Impression: ReignMaker

Jun 14, 2014

Playing ReignMaker is an absolute pleasure. It’s fun, fast, witty, and a welcomed break from the seriousness of Wolfenstein: The New Order. ReignMaker is from FrogDice Games and is a Steam Greenlight game and was released on April 16th, 2014. It’s a match-3 tower defense game combined with city-building political strategy. It’s incredibly creative and challenges players to have fun with diplomatic strategy as well as be quick minded (and quick to click) with match-3 battles. You really have to be quick with your match-3 skills before the invaders reach the gates! If you’re looking for a fun, light-hearted game that even your kids can play, look no further than ReignMaker.

 

City Management

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Your traditional RTS buildings are here: Lumber Mill, Granary, Blacksmith, Armory, Farm, Town Hall, and Academy.

The town’s people in Barhoumland are crazy! Actually, it all depends on how you respond to them. Throughout the campaign you’ll be faced with policies to set and 4 options to choose from when responding to a situation. For example, you may be asked what to do with 3 little ducklings that have been stranded by their mother. Do you feed them, ignore them, or eat them?! I chose to feed them and they then grew up and my town became famous for roast duck! You’re given the outcome immediately, which I found to be entertaining and a needed break from the stress of match-3 battles. These policies don’t shape the game as much as I’d hoped.

The interconnected nature of City Management and Battle is quite well done. There are a few RTS buidling classics to manage: a Lumber Mill, Granary, Blacksmith, 2014-05-27_00001Armory, Farm, Town Hall, and Academy. Depending on how you choose to manage them, you will see your resources change. Additionally, you can craft weapons, items and people to aid you in battle. When I created my first archer I felt a huge advantage in battle. But of course, like other RTS games, building or hiring a person takes resources from other decisions you will have to delay. It’s these decisions that in typically define the outcome of the match. Since ReignMaker is not a pure RTS, nor is it designed for PVP, you can make up for a decision that yields an undesired outcome over time without much penalty. While I do find enjoyment in building my city, it’s the battle system that really excites me and takes match-3 gameplay to a new level.

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Battle

 

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The battle map: where I decide the fate of the world!

Match-3 games are fun but typically they are their own genre. The lack of depth found in most match-3 games is the reason they’re a great fit for mobile devices: touch-based, quick gameplay, and try to beat the high score. But in ReignMaker, Battle is match-3 on a new scale. Effectively, 64 or more runes are randomly dropped into a grid on one side of the screen. While combining elemental runes such as air, earth, water and fire, you’ll take down the invading Void army of skeletons, bugs and the like. Occasionally the bad guys will drop gold that you can use to improve your city. This may sound like Plants vs. Zombies. That’s because there are similarities for sure. But trust me, it’s much different.

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Can you spot the progress and health bars?

The game will challenge you during the battle to combine particular runes and if you do, you’ll get rewarded with other resources, such as lumber, which you can then use manage your city. The battle-field is not highly varied but the way the match-3 area is setup does vary by region. Sometimes you have a 8×8 grid or larger. And sometimes the grids are separated into a diamond shape or horizontally so you can’t combine runes from the two halves. I love the diversity this creates. As for battle actions, depending on whether you create a vertical or horizontal set of at least 3, that’s how the runes will fire. For example, 3 fire runes vertically will send a stack of 3 fire runes out towards the bad guys from the center of where you created the match. You’ll want to plan appropriately as you may have two bad guys on the same row or several in multiple columns coming for your city walls. When you have a bad guy pounding at the wall but you are 3-4 moves from making a match to take him down, it is brutal! But the payoff is incredible when you ingeniously take him down. What’s really missing here are clear indicators of health and progress. When even small enemies were attacking me I constantly felt rushed to finish the match. The game would be more enjoyable if I knew how much of my defenses were left or how many more bad guys were coming. There are bars at the bottom where you add your item load-out, but they’re not clearly legible.

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The battles get even more diverse when you leverage the build-able items and buy-able people. As I alluded to earlier, players can buy archers, scouts and others to help them in battle in a variety of ways. You can also equip items such as nets and daggers to help you as well. The items are creative and a smart way to blend the two halves of the game (City Building and Battle).

 

Summary

ReignMaker is different from any other game you’ve played. The artistry is fun and bright; the mixture of City Building and match-3 battles is creative; and the $14.99 price tag is very accessible! If you’re a fan of match-3 games like Bejeweled or you like turn-based strategy games (Civ comes to mind but ReignMaker isn’t near as deep) then you’ll be remiss to not try out ReignMaker. The guys at FrogDice did a great job with this one. I’ll absolutely recommend it to my nieces and nephews and their parents too!

 

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