I was disappointed to discover that in spite of all the pre-release promotion, The Gate has about as much to do with real-time strategy as Family Feud, and is in fact a straight-up collectible card battle game. But as I delved into it, I was also elated to learn that it's a really, really good CCG, quite possibly the best one I've played since I broke free of my Rage of Bahamut-habit.
"Combines Real Time Strategy and Training mechanics," the App Store entry for The Gate promises, and for a brief while I bought into it. Passing through the Gate into a hellish underworld filled with demons and wickedness, your only hope is to fight – and by fighting, your hope is sustained. As you move ever deeper into this sulphuric underworld, you'll acquire "Disciples" who you can train, upgrade, and evolve, and who will do battle on your behalf against both computer-controlled opponents and the forces of your fellow players. This is where the RTS component comes into play, as instead of simply a static, numbers-versus-numbers contest, battles are rendered entirely in 3D and filled with impressive visual effects.
You move your characters by tapping and then dragging to where you want them to go, and unleash their skills in battle by tapping on icons at the top of the screen. To heal them, simply tap your healer – everybody has one – and then drag to the character in need. It's simple and reasonably intuitive, although the lack of a zoom control makes it difficult to select a Disciple in the heat of a crowded battle.
But it's also almost entirely unnecessary thanks to the "auto" function that will control the demons in your army with a good degree of competence. It may not be quite as effective as handling the situation personally, especially at higher levels, but the "fire and forget" convenience is handy; and if you don't like how things are going, you can turn it off and assume direct control of the action at any time. Read more »