Tobold's Blog
Friday, April 02, 2010
NanoStar Siege

It is still Facebook week on Tobold's MMORPG Blog, an opportunity to see what the rest of the world is playing. Today I am going to talk about a very different game, NanoStar Siege from Digital Chocolate.

Now NanoStar Siege presses all the wrong buttons with me: It is still in beta, and has some quite annoying bugs such as cards not working at all, or battles crashing with an error message and you being declared to have lost. After every battle it spams you with a window asking you to spend more money, or to invite more friends. And this is definitively the kind of game in which spending more money significantly increases your chance to win in battles against other players.

Nevertheless NanoStar Siege is incredibly fun and addictive. Unlike all the other Facebook games I tried, NanoStar Siege is a completely active game, with absolutely no artificial downtime or waiting involved. You play when you like, and as much as you like. The devs describe the game as competitive tower defense game, but actually all the action happens in the attack. You attack other player's castles, for which the other players have set up an army and various defenses, and you need to overcome these defenses to win the battle and earn xp to level up. But the beauty of the system is that it is positive sum PvP: Even the loser of a battle is rewarded gold for the enemy units he kills. Thus, even if you log on and find one of your friends has raided your castle a dozen times while you were away, you can click on all those battle lost message icons and collect lots of gold with which to strengthen your defenses for the next time. So while defense is rewarded, I'd rather call the game a tower attack game.

NanoStar Siege has three basic troop types, swordsmen as tanks, slayers as melee dps, and bowmen for ranged dps. You set up a starting army, the bigger, the more expensive to you and begin battle. During battle a regroup meter slowly fills up, which you can use to send fresh troops into battle, choosing in which column they should attack. Or you wait until the regroup meter is full and use it to reshuffle your deck of hero cards, which is very necessary when it runs empty.

Playing heroes is the main activity during battles. You select a "deck" of heroes, with a predefined number of legendary, mighty, and strong heroes, based on your level. There are various types of hero cards: Cards that add troops, cards that transform one of your simple soldiers into some special troops like a healer or master archer, cards that deal damage to enemy troops, buffs, debuffs, and various global effects. Thus there is a lot of fun involved in putting together various strategies: Do you want to kill the enemy troops with direct attacks, or would you rather zerg him with lots of reinforcements? What cards can you use to counter your enemies strategy?

You start the game with a small selection of cards, and the only way to get more of them is to buy random booster packs, like in a trading card game. Because I was having fun, and I do believe in paying game developers that produce fun games, I spent $30 on 215 "DC points", with which I bought 8 boosters of 5 cards, and two boosters of 1 card, for a total of 42 additional heroes. As I can only take 13 heroes into battle each time at my level, that gives me already a rather large number of options to build my deck from. And while that initial investment was certainly a boost to my power, further purchases will have diminishing returns, because I only gain more options in deckbuilding, not more heroes per battle. Interestingly there is another game from the same developers, NanoStar Castles, which uses the same cards, so if you buy boosters in one game, you can use them in both. But basically I consider that I paid $30 for playing NanoStar Siege, which isn't a bad deal in view of how much fun this is to play.

I certainly would recommend checking out NanoStar Siege for free by playing a couple of games with the cards provided. I sure wouldn't recommend going overboard with card purchases, especially in view of the game not being all that stable yet. Whether you can justify a moderate investment in cards depends on your personal finances and how much you end up liking the game.
site is either down or blocked by the proxy here.
I've been following your forays into facebook games (Bored with My Tribe now I have an ark) and I just gave Nanostar Siege what was supposed to be a quick play that lasted nearly 3 hours. I agree, it's a really nice game. I didn't have any problems with bugs or disconnects and it's definitely addictive.

Unfortunately I didn't realise how much money you need to send your armies out onto the field, and I spent all my money on upgrading my barricades. This means I only have 117 gold and I can't afford to raid anyone. I should look at this as a good thing because it means that I can't play any more so I have to get back to work, but it is very annoying. I now need to wait til my peasants pay me tomorrow.

The other bad thing is that it seems that the status of your opponents barricades seem to have far more effect on the battle than their level or heroes, so I found myself just clicking on people and if they had lots of towers cancelling.

I agree with you about paying something to the developers, but given that I paid £3 (~$5) for Portal and £7 (~$11) for Torchlight not long ago I couldn't tell myself it was worth giving them more than $5. I know I shouldn't compare but I can't help it. If I'm still playing in a weeks time I may buy more.
actually, you should always have at least one player in your list that gives you only 1 xp. If you're doing it right, you can almost every time defeat this player with an army that costs no coins.
My goodness.

Facebook + Magic: The Gathering + Warcraft 3 + tower defence.

It's as if they researched causes of internet addiction then combined them to make a game.

It does sound much more my kind of game than Farmville. I probably shouldn't try it though, just in case I get hooked.
After reading these discussions of FB games, especially this last one about Nanostar, I think I am actually leaning towards getting Facebook. I have despised it since before it existed, when Myspace ruled social networking. I simply would rather do pretty much anything else and socialize in any other way than posting my whole life on the internet for everyone to see. I see no need to let everyone know I am "back on anti-depressents" or I am "hating life", etc. (Sample FB statuses)

My girlfriend would kill for me to get an account, mainly so her relationship status bears my name. Ridiculous! I value my time much more highly than to waste it on Facebook. However, with the advent of decent gaming (of a certain type of course) it is now attractive to me.

People have to know beforehand that FB games are catering to a certain crowd. They are intended for short (well mostly) burts of gameplay, and often this will be enough to advance a level, a stage, etc.

I play my Iphone games almost every day, as when I am out and about I always find 5-10 minutes where I am waiting around, needing to kill the time. As Tobold says, it is for these time intervals that FB games are intended. Those expecting a fully fledged "game" as they are used to are going to be disappointed.

Most Iphone/FB RPG games in particular seem to be not traditional games at all. They are simple series of clicks that require very little tactical thinking, but simply occupy your time. The reward here isnt the task itself, but the frequent rewards you recieve. It is this fast pace of advancement that keeps you hooked, not the gameplay itself.

Anyways, rant over. One question, does anyone know if FB games can be played on the FB Iphone app?
Facebook Games cannot be played on the Facebook iPhone app. The app is a very cut down implementation of the site.

And most facebook games are flash based, which ofc doesn't run on the iPhone.
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