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ZeitgeistReview On November - 8 - 2010


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Write-Up

Write-Up:

Alright, I’ve got something a little different for you all today. Bandera Games’ Battle Dex is a Free-To-Play Turn-Based Strategy Collectible Card Game. The developers contacted me and asked if I’d check their game out and I’m glad they did because it is a pretty damned good game, especially considering it’s free to play for the most part. I know that a lot of you will be waiting in line this evening to pick up your copy of Black Ops, but for those PC gamers out there who love a challenging and seriously competitive game, let’s check out Battle Dex.

Design

Battle Dex is a turn based Strategy Collectible Card game. You will acquire cards over time, which will be used to build your own customizable decks to suit your play-style, then utilized in one of the 7 training missions or brought online to compete with or against other players. The game is free to play and download from BattleDexGame.com but also has a few payment options. For 5 or 10 dollars per month you’ll get additional packs of cards each month and points which can be used to pay your way into tournaments. But what makes this all really cool is that the tournaments have large cash prizes, some totaling up to $30,000, so really, this might be worth your time to check out. In fact, Starcraft’s Team Liquid has been ranting and raving over this title for quite a while now, so you can be sure there will be some steep competition right from the start! I played this bad boy all day yesterday and I’m still terrible at it. If there is one thing I found, it’s that this is NOT a game for casual players! It’s easy to learn, but extremely difficult to master!

There are several types of games you can play once you’re online including co-op against the computer, 2v2, 1v1 and free-for-all 4-player missions and these things are tough! Some missions allow you to build your own units and some provide you with a fixed set of units in the beginning which leads to completely different strategies and thus the decks you utilize during these matches. Built-in global and private chat rooms along with player-finders help you quickly find others to team up with, or you can just let the matchmaker find a quick match for you right away.

Gameplay

First off, the game will start you with some cards that you may construct your initial decks with. If you want more cards, micro-transactions will allow you to purchase points, which can be spent buying additional packs of cards, filled with a random mix of uncommon, common, rare and ultra-rare cards. The game even has it’s own built-in economy system to allow players to trade cards or sell cards for points so they can fund their entry into future tournaments or to spend buying the cards for their perfect decks.

You build your decks from the cards that you already own and much strategy must be used here as you can only have 12 cards. While initially you may consider just using all of the most powerful cards, you’ve got to consider that some are cheap units, powerful units, buffs, de-buffs, heals, transportations and all kinds of other crazy things, and all cards have a cost of gold associated with them, which is a precious commodity that you have to manage while you play. I’m sure there will be boat-loads of forums and videos discussing the perfect decks for all of the different situations you’ll run into for this title soon enough!

To warm up you can begin with the game’s 7 training missions, but be warned, there is a steep learning curve and they ramp up in difficulty so much that I couldn’t even beat the last three. Because of this I was a bit skeptical as to the quality of the game, but after I decided to jump online in the global chat and find some friendly people to play with, I’ve got to say, my opinion of the game completely changed. I’m hooked now.

Games are played on a large grid of hexagons that can contain a single unit at a time. Each player has a base that brings in a fixed amount of gold per turn. There are also additional buildings scattered around the map that may be captured that will bring in additional gold per turn. By clicking on your base you are able to spend your gold to produce standard units like infantry, tanks, fighters and helicopters that have varied attack power, armor, vision and movement ranges, and each unit has it’s own strengths and weaknesses against other units.

You may also use your cards when it’s your turn, which really turns the tide of battle dramatically. You don’t know what cards your opponents have and there is a LOT of strategy as to which cards you bring with you, and when to use them. In co-op and team games, you can even use your cards to help out your other allies.

All players set up their moves simultaneously, and then click the Submit Button, which sets the board to action. Units move on their own and automatically attack targets in range unless you give them priority targets. Upon killing a certain number of targets, or upon using certain buff cards, units will level up, making them stronger or gaining special abilities like being invisible or having extra armor.

Finally, matches are won by either destroying your enemy base, or more likely, by accumulating enough victory points based on the selected map by holding control points spread throughout the map. Really, there is just so much more that could be said about the strategy elements in this game and how addicting and fun it is, but I’ll just leave that up to you!

Presentation

First and foremost, the presentation of the game is pretty sub-standard, but with good reason. The graphics are cartoony and cute, but pretty bland in comparison to most other PC games now, but for that reason, pretty much anyone can run this, even on their old-ass busted gaming rig. Granted, it would still be nice to have an option to crank up the graphic settings so those of us with nice rigs could marvel in visual splendor.
Right away you can see the entire map, so you can try to plan your strategy, but there is a fog of war so you can’t see what your enemy is doing. Visibility is very important in this title as certain terrain can hide vehicles, which makes for great hiding spots for artillery!

There are a few features though that I would have found useful that hopefully the developers can fit in some day. Being that the maps are so large, it would have been much nicer to have a mini-map to quickly jump around the battlefield and it would have been nice to be able to rotate the camera to get different angles on the action. It’s also sometimes tough to tell who is who. I think that a light transparent coloring of the titles occupied by each team would have been quite useful as well. But hey, this game is free to play. I can’t complain about everything.

Summary

Overall, I had a great Sunday playing through this amazingly addictive Turn-Based Strategy Collectible Card Game. Battle Dex is entertaining and quite challenging, and all you min-maxers out there have got your work cut out for you as I know you’re going to be theorycrafting the shit out of this! While the game is free to play, if you want to actually compete, you’ll need to pay the 5 or 10 dollars per month to be eligible to enter the tournaments, but for those that stick it out, there is a LOT of real-world money to be won and a lot of bragging rights to be held! Initially, I had some trouble finding some games to play but this game is brand new and there just isn’t a large audience for it yet. So get out there, test it out and let me know what you think! Leave your questions and comments below!

 

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Developer: Bandera Games
Publisher: Bandera Games
Platform: PC
Price: Free


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**This title was provided to me free of charge from the publisher to review for you.

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Categories: PC, Reviews

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