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Gemcraft is a free-to-play Tower Defense series developed by Game in a Bottle and distributed by Armor Games, a major source of Web Games. It has a distinct Fantasy setting with a rudimentary storyline that varies between installments.

Generally, An Adventurer Is You, assuming that said adventurer is always a noble wizard out to reach some goal on the other side of the world, come hell or high water—or in this case, come monsters by the bucketload. You, the Squishy Wizard, must protect your tower (tower defense, get it?) at all costs, by placing towers next to, and traps on, the path leading to it. However, a key difference splits Gemcraft off from other tower defense games—instead of being able to upgrade your traps and towers directly, you must power them with gems. Gems are mostly obtained with a spell named Craft Gem (which is basically the source of the game's name), and have distinct colors (which affect the types of powers they possess) and levels (which affect their strength). By combining gems correctly, you can create better ones to better fight those evil monsters.

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The eight gem colors (and their special abilities) are:

  • Red: Splash Damage in the first two games. Changed to "bloodbound" in Labyrinth: The gem gets extra power from a percentage of the monsters it kills.
  • Orange: Mana Leech. Each time it hits a monster, you gain mana.
  • Yellow: Multiple Damage. The first two games gave a flat rate to deal triple damage. In Labyrinth and beyond, the multiple damage rate can be turned up to 11 (starting with a chance for double damage).
  • Lime: Multi-hit. Starts with one extra hit, but can be ramped up to be able to hit more than two monsters.
  • Green: Poison. Ignores armor, so useful for armored waves as well as swarmlings.
  • Cyan: Shock. Can stop the monster in its tracks.
  • Blue: Slow.
  • Purple: Armor Tearing. In the first two games, each hit has a chance to reduce a monster's armor by a set amount; in Labyrinth, each hit lowers a monster's armor by a given ratio, based on the gem's power.
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The second chapter, Chasing Shadows, was released to Armor Games in April 2014 and was released to Steam later in 2014. It removes Lime gems (moving their multi-hit to Red) and adds two more colors, changing the colors thusly:

  • Orange: Mana Leech.
  • Yellow: Multiple Damage/Critical. Changed from Labyrinth a bit; the chance for multiple damage now maxes out at 80%, though the multiplier still abides Up to Eleven and beyond.
  • White: Poolbound. Increases the gem's damage and specials when the mana pool levels up.
  • Red: Chain hit (from lime, and moving it closer to its original Splash Damage role).
  • Green: Poison.
  • Cyan: Regeneration suppressing: lowers monsters' health regeneration rate. (A Freeze spell fills the Shock effect's role.)
  • Black: Bloodbound (from red). Increases the gem's damage and specials based on the number of successful hits.
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  • Blue: Slow.
  • Purple: Armor Tearing.

The newest game, Frostborn Wrath, which was released on January 10, 2020, reduces the number of gem types to six, while both Poolbound and Bloodbound becomes passive properties of each gem:

  • Orange: Mana Leech.
  • Yellow: Multiple Damage/Critical. The changes from Chasing Shadows stick here as well.
  • Green: Poison.
  • Red: Bleeding, a completely new gem type. Increases damage taken by the affected monsters from any source for some time.
  • Blue: Slow.
  • Purple: Armor Tearing.

It also introduces new Skills (notably removing Orblets from Traits and moving them to Skill), buildings such as Pylons and Lanterns, and objects such as Wizard Stashes containing various items, possibly even skill tomes, waiting to be collected. The monsters from previous games return, and new ones, such as Wraiths, introduce themselves here as well. The ways how to make your game harder was expanded as well, with possibilities from making every monster drop two swarmlings to raise their total number to speed up the monster ways, in exchange for higher HP.


This game series provides examples of:

  • And Now for Someone Completely Different: Chapter 1: The Forgotten and Chapter 2: Chasing Shadows both see the player control the same character, but the other three games in the series use entirely different protagonists:
    • Chapter 0: Gem of Eternity, the prequel game, has the player control a wizard obsessed with finding the powerful Gem of Eternity, only to unwittingly release the Forgotten in the process, become possessed, and become the main villain of Chapter 1.
    • Labyrinth has the player control another wizard sent to a magical labyrinth in which The Forgotten hid the Gem of Eternity, and deliver the gem to the main character of 1 and 2. He fails to deliver it, due to the protagonist being possessed and therefore not being able to meet up with him.
    • In Chapter 3: Frostborn Wrath, you take a control of a wizard who was frozen for a very long time, apparently even before the creation of The Forgotten. Thanks to a warmth spell casted by someone else, your future player character has thawed from the ice and thus the adventure can begin.
  • Absurdly High Level Cap: There is no level cap; rather, cap on how much experience you can get due to the fact beating the same field twice gives you only difference between your new and old record—fail to beat it and you get nothing.
    • Downplayed in The Forgotten due to the fact it's much harder to grind than in the later games. You can reach the last level as early as late 50s, but if you go out of your way to grind on all levels, you will likely reach it with level somewhere in 80s, which will allow you to max out most of the skills.
