Three Kingdoms Heroes, or its Japanese name 三国志ヒーローズ / Sangokushi Heroes, has released! Officially, the game is in an open beta phase but we can reasonably assume the current build is about as close as you can get to the full launch. This new title from Koei Tecmo would aim to satisfy that strategy game itch, so how does it play?
As previously mentioned, it plays very similarly to chess/shogi/go. You and your opponent will take turns, making an action during your turn. Moving a unit or using a unit’s action will end the turn. Units can be made to face the cardinal directions (north, south, east, west). Units have their own directions of attack/movement, denoted by arrows around the unit. Units normally cannot pass through other units, even if they are friendly.
Depending on unit type, they also have different movement tiles. Over time, the gauge at the bottom of your screen fills up, indicating your “mana” to use your skills with. You can check your opponent’s gauge at the corresponding top of the screen. It’s just easy to think of the game as a Three Kingdoms chess skin. Incidentally, the story is not fully voiced and it would seem only leaders are animated at this time.
Units go down in a single hit. It’s not possible to attack normally after moving. Should your general be in danger – or vice versa – you’ll get text flashing on the screen to indicate a checkmate. You can see which unit is threatening your general as indicated by red coloured arrows in the direction of attack. Do note this only applies on the turn the notification shows up, as if you don’t notice and get into the path of another unit, then it’s your loss. Defeating a general ends the game.
You can PvP with others, and obtain rewards by climbing the ladder. You have your starting units in your team alongside your general, with at least 2 available in reserve to summon as needed. Presently, testing your team against the AI system is not available, so if you want to sharpen those skills, then you’ll have to match up with other players.
There are several leaders available in the open beta which you’d presumably unlock through going through the campaign, possessing their own skills. The gacha appears to be mostly for getting high rarity units that you can upgrade. Certain level thresholds improve a unit’s range as one of its perks, and duplicates automatically “limit break” the unit. Both leaders and units have their costs, and formations cannot surpass the cost limit.
The gacha seems to use some obtuse “hint” system that will show the element of a unit. 5-star units are at a whopping 1.5% rate. A full pull of 9 units seems to cost 2400, but summoning seems a little obtuse to work around. Fortunately, it does have a pity system, where at 15000 you can redeem a unit. A single 300 currency pull provides 100. The summoning layout feels reminiscent of Fire Emblem Heroes, except perhaps a little more guaranteed. There are other items available for purchase, too.
It’s a fairly easy system to grasp overall, with mastery lying in unit types, movements and skill usage. Games are relatively quick with this chess turn-based battle and mobile format, so if you’d like a quick strategy fix, perhaps Three Kingdoms Heroes is something you’d want to try.