Pantheon: The Legends is a new Freemium game that combines card collecting and army management with the mindless clicking and PVP battles of Castle Age. My wife and I played Castle Age for a few weeks several years ago but dropped it and never looked back since all you did was click a progress button for several minutes a day. There was no real gameplay or substance. However, something mindless and low key was exactly what I needed during the daily bottle feedings of my sick pet. So I decided to give Pantheon: The Legends a try the day it came out (January 22nd). I mean, it was free after all. Here now are ten quick thoughts on the game.
1. If you are really into Greek Mythology, then Pantheon might be worth downloading just for that sake. There are 102 characters ripped straight from mythology in the game (including Kratos for God of War fans). There’s a little caricature and comedic bio on each character card, both of which are cute. The game doesn’t take itself seriously at all, which is nice.
2. Gameplay, if you can call it that, is just hitting the progress button in quests over and over again until you finish move and move on to the next. When you spend your stamina points to progress through a quest, a wheel comes up. Choices include extra XP, extra silver, a treasure chest that holds new cards or pieces of Treasures, or nothing. You do this until your stamina is depleted and call it a day.
3. After a certain level, you’ll unlock an Instances, which is another set of quests. These don’t cost stamina points (which recharge) but instead have a cooldown timer, so you can’t just fly through them like normal quests. The last quest in the instances is a boss fight where you will have to team up with up to five of your human friends (and their armies) to defeat the boss. Do so and you get a choice of prizes. The first is a free card. The second is a chance at a more powerful card, but it costs money. I’ve yet to do the latter. It’s just not worth it.
4. At this point I should mention he game does try to nickel and dime you to death, which is unpleasant. You can only get 1-3 star level cards through normal gameplay. You start the game with one 4 Star card though. You can buy chances at four or five star cards with real money, but nothing is guaranteed. Crazier yet are the costs. It’s five bucks a shot to try a get a five star card. That’s insanely overpriced, but I guess some people are doing. I know I won’t be.
5. The game also makes it crazy hard to ascend your characters to a new power tier. You need Ascension Tokens to do this. However they are exceptionally rare as they can only be earned by progression in Instances and even then you need a ton to Ascend someone. A 4 Star card needs EIGHTY Ascension Tokens. A Level 3 Card needs 15. I’ve been playing since Day One and have 100%’d the first two Instances and I have a whopping ten Ascension Tokens. One would think that this was an attempt to make gamers purchase Ascension Tokens, but you can’t actually purchase them in-game. Instances progression (which is free) is the only way to come by them. Good luck with that. When you do ascend though, the game charges you real money to keep your character’s current level or they get zapped back down to Level 1, albeit with the new stats. It’s $2.50 to keep your level, which is again, extremely insanely high priced for a Freemium game. I can’t imagine who would willingly pay that much.
6. Now after the complaints about the costs levels, you might think I’m down on this game. I’m really not. I surprisingly enjoy Pantheon in spite of itself. It’s an easy way to pass the time without actually having to concentrate on the game. I like the art work and the main musical track really sticks in my head. It helps I’m a folklorist though as I get a little something extra out of the game because of it.
7. PVP battles are actually worth something more than XP, which is a nice change from similar games. You fight battles over shards of Treasures. There are ten Treasures to complete, each with three to five pieces. You pick the Treasure piece you want and are given a list of opponents. The higher the opponent’s level (in terms of your own), the more likely you will steal the piece from him or her if you win. Thus, the key to getting pieces is to have a high attack rating and the key to keeping pieces is to have a high defense.
8. So how are your stats calculated? Well, you form a team from the cards you obtain through play. Each card has a star rating, which lets you know their quality, along with attack and defense ratings. Some cards might be balances, while others are geared more for attack over defense, or vice versa. As you level up, the number of cards in your army increases. You can always sacrifice extra cards that you don’t need or want to the ones in your army to give them XP and hopefully level the card up. As the card levels up they gain more attack and defense points. As well, each card has a few special combos that can be triggered in order to give them a stat boost. For example, If you have Cerberus and Hydra in the same team, both get a 20% increase to their attack and defense rating. Treasures too can be equipped to confer stat bonuses and some cards even get an addition boost based on whether or not they hold a specific artifact. For example if Apollo holds the Golden Lyre, he gets a 20% boost to his attack and defense ratings. That’s in addition to the 12% boost to minimum defense that the Golden Lyre already gives. So they key to an awesome team isn’t just the star rating of a card, but leveling them up and doing card combos. Currently my team is Phobos (Level 40) Theseus (Level 13), Ariadne (Level 7), Cerberus (Level 11), Minos (Level 24), Hydra (Level 8), Minotaur (Level 8) and Chiron (Level 6), for a total attack score of nearly 10,000 and a defense of nearly 6,500. From what I’ve seen that’s well above average for a level 29 player, so I’m happy. At level 35 though, I unlock a new card and I might switch out Hydra, Cerberus and Chiron for Apollo, Artemis and, if I can pull her, Medea. We’ll see what happens. Right now I’m pretty happy with my team though.
9. I should point out that it is possible to get through the game without spending a dime. I’ve done it and I appear to be faring pretty well. I have a PVP success rate in the mid 90 percentile and I’m still having as much fun as one can. Truthfully for me, it’s figuring out the best combinations of characters and items that interests me far more than the mindless clicking on the progress button. But then, I’m a statistics person. The key is that the game is free and you can certainly have fun without ever spending any money. It’s just too bad that there aren’t ways to get the higher level cards without spending money. The best Freemium games always have a way for that to be possible, even if it takes a lot longer. I’m disappointed that’s not an option here.
10. Finally, the game always needs to connect to a server to work. So you can’t play on a plane, in an elevator and so on, which is unfortunate as it also means you can’t play where you don’t have an AT&T (or whoever) provider. This is the only iOS game I’ve downloaded where it forces you to be online constantly while playing. This is yet another design flaw with the game and a big one that like the overpriced card purchases and the lack of ease at getting Ascension Tokens that I think will greatly restrict who will enjoy this game. Pantheon: The Legends is fun for a mindless point and click game and it has potential. Here’s hoping the dev team tweaks several of these big issues though if they want to really develop a larger (and hopefully paying) audience.