Review by SeravySensei
Kings and Legends - Prepare that your life can be ruined by this game.
This is a card game, in which you collect cards, build a deck, and fight either PvE content, or other players.
The basic concept is very simple, you can summon your cards in one of two (or up to four in modes involving more players) lanes. They move a set amount forward every turn, and attack enemy cards in range. The goal is to reach the enemy summoner and deal enough damage to their hero to reduce their health to zero with your summoned cards.
Although simple, it's a rather fun game to play at first sight, at least enough to keep players interested and continue playing until the game mechanics designed to induce heavy addiction kick in.
How is the game making you addicted?
You are very strictly limited in how much you can play at a given day. You can only get up to 3 boss battles with 2 picks of rewards at the end, and another 7 with one each. While this does sound a lot, considering the time required (10-20 minutes a battle), the actual resources earned for each pick is so minimal that you will not only need to do all battles available, but will feel it's insufficient to make decent progress.
Likewise, there are plenty of daily quests, that you can do once and only once a day. Many activities are even more limited, requiring you to play the game at a specific hour a day, or even worse, some features refresh hourly.
The game has an "auto" mode, where the AI plays your cards for you, pretty much randomly. If your cards are strong enough, and you built the right deck, you can use this mode to clear 95% of the game content. This makes you believe that you are actually not spending as much time on the game as you do in reality. Yes, you only need 5 seconds to click the auto button for each battle, and you can do whatever else you want meanwhile, but ultimately, you still can't leave your computer for many, many hours a day. I've often found myself realizing it's past midnight, when I started playing the game at the early morning, and I didn't do anything else, except meaningless stuff you can do while on auto, like browsing the net.
Addiction wouldn't be such a huge problem if the game was at least fun to play on the long term, but it's not at all. There are multiple reasons, and I'm going to detail them all separately as they are severe enough on their own to ruin a game.
Game Flaw #1 - Resource (un)balance
As mentioned previously, the amount of resources (silver, gold, crystal, etc) you can earn by playing the game is limited. You can't just play more to earn more, no. You can expect to earn roughly 20.000 silver just by logging in and doing a few essential tasks in 20-30 minutes. Compared to that, if you play the whole day, you'll most likely walk away with only 30-40.000 instead. However, you'll need that silver so badly that you'll still feel the need to play the whole day even for the diminishing returns.
To put this into perspective, I'll show you the available card rarities in the game, and their costs. Each card is available at a certain rarity and all rarities above that, with higher stats and sometimes even additional, powerful abilities for each upgrade.
The first 3 rarities are "Common", "Good" and "Rare" respectively. These are pretty much beginner content you'll never ever use in your deck roughly after the first 2 weeks of playing.
Next up is "Epic". This is the first rarity actually considered acceptable. On a new server, you can do reasonably well with a deck full of these. An epic card costs an average of 20.000 silver so you can get roughly 2 of these every day. However, on any server older than 2 months, these are obsolete and no longer playable for competitive PVP.
Next comes "Legendary". While they used to be the thing to win the game in the past, nowadays these are also obsolete in PVP, getting obliterated by higher rarities. In any server older than 6 months, you are expected to have a full Legendary deck if you want to still compete in PVP. How much time would a Legendary card take to get in the game you ask? It's made by combining 15-23 of the same epic card, or using a special rare item (obtainable roughly once a week at best) and the same amount of different cards or silver. To make it simple, a Legendary card is worth roughly 300,000 silver. At this point it is basic math : divide 300 by 30 and we get that it takes roughly 10 days of playing just to get one of these. Remember, you need a full deck of 30 cards to even stand a chance in PVP! Insane!
Unfortunately, it does not end here. The next rarity is "Godlike". As the name implies these are quite powerful. You need anywhere from 23 to 30+ LEGENDARY cards to make one. The item that allows you to do this without requiring 23 copies of the same legendary card (that's pretty much impossible to do for 95% of the cards in the game) is astronomically rare, to be more specific, it comes from an event were you can get about 30 random items and would need to get 3 different kinds that each have a drop rate of 1% or lower. It is not only luck based but the odds are horrible, too. It's easy to conclude that godlike cards are near impossible to get by playing the game, except for those few cards where the Legendary is available in the NPC shop. Even for those, it takes about 6 months of hardcore, nonstop playing to get one.
