Commuting Cognition: Dragonbolt Vanguard

What is this?

I’ve never been a big mobile game player, but I ended up working in a mobile games company (opinions are my own etc), so I’ve been trying to expose myself to more games in this market and attempt to gain an ever-better understanding of them. One of the ways I’ve been doing that is in trying out new games, seeing what they do wrong and right, and try to draw conclusions from them that I can use in the future to make our games better. One of the resources I’ve been using for this is TouchArcade (not sponsored), and their columns listing the new iOS games of the week.

This resulted in me playing a lot more new games during my daily bus rides, but I also feel the need to discuss them somewhere and keep a log of my thoughts instead of just internalising them. So, Commuting Cognition. These will be brief, bus-ride-long thoughts on these games, and should be seen less as reviews and more as first-impression brain dumps. They also may not be daily, depending on how full the bus is that day.

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Dragonbolt Vanguard

Daily spin! I don’t know what any of the rewards are because there was no gameplay yet, so it’s the opposite of exciting!

So Dragonbolt Vanguard is a tactical RPG with a pretty interesting streamlined combat system.

Before you can start the game, you’re tasked with picking your starting party. You’re given a few randomly selected characters to choose from, and you repeat that process thrice to form a party of four. Because each selection group is completely random you could theoretically end up with a party of four characters of similar classes, which seems like a very odd design choice; there’s no good reason why each group shouldn’t be comprised of classes for a specific role, to ensure you ended up with a balanced party.

When you do finally start the game, your units are randomly distributed on a 3×4 board. Your opponent has an equivalent board on their side. A turn consists of moving one unit to any space in the board; upon dropping the unit, all your characters in that row will attack all the units on the opponent’s side of the row. For the unit you dropped, the attack will be a basic attack. For the other units in the row, these skills used depend on which column the unit is set on, and they have a set percentage of being activated in that turn. At least, that’s my understanding of the system from what little i played. I’m not sure how much i like that trigger percentage system, as it makes it much harder to plan when your cleric will only heal you 30% of the time. I feel like the system would be much more interesting if the skills always triggered, and the strategy came from having the units in the right positions at the right time. However, the reason this might be done this way is because of my biggest issue with the system…

When you’re moving a unit around by dragging and dropping, whatever unit you cross while dragging will swap positions with yours. You can do this indefinitely until the unit is dropped. Basically what this means is that on every turn you can completely change the entire board to suit your needs, which seems not only broken but needlessly overwhelming, simultaneously requiring you to do a lot more planning for your current turn but also removing the need to plan for future turns. If you could only move one unit to one empty slot and that’s that, no swapping allowed, i feel that the system might be a lot more interesting.

The game also takes a lot of cues from Fire Emblem Heroes, namely a triangle damage system, and a gacha system that allows you to pick which of those triangle roles the unit will you get will have, all stuff i enjoyed. Other than the aforementioned system decisions, i feel that the game has quite a bit of potential.

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