|Purchase for iPhone:||
|Purchase for iPad:||
GD Star RatingSpectromancer HD,
Spectromancer – Gathering of Power (to give it its full name) is a fantasy collectible card game in which players duel in a similar way to games like Magic the Gathering. Co-created by Richard Garfield (creator of Magic the Gathering), Spectromancer is easy to learn, making it suitable for anyone to try. If you find MtG too complex to learn or too expensive to finance, but still want to scratch that itch, Spectromancer might just fit the bill. Whilst this HD version is only available on iPad, there is also a standard version available on iPhone.
The core mechanics of the game are simple: summon creatures and cast spells to attack and counter your opponent. Winning a duel is achieved by bringing your opponent’s health down from 60 to zero. You can play any of six different classes to begin with: Cleric, Necromancer, Mechanician, Dominator, Chaosmaster and Illusionist. Each class utilises five magical elements to cast and summon: fire, water, air, earth and one class-specific element. The value of these elements fluctuates throughout the game as you spend and accumulate them.
Spells and creatures are distributed as cards to each player randomly, based upon an algorithm in the game’s engine. This is very different from most collectible and deck building games, which usually allow you to select the cards you want in your deck. I was initially concerned that this would add too much ‘luck of the draw’ to the game, but every game I’ve played has seemed fairly balanced.
Each player has a row of six slots in which they can place their summoned creatures. If there is a creature in the opposite slot, they will do battle. If not, the attacking creature will do damage to the player’s hero, reducing his/her health. Spells can be cast to give the caster buffs or attack their opponent; the effects of some of these spells can be devastating, resulting in all creatures in play being exterminated.
There are also an additional nine classes available as one-off in-app purchases (three classes per package), but they are totally optional. These extra classes simply bring new strategies to the game, and are ideal for seasoned gamers who have mastered and exhausted the supplied classes.
In single player mode, there are four game types to choose from, and none of these require an Internet connection. Single Duel does pretty much what it says on the tin: duel against an AI opponent in a single battle. This is a great way to learn the different card abilities and classes, and prepare you for multiplayer. Campaign mode involves duels against various AI opponents, tied loosely together with a pretty standard story. Whilst the story might be a little dull, the duels are varied in difficulty and configuration, making gameplay interesting. League of Heroes is a tournament played against the AI, whilst Draft Tournament is the same thing, except you get to pick your cards to build your deck.
Multiplayer mode features three different ways to play. You can duel against a local player in LAN mode, duel against a local player in Hotseat mode (pass-and-play), or participate in the Online League. The latter requires a free Spectromancer account, and it allows you to fight in single duels, battle it out in tournaments with fixed groups of players, and enter the arena. Arena duels have special rules which change on a weekly basis, bringing new strategies to the game.
In addition to the multiple game modes available, there are some useful features that are worth mentioning. During games against the AI, there’s a ‘Get Advice’ button which suggests which card to play next. This is especially helpful for the fledging player, allowing you to jump right in to the game. For more in-depth information on each of the cards, classes and game rules, there’s a comprehensive guide book for quick reference. Finally, any game you play – online or offline – gives you the option at the end to save a replay. This allows you to review your previous duels, enabling you to learn from your mistakes and adopt different strategies.
Admittedly, Spectromancer’s visuals are not quite as sparkly as MtG or Hearthstone (the latter is not yet available on iPad), but this is more than made up for by the utilisation of screen space. Several iOS card games are pretty much unplayable on the popular iPad Mini because the developers cram too much in, clearly only testing their apps on the full size iPad. Conversely, I’ve seen a number of apps which provide a clean interface at the expense of functionality, requiring me to flick between screens constantly. Spectromancer has nailed the user interface, achieving UI perfection: minimal clutter, maximum functionality.
9/10 Spectromancer is a rare treat in this age of pay-to-win. Packed with every gameplay mode you could ever want and stacked full of cards, it delivers the whole package. Whilst the story is a bit weak, the ease of play and depth of strategy makes this the most enjoyable CCG I’ve ever played.