If you read all of the above, you are now thinking...6 months for a card? Crazy, there is no way anything can be harder to get than that. Wrong. The next rarity is "Awakened". For this tier, there are actually two kinds. Normal cards, which are generally not so good can be upgraded from Godlike by spending 3 million silver (or 15 legendary cards of your choice) and 99 crystals that come from time limited events at a rate of like 20 a month. Needless to say you first need the appropriate Godlike card, which already takes like half a year of playing. Elite cards however, which is the in-game name for more powerful units which you can only have one in play of at a time, cannot be upgraded this way. For those, you need an item that's only available in P2W events, for roughly $1000. Yes you heard that right. 1000 dollars. For upgrading one, single card.
As you can see, legendary cards, the tier that can hope to at least be useful in PVP, already take like a week to get for each. As such, having multiple, good decks is pretty much an impossible dream, making the game extremely boring fast. At that point, your only form of progress is obtaining godlike cards, but remember, you have to play like 6 months for one! Before you get overly excited with that, also remember that godlike cards are still the same card as their legendary counterpart, except with 1 higher attack, health or something like that. So ultimately, you are still playing the same, old, boring thing.
At the same time, while silver is extremely limited and gold or tower coins are also hard to gather, some resources are close to meaningless. Crystal allows you to upgrade your city, but once everything is maxed out (takes about 6-9 months), there is absolutely nothing meaningful to spend them on, other than the temporal equipment called "Rune", which on top of crystals also cost rare, event only formulas, or gold to use. Rubies suffer likewise, unless you have high enough VIP levels to unlock the "better" - still utterly horrible - packs to gamble them away, the only thing to spend them on is equipment upgrade gems. I guess this is to be expected from a game that has 5 (!) different in-game currencies in it.
Game Flaw #2 - Lack of incentive to PVP
This is the other great problem : the PVP arenas are generally empty. You can easily wait tens of minutes for a simple fight, or even hours for a 2v2 match. This is the result of the system : PVP battles reward you absolutely nothing, but still consume your energy points. The only thing to gain from playing PVP is score for PVP ranking, but once you have enough to finish the PVP season at the position you want, which lasts 4 weeks each, you are only wasting your time if you PVP. You aren't going to earn any silver, gold, crystal or cards by doing that. Doing PVP on auto for the quests and only playing for real in the last week of the season is actually more profitable than playing for real the whole time. If you raise your score too quickly, you'll get harder opponents that mean harder to do quests that require winning, and longer wait time for matches.
This is where you would say "yes, but people play PVP for fun, if you want resources, go fight bosses". Correct. Except for two things. First, it takes many hours a day to do those and you most likely won't have the time or the mood for PVP after it, so it's either one or the other. The game forces you to either go for the fun, or for the resources. Bad choice.
The other problem causing this is that PVP is simply not fun at all. The reason why this is the case is explained in the other points, so just a short summary :
-Decks are boring as cards are too rare, everyone can only afford to play their best cards because they don't even have anything else.
-Plenty of cards simply break the game.
-P2W makes the game unfair, and antagonizes the various player groups. You'll see swearing in PVP chat everyday. You'll see people call you "P2W noob", or say things like "Well paid" instead of "Well played" even if you are a free player, as long as you own strong enough cards to do well in PVP. The game intentionally hides your VIP levels in the Western version of the game, so everyone will think you paid to win even if you did not.
Additionally, the game population being split up to multiple distributors hosting 15+ servers each won't exactly help having active servers.
Game Flaw #3 - Game-breaking cards
As explained above, this is a game where cards you play fight each other, slowly moving forward, and if you manage to reach the enemy hero with a strong unit or two, you are quite likely to win in a few turns. It's very hard to deal with cards already in front of you because the cards you summon usually only attack and move towards the enemy, so they will not help you get rid of the attacker. You actually need cards with the specific ability to attack backwards to deal with it, and as those enemy cards hit your hero every turn, if you aren't fast enough, you'll lose to a single card that managed to reach you. But hey, you might think, if I played too weak cards that couldn't stop the attacker before reaching me, I deserve to lose, and you would be right under normal conditions.
Unfortunately, cards that move an infinite (or large enough amount) to reach the enemy hero immediately during the turn played exist. Not only that, but these cards actually also have the ability to deal double damage! Some others can fly over, or teleport past your units to make sure they'll always hit! Play them in any lane where the opponent doesn't have cards yet (or use one with a teleport ability), which is easy to do as they are available in the early game - having cooldown times of only 1-3 turns - buff them, and boom, the opponent might even die in one hit! Even if they don't, unless they have a way to remove a card already behind their summon area, you'll win anyway. Thanks to these cards, roughly 75% of the PVP fights last only a minute or below.