    • As mentioned below, maxing out all skills in Gem of Eternity requires your level to somewhere around 200. This is much higher than the level required to beat the game, but also nowhere the level you can get by grinding as much as you can. This entry is unique in the fact that each of the level's battle modes are considered to be unique for the purpose of gaining levels.
    • In Labyrinth and Chasing Shadows it's high enough to make even Disgaea hang its head in shame. By stacking difficulty, talisman bonuses, and battle settings/traits, you can gain billions of XP per level. and with 169 fields in Labyrinth and up to 191 in Chasing Shadows (including Magician's Pouch-exclusive and Steam-exclusive fields), your wizard level can get absurdly high. The soft level cap is generally considered to be somewhere around Level 10,000 in Labyrinth and 50,000 in Chasing Shadows.
    • This applies to Frostborn Wrath as well, in fact even more considering the number of various traits that increase EXP multiplier to ridiculous levels, as well more talisman fragments with XP bonus that can be equipped, a skill that explicitly raises the amount gained, and the fact each game mode has its own XP score this time as well.
  • Airborne Mook:
    • Apparitions in Labyrinth and Chasing Shadows just fly over the terrain, and have a lot of health. Thankfully, they don't hurt you, they're slow, they're uncommon, and they give 3 free skill points when beaten.
    • Much nastier versions are the Shadow, Specter and Spire, all of which can fly anywhere on the terrain. Shadows randomly move across the battlefield until their health is low, at which point the Shadow will begin The Slow Walk right at your orb and instantly destroy it should you fail to kill it in time. Specters fly at the most valuable socketed gem to steal it; Spires head straight from a table edge towards the Orb and will instantly cause the player to lose if they reach their target.
    • Frostborn Wrath throws in Wraiths, who don't seem to do anything... at first glance. Look at their description and you notice each of them reduces damage to everything on field by 15% per Wraith, up to 90%. Worse is the Wizard Hunter, who can destroy towers with gems (which forfeits any gem that was socketed in said tower), giving you a moment to remove the gem from the tower.
  • All Your Powers Combined: In Gem of Eternity, crafting multi-colored gems becomes less beneficial until you combine all 8 colors into one gem. At that point, it gains the power of all 8 gem types rather than the 3 dominant ones, and its damage, range, and firing speed all skyrocket. Averted in Labyrinth and beyond.
  • And Man Grew Proud: According to one of the journal entries in Chasing Shadows, the Forgotten was summoned because of this. The wizards of old, convinced that they were invincible and greedy for more power, began summoning and enslaving ever more powerful demons, until they finally pulled up one they couldn't control. In one of the Vision fields, you get to oversee the ritual that started the whole mess. In Frostborn Wrath you find out that the wizards opposing such experiments were exiled and hunted down. In fact, your PC is one such wizard from the time before the Forgotten who was frozen for this reason and was only thawed out by a fortuitous warming spell. Even in-game you're not safe from them, and there is specifically a creature called the Wizard Hunter that is stated to hunt down rogue wizards (i.e. you) that can destroy your towers and amplifiers.
  • Bonus Dungeon: Most games have them, with various different ways of unlocking them:
    • In Chapter 1, you had to reach the "glowing frame" score on every level within a certain section of the map in order to unlock the bonus levels, all of which restricted you to a single gem color.
    • In Chapter Zero, completing maps on Heroic difficulty will eventually unlock bonus levels.
    • In Labyrinth, the four maps in the corner can only be opened by performing special field challenges.
    • In Chasing Shadows, Vision fields serve this purpose, being levels that only need to be cleared once for full reward and locked you into specific challenges. Other fields only unlocked after another field was beaten on at least Glaring.
  • Boss Battle: Chapter One has epic bosses strewn across the main story. Chapter Zero has Arcane Guardians. Labyrinth has one guaranteed Shadow battle without needing modifiers. Chasing Shadows and Frostborn Wrath introduce the special non-boss enemies such as Spire or Wizard Hunter this way. And the Final Boss of Frostborn Wrath is Forgotten's Gatekeeper.
  • Brutal Bonus Level: Pretty much any bonus level either already is this, or can be made into this with appropriate difficulty modifiers.
  • Cast From Hit Points: Everything you build costs mana, which in turn is drained when monsters reach your orb. In other words, Mana is both health and money.
  • Damage Reduction: Via Armour level. Some particularly annoying mooks gain armor every second. In Frostborn Wrath, the Wraith grants this to all monsters while it's on the field.
  • Damage-Sponge Boss: The five epic bosses in the first game. Aside from absurdly high HP, armor and banishment cost, they have no special abilities that set them out from standard enemies. Similarly, the Arcane Guardians in Chapter 2 are very tough, but their only special ability is that they cannot be banished and will instantly destroy your orb on contact.
  • Death of a Thousand Cuts: Swarmlings do this. A single swarmling costs very little to banish, but if enough of them manage to slip past your defenses the combined cost can make giants look easy by comparison.
