With the exception of the original Sim City and a handful of D&D games, I’ve never been a big PC gamer, preferring consoles and arcade-style controls over the mouse and keyboard, but ever since I first bought The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion via Steam, I’ve become hooked. My latest obsession is the free-to-play PoxNora—new to Steam but it’s been around for a few years—a collectible, turn-based, tactical, online fantasy game that’s surprisingly engaging and tantalizingly complex.
I never got into Magic: The Gathering, but I did play a lot of Pokemon and VS., so the appeal of collectible card games (aka, social gaming!) isn’t new to me, and Advance Wars: Days of Ruin is one of my all-time favorite games, so turn-based tactics is right up my alley, too. Combine them with an impressively deep setting, beautiful artwork, and a slick (if not totally intuitive) deck virtual management system, and you have a winner.
PoxNora features a pretty engaging free-to-play setup that nails the tricky balance between satisfying casual players (or those willing to grind for gold) with just enough to get into the game, while quickly luring in more engaged players with a variety of options that will suck $20-$40 out of their wallets pretty quickly. The tutorials serve dual functions, teaching you how to play the game using each of the eight factions, while each scenario gets progressively harder, subtly demonstrating that the Starter Battlegroups might not be enough if you’re really hooked.
I signed up this weekend while Sony was running their 3x promo, so $20 got me 6000 in Station Cash instead of the usual 2000, enough to buy the Theme Deck Permafrost—featuring my faction of choice, Savage Tundra—and then construct my own deck, Tundra Terror, that tops the prefab deck and almost has me ready to take on some of their more advanced campaigns. Or so I think…
I know now what I’ll be doing through the Christmas break!
PS: There’s hints of a pretty immersive storyworld here, too, and while not every game needs to explore transmedia opportunities, PoxNora definitely has a lot potential.