There are no dearth of games on Android, that’s for sure. But perhaps it isn’t an exaggeration to say that majority of them simply reuse the same old material, same old gameplay, or same old idea over and over again. There are times, however, when something unique comes along, either by offering something completely new or through a rather creative mashup of familiar elements. Epic Arena is one of the latter.
Creator Travian Games describes Epic Arena as “chess on steroids”, but that doesn’t really capture the essence of this game. In truth it’s like chess, with Magic the Gathering inspired summoning and power ups, with MOBA-style “destroy the enemy’s tower” goals, and Plants vs. Zombies progression system. Sounds confusing? Sounds interesting! You take the role of an unaffiliated commander who must make the decision to join either the Brotherhood of Order or the Legion of Chaos (DotA anyone?). Each battle consists of putting down your units (chess pieces) on hexagonal cells, summoned from a randomly shuffled deck of cards. You are allowed a fixed number of moves before you hand over the turn to your opponent. Cards can either power up your own units, heal them, or deal devastating magic to your enemies. A mission is over when you destroy the other side’s “artifact”, basically their tower of power. That just about sums up the basic setup of the game.
Epic Arena’s graphics isn’t as resource intensive as some “Triple A mobile games” (can we use that term now?) on Android, but that’s not to say they’re not good. They’re done well enough that they don’t look disturbing or distracting, but they do lack a bit in detail. You won’t find any gorgeous card artwork here either, but that’s not really surprising. This isn’t Magic 2015, even if it may, at times, feel like it. Controls are simple, easy, and all touch-based. Considering the nature of the game, there is no need for kludgy virtual joysticks. Everything happens at a tap. Tap and hold brings up more details about units and cards, and swipe and pinch manipulate the view, which you might want to do especially when units start filling the board.
Likening the game to chess isn’t completely inaccurate either. While soloists might find the game playable in solo missions, the game really shines through in online player vs. player matches. So yes, you can play with a real, live human being (presumably) from some other part of the world. Or maybe just down the street. You can take your time in the Duel Mode, where asynchronous gameplay is allowed, or you can feel the rush of adrenaline in Blitz Mode, where time is not your friend. Epic Arena is a cross-platform game, and by that they mean Android, iOS, and Facebook. It is also free to download and play, but after a while, but you will be met with (optional, they say) in-app purchases. But you probably already expected that.
Download: Epic Arena on Google Play Store