Ancestory, An In-Depth Review

7.8 TCG RATING
Gameplay: 7/10
Sounds: 8/10
Graphics: 9/10

Excellent graphics and special effects. | Gameplay mechanics prevent snowballing.

No multi-platform support. | Lacks a sense of urgency, with a slower pace of gameplay.

PC

$14.99 for the full game.

October 14,2015

English

Ancestory is a tactical turn-based card game set on a 3D battlefield. Take control of a Shaman and control strategically-placed Totems to win the game. You can summon Minions and cast powerful Spells to help you accomplish this. Ancestory is a colorful, bright, and humorous game with a lot of potential. What will your Ancestory be?

Can Ancestory deliver the goods, or will it be Ances-history? Read on to find out…

Shaman

You are a Shaman and you need to control Totems to score points. Earn enough points and you’ll beat the rival Shaman and his tribe. Ancestory has a dark but “cutesy” look to it that feels both inviting and unique.

GAMEPLAY

Ancestory shares some similarities to multiple different CCGs and tactical turn-based games, but has enough uniqueness to separate it from the crowd. Using a 3D battlefield is nothing new for a card game, but Ancestory adds in a “King of the Hill” style game mechanic. You will need to control Totems in order to earn the points needed to win the game against your opponent.

There will be several Totems in strategic locations on the battlefield with one or two within easy reach. You should always be able to control at least one Totem per turn, but the goal is to control more than the opponent in order to score more points per turn than they can. You can steal enemy-controlled Totems, so long as they have no characters there (Shaman or Minion).

Shamans are unable to attack directly and instead use their Minions and Spells to inflict damage on the enemy characters. To summon a Minion or cast a Spell, you will have to meet its Mana cost. The card template is similar to other popular TCGs/CCGs, with the addition of Movement and Range because you can shuffle around the battlefield. By moving your Shaman, you can use him to capture Totems. You’ll want to keep him safe — protect him using your Minions and keep him out of the casting range of Spells.

Attack

Your Minions are your primary damage dealers against the opposing Shaman. You can easily get by with very few Minions and have a deck full of damage Spells instead, if you wish!

Minions are your primary source of damage against the opponent. They come in all shapes and sizes and are decently detailed (if you turn the graphics options up) and sometimes will even express a comical quip or two. There is a visibility issue when having too many Minions at once, especially on the cramped battlefield when you’re trying to move them around or attack something adjacent to you and a wall.

The 3D battlefields are nice to look at and are highly detailed. You can zoom in and out and pan around the map using the mouse. Using the keyboard, you can move the camera across the map. You’ll find yourself doing this to not only look at the game from different angles for fun, but because you must in order to see what’s going on. There are times I could not select my characters or move them where I wanted because the 3D environment prevented me from seeing where I could go. It is nice to have obstacles to aid to your strategies, but they tend to be more obtrusive to movement and selecting attack targets than not.

The pace of the game is relatively slow. I often found myself twiddling my thumbs whilst waiting for my opponent to make their plays, but such is the case with any turn-based PvP game. You’ll also spend a lot of time moving and attacking with your Minions one at a time. This makes the whole gameplay process feel long-winded and drawn out. It’s a necessity, but there is a distinct lack of tension or excitement when doing so.

On the plus side, there is a lot of strategic depth to the game based on the positioning of your Shaman and Minions. Controlling the Totems is not an easy task, and your Minions can be killed in one shot by powerful Spells. You can also earn additional points by killing the enemy Shaman. You shouldn’t make this your priority, but as an additional means to earn points needed to win. It also gives you extra incentive to protect your own Shaman!

Great-balls-of-fire

Make it rain… fire! Powerful Spells can decimate the opponent faster than your Minions. This is because your cast range for Spells is far greater than your range for summoning Minions – who can’t act on the turn they’re summoned.

MODES AND FEATURES

Single player and Multiplayer are the two main game modes in Ancestory. Both offer the same experience, but one involves playing against real players. During the single player mode you can choose the deck the A.I. opponent will use and the 3D battlefield you’ll fight in. The battles shouldn’t be too difficult and serve as a great way to test your decks while also enhancing your basic skills and strategies. I’d love to see more of a story campaign here, but that’s something the developers might work on in the future.

Multiplayer is far more engaging as there is an element of unpredictability compared to an A.I. opponent. The thing you may lack is a sense of good pacing, because the turns will be even longer than if you were playing the A.I. opponent, unfortunately. This is definitely in the camp of slower, “thinkier” games — so “Hearthstone it ain’t”, but that’s a good thing for those wanting a slightly meatier, more strategic game.

Because the game is paid for upfront, there is no gated content and no booster packs to be purchased, thank goodness. You get everything you need at the start and additional cards are unlocked as you level your profile. This gives some excitement to the deckbuilding and gives you something to shoot for in the long-term.

Deckbuilding

Ancestory has a very simple and efficient deck builder that works in the same way as the Hearthstone deckbuilder.

DECKBUILDING AND STRATEGY

If you’ve played Hearthstone then you’ll be more than familiar with the deckbuilder in Ancestory. Click the cards you want in your deck and they’ll be added quickly and easily. You can have a maximum of 4 of any card in your deck. The list of cards currently in your deck is shown on the left with the available cards in the middle. Leveling up by playing any single or multiplayer game will grant you access to additional cards later.

You can choose a different icon for the many different decks you’ll create. There isn’t a huge card pool, but there is plenty of scope to create specific decks that work around one or two mechanics. I was able to build a deck that focused solely on direct damage to the enemy Shaman and Minions, with very few Minions of my own. (I love trying to build “creatureless” decks in the games I play, just to see if it’s possible!) This gives you an advantage against a player whose deck is Minion-heavy and lacks the Spells required to eliminate your Minions as efficiently as you can.

Some Minions are more powerful than others, and their Mana cost will rise accordingly. Don’t be tempted to put every powerful Minion and Spell in at a quantity of 4, otherwise you’ll not be able to play them until the late game, and at one-per-turn. This will leave you outpaced by the opponent and you’ll likely lose before you capture all the Totems on the battlefield.

Capture-Totems

Capture these Totems to win. The more you hold, the more points you score each turn. I love the detail to the 3D environments, even if they are simple. They are very effective at adding to the overall mood of the game which is magical and mystical in feel.

FINAL THOUGHTS

There are plenty of reasons to like Ancestory. It has a great balance of gameplay, where no player can snowball the other too quickly. There is always the opportunity to come back from a bad situation, and the path to victory is fairly slow. This will ensure games will last more than a few turns, which is something some fast-paced TCGs/CCGs suffer from.

The graphics and sounds fit the theme well, and I love the little quips your Minions would often say as a result of being spawned or when they’re issued a command. The special effects given to the Spells and some of the abilities are very pleasing to watch. You can also turn down the graphics level, which makes the game very accessible for those who are running it on potatoes (that’s gamer slang for older, low-spec machines).

The only thing that Ancestory lacks at times is a sense of urgency or excitement. Sure, everything looks great and the game has some solid mechanics, but it lacks that sense of gripping competition that holds your attention. I found my own attention waning far too often for me to be having a blast with the game, but when I want to play something that’s strategic but a bit more relaxing or meditative, this would be a go-to game for that.

Perhaps that’s just a personal thing for me, and maybe you’ll fall in love with Ancestory. There is no premium content to speak of and there are frequent updates from the developers who recently added more free content to the game. So you’ll be well looked after, long after purchasing this one!

For more screenshots, click here.

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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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