Ironclad Tactics is a fast-paced, card-based tactics game set in an alternate history Civil War - with steam-powered military robots!Key Features: No microtransactions! Unlock cards by playing the game, not by purchasing them separately.
User reviews: Mixed (442 reviews)
Release Date: Sep 18, 2013

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Recommended By Curators

"A melding of a trading card and real-time tactics game involving civil war robots (yes really). No microtransaction nonsense and a solid campaign."
Read the full review here.

Digital Deluxe Edition

Includes:

  • The first two add-on campaigns released for Ironclad Tactics when they are released. Add-on campaigns include new missions, new cards to unlock, new gameplay, and new stories to tie them into the game universe.
  • A high-quality digital artbook with concept art, designs, and commentary from the Zachtronics team.
  • A printable papercraft model of an ironclad that you can print out and assemble.
  • The Ironclad Tactics OST, with music by Evan Le Ny and Farewell to the Woods.
  • A giftable copy of SpaceChem
  • A giftable copy of SpaceChem: 63 Corvi

About This Game

Ironclad Tactics is a fast-paced, card-based tactics game set in an alternate history Civil War - with steam-powered military robots!

Key Features:

  • No microtransactions! Unlock cards by playing the game, not by purchasing them separately.
  • Experience unique gameplay, with rapid, simultaneous turns that blend the precision of tactics and card games with the spontaneity of fast-paced strategy games.
  • Follow the campaign story through a fully-illustrated, character-driven interactive graphic novel.
  • Collect cards as you play through the campaign and build your own decks to crush your foes.
  • Play with your friends in the co-op story campaign or against them in skirmish and nemesis modes.
  • Face off against online challengers in quick-skirmish mode, and unlock special cards when you win.

System Requirements

Windows
Mac OS X
SteamOS + Linux
    Minimum:
    • OS: Windows XP / Vista / 7 / 8
    • Processor: 2.0 GHz
    • Memory: 2 GB RAM
    • Graphics: Support for OpenGL 2.0 or greater
    • Hard Drive: 850 MB available space
    Minimum:
    • OS: OS X 10.5.8, or later
    • Processor: 2.0 GHz
    • Memory: 2 GB RAM
    • Graphics: Support for OpenGL 2.0 or greater
    • Hard Drive: 850 MB available space
    Minimum:
    • OS: Ubuntu 12.04 LTS
    • Processor: 2.0 GHz
    • Memory: 2 GB RAM
    • Graphics: Support for OpenGL 2.0 or greater
    • Hard Drive: 850 MB available space
Helpful customer reviews
13 of 18 people (72%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
2.8 hrs on record
Posted: January 8
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UWvKNef7yok

Ironclad Tactics is a fast paced real time strategy card game set in a fictitious civil war era featuring steam powered robot warriors. The game features lovely artwork offering charming and funny comic strip style cut scenes. The core gameplay is centered on constricting your deck of 20 cards consisting of various human and machine warriors along with weapons and perks you can apply in combat. You start the game with three randomly drawn cards and earn more cards upon one full cycle of the brief timer that counts as each turn, upon the completion of the turn you are also awarded an Action Point that you use to activate the cards from your hand. The main objective of each mission is to earn a set number of victory points that are obtained by one of your ironclad warrior robot troops successfully getting from one end of the battlefield to the other.

The fast paced nature of the game is both what makes the game shine and at the same time is its biggest hindrance, the fact that you have to make decisions so quickly eliminates the ability to really thoroughly strategize and plan out your next move as would a turn based strategy card game would, however this little bit of hectic fast paced chaos is what makes the game different from other card lane strategy games. Upon completion of the mission you are awarded with a new set of cards that have some unique twist or element that was the featured gimmick of the level.

The game does offer a fairly steep difficulty curve that can become frustrating at times but adds to the overall length and replay-ability of the game when you have to go back and rework a new deck to try to conquer your highly competent AI foe. The game perfectly combines the good of both a Trading card game and a card lane strategy game; it offers a lovely art style, interesting setting, and a very challenging level of difficulty
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7 of 7 people (100%) found this review helpful
22.9 hrs on record
Posted: March 24
If you've ever played a collectible card game, do you enjoy constructing a deck as much as actually playing the game? If so, then you'll probably enjoy Ironclad Tactics.

