Smite Tactics Alpha Impressions, Currently Underwhelming

Smite Tactics is Hi-Rez’s new turned-based strategy game, a spinoff of the far more popular Smite MOBA. After months of putting it off, and being a longtime fan of TCG and Strategy games, I finally caved in and bought one of the founder packs to gain instant beta access. Was it worth it? Let’s find out!
 
Smite Tactics plays similar to the Fire Emblem or Final Fantasy Tactics games, where two teams fight each other on a map separated into grids. Here, however, the main goal is to kill the enemy leader before the enemy leader kills yours, summoning allies to assist you either with your attacks or defense strategies. These allies come under the form of cards that will remind some of the Hearthstone (or Yu-Gi-Oh) mechanics.



The basic gameplay is pretty straightforward if you are familiar with the games mentioned above. Put simply, you start by picking one of the Gods, possessing special abilities, and building a deck with cards that you will use in battle. These can take the form of lesser Gods, minions, items, and spells. 


One interesting point is that these lesser Gods will also posses special abilities. Ao Kuang, for example, leaves behind an illusion with 0/5 (attack/life). If this illusion isn’t destroyed by the end of the turn, all adjacent enemies take 2 damage. Medusa eliminates a damaged lesser God or minion and leaves behind a statue in their place. Finally, Loki can teleport to any enemy up to 3 tiles away, dealing 5 damage to the target. Unfortunately, despite having a number of options in terms of cards, a certain lack of creativity is nonetheless felt. While there is no arguing that the different pantheons have their own tones, their overall effects in decks as well as on strategies show no radical uniqueness.
 
Once your deck is ready, you can finally go into battle. Matches start with the main Gods being summoned on each side of the map. Then, just like in Hearthstone, they gain mana each turn, which allows them to summon their allies onto the map, or use spells. One thing you should know is that the maps are rather small, with 8x6 grids to move on. While this allows for some amount of freedom, once each God starts summoning their units and move towards each other, things start to get restricted. While this is not a bad thing (it would be a pain to chase an enemy God over a huge map), it gets quite easy for a skilled opponent to corner you at some point. Combat is pretty self-explanatory, with melee units having to be one grid away to attack enemies, and ranged units being able to attack from a set distance. One small complaint I have is that currently (and this will most likely change in future updates) some of the effects of certain abilities and spells are confusing, while the full attack range of minions and lesser Gods are unknown.


Obviously, taking skill and luck out of the equation, one of the main factor that will determine the results of your battles is the cards you have in your deck. If you are familiar with other TCG or Gacha based titles, you’ll know what to expect. Cards will have different rarity levels, with the best ones being the rarest. And to obtain new cards, you have two options. The first one is using the favor you obtain after battles to buy packs, with one pack having one pack costing 300 favor. Roughly, you will need to take part about 8 matches (and complete daily quests along the way) to be able to open 4-5 packs. This might not seem like much, but is actually a lot of work, even more so when you consider than you will most likely not get the cards you want. And the alternative is, you’ve guessed it, spending money to buy card packs. The best option right now is buying 60 packs for 3500 runes ($50), which puts the price to about 60 runes per pack.
 

Conclusion

In its current state, Smite Tactics is an interesting title that remains quite underwhelming in practice, if not bland. A lot of changes will most likely be introduced by the time the game is officially released, but until then, keep your hopes down.
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