  • Degraded Boss:
    • In Chapter 0, playing a level in Arcane mode will cause an Arcane Guardian to spawn after every wave has been cleared. This Arcane Guardian is much weaker than the Arcane Guardians fought as storyline bosses, and do not come with Arcane Minions or status effect resistances.
    • In Labyrinth, beating the final level unlocks the Shadow Clash battle trait, which pits you against a Shadow, a weaker version of the Grand Shadow already fought in field D4.
    • In Chasing Shadows and Frostborn Wrath, each special enemy is introduced as a boss, then starts to appear more frequently as a (still rather rare) regular encounter. Notably, the "Chasing Shadows" and "Ritual" battle traits from Chasing Shadows and Frostborn Wrath respectively raise the probability of these encounters taking place for a hefty Shadow Core reward.
  • Disc-One Nuke:
    • One of the early stages in Labryinth has a tower surrounded by eight amplifiers. Place a gem in each of the amplifiers, and the tower gem will kick ass. This nuke becomes MUCH more powerful if the player has the Premium content and uses Endurance Mode with this strategy to get a ridiculous multiplier to their XP gain. A similar setup occurs in one level of Chasing Shadows.
    • Red gems in Labyrinth. They add a percentage of their kills to their damage, meaning a red gem that's been there since the first wave can have a damage of over 1000 by the final waves. The gem won't dominate the game by itself, but becomes much more powerful when combined with the lime or yellow gems (which multiply the offensive power). This power was nerfed slightly in Chasing Shadows. The black gems now multiply both damage and specials and count hits rather than kills, but use hit levels rather than raw hits.
    • A different Disc One Nuke in Labyrinth (the ability to juggle monsters over mana leech traps by building and demolishing walls to keep them going back and forth over them) led to the developers putting a hard cap on the number of demolitions one could perform per level.
    • For Frostborn Wrath, combining the Overcrowd and Parasitic Swarmlings traits. The first raises the number of enemies per wave, while the other guarantees that each enemy drops two swarmlings after it is killed. The number of swarmlings does not increase with rank of trait, so you can set it at one and still have little problem handling them if you can kill the monsters that spawn them. If you can handle this combination, you can rack up high amount of mana and XP rather quickly. In fact, the XP reward in the first version of the game was so Egregious that the devs had to nerf it just a few days after the game's release.
  • Dungeon Bypass: Discussed. The wizard in Labyrinth mentions that he can't just "hop over" to the labyrinth's center due to some kind of energy field forcing him to pass through the labyrinth the usual way, field-by-field.
  • Early Game Hell: Your lack of skill points to distribute, along with limited access to skills you can put points in, makes advancement through the game difficult if you aim to breeze through each level as you go. Once you unlock the stronger skills and begin revisiting old levels for additional experience and multipliers, expect to gain levels a lot faster.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: The first game had a bunch: there were no traps—only trenches that slowed monsters instead. The only thing gem bombs could do was damage enemies; no transmuting or wave angering. There was a soft Cap in the first game, unlike later games which just kept going. There was no way to pause gameplay when building or thinking, which meant that everything was based on twitch-like gameplay, unlike later games which became closer to Take Your Time.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: The Forgotten gets her name from the fact that she has existed for so long that everyone has forgotten why she even existed.
  • Expansion Pack: Labyrinth and Chasing Shadows both feature five-dollar "premium" versions which unlock extra modes, skills, and battlefields. There are many achievements, levels, and skills that can only be found by completing certain maps in certain sectors, and those that require completing a Premium-only level are thus inaccessible. Labyrinth's premium version has since been released for free on the developer's website, due to complications that have arisen with buying it properly years after release.
  • Fake Difficulty: The Shadow boss from Labyrinth. It has the ability to spawn a HUGE, fast Zerg Rush of units that will take a bit of time to take down... and there's a possibility that it spawns them right in front of your orb, making it impossible to avoid massive damage.
  • Flawless Victory: Defeating a map in Labyrinth without letting any enemy touch your orb gives an XP-boosting medal for that round. In Chasing Shadows, the orb gives extra experience for each flawless wave.
  • Flunky Boss: Arcane Guardians fought as part of Chapter 0's storyline come with Arcane Minions, and the Grand Shadow boss in Labyrinth can summon monsters.
  • Foreshadowing: When you create the new Gem of Eternity in Labyrinth, the shadow of the Forgotten appears behind it for a moment.
  • Game-Breaking Bug: In Labyrinth, the glitch that allows the creation of near infinite strength gems has a chance of deleting your save file.
  • Gemstone Assault: Gem towers fire energy, and the Gem Bombs can be dropped on a bunch of Mooks.
  • Giant Mook: The appropriately-named Giants; they're basically boss versions of normal enemies with more health. They deal more mana damage to your orb than normal mooks, but move very slowly.
