I’m a big fan of collectible card games (CCGs). I have been ever since I played Magic The Gathering many, many years ago.
Since then, digital CCGs have become all the rage with Hearthstone, The Elder Scrolls, Gwent and even Magic The Gathering all fighting for market share. Sadly, they don’t seem to be fighting over the Switch.
None of these games are available for Nintendo’s console, although The Elder Scrolls Legends has been announced. It’s a shame because, while it’s not perfect, the Switch is a great platform for digital CCGs.
Thankfully, Games Workshop and developer PlayFusion are working to remedy that.
Age of Sigmar Champions Switch Review
Age of Sigmar Champions is both a physical and digital CCG and was released on PC and smartphones prior to coming to Switch. This is actually helpful for the Switch version it is cross-play compatible with all of the others.
This means Age of Sigmar Champions comes with a built-in community. It also means that existing players can bring their profile across to the Switch and continue playing on any platform of their choice.
This helps alleviate one of the major issues with the Switch version; the always online requirement.
Having to be connected to your profile at all times means that even if you want to battle the AI or build a deck, you have to be online. It makes the Switch version far less portable but I found that playing in handheld mode at home then switching to the iOS version on the go worked a treat. Especially as Age of Sigmar Champions on Switch best played with the touchscreen.
In Age of Sigmar Champions, unlike other CCGs, players don’t select a hero or a single champion. Instead, each deck includes four champions. Hence the game’s title.
Some champions have a specific ability (Heroic Act) and all have their own quest to complete to receive a hidden Blessing. By making strategic use of their abilities and quests you unlock the full potential of your deck. For example, Stalwart Icebrow Hunter can perform one Heroic Act per turn which allows a player to discard a Beast to rotate a friendly unit 2 steps forward.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. Beast? Rotate?
Age of Sigmar Champions is quite different from other CCGs in the way that units, combat and damage function. Cards come with various numbers at the corners. Some use all corners, some only use one and others are in between.
Choose Your Champion
Essentially, these numbers are representations of what the unit can do. If a unit provides protection and it has a 2 in the corner, it will reduce incoming damage to your health by 2. If it deals damage, it will deal 2 damage to the enemy’s health. Each turn, these numbers rotate and the one at the top left rotates away.
Once a card uses up all of its corners, it goes into the discard pile. Each Champion’s quest works in a similar way except that to make the quest rotate you need to perform a certain action. Using Stalwart Icebrow Hunter as our example again, his quest requires that the player first Deploy a Unit then Deal Damage, Deploy a Beast and then finally Deploy an Ogor Unit.
If the player manages to do all of this within the game, they’ll unlock the Blessing which can drastically alter the outcome of the match. With four champions and four potential Blessings, you better believe there are some great synergies to aim for.
Age of Sigmar Champions is also quite different from other CCGs in the way turns work and the layout of the board. Each player has four boxes, each containing one Champion. At the beginning of the game, players take turns placing their Champions. This is an important step as some Champions have powerful abilities that should be countered.
Once all Champions are placed the game begins. Instead of using Mana or requiring players spend something to cast cards, in Age of Sigmar Champions each player is given two actions per turn. Performing a Heroic Act or playing a Card count as an action. Should you choose to pass, you’ll draw cards equal to the number of actions you passed.
The only way to get more cards in your hand is to draw them via passing or from playing other cards that allow you to draw.
Card types include units, spells and abilities. Each of these comes with its own text explaining how it works and a diagram of the play area showing which other units it effects. There’s always a delicate juggling act when playing Age of Sigmar Champions as you’re unsure if you should push ahead and play more cards or hold back.
Frankly, like most CCGs, Age of Sigmar Champions is tough to explain without seeing it in action. Thankfully, there is a pretty robust and intense tutorial. That being said, those unfamiliar with how these types of games work will still struggle.
Pick Up, Play Down
Aside from how the game plays, Age of Sigmar Champions comes packed with actual content. You can play online in both ranked and casual matches. You can challenge friends or take part in the various other special modes.
The solo campaign, Realm Trials, includes 200 missions to complete and helps players learn the basics of the game. Playing this campaign through will take dozens of hours and is a huge amount of free content. You’ll also be introduced to the four Grand Alliances; Order, Chaos, Destruction and Death.
Each Grand Alliance has its own cards, types and strategies and they’re all quite different from one another.
By playing any of the modes you’ll earn various currencies which can be used to purchase in-game items. Of course, some items require premium currency. It is free-to-play after all.
Age of Sigmar Champions is a superb addition to the Switch’s library and while there are a few issues here and there, CCG fans will love it. Here’s hoping its success makes other developers pay attention and we see all manner of great titles come over to the Switch.
Warhammer Age of Sigmar Champions was reviewed on Switch using a digital code provided by the developer.
Game Title: Warhammer Age of Sigmar Champions