Battle for Gea is a fantasy browser-based card game currently in Beta release. Battle for Gea is a different beast from your usual TCG/CCG: while there are cards and they are collectible, nearly everything else about the game defies the typical style of gameplay as seen in other trading card games. Everything from the battlefield layout, card combat resolution and resource system is quite unusual, deviating from the commonly copied combat mechanics of games like Magic: the Gathering and Hearthstone.
So if this game doesn’t use those mechanics, it must do something quite different to make itself stand out – and that’s exactly what Battle For Gea appears to achieve. However, does the game work with all of these unique elements together, or is it ultimately a patchwork of disjointed ideas? Read on to find out…
In Battle for Gea, players each bring a deck of 10 cards to the battlefield. It has certain requirements such as containing a General card and two Support cards matching the Army type of the General. The other 8 cards are units. A General will set the tone of the deck in terms of the Armies type, starting Command and Morale points and other potential effects he/she may have.
Morale are the “life points” of each General and the winner is the General with the most remaining at the end of all of the rounds (usually about 4). Units deal damage to the enemy’s Morale if their attacks are successful.
One of your two Support cards will be randomly selected and placed into the Support slot. Four of your deck’s 8 units will randomly be selected and placed into the unit slots, three in the front row and one in the back row. The one in the back row can attack or intercept attacks from any other unit, whereas units in the front row will attack directly in front of them.
Unit cards and their stats are shown below, as well as their method of attacking and combat resolution. Each unit will also have unique abilities – the top row is always active (unless cancelled out by an enemy card) and the bottom half is activated only if there is another Unit on your side of the field from the same Army. This is called the Army Advantage effect.
Aside from the General and Support cards, there are also sub-types of Unit cards: Infantry, Cavalry, Collosus and Projectiles. These become important when Units have special abilities that can modify attack and damage depending on who they are facing off against. For example, the Hahnobir Unit card, ‘Jacri Lancers’ has the ability “Attack +10 vs Cavalry” while the Legion of Marbas Unit ‘Marbas Destroyers’ has “Strength +2 vs Collosus”. These effects are a big part of the variance of strategy within the game and how combat resolves, which we’ll now look at in detail below.
This system of card combat is very unique, and really quite exciting when played. Many other card games have an element of certainty about a conflict – you can see what Units are attacking and defending and what the result is going to be. Since the attack value of each card is going to need to be boosted with Command points, and the General only has a limited amount to use over the course of the game, combat tends to be incredibly psychological. The strategy involved includes lots of bluffing, under-boosting and over-boosting cards to either save Command points during a less important battle or really going all out and catching your opponent by surprise with a strong attack.
This kind of extra element to conflict resolution is a welcome one in the TCG/CCG genre, which is starting to become a bit stale with the same-ish combat systems repeated in different games constantly. I really enjoy Battle for Gea‘s combat, but it must be said that it joins a few other games now in using this conflict mechanic, such as the mobile games Moonga, Fantasy Rivals and Urban Rivals so it’s not 100% original.
Even so, I think Battle for Gea‘s implementation of this system has perfected it the most – it’s tense and psychological but still strategic, involving a lot of thought before making a move. There’s also a greater deal of customization and flexibility here than in those other games, in both the deckbuilding and combat options available. This does mean that Battle For Gea’s style of gameplay is a little bit slower and more thoughtful than the mobile games mentioned above, but for those wanting a deeper experience in that ‘boosting’ style of combat, this is the best you’ll find.
Battle for Gea focuses a little more heavily on storytelling than most card games, which is difficult to pull off in this genre given the limited ability to tell stories through card combat-type games. However, Battle For Gea pulls this off really well and is rich in lore that is found everywhere: in the campaign, on the cards themselves and in the “Gea” lore section of the website. The Campaign matches all have a reason behind them, following a plot line that unfolds the more you play. The campaign is enjoyable, and sometimes quite challenging as well.
That isn’t the only way to play the game, however. There are other modes as well: War Rooms, Souls’ Battle, and the Challenges Room. In the War Rooms, there are various options available which supposedly engage a real live opponent but with your own unique engagement rules, customizing the battle in some way.
However, I had a hard time figuring out what each one of these War Rooms options actually do, as there is a thematic description of each one rather than a description of how it alters the mechanics of the game. By testing them out, I think one of them forced the battle to continue until all units were exhausted, even though I had run out of Morale earlier in the game. This section of the game could be a little bit clearer, but it does seem to provide a decent PvP multiplayer option with some unique rules.
In the Souls’ Battle, you have a separate map campaign which acts a bit like a board game. As you move across the map winning matches, you’ll collect Souls which can be spent on cards in the Souls Market. I am guessing these cards are not available anywhere else, thereby making them uniquely obtainable through this feature. It’s a fun feature but seems like it would take a while to grind the Souls needed to get any of the cards. Though it does provide an end-game grinding option for those who are finished with the single-player campaigns.
Lastly, the Challenges Room is simply a place where PvP matches can occur. However people need to be in the room for a challenge to be issued, and in the times I have been playing the game I haven’t seen anyone in there, unfortunately. All of my multiplayer games have happened through the War Rooms mode instead.
In the shop you can buy Elite boosters which contain 8 cards with at least one rare or ultra-rare card. No cards are repeated and the cards can be from any alignment and Armies type. There are also more specific Alignment boosters that are cheaper, but have only 4 cards. They do however only consist of cards from that particular alignment with no repeats. This is helpful when you’re trying to build or collect something specific.
You can also buy some pre-made decks to play with – I bought them and found them to be very well balanced and strong overall, so they’re a good “out of the box” option for those not wanting to tinker with deckbuilding. There’s also a player-driven card market where you can buy and sell single cards with other players.
Deckbuilding and Strategy
One very good thing about the way they manage deckbuilding in Battle for Gea is that it doesn’t just throw your whole collection of cards at you and leave it for you to work out how to construct a legal deck. First it asks you to choose which alignment you want your deck to be: Order, Neutral or Chaos. Then it walks you through constructing a legal deck by showing you only the Generals of that alignment, then the Support cards that match the General’s Armies type, then the Units that can go into the deck legally. This is really helpful especially for new players of the game and I really like that they included this feature.
Decks also need to stick to a certain deck point limit in construction if they’re going to be used for a particular purpose. For example, the single-player campaign wants a deck with a points limit of 35, no more, no less. Other modes may allow more or no limit at all, such as certain War Rooms games. Since each card carries its own points value that contribute to this overall deck point cost, you’ll need to be careful when building a deck not to just throw all of your strongest cards in there as you’ll quickly find you have more points than the limit will allow for your chosen game mode. This is where the value of lower-costing cards comes in, because they help allow for stronger, larger-costing cards to exist in your deck.
There are a variety of strategies present in the game, given that there are three alignment types and a total of ten Armies so far as well. This is a huge variety to pick and choose from so it can be overwhelming to know where to start at first. It’s best to work with what you’ve got first to get a feel for how the game works before you start buying new cards. There are also some pre-made alignment decks you can buy that are a good beginning deck.
For example, as shown in the image above, I built a custom Order deck around the General Hetrus who has the ability of always going first in a game. This means I can start attacking straight away with my Angels Army. A lot of the Angels abilities are based around controlling the opponent’s Morale, reducing Attack and Damage values and also cancelling abilities on enemy units. Even within a particular Army, there are variances of strategies so it depends on what cards you get before building a deck, but you’ll still find mechanics-wise that the Armies tend to focus around one or two specific strategies, such as the Draconians’ love of cancelling all enemies’ abilities.
Battle for Gea is a bit of a jointed experience at the moment. The browser-based interface is a little bit clunky to navigate and not the smoothest experience overall. However, if you’re willing to overlook this, you’ll find an extremely deep and rewarding strategic experience with one of the best card combat systems in existence right now.
The art is really consistent and of a high quality, but sometimes feels a bit crowded in among all the decorative borders and other visual elements. I’m also not a fan of their decision to go with a very stylized, decorative font for some rules text as this makes it more difficult to read (I would prefer sentences of text in a sans serif font instead). Otherwise, the actual card art itself is really well done and has some stunning pieces, especially the angelic Seraphim which are amazing to look at. Sound design is still a bit lacking, although the orchestral fantasy music accompanying battles is well made. The battle animations are simple, but effective enough.
The real strength of this game comes with the large variety of cards available and the combat system it uses. If you’re tired of the usual “compare Power/Toughness” style of conflict resolution, Battle for Gea will provide a much more strategic and psychological form of gameplay. I recommend checking it out as it’s a really good game overall and I look forward to seeing it improve over the course of its life.
For more screenshots, click here.
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