Indietail – RogueJack

RNG was always has been a part of the rogue-like genre, from what I’ve seen. Surely, some games don’t rely on RNG at all, be it in the form of items, levels, enemies or stats. Some games don’t need to have that element of chance and randomness in their code but I wouldn’t call “RNG” itself bad as you always, somehow, have to make it work. “Hate the player, not the game.”

But in today’s Indietail, we’re not looking at a game that doesn’t rely on RNG at all but rather one that takes the best out of a lot of rogue-likes and combines it with gambling, or more precisely Blackjack. Today we’re taking a look at RogueJack!

Developer: Ponywolf
Publisher: Ponywolf, LLC
Genre: Casual, Card Game, RPG, Indie, Dungeoncrawler, Rogue-lite
Release Date: May 27, 2020
Available on: PC
Reviewed on: PC
Copy received for free.

In RogueJack we’ve got to crawl through a dungeon and beat enemies in order to level up and evolve our character, ultimately to find some sort of ancient amulet. In our adventure, we fight enemies, dodge their attacks, and get stronger by looting treasure chests and “trusting the heart of the cards”.

The rules are simple: You get two cards and then get to decide whether or not you draw one card or stay at your current number. Face cards grant 10 points, number cards grant their value. Some cards subtract points while others add. Before 10, an ace grants eleven points, and you win fights by getting as close as possible to 21. If you step over it, you lose the fight and the enemy damages you. If you hit 21 (BlackJack!), if your enemy gets more than 21 points or if your number is higher than the enemy’s number, you damage them.

And well, of course, some enemies have bonus effects and “move-sets” of their own. Some enemies win in case of a tie, others tend to play it safe and only play until 16 while others even poison, freeze or set you on fire when you get damaged.

Your damage depends on the items you collect. A six-shooter-gun, for instance, grants you more damage if you’re a cowboy while the Staff of Divination grants you two damage, more vision and even grants you a higher chance to actually see your cards before drawing. There are also shields that block damage before breaking, potions that heal you or cure status effects, daggers, swords and other weapons that grant you more damage and overall, it all depends on what you find and if you can make it work.

In your journey, you’ll encounter a vast variety of enemies in different colours and with different properties. More often than not you’ll try to fight them, to earn money, which you then may use on vending machines to gain more items. Ultimately you are not relying on item-RNG too much nor on any stats but only on your luck and the way you make the cards work. Get greedy and overstep 21. Play it too safe and the enemy hits BlackJack while you’re staying at 16. Ultimately, it’s a card game, but I did quite enjoy it. When you die, you’ll get a second chance. Die again and you’re out. You then get the chance to retrieve your exp and money and continue from the previous level or start anew from Floor 1, your choice.

When you beat enemies, you level up and unlock new characteristics. The Rogue sees all cards, for instance, but while these effects sound over-powered in a way, they are balanced by the fact that it doesn’t help you to know what’s coming when you’ve got bad cards. After you level up, there is no coming-back either. You can’t change your class. You are who you are until you’re someone else. It’s all a game of sorts, a gamble.

And well,… that’s it. The premise is a gamble, too. It can either work out or it doesn’t. I personally really liked the game and only disliked the slow turn-based movement and the unnecessary “freeze”-effect. Once you get rid of that, you can have quite a bit of fun, unless you lose to the cards, or rather the RNG. BlackJack is combining two interesting concepts: The only card-game I really understand… and dungeon-crawlers. The fact that you can’t change your class unless you reset, is interesting. The variety of weapons, enemies and classes is quite fantastic.

In a way, I’m conflicted on whether or not this really is a rogue-like as it actually resembles more of a dungeoncrawler-character… but I guess the borders from one to another are rather fluid and in the end a game is a game, right?

The presentation features a nice pixelated art-style that I found rather pretty while the soundtrack features… one song… that kind of reminded me of older Zelda games and which was fun at first but once it looped for the 42nd time, you probably will turn it off, too, and turn on some music that you enjoy. I would’ve wished for more variety in that regard.

In the end, the game’s premise and looks, the gameplay and the RNG-dependence of the cards are either hit or miss. You either love it or you hate it. I personally liked it so far but I wonder how much I’ll play it. It’s probably one of those games that I’ll turn on every now and then but for not too long per session.

