New release: Tactics Maiden

Tactics Maiden (Android) - 01
Mangobile, the developer behind the ever-growing mobile strategy RPG franchise Kingturn, has released a brand new mobile strategy RPG by the name Tactics Maiden.

The developers have not released any sort of narrative summary, so I have no idea what the storyline is. In fact, it isn’t immediately clear to me whether this even takes place in the same universe as the Kingturn series. Perhaps that doesn’t matter much, though, as the setting and story of these games has never been particularly strong.

More important is the fact that Mangobile has finally released a new game trailer for this one (they’d just been reusing the same old trailer for their three prior releases), and it shows battles that are undeniably in the Kingturn style:

(There is also an 11-minute gameplay video showing a full battle if you want more detail.)

So what’s actually new here, aside from improved UI graphics and character sprites? According to the developers, there are a few things that make Tactics Maiden stand out from its predecessors. To my mind, the most significant of these is the addition of “flexible character builds with skill points that can be redistributed at will.” Previous titles had characters undergoing a rather rigid progression as they leveled–the ability to customize your character’s progression promises to be a big, welcome change.

Among the other new features: improved enemy AI, the ability to rename your characters, 5 difficulty settings that can be adjusted mid-game, 36 character classes, more than 70 skills, 85 battle scenarios, and more than 1000 equippable items.

Losing a battle now stings more than it did in Kingturn, as you won’t retain the experience, items and gold you gathered immediately prior to your defeat–you’ll have to win outright to avoid losing these. (You can also retreat from a battle to retain experience and enemy loot drops, but the game will fine you a certain amount of silver for your trouble.)

There is one big change that I think might end up being a step backward, however: conquering (and losing) outposts no longer affects maximum army size. This promises to reduce the strategic importance of gaining ground and holding on to enemy outposts; but more worryingly, it risks turning battles into drawn-out wars of attrition, since the enemy will have fewer constraints preventing them from reinforcing to full size even at the very end of each battle.

You can nab Tactics Maiden for iOS or for Android for $4.99. (The first 8 scenarios can be played for free if you want to try the game out before committing.)

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  • Nullzone says:

    Disclosure up front: I am a longterm Mangobile fan, since the first game I got, Sword&Earring. And a betatester for Tactics Maiden.

    More than a little mediocre, in my opinion. The review of course, not Tactics Maiden.
    Makes me wonder if you played TM already, or one of Mangobile’s earlier games.

    The “battle of attrition” you talk about in the last paragraph was always what I felt the weakest point in the previous games.
    Tactics Maiden improved a lot on that. I played through the whole game twice, on different difficulties.
    There were only a few stages where I could win by brute force / attrition.
    Agreed, a lot of stages still come down to “eliminate all opposition”. But here you have more stages with different goals than in the earlier games, e.g. some stealth stages where going in with guns blazing ensures a quick defeat.
    And the “kill all” ones are way more challenging and diverse than before as well; quite often I had to change my approaches, and most of my “standard Mangobile” ways of doing things (say, wear the enemy down to the point where it did not spawn anymore units) did not work well anymore, or not at all.

    Story: you have a point there, especially about the “is this in Kingturn World or not?” part.
    Mangobile’s Niels Bauer might not be the greatest worldbuilder ever, but I have to say my standards are really high in this regard.
    But his stories/world always have a lot of charming details that more than make up for any weakness in the overall “big picture”.
    Those small details in dialogue or background (the latter could shine through more often still) are something I rarely see in other games, definitely a big plus in my book.

    Like a fellow betatester wrote: “Tactics Maiden may not be for everyone.” But give it a shot, it’s a good amount better than the Kingturn games, which were already quite solid tactics games for iOS.
    For sure comes with a high recommendation from me, if you want to listen to some unknown guy ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Craig Stern says:

    This is not a review–this is a news post. I have not yet played this game (though I have sunk many hours into Kingturn Plus and the like).