This isn't the only type of game breaking card however. New releases include cards (strictly available only for cash, hundreds of dollars) that break the game in a whole new level. For example there is a card that lets you shuffle your whole grave into your deck. As there is a quite low, 30 card maximum deck size here, and games where control decks fight are quite often being decided by who runs out of cards first, simply having one copy of this can win the game on its own. Even better, by having two, you can keep recycling your deck, allowing you to build a smaller deck that provides more consistent draws without ever running out of cards!
There are many more examples but I think you get the point.
Game flaw #4 - Ignorance of the developers
This game is made by a Chinese company, and they use the standard P2W business model : Make a game, keep it going and get as much money out of it as possible, and while this process alienates the player base, ignore any game flaw or complaint. On the long term, shut down the game and just release another, similar game afterwards.
Simply put, even though game forums are full of lists of bugs, balance issues and the like, 95% of those are repeatedly ignored, even when the GMs and admins actually agree with the reasoning. They don't have the power to make the actual developers in China listen, so everything remains unchanged.
Game flaw #5 - P2W
If you have read it this far, you probably already know what's coming. Yes, this game is Pay to Win.
Not just a little, mind you, it's literally impossible to get most of the top tier cards without paying hundreds of dollars in cash each.
Of course, if you do, you'll only get to experience how it feels to lose to people who paid thousands of dollars for the same card, and have them in Godlike or Awakened instead of Legendary.
Lately, it's a trend that any strong new cards are released as an "event" card, where "event" means you have a limited, 2 day time frame to buy the card for real money. These cards generally only come at Legendary or higher ranks, to make it so that a free player can't obtain the Epic or lower rarity version cheap in the auction house, and upgrade it himself.
At the time I quit the game in the end of March, the last new booster pack available for silver and for non-VIPs was from the previous August. There simply is no new non-paid content whatsoever. Any pack containing anything remotely decent requires you to be a VIP player. As a free player, buying packs is pointless. It's also worth mentioning that nothing in the game tells you the actual contents of a pack, so you can easily spend all your resources (or in worst case, real money) on a pack hoping for a card that should be in it only to find out that the card is not even available in packs whatsoever.
Game flaw #6 - No trading
You would be surprised but this is actually being advertised as a "Trading card game" in a few places. Well, it's not.
You cannot directly buy or sell cards from other players. The only form of trading is the in game auction house. However, when a player buys your card there, you do not get the gold they paid for it. Note that gold is the premium currency available for real money, and in very limited amounts for playing the game every day. When you sell a card for, let's say, 500 gold, the buyer loses that 500 gold and gets the cards as you expect.
However, you, the seller, receive 5% fewer RUBIES. Yes, you heard that right, you do not get gold. At all. Not even one. Rubies are another special currency that can be used for...well...almost nothing at all. You can buy packs from them, but the odds of decent cards in packs are so low that doing so would be stupid. Besides most of these packs are not available without having a rather high VIP level (hundreds or thousands of dollars).
Let's say you sold your quality legendary card for 500 rubies, a reasonable amount. Packs cost roughly 200-600 rubies each, so you can get one to three packs at best. What are your odds of getting a card of equal value to the one you sold? Let's see...there is roughly one legendary card in every 20 packs...and about every 4-5th of those is worth playing, so you would need like 100 packs...but you can only get 3. Great deal, huh? You might ask, why is the card not selling for more rubies, then? Because the buyer pays in gold. You know, the premium currency. It can be used for a lot of more useful things than rubies can, so it's obviously a lot more valuable. Ultimately, you'll never, ever get a good price for a card, because they buyer spends a currency that's roughly 3 times more valuable as the one you get instead. Needless to say, under these conditions, and with all the really powerful cards being a time limited once in a lifetime event, no one actually sells them. Even if you gather thousands of gold by crazy 7/24 playing, there will be nothing top tier to buy from it available in auctions, unless a player quits the game and sells everything.
The main problem with not having a proper trading system is that booster packs are designed for trading card games. If you can't trade, but still get random cards from every pack you buy, you'll get stuck with tons of useless stuff, with no guarantee to ever get what you actually needed.
Game flaw #7 - Skill/creature balance is off
To make it as short as possible, skill cards are very weak compared to creatures.
