Archives for : Turn Based Strategy

It’s Might and Match 3: Clash of Heroes

Might and Magic: Clash of Heroes is as I’m sure you can tell by the title, a match 3 style RPG game. Yep, Ubisoft and  Capybara Games took Might and Magic Heroes and made a Match 3 game. So what do I think of it, a fan of the original Might and Magic games. I’ve never played a Heroes game yet. Shh.. I know this isn’t a depiction of that series.

First off, even without touching the multiplayer this game has some real length to it. Seriously, it took me 35 hours to beat it and I missed something somewhere. So I can say I didn’t feel it had too short of a single player campaign. How was the campaign though? I thought it’s story was obvious, as well as childish. It had a very pg sort of feel. It made for a very easy to follow or ignore story. If you missed a scene, I’m pretty sure you’d be able to figure out what happened. The story also is supposed to take place before Heroes of Might & Magic V.

Gameplay was simple enough. It was turn based, so you didn’t have to race against your opponent. I used a controller for during the game and the controls were simple. I’d say that from as few keys that are needed, I’d find it rather hard to believe the controls could ever be considered complicated. You play by making matches of units of 3 for the most part to make walls or attacking units. They need to match in color, not always type since there are special units that will randomly appear with one of the three colors. You make you’re army depending on the character your playing. So one character may use archer’s and another might use ghosts, vampires and zombies, it just depends on which main character you are currently playing as to determine what units you can choose from.

While all characters have similar units for there matches there are differences that make certain characters more appealing to one person than another. It may not be drastic differences, but it’s obvious certain characters with certain artifacts are designed for different play styles or strategies.

It does a nice job of making the game simple enough to appeal to causal match 3 gamers, but has enough to entertain serious puzzle gamers, and strategy gamers especially if you can get a multiplayer match going. I think someone going into it for the RPG aspects would be disappointed though, as that aspect is a bit more lacking.

So what is the verdict? Is it good is it bad? Honestly, I liked it enough to play it for 35 hours. After that I couldn’t play it any more, although I could see going back for mp matches. Even with the predictable storyline and simple play, I think that is part of what makes it all work. It’s fun and you can just play it without worrying about some huge convoluted plot with overly complex controls. Its good for a long play session or just jump in play a little and save and exit to come back to later. Without having to worry about forgetting what is going on.

So give this game a go, I give it a solid 4 out of 5. Oh and take a look around this game is out for a number of systems so it’s bound to be available to you on the platform you prefer.

Not So Strategic War in Europe Review

The Strategic War in Europe by Wastelands Interactive starts off seeming like a turn based WWII treat. Then you go through the tutorial, if you could call it one. So here is my review of this wonderful title.

Okay, I love turned based strategy games and this one had all the ear-marks of a good one. A building system that reminded me of Axis and Allies, terrain that affected speed movement and combat, all the pretty standard concepts of hex based strategy game combat… It even has a new system to navel warfare which makes it harder to find and battle enemy subs and ships instead of just going after the hex that you magically see them in. All this sounds great and really it was… at first.

Then it hit me. The tutorial was absolutely horrendous. It didn’t help me learn anything about the new features. So I turned to the manual… nope still nothing. Navel warfare – the major change that sets this game apart from so many other games of this genre and style – has no decent form of explanation. Sure I could have probably found a good answer to this issue on the forums, but come on. A full manual and a tutorial and it doesn’t tell me how to make an aquatic attack on an enemy city. Only how to move troops from one friendly port to another; and even that is a convoluted mess that takes more time to do than it does to just send them there via tracks.

Here is another one I loved. After reading on the game I was under the impression that while real events that took place will happen in the game – which is really cool – you could stop certain ones by not preforming the action that caused the event. Don’t attack Russia and they won’t attack you, the peace treaty will hold up. Yeah, sounds great in theory. In practice that didn’t happen. I was Germany in multiple games, and every time, as soon as Finland decided to join the Axis, Russia came stomping in like a bulldozer. How I broke the treaty I still don’t know, but I swear I never attacked them. In the end all these events kept turning my game from one I felt I had some control over into merely an altered variation of the original outcome.

Now if you can figure out the navel warfare and how to circumvent the default events, you may actually enjoy the game. The rest of it plays pretty basically with common, easy to understand mechanics. I had such high hopes for this game, really I did. I was so excited to play it, I tried multiple times with varying strategies. In the end I came to the conclusion that it is just really, really not the game I thought it would be, nor a strategy game that stands out enough to scream “Buy me over that other game.” Seriously, just pass on this one, I love historical strategic war games, but I don’t want to be played by them.

1 out of 5 because it did work, it just wasn’t any fun; and that had nothing to do with my repeated losing. I’m used to that, ask my wife.
Have a good day and I hope you come back for my next review, which has to be more positive.

