March of War is a turn-based tactical card and board game where domination is the key to victory. Command an army of infantry, tanks, and specialists from the safety of your PC whilst blowing your opponents to pieces. That’s pretty much the concept behind March of War, but the way in which it executes this is incredibly interesting. So much so, that I was thrilled to be able to play such a fascinating-looking game.
The war theme doesn’t often get a look-in with the TCG/CCG genre. We’ve covered a couple of games in this sub-genre, but there aren’t loads of them by any means. What the theme really needs is a strong breakout game, and I am hoping that March of War can finally put war-themed TCGs/CCGs on the map, for even just a while.
Does the war genre finally have a champion in March of War? Read on to find out…
In March of War the objective is slightly different from other card games and the way it goes about this is really intriguing. Instead of life points and the usual “lane combat” system, you have units that advance towards the enemy’s Command Center.
As they advance they will enter Domination zones that deliver direct damage to the Command Center. Damage is dealt at the end of each turn to the turn player. This means that not only are you trying to advance, but to also reduce the number of units your opponent has that may be dealing you Domination Damage.
Manpower is the resource, and it is needed to bring the units to any of the three battlefield lanes. Your units are cards in your hand that you’ll use Manpower to bring to the field. You start the game with one Manpower point and this increases by one each turn thereafter.
Not only does Manpower allow you to bring more units to the field, but it is also required to move some of the units forward, giving the game a bit more strategic depth than simply bringing out units and hoping you can outnumber your opponent’s forces. Some units cost more than others to move, whilst others cost no Manpower to move, giving the game a little more realism to it as well.
Each unit is represented on the field as a 3D model with animations for combat when they attack opposing units. Expect big explosions and gunfire among the list of animations that are fun to watch. The battlefield itself also contains a 3D rendered environment. The battlefield doesn’t appear to change though, and whilst I do like the attention to detail, seeing the same field over and over did get a little bit repetitive.
Command cards add more flavors to the combat and are single-use, usually advancing your domination a little further with tactical espionage, AoE (area of effect) bombers, and ground strikes.
Units can move and attack in set directions printed on the cards. I liked how this could change the strategy on the fly when you draw into a card that would get you out of a tight spot because it can’t be counter-attacked due to the angle of its attack. Though movement costs Manpower, it is well worth it to give yourself a better fighting position and earn that extra Domination Damage at the end of the opponent’s turn.
The different mix of unit types and three different factions to play does give the game a little more variety. I played as all three factions and was pleasantly surprised to see how differently they all played. There are neutral cards that can be placed into any of your faction decks to bolster their numbers.
I also like that when you build a deck, you are restricted in the number of powerful cards you can include. There is a rarity system to the cards and your basic cards can be run in multiples of threes or fours. However, the powerful cards can be run in a lesser quantity and this gives a much fairer balance to the game for those who are new.
MODES AND FEATURES
The majority of your matches will sadly be against the A.I. despite a robust and intelligent multiplayer offering. March of War has a great feature built into the online play system that allows you to play against a hard A.I. opponent for a portion of the ladder progression you would achieve if playing against a real person.
This is only offered if the current queue for players is too quiet for you to find a game quickly. This is a unique system and I was glad to see it present, solving the problem of low population on the server. It’s an intriguing idea that I’d like to see implemented in a lot of other games, come to think of it!
There isn’t a campaign to play through, despite the theme begging for one. I was shocked to see this omitted from the game and instead we have the option to play against an A.I. opponent using whichever faction deck we choose to use and play against in the PvE mode. It serves as great practice for those online games against real people… if you can ever get one going, that is!
The store contains exactly what you would expect – booster packs. The packs are split by having faction-only, mixed, and common packs. This means that should you fall in love with any one faction, you won’t have to put up with cards from the factions you don’t want to play as.
Packs can be purchased using Gold (the in-game currency) or Gems (premium currency) with some packs only available by spending Gems. I quite liked the satisfying explosion when opening a booster pack. If you don’t get the cards you want from a pack you can also disintegrate them into Tickets, which you can then use to Craft any of the cards in the Collection screen, if you have enough to do so. This provides a bit more flexibility than just relying solely on randomized packs to acquire cards, so that’s good, at least.
Daily objectives keep you going with their promise of Gold to spend in the Store on booster packs. Achievements are also built into the game in order to keep you trying to reach new heights. The Ladder is where you can check your placement against other players after you’ve completed some online matches.
Sadly, that is the extent as to what’s on offer from March of War. It feels as though not much thought was put into offering the user a richer gaming experience outside of PvP, but for those looking for competitive options, you’ve got enough here to keep you going.
DECKBUILDING AND STRATEGY
March of War’s deckbuilder is accessed through the collections screen. Here you can see every single card in the game, including those that you don’t own. Building a new deck is simple with a drag and drop interface. The limitations on the quantity of rarer cards are there to stop any deck from being too powerful and to give newer players a chance. All of the keywords are explained in the game’s help file, but are also explained when you hover over the card or deployed unit when in game, helpfully.
The game gives you the opportunity to play the armchair General and deploy your units to the battlefield. Use the mulligan at the start to eliminate higher-cost cards from your hand before heading into battle, as you need many cheap units, quickly. I found that rushing with Auto-Advance units would often net an early lead.
Most units will counter-attack when attacked, so bear this in mind when placing your units. Take advantage of if they can attack from different angles, as this will protect them from counter-attacks. Bigger units, such as tanks, should give you a push towards the end of the game. Their higher attack power and health should be able to soak up damage whilst still scoring you some Domination Damage.
March of War is one of the better war-themed card games out there. One thing that strikes me about war games in general is just how lazy they are when it comes to gameplay. They will either copy – to the tiniest of details – an already popular CCG, slapping a war theme on it, or otherwise they do make something a little more unique, but fail to give it the final polish it needs to make it really worth playing.
March of War is a little different in this respect, because it does bring in something new and its new ideas are also well executed. Though it does suffer from failing to inject the fun needed to make it a real contender against other TCGs/CCGs.
Whilst I’m not a huge fan of war games, I do appreciate a good card game. March of War can be enjoyable and fun, but suffers from the lack of a mode that will keep you entertained as a single-player offering. The fact this game was built around the PvP model and lacks the large community needed to make it a success means that it is less likely to be a huge hit.
I love the innovative battle system that means you have to think of many different outcomes each turn — a bit like Chess. Moving my units across the battlefield in order to dominate my opponent makes the game feel a little more like a war simulator than a card game. Although the game is presented extremely well, it lacks a lot of spark to make it a truly explosive experience.
Fans of war games should definitely give this a go, if only to bolster the number of players available online for a game at any one time. The innovative gameplay should also entice those seeking a new experience. For seasoned card game players and those who want something exciting, you may find your card game needs are better met elsewhere.
For more screenshots, click here.
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