At first blush Battleforge appears to be an amalgamation of Magic the Gather and Warcraft, a PC game that combines the strategy and pacing of a well put together real-time strategy game with the collectible nature and infrastructure-free feel of a trading card game.
During last night's EA event Richard Leinfellner, executive producer of the game and video president of developer Phenomic, walked the press through a quick co-op battle.
While Battleforge has single player and versus modes, it appears that it's really, at its heart, a cooperative game, supporting up to 12 players.
To play, players first build a deck from the cards they've collected by working through the campaign, which rewards gamers with new cards, trading online or buying booster packs.
Once the deck has been built, players use these cards to summon their armies, there are no production buildings or resource management, instead you fight to capture territories, which gives you the ability to summon larger and larger creatures.
In the demo we were shown one of the players used more of the aggressive, direct attack cards, while the other player used cards that were more about support and healing. While most of the cards we saw summoned creatures, which were then controlled like units in a typical real-time-strategy game, some of the cards were spells that did direct damage. The Inferno card, for instance, dropped comets onto an area.
Some of the game's creatures have specific abilities, for instance the Juggernaut, which is a massive creature that deals high levels of damage, also can charge it's way through enemy walls and fortifications.
The demo ended after the two players worked together to take down a sort of boss enemy. Once the enemy was defeated both players won his card, which they were then able to use in future battles. So winning a battle in campaign, gives you this permanent reward.
After the demo I tracked down Dirk Ringe, one of the development team members, to quiz him on some of the ins and outs of the game. Unfortunately, I couldn't check the game out because they were having some technical issues when I went by.
The game will support co-op up to 12 players and versus up to four. There will also be the ability to play through maps as a single player, but it doesn't sound like that's really the game's focus.
Ringe said the company plans to sell booster packs for the game starting with its launch, though you won't need to buy them if you don't want to. Essentially these packs will be a collection of random cards which might make deck building easier, but won't really give you a leg up on your competition. The game will include a robust system designed to allow gamers to permanently trade cards with one another, to bolster and fine-tune their decks. It won't support the ability to compete for cards, but players could always try the honor system.
From what I saw of the game it looks like it has quite a bit of potential, I like the idea of stripping away some of the resource management aspects of strategy gaming and making it a bit more about the combat.