Gems of War. The wait for PQ fans is over (sort of)

It has only taken 7 years, but there is finally a worthy gem-matching successor to Puzzle Quest. Kind of. Gems of War soft-launched on the New Zealand App Store yesterday, and it is f’ing amazing. It will be coming to android, steam, and worldwide on iOS in a month or two, (edit: and is developed by Steve Fawkner & Infinity Interactive, makers of Warlords and the original PQ).

First, the bad news: it is free to play. However, I have played a metric ton in the last day and have yet to run into a problem. Also keep in mind that is considering I have gotten my ass handed to me in numerous fights, but have not yet run out of gold (stamina currency, but also used for other things).

the short version is that they have layered a tcg-like mechanic on top of the original Puzzle Quest. You collect and level various units, each of which has a special ability, one or two associated mana colors, attack, armor, and health. You can take 4 into battle at one time. Order of units matters, as skull matches are made by the lead unit against the opposing lead unit. This opens up all kind of strategies and wrinkles to the gameplay. For instance, you might be fighting a Mage with several creatures in front of him. The creatures aren’t especially powerful, but when they collect brown mana, they can use a powerful ability. The Mage has a spell that adds brown mana to the board, which quickly becomes catastrophic. However, find a way to remove the Mage from the battle (or deny the color he needs) and your enemies are far easier to deal with.

There is an overworked map with a number of kingdoms. Access to new kingdoms is unlocked with gold (earned through play). Each kingdom has its own quest line (I’ve only progressed more than a few fights in the first, but it is lengthy). As you proceed through the quest lines you unlock challenge battles in each kingdom. Each of these has 5 levels of difficulty to tackle. There is also PvP, which as far as I can tell is handled like Marvel PQ, where the computer controls the opponents units. Like that game, you can also retaliate when attacked.

The game looks decent, similar to the xbox live version of PQ, probably. The music is fine, but sounds compressed. Battle animations are a little slower than I would like, but nothing tragic.

there are a bunch of different currencies. The main premium currency is gems, which can be used to buy gold. Both gold and gems can be used to buy keys (the latter dubbed magic keys). Keys unlock chests containing new unit cards of various rarities. Presumably the magic keys yield better units. There are also souls, which are used to rank up your units. These are earned through play, and as far as I can tell can not currently be purchased with gems or gold. In other words, you can buy units with money, but not level them up.

happy to try and answer questions.

Sounds very similar to Marvel Puzzle Quest, which has addicted me recently. I’ll keep an eye on this one, but stay far away from it until I’ve eliminated at least one of my other game addictions, because it sounds like this could suck up a lot of time.

I played MPQ obsessively for months. There were so many problems with that game with the developers being slow to respond to glaringly broken characters and a pattern of behavior of discouraging players from “having nice things”. The f2p model of MPQ became more and more infuriating the longer I played. The depth and strategy of this game is miles above MPQ, assuming it hasn’t changed drastically since the beginning of this year.

For an example of free to play done right, with a model that encourages players to spend money rather than punishing them if they don’t, see Marvel Heroes.

Pics or it didn’t happen.

EDIT: Also, wow, I didn’t realize this really is the PQ successor, as this is created by Infinite Interactive. A quote from someone there said this is their take on strategy games, like PQ was their take on RPGs.

I lost so much time to the first Puzzle Quest. I am anxiously waiting for this to be released world wide and hopefully will be a good example of f2p.

The one thing to be careful about F2P models that may be too generous is that the game itself may not live long, or at least may not see post-release updates and support like folks have become accustomed to. Regardless of where you stand on F2P as a business model, you generally want the model to be compelling enough that someone (even if not you) spends money on it to reward the developers and keep the game going.

Oh absolutely. I want to be able spend money on it, I just don’t want to feel a game reaching for more money like a slot machine.

I think the best implementations (strictly from a customer perspective) give you lots of awesome things that make you want to spend money for convenience or vanity. marvel Heroes does this brilliantly, in my opinion. They coaxed a significant investment out of me within a couple of weeks of playing whereas I didn’t spend a dime on Marvel PQ in months.

The models for Gems of War is different, much more like a tcg. Spending is motivated by wanting to collect more cards, which history has shown can be a pretty compelling motivator. But I have seen no big paywalls.

Apologies for not mentioning this was developed by Fawkner/Infinity in the original post.

Man, you can’t just post something like this and then add “oh btw hope ur a kiwi lol”. I’m dying here!

Or an Aussie! It’s on our store too.

…and the dingo you rode in on.

New Zeland WTF! Don’t they know everyone is supposed to soft-launch on Canadian App Store? Amateurs.

Can’t wait for this.

Hehe ;)

After a brief session the game seems very PQ.

One thing that annoys me (which is in most of these types of games) is the hints, and I wish there was an option to disable them. I’m looking at the board for three seconds and now it’s flashing a move at me. Then I’m second guessing myself - does the AI know something I don’t? Looking ahead more moves? Dammit!

Yeah, I know. But trust me, the ai is very rudimentary and does not look ahead. Often the move it suggests is disastrous.

Now available worldwide on Steam and iOS.

Any idea when it’s out on Android? I don’t see it on Play.

Finally dammit. I’m not sure how many times I could have searched fruitlessly in the Play store for Gems of War and maintained hope.

Excellent, thanks

Sorry, no idea. Edited previous post to indicate iOS.

and it’s on Steam… so just no Android. :(:(:(