  • Grand Theft Me: The Forgotten possesses the bodies of wizards. First, she takes the body of the protagonist of Chapter 0, turning him into the antagonist of Chapter 1, then takes the body of 1's protagonist, though she's removed from his body before the start of 2, thanks to a magical trap called the Scythe Gate.
  • Instakill Mook:
    • In Sudden Death mode, no banishment is possible: the game will instantly end in a loss if an enemy reaches your tower. If Swarm waves weren't annoying enough before, now any one of them can kill you, no matter how tiny and pathetic they are.
    • In Labyrinth, the Shadow will perform The Slow Walk towards your orb as a Desperation Attack. If it touches your orb before you destroy it, your lose instantly regardless of how much Mana you have left. In Chasing Shadows, this ability is given to Spires. And in Frostborn Wrath, Wall Breakers can do this as well.
  • Interface Spoiler: Chapter Zero's level frames show a 9th indentation, which you can notice well before actually unlocking the corresponding battle mode (by beating the last level).
  • Kill Sat:
    • A Focused tower, a gem tower accompanied by 8 supporting amplifiers in a 3x3 box, qualifies for this trope. As you amass powerful gems in each amplifier, the tower gets a massive boost that lets it fire across the map, disintegrating anything that simply spawns into battle. While Amplifiers alone are expensive, skill investment can be the only thing that stops you from making one.
    • The Watchtower from Frostborn Wrath is this as well, as it can hit anything on the field, including your towers.
  • L33t L1ng0: The number of Endurance waves in Labyrinth is capped at 1337, which has the meaning of Elite. Well, let's say that you definitely are if you're able to finish them all, especially with the 'Monsters become stronger faster' option checked, which also raises the maximum cap for their stats.
  • Level Grinding:
    • Lots of it. In Chapter Zero, you'll have to level up to 200 in order to max out all your stats, and in Labyrinth, there is no level cap for 3 of the skills. For the premium version, the Ritual skill will let you gain one starting and maximum mana for a set number of battle amulets you possess, based on its skill level.
    • Chasing Shadows subverts it with Iron Wizard mode. The levels of your character are gone, instead you get 5 skill points per field beaten. While plenty of fields are optional, you will probably grind as many as possible for more skill points.
  • Luck-Based Mission:
    • Prior to Labyrinth, crafting worked like this; you received a random-color gem based on those available in the level. If you wanted a gem of a specific color, you had to keep on creating gems until you got it.
    • Dropping Gem Bombs on enemy-spawning buildings may or may not actually destroy the building, due to randomized damage.
    • The trial on Field K1 of Frostborn Wrath depends on how lucky you'll be about Watchtowers targeting monsters instead of your towers.
  • Luck Manipulation Mechanic: Transmuting gems in the first two games allows you to take unwanted gems and transform them into those of a color you already have. If the level doesn't let you create gems of that color, it's one of the only ways to replicate the color that you otherwise won't get access to.
  • Make My Monster Grow: You can use gem bombs to provoke more enemies to attack, which also causes them to become stronger but give more Mana as well. Use this effectively, and...
  • Mana: This is needed to build things, craft gems, cast spells, and as a last-ditch Mana Shield to banish monsters that get too close. It builds up slowly every second, but largely comes from monsters you kill, and you can get more by using orange gems.
  • Mana Shield: If a monster reaches your Orb of Presence, it's automatically sent back to the beginning by a banishing spell. If you don't have enough mana for that, it's game over.
  • Marathon Level:
    • All levels become this in Chapter Zero's Endurance Mode which, contrary to what it claims, is limited. It's actually 510 waves of monsters, not that you're likely to reach the end of it, considering that monsters will grow in power exponentially, with the last waves of monsters having HP levels well into the decillions. The last level is also similar, though it's "only" 228 waves.
    • Labyrinth and Chasing Shadows are no different, having 1337 and 999 waves in Endurance mode respectively. They can be completed (and in Chasing Shadows the completion icon on the map changes colour to reflect this), but doing so requires very extensive grinding well beyond what's needed to just complete the game.
  • Metal Slime:
    • Apparitions in Labyrinth. They are uncommon foes that fly slowly across the map and have a ton of hit points, but they can't harm you at all and will just enter and exit the map. However, killing these gives the player 3 free skill points.
    • Any so-called non-monster enemy in Chasing Shadows and Frostborn Wrath, including Apparitions from above as well as Shadows, Spires and so on. They are much more dangerous than regular monsters, but killing them nets a handful of valuable Shadow Cores.
  • Mighty Glacier:
    • Giants do more mana damage to your orb if they reach it and have much more health than normal mooks, but they're much slower too.
    • Wall Breakers from Frostborn Wrath can destroy any structures in their path barring barricades, and have even more HP, but are even slower.
  • Multi-Mook Melee: It's a tower defence game, so this is a given. You can actually earn medals for having large numbers of monsters on the map at once, which generally requires you to summon and/or enrage multiple waves.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: The Forgotten. Also, the epic bosses in Chapter 1, the Arcane Guardians in Chapter 2, and the Wizard Hunter in Frostborn Wrath.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!:
    • In Chapter 0, you spend the game searching for the Gem of Eternity. When you find it and capture it, it turns out to have been containing a monster (for eternity, hence the name) which then possesses you, setting the stage for the first game.
