Available On: Android, iOS
Skylanders has dipped its toes into mobile apps before, from the Collection Vault to Lost Islands. Skylanders Battlecast represents a full spin-off that effectively uses gameplay heavily borrowed from Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft to create a fun and easy to play digital card game.
Battlecast: Heroes of Skylands
Skylanders Battlecast is a free to play digital card game. Cards come in several different types, with the titular Skylanders cards being the most important. Every deck must contain exactly three Skylanders. Each Skylander has attack and health numbers, and gains levels throughout a match. One frontline figure can be used to attack or swap to another on the sidelines. Choosing when to swap and which cards to use is a fun dilemma in every game.
In addition to attacking you can also play Spells, Relics, and Gear. Spells are one-time use cards that can heal, damage, or provide other effects. Relics are like ongoing spells that can be targeted and destroyed. Gear can be equipped on any Skylander to make them stronger or weaker. Each card has an energy cost. In Hearthstone you gained one energy crystal per turn. In Battlecast there’s a random chance you’ll get 0-2 crystals per turn.
Most spells either require a certain element or a specific Skylander to be able to use. This unfortunately makes opening new packs a bit less fun compared to other card games, as you first need the right Skylander to use many of the best cards.
Battlecast includes both a single player campaign and online player versus player combat. The campaign offers dozens of levels through elementally themed worlds. Each match has special scenarios that makes things challenging and fun – such as everyone being damaged at the end of a round, or the enemy receiving tons of extra energy. Online match-making is relatively quick and enjoyable, though there isn’t any formal ranking system.
Cards to Life
A major marketing point for Skylanders Battlecast is the “cards to life” feature. By using your mobile device’s camera you can scan the physical cards and add them into your digital deck. While the 3D visuals can be fun it’s nearly useless for most cards, as they simply fly onto the screen. It’s really fun for the Skylanders cards, however, and scanning multiples on the same screen lets them swipe at each other in augmented reality. It’s not exactly the holochess from Star Wars but it’s a neat gag.
Physical and digital card packs are available for purchase. Currently there are two 22-card Battle Packs available. They each offer three Skylanders and some cards for $9.99 or 1,400 gold in game. Booster packs include 8 cards for 500 gold or $4.99.
Gold is earned through winning, performing well in the campaign (up to 3 stars on each level), and completing Hearthstone-style Daily Quests, such as winning four games with an Undead Hero, or dealing 3,000 damage. I found the gold rewards much lighter than Hearthstone’s, but appreciated the constant free cards it gave me through free spins and daily card packs.
Skylanders Battlecast has been rated 9+ for Infrequent/Mild Cartoon or Fantasy Violence. The characters and enemies are pulled straight out of the Skylanders games and attack each other with minimal violence or contact. My 4 year old delighted in using the intuitive touch screen interface to cast spells and attack. Of course, it should be warned that you can purchase digital gold with real money, so make sure you have set your parental settings or monitor your little ones when they’re playing.
I was pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed Skylanders Battlecast. It shamelessly rips most of its gameplay from Hearthstone – but that’s a great game to rip from. There’s just enough added gameplay, like the Skylander swapping and random energy, to create a satisfyingly replayable experience. I wish gold and the Skylanders characters cards were easier to come by but even if you don’t want to spend any money, Battlecast is a fun digital card game and a great spin-off for the franchise.