Marvel: Avengers Alliance Tactics receives ‘Chapter Two’ content on Facebook

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After a successful launch on Facebook on June 3, Marvel has released the second chapter of content in its Marvel: Avengers Alliance Tactics. The follow-up to the original Marvel: Avengers Alliance allows users to interact with their favorite villains and heroes from the Marvel universe in turn-based strategy battles, while also building a base of operations to call home between combat encounters.

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Magic 2014 review

magicMagic 2014 is an Android and iOS release from Wizards of the Coast. Is it available now as a free download on Google Play and the App Store and contains additional in-app purchases.

Magic 2014 is the newest installment in Wizard of the Coast’s “Duels of the Planeswalkers” series. Each game in the series takes the popular “Magic: The Gathering” trading card game series and faithfully transitions it to a virtual platform. None of the previous games have featured the same amount of freedom of customization as the actual card game or Wizards of the Coast’s digital version, Magic Online. However, Magic 2014 is an excellent free-to-play addition to the Magic lineup that works as an excellent starting point for new players and a free (or cheap) way to play the game for casual fans.

The card game is twenty years old, but as popular as ever. That said, the nature of trading card games is rather expensive, especially for prospective new players. Magic 2014 caters to these new players right off the bat by asking them how much Magic experience they have. This determines the game’s set difficulty and can only be changed via in-app purchase. Fortunately, the extensive tutorial is excellent at teaching players the basics of the game, and the game will give numerous hints and tips to remind players of certain elements. The tutorial can be skipped and hints can be turned off if players already know how to play. (more…)

Apoc Wars review

apocApoc Wars is an iOS game from DeNA. It is available now for free in the Apple App Store and carries additional in-app purchases.

Apoc Wars is a post-apocalyptic strategy game that combines a cartoony style with military gameplay. When players first open Apoc Wars, they’ll be prompted to either sign into Mobage or create an account. After that, players are presented with a view of a desert wasteland and are tossed into the game’s tutorial. The tutorial goes over almost all the game’s essential features, including combat, team building, and base construction. There are numerous games like Apoc Wars, so many players won’t need the tutorial, but those who are new to the genre will find that it does a great, albeit quick, job at explaining how the game works.

Once players finish the tutorial, they’re sent out on their own with little more than an empty base. From there, players are encouraged to expand their base and strengthen their defenses so they can best deal with various enemy threats. Users who need some extra guidance can turn to the “Missions” menu. Missions are small goals that allow players to earn extra resources and in-game currency without having to spend much money. Most missions take no more than a couple minutes, though some will require a few extra steps before they can be accomplished. Players don’t need to complete missions or claim their rewards, but they’re highly encouraged to, as many rewards are well worth their time and require little effort.Apoc Wars screenshot

Combat is the main focus of Apoc Wars’s gameplay. As players expand their base and forces, they’re preparing themselves for the various combat situations that arise. When a player is ready to initiate combat on their own, they’re given a list of AI-controlled opponents that are ready for battle. At first, this list is simply populated by low-level opponents who aren’t willing to put up much of a fight. As time goes on, players will battle bigger and stronger rivals, which give out bigger rewards. As long as players continue to strengthen their troops, these enemies aren’t much of a threat, but they will cause occasional casualties. The bigger threat for many players will be defense. Players will need to organize their base in a way that best protects their command center, as they will occasionally be attacked. Most of the early combat will be with AI-controlled baddies. Once players make alliances they can team up to take on others, but this currently feels limited. Hopefully future updates add to the multiplayer functionality.

Apoc Wars monetizes through Blood Money, an in-game currency. Players are given a large chunk of Blood Money at the start, and they’ll earn small amounts as they progress through missions, but players who need more can buy bundles. Blood Money bundles range from $0.99 for a pack of ten up to $99.99 for a pack of 1250. Smaller bundles are hardly worth it for most players, as ten Blood Money will rarely purchase anything of value. Players who start spending around $20 will be able to buy upgrades and equipment at a rapid pace, allowing their forces to be stronger than ever.

Apoc Wars is a fun game that will appeal mostly to the hardcore crowd looking for a new strategy game. The unique visuals will likely draw in a few extra players, while the in-depth tutorial will help keep them around. The problem with Apoc Wars isn’t that it’s bad, it just doesn’t feel wholly original. There are other games that follow the same formula, and Apoc Wars fails to do anything to draw attention to itself. Players who pick it up will find that it’s worth their time, but only time will tell how long its current player base will remain engaged.

