The first step in BattleForge is to choose your army. BF provides you four different sets of cards, divided by colour: red for massive attacks, blue for stalwart defence, green for regeneration and healing, purple for decay and damage over time. You can combine these colours any way you want but, just like in Magic the Gathering, the more colours you use, the more unlikely it will be for you to use the most powerful spells. A deck is composed by 20 cards, and you will need a balanced army, with melee and ranged units, turrets and spells. To help you move the first steps and get accustomed to the cards, the game provides you four pre-built single-colour decks. You can try them and decide which colour is more suited to your play-style and if you’d rather use one or more.
By Gabriele Giorgi (Darak), Onrpg writer
Take a good chunk of the Collectible Card Game Magic the Gathering (or Yu-Gi-Oh, if you prefer), dip it in a broth of Warcraft (I mean the original Warcraft, mind you, not WoW) and add a pinch of auction house from any MMO; boil and stir and… there you go! It’s the recipe of BattleForge, a brand new title by EA Games that can’t be boxed in just one genre. Will the gamers like its taste? Let’s try to guess it with this preview.
Build your deck
There’s more to it, of course. When you complete scenarios, you will be awarded upgrades and new cards, or “coins” you can use to buy boosters. Boosters will contain at least one rare card, much like in the CCG Magic the Gathering, and you can combine copies of a card, upgrades and battle points to create more powerful versions of it.
So part of the strategy and the first step to victory lie in a careful and balanced planning of your deck. As soon as you have arranged it, you are ready to enter the battlefield.
Power to fight
Although BattleForge is basically a Real Time Strategy game, some of its mechanics might prove to be a bit unusual from what you are used to. The main difference is that you do not need buildings to produce your troops, nor you have to constantly gather materials or gold to pay for them.
The only thing you need in order to summon your army is power from pylons scattered throughout the map: the more pylons you control, the quicker your power pool will replenish. The other essential requirement for your cards are elemental shrines: when you access a new one, you have to select which colour it will be. If you are using a single-colour deck, the choice will be straightforward, but if you are playing with more than one, you might want to be careful selecting what you need the most in that moment. Also, when your troops are defeated, some of the power you spent to summon them will form another pool and will contribute to your main level as well.
With your power you can summon units and cast spells near any other unit or pylon of yours. This means that you do not have to manage structures, and the defences are limited to walls you can erect in no time. So basically you just need to claim pylons and shrines, then defend them with turrets and troops alike (the only thing preventing you to amass you a vast army is a fixed unit cap).
This way the action turns out to be more fast-paced than a regular RTS, and a game, PvE or PvP alike, will not usually take more than half an hour.
Visually the game looks great: the graphics are stunning and really polished, while the animations are smooth and nice to watch. This is one of the best assets of this title and people will surely be impressed by it.
Know your enemy
As you might expect, you will have to face two different kinds of opponents: computer-controlled PvE scenarios and human adversaries in PvP.
Contrarily to what you might expect, the PvE part of this game is developed very deeply: not only there is a story unfolding, but you get to choose your path through the world map, since some of them require a cooperative effort to be completed. As usual, they will be increasingly difficult, letting you experience more of the game as you progress. About the kinds of mission, they are quite similar to what we have seen so far in RTS games, ranging from defending outposts to protect NPCs and the like. Anyway they are worth playing, both for the immediate rewards and because they can unlock other, more powerful cards.
PvP scenarios are set in simpler maps, and it will usually be a rush for the power pylons and the elemental shrines, since controlling them allows you to use more powerful creatures and spells. On the other hand, human opponents make them definitely more challenging. Something that takes a bit getting used to is the rule allowing you to spawn a troop nearby another one: it might be a bit disappointing if you are about to finish off an opponent, only to see another, more powerful unit, spawn at his feet. About balancing, this could be another possible issue, but problems of this kind will surely be addressed on a regular basis. PvP duels are also quite important, since they award some coins required to upgrade your cards.
A boost with boosters
As already mentioned, one quick way to improve your army is through boosters. BF will use a micro-transactions system to get in-game currency with real money. This will help people willing to invest real cash to have a more powerful deck in less time.
Players who do not want to spend real money will eventually be able to obtain the same cards, but it will take time and many battles, and in the PvP scenarios they will have to watch out for “boosted” opponents.
Another way to get more cards is the auction, very similar to most auction houses you might know. Along with simple trade (just contacting people through the chat system), it is a good way to get rid of the cards you are not going to use and search for those that will fit in your favourite deck.
BattleForge is surely an innovative title, that winks to different kinds of players. While it provides something for every one, it remains to be seen how it will appeal the public. Anyway it is to be recommended, since this game is trying to bring something new in the MMO environment.
-Every game mode (solo, cooperative PvE, PvP) has been equally developed
-Many ways to obtain and trade cards
-PvP maps quite simple
-Some RTS unusual rules might require getting used to
-PvE missions too similar to any other RTS