Review: Riese: Battle for Eleysia

As promised, here is my review of Riese: Battle for Eleysia, the official Riese: Kingdom Falling iPhone/iPod Touch game.

Riese: Battle for Eleysia Screenshot

Where shall I start? I have been waiting for a Riese: Kingdom Falling game ever since the series first premiered as Riese the Series on Youtube, back in the day… Then, after Ryan Copple sent the official press release over to my blog for publication, I was much delighted to read the announcement of the Riese: Battle for Eleysia iPhone and iPod Touch game. By a happy coincidence, I own both pieces of technology.

So, after some deliberation with myself I decided to invest 2.99 (Euros in my case) and get the game. The fact that Riese: Battle for Eleysia is a game based on cards delighted me no end. I started playing Magic: The Gathering way back in the ’90s and have since played a number of collectible card games, including such rather obscure titles as Blood War and Dune. So, my card gamer’s heart beating I downloaded this wonderful steampunk-themed game on my iPhone, hoping the 2.99 were well-invested. I was not going to be disappointed.

Riese: Battle for Eleysia is an excellent game. You can choose three factions (Sect, Resistance, Eleysians), each with its own special cards, reflecting the different backgrounds of the factions, and the same stock of common cards. This of course reflects the fact that all three factions draw the bulk of their membership from the common population.

The graphics of the game are excellent, the game interface is fittingy steampunk. levers, pistons and gears are turning and moving in the background when you toggle sounds and change other options. This is, of course, accompanied by corresponding mechanical noises.

The game itself is both fairly straight forward and rather complex at the same time. Player and computer take turns playing cards, either units or effects, on the game-board. This board is made up of terrain covered in hexes. Very much like a Battletech map (ah… happy memories, too). You choose your battlefields from the map of the provinces of Eleysia and the size and shape of the game-board is roughly equivalent to the shape and size of the province.
Terrain effects the performance of units. Bowmen can shoot at units behind mountains, for example, but mountains are not traversable. So, three bowmen along a mountain ridge are an excellent tactical asset… Certain units also affect the battle performance of other units. Some animal units fight better with an animal handler nearby, the Eleysian Viceregent lowers the depoiment cost of every unit and so on.

The more you know how the different units and effects work in the game, the deeper you get into the game and the more complex your decks become. Which brings me tothe next point: Decks are customizable. Each faction has a default deck but players can create their own decks. Some cards have to be unlocked first, though. Deck customization is a lot of fun and enables you totest specific strategies. So far, I’ve got a hound-wolf deck (Resistance), a hit-and-run deck (Resistance), a falcon deck (Eleysians), a guard deck (Eleysians), a fear deck (Sect) and an Airship deck (YES!). The latter is also Eleysian. I am sure, more decks will follow.

The artwork of those decks is absolutely stunning. Every single card is a beautiul piece and suitable for being turned into a poster.

What I like most about Riese: Battle for Eleysia are the background informations. Each province comes with a short history, beautifully narrated by Felicia Day. This gives a lot of context for the whole story behind Riese: Kingdom falling.

All in all, Riese: Battle for Eleysia is an excellent and addictive game, it is equally suitable for the casual gamer and the strategist. The only complaint I have is its tendency to crash more frequetly than other games, but this should be fixed now with the last update.

2.99 well spent and 9 out of 10 Zeppelins for Riese: Battle for Eleysia.

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