You can follow Apoc Wars’s progress on AppData, our tracking tool for mobile and social apps and developers.

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Apoc Wars doesn’t feel entirely original, but it’s somewhat fun, provided other players continue to play.

Order & Chaos Duels (iOS/Android) review

order-and-chaos-duels-app-iconOrder & Chaos Duels is a new iOS and Android game from Gameloft. It’s available now as a free download from the App Store and Google Play, and carries additional in-app purchases.

Order & Chaos Duels is the third entry in Gameloft’s Order & Chaos series, which has to date included a massively-multiplayer online role-playing game known as Order & Chaos Online and a multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) game known as Heroes of Order & Chaos. The Order & Chaos series bears a strong resemblance to Blizzard’s popular Warcraft series in terms of both art style and gameplay, and Order & Chaos Duels continues this trend. While Order & Chaos Online resembles World of Warcraft and Heroes of Order & Chaos is heavily inspired by the popular Warcraft 3 mod Defense of the Ancients (and its immensely popular recent counterparts Dota 2 and League of Legends), Order & Chaos Duels sounds very much like Blizzard’s recently-announced Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft. Gameloft is well-known for putting out mobile titles that provide similar experiences to well-established franchises on PC and console, but in the case of Order & Chaos Duels, it has actually beaten Blizzard to the punch by getting its game onto the market first.

Order & Chaos Duels is a card battle game, but it doesn’t follow the usual barely-interactive mold set by popular mobile games such as Rage of Bahamut and Confrontation. Instead, its gameplay is more akin to titles such as Shadow Era from Wulven Game Studios — a game which proved popular enough on mobile to spawn a physical version.

Order & Chaos Duels

In an individual Order & Chaos Duels battle, two players face off against each other and draw cards into their hand. Each card has a mana cost to play — if the player doesn’t have enough mana to play a card, they can’t play one, but conversely if they have enough mana they may play more than one. A single card per turn may be sacrificed to add a single point to the user’s maximum mana, which replenishes fully at the start of the next turn. Some of the player characters also have special abilities that allow them to temporarily gain additional mana. (more…)

Tekken Card Tournament (iOS/Android) review

Tekken Card Tournament is a new iOS and Android game from Namco Bandai’s European arm. It’s available now as a free download from the App Store and Google Play, and carries numerous in-app purchases.

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As the title suggests, Tekken Card Tournament is a digital collectible card game based on Namco’s popular and long-running fighting game series Tekken. Players make use of decks of virtual cards themed after characters from the Tekken franchise, and then take the fight to either computer- or human-controlled opponents in live online turn-based one-on-one battles.

The fighting gameplay in Tekken Card Tournament makes use of a “rock, paper, scissors” system whereby each player may pick one of three actions on each turn. Choosing to “Focus” allows you to draw a card into your hand, up to a limit of five. Choosing “Strike” allows you to attack with all the cards in your hand and also destroys the first (oldest) card in your opponent’s hand if they choose to Focus. Choosing “Block,” meanwhile, blocks the first two cards from an opponent’s hand if they choose to “Strike,” but otherwise has no effect. The challenge of the game primarily consists of determining what the opponent is likely to do next based on the cards they have in their hand — except under special circumstances, both players’ hands are visible to one another — and then taking the optimum course of action. Play is kept pacy thanks to a time limit for each turn and a mechanic which obliterates both players’ hands completely if they both block for more than two turns in succession.

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Crazy Penguin Wars: Tiny Duels (iOS) review

Crazy Penguin Wars: Tiny Duels is a new iOS game from Digital Chocolate, and a simplified form of the company’s popular Facebook game Crazy Penguin Wars, which we reviewed here. It’s available now as a free download from the App Store, and carries additional in-app purchases.

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Much like its Facebook-based predecessor, Crazy Penguin Wars: Tiny Duels (hereafter Tiny Duels) is a social take on the format popularized by Team 17′s Worms series, in that it is a physics-based combat game in which players use a variety of heavy weaponry in an attempt to inflict as much destruction on their opponent as possible. Unlike the Facebook version, which allowed competition between up to four players at once, the new mobile version is a strictly one-on-one affair, and is designed for asynchronous rather than live multiplayer action.