First of all, with a very few exceptions, skills can't win you the game. You need a creature to hit your opponent, skills can't do that, those that do are utterly useless, dealing like 5 damage to a 60-80 hp enemy player. This already tilts the favor towards creatures, as you need at least some to even participate in the game. Skills are generally used to either buff your creatures, or destroy enemy ones. Too bad, while an average legendary creature has like 12-20 life, the best legendary skill does 13 damage, with more average cards doing 9-10 only. They are clearly insufficient to deal with a threat on their own, and using multiple cards to kill one is a quick way to lose. Buffs are similar, while giving your monster +3 attack or 3 armor or 9 extra health sounds nice, you can actually play a new creature that has 4 attack, 14 health and even armor in one card while not needing to rely on a creature already being available to buff either.
Although there are a few exceptional new skill cards that are powerful, most of these are too rare and unavailable without heavy spending. While monsters keep getting stronger every day, skills don't and to make it even worse, getting skills cards in the game is harder than monsters. PvE and even PvP rewards are almost always monster cards.
Game Flaw #8 - Critical hits, blocks, skill returns -> Random is not strategy.
Players have equipment, which grant them stats. Health is obvious, and has no problems. Expertise allows your skill cards that have the "Mastery" ability to return to your hand more often. Fortitude allows your units to block randomly and take half damage. Valor makes them do critical (double) damage.
As all of these are random, and have high percentages (anywhere up to 40-50% chance of it happening), they influence the game a lot. While this does make battles more different from each other, unfortunately it also makes strategy meaningless.
Let's say you hold a card that does 6 damage, another that does 3 and the enemy has a monster with 6 health and another with 3, but the latter is a greater threat. If you do the obvious and hit the 6 health monster for 6 damage and the other for 3, and the first does critical damage while the other is blocked, the greater threat stays alive and you might lose the game to it. If you do it the other way around, targeting the weaker monster with the stronger spell in the same scenario, both creatures die and you win. However, as this is purely random, it's possible that no blocks or critical hits happen at all, and in that case, doing the second option is worse than the first.
Another example is the mage card "Petrify", one of the better skill cards in the game. It completely neutralizes a target enemy by turning it into a wall that cannot attack and has no abilities, and has a return chance of about 20-50% depending on stats and rarity. Now, imagine a game where that card returns 6 times. Boom, your 7 monster cards, which is your whole hand, are all useless. A single card has beaten your entire deck! Yes, 6 returns is rare, but you can have more than one copy in the deck, making it much more likely, and even 2-3 returns are usually enough to win when the other player gets none, or has cards that cannot return.
As you can see, this randomness kills balance too much. While on the long term it evens out, and isn't a problem for regular PVP where you are expected to play hundreds of games, in a tournament, it is quite a serious flaw. Tournaments also suffer from the unreasonably low time limit on matches, often resulting in the player with the higher starting health to win by simply stalling the game until the 10 minutes run out, but random critical and blocks can also easily decide a tournament match. Losing your only chance to ever win a godlike card that way won't make you happy.
One more problem with it is that monsters can do critical hits on the players, but players cannot block, so while there is a chance to take double damage, there is no way to prevent or reduce it. With the card already mentioned that hits the player immediately and does double damage, if it does manage to score a critical for a total of 4x the damage, you usually lose right there. Remember, this can happen as early as turn 2 or 3.
There is none. While there is roughly a paragraph of text for map battles, and expeditions, you most likely won't ever read them and they aren't relevant to playing the game, nor do they make much sense. You only need to fight the battle and win.
Cards and units look decent. Music is boring, you'll turn it off after the first few hundred battles. Nothing special but it's acceptable for a browser game.
You'll need at minimum 1-2 hours every day to play this, but 6-8 hours every day is what you need to be able to actually compete. Certain events require you to be online hourly for a 15 day time period, most other stuff is once a day, with at least 2-3 events being locked to a specific one hour time frame. Don't expect to be able to have a life and do well in the game at the same time, unless you paid to win in the upper thousands. The game is also very addictive, so even if you plan to spend less time on it, you probably won't be able to.
However, now with the stronger new P2W cards and features, you can probably afford to play less, as you can't hope to compete for decent rankings even if you try hard. With the dwindling hopes of doing well in the game, the addiction also weakens.
This game is out there to get all your money, and not to entertain you. It capitalizes on inducing heavy addiction and isn't even trying to be fun on the long term. It's very unbalanced, boring and extremely time consuming.
P2W won't give you enough advantages to rank in top places below spending thousands of dollars, regularly. The game is much more P2W than a year ago. Stay away.
Product Release: Kings and Legends Global (US, 05/28/13)
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