It's possible to slog your way through missions with sub-optimal builds/tactics, and granted, it is incredibly frustrating when played in that manner. The core missions are tolerant of bad play, so you can get pretty far into the game before realizing what you're doing wrong. After unwittingly playing badly throughout the main campaign, I eventually hit a wall in the additional content.

The final mission of New Game Plus was particularly brutal, and I barely beat it after a couple hours of reckless attempts. As I moved onto the DLC missions, I found myself frequently devastated by the enemy having 1.5-2 times the resources that I do. Slogging through these missions was becoming increasingly unlikely, and I was questioning whether these missions were fairly balanced. Did I have to rely on the AI screwing up to stand a chance, or was there another way?

At that point, I approached the game from a different angle. First play a mission noncommitally with a simple deck, just to grasp what's being thrown my way. Then go to the drawing board and construct a deck particularly for that mission. With that mindset, I was crushing missions on the first "serious attempt" and feeling accomplished in my decision making.

Playing in this manner is a bit artificial. In what other game do you play a level for the first time solely to analyze it, with no intent of winning? I wonder if Ironclad Tactics could have been more forthcoming with its mission content, rather than have players flail through the motions with an uncatered deck.

I recommend trying Ironclad Tactics with the "study first, succeed later" approach. That's what tipped me into the "recommended" camp. This is certainly a game for analysts/tinkerers.
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5 of 6 people (83%) found this review helpful
2.0 hrs on record
Posted: April 28
Brilliant card deck strategy game.
Use your Ironclads and soldiers to beat a civil war in the USA.
For each move you have action and move points. The game field is quite limited (mostly 5x8 squares) So you have to figure out the right tactic. After every mission your success is awarded with an extra story comic strip. Later you can build your own card decks or beat missions with infinite card dropping. Tip: Use pause button on your Ironclads to stand them. Tip2: You can repair your Ironclads.
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3 of 4 people (75%) found this review helpful
0.7 hrs on record
Posted: March 24
Great turn based strategy game that you can enjoy with friends. It can be challenging in some parts but easy in others. Its well thought out and well done across the board. Recommended to co-op players.
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6 of 10 people (60%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
24.4 hrs on record
Posted: January 14
http://calmdowntom.com/review/ironclad-tactics-review-pc/

"When Ironclad Tactics was pitched to me as a ‘fast-paced, card-based tactics game’ set during the American Civil War, I have to admit, I was skeptical. Little did I know that it featured ROBOTS!"
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2 of 3 people (67%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
64.1 hrs on record
Posted: December 8, 2014
I've been playing Ironclad Tactics off and on for a big time Only now, after earning lot's card, I realize that I forgot to write a review.

The pace is realtime, but it moves slow enough to allow some thinking time for your next moves. Most of the challenge comes from building specialized decks to solve the puzzle that each level presents. Your AI opponent will have the upper hand with some new attack or defense and you’ll have to come up with a counter. Most of the time this results in a tense battle of planning, wits, and fortune. When you tweak a deck combo into working just right it feels great! Each new card opens up lots of tactical options and completing challenges for cards feels rewarding.

The civil war theme and story are awesome. I love the characters and animated comics that set up you journey across America. The in-game art and animation is beautiful. It’s easy to tell every unit apart and their abilities match the visuals. A robot with a jetpack files, dude with a shotgun has spread attack, and a flame thrower hits multiple targets. .

Each level starts by showing you 5 random cards from your deck of 20, so sometimes it feels like a lucky/unlucky start can make or break a win. If cards come out in just the wrong order it can kill a plan, but managing this problem is also part of the art of deck building. It improved a bit with the release of the first DLC where you can now spend 1 action point to ‘save’ a critical card for later.

The first DLC uses an army with a completely different and fun style of play. It’s satisfying playing as the boss enemies that were beating you down in the final levels and to understanding the logic behind how their robots transform. It also fills in missing parts of the story with more comics.

