Epic Arena is a free-to-play, tactical, turn-based fantasy card battle game that features your cards coming to life on a 3D battlefield. Your choices and tactics will be tested in this deeply engaging and charming title. Deploy knights, archers, monks, and more in order to defeat your opponents in the Arena!
With asynchronous play available to fight numerous people online via the internet as well as single-player modes, Epic Arena gives you options to play the game however you want to play it.
Is Epic Arena really epic, or is it just pretending to be? Read on to find out…
Epic Arena has a lot of intriguing gameplay features that make for an exciting gameplay experience. Every game you play takes place on a 3D battlefield (or Arena) that you can rotate, zoom in, or zoom out of at will. The game uses hexagonal tiles to place Units, scenery, and other objects. Many games have severely limiting camera angles which can make it a strain to see what’s going on. Luckily, this is not the case here. I think that being able to interact with camera angles enhances the experience in Epic Arena and leaves you feeling a lot more involved overall.
There are no resource systems to worry about, so you might be wondering how it works. Instead, each player has 5 actions per turn that can be spent on playing cards, Units, movement, and attacking. The cards can be played from the hand so long as you have actions to take. Units can be deployed to specific zones in the Arena with the opposing Units usually deploying at the opposite end.
The game keeps a genuine balance by making sure that both players have the exact same basic deck of cards, although they have variations through different starter decks. Not only does this change their appearance, it also changes their effects and play style. Despite their effects changing, it does keep a nice balance between them in overall strength. I really like that when I play a game of this online, I can be assured that the opposing player doesn’t have a better deck simply because they paid for it. That makes it a much more level playing field than a lot of other TCGs/CCGs.
There are three decks to choose from in Epic Arena, the Brotherhood of Order, Legion of Chaos, and Pirates. Playing through the missions will give you a feel for how all of the decks and Units play. This is important because once you decide to play online you can choose one of these decks for free. Decks consist of 5 Units and a mixture of cards that can heal, resurrect, or modify statistics. The Units have a similar make-up through all of the decks and will consist of a shooter, healer, magic-caster, defender, and a super Unit. You will probably choose, as I did, the deck that you feel most comfortable with.
True dominance in the Arena comes from the aid of the Power Cards and these are purchased through booster packs. You do get some basic ones to start, but these are weak by comparison to some of the Elite cards available (isn’t it always so? You can’t expect the most powerful stuff up front…). There are cards that can decimate an enemy in a single strike, or grant life to your Units each turn. You may be wondering how this is balanced, considering how well-balanced I said the game is earlier. The balance with these is that you can only play three per fight and only one per turn. These kinds of limitations keep it gated to prevent hosing your opponent too quickly in a short space of time.
Winning a fight can be done in one of two ways. The first is kind of simple — kill all of the enemy’s Units. The second is to destroy an artifact belonging to the opponent. Think of it as a similar win condition to games like DotA2 where you destroy the enemy’s Ancient in their stronghold. The difference with this game is that there are no strongholds and your artifact is always exposed, making it a tempting target for your opponent. I like that there are two victory conditions because sometimes you can change up your strategy on the fly depending on the circumstances of the match.
MODES AND FEATURES
Epic Arena’s missions are relatively quick and easy to play through. The first one will help you get to grips with the different types of Units and is essentially a mini-tutorial for that faction. You can then progress through each of the mission objectives, each offering a hint as to how to complete it. There is always a way to clear each mission in one turn and if you do, you will be rewarded with 3 stars. The more stars you earn in each mission, the more gold you can acquire for purchasing Power Card booster packs. Clearing all of the missions with 3 stars will earn you a 10000 gold reward, so it is definitely worth trying to earn them!
We are offered two online modes to play with once we’re done with our missions:
- Play – This is where you can play casual or ranked matches against online opponents. You can choose from your unlocked decks and play either a Quick battle or Standard play in a larger Arena with more Units. Turns are timed and the pressure mounts when you need to complete your five actions in such a short space of time. It gives the game an almost ‘simultaneous play’ feel to it. I really enjoyed this online mode, as I love a little bit of stress and tension added in to my battles.
- Duels – This mode will give you access to the asynchronous play I mentioned at the start of the review. You can play with friends or against a random stranger. Wait for them to take their turns and to be notified when they do. This option is truly for those who enjoy a far more casual experience. There isn’t a timer for the turns, so you can really think your moves through. Less pressure and stress means more optimum plays. This will suit those who love more of a ‘thinking’ approach to the game rather than the quick reflexes and snappy decision making needed for shorter, timed matches.
