Upcoming Tactics title, Tactical Legends, from Vera Gaming feels like, at its core, an evolution from Chess, spliced with a mercenary motif.
Tactical Legends is an upcoming turn based strategy game from Vera Gaming, despite currently being in an early alpha state the game is already managing to challenge a lot of the accepted conventions of the turn-based tactics genre. It has a slight chess vibe amidst it’s fantasy setting, although it’s completely powered by a system which allows you to assemble your own forces.
With that rather simple sounding premise you might imagine the game is quite feature light – in truth, as you’ll find from playing the game’s alpha demo, it’s more content light than feature light… at the moment.
The gameplay is simple. There are two kings on the battlefield, you are one of them. Each turn you receive 10 gold. You spend this gold on raising levies to fight for you, or on performing the ‘upgrade’ action which unlocks two different unit types to fight for you. Combat proceeds with a turn bar at the bottom of the screen indicating the turn order, and it continues cycling and cycling until one king lays dead, and the other stands slightly less dead. In this it’s a game of forging and reinforcing a front-line to push up until one side stands successful.
The game currently includes a puzzle/skirmish mode which sets specifically mapped challenges to overcome, each having set maps and unit layouts. This as opposed to the standard game where various objects, obstacles, and pieces of debris dot the map, giving the map a different layout to adapt to and use each time.
So, ignoring the word Legends from the title and getting down to the tactics side — after all legends are made not told, and the game is still early in development. The different unit types of the game are; swordsman, archer, healer and assassin. These cornerstones are what you have to work with and they only have basic attacks – although there’s just enough to break the normal rock-paper-scissors of tactics games.
Personally I feel the game NEEDS more skills, classes and varied attacks in order to give the depth needed for the game to earn a decent amount of play time with players, hopefully this will come as development continues.
Let’s go into more depth with these units and my thoughts. First – and most importantly – the swordsman, I’m finding this unit far too over-powered at the moment as it has the highest health, attack statistics and, well, it’s the cheapest unit at 20 gold pieces. Even without a ranged attack the unit is easily the victor in any one-on-one due to it’s sheer power and defence. The king only requires three hits from these tanks in order to die, so play normally ends rapidly when a side runs out of swordsmen. Nerfing it’s damage, limiting it’s moves, or even lowering it’s health slightly would remove the easily grown dependency on this class..
Next in the firing line, the archer. I’m actually happy with the archer since it’s got a decent sized health bar and the ranged attack does -shall we say- reasonable damage. The price tag however, is 30 gold pieces, which is quite a bit considering you’re only earning 10 a turn.
While on the subject of ranged units it’s best to mention the assassin. The character is extremely mobile, and also poisons any enemy it attacks. The assassin costs five gold more than the archer, although you do already need to have spent 30 gold on the upgrade option in order to unlock them. Here is a place where skills could massively differentiate the two troop types – even if those skills were unlocked via a game mechanic.
Finally, comes the healer, who is also unlocked via the upgrade option. The healer should be a lot more useful than they currently are. Healers are extremely squishy, and their range is very restricted – although they can turbo charge a health bar. As such they’re useful for boosting a warrior front line against assassins, but, to be honest, the games I played were normally won or lost by the time advanced units were being used in any such constructive way… and you can just spam swordsmen anyway.
As you only receive 10 gold a turn, and there are no units that cost 10 gold, it’s far more efficient to spend 40 gold on two warriors than it is to do the upgrade and have 10 gold but no extra troops. This is something that needs addressing before launch. There’s solutions to this, of course, and the developers are no doubt planning on implementing them on future builds; tweaking gold costs, map sizes, a few more classes, and unique class skills.
I’ll hopefully check back in with the game when it’s further down development, maybe it will have earned the ‘Legends’ part of it’s title.
You can grab the alpha demo on the developer’s website [here]