Not every ability or tactic is perfectly balanced, but there’s lots of viable strategies to solve each problem. That said, I haven’t played multiplayer which would be a much better gauge of balance. There’s not enough players to support random matchmaking and I don’t feel like it would be that fun against friends (even if they unlocked all the cards). I also haven’t tried the co-op mode, which is supported throughout the entire game buti think it would be pretty fun!
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3 of 5 people (60%) found this review helpful
58.7 hrs on record
Posted: December 8, 2014
I love ironclad tactics a lot. I still dont get why peoples bash it a lot. i have finish the game and now i am playing on game+
and let met tell you IT VERY HARD. But still i make new decks and i find a way to win. So the game is extremly challenging but it is sooooo much fun to play. very recommanded and i hope there will be a ironclad tactics 2 :D
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2 of 4 people (50%) found this review helpful
6.6 hrs on record
Posted: December 25, 2014
A very cool and decidedly unique strategy game from Spacechem's Zachtronics. Ignore the metacritic rating (seriously what is the point anymore of metacritic?) and give this a try if you are intrigued by the premise and mechanics. This game is definitely not for everyone, but if it seems interesting, you'll most likely enjoy it.
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181 of 237 people (76%) found this review helpful
10.6 hrs on record
Posted: December 11, 2013
A rather disappointing game considering the system itself had potential, but is unfortunately woefully incomplete (apparently more content is coming out as DLC, but the base content as it is is barebones).

Initially the game possessed a intriguing system of unlocking new units through the completion of mini-achievements, allowing your cards to evolve into a more effective and specialised fighting force. Unfortunately this feature is only seen in the first half dozen cards before never being seen again.

The game also featured several factions with different tactics and units that you can mix and match. Unfortunately again, all the factions with the exception of the army (Union and Confederate's are both considered the same, begging the question as to why it is set in the Civil War) have barely enough cards for a playable deck, much less one that you can base a unique strategy out of. This is further made worse by every faction's units being essentially the same thing (Army riflemen and bandits have absolutely no distinguising characteristics between them).

Even worse, the potential dynamic was there, in the form of unattainable weapons and units the computer gets during the campaign. After completing the game, and every last achievement (both single player and multiplayer) I was upset that the only things I receieved were more of the same cards. Indeed, the final boss's deck is displayed as an available playable faction, but does not have a single unit or weapon card in it.

The story serves it's purpose I suppose, so it is hardly disappointing, but it is somewhat baffling that early in the story you can clearly see a sibling rivalry, only for one of the brothers to disapear, and only come back at the end of the game to do absolutely nothing, unlike the collection of minor characters who assemble for the purpose of serving as an Deus Ex Machina during a mission. Whoever is actually manning and directing your ironclads is never mentioned (unless it is assumed that the sergeant who gets a brief mention early in the game is the PC). The Civil war is barely mentioned, and the game might as well be set during the Anglo-Russian war for all it matters.

The campaign itself is not so much challenging as it is putting you in a situation with an outright disadvantage. In the early stages this disadvantage is negated by unlocking a new weapon. However, due to the fact that there are no decent unlocks in the later missions the game simply becomes a matter of chance. Hoping that the luck of the draw gets you exactly the unit you need, and that the computer does not use the obnoxiously overpowered ability that he is granted this mission on the turn it would hurt the most. The last mission in particular is guilty in that the enemy boss is not only invincible (unless you kill two heavily armoured units guarding an electric outlet, and procede to occupy both outlets with infantry that can be killed instantly by said boss) but possessing a repetoire of weapons far superior to what you can get, and heals completely should you fail to stop him from going to your side. The strategy towards defeating him involves praying to your chosen deity that the enemy AI will decide to lay waste to your ironclads, rather then stepping on your infantry, and will stand still for that brief moment where you miraculously achieve enough firepower to destroy him in one turn. God help you if you decide to go for the achievements.

All that said, the game has potential. If it simply had more content and diverse factions that would allow for actual tactical options.
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92 of 130 people (71%) found this review helpful
1.9 hrs on record
Posted: May 5, 2014
This game has a framework with so much potential I was really excited the first few rounds.