    • In Chasing Shadows, your character picks up a fake Gem of Eternity placed by the Forgotten and uses it in the ritual meant to seal the Forgotten. It ends up creating a blast that destroys the barrier protecting the Spirit Forge.
  • Path of Most Resistance: Much of the game's strategy is based around deciding how difficult you want to make the level in the name of earning more XP.
  • Pinball Projectile: Lime gems (red gems in Chasing Shadows) can strike chain hits.
  • Rewarding Vandalism: Using Gem Bombs on the buildings strewn about may let you uncover hidden relics or even gems to use for yourself.
  • Scenery Porn: A Flash game having this level of detail is absurd. Later games have maps with beautiful backdrops that the series gets much praise for.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: The Forgotten is sealed away in the Gem of Eternity, but the mage from Chapter Zero is foolish enough to lust for it... and breaks it. The Forgotten actually gets her name from the fact that she's been sealed away and released/escaped so many times that nobody can remember where she originally came from.
  • Sequel Difficulty Spike: Word of God stated that this would be the case for Frostborn Wrath, and they delivered. It doesn't help that skill tomes are now mostly locked behind either Endurance Mode or Trial Mode, the latter of which is basically the Vision Fields from Chasing Shadows with difficulty to match, where no amount of level grinding will help you due to having fixed skillsets. Complaints about the difficulty got so bad that the developers had to dial it back, adding an easier "Chilled" difficulty, moving the skills that were locked behind Trial Mode into the easier-to-manage Endurance Mode, and making various other balancing tweaks.
  • Shielded Core Boss:
    • The Arcane Guardians fought as part of Chapter 0's storyline spawn with an absurd amount of armor, but every time an Arcane Minion is killed, the armor level decreases until it reaches zero, so the Arcane Minions should be prioritised first.
    • Ditto for the Forgotten's Gatekeeper at the end of Frostborn Wrath. It has numerous "fangs", and any of them must be harmed before he becomes temporarily vulnerable.
  • Shoot the Bullet: Shadows can fire shadow projectiles at the orb, which drain mana on contact, but can be shot down by gems.
  • Skill Point Reset: You can do this for free at the skill screen.
  • Sound of No Damage: In the earlier games, if an attack on an enemy was nullified by Damage Reduction, the impact would produce a metallic clink instead of the usual thud. Seemingly averted from Chasing Shadows onwards.
  • Splash Damage: Red gems give splash damage in the first two games. Lime gems give a multi-hit version (which is likely why red gems were changed). Red takes the happy medium between splash and chain in Chasing Shadows, while the Barrage spell fires shells that do splash damage as well.
  • Stringy-Haired Ghost Girl: The Forgotten gives off this vibe, despite being a faceless skeleton.
  • Veteran Unit: Bloodbound and Poolbound gems are two variants that revolve around this trope.
    • Bloodbound increases the efficiency of the gem the longer it stays in the middle of the battle. Constantly killing (or in Chasing Shadows, hitting) enemies will make the corresponding gem stronger.
    • Poolbound, in Chasing Shadows, increases its power (or the whole gem as a component) the longer you stay in battle, provided that you continuously build more powerful gems as a result of the constantly growing mana pool.
    • In Frostborn Wrath the above becomes an innate property of every gem you have.
  • Zerg Rush: Swarmlings are the most notable example, but really "rush the enemy with enormous numbers" is the primary tactic of the enemy forces in general.

In addition to the above, Chasing Shadows contains examples of:

  • Anti-Frustration Feature: If a monster is about to touch the orb and a projectile which would kill them has been fired, the shot turns into a lightning bolt which hits them instantly, leaving the orb unharmed. It saves a lot of frustration when trying to get a high streak of flawless waves. It also nets you an achievement if it kills a monster that would otherwise have killed your Orb.
  • Armor-Piercing Attack: The Bolt enhancement allows a tower to fire powerful bolts that completely ignore armor. Putting it on a gem in trap makes its every attack armor-piercing.
  • Asteroids Monster: The Possessed Giants gain the ability to spawn Swarmlings when they're killed.
  • Back for the Dead: In Labyrinth you took a control of a wizard who at the end successfully created a new Gem Of Eternity. Come this game and you find him Killed Offscreen by Forgotten while swapping the gem for a corrupted replica. Not that you learn that last part until the end of the game.
  • Bandit Mook: Spectres are a Palette Swap of the completely harmless Apparitions. While they can't damage you directly, they will head straight for your strongest gem and attempt to take it away.
  • Batman Gambit: The Forgotten's plan to get captured by the wizards enough times for the fake Gems of Eternity to become fully corrupt.
  • Bee Bee Gun: Gem Bombs now spawn friendly "Gem Wasps" when they explode, which linger around the battlefield stinging a set amount of times before dissipating. Their damage can be classified as Cherry Tapping at most, but they can be enough to finish off foes weakened by the bomb itself.