If you already enjoy card games or more specifically BlackJack, you’re gonna love this iteration of the genre. If you enjoy dungeon-crawlers or rogue-lites, you’re going to find this game interesting. So in the end, I’m recommending it and I hope that you have a nice time with this title.

Cheers!

An early look at Ring of Pain

April’s Humble Choice offered you the option of downloading a DRM-free demo of Ring of Pain (v0.8.21) if you signed up for the choice, so I not only got some nice games this month but also got to see how much the game changed ever since the demo I played last year in August!

But first things first: What exactly is Ring of Pain?

Ring of Pain is a card-based Rogue-like-title by Twice Different, an Indie Studio responsible for Satan’s Workshop and Bounce House. Ring of Pain features a labyrinth of darkness and small shimmers of light that you get lead through in hope of finding out who you are, why you’re there and what exactly that place is.

Owl is as charming as ever!

The game features turn-based combat where you either try to sneak past enemies or battle them, always planning ahead of time to make use of the game’s mechanics and essentially survive. You get stronger through stat upgrades and by obtaining items, though some items not only increase but also reduce certain stats. The game also features some roll-mechanics similar to DnD as well as other mechanics where you block the damage completely if you have more armour than the attacker or where you outspeed enemies.

At last year’s GamesCom, I actually also did an interview with Simon Boxer (who’s the lead artist at Twice Different, responsible for all the amazingly creepy and dark but also colourful art in the game), so check that post out if you’re interested in some more info about the game or some “weird and quirky questions”.

The story is still rather enigmatic..

Naturally, I just hopped into the game and started clicking myself through it. You get to play through a small tutorial where you also meet our guide through the labyrinth, Owl, who acts as our mother of sorts, always taking care of and helping us while also quickly killing us if we were to defy it (Don’t do it. Owl is love, Owl is life).

The tutorial brings you to the end of the first floor where you essentially meet a boss monster that tells you that you’re not ready to proceed yet, hence killing you, which is a bit of a forced ending but better than an abrupt “demo ends here, screw you”-screen!

At this sacrificial well I was able to offer maximum health to receive items… but I didn’t… guess I’m not that lucky or not brave enough!

I’ve noticed that there’s plenty of new areas in the game right now and potentially a whole bunch of areas, similar to how you can access different biomes/areas from the different levels in Dead Cells.

Some of the items work only under certain conditions. I’ve seen one that had some nice stats but would have given me more stats/value if I had less than five items equipped, which I personally found quite interesting. One of my favourite items was the Mace of Banishing that gave me quite a bit of extra damage and other stats on top of the effect of teleporting enemies to a random area whenever you attack them. I found that quite neat in situations where enemies would attack you after you attack them as they can’t get their hit off unless they are ranged. Enemies that explode on death explode after the teleport, too, damaging other foes.

There are also plenty of effects like Poison, Freeze, On-hit-heal, reflecting damage and other boni that allow a bunch of customization for you build, similar to how there’s a lot of synergies in Slay the Spire.

And yeah, I’m comparing the game to a whole bunch of games here, but mostly to Slay the Spire as both RoP and StS are card-based Rogue-likes that can be played rather fast and that feature a lot of strategizing and customization. In fact, I would even say that Ring of Pain might become “the new Slay the Spire”.

I really enjoy the darker art and the themes of it. The music and animations were really cool and I had a lot of fun with all kinds of different builds. Sometimes I’d go for a whole bunch of speed and damage, like a Rogue that outspeeds enemies and hits them hard before they can damage you… some other times I’d rather go for a whole bunch of defence and poison to parry enemies and whittle them down eventually.

And yeah, I’m hyped for this game and I’m looking forward to playing more of it when it comes out in Mid 2020. Next week there is going to be another demo with an improved build, so I’ll probably post about that one, too. If you’d like to, check out the Ring of Pain discord, the twitter account or wishlist the game on steam. 🙂

For now, though, I hope that you are doing alright over there. Hang in there!

Cheers!

This post is part of a challenge called BLAPRIL. The goal is to post as much as possible during the 30 days of April. There are different themes during some of the weeks and a lot of mentors, newbies and participants participating. Feel free to check this hub-post out and check out the other participants!

The Stray Sheep #33 – Legends of Runeterra!

The Witcher has Gwent, World of Warcraft has Hearthstone, and League of Legends… has Legends of Runeterra! 

For League of Legends’ tenth anniversary, Riot Games announced not only that TFT is coming to mobile but also that there will be a mobile-variant of the base game, a class based tactical shooter (that kind of reminded me of Team Fortress 2’s and Overwatch’s lovechild) and actually and most importantly that they’re releasing a new card game spin-off where you face off against other players, trying to take out the enemy nexus by strategically making use of your units and outwitting your opponent. 

You get to play as your favourite characters from all of Runeterra, combining the strengths of different regions into your decks and making use of their advantages to claim Victory! 

I personally would love to play more card games if my drawing RNG wasn’t that bad. I used to play a bit of Magic The Gathering but didn’t get into it all due to preferences. I played a bit of Gwent but didn’t like it all that much, maybe due to the fact that I haven’t really played much of The Witcher before. I really enjoy Hearthstone at the moment, although I’ve never touched World of Warcraft! I love Slay The Spire, Book of Demons, Minion Masters and other games that utilize cards but aren’t just games of Trump, each time. And… well, I could see myself playing Legends of Runeterra! 

I’ve played League of Legends for quite some time now. I started in 2011 and ended up playing quite a lot of it, actually like Esports now and also enjoy playing TFT, Riot Games’ take on the Auto-Chess-Genre. I love League of Legends lore, the whole universe, and the world of it. And as I know quite a lot of LoL’s lore, I probably will enjoy LoR a lot more than people that know nothing about LoL and its lore. 

So far, from what I could see, you choose a region (Noxus, Demacia, Freljord, Ionia, Shurima, Zaun, and a few others) and use cards from that region to get a bonus.

There are “Support”, “Item”, “Spell”, and “Champion” cards that one knows from the games and you basically play them on the field while trying to defend your own Nexus (the equivalent of the Hero’s HP in Hearthstone) at all cost, by blocking incoming damage, attacking enemy units and trying to level up your own champions as quick as possible. All cards have certain conditions that allow them to either level up or cast some sort of spell. Some cards have familiar features that Hearthstone players might now, like “Deathrattle”, while other cards have special interactions based on their lore. 

For instance, there’s a Gunslinger/Marksman called Lucian whose wife, Senna, was taken from him by Thresh, a Soulcollecter who imprisoned her in his lantern. Those three will feature a special interaction in Legends of Runeterra. When Lucian or Senna see 4+ allies or each other die, they level up, gaining a special ability – on top of that, there’s an interaction with special effects and voice lines that get played when Tresh, Senna or Lucian get to be on the board together. There will also be other interactions between characters for sure as there is plenty of room for those with all the rivals in League of Legends’ universe! 

Other mechanics that LoR will feature will be a system that makes use of Newton’s “Actio = Reactio”.

Every action has a reaction. Every turn one player gets to attack while the other player gets to defend – but both players get to play cards, resulting in this interesting game formula where you don’t want to play all your cards just because you can but think about the best possible outcome. When you played a Champion card, the enemy can do the same. You can also place “Secrets” of sorts, throw in some Spells in between fights, buff your units with item cards and overall bend the rules for possible sneaky wins. 

Legends of Runeterra will come out soon and you may pre-register here. You’ll need a Riot/LoL-Account for it but those are set up quite easily. The game itself will be free to play as well, with you unlocking new cards by exploring your regions or winning games. You can also earn “Wild Cards” that render you able to craft Common Cards to your liking. 

I am kind of worried about Non-LoL-players not getting warm with this game as they don’t know the champions, but as there’s a ton of Tutorials for all kinds of Regions, Interactions, Mechanics, and more I’m sure that they’ll get to know everything rather fast.

Overall, I’m rather excited about this new spin-off and I can’t wait for my account to get activated! What are your thoughts on this? 

Indietail – Book of Demons

Book of Demons is the first part of Thing Trunk’s “Return2Games”-series and is currently in the Early Access Phase on Steam.

The genre of Hack and Slay games is known for its combat, its looting and levelling, and its big and dark areas? Well, yeah, mostly, but there are also games that don’t follow that same pattern out there! Today’s game is a card-based ARPG called Book of Demons that dares to change up the formula of hack and slay games a little bit and mix it with a well- “crafted” world and some interesting mechanics.

