Why We Love Monster Wars
Is it good to be bad? Probably not, but it can certainly be interesting. Stories are often built around righteous heroes who go against tremendous odds to save the world and restore justice. These heroes battle fantastic creatures, duel devious villains, and lay siege to otherworldly fortresses. It’s a classic set-up, and there’s a reason it gets used so often. At the same time, you can’t help but wonder what it would be like to play with all of those interesting toys the bad guys always seem to have. When do I get to take the evil fire-breathing dragon for a spin?
Monster Wars is the answer for anyone who has ever wanted to command their own army of skeletons, undead knights, and fearsome liches. All of those nasty creatures you battled against in Legendary Wars are now your allies. The wicked moves used against you in that game are now at your disposal. How cool is that? There is one catch, of course. You’re going to have to battle against those brilliant forces of light that you marshalled in Legendary Wars. Yes, even the unicorns. They’re strong and they have justice on their side. You? Well, you’ve got dragons. That’s not bad.
While this shift in perspective may seem like just a cool lick of paint, having an entirely new list of units to work with and against completely upends a lot of the lessons and strategies you may have learned in Legendary Wars. You’ve got a whole new list of enemy units to deal with, and a whole new tool box at your disposal to take care of them. Stories tend to favor the heroes, and indeed you will find that the challenge is just a bit higher in Monster Wars. The powerful heroic units were built to defeat your forces, after all. You’ll have to be that much more clever if you want to emerge victorious.
Just as in Legendary Wars, you have to recruit, train, and deploy a variety of units in order to attack your enemies and defend your fortress. Each stage sees you gathering resources, building units, and sending those units out to accomplish some sort of goal. The playfield has three lanes where the majority of the action will take place. In some stages, you need to defend against an enemy army that will spawn in waves and attempt to destroy your fortress. Other stages see you go on the offensive, trying to reach the enemy’s castle and reduce it to rubble. Sometimes, you’ll have to deal with special conditions like keeping a particular character or unit safe. There are also occasional stages that see you controlling a single unit as it makes its way across the field, razing villages and taking down the forces of good.
Regardless of the type of stage, you’ll always be dealing with the same three lanes where units can travel. If you fail to defend any of those lanes, enemies will be able to break through your defenses with ease. You can use the lanes to your advantage, moving your units between them to avoid arrows and other attacks. Lanes can also be used to flank larger opponents who may take a stronger effort to bring down. This multi-lane battlefield is one of the key features of this series, adding both figurative and literal depth to battles. Battles play out in real-time, so you need to think quickly and cover any holes in your defense before the enemies punch through.
In most normal stages, you’ll begin by sending out a goblin miner. It stays in the background of the battle and will dig up gems at a regular rate. You can tap on them to collect them immediately, or leave the goblin to its own devices and have it bring them into the castle himself. Those gems are in turn used to create units. Each unit type has its own cost, with more powerful units requiring more resources to create. A major part of the game’s strategy comes from deciding which units to create and when to bring them into the battle. You can’t take all of your units with you, so you have to make some hard choices about what you’re going to need for the battle ahead.
Clearing a stage will reward you with gems and other rewards. You can use these gems at the Netherworld hub between levels to train your units, making them stronger, able to take more damage, attack more quickly, and so on. Gems can also be used to upgrade your castle’s defenses or increase the efficiency of miners. You’ll rarely earn some special tokens that can be used for particularly useful upgrades like extra goblin miners or powerful equipment. After enough training, you’ll be able to evolve your units into a variety of powerful forms. You can repeat stages to earn extra gems, but the rewards you receive will be diminished after the first time. It may be necessary at times to return to earlier stages in order to strengthen your units before heading into the next battle.
As you play through the story campaign, you’ll recruit new units, learn new powerful new skills, and get amazing new attack abilities. Before long, you’ll have so many different creatures that you won’t be able to bring all of them with you into a single stage. Each unit has its own advantages and disadvantages, so you’ll need to choose carefully according to the goals of the stage and your own personal playing style. As there are no penalties for failing a stage, it’s easy to jump back in with a new plan once you know what you’re dealing with. The deeper you venture into the story, the more unit types, magic abilities, and skills will be open to you. Thanks to the wide variety of options, it’s likely no two players will tackle stages in quite the same way. That said, when you get to the tougher battles, it can’t hurt to share some tips with friends.
Like its predecessor, Monster Wars includes a number of extra modes that you can play to earn extra gems and tokens. Playing these modes can give you helpful resources that can help you get past tough points in the campaign. There are a variety of endless challenges, such as an endless defense mode, an endless side-scrolling action mode, and more. You’ll have to play through the story campaign to unlock all of these additional modes, but they’re well-worth spending time with once you have access to them. All of them will earn you rewards that you can use in the story campaign. They’re also a nice change of pace if you need a break from the usual stages.
Monster Wars builds on the original game with a whole new slate of units, stages, and challenges. It carries over all of the great strategic action that made Legendary Wars so fun and rewarding to play, but refines the formula to make a bigger and tougher experience. Simply having access to a bunch of nasty creatures from the underworld to build your army with is an enjoyable flip of the script, and the opportunities for humorous situations that perspective presents makes the game’s story nearly as fun as its gameplay. Monster Wars is the kind of sequel any fan will love, and a wicked answer to the question of whether or not bad guys have more fun.