Epic War Games: The way a flash series should be done

Epic War Games

Epic War is a defence game flash-based game series. These ArtLogic designed games take players into battle against dark creatures hell-bent on tearing down castle walls. In this four-game series, there is a natural order of progression in length of the game, art, and style, ending at a truly lovely game in Epic War 4, which leaves players wanting even more.

In the first of the Epic War Games - Epic War 1, players defend their castle against advancing strange beings. The enemy enters on the right side of the screen and heads toward the castle. Players are equipped with one bow and arrow mounted atop the castle wall. In addition, players command their own troops to advance on these enemies to push their defences back to their own castle, where the hero and his minions commence to the demolition of the enemy castle. Using the arrow keys to aim the arrows up or down, the "A" key or mouse-clicking controls the shooting. Mana is the force that players must use to conjure their troops and build defences. The mana bar is similar to a health bar and continues to fill as the game progresses.

Players earn Experience Points (EXP) in Epic War 1 for every kill they deal to the opposition. Every level ends with a tally of Experience Points gained. These can be traded in to purchase upgrades. The upgrades include arrow upgrades such as Fire Arrows and Ice Arrows, Mana upgrades, which makes for quicker mana earnings, and skill upgrades including barriers and traps. Players also purchase their minions with EXP, though once purchased players can also use mana to call them to the field. There are seven types of minions: Light Elves, Dwarves, Golums, Dragons, Hobbits, Wizards, and Angels. Each creature possesses its own unique strengths. Additionally, each creature has a number of upgrades to its skill for purchase.

In Epic War 2, players take the same mission, to tear down the enemy's castle and expand upon it. This second edition introduces two different races of armies in addition to human. For a longer length of game, players can play as an Elven army or an Orc army once they have beaten the game as the human race. The battles are similar to the original Epic War game, but have a few upgrades to the artwork alongside additional extra levels. The game can be played with the mouse or a series of hot keys. The opening menu of the game provides a helpful "Hotkeys Menu" for reference.

Epic War 2 of the epic war games series, as in Epic War 1, players earn EPX for their kills in battles. Unique to the second edition, EXP can be used to perform Research. Players spend their EXP on research in five fields: Castle, Tower, Academy, Barracks, and Archery. Each of these areas has sub categories of upgrades within their field. The upgrades may be bought between levels for use in the upcoming battles. In each level, the amount of research for every category is at Level 1. Players must use their earned mana to bring their research up to the full amount previously purchased. Therefore, players are not purchasing the actual research, but more the potential to utilize this research.

Once a player clicks "New Game" on the title screen of Epic War 3, they witness that this new edition of the popular series is, indeed, a new game which sets itself apart from the first and second. Players begin by choosing one of six characters to head up their troops. Each commander comes all equipped with three cards, which represent skills, minions, or spells that pertain to their strengths. The map screen is even more artful than the first two games in the series. Players click on neighbouring castles to battle; the battle remains similar to the preceding two games, in keeping with the franchise's theme. As with all previous games, mana must be earned to call out troops, gold is earned for each level, and EXP are earned for each enemy killed.

At the end of each turn, players purchase upgrades or cards with their gold. In this game, EXP is used to upgrade the hero and his individual abilities. The troop and skill upgrades take the form of cards, which enter the deck of cards players keep in their "Equip" menu. One significant difference in Epic War 3 is that players must equip their heroes before entering the battlefield. The cards they have already earned or purchased may be set into one of twelve slots (six skill and six troop), to take with them into battle.

One final key difference in Epic War 3 compared to the first and second is the turn-taking cadence of the game. Players choose a neighbouring castle to attack, enter battle, and then upgrade or buy cards before ending their turn. The enemy then has an opportunity to counter the attack. Players do not have to play the battle out when there is a counterattack. If they prefer, they may allow the battle to auto-play and the outcome will be decided upon odds, or they may forfeit the battle. Before ending their turn is the best time for players to purchase the upgrades they wish to use in the next battles, as this helps keep them prepared for counterattacks.

The final instalment of the Epic War games to date brings an exciting heightened artistry to the series. The artwork of the entire Epic War 4 takes on a more vibrant colour palette and lends itself to a truly heightened level of game play from the series. The aspect of equipping heroes before battle, which was a new addition in Epic War 3, returns in Epic War 4, though items are no long represented by cards. Players equip their hero with skills and troops in the "Arrange" menu. The battle ensues as all previous games do, with uncomplicated commands such as "retreat," "march," or "assault," in a plight to tear down the opposing castle's walls. In this edition, since there are three heroes possible at a time, the hero may die and regenerate, however, this renders the hero's troops ineffective until he is back in the game.

Additionally, players may now take up to three heroes into battle, along with their own set of skills and minions, at one time. This adds to the level of entertainment that Epic Wars 4 brings to the saga. The heroes; Viegraf the Red, Pop the Epic dwarf, and Hero Simon the Magician each have distinctive strengths that play to their advantage in battle. Each hero has a set of upgrades specific to only themselves. The upgrades are depicted in a web of linked items that pertain to each hero and his specifications.

This series takes an entirely new approach to battle games, by upgrading the scenery, game play, and artwork at every edition. Throughout the series, the main thread of battle stays strong and satisfies, while every edition becomes more engaging both visually and mentally. Epic War is a truly epic journey through a middle-earth setting.