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Chaos Reborn: The Battle of Wizards Classic is Back

By on April 10th, 2014 11:22 am

Chaos Reborn | Turn-based fantasy strategy game by Julian Gollop

Ok, even if this is a space/sci-fi/fantasy strategy games blog, many of you reading the site probably never heard of a game called Rebelstar, a turn-based sci-fi tactics title for ZX Spectrum from the 80’s. Or, you’re simply not that old :) Or, you probably never heard of a game called Chaos: The Battle of Wizards either, a fantasy turn-based tactics title also from the 80’s, and for ZX Spectrum as well. But, there’s another turn-based tactics game from the 90’s that I’m positive all of you are familiar with, or at least have heard about. X-COM: UFO Defense (aka UFO: Enemy Unknown).

What do all of these games have in common? They were designed and mostly developed by the same person, Julian Gollop, a game designer I have profound admiration and respect for. And, these were titles that, and I’m sure many of you can relate to this, had a decisive influence in my gaming life. Julian has been developing other games since then, some of them variants of his past work, also some new titles, but usually all turn-based or tactical in nature. His latest project is a remake of the original Chaos: The Battle of Wizards game called Chaos Reborn. Julian says it’s “part sequel, part re-imagining of that original game brought up-to-date with high quality presentation”.

Either way, I can’t tell you how excited I was to hear about this new Chaos project back in 2012. It made me remember the times when I and a bunch of friends would get together to play Chaos (in hotseat) during school breaks. And now, Julian is on Kickstarter with a playable prototype for Chaos Reborn asking for support to help finish his game. The funds are to be used to include more content, to replace all the place-holder graphics, to include animations and to basically help complete all the features. Julian expects to deliver the final game by Q2 2015.

Brief impressions

I tried the playable prototype with a friend. Currently, the prototype only allows multiplayer. You can play with 2, 3 or 4 players all against all, or in coop with 2 vs 2. The prototype is currently available and runs on your browser with a Unity plugin, or you can download it here. The final game will be released for Windows, Mac and Linux.

Chaos Reborn | And the battle of Wizards begins!

Well, it’s Chaos alright :) Now, prettier, more accessible. But, already a lot of fun. And while the prototype only offers a basic UI at the moment, and there’s some evident polish work to be done, this already feels like a game in itself. And, when you finish a match, you definitely feel in the mood to play another one. We played two games for these impressions. My friend never played Chaos before but I think he picked up the basics quite fast. Of course, I walked him through. I won both games! But I’m sure he’ll come back for a rematch soon :)

If you’re not familiarized with Chaos, it’s a simple but very elegant game where two or more wizards are fighting each other for supremacy. Basically you want to kill all the other wizards before they kill you! Each wizard can move and cast spells. Spells vary from direct effect shots (e.g. bolts) that inflict direct damage, to many types of fantastical creatures you can summon, like vampires, manticores, pegasus, skeletons, dragons, etc.  Your usual fantasy-realm creatures. And, there are also other “area” effect spells like nasty replicating blobs of goo or spooky dangerous trees, or even spells to create equipment you can wear.

Chaos Reborn | Ah Mal, you're surrounded by my minions, and you'll soon perish.

Now, the critical element involved in all of these spells is chance. Some spells are easier to cast than others. But, there’s an extra subtlety at work here. You can try to cast spells to create real creatures, or only illusions of such creatures, and the later always have a 100% chance to appear. Now, the fun part is that your opponents can’t tell the difference! This creates lots of interesting dynamics since you never know, although you can suspect, if a certain creature is an illusion or not. Well, if you cast a Green Dragon in the beginning of the game, it’s probably an illusion. But, you never know! And that’s the beauty of Chaos.

I had a great time with my friend. The game is turn-based. The prototype allows you to set the maximum turn-time. In your turn you can move your wizard, cast a spell and move all the units you have on the board. On top of the classic single-player and hotseat multiplayer experience, Chaos Reborn proposes more multiplayer modes (cooperative multiplayer with humans vs humans and a mix of humans and AI) and a single-player campaign. The Kickstarter page also mentions an online ranking system, a guild system, guild tournaments and items and equipment to trade.

Chaos Reborn | Wizard Adam Solo wins! :) Want a rematch?

Chaos Reborn is currently in the $140.000 mark of his $180.000 goal. With 6 days for the Kickstarter campaign to go, there’s a fair chance that Julian and co will make it. The stretch goals seem a bit far though. The $200K stretch goal would unlock more languages “minimum French, German, Italian and Spanish”, and the $240K Android and iOS support.

I’m in Julian, of course. Hopefully many more will come. For the fans out there, don’t get distracted. There’s a fairly good chance that Julian will make it, but we never know.

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  1. jingles says:

    It does not appeal to me, but I gave him a donation just to say thanks for X-com.

    • Adam Solo says:

      If you want to try it, let me know. I’m in the mood for another match :)

      The offer is extended to anyone else interested in having a go.

  2. Ermdog says:

    Looks like a great game. I never played the original. This definitely interest me, I just hope the unit graphics are different on the final version.

