Last week, Just A Game – known best for War2 Glory in North America – opened beta testing for the public for its newest browser-based game, Kings and Legends. A card-based title, Kings and Legends promises players a melding of TCG and MMO. MMOHut took an early look at the title to see just what cards it had up its sleeve.
Kings and Legends is, at its heart, a combination of a trading card game and a turn-based strategy simulation. There are three key components to success: your town, your hero, and your cards. Although it lacks the multiplayer map and conquest that most online real-time strategy games do, Kings and Legends shares a few elements with these games, weaving them into a campaign driven primarily through single-player action. There’s game play for every type of strategist, from the ranking-driven to the story-driven.
The town is the heart of your play in Kings and Legends, serving as the main screen or lobby from which you can hop onto other adventures. In some ways the town mimics other strategy games; you must build different buildings over time, upgrade them, and even collect taxes. Town management is, however, minimalistic; no need to fuss over gathering five types of resources or fearing from enemy invasion. Everything is already laid out for you, and simply requires your authorization and payment to build at the appropriate level. That means, ultimately, there isn’t much to see; your change of scenery is limited, even on adventures.
Progression is focused on the other two key components: your hero and your cards. Your hero is named and chosen by you, and starting after level 10, can become one of four classes: ranger, warrior, priest, or mage. Class choice affects what tactical cards you can use in battle; for instance, ranger’s cards focus on control and ranged damage. Your hero can also be equipped with a variety of gear, which in turn can be upgraded and enchanted through the use of the Blacksmith and gems. Be warned: as in other free-to-play games, failure is an option in Kings and Legends, so ensuring success will mean farming for enough items to guarantee it, or buying in-game coin. However, for all this attention, your hero will only act as a tactical leader, unable to attack or defend themselves. While we’re disappointed the hero doesn’t take a more active role, we did find that the on-character display of equipment was a nice touch.
Every action – attack, defense, tactics, and so on – comes through the card deck. Cards can be purchased in packs or found in battle scenarios. Cards come with rankings based on their rarity, and have three major stats: attack, health, and cooldown. While attack and health are self-explanatory, a card’s cooldown dictates how long a player must wait before they can put the card in play after drawing it. Some cards may also carry special abilities, such as the powerful Vigilance, which allows a unit to attack behind it and to its sides. Other cards are ability cards utilized by your hero, and include buffs, damage, and other tactics to try to put the battlefield under your control.
Whether you’re in the map questing for control of the land from monsters (the main storyline itself is lacking, but this is the main drive for progression), battling with others in challenges (multi-part battles that are a bit like group instances), or fighting against others in the arena, each Kings and Legends battle looks the same. You will begin by drawing a few cards from your deck, and in some cases will have the option of reshuffling for a redraw. After that, you will alternate turns between the enemies and any other allies on screen. You may only play a unit card in the first three grid spots on your side of the battlefield, and only cards off cooldown (highlighted for you) may be played. If you have no cards to play, the game will automatically advance through your turn; if you are playing with other players, you are limited to 30 seconds to act. The first hero to die by being reached and brought down by card units loses, and if a battle lasts too long, a sudden death clause begins ticking away all players’ hit points each turn.
Unfortunately, that is all there is to battling – playing cards when you can, placing units where you think will be best, and letting your units handle the rest. While there certainly is an element of strategy in that you must consider where you place your units, which units to bring (although the deck manager’s autopick does a fine job), and when to use tactics, the overall battle feels more like one of attrition than strategy. While early battles fly by, later battles grind on for several minutes after the last card is played, leaving the players with nothing to do but watch their units and hope for victory. This makes battle ultimately very passive, especially considering the limited deck size. For example, we participated in an easy challenge in which we spent three minutes simply watching a huge wall of units from our side slowly advance on the enemy without our input, whittling away at health points.
While we loved some of the auxiliary systems in Kings and Legends, such as equipment enhancement, card combining, an emphasis on tactics over card power, and even an offline exploration mode, the gameplay ultimately felt lackluster at its core. Battles dragged on unnecessarily and did not sufficiently involve our input to engage us, immersion was faint in absence of an in-game storyline. Kings and Legends certainly has components that could build a great, robust trading card game, full of options and depth of play, and we hope that Just A Game can fuse them together into a long-lasting game that players can sink hours into without boredom.