of the mechanics will lead to a party wipe.

This screen is something you'll see a lot.

Of them all, Health and Mana are the most basic resources to keep in mind, and are basically hammered into a gamer’s mind from the get-go. When health hits 0, that character is knocked out (or sometimes dies), and no longer able to fight. Losing everyone means game-over, but it’s possible to survive with one and run back to town to revive everyone. So keeping a party happy and healthy is the first concern. Second is where mana comes in (In Labyrinth, it’s referred to as “Spell Points,” or SP, but it’s only a name swap), and this is usually some of the fun parts of combat. You can see from the screenshot that there are multiple spells with different costs. Early in the game, casting something like ‘Royal Flare’ can utterly bankrupt a mage’s mana… but it can also be a party-saving nuke to clear out enemies. Managing just these two alone ratchets up the complexity as decisions now revolve around offensive and defensive actions. The player could go for an all-out spell… or use something cheaper that might do the job and have someone else clean up. Or the enemy may get a turn in, causing the decision between lost hp (from the enemy attacking) versus reduced mage power (from bigger spells draining their pool faster).
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