BitRhymes Combines Game Genres in Facebook App The Warlords

Cards, strategy, role-playing — each of these genres have very distinct features to them, and while games have often used elements from two out of three, it is rare that all of them get thrown into one melting pot. But they have been, in BitRhymes‘ Facebook app, The Warlords. Though it is a game that starts out virtually identical to card strategy titles like Warstorm, this little creation had a few unexpected surprises in store.

Also notable: BitRhymes is one of the larger developers on MySpace but so far hasn’t had much of a presence on Facebook.

The Warlords really did feel like an identical clone to Warstorm when starting out. Players select a hero card to lead a squad and five normal cards to fill it. They then proceed into an automatic bought where their choices are put to the test, performing based on stats such as speed, attack, and health (which is printed on the card). Truth be told, if you played Warstorm, then you’ve played this part of the game, but upon finishing the initial tutorial, The Warlords turned into something else most familiar.

This app actually plays like most Facebook RPGs (complete with Energy and Stamina to perform actions) rather than just a strategy card game. Players are able to jump into four different sets of quests. The core set is dubbed “The Chronicles of Fergon,” and make up the central storyline of the game. Players proceed through them using the squads they have formed and battle opposing decks automatically. As they complete such quests, they are rewarded with experience, coins, and the occasional new card.

Beyond the Chronicles, players can also engage in Treasure Quests, The Oracle’s Temple, and Monster Quests. The first is your typical Facebook RPG quest that requires X,Y, and Z item to begin and is completed merely by clicking “Do Quest” (assuming you have enough Energy). As for the other two: The Oracle’s Temple seems to be a simple quiz type of deal where players help out a “new warlord” by helping them pick out the proper cards (i.e. choosing the card with the highest attack power), while Monster Quests are quests that require card battles and multiple completions within a limited span of time (i.e. 48 hours).

As a matter of fact, Monster Quests, makes for one of the most interesting features. Doing the quest one time takes a decent amount of energy and only completes it by a small percentage. However, you can ask your allies to help you reach 100% completion with experience and gold earned based on the amount contributed.

Of course, Warlords comes with your standard RPG elements as well. This includes Battles against other players, Properties that can be bought for steady income, and the Oracle for earning and using virtual currency through offers.

Now, as far as the card strategy itself goes, it does seem to have some decent depth. As with Warstorm, most cards have special attributes to them such as “attacks a random enemy” or “deals double damage to cavalry,” thus building your deck carefully becomes very important. Furthermore, Warlords also has a few special cards that affect all others in play, such as the Log Barrier, that have no attack but reduce the damage taken by friendly units by one.

Yet Warlords feels like it doesn’t quite know what it wants to be. As part RPG and part card strategy, there is a clash in pacing. This isn’t helped by the high energy cost to do quests, but even without it, players only get to see a few battles and a few units before they have to wait for energy or stamina to recharge.

Understandably, most social games are only meant to have a few minutes of game play, but for a strategic card game, it is better to allow them to see more of what they can do. Also, as a card game, collection is a big deal too, but because of the slow speed of progression, the only way to get more cards is via purchase, but even then you are limited to only one or two per standard play period. In short, there isn’t enough reward to keep the player going and keep them going.

In the end, BitRhymes is trying to fit the concepts of card collection and strategy into a traditional RPG rule set, and so far it doesn’t feel like it’s working. With just under a million monthly active users, the game is doing okay, but the cards just don’t feel as important as the RPG element, and that likely isn’t the goal the developers had in mind. RPGs are usually slow, yes, but why does this one have to be? True, Facebook users shy away from the very new, but is it not possible to make something feel the same, but still play different?