It’s not hard to find a turn-based strategy RPG for your phone or tablet these days — the app stores are chock-full of them. Most are in a fantasy setting, too, meaning it can be hard to tell them apart.
You won’t have any trouble distinguishing Might & Magic: Elemental Guardians, though. Not only is it from a huge franchise and published by Ubisoft, but it boasts a few cool tricks that make it stand out, not least the ability to see your characters battle in augmented reality (AR).
To answer the most obvious question: yes, Elemental Guardians is a bona fide Might & Magic game, taking place in Ashan roughly 100 years before the events of Might & Magic Heroes VI. If you’re up on your series lore, you’ll no doubt be drawn in by that alone.
If not, no worries. We’re here to help you get your bearings in Ashan, guiding you through everything you need to know to get started and set your own character loose in AR.
Let’s do this!
How combat works
Chances are, you’ve played a strategy RPG like Elemental Guardians before. Regardless of the game mode, you’re in command of a team of four characters, and you need to help them prevail in turn-based battles against both waves of enemies and evenly matched teams in the Arena.
Each character has a status bar above their head indicating their health in green. Beneath that there’s a blue bar that fills up at varying speeds. When the blue bar is full, that character can act. Using the array of skill buttons in the bottom-right corner of the screen, you can tap and hold on any skill to see what it does, and then simply tap on it followed by a target to deploy that skill.
Your character’s basic attack is unlimited, but its remaining skills all have cool downs periods. The skill icons gradually fill with colour to indicate their recharging progress, but you can also tap and hold to see exactly how many turns remain before the skill is usable again.
The colour of the arrow above a potential target’s head indicates whether you have an elemental advantage. Green means extra damage, yellow is normal, and red means you’ll do less damage. Any status effects are shown above a character’s health bar, with buffs (beneficial effects) in blue and debuffs (negative effects) in red.
Last but not least, your avatar can assist when their magic is full enough — just look at the circular gauge on the left. When it’s full, you can unleash the magic by tapping on it, secure in the knowledge that you haven’t used up one of your characters’ turns.
Once you’ve gotten the hang of the very basics, here are some more combat tips that will help you when the challenge level gets a little tougher:
- Since you’re almost always going to be confronted by waves of enemies, consider concentrating all of your attacks on one opponent at a time. Enemy healers make particularly good targets since they tend to have less health themselves, and eliminating them means they can’t heal their comrades.
- Unlike in other strategy RPGs, all character skills are ready to use at the outset of each battle. That generally means you should use them right away, as that will give you an instant edge. The exception might be in stages with a particularly tough boss battle at the end, as you’ll want to make sure you have the best skills ready to go for the boss.
- Don’t want to play through a battle you know you’re going to win (or lose.) You can hit the Auto button to have the AI take over for you, and then the Speed button next to it can process battles up to three times faster if you tap it twice. You can also toggle control back to yourself at any time if you want to resume making the decisions, which might be necessary if things don’t go the way you expect.
How to create a great team
When you’re just starting out in Might & Magic: Elemental Guardians, you won’t have many potential recruits beyond the Young Griffin you start with and whatever other characters you might come across. That will change the more you play, as there are dozens of creatures to collect, level up, and evolve.
Along with their rank and level, the simplest indicators of their relative power, each creature has two characteristics that help define how useful they might be on your team:
- Element: As the title of the game suggests, each character has an affinity for one of four elements that interact in rock-paper-scissors fashion, like so: Fire > Earth > Air > Water > Fire.
- Role: Each character has a role that indicates exactly how their skills help your team. Attackers are primarily damage-dealers, Defenders have high HP and draw attacks from teammates, Saboteurs have skills that debuff enemies, and Support characters pitch in with heals and helpful buffs.
Ideally, you want a mix of elements and roles on your team to help deal with whatever is thrown at you.
If you find a character particularly useful, there are numerous ways to improve them even more, including levelling them up to increase their base stats, assigning Glyphs to them to boost specific attributes, increasing their rank when they achieve max level, and evolving them into new, more powerful forms.
Once you start gathering more creatures on your roster, here are some helpful hints to decide which ones to prioritise:
- Higher rank doesn’t always mean better. Level is still very important, so a 3-star character at level 30 is in most respects much more capable than a 4-star version of the same one who is only level 10. This is crucial to keep in mind for the Arena, where it may look like you have some easy opponents lined up on the basis of their rank. If they are high level, they’re going to be tough foes.
- Elemental Guardians allows you to save up to three different teams, so if you find yourself with more than four really powerful characters, that’s no bad thing. You may find that having up to seven or eight “mains” can be helpful for certain stages or dungeons where loading up on a specific element or avoiding another is a good idea.
- High attack and defense values are great, but don’t overlook speed, which will help your creatures act more frequently, and skills with helpful effects. It’s especially wise to have at least one character with a skill that will remove debuffs from your team, as you’ll encounter them often in all game modes. A Defender with a taunt that can keep other teammates from taking damage is also a great idea in any team composition, particularly if you don’t have a great healer in the line-up.
How to play in AR
Currently the Arena mode, where you battle against teams put together by other players, utilizes the game’s AR feature in the most interesting way (there’s also the Creature Menagerie mode).
You’ll have to play for a little while in order to level up your Hero and unlock the Arena, but once you do (and provided you have a phone or tablet that supports it), you’ll be able to access the AR whenever you compete in the Arena.
Activating AR is done once you’ve already begun an Arena battle. Simply look for the cube icon in the upper-right corner of the battle screen and then tap on it. You’ll see something that looks like this:
You’ll need to find a flat surface with sufficient lighting before a cube appears on the screen. Then you just have to tap the Select button and your battle will be brought to life before your very eyes.
The slider on the left side can be used to re-size the Arena to your liking. Tapping the Go button will launch the battle as usual, except now it will play out in AR.
During an AR battle, you can move your device around to view the action from different angles — even behind the opposing team if you so desire. You can even tilt it down to check out the lava-filled inferno that waits below.
Be careful, though, as moving the camera around too much can throw the whole thing out of whack and make it difficult to get the fight back to where you originally set it down.
While AR doesn’t affect the actual gameplay, it’s a cool feature of Might & Magic: Elemental Guardians. If your phone or tablet can handle it, you’ll definitely want to see how the AR brings a whole new dimension (pun slightly intended) to your PvP play.