Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes PreviewBy Andrew Pfister - Posted Mar 22, 2010
Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes is a strategy-based puzzle game where specialized units face off against each other in a turn-based battle of offensive and defensive manuevering. If that sounds remotely familiar, you may have already played it on the DS late last year. It skipped underneath a lot of our mainstream radars, but puzzle/strategy fans were quick to give it a warm reception.
Ubisoft and developer Capybara Games were bolstered by that response and decided to bring Clash of Heroes to Xbox Live Arcade and the PlayStation Network sometime later this summer. After perceiving an unfortunate lack of games with high-resolution 2D art, XBLA and PSN were prime venues for Clash of Heroes’ visuals to shine.
For the uninitiated, Clash of Heroes is an amalgamation of games like Puzzle Quest, Advance Wars, and Fire Emblem. The battlefield is laid out vertically: you defend the bottom, your enemy defends the top. Specialized units that you acquire during the game’s 5 different adventure campaigns (one for each of the 5 factions) are randomly placed on this battlefield, and when you align them into groups of 3 or 4, you can launch attacks, create defensive barriers, or summon larger and more powerful units. Attacks break through enemy defenses and damage the back line, which then depletes your supply of hit points – first person to lose all HP loses the battle.
But of course, it’s not as simple as that. Each attacking formation has to wait a certain number of turns to “charge,” which means you’ll need to think strategically regarding who you want to attack and when. Lining up a set of 3 units vertically means that they’ll attack the other side when they’ve charged, while arranging them horizontally will turn them into a defensive roadblock that mitigates incoming damage. When four units are arranged together, they combine and form the larger unit – if one of these appears on the battlefield, you’ll want to keep a close eye on how many turns it has left before it attacks you. You can either focus all efforts on attacking the unit first to get it off the board, create defensive walls in front of it to soften the blow, or you can punch through a weaker hole in their defense, go after the back line and end the match as soon as you can.
Adding further complexity, each side gets a number of reinforcement units that can be called in when the going gets rough. The type of units you get are random, and the amount is based on your current level. Your chosen hero also has a special Hero Spell that can be activated during the fight, similar to the CO powers found in Advance Wars. The one example I saw was Anwyn’s “Sniper Shot,” which is a magic arrow shot that can be launched from anywhere on the board and attempts to go through all enemy units on its way to the back row.
There are 45 different units to be found in the game, spread across the five factions (Human, Necromancer, Inferno [demon], Sylvan [elf], and Academy [wizard]), and there are a few secret units to be found as well – like a unicorn that gives you a defensive wall across your entire front line that doesn’t count as taken space.
I’m one of those people who kind of automatically tune out after hearing the words “Might & Magic,” but Capybara Games’ dedication to delivering a complex and constantly dynamic puzzle-battle experience is clearly evident.