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Krosmaster Arena - Enough to make you kros

For: iPhone   Also on: iPad

Some things are better left on the tabletop

Product: Krosmaster Arena | Publisher: Ankama | Format: iPhone | Genre: Card battler, Card/ board game, Multiplayer, Strategy | Players: 1 | Version: Europe | App version: 1.9.4
Krosmaster Arena iPhone, thumbnail 1
When you take a physical board game and make it digital, you lose some things and gain others.

What gets dropped in terms of sociability and sheer tactile pleasure you make up in convenience and experimentation. It's a good trade-off, and mobile board game adaptations are mostly awesome.

Krosmaster Arena
started life as a board game, and a well-received one at that. It's based on a blend between two well-recieved MMORPGs, Wakfu and Dofus, about which I know nothing other than their metacritic scores.

A glance confirms a certain bobble-headed anime charm, which came to the board game in the shape of some fantastic chunky collectible miniatures.

So, taking these enjoyable franchises and marching it onto mobile ought to be a sure-fire hit, right? 


Well, it could have been. Indeed it probably should have been. But sadly, Krosmaster Arena is bedeviled by a raft of technical and presentation problems that at times render it a misery to play.

Then, even if you can get past that, it's been cursed by an unfortunate degree of pay to win.

The game itself is a tactical battle between two teams of Krosmasters, each with its own particular stats and special abilities.

Some heal, others specialise in close or long range damage, and yet more get by through summoning and commanding other creatures.

Each turn you move all of your figures and use up their pool of action points. These can either power abilities or be spent on picking up gold from the map.

You can exchange this currency for special powers while standing on particular tiles. At the start of each turn you can also allocate some random bonuses, or cash them in for more gold if you're running low.

It's a simple system, yet it powers an intriguing series of tactical options. Krosmaster Arena is one of those games where you need to know the numbers - the movement allowance, ranges and armour of your characters - and use them to their best advantage.

IAPs Explained
Krosmaster Arena does at least have a refreshingly simple IAP model. You purchase Krosbox, each of which contains a single new character for you to use.

They come, as usual, in value bundles. From two for £2.29 all the way up to fifty for £31.99. You can also purchase single Krosbox with currency earned in-game.

That's all fair enough. The problem is that the contents of your box are random, and some characters are way better than others. To reach the highest ranks you'll need a lot of luck or a lot of money.
Nip in and out of range, cornering the most useful areas of the board, firing off abilities as you go.

Kris Kros

You should pick your Krosmasters so they have mutually supporting powers. You can, for example, take a character with a brutal melee attack and use the abilities of other characters to "push" him around the board, quickly getting to grips with the enemy.

Some attacks buff as well as do damage, so you can target your own team members with resistance to that particular attack type and enjoy the buff.

There are a lot of characters, a lot of numbers, and a lot of powers. There ought to be a lot of love. But Krosmaster Arena shoots itself in the cute anime foot.

The biggest problem is a simple matter of connectivity. Almost everything you do in the game - even, it seems, moving a Krosmaster - demands verification through the game's servers.

Said servers are often very slow. This makes the game incredibly frustrating to play. It stopped responding an awful lot when I was playing, and I thought it had crashed, only to find it was waiting for a server response.

To add insult to injury there are constant small updates to download between battles.

Krosty the Klown

It seems to be a port from Steam, and it shows. Even when they respond at a sensible pace, the interfaces are clunky are unintuitive.

There's a multi-stage tutorial but it leaves reams of information unexplained. Vital elements are relegated to tiny icons which you can only figure out through trial and error.

You can play Krosmaster Arena in either solo adventure mode or online multiplayer. The former has a senseless story and a difficulty curve so irregular it looks like a sound wave.

The latter has a wonky matchmaking algorithm that sees newbies being pitted against experienced players. And it's not just experience that counts - not all Krosmasters are created equal. If you pay the cash to net the best characters and make the best teams, you'll win plenty without much strategy.

In other words Krosmaster Arena takes all the fun things about taking a board game and putting it online, and makes them into problems. Stick with the cardboard.
Krosmaster Arena - Enough to make you kros
Reviewer photo
Matt Thrower | 22 March 2016
A satisfying tactical board game ruined by a dreadful digital conversion and profit model
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