Trading card games are typically the domain of our sister website Australian Tabletop Gaming Network. However once those games drift over to the digital medium we snatch them up gleefully here at Pixel Pop Network.
Such is the case with Hand of the Gods: SMITE Tactics, a digital card game based on the existing SMITE universe from Hi-Rez Studios. Where many other card games are simply two decks of cards with a fairly static table between them, Hand of the Gods: SMITE Tactics has a digital battlefield that allows units to move strategically and attack enemies.
The game has just left Closed Beta and is now available freely to all in the form of an Open Beta. As the game is unfinished this isn’t a review but instead an explanation of what the game is about and the hope that you might try the game for yourself (it is, as I mentioned completely free).
The initial download from the website is around 70mb which, when launched, will download the remaining 5GB or so.
The game includes three tutorials which cover the basics. Drawing cards, playing cards and moving your creatures across the battlefield. Even if you’ve never played a trading card game before, this is all relatively straight forward and easy to understand. The cards themselves aren’t terribly complex in nature, with most of the strategy stemming from the right moment to play a card and how to move your units across the field.
Hand of the Gods: SMITE Tactics currently features five different factions – Chinese, Egyptian, Greek, Roman and Norse. Each faction has between 24 and 33 cards (not including Leaders) as well as 43 neutral cards. Factions cannot be mixed and matched although you may add neutral cards to any deck. While a bit limiting at the moment, it’s enough to get a taste for the game with plenty more cards and expansions on the way. Bear in mind it’s still beta so some artwork isn’t final and no doubt some cards will undergo further balancing.
Decks consist of 25 cards and you are given a number of pre-made decks (one for each faction) at the start of the game, although you may of course build your own custom decks. The game employs a mana system very similar to that of Hearthstone so you won’t be required to include mana in your deck like Magic: The Gathering or Eternal. If you are unfamiliar with any of those games, in short, you begin with ‘two mana’ and receive one more each turn of play. A playset (the most you can put in your deck of a single card) is two, which might sound limiting until you remember the 25 card deck limit. Decks will consist of Gods, Minions and Items.
Gods, Beasts, Soliders and more are going to help you defeat your opponent by destroying their Summoning Stone. Gods are unique to your particular faction, typically cost a little more to play and often have more powerful abilities. Minions are from the neutral faction and are available for use in any deck. Typically they are a little cheaper and often don’t have any abilities at all. The top left corner of the card denotes the cost to play it, while the number in bottom left is the damage it will inflict when hitting a target. The number in the lower right is the health and the amount of damage the individual can take before perishing.
Essentially spells or similar event-like effects such as damaging a creature, healing another, boosting a character or perhaps weakening them. Some items simply allow you to draw more cards from your deck while others let you draw specific cards from your deck. Any which way, items will have an impact on the current state of the game and if played well can tip the balance of the game in your favour.
Unlike most trading card games, Hand of the Gods: SMITE Tactics has a fully interactive combat arena of 8 x 5 squares. At each end of the battlefield are the Summoning Stones, with the objective of the game being to destroy your opponents Summoning Stone. Play Gods and minions to protect your stone and move across the battlefield to destroy your opponents. Due to this battlefield, many cards have special abilities that might buff surrounding creatures, perform flanking maneuvers and other neat tricks that you wouldn’t find in a traditional card game. When one summon attacks another it deals all of it’s damage in one go. Regardless of whether that creature would die or not it has the opportunity then to deal it’s damage back to the attacker, so keep this in mind when racing into battle. Ranged units exist and allow you to avoid the return damage that takes place in melee combat. Various cards exist to boost your attack and/or defence; some will make you immune to return damage and still others will boost your own return damage.
Completing quests will reward you with an in-game currency which will allow you to purchase more boosters. If you want to spend some real money you can do that too. Runes come in a variety of bundles with the cheapest being $4.99 USD for 200. With those 200 runes you can purchase two boosters for 150 runes. It works out to be roughly $1.87 a booster. As always if you purchase more runes in bulk or more boosters at once you’ll get a better deal.
However, before you drop a bunch of cash on individual boosters, a better deal still would be to pickup the Founders Pack for $19.99. It comes with a bunch of Legendary Gods, a founders icon, the founders card back, a skin for the SMITE MOBA and 15 booster packs, which if you ignore all the other loot still works out to be $1.33 USD a pack. Value.
Looking for more? The Venus Competitors Pack is $14.99 USD and comes with 76 cards, another SMITE MOBA skin, icon, card back and 10 boosters.
To give you a feel of what you might open in packs, here is a quick video I recorded of me opening the packs I received –
“Thanks for all this information Toby” you say “But what do you actually think of the game?” you ask.
I think it’s definitely worth a look, considering that the price of admission is free. I think the combat field is a novel and interesting idea that has a lot of possibilities. I think it’s still very much early days and it would be unfair of me to ‘grade’ the game while it’s still being built. Yes, I’d love some more cards, but they will come in time. In short I think the game has a lot of potential and it’s just a case of keeping an eye on it as we eventually move out of Beta.
But honestly, don’t take my word for it, download the game and check it out for yourself – https://www.handofthegods.com/
Thanks to the amazing team at Hi-Rez Studios we have FIVE codes for the ‘Greek Starter Pack’ to giveaway. These packs contain three powerful Greek Faction cards to help improve your deck and get the edge on your opponent. How to score one of these? Tell us your favourite Hand of the Gods: SMITE Tactics faction and why in the comments below. Make sure you use a valid email address so we can get in touch (Don’t worry only we can see it) and we will pick five winners Saturday August 5th at noon. As these aren’t physical prizes entries are open to any and all from around the world. Good luck!