There are also purchases that you can make in the store. Booster packs full of Power Cards will enhance the gameplay experience beyond the basic decks. Be sure to grab a few of these as soon as you can, and certainly before you venture online. You can also buy avatars and additional features that’ll give you a little edge in the online Arenas.
New decks can be purchased through the store, too. Not a necessary purchase, but something to consider if you get bored of your current selection. If you’re ever short on coin or have hit a wall, try the methods given to obtain free coins. For a little of my time, I was able to get some and I spent it obtaining new Power Cards. Achievements, Trophies, Daily Quests, and Leaderboards make up the final features. All of these are relatively self-explanatory, but if you get super excited about things like in-game Achievements and Daily Quests (like I do), you’ll be glad they’re here because they give the game a sense of longevity that you don’t get from most mobile/tablet games these days.
DECKBUILDING AND STRATEGY
You really do not need to worry about crafting the perfect deck in Epic Arena as every Power Card you open is added to the Power Card deck. These cards are always available in all matches and aren’t limited by random draws. You can access all of them at any point and cast them using your actions. Aside from that, you can use the Card Crafting feature to combine weaker cards in the hopes of getting something a little more powerful.
There is one majorly important thing you need to remember with Power Cards. When you use them, you will reduce the number you have by one. They are not unlimited and will require you to purchase boosters to top them up. You can see the number you have at any time you want, either through the deck editor or in-game. Spending them wisely is an important tactic as you progress through the Card Crafting.
Now I’ll talk you through some basic strategies with each of the factions, as I really liked the different play styles they bring to the game:
Brotherhood of Order – They offer us the easiest way to play with the least amount of deeper strategy. Their melee Unit has a built-in physical resistance, making him your go-to defender to hide your more powerful Units behind. You should focus your damage enhancers on the Archer or Alchemist. They can do serious amounts of damage from a distance, and the Alchemist offers additional splash damage to your repertoire. Keep the Monk quite far behind the battle ready to resurrect your fallen comrades and buff them when they’re at full health. Dragons are deadly, so as you can imagine, our Dragon Unit is no different, searing the ground in a diamond pattern and damaging multiple Units at once.
Legion of Chaos – These guys are dark and mystical, relying more on magical damage over physical. I found that depending on my Assassin was a wise choice most of the time, as he can deal decent damage over a distance and a large amount at close range, making him a versatile Unit. Cyclops is your tank Unit and can damage Units in a line of 3, so use him on groups. Soul Ripper is your body stomper, being able to teleport to their spot. He’s weak, but the sacrifice is worth it if an enemy’s Unit can no longer be resurrected. Seer is the healer, but also has a decent damage output too. My favorite Unit by far is the Lord of Chaos. He teleports when he moves and hits all enemies within range, suffering damage. Buff him up and teleport him into a group for maximum effect!
Pirates – Aargh, ye scurvy landlubbers… cough. Excuse me! I didn’t take to these guys too much. They are the more challenging of the factions to use. Use the Cannoneer as you would the Alchemist, on groups. He doesn’t move quickly, but makes up for that with decent damage and range. Keep him protected as much as you can with the Boatswain. He is the tank Unit and will counterattack against close-range melee attacks. Combine the Harpooner with the Doctor for a lethal combination of bringing an enemy to you and damaging them in the process. The Doctor will keep your Units alive just by being next to them. Captain Hook is your power Unit and employs a similar effect to the Harpooner, but instead of bringing the enemy in, he will hook into them and drag himself to their position. Not only that, he will weaken any Unit adjacent to him by 50%. Hook him into a group for maximum effect, or next to the Doctor for more of a stall game.
Epic Arena really does deserve a download and play-through. The game can be played without spending any money, through the acquisition of a starter deck and earning gold by playing the single-player missions and matches online. Use these to buy the Power Cards and use them at your leisure. Sure, there is content you can purchase, but it’s not necessary in order to enjoy the game. There are adverts that pop-up from time to time, but you can click the “x” and rid yourself of these with no effort.
Consider Epic Arena an excellent blend between casual and high-pressure, fast-paced, strategic play. It offers something for most player types and it is doing so in a well-packaged manner, with an attention to detail in both gameplay and user experience. The risk of taking on the challenge of creating a 3D Arena game was well worth it, in my opinion. They pull off what the game sets to do while ensuring that a range of people are able to pick it up and find something of interest at their particular desired level of engagement and strategy. No game against online opponents will ever feel the same, so this title should have some legs to it in the long run… sea legs, that is!
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