(2013 – Level 99 Games)
Pixel Tactics 2 is a stand-alone two-player, head to head, card battle game in which players will assemble a team of heroes surrounding a central leader. Players will attempt to defeat the opposing player’s leader by activating their heroes various special abilities, according to their specific placement on the board. While Pixel Tactics 2 can be played as a stand-alone game, it can also be used as an expansion when combined with the original Pixel Tactics. Since I’ve previously done a full review, complete with a rules overview on how to play the original game, I’m going to take this opportunity to look at some of the unique items found with Pixel Tactics 2, as well as the various modes that can be played when combining both decks.
– Foldout Game Board
– Red Card Player Deck
– Blue Card Player Deck
– Current Wave Cards
– Wound Tokens
One new addition that has been added to a few of the new Heroes in Pixel Tactics 2, which was not found in the original game, is that of “Ongoing Orders”. When played from a player’s hand, Ongoing Orders (noted by a scroll icon next to the Order ability on a Hero’s card) are placed at the bottom of a player’s board, beneath the Rear wave area.
These ongoing effects are in place for 4 consecutive waves, including the wave in which it was played. At the end of each wave, the card is rotated 90 degrees. When the card would be rotated for a fourth time (bringing it back to its original facing), the card is instead placed into the discard pile. A player can have a maximum of 3 active Ongoing Orders at a time during the game. Let’s take a look at a few of the Ongoing Orders:
– When a player uses the Tactician’s Order ability, he does so as an Ongoing Order. His ability states that while the Ongoing Order is in play, all of his player’s Heroes and Leaders will take 2 less damage from attacks.
– When the Warlock’s Ongoing Order is active, the other player will not be able to take a Recruit Hero action until the Warlock has been discarded.
– The Curse Knight is a bit unique. While its Ongoing Order does not necessarily have an effect in place that is active from wave to wave, it does give the player the opportunity to destroy an opponent’s Hero at the end of any wave in which the Curse Knight is in the Ongoing Order area.
By combining the 25 card player deck from Pixel Tactics 1 and the 25 card player deck from Pixel Tactics 2, players will have a lot more flexibility in how they can use the cards, especially in the various modes they can now play the game in. One of these introduced modes is the Duel Draft.
In this mode, players will collectively use all 50 cards (or more once future expansions come out), of the same color deck. This will make sure that all Heroes and Leaders are represented by 1 card each. So for instance, if players combine the cards from the Pixel Tactics 1 & 2 blue decks, then the red decks will not be used for that game. These 50 cards are then shuffled to make up a communal deck between the two players.
The top 5 cards of the newly formed communal deck are then placed face up, in a line to the right of the deck. This is the area where players will be able to draft Heroes into their hand. At the beginning of the game, players will take turns drafting one card at a time (revealing a new card to replace those taken), until both players have a starting hand of 5 Heroes, as normal. Choosing Leaders works the same as in the regular game. Players are also given 8 coins to begin the game. While Pixel Tactics 2 does not supply these coin tokens, you can use any type of token really, whether it be from other games or even the extra Wound tokens that come with Pixel Tactics, as long as they are kept separate from the actual Wound tokens being used in the game.
When a player takes the “Draw a Card” action during the game, he would choose one of the face up Heroes near the draw deck. The Hero at the very end of the line, furthest away from the Draw Deck is considered free. Each card, in order, that is closer to the Draw Deck will cost +1 coin to purchase. Therefore the card closest to the Draw Deck would cost 4 coins. Once a card is taken, the remaining cards are shifted to the right, and a new Hero is drawn to take its place.
In order to provide the money needed for purchasing these cards, players are allowed to take a Raise Funds action during the game, as one of their two awarded actions each turn. Taking a Raise Funds action will allow the player to collect 2 coins. Also, clearing a corpse will reward the player with 1 coin during the game.
With the Constructed Play mode, each player starts with their own 50 card deck, by combining the two decks of their color found in both Pixel Tactic games. Players will then construct a new deck made up of 25 selected Heroes and 5 selected Leaders. The other 20 unused cards are removed from the game. Players will shuffle their Heroes together to make up a Hero deck, and their Leaders together to make up a Leader deck.
Three Leaders are drawn from the Leader deck and one of them is selected to begin the game as that player’s Leader. The other two are reshuffled back into the Leader deck. Four Heroes are then drawn from the Hero deck and the game begins. Instead of the Current Wave cards switching between players at the end of the Rear wave turn, the two cards exchange hands at the end of each Flank wave. The player that receives the 2nd player Current Wave card can then draw one card from the Leader deck and add it to his hand. This will provide players the opportunity to know at least 5 of the cards that will always be available to them from match to match. So deciding which 5 cards to use in the Leader deck can be quite important. Players play a best-of-3 series of matches to determine the winner.
2 vs. 2 Cross Duel:
Though Pixel Tactics is mainly played as a 2-player game, having four separate 25 card decks (two from Pixel Tactics 1 and two from Pixel Tactics 2) provides the opportunity for a 4-player mode, if players wish. Players will split into two teams (Blue Team and Red Team) and each player will have a 25 card deck of their own, matching their team‘s color. Teammates can work together to decide which Heroes and Leaders will go into which deck.
