Tearing a new era in competitive boardgaming
Do you ever get that feeling sometimes when you come across a game that it was just meant for you? That’s the feeling I got when I came across Skytear, a MOBA-inspired boardgame with miniatures and deck building, and beautiful artwork to match. What’s a MOBA you ask? A MOBA is a multiplayer online battle arena, typically referred for games of a particular style such League of Legends, Dota 2 and Smite. I was lucky enough to get hands-on at this year’s UKGE.
In Skytear, you assume control of 4 heroes. Your objective is to destroy the enemy nexus or achieve one of three victory conditions which are drawn randomly at the beginning of a game. These can range from destroying a specific tower (left or right), winning control of a lane 6 times or getting three enemy hero kills during the game. The victory conditions are what makes Skytear not only quicker to play, but more dynamic, as they can define the approach both you and your opponent want to take to win, and respond accordingly.
You can pick from a number of heroes from one of four factions. Each faction has a specific power that is used to empower not only themselves but the fellow heroes on their team. You’ll want to bear this in mind when picking your heroes at the beginning of a match as it is possible to mix and match from multiple factions to build your team.
Each hero has power unique to them, and you’ll want to pick characters that work well together and support each other’s abilities. Heroes have been designed to fulfil roles, such a tank, assassins, healers and support characters. This defines their playstyle, and how you will use them in the game to achieve your victory conditions.
There’s no dice in Skytear. Instead, they have predefined actions, power cards that can be played at any time, and mechanics in place to determine any randomness. This makes Skytear highly strategic, unpredictable whilst never missing a cleverly devised plan due to a bad roll of the dice.
Heroes are activated one by one alternating between players until each hero has been activated. On each activation, the hero has 3 action points which can be used to do one of five actions; move, skirmish, attach, lead and worship. They can only do each one once per activation unless some other ability allows them to.
When it comes to dealing damage, players draw a number of cards from the power card deck and use a modifier (upper right icon) on the regular damage as specified by the card. You can also do more damage by buffing up your heroes.
Power cards in your hand can be played in your heroes or activation, or if they are a reaction power card, at any time they can be used. They cost mana, which you get a number of per turn for each character, but their effects can really turn the tides of a game and feels very rewarding when you outsmart your opponent’s deadly attack or execute one of your own successfully.
Once all heroes have been activated, it’s then the minion’s phase. This is where you work out who has pushed which lane, and you advance the minions towards your opponent’s tower. Essentially, it comes down to who has the most presence, with both heroes and minions, but also if one of your heroes did the lead action.
Then there’s also the Outsider. If you move a hero into the dome and providing you have more control than your opponent, you can take control of the Outsider, a special monster character you can take control of during this phase and use to deal some more damage or disrupt your opponents’ heroes.
After the minion phase is complete, the turn advances, effects are reset and heroes gain all their mana back and you draw some new power cards. There’s a lot to learn here, but once you’ve learnt the basic mechanics it’s a matter of becoming familiar with the various abilities of the heroes and devising strategies to win. Keep the pressure up on the lanes you want to win, poke your opponents’ heroes to whittle them down and kill off a hero to give yourself the edge. It captures the feel of a MOBA perfectly.
Whilst the learning curve is fairly steep for a new player, once there it is very rewarding gameplay. The number of components feels a little too much at times, but nothing feels unnecessary. The only other observation is that it does feel like the first player has a bit of disadvantage but the game is still being balanced and tweaked by the developers, and perhaps this might be offset in the final product.
I think Skytear is a great game and I think it will most certainly become ever more popular once it has its retail release. Sadly, the Kickstarter has ended and there is no late pledge option available. It’s due to arrive in Dec 2019 and you can sign up to PVP Geeks newsletter to be informed when pre-ordering becomes available.
|MOBA mechanics adapted very well||Steep learning curve for new players|
|Beautiful artwork and miniatures||Lots of components|
|Endless replayability with deckbuilding options||First player feels disadvantaged|
Skytear is a card-driven miniatures game inspired by MOBA videogames (like League of Legends) featuring dozens of heroes from an original fantasy universe.
Get started drafting your team of heroes with their unique skills, personalities and ultimate powers. Choose them from four asymmetric factions with unique gameplay mechanics and flavour.
Then, group up with your waves of minions on the side lanes to push toward the enemy Nexus and crumble it.
And if you feel brave enough, enter the Dome to tame The Outsider: the huge elemental made of Skytear energy that can be directed toward your enemies… or toward you!
Unlike most miniatures game, Skytear does not have dice but rather Power Cards: special moves that your heroes can do anytime, even during the turn of your opponent, and make for surprising and exciting matches.