With 60 hours left in its campaign, Nova Blitz TCG from Dragon Foundry has reached its Kickstarter goal of $40,000. It actually reached it a day or two ago! Promising innovative real-time gameplay, Nova Blitz wants to bring something new to the genre, and it looks like you guys want them to also!
Dragon Foundry have an impressive line-up of talent on their team. Between them they’ve been making games for over 15 years and have worked on titles such as Magic: The Gathering, Guild Wars 2, and Saints Row IV. Quite the pedigree, so if anyone can bring something new to the genre I’d put my money on Dragon Foundry. Nova Blitz TCG was Greenlit on Steam after only 10 days, so there’s certainly a call for the game.
The game has received some high praise so far, with the following comments coming from Richard Garfield, creator of Magic: The Gathering:
“I’ve been looking forward to a digital trading card game which has the depth of Magic for a long time. The real time nature of Nova Blitz keeps games moving. And the team’s knowledge of strategy games keeps it firmly in the strategy camp, and not in the twitch camp.”
Nova Blitz features real-time gameplay, which means to waiting for your opponent to act first. You can either rush out and try overwhelm your opponent, or take it slow, see what they play and counter. Intelligence and bluffing are rewarded.
The alpha for Nova Blitz is available for download now from the official site, http://novablitz.com/game/download/, and it available for Windows, OS X and Linux. It’s certainly worth checking out, and has some cool things planned for Steam regarding cards and trading. Check out the Kickstarter video below, and head to the Kickstart campaign if you want to help reach some awesome rewards in the stretch goals!
[EDIT: Since publishing this article, Turbo Tape Games have removed the purchase of gems from the game. They are also now rewarded when entering Arcane Fulcrums and when casting a certain spell. Bear that in-mind when you reach my IAP rant.]
Warhammer: Arcane Magic is a Warhammer themed turn-based strategy game from Turbo Tape Games. A premium app for IOS, it promises ‘epic battles and tactical gameplay that challenge both novice and veteran’. Does it deliver? Let’s take a look.
The game starts with a lengths tutorial covering all game controls and features. While certainly in-depth, it’s incredibly boring! There is lots of text, and control is taken away from the player. This lasts way too long, and you’re soon itching to get playing, but are held up by a slowly narrated tutorial. This could have been presented better. I have to admit, I skipped through towards the end as I just wanted to get playing.
Once you’re through that and let free things get more interesting. Your squad consists of up to three characters. After the tutorial you have 2 of the 3 slots filled, with a further 5 characters available to unlock. 2 of these are unlocked by progressing through the game, and the other 3 are unlocked via in-app purchases. More on IAP later.
Each character has a selection of slots available for spell cards. These are the attacks and abilities that each character takes into battle. There are 45 of these to collect, and are purchased via in-game currency. They can either be purchases directly from the character select screen, or unlocked in Plunder Packs, a pack of 3 random items, which can either be purchased for in-game currency, or found hidden throughout the levels.
Gold is rewarded for completing scenarios, so after a battle is complete you can return to the character screen and kit your squad out with better abilities. Gold can also be purchased by using gems, a more premium in-game currency, and in-turn, gems can be purchased for real-money. It’s a fremium model inside a premium app and it just doesn’t belong. A rant on this is still due later in the article.
Combat is typical of a turn-based game. Each character can move once a turn, and has a set range. When out of combat however there is no movement restriction, and you’re free to wander around the level until you run into resistance. Your team has a set mana bar. This starts out at 10 each level, and each spell you cast gets deducted from the shared total, meaning you need to pick the best skill from the best character to suit a particular situation. There is no order imposed on this, so you can attack and move as you please which is great. You don’t have to move first then attack, it’s up to you.
When an attack is selected, each enemy that is in range will show a dice above their head. This is the number that is needed to hit them, and each of your attack is subject to a dice roll. Roll under the value for that enemy and they won’t take damage. The higher over that value you roll the more damage is dished out. There is also a skull value on the dice, which when rolled makes your attack instantly miss. It’s very frustrating when you need a clutch spell and the roll fails, but at-least enemies are subject to the same thing; they also roll their attacks and can miss just as you can. This addition of RNG adds a nice authentic feel to the game. It’s nerve-racking knowing you’re one duff dice roll away from oblivion.
In each level there will be a number of glowing pads on the floor. The goal it to stand on each of them, unlocking the exit to the level. Each time a character stands on the pad, their special Cataclysm Spell is awarded, the mana cap is increased by 2, and all mana is replenished. These portals are very powerful, and need to be used at the right time in order to successfully defeat the enemies that swarm you.
You also have to be very careful with your attacks, as some of them will do friendly damage. If you want to lay down a blanket of fire to dispatch of multiple enemies once, you better move your other character(s) out of the way or their asses are getting cooked. It adds another challenge to combat, and while annoying at first, I grew to like the challenge of having to make sure I was positioning my characters correctly.
If characters do die, they can be revived by using gems. Gems are premium in-game currency and so are awarded slowly. While it is possible to collect them without paying, there are a number of IAP to get them which is silly. In a premium app the revival of characters should in no way be linked to IAP. Saying that, you can just leave the character dead until the end of the battle, at which time they will be revived, but when a character dies, the difficult of that level increases dramatically, so it’s usually just a restart.
The game is set over 2 acts, each consisting of 8 battles. 16 battles is not a lot of content, and while I haven’t reached the end myself, the reviews on the IOS store confirm that it is indeed a short title. Each act has lore behind it, and each time a battle is entered the backstory is narrated. This is a nice feature and helps give some meaning to the battles and the progression through the game.
The combat and systems are fine. There’s nothing really more to it than that. They don’t do anything particularly badly, but they also don’t really excel anywhere either. It’s just fine. Gameplay feels a bit slow at times, and I think the UI could use some TLC, but it all works and does its job. Unfortunately that’s all it does, it doesn’t wow or make you want to continue playing.
So let’s talk about the in-app purchases. Warhammer: Arcane Magic is a premium app, and comes at a price of £6.99 ($9.99). Why the hell are there in-app purchases here? Especially for something as intrinsic as characters. I’m not on-board with in-app purchases at all in a premium app, but at-least with the coins I can choose not to partake and it doesn’t affect my experience. But putting characters behind a paywall in a premium app is something I can’t get on-board with. It’s just greedy and NOT in the interest of the gamer. The reviews on the apple store reflect this, with the game having a rating of 2 stars, and people pointing fingers at the model. A fremium model in a premium app?! No excuse, that’s not ok.
Tl:dr – I was underwhelmed with Warhammer: Arcane Magic. While, gameplay wise, it doesn’t really do anything wrong, it also doesn’t excel anywhere. It’s all just ok. If this was a free app, I wouldn’t expect more, but since its premium I was expecting a better experience. The inclusion of a fremium model in the premium app left a horrible taste in my mouth, and made it difficult to overlook the shortcoming of the title.