Hoard Review «

Hoard’s concept seems deceptively simple: Dragons burn down villages, collect gold, and add it to their lairs. Behind the premise, though, the game hides a surprising layer of complexity and strategy. The tile-based settings invoke the spirit of tabletop gaming, which carries through excellently to its tactics-focused play.
As one of the dragons, your goal is to gather money by wreaking destruction and fear. The gold lets you choose upgrades from among four stats: speed, damage, armor, and gold-carrying capacity. The upgrades you choose, and in which order, is the first layer of tactical thinking. Since the game limits you to 10-minute sessions, getting the most out of your upgrades is important. Do you choose gold-carrying capacity to gather more at once, speed to fly back to your base more quickly, or damage to destroy hapless villages faster?

Click the image above to check out all Hoard screens.
Besides manually picking up gold, you can gather more quickly by terrorizing towns into allegiance, ransoming princesses, destroying towers for valuable crystals, felling giants, and keeping your gold multiplier running. But juggling all of these tasks at once makes the game hard to master; Hoard is ostensibly a dual-stick shooter, but that’s only half-true. Since the game’s dragons can’t use fire breath while moving, stopping to attack is a deliberate choice, which adds one more layer of strategy.

Single-player modes consist of Treasure (scored gold-gathering), Princess Rush (scored princess-capturing), Hoard (standard survival), and co-op with computer-controlled dragon assistants. But while these serve as decent primers, the real meat of the game comes from its multiplayer. Available in local and online, you can play Treasure, Princess Rush, and Co-op modes. Co-op is listed separately, but it’s essentially a Treasure match in which players contribute to the same gold pile. It was a standout for me, since gold and upgrades came that much easier, but it’s too bad that working together is restricted to only one game type.

Click the image above to check out all Hoard screens.
In fact, this serves as an example of Hoard’s greatest weakness: the scope is too narrow. Maps are more plentiful for some game types than others, and the tile-based game grid seems made for a currently non-existent map editor. Mixing co-op team play into modes like Princess Rush or Survival would’ve been a welcome way to let you create team tactics that emphasize different strengths. A co-op Princess Rush mode, for example, could’ve allowed one player to upgrade for speed and grab the princesses, while the other upgrades armor to defend her at the keep. The time limit is a bit restrictive as well, especially since the game doesn’t include any type of sandbox mode. So, you’ll rarely (if ever) get to see a battle between two fully powered-up dragons.

Hoard has strategic depth usually reserved for tabletop games and plenty of potential, but in its current state it could use a bit of tweaking. The game is deep enough to keep you involved for a full 10-minute match, but the lack of variety and customization options will make it hard to maintain your interest for more than a few short sessions at a time. As it stands, Hoard is a great game for small bursts of play, but some added flexibility could’ve given it more staying power.


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