Conquest of Champions is a fantasy online tactical game that is a mixture between traditional trading card games and tabletop miniature combat games, utilizing a tiled battleground with unique terrain, Shrines, resource mines and elemental tiles. Players use deck of creatures, spells, enhancements and items to summon onto the field, move around and attack their opponent’s Hero and Shrine.
We have been seeing quite a few new strategy card games recently that have started to implement more of a spacial dimension to the battlefield, bridging the gap between the tactical turn-based grid combat of video games with the card deck building, creature and spell casting of collectible card games.
So how well does Conquest of Champions achieve this mixture of genres and is the end result a good game or not? Read on to find out…
Conquest of Champions contains a variety of unique and innovative features and mechanics, but most of what you’ll see here is present in other games from each of the genres it borrows heavily from. On the TCG/CCG side of the equation, you bring a deck of at least 22 cards to the table, which is a mixture of creatures, spells, items and enhancements. These cost gems to cast/summon, which are generated by the battlefield’s resource Mines.
Mines are hotly contested resource generation points across the map. You have to create new Mines on tiles that have mounds of dirt showing that they are undeveloped Mines. You can even attack and destroy opponent’s Mines if you get close enough to them, so a lot of this game focuses around managing your resources carefully: constructing new Mines, enhancing them with spells so that they produce more gems for you each turn, and even trying to destroy some of your opponent’s Mines as this will stunt their ability to play as many cards as you.
There are also summon tiles on the grid which are the only places you can summon creatures onto the battlefield, and sometimes the map will have a few neutral ones in the middle that you can capture under your control if you move one of your units over them. There are three different battlefields: Mountains, Forests and Underdepths and the terrain layouts will even change for each one of these.
Each deck is built around a Hero that has their own abilities and can be “transformed” into a bigger and better form that sees their stats increase while they also gain a new ability. Each Hero belongs to one of the game’s three Factions which also determines what cards you can put into your deck, as you cannot mix the Factions currently. This is discussed more in the deckbuilding section below.
During a match, you have two objectives in order to win: kill the enemy’s Hero, which is actually a large unit on the battlefield alongside whichever other creatures each player summons, and to destroy the opponent’s Shrine, a structure that has no purpose other than to be the objective for each player to protect (or destroy, if belonging to the enemy). If the Shrine is destroyed too early on, it can start to recover some of its health, but a dead Hero will never come back from the grave. It’s certainly interesting to have two different objectives you need to complete, as this beats the usual “kill your enemy Hero” that most digital TCGs go for these days. It creates interesting tactical situations where you have to work out what to attack and destroy first, and see what your opponent is also doing.
Creatures (called Soldiers) have a range of stats that help them while they are on the field: attack, defense, movement, health and range. These are all used in moving around, attacking and defending while on the battlefield. Attack is the amount of damage a creature will deal to another’s health, if they are within range. The defense stat is how much a character will reduce incoming damage by when they are being attacked. Creatures also have abilities, either triggered active abilities or always-present passive abilities. These have a wide range of effects from summoning new units to dealing damage or even changing the terrain around them.
It’s also worth pointing out that when a creature attacks, it is not attacked back immediately. Creature combat is really fun in this game especially because of the movement and grid angles to the game, as well as the triggered abilities that lots of creatures have. You have to think about where they are on the board as it takes a while to move them around.
How does the gameplay feel, in practice? It’s a very interesting style of gameplay that forces you to think in-between the genres, managing both your hand and deck elements and the tactical board combat and resource management elements. I love that the Mines are scattered all over the map and you have to make a mad dash towards capturing them all before your opponent can. It feels exciting when you’re able to directly influence your opponent’s resources unlike in most other games and I really enjoy that.
Creature combat is really enjoyable as well because you have to choose your targets carefully, but also use as many of your creatures as you can to gang up on those targets to kill them quickly. Nothing is as fun as surrounding an enemy creature with four of your own and battering them into the ground!
Modes and Features
One of the more unique features of Conquest of Champions especially in a game of this kind is an asynchronous play mode that permits you make a move and come back to the game at a later time after your opponent has made their move. While there are also live matches you can enter into, the game trys to entice you into playing these kinds of matches with daily rewards if you do so. Personally I am more interested in playing a live match than a really slow, drawn out asynchronous one, but I can see how this feature will be incredibly useful once the tablet version of the game is released (stated to be in development currently).
