Everything good has an identity. It knows what it is and sticks with it. Give me Italian or Japanese straight-up. I don’t need Italian-Japanese fusion garbage. If you’re Michael Jordan, you hit jumpers, not curveballs. I’ll watch a drama or comedy, but not dramedy.
As a kid, I made a “suicide” drink at McDonald’s. Coke, Sprite, Dr. Pepper, Root Beer, orange, etc. I thought it would be cool, edgy, something I could market as a new drink and make me a millionaire at age 12. But all I got was a disgusting mess that gave me a headache.
EA’s freemium Heroes of Dragon Age (iOS, Android) lacks identity. It’s supposed to play like a card game, but it doesn’t. It looks like a squad tactics game, but it isn’t. It needed to pick one and go all out.
A “pack” is bought, which yields one character, which is arranged into a squad of five. After some seasoning and dressing, you put them in a Quest or PVP and watch them battle automatically. This passive play is the biggest drawback. You’re more of a general manager than a play-caller.
A real card game, such as the highly replayable Order and Chaos Duels, requires the player to use in-match tactics to attack and counter the opponent’s move every turn. In a squad tactics game like Battle Nations, how and when you attack are just as important as positioning or the troops brought to battle. In Heroes of Dragon Age, you pick your battles and hope what you’ve done pre-match is good enough.
The characters’ position in battle matters. Those in front gets hit more, those in back gets a higher chance of double-damage hits. Each character’s class also matters. There are five in all: Common, Uncommon, Rare, Epic and Legendary. Since it is not extremely difficult to get a Rare or Epic, the only purpose of the Common and Uncommon card is to be consumed by the stronger cards to make them stronger. There are no pawns in battle, only Queens and Knights.
It is also possible to combine two of the same character to create a new character. This was especially exciting. I had two Corrupted Spider 1’s. I combined them and got…wait for it…Corrupted Spider 2! Then I got a Rare character and to the consuming fire spidey went.
Each character is also color-coded to reflect its faction. If all your guys have the same color, there’s a bonus. And different colors are weak or strong against each other, but I didn’t pay attention to that. I went with the strongest characters regardless of color.
There are also runes to help you win battles like those that help your crew less susceptible to stun attacks.
In the single player game, there are several quests with a timeline of key moments in the history of the Dragon Age universe. This is the most interesting aspect of the game, but it makes me want to read the novels, not play this game more.
The game’s not all bad, but a freemium needs to be replayable, and this isn’t. If you want to play a card game, try Order and Chaos Duels. If you prefer a squad tactics game, then Battle Nations.