  • Bonus Boss: Some Vision Fields feature these. Notably five battles are basically a Remixed Level from Chapter Zero, including Arcane Guardians that have much more HP than preceeding wave and high armor to boot. The key is to move your gems strategically along their path.
  • Boss in Mook Clothing: The Giants. High levels in Endurance mode have their HP written in scientific notation, once they pass the 1-trillion (1e12) mark.
  • Cap: Almost everything is capped, but much later than you can reasonably expect:
    • The maximum health of enemies is 1e300 (that is, 1 followed by 300 zeros). Even on the highest difficulty with all Battle Traits turned on, the last Endurance Mode enemies have nowhere near that much HP.
    • Endurance Mode has 999 waves, despite making you think it's an Endless Game (but good luck getting there). The maximum number of monsters per wave is 999 as well.
    • Maximum rate of fire of gems is 48. Their maximum range is capped as well, though amplifiers might extend that.
    • Capped skills can be upgraded to 45 plus another 15 skill points from Talisman Fragments. The exception is the Wake of Eternity, where finding the true Gem of Eternity nets you another 10 points in that skill.
  • Cool Gate: The Scythe Gate not only looks cool, it's actually essential to the plot by ripping the Forgotten out of the protagonist's body and setting the stage for Chasing Shadows. One level features this very structure, randomly banishing monsters that walk through it.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: The third Vision level pits you against 228 waves of monsters... but gives you a maze which forces them to take the longest route possible, a perfect spot to set up a gem with 8 amplifiers, and starts you out with 100,000 Mana and all 9 colors unlocked. Unless the waves are heavily enraged, anything you can whip up with that much resources will one-shot everything.
  • Curse: One of your skills is explicitly called this. It makes affected monsters take much more damage from all sources, cuts the effectiveness of their armour, and reduces their odds of being buffed by nearby beacons.
  • Damage Reduction: Besides Armored enemies, there are also Spires. Any damage higher than a certain threshold is reduced to said threshold, meaning that the best way to beat one is via Death of a Thousand Cuts or poison status.
  • Death Is Cheap: Referenced at the beginning of the game: your body is always hiding in an old tower in the game's easiest level, while the Orb of Presence lets you clear the way of monsters. If they manage to break the orb, the protagonist only needs to make another.
  • Dual Boss: Demons and Spires occasionally attack in pairs or couples. On higher difficulties, even three or four can be on the battlefield at once.
  • Dump Stat: Skill point-wise, few skills require to have skill points in them:
    • There is absolutely no reason to have points in Bloodbound and Poolbound; it's better to stick with one or other.
    • From capped stats, Ignition and Curse are generally considered useless.
  • Difficulty Spike: Once you're past sector P, monsters start having enough armor and HP that you won't make it very far unless you can pull out a grade 5-6 gem on the first wave. Several maps after that, you need to have enough knack to make pathing harder for the mooks on top.
  • Disc-One Nuke: The Beam attack deals low damage, but hits 10 times per second, making it ridiculously easy to stack specials on a monster. Paired with an Orange gem, it can harvest mana by the thousands as early as Wave 3. Paired with the black gem, it can make it grow uber-powerful in a hurry. It becomes a self-boosting nuke later in the game, in levels where you have access to White gems, which improve the gem's damage and special (i.e. they make it harvest even MORE mana) the more times you hit the Mana cap, giving you a gem that basically upgrades itself for free provided that you spend your Mana wisely.
  • Enemy Summoner: The Shadows will regularly drop off monsters on the path.
  • Evil Evolves: The Demons start out as merely annoying, but as you clear more sectors, they gain several abilities, such as attacking your orb directly, slowing down your spells' recharge time, spawning and reinforcing monsters, and so on. They even retain all of their abilities if you meet one by replaying a previous level.
  • Expansion Pack: Purchasing the full Flash version not only unlocks higher difficulties which, with some practice, can boost your level into the thousands in the earlier stages, but you also unlock levels and even entire map pieces which in turn give you otherwise unattainable achievements and skills. Also, without it even the final level at the highest difficulty still won't get you the highest-tier talisman pieces. The Steam version comes with the entire package and then some, but also ups the ante with Iron Wizard mode (which precludes grinding altogether) and adjusting the basic difficulty.
  • Four Is Death: Field T7 has four broken orbs with the corpses of their corresponding wizards nearby. It's also the field where the most spirits appear.
  • The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You: With the exception of the Menu Time Lockout, merely pausing the game in the time dial can have a strategic advantage. However, Shadows retain a small bit of movement even while time is paused; either shooting your orb or spawning more creeps as you struggle to find a way to kill it without the protection of your paused towers.
  • Fun Size: The Orblets Battle trait. Orblets appear around your Orb, with each producing an adorable chime as it appears. While the Mana increase provided by these orblets is minuscule, they help prevent up to 9 enemies from being banished by your main Orb, securing more experience in return. Losing any of the orblets by letting the monsters carry them away from the map, on the other hand, will significantly reduce your overall Mana gain multiplier.
  • Fun with Acronyms: The spell you get by obtaining the fake Gem of Eternity is called "Wake of Eternity". As you find out eventually, it's not just your enemies that it brings woe to.
  • Good Powers, Bad People: The Forgotten has the ability to create life, and her minions make regular use of beacons which can heal wounds, cleanse illnesses, provide shields, and protect other structures. Unfortunately, since the Forgotten IS an evil demon, she mostly uses her life-giving power to create and sustain her living weapons.
  • Healing Factor: All monsters regenerate health now. The Cyan gem and Shrine of Infection can counter it.
  • Hope Spot: Towards the end, wizards from the Spiritforge start sending you help with their own gems and towers. Things go downhill really fast from there.
  • Interface Screw: At first the Forgotten merely flashes across the screen. If she shows up in the middle, she blanks out everything but the game map- not only are you unable to cast spells or do anything with gems, you can't even see how much life you have.
  • Jump Scare: The Forgotten will regularly and suddenly appear with a Scare Chord in later portions of the game. Her appearance also enrages the next few waves, making them stronger, or disables your HUD, preventing you from casting spells or moving gems for a while.
  • The Juggernaut: Spires. They have extremely high HP, move towards your orb in a straight line, instakill your orb if they reach it, and to top it all off, their maximum damage taken per shot is capped. Fortunately, they're slow... very slow.
  • Killed Offscreen: The wizard from Labyrinth meets this fate sometime during this game, courtesy of the Forgotten.
  • Level Grinding: While the leveling system only counts the best score for each field for the purpose of leveling up, you need a lot of grinding to get the Shadow Cores needed to upgrade your Talisman and increasing the difficulty and XP yield of levels.
  • Mook Maker: The Sleeping Hive is passive and pretty nasty example if overlooked. Normally it does nothing, but throwing gems on it or firing with gems set on 'Structure' priority will make it spit swarmlings, whose stats raise exponentially. A word of advice: don't do this with a gem boosted by beam.
  • Mooks but No Bosses: Unlike in previous games, no enemy in Chasing Shadows could be considered bosses.
  • More Dakka: One of the new features of the game gives your gems an extra attack with limited charges that they can use together with their normal attack: the long-ranged, armor piercing Bolt, the continuous-firing Beam, and the multiple explosive Barrage shells.
  • Mighty Glacier: Spires are nigh-unstoppable beasts who dwarf even your towers and will destroy you with a single hit, and have a cap on the damage they can take from every shot as they make a beeline for your Orb... which takes them about five minutes to reach, which gives an ample window of time to shoot them down.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Whenever a wizard trapped the Forgotten, she corrupted the Gem of Eternity. By going to the Spiritforge and performing the ritual with the fake Gem, you gave her the chance to activate all the corrupted replicas and blow the Spiritforge's gates open in spectacular fashion and shatter it's everything-proof Deflector Shields in six ways. 'Oops.'
  • No-Gear Level: In Vision Fields, you get no bonuses from your talismans and lose all your spells and skills except a select few. Justified in that you're actually reliving a past battle.
  • Nostalgia Level: Some of the vision fields resemble levels from older games, particularly fields 19 to 23 (whose layouts are taken from the Arcane Guardian battles in Chapter 0, and which also feature Arcane Guardians as final bosses), and field 3 (with the same layout as the final level in Chapter 0 and the same 228 waves that you have to face if you forgo said level's main objective).
  • One-Hit Kill:
    • Let a Spire or Arcane Guardian reach your orb, and no amount of Mana and Banishment upgrades will save you.
    • If the monster waves run out before you manage to unlock a wizard tower or charge an ensnarement socket, the ritual fails/the tower backfires and your orb gets destroyed.
  • Overshadowed by Awesome:
    • Armor Tearing and Suppressing gems hold very conditional statistics that are barely manipulated by the game; Armor Tearing is only useful early on, when your weak gems cannot get through the armor easily. Even then, Poison gems not only ignore armor for their special, but they generally remain useful all the way up until Critical Hit gems become readily available. After that, a combination of Bolt and trapped Critical Hit gems will do most of the rest of the work. By the time Suppressing gems could become useful, the enemy's regeneration tends to be large enough that the displayed number is around the enemy's actual health pool, while the gem itself is probably nowhere near that.
    • Depending on the style of the game either Bloodbound overshadows Poolbound or vice versa. For shorter lower level plays Poolbound dominates Bloodbound, meaning those playing Iron Wizard mode will have no use for the latter, especially since a bigger detour is required to get it. For Endurance Runs however Bloodbound quickly overshadows Poolbound in every way.
  • Percent Damage Attack:
    • The Wake of Eternity spell. In addition to shredding armor, suppressing regeneration, and having a chance to banish enemies, it also deals 20% (can be boosted to 70% by Talisman Fragments) of their current health to them as damage.
