Rage of Bahamut is a mobile CCG done right
The truth is that I’m not what you’d call a fan of collectible card games. It’s not that I don’t like them, I’ve just never paid much attention to them. So when Rage of Bahamut landed on my lap, I was a little overwhelmed at first. There’s a lot going on, and the game doesn’t go out of its way to make life easy for newcomers. And to be honest, I’m still not entirely sure what I’m doing. But I’m sure having fun.
Rage of Bahamut is a sort of never-ending throw-down between the forces of Gods, Demons and Men, in which the objective is to collect and assemble cards representing various magical beings into a powerful fighting force, earn treasure and “Rupies” [the in-game currency], embark upon missions to save the world and of course apply a healthy dose of smackdown to your fellow players. You’ll join one of the three factions when you begin the game, with the warning that once you’ve picked your pony, you’re stuck with it forever – so choose wisely or suffer the consequences – and then it’s off to the races.
Simple but lengthy story-driven “quests” make up the bulk of the game, providing an easy way to build up your deck and earn money and treasure by completing various missions that culminate in a battle with boss monsters. Quests can be undertaken at any time and are only limited by your “stamina,” which recharges at a fixed rate and can also be restored immediately with magic potions. “Battles,” on the other hand, are one-on-one encounters with other players, pitting their cards against yours. Custom decks can be generated and saved, and the game will offer recommendations for each battle as well. Victory brings with it the opportunity to snag one of their treasures and add it to your own, but bear in mind that other players are always looking to do the same to you.
Cards at the beginning of the game tend to be weak and mundane, but can be “evolved” and “enhanced” to make them more powerful than their original incarnations. Most cards can be evolved four times through the use of additional cards of the same type – two skeleton cards can be evolved into one second-tier skeleton card, for instance – while enhancements have no such cap and can be performed with just about any card, even those of different allegiances. Evolving cards into more advanced forms is a big part of the game and surprisingly rewarding, but enhancements and evolution have to be paid for in Rupies, so keeping the coffers filled is a must.
Rage of Bahamut is a visual extravaganza: The screen shakes and flashes, attack and defense numbers are thrown around willy-nilly and you can’t help but think that something important is happening every time you tap the screen. A near-constant stream of Rupies, exotic treasures and new and better cards to bolster your ranks are awarded just for performing mundane tasks; it’s a lot to keep up with, especially for gamers who aren’t familiar with the CCG genre. A simple set of instructions explain the basics of Rage of Bahamut, but experience is by far the best teacher and the lessons will take some time to really absorb.
The good news is that you can enjoy the game even while you’re floundering around with only the faintest idea of what’s going on. It’s gorgeous, for one thing, packed with sharp and detailed art that I’d be happy to have framed and hung on my walls. And although the challenge definitely escalates as you progress, I have yet to feel as though I’m being punished for being a bad player, nor have I ever felt a need to throw down real money to progress. It’s an option, as it is with nearly all free-to-play games, and those who do invest cash into the action will no doubt move up the ranks faster than those who don’t, but the game won’t arbitrarily hold you back for not opening up your wallet.
Multiplayer is fairly robust, as you’d expect in a game like this, with options to seek out and join with “fellows” and guild-like “Orders” that confer special ranks and abilities. You can also trade cards, items and Rupies with anyone, and pick fights with them too, even your fellows, but the game will impose some rather serious “divine judgment” on players who don’t pick on people their own size.
My biggest complaint about Rage of Bahamut is its complete lack of sound. There’s no music, no sound effects, absolutely no audio cues at all – everything happens in complete silence, although I suppose on the upside that makes it impossible to accidentally announce to everyone at the important staff meeting you’re attending that you’re not paying attention. The screen is fairly cluttered too, thanks to the sheer mass of information the game pumps out, and the controls are tiny and could prove a tad problematic for gamers with small displays.
Nonetheless, this is a game that I will probably be playing, and learning, for quite some time to come. It’s complex and complicated, but coming to terms with that complication and eventually overcoming it is half the fun. If collectible card games are your thing, then Rage of Bahamut is definitely something you should be playing.