Beyond the horizon, a storm is brewing. Soon, there will be a war of epic proportions, beyond anything...anything you've ever seen before. In the meantime, you can play the soon-to-be-released BattleForge, which will combine real-time strategy with collectible-card games in a high-fantasy setting. We sat down with designer Felix Waack to discuss the game and the mysterious "shadow" suit of cards, which will appear as the purple suit among the four colored suits in the game. Take a look at this exclusive trailer and stay on board for all of the details, below.
GameSpot: Give us an update on BattleForge's current status. What's going on with the game at this point?
Felix Waack: We are in our last week of open beta. The game will be available in stores March 24, after a very valuable open beta period, where we were able to improve the game and incorporate lots of player feedback. Now, most of us are focusing on the launch itself. At the same time, some of the team is working on additional content that will be available for free shortly after launch.
GS: We're glad we have this opportunity to sit down and get an in-depth look at the shadow suit of cards (which are colored purple in the game). We already know the themes of BattleForge's other three colors; red, blue, and green correspond to fire, ice, and nature, respectively. Start us off with an overview of the theme of shadow cards--what sort of creatures and buildings will this color use?
FW: Shadow recruits various wicked cultists, demons, and the undead. "Sacrifice" is a key word when it comes to describing shadow cards, because this suit makes good use of corpses on the battlefield.
GS: Tell us about the way shadow cards actually work. We understand, for instance, that the color is devoted to using "risk" and two-sided abilities that may randomly provide powerful bonuses or backfire, causing penalties. What are the gameplay themes of shadow? Give us some specific examples.
FW: When you use your cards correctly, you totally obliterate your opponent. But if things don't work out as planned, you might fail miserably.
GS: What are the three strongest creatures in the shadow stable? What are the three most versatile ones?
FW: There is no strongest creature. A creature that has exceptional values has exceptional power costs. Every card is strong when used right. Here are a few notable shadow units: The overlord is a melee giant that draws strength from fallen units; the shadow worm is a ranged, extra-large creature that can paralyze and incinerate enemies, and the necrofury is a long-ranged extra-large creature that has to be switched into siege mode to bombard targets from afar.
Some of the more versatile shadow units are the fallen skyelf, a large flying unit that can attack ground and air units, which can weaken enemies within a certain period of time (but if those enemies aren't killed within that time, those enemies get fully healed); the shadow mage, a ranged spellcaster that can detonate your other shadow units to deal damage in the area around them based on your sacrificed units' health levels; and the deathray, an extra-large flyer that deals moderate damage to ground and air targets while boosting its damage by stealing energy from friendly units.
GS: What's the best way to develop a winning offense with a shadow deck? Is the color good for rushing with low-level units, or is it better served for capturing additional resources and monuments to access the higher-level spells and critters? Give us specific examples.
FW: There are many ways you can build your deck and there are many strategies to employ. Shadow is better suited for early attacks than some of the other factions, but depending on how you build your deck, you could just as well go for the heavy hitters on the higher tiers.
A nearly all-offensive strategy uses an army of "forsaken" units. You kill one of them with the "motivate" spell, giving all other forsaken a damage boost. Now let them kill anything in their "frenzy" mode that additionally benefits from the damage boost. But make sure you quickly reach your goal, since the frenzy mode only lasts a few seconds, and your forsaken units will die once this mode wears off.
GS: What sort of player will most enjoy playing shadow as a primary color? What kind of strategies would work well for a deck composed entirely of shadow-only cards?
FW: Shadow is for more advanced players. You really have to know what you are doing. One pure shadow strategy could be to focus on a second-tier unit, the harvester, the only extra-large creature available at medium cost. Since it pushes back small and medium units, it is hard to counter for an unprepared enemy.
GS: How well does this color work in a multicolored deck with more than one color? What's the one color that shadow would work with best in a two-colored deck, for instance?
FW: The benefit of the shadow deck is that it uses sacrifice--both sacrifice of standing armies and sacrifice of corpses. Since you tend to find plenty of both on every battlefield, shadow actually works just fine paired with fire, nature, or frost.
GS: Finally, is there anything else you'd like to add about shadow cards, BattleForge, the beta, or anything else?
FW: Most of all I would like to thank the beta players. We received tons of valuable feedback that we were able to incorporate and use to improve the game. The team had lots of fun playing in the beta, even if we have to accept that there are people out there who are better than us at the game.