Panzer General Online is a web-based game developed by Blue Byte as part of Ubisoft. You’ll be excused the first impression of assuming that it’s yet another entry into the Tank Battle genre made popular by World of Tanks, but anyone familiar the history of Panzer General will know that it’s closer to being a table top card game than anything else.
The game, currently in Closed Beta stage, has you commanding a platoon of units across a game board using action cards. There is currently a two-sided single player campaign, along with a selection of multiplayer modes. The board is set up with three columns and four battle lines on each side. The first two are reserve lines, followed by a support line and finally the front line, where battle will mostly take place. Unless you have a ranged unit, you can only issue attack commands to those units on the front line, who will attack the opposing front line unit, if there is one.
To win you must either destroy all of the opponents units, or deplete their command points. If a lane is clear of units on the front or support line, then an attack will deplete command points by a value equal to the health of the unit attacking. Each card you play is worth a certain amount of command points, so you must also keep an eye on your own command points and plan accordingly. There are cards to resupply your points if you find yourself in danger of running out. The system works really well, allowing you to take different approaches to different battles.
There are a variety of units split into two categories, soft (infantry based) and hard (tanks etc.). Each unit type has a set amount of health points, along with attack and counterattack values. Along with these values, each unit has up to three cards that it adds to your deck. You can build up and customise your platoon by purchasing new card packs with the hard-earned coins you receive in battle. Further more, you can merge units with each other to help build up your card pack. You will sacrifice one unit to take its cards onto another unit, and if that unit already has three cards, then a special unique card will be created randomly. Playing around with different unit types and decks can really make the difference on the battlefield.
Of course, this being a free to play game means that you can also purchase packs for real money. This is by far the quickest way for you to unlock the more powerful units such as the Tiger or StuG IV. It has also lead to the multiplayer being completely unbalanced, which is a crying shame as the core gameplay is great. Pay to win might be for some people, but definitely not everyone.
As it stands, Panzer General Online is a fantastic and easily addictive single player game, even if it has the same daily limit features that many Facebook games have, but the micro transactions and unbalanced gameplay has crippled the multiplayer aspect of the game, which should be its strongest feature. Hopefully Blue Byte will be able to address this by the time the game opens the floodgates that will be the open beta. If not, you’d be better off picking up the actual board game version and playing it with some mates.