Legacy of Heroes is a Facebook game from 5th Planet Games, also available on Kongregate. It has been around on the former since the summer of last year and has declined significantly in user numbers on Facebook since then, but (like 5th Planet’s other games) appears to thriving on networks outside of Facebook such as Kongregate. It is noteworthy not because of its user numbers, however, but because of its fresh take on the “card battle” genre which is proving particularly popular on mobile devices right now.
Legacy of Heroes is a customizable, collectible card game similar to physical products such as Magic: The Gathering. Players collect cards with various special abilities and then use them in battle against computer-controlled opponents or other players in a variety of different modes. The basic mechanic revolves around using cards’ attack statistics to deplete the opponent’s stock of cards from their draw pile; playing cards with defense statistics mitigates a certain amount of damage from the opponent when they next attack. Certain cards have more complex special abilities or allow players to recover cards that have been discarded due to use or damage, but certain cards “banish” the opponent’s cards completely, making them impossible to recover. The basic mechanics are very similar to the standalone non-collectible card game Ascension, which also has a very good asynchronous play iOS version.
Players have a choice of a number of different ways to play the game. The single-player mode takes players through an X-Men-style story in which they are inducted into a special school for “emergents” and trained in the use of their powers. Through advancement in the single player mode, the player gains experience and levels, and consequently is able to improve their skills. Certain skills boost the power level of specific cards; others allow them an increased maximum deck size (effectively increasing their maximum health in battle) or an increased number of duplicate cards in their deck.
Meanwhile, multiplayer modes include a regular “draft” tournament mode, in which four players are given packs of cards and must then draw one at a time then pass them on to the next player. A match then unfolds between the four of them using the cards they have drawn in the draft rather than the cards they have in their permanent deck — it’s a good way for players to show their skill and ability to adapt to new decks. Other multiplayer modes include a cooperative mode in which players team up to battle powerful bosses, and a PvP mode in which players use their custom decks to battle other players. These matches unfold in real-time with a 10-minute time limit, requiring opponents to be online for the duration — there is no asynchronous play option. Disconnecting in mid-match counts as a loss, even if it was as a result of the player’s Internet connection dropping. This is a pain for those with unstable connections, but at least it discourages “rage-quitting.”
The game monetizes through sales of its hard currency, which is used for a variety of purposes. It can be converted into soft currency to purchase various booster card packs and equipment for the player’s hero character, or used to restore energy depleted through battles or challenging the single player mode. Players may also purchase skill points to unlock new abilities without leveling up, or reset their skills and effectively allow them to remake their character if they feel they have made a poor decision along the way somewhere. The game does not force players into purchasing premium items — many of the premium card packs in particular are simply a more straightforward way to acquire rarer cards, which there is a chance of collecting through the boosters purchasable with soft currency. The only slightly obtrusive element to the monetization is the energy system which locks players out of continuing to play unless they pay up with hard currency — however, if the player finds themselves unable to progress in the single player story due to insufficient energy, they can always take on the multiplayer modes that require significantly smaller amounts to participate in.
Legacy of Heroes is a good game that, unlike many other examples of the card battle genre — particularly on mobile — actually provides things for players to do beyond simply repeatedly tapping a button and letting battles unfold automatically. There is a degree of strategy and tactics required for success in combat, and a good sense of progression as the player acquires more cards and levels up; the game grows in complexity the longer the player continues to play. The artwork, too, is very good, and captures a good comic-book feel despite not being based on recognizable licensed characters. In short, it’s a good example for other card battle game developers to follow — it’s a shame it hasn’t enjoyed more users in its lifetime on Facebook.
Legacy of Heroes’ Facebook version currently has 9,000 monthly active users and 800 daily active users. You can follow its progress with AppData, our traffic tracking service for social games and developers.
Legacy of Heroes provides an excellent example of how to do free-to-play social card battling right.