Game Spotlight: Trials of Fire

While we are a group of content creators and competitive players with a hearty hankering for Gwent, we recently got the opportunity from Neon Bedlam to play an indie game called Trials of Fire. In this Spotlight, Weevil and I guide you through what the game is about, how the combat works, what else you need to know in our opinion and lastly, where and how you can get the game. Aside from that, this week you can expect some of our streamers to stream the game live on Twitch and a first impression video on our YouTube so you can get a better impression of the game. Although, we will try our best as well with the words that we put down on paper for you.

What is Trials of Fire, eh?

Trials of Fire is a single player, turn-based strategic deckbuilder game from WHATBOY set in a post-cataclysmic fantasy realm. In this game, you get to choose 3 Heroes and adventure into the wasteland where you engage with enemies in a unique meld of card-play and tactical, positional combat. By doing so, you level up your Heroes  and scavenge what you can to customize your decks and build your party to take on a variety of challenges! As you traverse the landscape, every decision matters, and will affect what resources you gather, how many battles you fight, and how much rest you will require.

Hunter, Elementalist & Warrior are the first 3 Heroes that the game gives you. In total there are 9 Heroes which you can all give a name to your own liking and strengthen them with items to wear and use.

How does the combat system in Trials of Fire work then?

Before you head out on this amazing journey, it’s good to know how the combat in this game works. We would recommend playing the Battle Tutorial first to gather knowledge about the many unique combat mechanics that are in the game. If you’re feeling confident enough, you can skip it.  Nonetheless, this article will provide you with a nice summary to get you started. So without further ado, let’s get into it.

Combat in Trials of Fire is simple on the surface, but has many layers of complexity behind it. In combat, each Hero has their own deck of cards, which they can use to move and attack enemies, or aid your fellow Heroes. Cards in your initial deck are based on the Skill Cards of your Hero, which are quite basic. Unlike other card games, Trials of Fire builds its cards into the equipment you wear, acting both as a buff to your Hero’s health while also improving the deck. As you collect new gear, your deck will vastly improve. 

To win a battle, you simply have to defeat all the enemies on the battlefield by reducing their health to zero. Ideally, you want to do this without losing any of your Heroes, which is tricky in higher difficulties. If a Hero falls, they will remain injured until they are healed. With that being said, let’s go more in-depth regarding the combat mechanics.

Skill Cards
As previously mentioned, your Heroes have each their own versatile Skill Cards. To either move around with on the battlefield, defeat your foes with or defend yourself when needed. And you are the chosen one that is pulling the strings, how cool is that? Skill Cards serve as your available actions and also the resources you will need to pay for those actions. To recognize which Skill Cards your Heroes have, colors have been given to match the Skill Cards with the counter of your Hero on the battlefield. Using them is easy, you can hover them to find out what they do and then click and drag from the card within your hand to an appropriate target (unless the card is a Block card, targets a wide area, or affects all Heroes or enemies). Once you have played your cards out, you can end your turn. Then its up to your enemies to take their turn to fight back and vice versa. 

Remember when I mentioned cards being built into gear? Well, by equipping good quality weapons and items, your Heroes can gain a number of Redraws, or mulligans, which can be used in each battle. Redraws can be used to replace cards in your hand during a single turn by swapping those cards for an equal number from your deck. Redraws have many uses. Sometimes, you’re looking for a card to synergise with your fellow Heroes or finish off an enemy. Perhaps you need to move out of danger. Or, you can use them to replace Weakness cards in your hand with useful Skill Cards. Similar to other card games, redraws of this kind are used to give you more options during a single turn.

During your turn, you will be given at least 3 fresh cards from your deck, but this can vary depending on various factors. 

So, what now? To act in combat, you require Willpower (let’s think of it as Mana). This can be obtained by recycling the cards you have using the Recycle Shrine, or with various other Hero abilities. You can recycle cards by either dragging them to the Shrine or by right-clicking on them. Recycling a card will add one Willpower to the Shrine, which any Hero can use. Be aware, though, that this can also be used to move Heroes two spaces, so you must choose wisely. A card’s current Willpower cost is displayed at the top right, while your available Willpower is displayed in the Recycle Shrine. 

Because your Willpower has multiple purposes, the trick to playing Trials of Fire effectively is optimising the Willpower you use each turn to deal the most damage to your enemy while moving or protecting your Heroes.  If you decide to not use the Willpower points for more powerful Action Cards or movement, then your Hero can gain 2 Defence. This blocks 2 of your opponents damage during their turn.

Melee, Ranged and Magic Attacks
Combat in Trials of Fire takes place on a grid of hexagonal spaces, which Heroes and enemies can interact with for attacks and movement. Depending on your Hero, your focus will be on Melee attacks, which you can execute from within one space of an enemy, or Ranged attacks, which you can use from farther away – as long as the enemy is within line of sight. You can see this by hovering over your Hero and looking at the eye symbols that display above your enemies. Magic attacks, lastly, are quite varied, but they can be quite devastating. They can be used from many different locations, so our best advice here is to try them out for yourself. 

Combo Strikes
While you can be very self-centered and use your Heroes apart from each other, sometimes teamwork is the right call because this allows you to use Combo Strikes for extra damage. In order to do this, you need to position multiple Heroes adjacent to the same enemy for melee attacks. Once executed, Heroes other than the attacker will deal 1 point of additional damage per Combo Strike (up to two). Because enemies can move around quite efficiently, setting up Combo Strikes can be tricky. Friendly Heroes that can execute a Combo Strike will be highlighted with a yellow glow. However, a Friendly Hero cannot perform a Combo Strike if they are adjacent to more than a single enemy. In that case, your attack is highlighted with a red glow.