If you decide to play with a board, two play mats will be combined to make up the teams area. Each player will have their own group of units (Heroes and Leader) on their side of mat, but they can choose to aid their teammates when taking actions. For instance, lets say that Player A and B are on a team against Player C and Player D. When Player A decides to attack with his Immortal Hero, he has the option of attacking units on Player C or Player D’s lines. He doesn’t necessarily have to attack units of the player directly opposite of his play area. When choosing the use the Clear a Corpse action, they can do so to clear a corpse from their teammates side of the board, and can even use the Restructure action to move their own units onto their teammates play area. Turns are taken in a figure-8 rotation, so that turns still alternate between teams and teammates. For instance:
– Player A from Team Blue would go first.
– Player C from Team Red would go second.
– Player B from Team Blue would go third.
– Player D from Team Red would go last.
Instead of play ending when a Leader is destroyed (as with the other modes in the form of matches), the team that defeated the Leader would receive 1 point. Only the player that lost the Leader would then reshuffle his deck. The other players would keep all of their items in play, basically waiting for the Leaderless player to restart his play area. He would then draw 5 cards into his hand, select a new Leader, and then would perform his actions in the Vanguard wave, the Flank wave, and finally the Rear wave. Once he completed these steps, play would continue as normal. Once a team has collected 3 points, or a single point by defeating a Leader from each opponent player, the game is over and that team has won.
Before I end, I wanted to take a look at some of the new Heroes and Leaders found in Pixel Tactics 2. While I won’t go over every single one, I wanted to give you an idea of some of the more unique ones that can be found. For the most part, the Heroes and Leaders found in Pixel Tactics 2 have abilities that are a bit more complex than what are found in the original, but players shouldn’t have no problem with figuring out how to best use them:
– This Leader basically allows you to recruit a Hero onto the board, activating any wave ability of theirs you wish, by simply turning the card a particular direction when placing it. Placing a Hero in the normal, upright position will allow it to perform its Vanguard ability, even if it is not in the Vanguard area. Placing a Hero sideways will allow it to perform its Flank ability. And placing a Hero upside down will allow it to perform its Rear ability.
– This Leader is unique in that he can not gain or lose damage done directly to him. However, he will take 1 point of damage for every Hero that is destroyed in his unit. Also, if at the end of any Round he finds himself alone without any surrounding Heroes, he is automatically defeated.
– This Hero can affect opponent Hero’s abilities based on the wave area he is currently in. While the Technologist is in the Vanguard area, an opponent’s Heroes can not Intercept ranged attacks. While he is in the Flank wave, an opponent’s Flank Heroes can not use Attack Powers. While he is in the Rear wave, an opponent’s Heroes can not use ranged attacks. He also can provide an Ongoing Order that will limit the opponent player to one less action every turn, until the Ongoing Order is completed.
– Finally, a Hero that can wipe out the Intercept ability. The Sniper normally deals 6 points of damage when attacking, however while he is located in the Vanguard area, he can gain +4 attack strength to attack Heroes with the Intercept ability. While in the Flank area, he can provide a range attack. Alternately, he can discard 2 cards in order to destroy a Hero that already has Wound tokens. While in the Rear area, he also gains a ranged attack, but can instead make an opponent discard a card from his hand at random. Finally, by playing the Sniper as an Order, the player can give a Hero +2 attack strength and the ranged ability during the current wave in which it was played.
– Divinity provides great ways to heal unit Heroes while also providing some attack. While in the Vanguard area the Divinity Hero can remove 4 damage from a Hero. While in the Flank area, she can do a ranged attack, and then remove Wounds from a Hero equal to the amount of damage she dealt. While in the Rear area, she can also do a ranged attack. Checking casualties for the defending Hero of this attack will automatically take place after the attack, as opposed to occurring at the end of the Round. Divinity also has an Order ability that allows her to restores all corpses to life (for both players). The player who restored fewer gets to draw cards equal to the difference.
Since I’ve already shared my views on Pixel Tactics in my previous review, I’ll try not to repeat a lot of it here. I will say that if you are a fan of the game, having both sets provides an even deeper, strategic gameplay experience to a game that already exerts a ton of depth. And in my opinion is a no-brainer in how one should approach the game. At the moment, both sets individually sell for around $10-$15, so buying both will not set you back much, and is well worth it.
The constructed gameplay allows players to form their own decks, deciding on which combinations and strategies works for them, while also providing a more asymmetrical form of gameplay between opponents. The Ongoing Orders are also a nice addition to the game, though as it stands there are only a few cards that hold this ability. With the upcoming release of Super Pixel Tactics (Pixel Tactics 3), I expect to see more Ongoing Order abilities that will help to flesh out a constructed deck of Heroes containing this ability. There’s been talk of a new “Epic Constructed” mode once the new set is released, which should be interesting. But as it stands now, while a great game can be found by owning either Pixel Tactics 1 or Pixel Tactics 2, combining them both is the best way to get the most depth and strategy out of the game.