World War II: TCG is a free-to-play trading card game that features a historical military theme, something which is rather unusual in the TCG/CCG world. The game has a similar play style to the popular fantasy CCG SolForge in that it features lane combat and cards that upgrade into better versions over the course of a match.
Does this World War II inspired TCG command an inspiring, heroic experience of war? Or is it nearly as horrific as being in the trenches for real? Read on to find out…
The TCG genre is littered with fantasy, science fiction, and more recently, steampunk themed games. World War II: TCG takes the risk and opts for a theme that doesn’t appear to be too commonplace in this genre: military. World War II plays very similar to many other TCGs on the market, with the main emphasis on combat being getting bigger units (or in this case, Infantry, Tanks and Aircraft) onto the field than your opponent.
World War II: TCG‘s gameplay follows a very similar flow to other TCGs of this nature. You deploy your Infantry, Tanks or Aircraft to the field, limited by the number of available slots or Action Points. These units will attack the enemy units opposite them, or if the slot is vacant, the enemy’s life points directly. However, unlike most lane combat card games, World War II utilizes a front and back row deployment system. Most of your units will deploy to the back row and then advance on your next turn.
Once deployed you have several actions you can undertake before your hand is shuffled back into the deck, such as Item and Order cards. This means making the right tactical choice with the cards you’ve been dealt is crucial to winning the fight, as well as being careful with the order they are played in.
Your fighting units compare attack and defense and the damage is calculated accordingly. This damage is permanent and can only be adjusted through units that can heal, items, or by promoting your unit to its next rank. All of these will cost Action Points so it’s a choice between placing units, or prolonging the survival of another.
As I have stated already, your hand of cards for that turn is then shuffled back into your deck and a new hand of six cards is dealt at the start of each round. This keeps the game moving along quickly and combat is fast, intense, and often quite challenging.
Modes and Features
World War II: TCG‘s main screen is where you’ll find the single-player campaign as a vertical scrolling map with a linear path of connected points for your missions. This mode of the game is the easiest to access and the best way of obtaining the gold needed to purchase additional boosters. There are different types of missions on these points and the victory conditions range from your simple ‘reduce the enemies HP to zero’, and ‘destroy a number of units’, to ‘survive a number of turns’, and more. This keeps the campaign feeling fresh and not as repetitive as it could have been if it hadn’t taken this approach, but these victory conditions do start to cycle repeatedly after a while.
The campaign starts out relatively easy, with the first few missions being somewhat of a walkthrough, but not enough to let you know everything. What I found later in the game was that the difficulty curved in favor of the AI, who sometimes has access to double the Action Points as yourself or the mission parameters started to seem almost impossible. It feels like you hit a bit of a pay wall requiring boosters and power ups to keep going – even though technically it is possible to play through as a free-to-play experience, it’s just much harder that way.
Although the store is quite a non-intrusive feature and isn’t pushed upon you during the course of the game, I do feel as though it can seem like a necessity due to the difficulty of the campaign. This may lead to disgruntled players who would have invested many hours into the game, only to not be able to pass a particular mission unless they spend money. This becomes even more apparent in the realms of PvP where if you don’t have a deck stacked with Legendary or Epic cards, you’re likely to lose. This isn’t the developers fault entirely though, as with any game with collectible cards and PvP modes, it is up to the player to invest (either time in grinding or money in purchasing packs) if they want to play competitively.
A novel little feature are the mini-campaigns called Missions which focus on pivotal battles fought in World War II. These consist of a few battles that scale in difficulty and reward you for winning each battle. You can pay gold to attempt the harder versions of the missions which have a higher payout of rewards. You’ll find this is a good way to earn some gold bars to spend in the shop and also earn experience for ranking up. If you’re a history buff as well, you’ll probably enjoy these little nods to the real events that occurred. I liked the risk factor involved in going for the higher difficulties and it made me feel like I had more of a stake in the outcome because I used currency to attempt the run.
There is an online PvP mode which is ranked and it’s all pretty standard fare where that is concerned. It matches you up against whoever else is online and away you go. There’s also a guild system (guilds being called Platoons) which also have rankings, so if you want to really get into a social side of the game, that’s available too. There are global chat rooms and Platoon-only chat rooms as well, which is neat because it helps aid communication between players and makes it feel more like the game has an actual community around it.
Deckbuilding and Strategy
World War II: TCG‘s deckbuilding screen is a as simple as drag and drop, with card collection in the middle and deck list on the right side of the screen. You can filter by unit type, country, items and orders which helps sort through your collection faster. You can also name your decks for ease of reference.
You’ll want a good balance of unit types, from all of the Infantry, Aircraft, and Tanks available. You’ll also be needing items and equipment for your units to utilize, and Orders that’ll either boost your own units, or damage the opponent’s. I tend to lean towards units that either give my other units a boost or damage my opponent’s.
The addition of the back row adds yet another layer of strategy, as units there are often the target of an attack if there are no front row units defending them. So if you’ve deployed a weak unit at the back and suddenly your opponent drops a bomb on the front row, you’re going to be in trouble. Playing the right cards in the back row can also act as a support for the front row which emphasizes keeping that front row intact as long as possible.
World War II: TCG excels in its ability to really make you think about your strategy. From the deck builder to the battlefield, the right decisions are crucial to coming out on top. Its always a question of knowing where and when to deploy your units, or if you should add that gun, or perhaps even just promoting a unit to its next rank for that extra bit of damage against the enemies units next turn. What’s also important is ensuring that all of your units will be useful at any stage of the fight, as your hand is constantly refreshed and discarded units always return to the deck with a chance of coming out again in a future hand. It’s worth remembering this as sometimes it’s good to let a unit die so there’s a chance it will come into your next hand if you need to use its ability.
I must admit that my knowledge of World War II is limited to what I learnt in High School and on the History Channel, so I wouldn’t know the difference between a B-17 or a P-51 Mustang. However, for those that do and also love TCGs this game is going to appeal to their interests. The attention to detail as far as descriptions and information about the units and supply cards is impressive (and one would hope, accurate, but I’ll leave it up to someone else to point out how authentic they are!).
I do have some criticisms but they aren’t too major. The grind is slow and may put off some players, but it’s not impossible to play it as a free-to-play experience if you want. The prices for cards and power ups in the game seem a bit high as well, which is unfortunate. The static backdrops for the battlefield are a bit repetitive as well and it would have been nice for the developers to include some animations within these to make them a bit more dynamic.
The theme that Frozen Shard Games have opted for might make some players nervous due to their unfamiliarity with it, but when you think about it, the basic mechanics of the genre suit the war theme perfectly since it’s all about conflict anyway. If you feel put off by the military theme, be assured that the developers have used a set of mechanics that makes the theme gel perfectly with gameplay rather than hindering it.
It’s a solid game with some interesting ideas and lots of moving parts in gameplay, but it all comes together to provide an authentic war-like CCG experience. Give World War II: TCG a try yourself and see what you make of it.
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