PoxNora is a strategic fantasy game where players use decks of magical runes to battle it out on gridded maps. Champions are the basic units of the game and are summoned to protect your citadel and destroy your opponent’s. These champions appear as miniatures on the map and posses varying movement speeds, attacks, and abilities. Players can assist their champions with an array of spells which may deal damage to their opponent’s forces, heal their own, or have some other effect on the battlefield. Gameplay in PoxNora can best be described as a virtual mix between a trading card game like Magic: The Gathering and a tabletop miniature game like Mage Knight.
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PoxNora Featured Video
By, Erhan Altay
Originally released in 2006, PoxNora an interesting blend of the turn-based RPG and collectible card game genres. The game runs using Java and can be played on Windows, Mac OSX, and even Linux based computers. Recently, Sony Online Entertainment (SOE) purchased PoxNora thus putting it in the same family as EverQuest, and Free Realms. But PoxNora doesn’t play anything like other MMO titles; instead it takes the tabletop miniature game concept and brings it into the virtual realm.
MTG Meets Mage Knight
PoxNora isn’t a very graphically intensive game and this shows in the relatively small client size. At about 120 mb, it shouldn’t take long for players to get started. But gamers should be well aware of what they’re getting into. Gameplay in PoxNora relies on strategy and takes place as a series of rounds between two players. A single match can take anywhere from 20 to 40 minutes with very little action in between. For fans of traditional gaming, especially miniature games, PoxNora makes an excellent virtual alternative. As I played the game for the first time, Mage Knight came to mind repeatedly. Players start with access to eight starter decks, each of which represents a different faction. These decks can be used to play against computer controlled opponents or other gamers in 1v1 matches. An optional tutorial is available to teach beginners the basic concepts of the game. I highly recommend running through the entire tutorial at least once, PoxNora is a difficult game to pick up as you go.
Learn to Command
The tutorial is broken down into five parts and should take players about 10 minutes to complete. The first step explains the concept of revealing runes. Runes are the cards of PoxNora and make up a player’s deck. Each turn players can ‘reveal’ a certain number of runes and use them. Revealed runes remain available to play throughout the game with the entire rune deck eventually becoming revealed as a match progresses. Runes come in several types with the most important being ‘champions’ which serve as the miniatures that actually do battle on the gridded map. Other rune types include spells , relics, and equipment which act as equipment for champions. All runes have a ‘nora’ cost which is PoxNora’s term for mana. Players can increase their nora replenishment rate by capturing small wells scattered across the map. Capturing wells is a simple process, simply move a champion near one and keep it there for one turn. If an enemy unit approaches the well, it will become contested again. The ultimate goal in a PoxNora match is to destroy your opponent’s shrine which is the only structure in the game that can be attacked.
Runes, At a Price
After the tutorial, players find themselves in the lobby of one of the game’s five channels. The five channels are: Training Grounds, Single Player, Ranked Play, Casual Play, and The Bazaar. New players will spend much of their time in the first two of these channels fighting against AI controlled opponents. Oddly, players do not actually start with access to the eight beginner decks; each one must be manually activated by visiting the official website. Fortunately, there is a button on the lobby screen that takes players directly to the appropriate page. Each of the eight decks corresponds to a different faction but the free decks are severely limited in their scope. All of these decks are ‘locked’ which means no runes can be added or removed from them – they must be played as provided. Additionally, each individual rune in the start decks can only rank up one forth as much as a regular, store bought runes. These are severe restrictions and make PoxNora much more restrictive than similar titles such as Battleforge or even Urban Rivals. For those who wish to make their own decks using the game’s 500+ unique runes, booster packs are available for purchase. In addition to purchasing runes, players can buy additional single player campaigns but there are seven free ones to sample first.
Two Ways to Play
The first two single player campaigns are labeled as ‘beginner battles’ and each contains four missions. There really isn’t any story or lore involved in these battles, nor are there unique objectives. These matches play out much like player vs player matches except for the fact that the AI starts with a champion already near one of the nora wells. This does give the computer an advantage but generally the AI plays so ineptly that even beginners shouldn’t have much difficulty quickly cornering the remaining wells and overwhelming it. Luckily, the game saves a bit of time and automatically declares the player as the winner if all enemy units are defeated, there is no need to actually send forces against the enemy shrine and knock it down over the course of several turns. When players are ready to try their luck against other flesh and blood opponents, they can either join a game hosted by someone else or open a room themselves. There are currently 19 maps with varying numbers of nora wells. As a rule of thumb, the bigger the map the more wells it will have and the longer the match will take.
PoxNora only supports 1v1 battles, which is a shame since 2v2 team battles would add so much more strategy to the game. The turn based nature makes this impractical but it does make players pine for more appealing alternatives like BattleForge which is graphically superior, has much faster gameplay and even beats PoxNora’s customization features. Of course those looking for something slower paced and with lower system requirements should still give PoxNora a try.
Final Verdict: Good
PoxNora is great for what it is. Players looking for a strategy game that plays like a virtual collectible miniature game will find everything they want in PoxNora. Unfortunately, the slow paced gameplay and dated graphics do little to draw in anyone outside this small niche.
OS: Windows ME/2000/XP/Vista or Mac OSX
CPU: 500 MHz
RAM: 512 MB
HDD: 80 mB
Graphics Card: Nvidia or ATi Video Card with 64mb
OS: Windows 2000 / 2000 / XP / Vista or Mac OSX
CPU: Pentium 4 1.0 Ghz
RAM: 1 GB or more
HDD: 500 MB
Graphics Card: Nvidia or ATi Video Card with 128mb