BattleForge Updated Hands-On - Co-Op, Deck-Building, Single-Player

We take to the battlefield in this unusual hybrid strategy game.

What would happen if the nerds who play collectible-card games challenged the nerds who play real-time strategy games to a fight? Given that we're both kinds of nerds, we feel pretty safe in saying that basically nothing would happen, other than an empty threat or two and some awkward silence. EA Phenomic has decided to focus on a conflict that people might actually want to see with BattleForge, a hybrid game that will offer the base-building and marching armies of real-time strategy games, plus the card-hoarding and deck-building strategy of a collectible-card game. The result: more or less what we just played at a recent press event.

In our time with the game, we had the opportunity to play with a fully unlocked account with access to all cards in the game from all four colored suits: frost (blue), fire (red), nature (green), and shadow (purple). These four colors all contain creatures, structures, and shiny magic spell effects that are in keeping with the theme of each color's abilities. Fire, as you might imagine, is very offense-focused and has many ferocious melee fighters and combustion-based magics; frost is defense-focused and has many heavily armored troops and freezing spells; nature is focused on healing; and shadow brings undead armies and unstable bonuses (which both help and hurt their user) to the table.

Our session with the game began with some cooperative multiplayer scenarios, which we played with a preset nature deck. BattleForge is primarily an online multiplayer game (there are no computer-controlled bot players that you can use to fill out a multiplayer session), so the game has a central interface reminiscent of an online game lobby, from which you can jump to buying card packs online, auctioning cards, messaging your friends, and getting into a co-op game. Starting up a co-op session is a matter of finding your friends online and inviting them to a group, which persists outside of a match. The player who creates a multiplayer session is considered the group leader and decides which maps to play next. For the purposes of our multiplayer session, every mission on the game's overworld map was made available, including numerous four-player maps, a few smaller duel-size maps, and the largest six-versus-six multiplayer maps, which we unfortunately did not get a chance to try.

You'll summon armies from your deck of cards to march into battle in BattleForge.

Our co-op session was less than successful, largely because we and our fellow players were new to the game and were less interested in following the mission objectives (there are specific, location-based objectives on every map) and more interested in fooling around with our cards and spells. As we quickly learned, nature is perhaps the gentlest of all of BattleForge's colors, but it can be a resilient combatant, and with enough creatures gathered together using the game's "select all" command (keyboard "="), even the soft-spoken forces of nature can pose a strong threat--especially if you're a greedy jerk who steals all of the resources.

The first of BattleForge's two resources is an ever-increasing generic magic pool, which you use to summon more creatures, structures, and magic spells. You can increase this pool by discovering and capturing additional magic towers. You start off most matches with two towers in your possession, as well as a single monument. The monument is the game's second resource, and you can capture and attune these to one of the four colors to grant you an additional magic point of that color, which can then help you satisfy the casting cost of either more-expensive cards of the same color or cards of a different color.

For instance, playing a purely green deck, we had several low-level cards that required only a single green monument point as a prerequisite to summon, but we also had several higher-level critters that required us to have two, three, or even four green-attuned monuments under our control to bring into play. Monument capture will be especially important for players who build decks with more than one color; even though playing both blue and red in the same deck gives you more flexibility, you'll also need at least one blue-attuned monument and one red-attuned monument to start summoning cards of both colors.

The game's creatures come in all shapes and sizes, and many have powerful abilities.

In our brief time in co-op, we found that the game seems to start with the typical real-time strategy pace of churning out a couple of cheap units and immediately sending them out to explore new territory that starts out shrouded by black fog of war. This pace changes once you store up a pile of magic-pool points and definitely increases once you capture a monument or two to unlock higher-level cards with more-expensive requirements. BattleForge lets you summon friendly units and structures anywhere near either a friendly ground unit (flying units don't count) or a friendly building. And you can do this summoning immediately, without having to click on a base to select it, queue it up, and push it out along a waypoint.

The net effect is that once a fight breaks out in enemy territory that you've scouted, you can summon a bunch of armies right there as long as you have some ground troops in the area. This means that you can summon as many armies as you can afford to summon immediately, as well as any defensive towers if you care to set up a perimeter on the fly, say, around some newly captured towers and monuments. You can also try to get cute by sneaking a single unit around enemy territory to get yourself line of sight (so that you can instantly summon an army in the vicinity on your enemy's flank), but most of BattleForge's maps seem to be designed around choke points that stop this kind of sneaky behavior and force conflicts instead.