As well as asynchronous play, there are the all-important live PvP matches which are where most of the online gameplay is going to be and these work just as advertised – you wait and get paired up against another live player, with 2 minutes each to take your turns. These will earn you the XP needed to level up and unlock all of the rewards listed in the image below.
Once you reach Level 5 in the game, you’ll unlock the Fusion mode which allows you to take several cards and fuse them together to come up with a stronger version of a card than its stock version. At level 8, crafting is unlocked and this sees you being able to craft unique rare cards if you collect enough of the required material cards (you can buy these in packs in the shop or you can earn them from your daily rewards and achievements after winning matches).
Fusion and card crafting are almost required features in digital card games these days. While I’m a little bit cynical about randomly throwing in fusion and card crafting to every card game released just for the sake of it, at least there is a sense of progression that will allow you to strengthen and evolve your card collection over time. I like the feeling that there are always new cards I can work towards fusing to get stronger as it stops me from feeling like my collection of cards is “static”, so I welcome these features.
Deckbuilding and Strategy
Conquest of Champions is highly tactical, meaning that athough your deck will largely have a strategy or play style of its own, gameplay requires you adapt to the circumstances on the fly and react to everything your opponent is doing. It’s hard to know exactly what kinds of cards your opponent will be playing unless they have a strong tribal deck like the Treefolk or Dwarven decks. It’s definitely a unique mechanic to have a Hero physically on the board who can attack and interact with other units by their own abilities. I like the transforms that Heroes can do as well as these add an extra element to gameplay that is really enjoyable.
Deckbuilding is really simple – you just pick your starting Hero and the game weeds out all of the cards you’re not able to put into a deck with that Hero. So all you need to do is go along the row and choose all of the cards you want to include. Interestingly, only 2 copies of any card are permitted in the deck, which means you’ll see more variance in the cards you’re drawing, but remember also that the minimum deck size is quite small at 22 cards. I’ve often found that before a match is over, I’ve already drawn all of my cards even though I could really do with some more, so it’s probably not good to build with the minimum in mind all the time. Around 30 cards seems to be a good number.
One of the biggest deckbuilding restrictions is the fact that you can only build with one faction at a time, and there’s a little bit of variety within the factions in terms of strategy but honestly not as broad as it could be. Hopefully future card sets will expand upon this.
The three factions are Stonehold, Briarwood and Embercult. Stonehold is primarily made up of mining and warrior-focused Dwarves, along with some stone golems and constructs. They have a lot of combat effects and tribal buff abilities as well as some effects that interact with mines. Briarwood is full of Elves, Treefolk, beasts and other forest-based creatures that like to heal and strengthen one another. Lastly is Embercult, which is full of Demons and Undead-type creatures. They focus strategically on a lot of direct damage and sacrifice-type effects.
Conquest of Champions just oozes quality of production. From the art and engaging character animations, which are present even on individual cards as you bring up their full view, to the lively sound design and user interface elements. Everything feels top notch. The user interface especially is designed very smartly and I suspect it was designed from the outset with tablet gaming in mind, since a lot of the text bubbles and buttons are very large and clear. Indeed the developers are working on a nearly complete tablet version which is exciting because this is exactly the kind of game that blows the tablet gaming market out of the water when it is released because it feels more like a high quality PC game than a mobile app.
That said, there are some things that are concerning: the battlefield feels a little bit too big at times, and the downside of this is that it can be awkward to scroll up and down just to see a few rows of the grid that are obscured by the fact that the whole battlefield isn’t visible clearly at the same time. You have to move the camera to get a better view of everything, and as someone who likes to be able to see all of the pieces I own and assess the board state with all strategic elements in clear view, this can be a little bit frustrating. However, it’s not enough to tarnish the whole game as you do eventually get used to the size and the odd way of moving the camera.
The free to play model is fairly well implemented, where players don’t feel pushed or nagged into purchasing more premium currency just to play the game normally. That said, you’re definitely going to have a much better advantage if you shell out for a few packs of cards to broaden your deckbuilding options. I like that there is a whole plethora of achievements you can earn in game and these often come with little rewards, like gold, crafting cards and so on. It’s these little rewards along the way that feel so psychologically rewarding in games of this kind these days.
Overall, Conquest of Champions is a really solid start to a game that could be really big in the competitive scene if the card pool grows a bit more. As it stands, this is a unique enough game with large amounts of polish on top that should turn heads and raise interest in both the TCG/CCG world and among turn-based strategy gamers. I recommend checking this one out if you’re a fan of either of these genres.
For more screenshots, click here.
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