We caught up with Boston Mass. based video gaming start-up Apocoplay for a first hand look at their upcoming video game "Alteil: Horizons." Currently in the middle of a Kickstarter, "Horizons" blends the deck-building components of "Magic: The Gathering" with the strategy of grid-based units found in "Might and Magic: Duel of Champions," however there's several key differences that set this digital collectible card game apart from its competitors.
You're allowed up to three copies of each card in your deck, and variance is removed from the game by allowing access to all cards rather than drawing from your library randomly. There's no set beginning life total. Instead, each player can have up to five "soul cards" which determine starting life and special abilities that can be activated when certain conditions are met. Each card offers a trade off: You could have a much higher life total at the expense of not having any special abilities or vice versa.
Every turn there's a number of SP to spend on casting spells, however you'll first want to raise your Sphere of Influence levels, each representing a different color of cards in the game. Creating a deck with a smaller number of Spheres of Influence in them allow you to quickly play more powerful cards, however your options are significantly reduced. On the flip side, decks with three or four colors require you to spend more time leveling up your Spheres of Influence in order to play your cards. There's some cards that can lower or raise you or your adversary's Sphere of Influence levels.
Creatures are placed on one of nine positions on a three by three grid. Position is vital, as each has a different attack range and/or abilities than can affect units around it. When one of your units is destroyed you'll have the option during the "revival phase" to take damage and let your creature die to recoup the resources spent to play the card or replace the unit with another copy from your deck. Because of the intricate resource management and having access to your entire library of cards you'll have to plan your moves several turns in advance.
One key element of the game is its day and night cycle, which can affect card types such as lycanthropes (werewolves), and the abilities of other cards which may grow weaker or stronger depending on whether it's night or day. In addition to PVP there's a single player campaign. In the hands on demo we played, a pair of fast wolves took down our knight before it even had the chance to strike. The key to overcoming this challenge was positioning another creature in front gave our ranged unit in order to buy enough time to destroy the wolves.
"Alteil: Horizons" is a slick upgrade to "Alteil," whose UI was clearly showing its age. Combined with the diverse and fantastic artwork we saw, this polished re-release is much more visually impressive than its predecessor. We're looking forward to exploring some of this free to play game's more intricate strategies in-depth post launch.