Unfortunately, before long it starts to feel like playing rock-paper-scissors with, well, a computer. Random play is equally effective as well-thought strategy and winning or losing feels like a flip of the coin. However if you lose a round the computer will replay the round virtually identically so it becomes trivial to win next time.

There's a really good game waiting to be made here, but this isn't it.




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43 of 53 people (81%) found this review helpful
41.4 hrs on record
Posted: October 4, 2013
I really enjoyed this game and chose to go through every optional challenge for a full completion of the campaign. Even so, it was fairly short (around 12 hours for a full-clear?) The multiplayer was also enjoyable, but not a compelling reason to buy. The campaign missions, challenges, and puzzles were solid and I really enjoyed the setting for the game (more than I expected to.) I recommend picking this up if you like a good strategic game with reasonable depth and multiple paths to victory. I bought it as part of a full price two-pack and would buy again. Completing all of the challenges (especially without using cards from much further on in the campaign) made this have just the right difficulty level for me to really like that challenge without thinking it was stupidly hard or "lucky."
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29 of 36 people (81%) found this review helpful
2 people found this review funny
46.5 hrs on record
Posted: October 12, 2014
I've been playing Ironclad Tactics off and on for over a year. Only now, after earning every card, I realize that I forgot to write a review. It’s sort of a Plants VS Zombies game except that it’s Zombies VS Zombies, and the zombies are steampunk mechs.

The pace is realtime, but it moves slow enough to allow some thinking time for your next moves. Most of the challenge comes from building specialized decks to solve the puzzle that each level presents. Your AI opponent will have the upper hand with some new attack or defense and you’ll have to come up with a counter. Most of the time this results in a tense battle of planning, wits, and fortune. When you tweak a deck combo into working just right it feels great! Each new card opens up lots of tactical options and completing challenges for cards feels rewarding.

The civil war theme and story are awesome. I love the characters and animated comics that set up you journey across America. The in-game art and animation is beautiful. It’s easy to tell every unit apart and their abilities match the visuals. A robot with a jetpack files, dude with a shotgun has spread attack, and a flame thrower hits multiple targets. The music fits and is serviceable, but for me it’s one of the weakest points of the game. Something less traditional and more gutsy could have really helped some of the longer play sessions.

Each level starts by showing you 5 random cards from your deck of 20, so sometimes it feels like a lucky/unlucky start can make or break a win. If cards come out in just the wrong order it can kill a plan, but managing this problem is also part of the art of deck building. It improved a bit with the release of the first DLC where you can now spend 1 action point to ‘save’ a critical card for later.

The first DLC uses an army with a completely different and fun style of play. It’s satisfying playing as the boss enemies that were beating you down in the final levels and to understanding the logic behind how their robots transform. It also fills in missing parts of the story with more comics. The second DLC is very stripped down, but still provides new interesting abilities. Playing the ‘War’ mode, where you’re stuck with either French or Germany armies, varies the play styles just enough to keep things fresh.

After completing everything it feels like every inch of the design space has been explored. Not every ability or tactic is perfectly balanced, but there’s lots of viable strategies to solve each problem. That said, I haven’t played multiplayer which would be a much better gauge of balance. There’s not enough players to support random matchmaking and I don’t feel like it would be that fun against friends (even if they unlocked all the cards). I also haven’t tried the co-op mode, which is supported throughout the entire game.

If you liked Spacechem, you might like this. It’s about building machines, but stochastic machines rather than logical ones. If you loved Spacechem then definitely play this to support the awesome developers!
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48 of 73 people (66%) found this review helpful
21.3 hrs on record
Posted: May 22, 2014
I was unsure about purchasing this game initially, but I'm glad I did. Although the gameplay looks quite simplistic, it turns out that there are many different tactical possibilities. Each level can be a bit of a puzzle to solve, and the solution often comes down to building a different deck. If at first you don't succeed, change the cards in your deck. Even so, you could have a good deck but still lose due the random chance of which cards are drawn. The first few cards are often crucial at the start of a battle, but don't give up, I've come back from some bad starts and still won.