After a long journey, you’re returning to your hometown where seemingly everything has changed. Everything seems darker and you’re recognizing feer in your old friends. That’s because the old priest of the local church has been kidnapped by a dark force into the depths of the catacombs and even bigger dangers seem to be awaiting you! That’s why you have to embark onto an adventure into those depths to save the world from fear and loathing!

What seems to be the most generic story of all time, is the story of the first part of Thing Trunk’s Return2Games-series. Thing Trunk is planning on releasing six more parts to this big project although those haven’t been announced yet. In Book of Demons (Trailer/Shop) you’re playing an adventurer who has to save the local priest and defeat all evils that are lurking in the shadows. For that, you’re embarking on instance-based adventures and can decide on your own how long you want to explore and what abilities you’re using, but I’ll tell you about that later.

The warrior class with three of his skills.

Before starting your dungeon-crawling-experience, you’ll have to choose from one out of three classes: The warrior, the rogue and the mage.

To unlock the mage you and the rogue though, you’ll have to play the warrior to level 5 first which may seem tedious but is done quite fastly. This has the advantage that you’re able to play as a rather sturdy class before playing one of the more fragile characters. Every class has its own skills and cards and is played differently although it all is different compared to other hack and slay games anyways.

For instance, you’re not using normal attacks and abilities but have to click and use cards. Instead of roaming big areas, you’re chained to paths and have to kill enemies that can roam freely. In the beginning, you may feel very restricted because of that. Sometimes enemies are in the way, so you have to slay those first before you’re able to proceed which on the one hand seems unlogical since you could walk past them  but on the other hand also is kind of nostalgic and reminded me of old JRPGs where you could either fight or run but never just walk past enemies.

The rogue on one of the paths

When enemies are approaching you’ll have to click on them to deal damage. You can also hold down the left mouse button to more damage if you don’t feel like spamming your mouse button. If you don’t do anything, your character also attacks by itself but at a slower rate as when you’d click. While the warrior might be a melee unit in most RPGs you’re still able to slay enemies that aren’t directly near. I guess that’s due to some insanely long limbs or weapons or just a quality of life change. The rogue, on the other hand, is fighting with a bow and has more range and more attack speed. I had some trouble seeing the advantage of the rogue over the warrior since both seem to be ranged and since the rogue’s arrows have to travel a distance first before they hit a target while the warrior’s attacks are instant. This is where the right click comes into play: Every character has a special ability that can be used via right-clicking.

The rogue is able to shoot a long-range arrow that is able to hit enemies and objects that aren’t in sight yet. This makes it rather easy to thing out waves of enemies that can’t be targeted at this point so that you don’t get overwhelmed by them. The mage, however, also has ranged attacks but is able to shoot magic homing missiles that can’t be blocked by enemies that stand in front of the target that you’re aiming at you, which is an advantage that the mage has over the rogue. So while the rogue has a higher distance and can attack more frequently, the mage is a tactician that is able to precisely shut down enemies and isn’t hindered by enemies that stand right in front of him. The warrior, on the other hand, is rather beefy and a hybrid between those two with instant attacks that are slower than the rogue’s and with less damage than the magician.

Artwork of the Rogue

While the combat system is something rather unique, the skill-system is rather similar to other games’: Slain enemies drop experience points and once you have enough of those, you gain a level. On top of the experience-resource, you also have mana, health and gold. Gold is dropped by enemies but also can be acquired by looting alongside items and even permanent health- or mana-points. Health and Mana can be increased at every level-up. While the warrior with his beefy nature has a lot of health but less mana, the mage, for instance, has a lot more mana than health. The rogue, on the other hand, is rather balanced on those fronts.

But let’s talk about the cards. I already mentioned that this is a card-based hack and slay/dungeon crawling title, so I’m now going to talk about those. Each class has different available skills to them which are unique to their class. On top of that, you can also acquire runes, artefacts and items through looting.

Runes are needed to upgrade your cards. For example, you can get a sun-rune to upgrade the fire-spell of the mage. With that rune and some gold that spell card’s damage increases and it has a higher chance to ignite the floor and enemies hit by it. To upgrade your abilities you’re in need for different runes and quite some gold, so eventually, you’ll have to grind it if you want to proceed into the late game. I for my part enjoyed that part of the game quite a lot but it may seem tedious for some people since the grinding takes up quite a lot of time in this game.

Artefacts are useful things that give you passive Boni. There are all kinds of artefacts from shields that have a chance to block attacks to amulets that recover your health and mana over time. The latter is basically a must for most builds since both health and mana have to be recovered using either potions or mana/health-pools like in other games such as Torchlight or Diablo or by levelling up. When you use artefacts, they not only take up a card slot in your card bar but also lock a part of your mana, turning it from blue to green and making it unusable until you unequip the artefact.

Items can be used to do all kinds of things like healing and buffing yourself or escaping out of the dungeon. For example there’s the health- or the mana-potion that fill the respecting bars in times of need but get used up permanently. Although that sounds not that useful you will agree that these are quite handy, especially since the drop rate for them on explorations doesn’t seem to be that low. Surely, you won’t find them every now and then but you can always use your gold to recharge them in town!

While every class has all runes, artefacts and items available to them, skills are exclusive to every class, as previously mentioned! Skills are equipped in the card slot and activated by right-clicking onto them. The warrior, for instance, has abilities to either deal damage to enemies, to disarm them, to protect himself or to throw poison bombs and the like into hordes of enemies. For example, there’s the ability “Mighty Blow” that costs only one mana point but deals quite a lot of damage. Meanwhile, there’s another artefact-like skill called “Shadow Sword” which blocks a bit of Mana but gives you an extra hit on every click passively.


The rogue, on the other hand, is the DPS-class and therefore has abilities to buff her arrows or escape via invisibility. I really liked how you could create poison arrows and split them into many enemies.
But my absolute favourite class was the mage who’s using elementary spells. He’s able to create frost-novas, fireballs, ice walls and create golems. While he’s really fragile, he’s still able to position himself somewhere safer via teleport-spell and overall he’s got quite a lot of utility and burst-damage which I really liked about him.

Book of Demons uses a new approach for the same system. The classes seem to be the same as every ability-wise but are played differently from other games but in its core, this is still the typical ARPG-adventure – just with some cards instead of everything else.

In town, NPCs will tend to your wounds and help you out whenever they can.

When you want to rest from your expeditions in the dungeon, you’re returning to the city where you’re able to identify cards at the sage’s or where you can unlock more card slots. The other NPCs all have their own useful sides to them: You’re able to read about rumours, inform your self about enemies that you’ve spotted, upgrade your cards, charge some other cards with gold or visit the Barmaid:


The barmaid has a cauldron where you can “store items”. Whenever you put a skill point into your mana, you gain a skill point for your health in the cauldron, and vice versa. Also when you loot items, you’re able to gain runes, experience, experience boosts, gold, artefacts, cards, more skill points and other items in the cauldron, but the price for buying them rises the longer you wait and all items except for skill points are lost when you die. So, it’s kind of a risk-reward-minigame if you may call it like that but it really helps out to balance your character and make the mage a bit less fragile, for instance.

Mini-Boss Jelly-belly Bomb with different stages and minions.

While the game is set in a Paperverse with its pop-up-book-like style and is able to draw you in with its atmospheric soundtrack, it truly sticks out with its session-based exploration system:


I really liked this feature since you sometimes may not have all that much time to go on a quest that lasts for an hour or more. When I play games like League of Legends, for example, I need to plan in the time it takes to find a game, hover your champion, ban a champion, pick those champions, set up your runes and then there’s also the loading screen that may be faster or slower depending on people’s wifi connection and rig, and then you’re in the game and it may last for 20 to maybe even 60 minutes depending on how long people drag it out or how much of a stomp it is. You don’t always have time for that. In Book of Demons, on the other hand, you’ve got the Flexiscope-Tool that allows you to match the size of the dungeon to the time you have. You can choose between “very small”, “small”, “medium”, “big” and “very big” that each takes a different time to explore and to clear. On top of that, the game analyses your playstyle and give you an approximate time it will take you to clear those dungeons – since some people try to play it safer while others are going full-Rambo when it comes to ARPGs.

Next to the approximate time that it will take it also displays you possible loot-possibilities. It shows you an average between the lowest and highest gold you may get, possible items and the progress towards your quest to save the priest. For example, in my newest session, it showed me 25+ rewards (including cards or new cauldron-items) for “big” on top of 22,353 Gold and 10% towards the next boss-enemy. As for the time, this would take me about 41 minutes, based on my playstyle as the mage. While this seems to be a very rewarding session for me, it would also take quite a lot of time, so I get to plan it out more precisely if I still have something to do afterwards. And you’re always able to just quit and come back later if you have something urgent coming up.

