OK here's an update. The game is less like HA than I originally thought; though there are many similarities, in some sense it's a much more strategic affair. From what I can tell, there's very little (perhaps none) randomness involved. I believe you and your opponent have access to the exact same pool of unit types, and the only difference would be you each have 2 spells which could be different. From a map standpoint, it's a square grid, with the variation being where "power points" are located.
Here's how the game works. Each turn you start with a set number of energy points, nominally 10. These are used for summoning a unit, moving a unit, casting a spell, attacking, etc. Holding a power point at the end of your turn increases the number you have available to you, so these are important spots. The match is won by either killing enough of the enemy units (1 pt per kill) or destroying enough of their towers (2 pts per tower), or some combo in between (total of 10 points needed to win). There are about 7 or 8 unit types; each has a different set of stats and move/attack capabilities. Some units can only move diagonally, others can only move forward or to the side, ditto on attacking; range and energy points vary as well. Early on I suspect it's more about just getting used to the different units and understanding their limitations, and then as you become more experienced you'll understand what units counter what others the best, as well as different tactics/strategies to try.
Game modes are relatively straightforward. Multi is either local or internet (not sure if it's async but I assume so). Single is either campaign or custom. Campaign is really just a series of matches unlocking using different exterior maps with different accessible spells for you and your opponent; there's not much variation as far as I can tell. Each mission has different sub-goals if you are into that sort of thing (like only summoning a limited number of units, winning in an allotted time, etc). Otherwise you may have more fun just creating the custom fight you want to try, since you can choose the map (both graphically and where power spots are located), which spells you each get, etc. I haven't seen any different AI settings; I'm gonna ask about that.
Thanks for the update! Have they discussed a release date? Also, does it play somewhat similar to chess, ala Battle Chess?
They just finished v1.0 and sent it to the Apple Store for approval so probably a week or two to release. The candidate I played is very well polished.
It's similar to chess in that there is almost no randomized elements, so it's almost 100% a tactical game of move and counter-move. Also similar to chess, every "piece" has different movement and attack capability/limitation. So for instance, the ranger moves diagonally but attacks at right angles with a large range.
It's not like chess in that there are so many more permutations and variations that it's much more difficult to anticipate moves in advance, so the dev mentioned that was a limitation for AI. It's completely your choice what units to play so while you start with a clean, even slate, you can potentially use completely different units. And of course there are fantasy element "tactics" such as healing and hit points, as well as "spells" such as nuke/slow/acid (each player gets 2 which I believe can either be selected or randomly chosen).
If you played Hero Academy, it does share things in common with that game, but overall it's a much more tactical/strategic affair. HA had a higher degree of luck involved in terms of what units you got (randomly drawn) and when. Here you always have access to everything, but are limited by a set amount of action points.
I'm hoping we can get a group of people playing here again like we did with HA and get some fun matches going, as I believe the game is intended to be more for real players against each other. It's nice to have a single player AI to practice against, though, and thus far this one seems pretty strong.