App Reviewed on: iPhone SE
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Stormbound is a stylish multiplayer card game that takes the ideas of Clash Royale and makes them turn-based. Players create decks of units and structures in hopes of destroying their opponent's base before they get destroyed. It's not a super complicated game, but it can still provide some amount of strategic depth, provided you have the patience to play it.
In any game of Stormbound, two players have bases stationed on opposite sides of a 4x5 battlefield grid. Each turn, players automatically receive a preset amount of mana to spend on playing cards, with the ultimate goal of dealing 10 damage to the enemy base. Players go back and forth, all the while getting more and more mana to spend until one player emerges as the victor.
The cards in Stormbound can be any of three basic types: units, structures, or events. Units are military units that can move about the battlefield and attack other units or the enemy base. Structures are stationary structures that can block opposing troops and cause other effects, and events are single-use cards that apply effects to units, structures, or bases without having a lasting presence on the battlefield.
Hold the line
When you first start a round of Stormbound, players can only play cards in the spaces closest to their base, but this changes when troops move up the battlefield. As troops advance, a line on the game board moves as well, and this line indicates the furthest spot where you can deploy troops. This line holds as long as your enemy doesn't kill all of your forward troops, so success in Stormbound involves trying to push your front line forward and your opponent's line back.
There's a ton of ways to accomplish this task, as Stormbound provides a good variety of cards to build decks with. Every card is divided into one of five types, and each has their own distinct play styles and synergies. Unfortunately though, players are very limited in how they can mix and match multiple types of cards. They can only choose one of four kingdoms to build a deck, which can only then be blended netural cards, the fifth type of card.
Stormbound presents its card battling in a way that seems extremely easy to pick up and play. It's a simple and familiar premise with just enough depth to stay interesting, and it's all wrapped up in a nice little portrait-oriented package. If you truly expect to be able to bang out matches of Stormbound while waiting for the bus though, you'll be sorely disappointed.
As a turn-based game, Stormbound matches can carry on for quite a long time. Part of this has to do with the ability for players to counter and re-counter each other repeatedly, but it also has to do with the game's animations. Stormbound has a lot of flourish when it comes to just about every in-game action, and these flourishes make matches move at a glacial pace. Add to this an extremely stingy free-to-play system that makes unlocking cards take a significant time investment, and Stormbound feels like little more than a huge time sink.
The bottom line
When making a multiplayer game on mobile, it's extremely important to be mindful of players' time. If your game isn't super complicated, it should be a quick, satisfying experience. It shouldn't be bloated with long animations, and matches should be designed to end in a reasonable amount of time. Unfortunately for Stormbound, neither of these things are true. Although it has a lot of neat mechanics and potential, Stormbound is just a bit too slow for its own good.