Strength in Numbers
To kick off your Hero Academy run, you will be given access to the human Council team. Just because they're the free, default team, doesn't mean they're any less formidable than their paid counterparts. In the right hands, they're equally as tough. Of course, you can also opt to customize your team or, by using real cash, expand the pool of heroes available to you.
There are a total of six teams you can play as. Dwarves specialize in explosive attacks and are given bonuses on specialty squares. Dark Elves are known for using dark magic while the Tribe consists of brutal creatures such as orcs and goblins. An exclusive for those who use Steam is the Team Fortress 2 faction. And, last but not the least, those who play the Chinese version of Hero Academy get exclusive access to the Shaolin expansion team.
You can win by one of two ways in this title: the first is to eliminate all enemy units and the second is to destroy all of the crystals in his possession -- the latter being tough, yet immovable resources. A player may have just one or a number of crystals. and is given five action points (which are essentially moves) per turn. During a turn, players can opt to move units, cast spells, heal and make use of equipped items. The mechanics are standard fare for turn-based strategy and are distilled to its simplest form which makes Hero Academy easy to pick up and play even for those who have never tried a game in the genre.
Chess with a Twist
While nothing beats chess in terms of challenging, yet elegant, game play, there are many modern day alternatives which are accessible even for the casual fan. Hero Academy is a fresh take on the classic, featuring randomized play fields, in-game chat and asynchronous multiplayer which makes it perfect to play on the go. Playing it on a mobile platform opens the option of activating nifty push notifications which alert you whenever you have a turn waiting for you.
As with other titles which use the model, Hero Academy is best enjoyed with several matches running at the same time. These fill in the gaps between waiting for opponents to respond to turns as pace varies from person to person. The downside here is that it is impossible to prevent battles from being abandoned mid-way, especially when the other player has close to no chance of winning. That being said, the game does make it easy to find new battles to sink your teeth into, allowing you to challenge Twitter followers, Facebook or Steam buddies and random opponents. If you've found a favorite and would like to go for a rematch, you can even search for specific players.
Charming and Oh-so-addictive
Don't be fooled by Hero Academy's simple mechanics, the faction system and randomized maps make for dynamic battles. It is a highly addictive game, what with a system which works well enough that it leaves you room to specialize on your own play style. Against serious players, a battle is not just a monotonous time waster but is an engaging match that can turn into psychological warfare. No matter how much time you spend buffing your units at the start of a match, a single mistake can cost you a win, with diversionary tactics working best against opponents who do not know the ins and outs of your units.
Not one of your typical RPG adventure warrior games available on mobiles Hero Academy is turn-based strategy at it's finest. If you're on the fence about opening your wallet, it's worth at least a look by playing as the Council. That way, by the time you've been bitten by the turn-based strategy bug, paying for additional teams won't disappoint.