Avadon: The Black Fortress Review

Avadon: The Black Fortress is a tactical RPG for the PC created by Spiderweb Software. This TRPG does have an interesting storyline where the questions and your responses may change your view on things. One the things that Avadon boasts is that you can be the loyal hero of Avadon, the indifferent merc or even do something along the lines of bringing Avadon down.

From playing this game, I will go over what I know and how I feel about this RPG. Now I haven’t finished the campaign so I don’t know the end yet, but from what I have played this game grabs a hold of you and pulls you in. Although humorously, about one of the only characters you may like will be your own character, I thought that pretty much everyone was a snake. With all the political intrigue going on around you, you may quickly become suspicious of every single person you talk to, and that even includes the 4 other characters you are teamed up with throughout the game. In one situation a simple statement was made that caused an argument between two of my own teammates (Hands are what they are called). It was quite humorous but I had also thought I would like to stab them both at that moment for being so unprofessional in front of others.

That right there is what leads me to, what is this game really about and how is it played. When you start the game you will pick a character from one of the 4 types, Bladesmaster (Warrior/Paladin), Shadowwalker (Theif/Ninja), Shaman (Druid or Nature Cleric/Summoner), or Sorceress (Mage/Psychic/Thief). The reason I elaborated on the classes is that they are all sort of a blend of some of your typical RPG classes but none are quite the same. What class you pick is entirely up to you, and it’s biggest aspect is that in all missions that is the one class you are guaranteed to have with you. Don’t worry about the other classes they all quickly become available as partners for your missions.

Now the story starts out with a really good plot. 5 countries have formed a pact to stop the warring amongst each other to allow them to face the greater threats from outside. To keep this pact working and to help the countries protect their borders, the black fortress of Avadon was born. Hands, who go out and do missions and do the dirty work. Eyes, who are the people who sneak around for Avadon to find those who are attempting to destroy the pact or just to keep a general eye on the things going on. Finally The Hearts, are the people who take the information given by the eyes, hands and the scores of envoys that come to Avadon and chose what Hand to send out on a mission and how many people they can take. This is where you get your missions and where you decide who will come along with you, but don’t worry if you hate them, on your next mission you can change it up.

While on these missions, you’ll take side quests and do whatever you really want to do. Be nice to the locals, or be cruel. Heck, they probably fear you already. If they don’t you can probably make them if you want to. One of the great things about the games story of politics and backstabbing and loot grabbing is that instead of being lead around by more experienced hands, they are all to busy and although you are the new kid on the block, you have to be better than the 4 screw-ups that no other hand wants to use. So they become your responsibility and you are given missions instead of the screw-ups who have been there longer. It’s up to you to find out why no one else wants them, if you feel inclined to get to know your fellow hands. Through your missions and the people you talk to, you will start to get a better idea of what is going on and what you may have to do in the future.

Now lets get to how is this game played. As you play you will level up, each level you can increase one stat by 1 point: Strength, Dexterity, Intelligence, and Endurance. You will also be given 2 points to place on your ability tree. Depending on your class will depend on what abilities you have available to your main character. It takes 2 points to take a new ability that you meet the requirements for. Once you have taken that ability you can place 1 point on it while placing the other point somewhere else if you chose. It’s really up to you. At level 5, 15, and 25 you can take one of 3 specializations that enhance certain abilities that your character possesses. You will also be leveling up all 4 of the other hands, So you might want to make the hand that has the same class as you focus on different abilities. This is called training the hands. One nice feature about this is that although you may favor certain classes for your quests, all of the hands will gain experience even the ones left behind. So whenever you return to Avadon train them, you never know if you might need them in a hurry.

I only say this because the game leaves you feeling like at any point any where some one might try to kill you. Maybe it’s just me, but the game feeds into the paranoia aspect. You venture around like you would in Diablo, but when a fight starts the map is all squares and turn based. This is nice since it gives you the time to think out strategies or just send your characters rushing in to cut down the enemies the old fashioned way.

The game is all point and click, there are keyboard shortcuts although the space bar really was the only one I learned. The space bar is used to end a characters turn. The game also has a little bit of music, but not really that much. I often found myself wandering around a wilderness just to notice how quiet everything was. I actually liked this in a way I didn’t expect to. It gave it that feeling of being alone. You wandered and it was all quiet, but if a wolf was approaching or near you, you might here it howl or growl. So it sort of feels like they decided to pull out the standard RPG music and instead let the setting bring the feeling out. Since you’re never walking a world map but instead are moving within areas, the objects always match the size of your characters.