  3. Alien JD says:

    The game looks really fun and this is the dev behind Xcom and Laser Squad Nemesis. I backed it and hope they make it.

  4. Mark says:

    Looks interesting and I wish him all the best. One small criticism is that there don’t seem to be any elements that encourage immersion in the game, its like looking at a chess board. Chess may be intellectually stimulating from a strategic point of view but the word “exciting” doesn’t really come to mind.

    I know its early days yet but I think the game needs more immersion to prevent it from feeling dry and lifeless and to make you really feel like a lone wizard fighting for his life.

  5. Jeff P says:

    After funding two Kickstarter ventures, I’ve soured on crowd-funding. I know of no crowd-funded games that have turned out well, much less as classics.

    Maybe I will buy and play Chaos Reborn – when they have an actual game that can be reviewed and evaluated (and is on sale!)

    • Adam Solo says:

      I certainly can relate to what you say. But, perhaps not enough time has passed yet. I for instance have a lot of faith on At the Gates and Predestination. I’m less positive on other cases. But, nothing is certain. What is more or less certain is that we wouldn’t have Jon Shafer working hard on At the Gates and the indie Brain and Nerd team working on Predestination, to name two examples, if it wasn’t for Kickstarter. And StarDrive and StarDrive 2, like it or not, would probably never existed.

      Will all of these KS titles turn into classics? No. Will all be good games? Most probably not. But they would probably not exist if people haven’t supported them via crowdfunding.

      The way I see it, Kickstarter is for projects that would not exist otherwise, or would take much more time to develop with poorer results. For the cases where funds are indeed required to finish a game. A game you would happily pay to make it happen and for the CHANCE to see it happen in the way you expect it to become. So, when you pledge you help make it happen but you only have a chance it will turn out the way you expect it to be. If you can’t get past that, then don’t pledge.

    • Alien JD says:

      I no longer will back devs that don’t have experience and haven’t shipped games. But I backed this and I backed Ground Pounders because they are both from developers I trust who are making games I want to play. And they are games that the major publishers wouldn’t produce or fund.

      • Adam Solo says:

        Yes, but personally I’d include any developer (with or without a track record) that can show a playable prototype or demo of some sort at Kickstarter to show that he or she is up to the job. Otherwise, how would indie devs ever start? If publishers aren’t there for them it must be the community to help them out. That’s what KS is for, isn’t it?

        • Jeff P says:

          I’m an old guy who has been gaming most of my life. I played traditional board games as a kid, graduated to board war games as a young adult, the first console games, and finally computer gaming. However, over these 50+ years of gaming I never lost sight of one critical fact: these are GAMES, diversions from real life. I must prioritize both my time and expenditures.

          A dollar spent on one game is a dollar I can’t spend on another game or something more important like food, rent, taxes, or my kid’s college. Likewise, an hour spent playing a half-finished game is lost forever.

          I bought into the hype for Predestination and MORE. Never again.

        • Alien JD says:

          I mostly agree with that. I’d back a feature complete beta but I’m through backing pre-alphas for devs with no track record. So if the dev has a mostly complete game but needs money for say, artwork and to develop the AI, sure. But if the dev only has a tech demo of a combat system and a map generator then no I wouldn’t.

    • Smoking Robot says:

      ‘Xenonauts’ is looking and playing great about a month away from final release.

      I’d say it’s the exception to the ‘no good kickstarter games’ rule.

      • Mark says:

        Let’s hope so. Xenonauts is my last best hope for X-Com goodness after the dumbed down digital insult that was XCOM-EU.

        Even so, I’m going to wait until I read several glowing reviews before shelling out any cash. Early access is something that other people get to do.

        • Smoking Robot says:

          I’ve been playing it for months. It’s good. Authentic X-com, unlike that ridiculous console thing.

        • Alien JD says:

          I decided to pick Xenonauts up because it is so close to release and I’ve heard a lot of good things about it. I’ve only played for a few hours but so far I love it. It is exactly what I’ve been wanting: XCOM with updated graphics and tool tips to help my tired old brain remember what stuff does.

          *I should mention the only downside I’ve seen so far. I don’t think maps are randomly generated.

  6. ashbery76 says:

    I just don’t find anything appealing with the setting.I think this is why it’s struggling even with the developer pedigree.It looks bland.

    • Adam Solo says:

      There really is no setting. There wasn’t any in the original game anyway. It’s just two wizards (or more) fighting each other casting spells, trying to outthink and deceive one another. I know, it sounds very simple. It is simple.

      You guys need to try it to see how fun and addicting it is. This one shines on multiplayer. It’s really fun to play with friends. Against the AI, well, perhaps they’ll beef it up with the new campaign mode. But, the true fun lies on playing with friends. This from a single-player lover.

  7. Titan says:

    It would be interesting to do a interview with this guys.

  8. poctyk says:

    Dear space sector, why you still haven’t mentioned “Civ: Beyond Earth”?

  9. Adam Solo says:

    Funded! :) Go Gollop.

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