The deckbuilder is available in the Dungeon as well but the game doesn’t get paused while you’re in this menu. Time only slows down for enemies that may approach and attack you.

On top of the procedurally generated levels, the session-system and the different classes, Book of Demons presents you with 70 different enemy times (at this point of time) that all have different abilities, attack patterns and loottables. With that you’ve got quite a lot of re-play value. Later you can also go for the Freeplay-Mode to play your favorite quests with higher difficulties and you may as well consider using one of the different modes, such as the Rogue-like-mode where you can’t buy Health-, Mana- or Rejuvenation-potions and have to pay gold to revive in the city. Eventually you’ll run out of recources which makes the game really hard and if you can’t buy the increasing price for revival, your character gets deleted instead. There’s also the daredevil-mode with permanent death for those of you that like the extra thrill in games.Usually you’re revived in town for free and just have to collect your items in the dungeon again which makes it less frustrating, but if you don’t want to go for that easy-going playstyle, the daredevil-mode might be just for you!

To summorize I’d like to say that this game has a lot to offer especially due to its concept and its overall presentation, although it surely has some negatives to it. Usually you’ll have to grind in ARPGs which may seem tedious to most people, especially when you don’t get the drops you needed. This is also the case in Book of Demons where you eventually have to grind gold for card upgrades, card slots, card charges and the cauldron while also farming runes and the like to be able to upgrade your build to the fullest. For that you’ll have to enter the dungeon over and over again which seems repetetive but is actually not that bad since you’re able to use the session-system to manage your time used at the game.

Due to its Early-Access-status there’s always some little bugs that you can find but those get patched so often that you might encounter it today and forget about it tomorrow. With the ranger for example, I had an issue where an enemy was stuck behind a pillar and I couldn’t reach it due to the fact that I’ve got projectiles to shoot, which was quite frustrating, but going back into town and coming back fixed it for me quite easily. Also you’re able to report every bug to the devs at every point of the game via a small tool at the side of your screen which is a nice addition that every Early-Access-Game should have, in my opinion.

I’d recommend this game to every fan of ARPGs and Dungeon-Crawlers since it has a lovely artstyle but still captures the dark nature of games like Grim Dawn and Diablo. It is available on Steam and for the XBOX One!

Anyways, cheers!

Note: While I’ve (or have I?) posted shorter reviews until now, this post has been scheduled for quite some time now and is therefore not going to get changed as I need to compare this one’s reception to the short reviews’ to decide if I’m going for shorter or longer ones in the future. I hope you don’t mind this and if so, it’s too late anyways. Future posts will be fresher (or rather have been? I’m writing from the past!)!

This post is part of a contest/challenge called Blaugust! The goal is to post as much as possible and participants are awarded with different prizes depending on the goal they achieved. My aim is to post on all 31 days of August and if you’d like to know more about this “event”, you should check this post out.

Indietail – Minion Masters

Today we’re taking a look at Minion Masters, a card-based Strategy-game by BetaDwarf! It’s a free-to-play-game with some interesting mechanics and while I’m not sure if it counts as Indie, it certainly isn’t a triple-A-title!

In Minion Masters you play as a Minion Master against others, increasing your rank when defeating them and dropping in the leaderboard ranks. Each Minion Master has a unique way of attacking units and three different abilities that are unlocked whenever you level up. You increase your level by gaining enough experience points, to do that you have to control the bridges on the map that connect the enemy-territory to yours.

The third dragon was certainly an overkill but at least I get style points for it!

To do that, you need to play cards that cost mana. Mana is generated passively and is consumed upon playing a card. There’re three different types of cards: Spells, Minions, and Buildings.
Spell Cards range from AoE-damage to buffs for your minions to spells that summon minions. Buildings can do all kinds of stuff as well from summoning minions overtime to healing nearby units to damaging enemy buildings or generating experience points.

So, when you want to take control over the bridges you need to summon Minions that then walk onto the bridge. There’s also a variety of Minions (just like in every card game) with flying and ground, normal and siege, and ranged and melee units. To win a round of Minion Masters, you need to destroy the enemy Master Tower where the Minion Masters are standing on.

