World of Tanks Generals is an upcoming collectible card game from Wargaming.net. I got a first look at the free to play, browser-based battler at Gamescom this afternoon. I also got an extremely limited edition real-life demo deck to give away to one lucky person.
Generals will be playable from your browser. Wargaming.net are pushing for the tablet market as well as the PC audience, which is probably a wise move for an asymmetrical turn based battler. You'll get to create your own custom deck that'll be around 40 cards deep.
Over 200 cards are planned for launch, and there's a lot more to come. You'll unlock the majority of those by levelling up and progressing down a tech tree, but there'll also be a "Premium" selection of cards which you'll need to buy with real human currency.
It's very, very tanky. One of Wargaming.net's ambitions is to keep World of Tanks players immersed during their lunch hour or commute. A quick glance at the art, and leanings towards realistic tactics, confirms this. Don't expect lols. Expect war.
But how does it actually play? Players each get headquarters piece that's placed on opposite corners of a grid. Knock 20 hit points off that and it's game over. You can hit it with direct attacks from a nearby unit or ranged artillery, if you're into that kind of thing.
Generals reminded me of the excellent Summoner Wars with a few Magic the Gathering mechanics thrown in. It's a game that's trying to emulate a land battle in card form: forward planning, synergy between units and, though the board is made up of less than 20 squares, positioning, will all be a big deal come release.
Your deck will consist of three different types of cards. Tanks will probably take up the majority of your deck and will come in three flavours, just like World of Tanks' units. Platoons will provide buffs, and Orders will work in a similar way to Magic the Gathering's Instants; you can lay them down at any time for an immediate effect.
More innovative is General's ambush mechanic. If you're a sneaky warmonger, there'll be opportunities to play cards face down, which will flip when certain conditions are met. It's the equivalent of hiding a T25 in a bush, before jumping out and unleashing Hell.
We've also heard rumours that Wargaming.net might expand the game to include planes and maybe boats. Though there might be opportunity to play a dual screen mega-battle with some persistent elements thrown in, just World of Tanks/Planes/Battleships, my idea for decks made up of both tank and plane were cruelly dismissed. If planes did happen, the mechanics would also change accordingly, so it wouldn't quite be that simple.
Its a bit early to pass judgement, but Wargaming.net might be onto something here. Generals looks tactical, but small enough scale not to overwhelm. The opportunity for custom decks, and one account across multiple devices is also enticing. It's due to go into into beta in he near future. We'll keep you updated.
Oh! You came for the incredibly rare and exclusive cards? Just let us know what we should call the official PC Gamer tank in the comments. I'll send the deck out to my favourite suggestion.