A Card Game by Any Other Name
Quinterra is an early access fantasy tactics game. Billed as a rogue-lite, turn based tactics game, Quinterra tasks you with building an army so that you can conquer five separate domains across the game world. Being an early access game you would expect a few rough spots, but Sidereal Studio have released a nearly ready for primetime game.
While the game is turn based do not expect something akin to XCom. Quinterra has more in common with the slew of card games that have hit the market in the last few years, think more Slay the Spire but taking place on an Endless Space hex map. However, like a card game you only see your units on these cards that you draw based on the decisions you take and on the resources and placement of each hex on the grid. The units in your army can be fortified via the resources that appear on hex so at the beginning of your turn deciding which units to place where, is crucial in the battle to come.
Battles are deceptive in that a simple comparison of health and attack power seems the obvious route to victory. That however is the best way to a quick defeat. Placement on the map to take advantage of the resources that will add various abilities and buffs to your units is essential. Understanding how the opponent can flank you by placing stronger units or even weaker ones on hexes adjacent to yours to take out your stronger units by force multiplication is also important. These are mistakes I made often in the early game.
Each unit has of course its own strengths and weaknesses. One may gain an additional attack if it kills an enemy, but it may not be the most powerful or have the most health so choosing when and where to deploy that unit is important and can be the difference between defeat and victory. Between battles you will have the chance to upgrade your units by either spending in-game resources at the marketplace or applying the rewards you gain at the end of each battle to the next battle. With limited resources and only one reward available out of a choice of three you will agonise over each decision. Making things a little too difficult, a trait shared by most games to be fair, is that the choices you make must be made immediately without the ability to refer to your units or records.
Compounding the difficulties is the tutorial. It is not badly designed per se, but info dumps too much about intricate systems and their interaction in a short space of time. Games that introduce their systems gradually through the opening levels tend to stick in the player’s mind more and lead to a more engaged and satisfying experience with the game. This is not a game breaker but did lead to some frustration with the game as well as a bit of backtracking and replaying of the tutorial a couple of times just so that I could get a handle on the systems. This is a problem that will be alleviated in time as players create guides and their own tutorials.
Where the game shines, is in the art design. The maps are colourful and interesting, and each domain is distinctive. The same extends to the unit cards, looking like something that would not be out of place in a Hearthstone pack. The anthropomorphised animals that are represented on each card are wonderfully represented and detailed. These designs could easily be best sellers if ever reproduced physically.
Overall Quinterra is an interesting entrant into the genre and despite the muddled labelling, it is an engaging rogue lite card game. At the current price of around $10 it is well worth your time to check out and with improvements to the game and mechanics coming with every patch some of these rough spots are sure to be smoothed out.