To battle against an opponent, the player must take control of their penguin, move them around and use various weapons to attack. Movement is handled via some simple on-screen left and right arrows. Penguins are affected by physics, so if they stop movement on a steep slope, they will slide back down again. Jumping may be accomplished by tapping and holding on a special “handle” that appears beneath the penguin, then pulling it back and releasing it similar to flicking a rubber band — or firing a bird in Angry Birds. Range of movement and jumping is limited by an energy bar at the bottom of the screen — when this is depleted, the penguin may not move any further that turn, and the player must ensure they leave enough energy to fire if they would like to attack, too.

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Confrontation review

Confrontation is a new Web-based card game from Userjoy that has recently launched on Facebook. The game is currently highlighted in the featured spot of Facebook’s App Center front page.

Confrontation

Confrontation is a fairly straightforward card-battling game in which players collect cards and then use them to battle decks from either computer- or human-controlled opponents. There is an unfolding story to follow, but the focus is very much on battling and collecting cards rather than providing a deep narrative-centric experience.

The game begins with a hasty tutorial that forces players to begin collecting one particular type of card without giving them the option to try anything else, then throws them into battle. After explaining what the icons on the cards mean and giving the player their first experience of battle, the tutorial ends and the player is thrown into the game proper. Unfortunately, this means that the game has only explained a tiny proportion of its rather cluttered and overcomplicated interface, meaning that players are largely left to determine what they are supposed to be doing by themselves.

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The Hobbit: Armies of the Third Age review

The Hobbit: Armies of the Third Age is a new Facebook game from Kabam. It is not related to the company’s recent iOS and Android game The Hobbit: Kingdoms of Middle Earth, which we reviewed here. It is currently featured on the front page of Facebook’s App Center.

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The Hobbit: Armies of the Third Age is a midcore strategy game of Kabam’s usual breed, but unlike some of the developer’s other recent titles it is not simply a reskin of Kingdoms of Camelot. Beginning by pledging allegiance to the elves, dwarves or orcs from Tolkien’s classic — a largely aesthetic decision — the game then provides players with an optional tutorial before presenting them with the usual rather “freeform” experience that the midcore strategy genre offers. Players will divide their time between building and upgrading their base, attacking computer-controlled “wilds” areas and attacking other players. A sequence of quests guides players through a series of suggested actions, but aside from these quests, which provide little more than context-free objectives, there is no sense of unfolding narrative or direction to the game. This may leave players hoping for an authentically “Tolkienesque” experience somewhat disappointing.

Building a base is achieved in a similar fashion to other midcore strategy games and bears a particular resemblance to titles such as Kixeye’s Backyard Monsters, Digital Chocolate’s Galaxy Life and Kabam’s own Edgeworld. Players construct buildings using collected resources and currency and may either wait for them to complete construction or bypass the wait timers using hard currency. The layout of the base is relatively important, as defensive structures only cover a certain area — this means it is necessary for higher-level players to ensure as much of their territory is protected as possible for when other players come knocking. There is little risk of this early in the game due to the usual “beginner’s protection” provided to the player — though this protection immediately and prematurely disappears if you attack another player’s city or an area under their control.

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Attacking other areas is achieved on the Region map, which is divided up into hexagons, each of which has a particular “level” and terrain type. Early in the game, players are tasked with attacking certain specific types and levels of terrain tiles to complete quests — unfortunately, the seemingly randomly-generated persistent online world map doesn’t necessarily guarantee that the player’s first city will be located anywhere near one of the tiles necessary to complete one of these quests, which seems like something of an oversight. There’s also no way of switching back to the player’s city directly from the Region map — the player must instead first switch to the largely-useless (but attractively-presented) World map before they can then switch back to their city. Clicking on the World map allows jumping straight to a particular Region, but given that the game doesn’t show coordinates while browsing the World map and the Regions zoomed to often bear no relation to the area of the World map clicked on — apparently The Shire is a barren wasteland devoid of all life — it is not particularly helpful.

When the player has chosen to attack a territory, they bring in the heroes and armies they have trained in their city and place them in deployment areas, then command them to attack specific enemy groups or structures. This part of the game is somewhat akin to real-time strategy games, but the interface is so simplistic that there’s not a lot of opportunity for developing complex strategies on the fly, and combat more often than not comes down to whoever has more, stronger units. This is nothing unusual for the midcore strategy game genre, but it’s a shame Armies of the Third Age doesn’t try anything a little more adventurous or different.

