Wizard Ops Tactics takes the asynchronous multiplayer model established by games like Hero Academy and expands it. It features customizable teams of wizards that battle in eerie magical arenas. Like a game of chess, there are more options here can you would initially think. For some, this game might be the perfect challenge. For others, it might require too much of a time investment.
When the game begins, you are given the chance to go through the game’s tutorial. It’s heavily advised that you do so. While some tutorials are a quick few screens that explain the basics and leave the rest up to you, Wizard Ops Tactics walks you through the game step by step. As you complete the tutorial, you soon see why. Tactics isn’t like the other games out there.
First, wizards are categorized into elemental type, and each type has multiple abilities and attacks. Some wizards will fare better in certain situations than others. Second, each arena has unique environmental effects which could critically affect your game.
The result of these options leads to a steep learning curve and a lengthy tutorial. It seems to us that this might scare off some players, and perhaps it has. Tactics offers to set games up by finding your friend by username or getting paired with a random user. Often, selecting a random user resulted in a long wait for the next turn, leading us to believe this game has not yet found its audience.
Learning curve aside, the game allows you to pick which army you wish to play each game with. You gain wizards and other units by buying packs of these characters from the shop. As Wizard Ops Tactics is free to purchase, you can spend real or in-game money on these packs. the ability to customize your army is something that isn’t seen often, and we appreciated the originality here.
Depending on the arena you choose, your objective in each game can change. You can always win by defeating your opponent’s entire team, but there are also win conditions like capturing the enemy flag or maintaining a selected position on the board. The game also features a “Fog of War” that covers unseen areas of the board. The mist only lifts as you move characters deeper into the arena, which often uncovers enemies waiting to attack.
The arenas are somewhat large, which can lead to some very interesting or very boring battles. You are not given any wizards when you begin the game, but you do earn coins for completing the tutorial. Using these coins, you can then purchase packs to start building your armies. However, you will only have a few wizards to play your first matches with. Small armies and large arenas lead to boring rounds of walking and not attacking.
Controlling your army isn’t as simple as you might think on a touchscreen device. You can select a unit by tapping on him and selecting where you want him to go. Since some arenas have poison swamps or other traps, you might want to draw out his path by tapping on the arrow icons next to him. To perform an attack, select the unit and pick his ability. Movement and attacks eat up action points, so you’ll need to spend wisely. You can also stack actions on top of each other and perform them all at once for perfect, synchronized wizardry.
Wizard Ops Tactics is a game full of content and potential. The concept of an asynchronous arena game has certainly proved appealing to mobile gamers, but the most successful ones are simple to play and difficult to master. Tactics seems difficult from the first minute, requiring a lengthy tutorial and trial-and-error in order to learn even the basics. The option to buy packs and build multiple armies is definitely a plus, but it might not be enough to entice casual players.