    • Nullzone says:

      Ah, sorry for the misunderstanding then, Craig. Most of your post read like a review to me, so I assumed it was meant as one.
      As a Kingturn player you might like the new skill system, much better than the old linear progression.
      Curious to hear what you’ll have to say about it after playing a few hours.

  • Undeadcow says:

    Hopefully there will be a proper Tactics Maiden review once the game has been played; I’m curious to hear impressions based on actual gameplay. The opinionated voice of this article implies there is a basis for the writer’s gameplay perception so it’s a confusing to hear he hasn’t even player it yet.

    I have played Tactics Maiden and was initially concerned about the change to outpost conquering but in retrospect it feels narrow minded to see cutting off enemy resources as the ONLY way to win. Field positioning, use of special abilities, and patterns of attack have a greater emphasis in Tactics Maiden and ultimately I think it’s better for the change to outpost strategy.

    • Craig Stern says:

      Hi! Welcome to the site.

      So, as is typical of news posts, most of what I say here is based upon things that the developers themselves have said. (Thus, the use of language like “According to the developers.”) The developers themselves all but say that uncoupling outpost acquisition from army size reduces its importance. To wit: “This way conquering outposts becomes more a question of improving your strategic position instead of entirely turning the tides of a battle.”

      Now, insofar as I express opinions here, they’re based upon my past experience playing Kingturn titles, and by the similarities evident from Mangobile’s videos showing Tactics Maiden in action. My opinion about the narrative merits of past Kingturn titles is based upon my past experience playing Kingturn titles; and my opinions about the risks that uncoupling army size from outpost capture could potentially pose to the pacing of battles is based upon my past experience playing Kingturn titles.

      But of course, since I haven’t actually played Tactics Maiden yet, I couch my concerns in language indicating that my concerns are speculative (e.g. “This promises to,” “worryingly,” “it risks”). Essentially, I’m just relaying my thought process as I read about the design changes; and those thoughts are based on my long experience playing and designing tactics games, and on playing Mangobile titles in particular. If I’d I actually played this game, you would be hearing my opinions in much starker terms, without the need to cite to the developers or talk about what I worry the game could be. ๐Ÿ™‚

      • niebau says:

        Wow, so much unexpected exposure. Thank you kindly for spreading the news about Tactics Maiden, Craig.

        Being basically just a one-person endeavor and fairly new to the game industry, players should indeed not expect the next Final Fantasy Tactics.

        But I’ve put thousands of hours of dedicated work into Tactics Maiden, which will hopefully make up for a few possible shortcomings or unusual design decisions.
        Coming originally from the non-gaming IT industry, at least I hope that Tactics Maiden brings a few new interesting aspects to the genre.

        As for the new outpost mechanics, that’s a good point.
        Initially I was worried about possibly just stalling the outcome of battles myself. But splitting Kingturn’s barracks mechanics into its two core components (outpost=spawning, magic pillar=max enemy size) turned out to be quite a blessing, imho:

        – An additional twist: Am I better off conquering a particular outpost (and thus prevent spawning from this position), or should I focus on conquering this magic pillar instead (decreasing the enemy’s army size)
        – More flexibility in terms of level design

        But I’m always looking forward to advice from veterans of the industry, of course.

        Just now I’ve seen your own upcoming title ‘Telepath Tactics’ on kickstarter. That looks really cool.
        Might be finally the tactics masterpiece we fans have been waiting for.

        In the meantime, in order to fill the void, players fond of the tactics genre might want to give Tactics Maiden a shot.

  • Helge says:

    Sadly not yet available in the German app store. Looks good and I liked the previous games a lot, even though they were not overly deep. Quick TBS fix on the go.

    • Helge says:

      Ok, according to Mangobile: “The iOS version is scheduled for September 18, 2014.”

      • Craig Stern says:

        Good catch; I was wondering why the app store link they supplied didn’t seem to be working!

        • niebau says:

          Yeah, I thought it would be a good idea to have a few hundred beta testers on Android first, to make sure the iOS version is working flawlessly.

          Nah, kidding aside, there had been a few minor issues during the app approval process. So I had to postpone the iOS release to make sure it’s really available as announced.


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