Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Ironclad Tactics Gameplay Review

I'm playing Ironclad Tactics, a card-based tactics game by Zachtronics.

The story mode takes place during the American Civil War, featuring unskippable comic book cutscenes. Beating each level and achieving optional side objectives earns more cards; I found the mode to be quite difficult, placing beginning players at an immediate disadvantage online since the story mode’s unlocked cards are also used for multiplayer. You cannot skip tough levels (the difficulty is uneven enough where this is a needed feature), but you can go back with a “better” deck and complete side objectives from earlier scenarios. You can play any of the missions cooperatively, but only with people from your Steam friends list; matchmaking is available for 1v1 competitive battles, however. Ironclad Tactics features a large quantity of cards and limits you to twenty in a deck, which makes for some tough strategic decisions in choosing ironclads, infantry, parts, and tactics. The battles are in real-time, but use turn-based conventions: you get a fixed number of seconds to act and then the turn is resolved. This helps to speed up each match. Action points are accumulated over time and used to play cards; units automatically march across the battlefield unless you manually order them to stop. Special squares can give more victory or action points to your team. The AI is very good (part of the reason the game is so difficult), using complementary units and playing cards in an intelligent manner. Despite intriguing deck building and fast-paced unique gameplay, the level of difficulty and disadvantage newcomers have online hinder my overall enjoyment of Ironclad Tactics.