Might & Magic Showdown is available on Steam Early Access now, and with Ubisoft Montreal’s FunHouse division at the helm, it’s taking the venerable fantasy series into a new world of real-time tabletop battles and highly customizable miniatures. It’s a new twist for the series, and for real-time strategy in general – so if you’re still not sure what to make of it, here’s a quick look at its coolest features so far.
One of Might & Magic Showdown’s biggest draws is that it captures the creativity of painting miniatures for tabletop gaming, without the drag of cleaning brushes or accidentally getting paint on the wrong parts. The game features 20 characters out the gate, which you can purchase with in-game currency earned through progression. The seven Hero characters can be unlocked for 1500 coins each, while the 13 Creatures cost 900 each, and everything is earned through play, with each victory bringing you a little closer to your next acquisition.
Once they’re in your possession, you have several options for customizing them: You can pick from pre-painted color schemes, automatically fill in different parts (armor pieces, skin, etc.) with specific colors, add highlights and lowlights, or pick up a virtual paintbrush and create your own detailed masterwork by freehand. It’s a system that enables an incredible degree of customization for dedicated painters, but also lets you create a uniquely cool-looking character with just a few seconds of tinkering. That same layered approach to complexity is also reflected in gameplay, because as you’ll soon learn…
Prepping is Vital
Battles in Might & Magic Showdown look a little like Might & Magic Heroes, in that two squads of warriors and monsters charge at each other across a wide, flat battlefield – but the similarities end there. In Might & Magic Showdown, you control a single, powerful Hero character in real time, clicking on enemies and unleashing a succession of attacks and abilities as the situation demands. Meanwhile, you’re supported by up to three Creatures, programmable minions who fight autonomously according to whatever scripts you give them.
Each new Creature comes with a simple, default chain of pre-programmed commands, but you can expand on these however you see fit and customize them between matches. Maybe you want your mage to always hurl his lightning bolts at the enemy with the lowest health, or you want your tank to immediately provoke the most powerful monster and draw it away from your weaker minions. Or maybe you want them to automatically switch to a different chain of attacks when faced with elementally charged enemies. Whatever your needs, you can set up a number of different command chains and prioritize them to kick in as certain conditions are met, turning witless minions into nimble combatants who know exactly how to react to any threat.
The Campaign Eases You In
If programming AI Creatures through a series of drop-down menus seems daunting, don’t worry – Might & Magic Showdown comes with a 30-mission campaign designed to let you get your feet wet before jumping into the pool. The early battles are tutorials, with challenges that push you to learn and try new techniques – but once you’re past the beginner tier, the gloves come off and you’re left to figure out how to overcome tough new challenges on your own. The right combination of AI commands and teammates can make all the difference, so experiment until you find one that works.
Other Players Pose a Stiff Challenge
The campaign’s real purpose is to toughen you up for online duels, where you can face off against another player’s Hero and up to three of their Creatures. Having a strong squad counts for a lot here, but ultimately victory comes down to which player wields the best pre-programmed tactics while using their Hero to maximum effect. Figuring out your tactics before battle is tricky, as you don’t know which Creatures your opponent will bring to the match until it starts – so the smart thing to do is to work to build up a robust list of command chains that will (hopefully) adapt your troops to any situation.
Tons of Unlockable Rewards
When you start customizing, a sizable chunk of the available paint colors are blacked out. You can gradually earn them – along with bonus XP, titles, new attacks, and other goodies – by completing the game’s 180 challenges, which range from beating campaign missions and acquiring certain characters to, say, winning 50 PvP matches with a specific character. And when you’re done with those, there are additional daily challenges as well, pushing you to accomplish new tasks in pursuit of more XP and rewards.
It’s a lot to take in, but if you’re ready to take the field, Might & Magic Showdown is available now for PC via Steam Early Access. For more from the developers at Ubisoft FunHouse, take a look at our previous coverage: