While it’s not the first time someone’s tried it, Colliding Forces caught my eye at PAX for the simple reason they were playing a game using the tablet like a board instead of a screen. I’m glad it caught my eye because it was worth trying out.
Colliding Forces was described as a cross between air hockey and chess. While the chess comparison is a bit subtle, the air hockey aspect will leap out at you. The game is played on a board that amounts to a hockey rink. There are two goals, and each player needs to slide their pieces into those goals. In front of each goal are two forge rings that are used to produce the elemental pieces. Each time you tap an element, it will upgrade to a more powerful element, and each element gives the piece different properties.
When pucks are first produced, they are earth. The number of Earth elements you control determines how many moves you can make per turn. On a turn, you can slide your piece around the board by flicking your finger on the screen, or you can tap the piece and upgrade it. The first upgrade is fire. If a Fire piece contacts any other piece on the board, both are destroyed. Fire is aggressive in this regard, but fire is vulnerable because any other piece can destroy it. Tapping fire turns it to air, which blows against any pieces that come near it. You can destroy air with a fire, but you’ll need to get close to the air piece and then slowly approach; if you approach too fast you’ll get blown back. Air can be upgraded to water. Water allows you to control any of your opponent’s pieces within a range of the element. Finally, water can be upgraded to a forge ring that will produce more elements. The ring becomes stationary, but careful placement can allow you to produce elements wherever you might need on the board.
The object of the game is to get one of each type of element into your opponent’s goal. When each element scores, an event occurs that changes the nature of the board. For example, when sliding a fire piece into your opponent’s goal all the forge rings destroy any pieces that might be sitting inside them in a Volcano effect.
The strategy of the game comes into play regarding when to upgrade your elements and where to move them. You can slide pieces on top of your opponents rings, and block production of any further Earth elements. Do you attack your enemy with fire and destroy his tokens, or do you upgrade to wind and try to score? The gameplay overall is simple, but it provides for some intriguing possibilities.
Overall, Colliding Forces looks like a fun game for anyone who has a tablet. I like how we’re getting games that show their tabletop roots but expand on that in ways that only virtual pieces and boards could work. I look forward to playing it against more people when the game is released for iOS devices.