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Caledonian Deathwatch Network

Game Review: Horus Heresy – Legions

Developed By: Everguild

Platform(s): Windows, Android, iOS

Genre: Turn Based Card Game

 

Overview

Relive the cataclysmic battle of Istvaan III, as you take the role of one of the heroes or villains from this crucial juncture in the entire Horus Heresy! Legions is a strategy card game, in which your Warlord brings all their resources to bear against their opponent, rallying troops and utilizing tactics in order to defeat their enemies.

Gameplay

For those who have played other trading card games such as Magic the Gathering, or Hearthstone (which this game shares more similarities with), Legions is a great, fun experience for TCG fans who want to get their 40k (or 30k more accurately) fix. You start the game with one basic deck, with Luna Wolf Captain Garviel Loken as your deck’s Warlord and a preset deck. The aim of the game is simple – to win, you need to take all the hit points from the opposing warlord, while defending your own. Sounds simple right? Well as most fans of these games are only too aware of, the absolute plethora of available cards makes this a much more difficult task than it would seem.

You start the game with one Energy point (and some advanced decks such as Ahriman or Magnus utilize the additional resource of magic), and every turn both you and your opponent increase this resource by one. In this way, the game is more similar to hearthstone in its mechanics than Magic the Gathering. Each turn you can play cards equal to the total value of remaining energy you have left, or you can use abilities that your cards may possess. Your warlord is also present on the battlefield, and each individual warlord has a different unique ability. This is where the true depth of deck development comes into effect, but more on this later.

Each unit (unless its rules say otherwise) can attack or use it’s ability once every round. Most units need to wait a full turn before acting, but as is always the case with these kinds of games, there are certain exceptions. There is an incredible array of rules and abilities available to units and warlords. For example, here is a brief list of some effects which I encountered during play:

  • Pay Energy to deal damage to a unit
  • Pay Energy to destroy a unit
  • Trigger an effect when this unit enters play or is destroyed (this is a wide range in itself)
  • Block the front line – forcing units to target these units with attacks first before attacking other units

The above list barely touches the tip of the iceberg, but hopefully this conveys the point – that every rule in the game can be broken and manipulated in some way with the appropriate card effect. This goes even further when you consider the effect of tactics (spell) cards. These have an instant effect, such as draw a card, or destroy a unit etc. Many strategies and decks can be built around intelligent use of these cards. This is where deck building strategy comes into play.

 

Lets stick with the example of Loken, as he is the first Warlord that you will use. Each warlord has an affiliation, firstly whether or not they are Loyalist or Traitor, but also their respective Legion. This means that depending on your warlords affiliation, certain cards will be of use to only Warlords of that Legion. There are many cards which are available to everyone, and its all about blending your warlord’s rules with the other cards you have available. Loken’s ability allows him to deal two damage to an enemy unit. His attack attribute is also two, but crucially this means that he will receive no damage in response during an attack if he uses his ability. So to get the most out of Loken, it can be advantageous to defend him using other units while chipping away at the enemy warlord with his damage ability. This is a very basic example, but the options available go far deeper than I have explored.

When you start to unlock more cards (more on this in a moment), more and more strategies become available, and some truly unique come into their own. I unlocked Mortarion, and one of the first abilities I saw was worth a whopping TWENTY energy (when your maximum is ten). This is called a Reckoning card, and all the Primarchs have access to this type of card. Playing it triggers a strong additional effect for them, and you can often find yourself building your deck around unlocking this power card as quickly as possible. Some characters like Mortarion have lots of additional health, but his ability for example stuns enemies rather than damaging them. This in itself can be good – don’t want to eat ten damage from that tank? Stun lock it. I am not doing justice to the combos available – this game is surprisingly deep.

So you’re probably wondering at this point – this is a TCG, where are all the micro-transactions? My experience has been predominantly on Android, and I am happy to report I have paid the princely sum of £0.00 for this game so far. The game is great at awarding you coins for winning games or participating in events – you also get a free chest every day with cards and gold in it. You can buy more gold if that is your inclination, but it absolutely is not necessary. I have won a lot of games using only the free cards that I have unlocked, and I’ve never really felt properly outmatched in any of the battles I lost – it’s good, tactical and closely fought. Additionally, the developers also have events running which you need event tickets for. You can buy these, but again I have always received free ones in my challenge chests and daily chests, so I’ve never felt excluded from this content. The last one I played in, there was a TITAN opposite me – I was able to take the role of Ahriman, and attack its various pieces to bring it down. That was another example of a uniquely constructed enemy, and it was a pleasure and challenge to take it on.

Story

The Horus Heresy is the most quintessential example of why the 30k/40k universe is so popular and adored among its fanbase. The entire heresy was launched from this betrayal. Horus and all those from the legions who were loyal to him (Emperor’s Children, World Eaters and Death Guard to name but a few), sent all their “loyalist” brethren to Istvaan III for a “routine” purge and compliance. From there, the betrayal was launched, and the planet was bombarded, virus bombed, and ultimately invaded again – this time by the heretical space marines who were loyal to the Warmaster as opposed to the Emperor.

The game itself doesn’t elaborate much on the story – but there is cool dialogue between certain pairs of opponents who actually crossed paths during this event. The game also takes some license with the story for the sake of including more legions – and I completely agree with this stance. The Thousand sons and Ahriman and Magnus are playable for example, but they were both on Prospero dealing with Leman Russ around this time (who is also playable I should add).

If you’re after more information about the Heresy in general, my best recommendation would be to read the first three Horus Heresy books from Games Workshop’s Black Library. They remain to this day the most essential reading in that series in my opinion, and paints the story of Loken, his ascension to the Mournival, and ultimately the betrayal at Istvaan. This trilogy will also familiarize you with most of the key players in this game too, and get a feel for what their decks are like based on their personality traits.

Roundup

This is an essential download for any fan of the Horus Heresy, or even Hearthstone or Magic the Gathering. The mechanics and strategy of the game are deep, solid and challenging – and ultimately rewarding. Its awesome fun seeing the major players of the heresy slug it out, and even more fun building exciting and crazy decks which enable you to reenact some of these truly historic battles in the time of Heresy. It is great fun, picks up and plays well in short or long sessions, and is just damn good fun!

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