Card games are usually turn based so I was a little surprised to find out that there's a fairly quick timer running constantly (with no pause unless you press escape, but you can't study the board while paused), so you have real time pressure forcing you to make quick decisions. Normally I hate this sort of thing, but in this case I actually like it. It didn't take long to get used to it, it ensures quick battles (which makes a nice change of pace for me because I normally play slowly) and while it puts you under pressure, the timer lasts long enough for you to make good decisions most of the time, although occasionally you'll mess up.

My advice is to have a clear strategy in mind before you start each battle (and construct a deck to support that strategy), so that you know exactly what you plan to do during the battle. This makes it much easier to make quick decisions. Often you'll lose each battle on the first attempt, usually because the deck you're using isn't appropriate for the new situation, but just treat that as a learning battle to help figure out the best strategy to win it.

Each battle often has 3 different victory conditions. You only need to win the battle to progress the storyline, but if you fulfill the extra victory conditions you win more cards. Often you'll need to play each battle 2 or 3 times to win them all, since you usually need to win some new cards to help you fulfil the extra victory conditions.

There's a multi-player option and some cards can only be won by using this option. I'm not normally a fan of multi-player but this game seems ideal for it because of the fast play timer and the short games. I also think that playing against another human with a custom deck would make the strategy a lot more unpredictable and hence interesting.

I've only played through about 10 battles so far so I'm not sure how much more the game has to offer yet. I may add to this review once I've played more.

My conclusion so far is that the gameplay and tactics are better and more varied than I expected and it's proving to be quite an addictive game. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys the random nature of tactical card based games, and the ability to create custom decks and play multi-player.

[Edit] I've finished the main campaign now, there's 19 battles in all. Later battles become extremely difficult and can be frustrating to complete. But they're all winnable, the key comes down to designing an appropriate deck, but even then it may take several attempts due to the random nature of card drawing. In spite of the difficulty, or rather because of it, I found winning to be even more satisfying.

I still haven't beaten all the battles with the extra victory conditions yet, but I'll be going back to do that. Not only that, but once you've beaten the campaign once, you can play the entire campaign again at a higher level of difficulty. I've spent 21 hours on it so far so there's plenty of value to be had from this game, and that's not even mentioning the DLCs which add new campaigns.

In response to some people who've said that there's not much depth to the strategy, they're wrong IMO. There's a massive number of different ways that you can construct decks and many different strategies you can use, you just need to use your imagination. For example, the rubbish prototype ironclads you get at the start of the campaign often came in very useful in the difficult later battles, simply because they are so cheap (you can spam them and use them as blockers).

So my final conclusion is that I highly recommend this game, provided you enjoy the random nature of card games and can handle the stress of the fast turns (you have about 3 seconds in which to play cards each turn, plus another 2 or 3 seconds to resolve the turn).
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35 of 53 people (66%) found this review helpful
51.1 hrs on record
Posted: June 26, 2014
(Most of the critisism here is about the expansion campaigns-- although I found the original campaign frustrating at times, it was in a more pleasant way!)

I love pretty much every game Zachtronics has released, and while I find this game mostly enjoyable, the amount of artificial difficulty introduced is maddening. The AI isn't particularly intelligent. The computer will frequently, for example, equip a weapon to an ironclad that is 3 empty spaces away from making it to your side, which is a waste of AP. If you pop an ironclad with a melee weapon right in front of an AI ironclad two spaces from your side equipped with a 2+ range weapon, they wont swap that weapon out to kill your ironclad and make it to your side-- it'll just sit there and die. To make up for the lackluster AI, however, the player is handicapped in a number of ways, making the game feel exceedingly frustrating at times.

The player receives a base 1.0AP per turn, while the computer gets 1.5AP. Then add on the fact that many of the AP-boosting objectives tend to be on the enemy's side, and the enemy often has units on the field to claim or defend them before turn 1.

