BloodRealm: Battlegrounds is an online collectible card game where you take your hero into battle against gods themselves in an attempt to defeat their troops and destroy them. It’s a game of maniacal god destruction, bloody combat and magical devastation. It sounds too dramatic to be true – killing ancient gods with powerful troops and spells? You must be either brave or stupid (or both) to attempt such a thing, surely?
So what is the game actually like? Read on to find out…
BloodRealm: Battlegrounds follows a well-worn path of a fantasy CCG that utilizes a lane combat battlefield. Players take the form of a heroic Champion that has decks of 20 cards containing troops and spells. Champions have Health, Mana, Attack and ‘Blood’ (which is a secondary resource to Mana, used for activating the Champion’s abilities).
Champions take turns playing cards into the slots on the battlefield, of which there are 4 per player. A troop costs Mana equal to their Mana cost which is paid for out of the Champion’s current Mana amount. Each turn, they gain a certain amount of Mana (and this increases over time the more you play the game and level up your character). The Champion also gains one Blood per turn (unless other cards add to or subtract from it). Blood is used to pay for one of the Champion’s special abilities, of which they have three, but you’ll need to unlock two of them through leveling up the Champion in the single-player campaign.
Troops played to a slot on the field won’t attack that turn, and will have to wait until the following turn. They attack only the troop in the slot in front of them, and if there is no troop there, they will attack the opponent’s Champion. It is worth noting that when a troop attacks another, only the attacking troop will deal damage – this is in contrast to a lot of other TCGs/CCGs where troops will deal damage to each other at the same time. A big part of the strategy in this game then is to manage the placement and timing of troops.
Troops’ Health does not replenish, therefore this game has what we call “sticky damage” – it doesn’t refresh at the end of the turn. There is also no opportunity for player interaction during the other player’s turn – you’ll have to wait until your turn to be able to do anything. All spells, troops and triggered abilities have instant effects. Tactics are short-term as you try to work out the best use of the cards and Mana at hand that turn, so you don’t really have to think too far forward while playing this game. It’s a bit simpler and more relaxing than more complex, intense TCGs like Magic: the Gathering.
Modes and Features
The single-player campaign of BloodRealm: Battlegrounds takes you very loosely through the game’s story of being a god-destroyer. You tackle different gods and goddesses through a series of battles, first working your way through their Champions (which each come with uniquely crafted decks based on their particular “flavor”) before challenging the god or goddess directly themselves. And then you kill them. How blasphemous. Alas, there is not really much room for exploring the story as it’s all rather two-dimensional, even though the premise itself is a really interesting one that could be explored a bit further. You’ll earn special “god packs” of cards when you defeat a deity though, and these can have some pretty good cards in them too.
There is only one other way to play the game and that is PvP in the Arena. There are casual and ranked games, although in the PC Steam early access version of the game the Ranked play and tournaments has yet to be implemented. Tournaments and prize pools are in the works though and there is some nice gold chest placeholder art that is tempting enough to think something cool will be going on here once it’s finally live.
You can purchase packs for gold or real money and this is the only type of pack you can buy so far. You can buy these 6-card packs for 100 gold each, and at this price you can actually earn these just by playing the game since the game also has “Quests” which are like achievements that will reward you with gold and a crafting currency called Life Shards when completed.
You can use these Life Shards to craft cards from any of the game’s factions if you have enough of it, and you can also “break” cards to take some Life Shards out of them if you don’t mind destroying the card. This helps make the cards in the game a bit more accessible, but some of the stronger / rarer cards can still be quite expensive to obtain in this way.
Deckbuilding and Strategy
Most of the strategy in BloodRealm: Battlegrounds seems to be based around the six factions, which they call “Realms of Magic”: Myth, Nature, Shadow, Order, Light and Chaos. You can probably guess what each of these roughly accord to thematically and in terms of gameplay mechanics. Myth has lots of mages and magic, Nature has beasts, elves and druids, Shadow has dark magic and twisted beings, Order has human knights and warriors, Light has oracles, prophets and clerics, and Chaos has orcs, wild monsters and firey spellcasters.
The biggest restriction in the game here is that you can only add cards to your Champion’s deck that match the Realms of Magic they possess. Each Champion has a different two-realm combination. It is literally impossible to add any other cards from other realms, so you’re already restricted here in your strategic choices. The card pool for each Realm is not all that big yet either, making the strategy even more limited.
Most of the strategy is short-range tactics: buffing other troops when this troop enters the field, gaining shields to protect against damage, dealing damage to opposing troops, etc. There aren’t too many radically different deck strategies yet, and most of the variance comes with the differing Champion abilities as much as it does the Realms of Magic that your Champion has access to. I hope that with the growth of the game, there will come more radically different kinds of decks and ways to play the game.
BloodRealm: Battlegrounds is a solid lane combat game that has all the core features you’d want from a digital collectible card game: different factions with varied strategies, cool characters with unique powers to trigger, great art and sound design. However it does still feel a little bit “thin” at the moment; ranked play is still yet to come to the Steam version (which is admittedly in Early Access, so needs time to grow into its full potential) and aside from the campaign and casual PvP, it doesn’t feel like there’s too much else to do in this game yet. It may be that the developers are more focused on delivering a good PvP experience rather than lots of bells and whistles with alternate play modes and other features.
I think BloodRealm has the foundation of a good game, provided it continues to be developed with new gameplay modes, features, and new card sets to expand the somewhat limited card pool. The gorgeous fantasy-themed art alone is worth the price of admission (which, I remind you, is absolutely free). The core gameplay itself is fun enough, if not a familiar affair with nearly all of the combat and gameplay mechanics borrowed from other games. There is no single dominant deck strategy which shows there is a healthy meta-game to the current set of cards available, so at least it’s quite balanced at the moment.
There is nothing groundbreaking in the game’s mechanics, unfortunately, but they are put together solidly enough that there is strong core gameplay here for those looking for a tactical card combat game for fast and straightforward battles. I feel like everything this game does is already done by other games, and a bit better at that; but if you’re a fan of this style of card combat, this is another one for you to sink your teeth into. Play it yourself and see what you think. It’s available on so many platforms, it’s worth giving it a shot on at least one of them.
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