Social features in the game include a real-time chat facility in the corner of the screen that allows players to talk to one another. There is a lot of off-topic chat going on at all times — occasionally of a somewhat inappropriate nature — but it does at least allow players to get to know each other rather than simply treating each other as “resources” to be tapped. Players may also form and join alliances and compete against one another to determine who has the most “valor” in the land — this also allows for easier communication and collaboration between a smaller group of players.

The game monetizes through its hard currency mithril, which is used for several purposes. Its most common use is to bypass wait timers for building, training and research, but it may also be expended on playing a chance-based game to win prizes, or on resources and special items from the in-game shop. The game can be enjoyed without expending hard currency, but paying players will make faster progress.

The Hobbit: Armies of the Third Age would be a reasonable, if fairly unremarkable, midcore strategy game were it not for the myriad issues it has at present. These problems begin with the initial tutorial, which inexplicably has no sound whatsoever. They then continue with all manner of incomplete game elements, such as heroes who join the player’s army without a name, the inappropriate ability to add line breaks to custom names and dialog boxes that pop up with placeholder variable names and resource costs listed as “NaN” (Not a Number). Given that most of these flaws were encountered within about ten minutes of starting the game, it’s very clear that Armies of the Third Age hasn’t had anywhere near as much testing as it should have before being released to the public. A company as large and successful as Kabam is capable of much better than this rather unprofessional-looking experience.

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Once the flaws are fixed, Armies of the Third Age is likely to enjoy some success. There already seems to be a fairly active and communicative player base playing the game, and midcore titles often monetize better than more casual titles despite tending to have smaller overall audiences. For now, though, the game issues and bugs are too noticeable to make a truly enjoyable game, so this is one to keep an eye on from a distance for now and perhaps check in on again in a month or two.

The Hobbit: Armies of the Third Age currently occupies the 10,000+ MAU tier with a rank of 4,954 and the 10,000+ DAU tier with a rank of 2,025. Follow its progress with AppData, our tracking service for social games and developers.

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Something of a buggy mess at present, but there’s potential for a decent — if relatively straightforward — midcore strategy game here.

Gladiators review

Gladiators is a new Facebook game from Nekki, the team behind the excellent and highly-stylized games Shadow Fight and Vector. The new game is an adaptation of Nekki’s previous Web game of the same name, which the developer claims has enjoyed over 4 million players since 2010.

Gladiators

Unlike Nekki’s previous games, which were very much arcade titles that demanded a high degree of skill from the player, Gladiators is a strategy game in which the player takes a much more “hands-off” approach to the combat side of things, but still finds themselves with plenty of things to do. Cast in the role of a new gladiator trainer in Roman times, it is up to the player to put together a successful team of gladiators, improve their skills and battle their way through a series of tournaments as well as fighting against other players. (more…)

Godsrule: War of Mortals review

Godsrule is a new browser-based strategy game from Sega and Gogogic. It’s currently in open beta and available to play on the open Web.

Godsrule is a free-to-play social strategy game similar to those frequently seen on Facebook and elsewhere on the open Web. Players divide their time between building up their home base to improve their resource and troop stockpiles, battling computer-controlled “ruins” to gain experience, and battling other players for dominance over the game’s persistent world map.

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The building component is rather conventional for the genre. Beginning with a small, poorly laid out base, players must build new structures, move existing ones and make use of them to collect resources, train troops and prepare for battle. Over time, players will upgrade their buildings to gain access to more effective troops and more efficient resource harvesting, and must balance their expenditure to ensure that they have enough space for their troop population to expand as well as enough room to store all their resources. As usual for this type of game, almost any activity requires a period of real time to complete, and this may be bypassed either by expending the game’s hard currency “orbs” to construct/upgrade/train something immediately, or by purchasing “speed up” items to reduce the countdown by a specified interval.

In the building component, the player regularly receives quests with generous rewards to encourage them down a good development path. Unfortunately, some of these quests have significant errors in them — in one notable case, the player is instructed to train a non-existent troop type that is presumably only relevant to the other of the two factions it is possible to control in the game. A little experimentation reveals that all the quest is asking the player to do is construct the next available troop type, but this will likely prove confusing to some. It is an error which should have been caught during testing, really, since it occurs so early in the game. (more…)

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