Just like Superman and Spider-Man, our Heroes also have their own Powers. Think of the Powers as on-going bonuses. And while the Powers of Superman are always active, such as incredible strength and impervious skin, each Power in Trials of Fire has its own health (or Resilience) that is reduced whenever that Hero takes damage. Thus, when the card’s Resilience is depleted, the Power will be discarded.

While our Heroes have their Skill Cards and Powers to assist them against the enemy, they also have their own natural talents. These Talents are once-per-turn abilities that will trigger automatically under certain circumstances. You can mouse over your Hero to check their Talent and try to make the most use of your Talents during your turn. The gem underneath a Hero’s portrait indicates whether their talent can still be triggered during that turn.

Named Effects
Named Effects are on-going effects that can help or hinder characters in battles. They are shown in card descriptions in bold, such as Burning and Exposed. While all Named Effects have a unique disadvantage or benefit, they all follow the same basic rules. The first rule is that a Named Effect will last until the end of the affected character’s turn. The second rule is that applying the same Named Effect more than once will not double up the effect, but will increase the duration so it may last longer than a single turn. While active, named effects are displayed as icons on the top-right of the affected character.

Elite Enemies and Bosses
Yes indeed, you heard it correctly. In this game you can encounter aside of the standard enemies, also Elite Enemies and Bosses. While the Elite Enemies are generally tougher and more dangerous than standard enemies, Boss enemies are the toughest enemies you will face. A single Boss will be a match for your entire party! Important here is that, Elite Enemies and Bosses have a unique and dangerous ability that you should look out for when fighting them. There is a lot more when it comes to your enemies, but you will have to play the game yourself in order to find out. And while you fight your way to victory in these battles, you can level your Heroes by doing so. When you level up, you get the chance to switch a card from your Hero’s deck with a new card.  If you don’t want to change a card from your deck then you don’t have to. Simple as that.

Levelling Up
Lastly, by successfully completing a battle, your Heroes will level up, allowing them one of two benefits:

  • You can upgrade one of the current Skill Cards in your deck.
  • You can add a new card to your deck from a choice of four.

Your Heroes will also become stronger as a result of this. 

Exploring the world of Ashe

Well, with the basics of the combat in mind, its good to know that when starting the game, you are thrown in the world of Ashe to complete your first quest to track down Naya. So, while the battles are a big part of the game, they are integrated into the quests themselves. The golden objective icon down below on the map shows you where you need to go for your main quest. There are also side quests, which are displayed as bronze markers. And while you need to follow the golden objective to reach your next quest destination, there is a lot of other things you need to know and can do in the meantime.

Aside from questing, it’s important to keep up your supplies, gain followers, and gather weapons and equipment that are important to complete your quest. These can be found at points of interest, highlighted as blue question marks on your map. By hovering above them with your mouse, you can see the probability of obtaining particular rewards, such as the option to shop, food, upgrade materials, or equipment. 

However, if our Heroes were cats, too much curiosity might just kill them. By walking around on the map and visiting these points, your Heroes’ Fatigue and Morale Levels can get shaky. If you follow your main quest marker, you will remain determined, which affords many bonuses in battle. If, however, you stray off the beaten track too often (as one is encouraged to do in many RPG games), then you will use up all of your stamina, become hungry and exhausted and…well, you’ll die and you’ll have to start all over. Your Heroes morale starts dropping very quickly if they don’t see progress regarding your objectives, so be sure to keep marching towards that quest!

So, just as combat is about balancing your Willpower usage for defence, offence, and movement, exploration is about balancing exploration and progress towards your objective. This requires you to take rests regularly, for example by setting up a camp in ruins or settlements where you can find shelter from the harsh conditions of Ashe. The more sheltered your current location is, the more effective your rest will be. To rest, you need Food supplies, which you can find from points of interest. When you rest, you will restore some health to each Hero, and they will be able to fight more effectively for you in battles. 

If you choose not to rest and encounter an enemy, although you can carry on, cards such as Fatigue or Exhausted will be added to your deck, which just take up space and have no ability! To get rid of them, you need to either recycle them or use them up. 

A Note on Upgrades
Upgrades are a big part of Trials of Fire. When you rest at a Camp, you have several options, each of which requires Food. Firstly, as mentioned, you can rest, which will restore some health. But you can also upgrade your Heroes’ gear in various ways. Here is what you need to know:

  • Food can be used to Hone items, or permanently remove a card associated with a piece of equipment from your deck. Very useful when you are trying to thin out less useful cards.
  • Mystic Herbs can be used to Meditate and Upgrade or Forget Class Cards from a single Hero. This is very useful for powering up what you have, or removing what you no longer need.
  • Food can be used to Upgrade all cards associated with a piece of gear. Cards can be upgraded only once  to a “+” version. This provides benefits such as increased damage or defence, as well as reduced Willpower cost. 
Because of the cost involved, you need to decide whether you want to remain energized with Food, or power up your Heroes for more long-term benefits. This is what makes Trials of Fire so engaging to learn. So, with having said all that. Its probably time for you to try out this game yourself and explore it further!

I want to play the game now!

Well, well, well, good to hear that you are all excited and ready to spend some pocket money (for real, the game ain’t expensive) on this game. Right now, you can still buy the Early Access version of Trials of Fire on Steam. Which you can find here. But don’t worry, the 1.0 version has been announced to release this Friday, April 9th! After this point, the game will be officially moving out of Early Access and into full release. Not too bad right? We at Bandit Gang hope you will enjoy this week’s special content that we have prepared for you all. Because there may be other opportunities in the future for us to spotlight other games!