As for modes, there’s Solo-Battle, Team-Battle, Draft, Challenges, Expeditions, and Mayhem. As a beginner, you should go for the Challenges since you’re then playing against NPCs that reward you with cards upon winning. That way, you’re able to build a decent deck relatively early on. The Expeditions and Mayhem are only temporary modes, meaning that they rotate every few days and are only available for a few days.

Expeditions, on the one hand, are sort of like a story-mode where you go into an area and have to defeat enemies to gain glory. Once you have enough glory you can then challenge the bosses that all have unique spells and get harder the less glory you have. When defeating “normal enemies”, you’re presented with three “missions” that grant you bonus-glory if you achieve them before winning. These games are against actual players as well, so you’re always against people in your skill-bracket, except when facing off against the bosses. At the end of every expedition, you receive a certain reward, based on that expedition.

Mayhem, on the other hand, are modes with extra-rules, like a group of minions spawning on every side of the map every half minute or you summoning a minion whenever you use a spell. In this mode, you get a free entry once and after that have to pay 750 Gold to enter again. After losing three times, you’re out of the “run” and need to pay the fee again but are rewarded based on your performance. The best reward is awarded at 12 wins, giving you a card. Sometimes it’s not worth the effort, so you should always check the rewards beforehand.

Mordar is one of the available Minion Masters and features a revival-mechanic for minions!

Draft gives you a random deck and a random master when you attempt it. In the Draft Queue, you get to choose from one of three cards for your first card and so on. There’s quite a lot of RNG involved in this queue, so I usually don’t go for it at all.

Solo- and Team-Battle are the Queues that I usually go for. Here you build a deck, choose a Master and are facing off against enemies in your skill-bracket. Between matches you can also change up your deck a bit to improve it. Team-Battle is divided into premade and random since it’s harder to play with someone random than with someone you know. You also get to make up for each other’s faults when you’re playing premade, which I like quite a lot, strategy-wise.

Each season lasts for only one month. After that, you get a season-reward based on your rank for every queue. In the next season, you start at Wood again but are rewarded with points towards the next division based on your last rank. In the May-season for example, I ended up in Platinum 4 in solo Queue, I think, giving me quite a lot of points in the June season, so that I had to start from Silver 1 only if I remember correctly. That way I didn’t have to grind too many ranked games again before reaching the previous rank and possibly climbing higher.

Speaking of ranks, there’re different ranks in Minion Masters: Wood, Stone, Silver, Gold, Platinum, Diamond, Master, and Grandmaster. Each rank has five divisions from 5 (lowest) to 1 (highest).

After winning this round, I got awarded 160 points towards Platinum 4. On top of that, I received 48 Gold and some profile experience. Leveling up your profile gives you cosmetics, more deck slots and occasionally Gold and Rubies.

Before I’m going into strategies and the deckbuilding, I wanted to talk about the game’s business model and the resources that you get in-game. There’s gold acquired from Missions, playing the game and free tokens. It is used to buy cosmetics in the shop as well as some cards and new power tokens. Every day you gain a free token, that awards you with either rubies or gold. On top of that, there’re season and power tokens. Season Tokens award you with a certain pool of cards depending on the battle-pass-theme. Power Tokens can be purchased for gold in the shop and grant you one random card. Via this mechanic, you’re able to get powerful cards even when you’re low on shards. Shards are awarded in different ways in the game and are used to craft cards. And then there’re the previously mentioned rubies. You’re able to buy skins and other kinds of cosmetics with rubies but have to invest real money into the game to get these. The game only funds itself with DLCs (like the All Masters DLC) and ruby-purchases but is other than that free to play. There’s a season pass in every season that rewards you with rewards in every tier if you buy the season pass of the game for rubies. The free season pass only grants you rewards on every few tiers, similar to other games BUT Minion Masters also grants you rubies now and then that you then can use to buy the season pass. The season pass itself kind of pays for itself if you achieve most ranks, meaning that you get new cards, gold, shards, avatars and skins on top of rubies, so I would say that players should keep their free rubies and then buy the season pass to gain even more rubies off of that.

The Bones & Bravery season pass
Apep, the Slither Master with random cards and toxic breath.