This provides the illusion that the enemy's deck is an endless bag of cards where they can just pull out any card they desire at any point. The computer rarely needs to play defensively because they can just spam units to put YOU on defense. Maybe 10% of the time am I able to sneak a raider by the AI when there is an ironclad in play that they can maneuver into his path. Manage to an armored ironclad out to scrap with one weilding a 1 damage weapon? you've got about a 75% chance that they have some way to boost the damage to ignore the armor(depending on enemy factions). You can see how many cards the enemy has in hand, so I don't think the computer actively cheats in this regard-- it's just because of the massive AP boost that the AI gets-- cards don't need to go to waste.

TL;DR- Playing checkers with a skilled player is fun, even if they beat you. Playing checkers with an incompetent player whos friends pop in to give them extra game pieces whenever they lose some is frustrating.
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22 of 30 people (73%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
3.8 hrs on record
Posted: September 22, 2014
I gave it a try during the free weekend and liked it enough to pick it up to own permanently.

For the sale price at the very least it offers a fast engaging RTS type game where the real strategy lies in setting up your deck to beat the specifics challenges that each stage holds in store for you. Amusing civil war steampunk story and visuals just add to the charm as far as I'm concerned.
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47 of 79 people (59%) found this review helpful
1.8 hrs on record
Posted: April 20, 2014
I was a very big fan of Space Chem (previous game from this designer) coming into this, with hopes of a similar brain-xploding idea of complexity condensed down into pure fun. While this has some great deck building elements and interesting play mechanic, it seems to just boil down to spamming cards. And sometimes the only way to learn a level is play it and lose 20 times with different deck builds each time before finally one clicks. Now this same process can be said for many games like Super Meat Boy or others of the same ilk, but while those are quick to reset and get you back into the meat of it, this game takes time and turn order. It builds up and leaves you very twitchy and pissed when the next deck combo doesn't work. Interesting premise and great presenation, but just hampered down by mechanics that seem to wear down before their final destination.
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19 of 29 people (66%) found this review helpful
10.2 hrs on record
Posted: January 22, 2014
Really intriguing concept, but gameplay (single-player, at least - I haven't played any online matches) is awkward and ultimately unsatisfying.

On paper it sounds great: take the deck-building elements of a CCG and then use the deck to spawn not just static units, but pieces on a small gameboard (lane-based, in this case.) The biggest reason it doesn't all come together is that given the scrolling card mechanic, even the best decks show huge variability in effectiveness depending on draw order.

You can play one round and get nothing but "upgrades" while your opponent rolls out unit after unit, then start over with the same deck and steamroll her right off the map. I know, you're thinking "L2P n3wb, u hav to balance ur deck." But that's really not it. A deck that's statistically well balanced can still hit awful runs, and because each player's hand is constantly pruned to the last 5 cards dealt, there's no recovering from them.

As it stands, the strategy aspect of the game feels pretty much absent - less like poker, more like war (you know, the card game "war.") Plenty of flavor, just not much depth.
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19 of 29 people (66%) found this review helpful
7.3 hrs on record
Posted: September 24, 2013
This is a fantastic strategy game with a great deckbuilding component. There are no levels or XP, just more cards which while diversifying your options, does a great job of not being strictly more powerful than your starting cards. Highly recommended if you like turn based strategy.
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14 of 21 people (67%) found this review helpful
7.2 hrs on record
Posted: November 27, 2013
One of the best card games to come out in recent memory. The quick timer on every turn transforms the game into a fast-paced whirlwind of tactics that stimulates the part of your brain yearning for something fast-yet-strategic. You won't regret purchasing this game, I guarantee it.
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16 of 25 people (64%) found this review helpful
45.0 hrs on record
Posted: September 22, 2014
Fun tactical gameplay, cool graphic-novel visuals, and a cheap price. Sounds like a great package! And it is, for a little while. Unfortunately, the AI sucks, and instead of making a more difficult AI on the harder levels, it just cheats.

That's right, instead of bothering to make the game challenge you, the devs just give the AI more action points than you get, no deck limit (you have one), and the ability to play cards and abilities outside of the normal phases. That's incredibly lazy design, and it killed the budding affection I had for the game.

If you're a tactics fan and can get it cheap on a sale weekend, I'd say buy it - it's worth $3 for multiplayer. But I can't recommend it wholeheartedly due to the AI cop-out by the designers.
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