I have played this game for hours on end and only enjoy it more and more. I give this game a 4 out of 5. I know there are some simplicities to the game, as well as it’s lack of constant music, that may turn away some fans of RPGs and TRPGs, but as far as engrossing you into the story and making you decide what you will do this game does it and never lets you feel safe around anyone. I just love that.

Armada 2526: Supernova Review

Ntronium Games developed and Iceberg Interactive published Armada 2526 for the PC. With the expansion, Supernova having just been released, new life is being brought to this turn based strategy game. Armada 2526 is all about a bunch of races attempting to spread across the universe and accomplish their goals to win. While the Supernova expansion adds so many things to the game I will be splitting this review into two sections: Armada 2526 and Armada 2526: Supernova.

Armada 2526 without the Expansion:

Armada 2526 is a 4X space game reminiscent of games like Civilization. Everything is done in turns. You will meet other races and have the options of diplomacy as well as open war for dominance. This game has a fairly robust diplomatic set of options available to you, not to mention a large tech selection and a real-time battle system, on top of its turn based aspects. We’ll start with the tutorial because even for veterans of this genre you can always learn something new.

First off I have to say the Tutorial was very informative and helpful in a lot of ways. Like a lot of tutorials at first it forces you to follow certain steps. It pretty quickly moves you to the point where you’re doing more and more one your own. After you reach the end of the major lessons your on your own to finish the match. Which is you and two other races and your goal to win is to destroy one of those races. It still gives you helpful information as you find new systems and objects so you never get to lost even after it says now take out the enemy to finish the tutorial. This is a task I failed at miserably at, but I learned a lot about diplomacy, researching technologies, fighting battles, and even some strategies by watching how the enemy AI decided to stomp me into the ground. Now some people might wonder why a tutorial would be that difficult I thought it was great because it gave me a much better idea of what I would face in the other scenarios.

Selecting new game offers up 4 Scenarios; Kull 2 Players, The Rim 17 Players, Tutorial, 3 Players, and Twelve Races 12 Players. All are set to run for 500 turns. You can also start a custom game. The Custom game, allows you to set up 104 Players, The Difficulty, number of turns, The Map to use or to use a randomly made map. You control the star density as well as whether the stars are mostly centrally located or spread throughout the map. All the players you chose to have, You can pick their race and factions. Since there are some pre-made factions in the game and 12 races to chose from. You can also set which players are AI and which are players in the hotseat mode of play. Since the game is turn based all players can play from the same PC in with hotseat turned on. Without the expansion this is your only way to play with others.

All the races have different victory conditions. Some races even lose victory points for destroying other races. These differences force you to change tactics while playing these different races. It also effects how you will deal with them when you meet them amongst the stars. Armada supports a large selection of stars you can run into some of which you need special ships to create colonies on. With over 100 technologies to research you are pushed to focus on certain technologies to gain the upper hand against the computer AI’s. This is very important as that the AI’s are not push overs and really can be quite aggressive.

Building new colonies to expand your range of space you can view as well as colonize is how you progress across the star map. With a number of building types for your colonies to build some being dependent on the solar system your building them in. You are left with a number of options as well as reasons to transport people from one colony to another. To build the next building. It won’t let you build more buildings than your people can support So keeping a good population amongst your colonies is important.

When you go into battle you have two options. The first option is to just let the computer figure out who would win, for players looking to play a more speedy game this is nice and what I was used to in most games of this genre. The other option is more of a real-time tactile battle where you can select groups of ships and tell them what enemy ships to target as well as what formation to use. This is a fairly complex system to get used to, but can be very advantageous to get used to. The enemies battle tactics are usually pretty straight forward so getting good at this can definitely give you a better chance at beating the odds.

To top all this off the game has a map editor built into it, so you can build your own universes to play your custom games on. The map editor is pretty easy to use even with it’s many options available to select. If you’re looking to do more than just make a map, well the game supports modifications. With a majority of the game being in easy to read and edit XML documents you can add/remove a lot of things to this game and how it plays. Ntronium Games website’s forum helps you out with this and provides links to some mods already out there for the game.

Without the expansion this game is a 4 out of 5. I would have rated this a 5 out of 5 because it is just such a great game, but it is one that is not easy to play unless you are a fan of this genre. This difficulty curve and it’s lack of multiplayer support outside of sharing the same computer I think really hurts it and would detour many. Thankfully the expansion addresses the multiplayer issue.

Armada 2526 with the Supernova Expansion:

At first I looked at Supernova as something of a mod to the game, but it really is much more. It changes aspects of the planets, adds new races, more technologies, but above all it adds LAN and Play By Email support for those dying to play against other fans of the game.

So the two races it adds are a floral and a crab race. The crab race deals better with oceanic planets, but overall the races are more of a bonus than anything too special. I am sure a dedicated modder could add races to the game and have similar results. The expansion also adds a lot more technologies to pursue and changes up the tech tree a little, this allowed them to add a number of other features and tweaks to the game, like a new scenario the Triangle.

