Trading Card Games have so far been a slight rarity on the Nintendo Switch despite its oddly perfect design for them. Warhammer Age of Sigmar Champions hopes to make up for this odd library gap by bringing its Warhammer inspired card battles to the hybrid console. Developed by PlayFusion, the same team behind the hit TCG Lightseekers, Warhammer Age of Sigmar Champions boasts an impressive pedigree.
Choose your alliance and prepare for battle to prove your allegiance using swift tactics and blessings from the gods!
Champions is a young TCG having only released in physical form back in 2018 with a PC and mobile port arriving back in February of this year. The Nintendo Switch port is the latest release and loses nothing in the transition. In fact, the Switch version of Champions is the first version to receive a series of new single-player focused modes and challenges like Realm Trials. Realm Trials has you complete matches against different types of decks to earn rewards for completing different goals and it was a blast. The game is also fully playable in both handheld and docked mode using either the Joy Cons or Touch Screen. If you have played Champions on any device know you can continue your progress on the Switch without losing a thing!
If you are new to Champions the game will begin with a 4 part tutorial designed to get you an understanding of the basics. The play-field consists of 8 squares, 4 for you and 4 for your opponent, where you place champions. Each alliance has different champions that can summon different unit types or cast spells. Each champion can also have a variety of different effects and abilities. Different champions in play can also affect the total health you have as a player so play those abilities vs costs accordingly. Each champion in play also has a series of icons surrounding them that indicate a quest step. These steps can be completed by playing a unit, dealing damage, using a spell, healing or damaging your foe. Once a quest has been fully completed a blessing card is activated that can do any number of special things like boost damage output or even heal you a set amount each turn.
Each turn consists of 2 actions a player can take, be it placing a unit, attack or spell card or using a champion's ability if they happen to have one. Any unused actions at the end of a turn allow you to draw that many cards to add to your hand. Unit and spell cards will have an indicator at the top to show how much healing or damage they can do per turn. At the start of each turn, the corners will rotate forward to their next value. Once a card rotates its 5th time or to an empty corner that card will be sent to the discard pile. Each card also has a flavor text that could reveal more abilities beyond what the corners indicate. The last type of cards is ability cards which have instant activation times and are immediately discarded after use. Using all of these different cards you must bring your opponents health to 0 before they do the same to you!
It is honestly simple to understand the basic concepts when it comes to playing Champions the challenge comes in perfecting it. Champion placement can have a profound effect on the success of any given game so much so that enemy cards that cause your champions to rotate can cause serious problems. The types of units your champions can summon are also an important key to take note of cause what good is a beast type unit if you have no beast commanders? Champion quests also play a key factor in every game and have the potential to turn around any losing fight so building a deck to play to that is key.
Each deck is made up of 4 champions and 4 blessings and any combination of 30 action cards like spells units or abilities. Certain cards can only be used with certain factions with a few abilities being playable with any. Each faction is unique with its playstyle with the Order being my favorite during this review process. If you prefer to mass units Chaos might be more your speed. Or maybe you prefer to interfere and disrupt your opponent's card placements, in which case Death would be a great faction to build up.
Like most free to play TCG games, you can earn more cards by beating certain daily challenges and missions in the single-player campaign. You could also choose to buy real-life versions of Champions booster packs which you can then scan into the game by using a smartphone. I don’t own any real-life cards so I wasn’t able to test the ease of this functionality myself but it looks to be a very easy process. Real money can also be used to buy digital boosters in case you don’t want the physical card around as well. As far as earning free digital boosters goes, it is slightly grindy but not the worst I have experienced. Unfortunately, some campaign rewards are locked behind the paid Champions Pass so be aware of that before you decide to grind out everything you see.
Since Warhammer Age of Sigmar Champions is a TCG there really isn’t much to do in terms of graphical prowess. Cards appear crisp and legible which is about all I could ask for. Attack and damage animations are also smooth and crisp. Interestingly enough, there is an option to reduce the games frame rate to save on the Switch’s battery life if you plan to be using the device in handheld mode for an extended period of time.
Audio is a mixed bag for me. Music that plays during each match sounds epic but it gets repetitive and obnoxious very quickly. It is also very loud by default so make sure to adjust accordingly. All other effects sound like a perfect match for what is happening on the screen and are properly mixed!
What It Could Have Done Better
While I find little to criticize about Champions mechanics and play style I have some things to address about controls. As I mentioned earlier the game can be played using either the touch screen or Joy Cons, no Pro controller support what so ever! With the game being playable docked this is a slightly strange omission that will hopefully be patched later. And while controls are being patched hopefully the defaulting to touch screen problem that happens between turns can also be fixed. It is annoying to always have to move my thumbstick for the cursor to reappear and then work my way back to what I was looking at previously. It is also unfortunate, though understandable, the whole thing needs a constant internet connection to be playable.
As far as free to play cards games are concerned Warhammer Age of Sigmar Champions has been one of my favorites and a perfect game to experience on Switch! Despite some control issues I find the core game to be a blast and find out new strategies every day. That being said, like most TCG’s those who put in the most money are always going to have the biggest advantage and nothing can ever really be done about that. Thankfully getting new cards to try and remain competitive isn’t as bad as in other games so with some dedication you should have a pretty killer deck in no time. PlayFusion has again shown that they know how to make a card game!