    • The Shrine of Blades also shaves a percentage of the victim's HP, based on the grade of the gem sacrificed and whether it's a Yellow gem or not, up to 40%.
    • At higher difficulties and wave counts, monsters start exhibiting the "Mana Burn" ability, which damages a certain percentage of your mana in addition to their regular banishment costs when they get to your Orb.
  • Power at a Price: Corrupted Mana shards will give you plenty of extra mana (though in reality it is not unlimited like it states and it is capped at 20 million) if you place gems to harvest from them, but those gems will quickly see their damage reduced to Cherry Tapping levels.
  • "Psycho" Strings: Play when a demon is about to show up. The Forgotten is heralded by a dissonant piano chord.
  • Randomly Drops: Talisman Fragments. You can somewhat influence the levels of fragments dropped (depending on the field, Battle Traits, and can be upgraded by 10 levels for 100 Shadow Cores per fragment), but not the skills you get on them. Good luck if you want Level 100 fragment with an extra charge to Wake of Eternity and Freeze.
  • Rocket-Tag Gameplay: Endurance Mode culminates this kind of sort, provided with enough skill and level. So long as you build powerful gems, the monsters keep growing until either you overwhelm it with damage or they overwhelm your tower with their exponential health increase. Both sides win, as long your experience out-gains your previous attempt. (Or, by some miracle of grinding, beat all 999 waves.)
  • Scratch Damage:
    • All attacks deal at least 1 damage no matter how much armor the monster has. It doesn't help when monsters start regenerating hundreds of HP per second, though.
    • Spires cannot be damaged for more than a certain portion of their maximum HP, so continuous fire from several gems (or a single beam) is one of the best ways to defeat one.
  • Shout Out: The Wake of Eternity icon looks a lot like the iconic image of a certain horror movie... which is fitting, since the Forgotten is a dead ringer for said movie's antagonist.
  • Taking You with Me:
    • Demons and Spires will explode when you take them down, demolishing all walls in their vicinity. Not noticing that can let monsters slip through very quickly.
    • Some Giants force gems to resocket when killed in their vicinity, temporarily disabling them. This can easily screw over traps.
  • You Are Too Late: It is revealed that the protagonist was supposed to meet up with the Gembearer from Labyrinth after the latter retrieved the Gem of Eternity. His possession by the Forgotten results in him reaching the rendezvous point late and finding the Gembearer's corpse. And since this also gives the Forgotten the chance to plant a fake Gem of Eternity and trick the protagonist into using it, it also results in the Spiritforge being broken into by the demons.
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle!: Downplayed. The story doesn't end at X5 with Forgotten's assault. It ends at Y6, with the wizard finding the true Gem of Eternity.

The Frostborn Wrath contains examples of:

  • Asteroids Monster: The variant from Chasing Shadows is back of course, but with Parasitic Swarmlings trait every monster in battle can become this. Including swarmlings.
  • Charged Attack: Pylons are charged by gem firing at them and store up to three shots that pierce armor and jump to nearby enemies like Chain Lightning.
  • Cross Hair Aware: An interesting variation - when your tower is to targeted by an enemy such as Watchtower, it will be marked by a black 'fog'.
  • Darker and Edgier: While previous games were not exactly soft, this game goes even further. The lore establishes that the wizards from the era before Forgotten killed those who opposed the ideas of creating the monsters, which is why the wizard you control was frozen in the first place. Soon enough you will find a frozen tower of another, less lucky wizard. Both landscape and monsters are much more malevolent in this game - landscape is a mostly barren wasteland (mostly snow, but not only), with all that implies (for example at one moment you find a snow pit where dead were thrown which is now full of swarmlings) and monsters now include some types that can break through any structure you build or have negative effect on your performance by just being on the field. Not even speaking about their design, which might induce Nightmare Fuel and/or Jump Scare.
  • Dramatic Irony: Once you met your first Spire your player character will remark that Spiritforge's shield should deflect them. If you played Chasing Shadows, then you know that thanks to wizard's actions in that game, the shield was destroyed. This event actually happens when you play a specific field near Spiritforge.
  • The Juggernaut: An aptly named Wall Breaker is a new enemy to this game and probably will catch you by surprise even if you are Gemcraft veteran. This thing has high HP and can destroy anything in its path, be it walls or towers, lanterns and pylons. Note that if the destroyed tower hosts a gem, you lose it. Like Spires it must be killed before it reaches your orb, though unlike Spire it is thankfully limited to paths and is rather slow.
  • Light Is Not Good: The Wizard Hunter is aligned with Spiritforge and is predominantly white, yet it is out to get you and can be worse than even Shadows or Spires.
  • Schmuck Bait: At one field you'll have plenty of mana shards with thick shield, so you probably set your gems so you can harvest them. One or two waves into battle, Forgotten passes through the field and corrupts all shards, meaning if your gems were targeting them at moment they could be weakened, especially if you set Structure as priority target. Well, now you know where these shards are coming from.

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