【Heroes Empire】 First Impression

Third iteration of digital card game from Frozen Shard is yet the best from the team.

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Developer: FrozenShard www.frozenshard.com
Platforms: iOS 6.0 or later. Android 4.0.3 or later. Facebook & Kongregate.
Genre: Collectible Card Game
Game Modes: Campaign & Multiplayer (Online/Offline)
Release Date: 27th October 2015 Price: Free

 

Frozen Shard is a indie studio located in Spain, but very active in creating mobile platform based digital card game.  The first game from them was World War II themed game called World War II:TCG, released back in 2013 as Kickstarter project, which was followed by Monster Battles:TCG.

Now they have released a game called Heroes Empire TCG.

General Game Style

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The game is in keeping with company’s other TCG i.e. simple, quick, easy to play style.  The cards are placed based in one of four slots like that of Solforge.  There are only 3 basic types of cards so easy to learn.

Winning condition of this game is standard and simple.  Take your opponent’s player’s health down to zero, just like 90% of other TCG out there.

Resource System

Type: Automatic Resource System (ARS)

Resource system uses what I refer to as Automatic Resource System i.e. rather than utilizing dedicated resource card or sacrifice player’s own card to build resource, a player is assigned for a set amount of resource and decide how to utilize them.

Basically, a player gets 10 resource points, which replenishes each turn and every card we play costs X amount so we can cast two 5 resource points card or perhaps one card with 10 resource point.

Battle System

Type: Pure turn based/attacker driven

There is no instant/intercept type card i.e. a player cannot take any action during opponent’s turn.  Because this is slot/position based system, a card facing to each other battles automatically.

Obviously, there are cards that can bypass opponent card in front and directly attack opponent player.

Card Types

There are 3 main types of cards.

  • Army
    • This type of card fills a slot and attacks opponent.
    • Basically, in other game this is known as creature, troop etc.
  • Gear
    • This is an equipment card that you can put onto your Army and boost its attack power or health, or perhaps reduced damage dealt to it.
  • Wonder
    • This is a direct one time, immediate use card to a target opponent.  Basically, it is like a sorcery, ability or action card in other games.
    • Example is you can use this card and select a target opponent army, and it attacks itself etc

Power Mechanics

This is essentially analogous to the Shadow Era or Hearthstone hero power, HEX’s champion power.  There is no champion or hero in this game.  The player himself/herself is the target to be defeated but you can have a power.  I only have a one power right now, but I am certain as we progress we gain more power like you do get more cards then each deck you choose one power you like.

It costs regular resource points and you can only use the power once per turn.  It is simply another way to use your resource.

Reshuffle Mechanics

Those of you who have played Sol Forge may be familiar with this mechanics but each turn your hand gets reshuffled i.e. all unused card goes back to your deck and at the start of your next turn you redraw full hand.

This has an advantage (as well as disadvantage to some).  The main advantage of this system is that it will maximize your chance to play good cards as you are drawing them so often.  The automatic resource system perfectly fits with this type of system as it will allow player to really focus on what to play each turn rather than worrying about resource management i.e. infamous resource screw/flood issue is essentially non-existent in this type of game system.

The reshuffling system almost always goes along with no graveyard system.  This game is no exception.  Basically, all destroyed card goes back to your deck, so you have a good chance potentially playing same card over and over, which becomes important with level up system (see below).

Level up

The game calls promotion, but troops can be leveled up (unfortunately no change in images).  How to do this is simple.   You just pay specified amount of resource.  Again, conceptually similar to Solforge but fundamentally different.

Rather than leveling up a card by playing, this game requires one more step, which is to pay a cost/resource.  Personally, I prefer this system over that of Solforge.

The reason is that it gives a player more way to spend resource i.e make tactical decision.  In fact, promoting a troop actually heals cumulative damage in this game, so this by itself also renders another level of tactical component because if I level up a card all way up (level 3), I can no longer heal the army later when I need to.

Furthermore, gears have levels but rather than you level up individual gears, the power of gear changes depending on the target army i.e. if army is at level 3 (which is highest) the gear gives level 3 effect.

So now a days, level up system in dTCG is not a surprise or ground breaking by any means, but I think this game has it right.

Turn Structure

This is the simplest of all.  A player gets an action phase to play cards, use “power” or promote your troops who are already on the field.

Then when you are ready, you go into battle phase (fight phase), which you cannot skip.  Troops facing each other attacks simultaneously and damages are cumulative i.e. does not reset next turn.  If there is no opponent card in front, the damage goes to your opponent directly.

To add another piece for the game to be fast paced, pretty much all army by default be able to attack the turn it is casted.

There is no second action phase that many TCG has after battle phase i.e. immediately after battle phase the turn goes to opponent.  So you cannot save resource and battle then play more card after.

Graphics

Art style is really a personal preference.  It does not wow me and not something I say my most favorite type, but it is good enough and some may even like these art style.

However, animation is smooth and board layout is very intuitive.  Basically, no complaints here.

Game Modes

I have only played though a part of single player modes and not yet played PvP.

The game has 3 main modes of play.

PvP

PvP

You can play against other player.  I have not yet played this.  There is currently no draft mode, but it is planned.

Quest

Campaign

Campaign mode that you progress level by level.  The story here is essentially none-existent though.

Adventures

Adventures

This is like an arena mode in Hearthstone.  You battle 3 to 4 games against AI.  As you win you get rewards.  The deck of this mode; however, is preconstructed.

Crafting

This is not really a game play mode, but the game does support crafting i.e. you can use 3 copies of same card and pay gold, you can upgrade the card.  Since I don’t have enough card to try this out, I am not sure how exactly these things work especially when it comes to PvP.  If the boost is permanent on the card, and even usable on PvP, I am a bit concerned for the game becomes way too much pay to win system.

Auction House

Yes. They got this one right also.  You can purchase individual card or even sell your card.  Considering small indie company, I am really impressed with overall game design.  It essentially has every core element of dTCG.

Cost Analysis

The game is free to play, and you can get ingame currency as you play the quest or Adventures, but as in any other game in this genre, it probably won’t be enough to make you compete against other players in PvP.  How much will it really cost to be competitive is difficult to calculate at this point simply because I have not played enough.

Also the game provides multiple microtransaction potential (not forcing though).  For instance, when you are about to lose in campaign mode, you can pay to continue the same game.  Retry from start does not cost you anything, it is those system you see on arcade game.

Stability

I played the game with my recently purchased iPad Pro.  It runs smooth but there were couple times the game froze up within about 1 hour of game play.  Each time I had to kill the app, and when I went back, the game I was playing was not there i.e. just start from the beginning of the game.  But overall, I have no complaints about the stability.  It is professionally built.

Overall impression

Heroes Empire TCG is a simple, fast paced, casual style digital card game.  The core mechanics utilizes the best choices for simple dTCG including purely turn based (PTB) mechanics, slot based game play along with automatic resource system (ARS).  However, the simplicity does not equates to lack of strategy.  The game utilizes a level up system with reshuffling mechanics similar to Solforge.

Though individual components of the game feels all familiar or seen in other games, overall execution/assembly seem to be just right, and gives some strangely unique feeling. This is not uncommon in dTCG as in the end these type of game can be unique only so much, but overall balance and what pieces one game decide to use really make one differ from other.

My first impression of this game is one of the best casual/fast paced dTCG as long as card balance and cost are optimized.  So if you like Solforge or even hearthstone i.e. fast paced dTCG, this is a game you must give a try.

 

 

 

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