I'm not sure how this one slipped through the cracks for me. A search shows Hark
mentioned it a while ago, and I vaguely recall planning to check it out but apparently I never did. Some of you may remember a while back there was a well received mobile TBS game called Hero Academy that a number of us played. Essentially it was like the tactical battle portion of HOMM, but pretty much multi-player only. It did provide both async and live MP which was very nice.
This game retains that competitive MP format, but takes it a step further, adding computer AI scenarios/campaign - but more interestingly a CCG element similar to MTG or Hearthstone. You can create a custom deck from cards that you win through completing scenarios, quests and, of course, spending cash. Decks are built from 2 "factions" (i.e. colors from MTG, which include Vikings, Ninjas and others) plus neutral cards in a deck of 40. Battles play out in a very simple grid-based map. The only variation on maps comes in the form of towers which can be controlled by attacking, after which they can be used to attack in a limited range. Controlling towers is not essential to win, as the only thing you need to do to win is destroy the other player's castle. However, towers are in close proximity to the castles, so depending on you strategy, they can be very useful. The single resource used during the game is gold (replacing mana), which simplifies gameplay somewhat.
Granted I've only been playing this a couple of days, but thus far I've found it more engaging than either Hearthstone, MTG or Hero Academy. Elements from each of the games are incorporated but simplified to some degree, so the gameplay is easy to learn and moves very quickly (live MP games have a timer). There is definitely enough variation in cards (units, all sorts of unit buffs, global buffs in the form of buildings which can also serve as tactical pieces, nukes, heals, etc etc) that strategic deck creation is very important. Battlefield complexity is just interesting enough that tactics definitely come into play. I found it really easy to pick up initially, but very quickly solid planning, smarter card choices and tactics became important to get further, both against humans and AI. It's really a fantastic blend of CCG with TBS. I've tried a number of games similar to this on iOS, but this is the first one I felt did a really successful blend that's both easy to get into but complex to master.
My big concern for MP is that certain cards or card combos will be unbeatable but I suppose that's always a risk with CCGs. I really don't know enough about the game to know what overall card balance is like. The good thing is that even if MP is a bust, there are plenty of SP scenarios to play as well, which is something that Hero Academy really could have used.
Would be fun to get an async group going again - as always my account name is "rittchard"