After we got through a handful of co-op sessions, we then struck out on our own, first playing with the deck editor to put together what were probably the worst BattleForge decks ever created, considering our limited experience. The deck editor lets you delete, edit, and create decks by simply dragging and dropping whichever cards are in your collection into your deck for use in later play; there's even a "sandbox" mode that also lets you drag and drop the critters, buildings, and spells from each card into a real-time, "safe" environment to see how they move and perform in practice.

Smartly building decks and combining forces will be your key to victory.

Presumably, the best decks will strike a balance between cards that are inexpensive to bring into play to start the game, expensive and powerful critters that can be brought out later to turn the tide of battle, and a handful of structures and spell effects that can be used to augment whichever strategy you're going after. For instance, frost has several cards that can heap defensive bonuses on units, and nature has cards that can heal units, so a frost/nature deck could conceivably be built around cheap creatures that can take a pounding because they're constantly being protected by frost spells and healed by nature spells. Shadow has several cards that are keyed off of the number of enemy corpses on the battlefield, and fire has several explosively damaging spells that affect all enemies in an area, so a fire/shadow deck could be targeted to blast as many critters in one place as possible, and then bring in corpse-enhanced creatures to benefit from the carnage with additional attack power.

This unusual and distinctive real-time strategy/card game hybrid is currently in a beta-testing state. BattleForge is scheduled for release next month.

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34 comments
gamescottsman
gamescottsman

Wish this was SIngle player to / or had bots/skirmish mode :/

mtyge
mtyge

i don't now if you ppl now this but, when you buy the game you get alot of BF points to buy cards, it dose'nt make other ppl spend endless of money because when they have there final deck they can stop spend, yes there are gonna get lots of money for those ppl who don't now when to stop to get new cards, but after i say that, im really excited to try the game after it speak much to me. P.S other companys is surely gonna copy the idea of this game

ENVYHYSTERIA
ENVYHYSTERIA

once again here say keeps going on and on. im very interested in this game bc of the difference it has w. all other rts games. that alone has my attention now if you have to buy cards so be it! if you dont want to then dont! obviously from what im gathering you can achieve getting the bada$$ cards w/ trading and being smart winning matches. why does every game in the forums become a bittchh fest

TENGILL29
TENGILL29

You need to pay real money to get packs of cards to add ingame. Micro transaktion is what its calld. This game is nothing new tho. It looks a LOT like this game: https://www.playsaga.com/saga_index.php THe diff is this game has better graffic and you can have cards from all sides. In SAGA you are stuck with one side at a time. Still i like SAGA better as you get a "non battle" part where you build your city and manage your troops.

xSithiSx
xSithiSx

your so stubborn of a person u would cancel a pre order because of no AI? people dont know how to make sacrifices nowadays.

aceargon
aceargon

No AI Coop compelled me to cancel my order at EB Games. I sponsor 4 player LAN parties at my place all the time and we enjoy the COOP part. Bummer, because we have really enjoyed Spellforce 2.

xSithiSx
xSithiSx

Are you guys positive your getting all of the facts straight about how to get cards? If its one problem people have its assuming something is true because they heard it from another "leet gamer". Now this is going to spread like disease and will turn many people off to the game, so I ask again... are you POSITIVE (that means, have you read it from the devs that you will have to spend real money on cards?).

xSithiSx
xSithiSx

victor what are you talking about? I just got done with my fourth single player mission on the beta, I think they did a great job.

victorvndoom
victorvndoom

have played the game as beta found it lacked a big single player campaign to test for players.

itachi100
itachi100

@ Gelugon_baat nope, you spend your hard earned cash to finish an incomplete game x-(

mrklorox
mrklorox

Wow... this sounds rather interesting. More strategic than traditional RTS since you have to configure a deck, and are stuck with that deck while the mach is in progress. And more tactical with the light resource management and universal summoning. I don't like the bot-less aspect however. I tend to shy away from online RTS due to the brutal rape factor.

Blueblaze02
Blueblaze02

@ doogie276 Yes you do the money you get is for upgrades, and the cards you get at the end of scenarios are upgrades for the cards you have

doogie276
doogie276

You don't buy cards wiht real money, you get the "money" from matches, and the campaign matches also loot random cards at the end so yea....

