Game: Tactics Arena
Category: Board / Tactics
Tested on: Debian Linux + Firefox
Rating: 5 out of 5
Offered by: Tao Games (link)
Back in the good ole’ days, a couple bright lights came up with a new computer board game that was a variant of Chess. The game was called Archon and became a huge success not only due to its novelty, but also because of it’s excellent gameplay and presentation. Many folks have fond memories of playing this game for hours on end on Apple and Commodore computers.
While stumbling around looking for tonights entertainment, I found Tactics Arena. This is a Flash based game that comes in as one of the most polished and well done games I’ve seen seen in a while.
The game consists of playing pieces on a board. The pieces can move, attack, and turn, and when and what they can do depends on their piece type and when they last moved. For instance, a Cleric can cast a healing spell on all your pieces, but can’t move again for 4 turns after that. Assassins can attack everything within reach of their space, but can’t move for 2 turns afterwards. Sorceresses have a nice area-effect fireball that can be delivered at a distance, etc etc.
The gameplay is very well balanced. It becomes immediately apparent that the key to winning is understanding the full capabilities of your pieces, including their strengths and their weaknesses. An assassin does enormous damage at close range, but has very little defense. A knight can do enormous damage, but doesn’t move too fast. You get the idea.
There’s not a lot of ‘plot’ or anything. Basically the gameserver environment consists of ‘lobbies’ where folks can gather together and challenge each other to games. Players are ranked on a points system similar to Chess (a basic player starts out with 750 points). This just a layer to make the whole system more competitive. Don’t let it fool you though. The game is a great head to head, “Lets go play Tactics” with a friend game. The in-game chat is great for snarky commentary (‘I knew you were going to do that.’), but doesn’t get in the way of the game play.
The chat room(s) are about what you’d expect on an online ‘head to head’ gaming room with a distinct fantasy bent. A lot of 3l337 yammering, but don’t let that fool you. Find a set of players, pick up a table, and go play.
If you like playing chess, and like playing fantasy-oriented tactical games, then this is one you should definately take a look at.