In his debut review for CIG, we sent Danny Boyle in to batlle….with trading cards
Battlegrounds of Eldhelm gets off to a great start by describing itself as a “free to play collectible card game”, and with a meagre pricetag of £3.99 that sounds like a great deal…. Wait a minute!
So as it turns out the pack we bought was the full game that gave us additional heroes, gold, outfits and instant skill training. This proved to be a waste of money, seeing as the game positively refused to connect us to any server. Consequently, this review is of the free browser version of the game. Great.
The first thing to notice about Battlegrounds of Eldhelm is its strikingly beautiful opening music. Imagine a mix of ambient sounds, wind instruments and drums; it is a bit like Enya but without the annoying vocals. Then when you start a card duel, you are greeted by a much more suitable, war-like cacophony of sounds that do little more than distract from the game at hand. Those of you who have tried to play a card game whilst someone insists on blaring music will understand our griping.
The artwork for the cards themselves is reminiscent of other fantasy collectible card games, like Magic the Gathering and the World of Warcraft Trading Card Game. Some cards have a certain charm that we found ourselves chuckling at a bit, the bad breath card is particularly funny. When it came to te character art, however, we were less amused; we were disappointed to see that the elf faction was represented by a scantily clad woman. It came off as sexist more than anything else, not at all fit for purpose.
On that subject, why is it not possible to play as a human female? Why must we be stuck playing as a generic paladin, thief or orc warrior?
It is worth mentioning here that the game does feature a character customisation system but as our premium pack did not work we can’t comment on it.
The game features; a multiplayer mode where you are paired off and face another opponent of similar level, a slay the beast mode where you are awarded gold for how long you survive against higher level opponent, and a campaign mode for those of us who hate people. There are some additional challenges with themes such as The Bounty Hunt daily challenge where you must hunt and kill an escaped criminal.
The single player modes prove very useful ,and you will come to find yourself playing them after realising that most people, when losing, will simply drop from the game.
The actual meat of the game is poorly realised and executed just as badly; things boils down to a system similar to rock, paper, scissors for strategic depth. A typical game plays out like so:
- Step one – draw cards.
- Step two – choose highest damage or defence cards.
- Step three – place whichever one does highest damage and which defends most, on the table.
- Step four – watch numbers
- Repeat until someone loses all their health/quits.
It may sound like we just don’t understand card games but we can assure you we have played enough to spot a good and bad one when we see them. This game is most certainly a bad example of the genre.
The in-game market concludes our tale of woe. The market in this game is so convoluted and obtuse that we are convinced it just doesn’t want out money. The player spends real money to buy in-game credits, which are then used to buy gold? Why not just have one type of currency? Credits are only used for buying unique cards that are unlocked by completing the campaigns. Why have credits be the dominant currency when gold is more widely used?
Battlegrounds of Eldhelm had the potential to be a great example of the collectible card game genre. Unfortunately, formulaic and simplistic gameplay, paired with a difficult to understand marker and poor player base render it completely forgettable. If you absolutely must play a collectible card game, and for some reason detest the idea of actually having physical cards you can own and use to play real people the way it’s meant to be played, there are better alternatives. Get MTG 2014 or Hearthstone instead.
Battlegrounds of Eldhelm is available to purchase from Desura.