The different Minion Masters can be unlocked with both Shards and Rubies but to win the game you just need a good deck and skill, so while getting rubies makes it easier with the battle pass and the faster-acquired masters, it’s not pay-to-win, which I like quite a lot.

As for strategies, you have a huge amount of cards from all kinds of factions to chose from to build a deck that consists of ten cards. I used to play quite a lot of Apep, a Minion Master that gains a free minion card with his first and third skill, and used to run a deck with even more cards that summon minions of a higher cost or grant me more mana, so that I could save up mana and have an advantage of the enemy. The downside was that I didn’t have much control over my deck and could technically just lose due to bad RNG.

Morgrul’s Ragers

After that I used to play a deck focused around “Morgrul’s Ragers”, a card that gives all minions on the battlefield increased damage when a Void-minion has damaged the enemy’s Master Tower. So of course, I would run a deck with the Rammer for example who only attacks buildings (including the Master Tower) on top of Swarmers and other fast units that come in packs and can deal significant damage as well as ranged ground units that could deal with flying units.

And right now I’m playing the latest Master, Morellia, who’s got a Necronomicon that can either summon skeletons, give friendly units more health, harvest health from enemy units that heal the own Master Tower or decrease a 4+ mana spell’s cost, which in itself is quite strong, but her third quirk gives her “The Queen Dragon” as a card which summons Nyrvir, an undead dragon that has plenty of health and damage. On top of that Nyrvir also has a Quest going where you need to collect spectral essence from units to gain a bonus effect. So my deck is focused on Accursed units that all give you spectral essence. At 20 spectral essence, I gain extra effects as the quest is finished. Also since Morellia’s early game is not as strong as some other Masters’ I’m also running an experience-shrine that gives you bonus experience passively. Therefore I reach level 3 faster and can finish at that point most of the time.

Every day you receive a daily quest with a gold reward. You can have up to three quests. On top of that, there’s also special quests every now and then and the daily chests that contain two season pass tiers and can be received by winning three games every day.

To combat different enemy units, you need to play certain other units. There’s a unit called “The Cleaver” which costs 6 mana, for example, and does huge amounts of damage but has low attack-speed since its cleaver gets stuck in the ground after every swing. To combat that one I’m running the Skeleton Horde. For flying units, I have some ranged units, for hordes of enemies I have the Blastmancer and there are even more cards that can be used in certain cases. Every unit has a counter of some sorts!

Usually, you want to gain an advantage on the enemy by answering enemy minions with minions that need less mana. There are also other mechanics like pushing units with other units so that slower enemies get faster to the scene of action. Small features like that add quite a lot to the game since it makes the game Easy to learn, hard to master“.

Settsu is one of the Masters you can choose from and can enter the battle-field as a “minion” herself!

My favourite part of the game, however, is the fact that the rounds are fast-paced and only last 2 to 4 minutes on average. The longest rounds I played were 8 minutes long, which is still not that much. So when you’re running low on time, it’s a great thing that these games are really short and can be fit into every schedule – while other games need more time quite often.

But even if I’m praising this game so much, there are a few things that bother me. For instance, you’re gaining shards slowly, meaning that you can only craft up legendary cards that cost 2000 shards after quite a while. The other thing is that the announcer is sometimes really delayed with his commentary and that the music of the game isn’t that great. That is why I’m usually listening to music on Spotify while playing the game. Also when your teammate leaves the game, you automatically lose the game, no matter if you were winning or not. I would like a feature where the game is paused and you’re either able to “surrender”, hence losing the game, or “Fight on!” having both decks available and playing for two alone. Your teammate would then still lose since he left, but you could at least save yourself from possibly losing your rank.

The collection view, showing all of my owned cards.

All in all, Minion Masters is a good game. It has some flaws to it but those may be changed in the future since the devs are active on the game and publishing a new patch with balancing-changes and other features every few weeks. The game has quite a lot of replay-value especially since it’s a competitive game with short rounds. There are also 38 achievements on steam that you can go for. Since it’s free, you should check it out for yourself if my review wasn’t enough for you.

Anyways, cheers!

This post is part of a contest/challenge called Blaugust! The goal is to post as much as possible and participants are awarded with different prizes depending on the goal they achieved. My aim is to post on all 31 days of August and if you’d like to know more about this “event”, you should check this post out.