BattleCON Online – Early Preview

BatteCON Online is a card-based duel system that is being ported from the immensely popular tabletop version, taking the fight online against new and old friends around the world. In BattleCON you combine cards to perform fighting moves against one another in epic, all-out battles. Think Street Fighter, but using cards instead of fiddly controls to try and pull off that Hadouken!

Level 99 Games, the guys behind the Kickstarter campaign for BattleCON Online are aiming to bring the game to life on multiple platforms. PC, Mac, Android, and iOS will all be supported, with cross-platform play available on all. The game is already fully funded on Kickstarter, but there is still time to back it if you really want in on the closed Beta happening this December, plus some extras that will be exclusive for Kickstarter Backers only.

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These are some of the Style and Base cards available in BattleCON Online. They change with the character selected and will influence the fight. Think of it like Street Fighter, but with cards!

Gameplay

(If you’re already familiar with the gameplay, feel free to skip to the next section of the preview!) In BattleCON, there are two players who face off against one another in an epic duel. At the start of the game you choose which character you wish to play as. This will shape some of the Style and Base cards you can use in your combinations. The characters I got to see had two very distinctive play styles. We’ve been promised a whole cast of characters from the original card game to choose from, along with some alternative costumes. Some simply change the look of a character, whilst others can give the characters some new powers.

All characters can be free-to-play during the weekly roster changes so you can get a taste of all of them. This sounds great — you can eventually get to try out everyone if you don’t want to purchase extra characters. Alternatively, you can purchase them to unlock them permanently. Once you’ve selected your character, you will move on to the card pairings. Here you will get all of that character’s cards, but before you can play, you’ll need to select two pairs of cards to be discarded. The game can suggest its recommended pairings if you feel less confident in choosing for yourself. Each pair must consist of a Style and Base card, as do all combat pairings. You’ll get these back later, don’t worry.

Now the duel can actually begin! A duel will last for 15 Beats (turns), or until a player reduces the other player’s health from twenty to zero. At the start of the Beat you select your combat pairings from the remaining cards in your hand. These are the cards you did not discard. The next step is to Ante any tokens if you have any to Ante. These can often have differing effects and some characters will have more than others at any given time. For example one character uses Tokens to avoid damage through their other cards. When spent they are discarded, but you can earn more through other card effects.

The combat pairings are then revealed at the same time from both players. This is where we determine Priority of who attacks and resolves their effects first. Some cards will carry effects that can trigger on reveal, before a Beat, or at other times throughout the duel. Some can carry effects to reduce damage or prevent you from being stunned by the other player. There is no need to rush your picks as you have a timer and the standard is set to 90 seconds. Notice how the card edges match up? This way, you can combine cards for different combat values and effects. It’s what makes the game so amazingly unique.

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The current Alpha build looks promising and the artwork for the cards is quite detailed. I’m hoping for more combat animations and visual effects in the final release, though!

Gameplay Continued…

The player with Priority is considered the active player whilst the other is the reactive player. Holding priority is important when all you need is a small amount of damage to win. Getting that through before your opponent can react can win or lose a duel. The combined Power number between both cards in a pair is applied for damage calculation. This number will only land if the attack is within the combined Range of both played cards.

Often, cards will move a character before the attack begins. If you’re playing defensively and are up against a close range opponent, cards with Push or Retreat traits will put you out of harm’s way. If the reactive player isn’t stunned by the attack, they will then perform the attack from their combined cards. They follow the same rules as the active player and must be within Range to perform the attack.

Most effects are mandatory with very few optional effects coming into play. If your character cannot fulfill the requirement, the effect is void. This can be useful if the effect would put you in a difficult position. I really loved the look of how the game resolves all the effects for you. The tabletop version has so many effects going on at one time that it would often be far too easy to be confused as to what to do and when. The fact the digital game will take care of all of this for you is a huge relief!

Finally, the Beat ends and we go into the recycling phase. Here the current combat cards are added to the discard pile, whilst another comes back into your hand. This means you have to wait a couple of turns before replaying a card. It gives the game a little bit of a “Rock, Paper, Scissors” element in that some pairings are obviously stronger than others, depending on the situation.

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We’ve been promised a plethora of game modes and features. I’m looking forward to the online tournaments and weekly events that will be held over the life the game. Bring it on, ladies and gents!

Features

BattleCON is looking like it will have a ton of modes and features for you to play. First we have the straight port of the tabletop version. This is the strategic play option and plays with traditional rules. Next, there is going to be a Solo play mode that will have its own sub-modes, such as Story, Training, and Arcade modes. These will keep you busy when some of your friends aren’t yet online.

Online play is what this game aims to focus on. Events, Tournaments, and organized play will be at the core of the online community play options. They also aim to have weekly challenges, daily quests, and special limited-time events with unique rules for you to try your hand at. Turbo mode is a fast, frenzied, and energetic battle mode with a timer — I am looking forward to this one the most!

Ranked play will put you against some of the toughest players the game has to offer as you try to obtain the number one spot in the ladder. Ranked play will be available for both the Strategic and Turbo modes. You can also have custom game lobbies with special rules that will shake things up a bit too. All of this sounds pretty epic and I’m just hoping it will all be executed smoothly and beautifully.

I love in-game customization a lot, so clearly I will be looking forward to the in-game unlocks and character progression that will be on offer. Some of these can be unlocked from events and competing in dungeons for Gold. However the majority will likely be through real money purchases. Nevertheless, this is something I am incredibly excited about!

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BattleCON Online will be a cross-platform game over PC, Mac, Android, and iOS devices. With so many platforms all online at the same time, you’ll never be short of willing victims… I mean, *cough* … opponents!

First Impressions

BattleCON already has a huge following from its long and healthy life as a tabletop card battle system. There is little stopping this game from being a huge success given the core game is so great to begin with — it just needs to be implemented digitally with the same love and care that went into the original design. So far, it appears to have the right blend of amazing looks and many engaging features to intrigue those who are considering a download through their respective app stores.

The character roster is going to be great for the game, but frequent rotation will be necessary to keep the game from getting stale. Blizzard’s Heroes of the Storm does this very well, and players often go on to purchase their favorite characters from these rotations so it’s a smart business move, too. I’m sure that this will be the case for BattleCON Online also. I’m hoping that the game isn’t going to be too reliant on micro-purchases though, as this would spoil the fun of having goals and achievements to unlock during the gameplay.

I can’t wait to get my hands on the Beta this December (yes, I’ve backed it!) and participating in some epic duels against people online. I’m also looking forward to the events and am hoping these will change frequently so that it can keep my interest. I need my games to have variety and different ways of playing, and this looks like it will have more than enough to keep most people satisfied for a long time! If you like the look of BattleCON Online, check out their Kickstarter and back it before you miss out on the exclusives!

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Zac Phoenix
Author: Zac Phoenix View all posts by
Zac Phoenix graduated with First Class Honors in Philosophy, Religion and Ethics and has been playing strategy card games since childhood. He has a keen interest in the underlying mechanics and player interactions of trading card games, as well as tabletop game design in the digital space. He also designs card games in his spare time.

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