The_Free-Man
The_Free-Man

in the beta you can auction off cards and recieve BF points to buy cards with, if you are a good businessman within a week you can get enough points to buy the most powerful creatures even if you started off only with your starting points but it isnt worth it anyways.......... looks like the private servers for this will be alot cheaper LOL :)

Geoneo999
Geoneo999

Played the Beta pretty fun but it just plain sucks that you have to pay for the cards

rad2071
rad2071

wtf i read this along time ago on here

Verno77
Verno77

I'm very impressed with EA bringing a few new IPs to the table instead of going with sequels, especial in these ruff economic times. Battle Forge, Henry Hatsworth, Dead Space, and Dante's Inferno, just to name a few. Also EA's partnership with Steven Spielberg is good. Edit: Wait! You have to pay for cards, that sucks. I guess they're just trying to be "realistic" though. Perhaps a lower price for the game could off-set the price of card buying.

slickr
slickr

If they want it to work they have to make another way to get cards, for example a combination of matches played and won, say you've played 50 matches and won 10 of them you get 5 new cards, but if you won all 50 of them you get 25 new cards

leoleez
leoleez

I've been playing it as well, its fun. However there are a few issues that made me defect from it. As an RTS it is basic, all my hardcore friends stopped playing the beta as it was "all right" The cards are cool, but as they add on more and more cards you need to buy the packs as you need to keep up with current strategies. It seems to be an endless cycle... and you get at best only moderately good cards, even your strongest will be trumped by most of the cards that are rare and you need to buy by boosters or the really rudimentary auction house. They also put weird and arbitrary squad fighting rules and if you want units to stop moving, well have fun with that.

enix165
enix165

Looks really...odd, but odd doesn't have to be bad, I'll look into it. =)

Llothos
Llothos

I can honestly say that this game is lots of fun! I've been in the beta for almost a month now and I've been pretty impressed by it. When you get the game you will get 4 "starter" decks and 3000battleforge points (what you use to buy cards with) each pack is 250 points or you can buy a tome deck for 1250 which is 6 packs of cards. Now you can leave them as tome cards which are used to play against other players who have done the same thing (that way it makes it fair, there is none of the "they bought more cards and can build better deck" you all start out with 6 packs of cards to make your decks with) From what I understand you will be able to buy BF points at the rate of 2000 for $20 (box style, comparable to 60-day cards from wow or whatever) or you can buy them online at various rates. This game is going to be free to play (no monthly costs), the only costs are if you WANT to buy more cards, you don't really have to. You could in theory trade all the cards you don't want away to get cards you do want! If you can't afford to buy points one month then don't, it's not going to make you any worse of a player and you can still play the game regardless. Now if you can't afford your montly subsription to whatever mmo you play then you can't keep enjoying it! In theory you could not spend a dime on more cards and get everything you need! I'd say check out the beta before it's done and if you like it great, if you don't then oh well!

CDudu
CDudu

I think after some time they understand that the idea to pay for cards will fail and they will start to give them for free.

xeonexs
xeonexs

It seem they are trying to make money on the card in the same way Poke-your-mom have, but only kids are into that, its will fail

HufflePuff-TLH
HufflePuff-TLH

i agree with wolfienigma, it truely sucks that you have to pay for the cards, it will prob. limit the number of players aswell, kinda stupid imo, it looks like a great game. and maeby it would have been a big hit, if it was more accessible.

wolfienigma
wolfienigma

Nice idea, but it's a shame that the people who want to be competitive in this game will have to spend Hundreds of dollars on buying new cards. I'll pass.

bankyoyo
bankyoyo

I would like the free tracks.

ghostlyrics
ghostlyrics

hm... makes me wanna have the soundtrack but not the actual game...

Ghost777
Ghost777

I am in the beta and can say this game is indeed fun. It is in a way RTS lite. Base building is minimal, it consists more of resource collecting and the occasional placement of buildings depending on playstyle. You can play completely buildingless if you wanted. For Tentculat: currently it seems like you need to buy card packs even for the singleplayer campaigns. Wouldn't be so bad if you could buy packs for specific colors. But thats a gripe that'll never change.

Tentaculat
Tentaculat

Looks like it'd be MTG turned into an RTS. Looks like a great combo altho I do wonder if I'd have to buy cards or it all comes in the game. If it's the former, then no thanks.

rad2071
rad2071

hopefully it will be cool, as it has caught my attention

balrogthane
balrogthane

Sounds pretty cool, really. I'm intrigued by the idea of mixing & matching your choices-- instead of 'picking a side' with its own weaknesses and strengths, you have to consider the strengths of other sides. My own exposure to trading card games is pretty low, so maybe what seems so neat to me is old news to most... but I can't think of any RTSes that work this way.