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Ironclad Tactics

December 23, 2013

Dear Reader,

I logged several hours this weekend playing both my hardcore character on Path of Exile and getting further into Ironclad Tactics.  Path of Exile provided little surprise; we got to the final boss in normal mode, killed him with little fanfare, and then moved on.  We completed the first act of “cruel,” the second difficulty, in a single sitting, again with little fanfare.

There were a few more tense moments, particularly when we encountered a new type of “nemesis mod,” or special buffs that monsters have.  The mod is called “corrupted blood,” which doesn’t reveal much about its purpose like, say, “protective shield” does.  Apparently what corrupted blood does is give the monster a nasty thorns dot that builds up with each attack.  So if you don’t know what it does and have a very high attack speed champion, you can get in a lot of trouble very quickly, as I did.  I had a ton of stacks of the dot on me before I knew what it did, and it melted my shield and half my life before they wore off.  A few more attacks on the mini-boss and there would have been nothing I could do to save my own life.  Luckily, that didn’t happen, but it was closer than it should have been.

More of my weekend was spent with Ironclad Tactics, a game similar to Card Hunter but, I feel, a little more designed around strategy than luck.  Card Hunter is what it is, and I enjoyed the time I got out of it, but by the end, I was again frustrated by how “unlucky” I felt I was getting with my card draws.  In Ironclad Tactics, you only have one deck instead of three, and that deck is only 20 cards.  Since you have 5 in your hand at a time and they all recycle immediately upon being played, it’s a lot less RNG heavy.

The concept is an alternate steam-punk history of the Civil War where huge iron golems were designed to help the North fight against the South.  However, “somehow,” the South gets Ironclads, too.  The game then goes on a journey to find out how and, I assume, eventually win the war.  I haven’t gotten past the “how” part yet.  The boards are nicely different with some different mechanics to them.  Sometimes there’s fortifications that you can capture for extra ability points that allow you to cast more cards.  Other times there are mortars that you can occupy to score free victory points.  Additionally, there’s “board specific” bonuses, like cows, or board specific hazards, like spiked walls or shield generators.

What’s nicest about it is the complexity of deck design.  There are multiple “factions” of cards (think, perhaps, like colors in magic), and each deck can only contain 2 factions.  As a result, you can’t just super-power your deck with all the best cherry-picked cards.  Instead, you have to consider the board design, the goals of the board, and the enemies you’ll be fighting and design the deck around those goals.

Some boards are pretty much cakewalks, and others are very, very tough.  In fact, I’ve ragequit twice in the past two days over the same board.  However, as it should be with a good challenge, I don’t feel completely stuck; instead, I’m pondering different options for deck design, considering what’s killing me, and trying to figure out how to overcome those problems.  Should I have stronger but more expensive units?  Should I have cheaper units that I can cast more of?  Only trial and error will tell, and while it can be frustrating to be devastated YET AGAIN, it doesn’t leave me feeling helpless.

So if you see Ironclad Tactics for cheap during the Steam sale, I’d suggest you consider giving it a whirl.

Sincerely,

Stubborn (and strategizing)

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