At this point the expansion doesn’t seem to be all that special, but it does a lot more. The planet changes are a huge change in my eyes. Now planets are oceanic, or a number of other types. These types of planets have more pluses in some areas and negatives in other areas. This isn’t all that has changed with the planets you colonize though. Now special events like solar flares in a system can stop ship movement, or a planet with old tech found on it could increase it’s ability to research certain techs on that planet. There are some planets that you people will believe are cursed and as a result buildings can be damaged for no reason, the rate of growth can slow down and other bad effects. You can also find planets that have features that speed up the population growth rate or attract tourists and can help increase you profits.

Visually some things have changed one of which is the colony window which shows you what type of planet it is from it’s background. This can be distracting when trying to read the number of units you have on a planet or what buildings you’ve already built. In a game with as many options as this one has it does help you see quickly what might be the best thing to build on that planet.

With the new planet system, and updates to the technologies and diplomatic aspects as well as the new races you are getting a lot out of this expansion. I can’t stress enough how much the new planet system improves the game though. Even with all this, when you install the expansion the original game is still remaining and available to play as well as the expansion is also moddable. So you can update any old mods to work with the expansion and get some of the best of both the old and the new.

Would I recommend getting this expansion, my answer is a simple, but emphatic yes. If you enjoyed Armada 2526 before the expansion, You will surely enjoy what the expansion brings to this game. Just don’t get it for the new races alone, they aren’t really game changing, it is all the other aspects that makes this expansion so worth getting. As far as an expansion goes I would say it is a must have for anyone who has the game or plans to pick it up.

With the expansion this game is a 4.5 out of 5. I love it, with the added functions this game only got better. The only reason I can’t give it a 5 is it is still a game that I feel some people couldn’t handle the sheer amount of things to keep track of or might get annoyed by the time the game takes.

I can’t wait to start working on my own mod to the game.

Dark Seal Review

Andreil’s Game put out an XBLIG, Dark Seal back in March 2010 and I spent some enjoyable time with it this weekend. Let’s go over this simple to play turn based strategy game. As simple as this game is it, really made me remember what I missed of the board game era.

Dark Seal is played on a hexagonal board filled with hexagonal spaces. Six evil warlocks are vying for control of the Dark Seal, and the one who controls the most territory at the end will be the victor. To stop you from doing this you have 10 waves of good guy troops attempting to take all of the warlocks territory away as well as other warlocks looking to keep you out of the running.

The way the game works is the more territory you own the more spells you’ll have at the beginning of your turn. The spells and your minions are how you will beat back the hero’s and blast the other warlocks. There are a few interesting rules to the game. One is that you can’t use your minions to take a rival warlocks land or attack a rival’s minions. They can only be used against the heroes that move in from the outer ring. Your spells on the other hand can be used against anyone. That is how you strike at your rival warlocks.

There is an aspect of randomness to the game that, I feels adds a great deal to it. The spells you start off with in a round are more like if you had to draw so many cards from the top of a deck, what you get is what you get. They can be very unhelpful or incredibly helpful. This randomness gives any warlock a chance to come back from the brink. That is if they know what they need to do. The magic cards could be as simple as take an empty enemy territory or place two units in one of your territories. Some spell cards destroy a set number of units from a square, and some do that and take the square if it is unoccupied after the troops are destroyed. There is a set of random ones that will randomly switch one square you chose with a randomly picked one on the board. This could be good or terrible for you.

The key thing to remember is territory is what counts the more you own the more cards you get. So if you are wanting a lot of options on your turn you need to maintain control of the majority of spaces. The game may seem very random, in playing it a number of times it really isn’t that random even with the chance of drawing some spells that are weak. Once the final wave hits the turns will continue until the good troops are all gone. No new good troops will arrive so this is your chance to take back the lost territories and steal your rivals land.

Once that last good troop falls the game will finish out the turn and the winner will be the warlock that controls the seal. It’s easy to tell who controls the seal since the seal changes to there color. So you always know who is in the lead. While the computer AI acts a bit erratic at points with their moves, the game is definitely meant for multiplayer. In multiplayer up to 4 of the 6 warlocks can be players, sadly you can’t choose which warlock you want to be.

The music isn’t really worth noting and visually the game isn’t stunning or anything like that. What it does have is simple game play, that classic board game with card drawing feel and a great multiplayer strategy game that won’t take you multiple days to finish.

I give this a 3 out of 5. I think some people will be expecting more than what this game is, not to mention that its true shine is in its local multiplayer. So if you got some friends to play it with, it’s well worth the 80 msp otherwise play the trial first.